There’s nothing more irritating than nagging guilt and all I can say about the lack of updates is that, as often as not, I feel as though I’ve had my lifetime dose of communicating and now I’m in the observation phase of things. As much as I miss it, thirty years spent sitting in a chair, listening, unraveling, responding to the concerns of others- well, there you have it. Also, when I was in that mode I tended to be one of your more forthcoming therapists, never able to master the “uh-huh and then what” approach, instead engaging in lots of conversations. Hundreds of thousands of them. Plus I raised two very intense children who never stopped communicating except for two sullen years during adolescence. So, although I’m well aware of what’s going on in this neighborhood I’m feeling quiet. I will say this: many of you have no idea that some of your sweetest neighbors have an arena where they discuss body parts, swear like truckers, and say things like “Hell will freeze over before she updates…” I’m frustrated that I can’t just have those people come over for a visit. We could eat warm and fattening comfort food and chocolate, drink wine, curl up in sleeping bags and laugh for hours. Under those circumstances, you couldn’t shut me up. In the moment, I have incredible admiration and gratitude for my journaling friends who consistently put up wonderful, interesting posts. I don’t know how the teachers among them can do all that relationship stuff, day after day and still have the oompf to write.
Since my last post on possible subject matter for a post I’ve been to two performances at Chicago’s magnificent Lyric Opera: La Traviata and La Boheme. Oh the drama!, the voices! Sir Andrew Davis! the SET design! Oh, the migraines from three hours of flicking my eyes from stage to subtitles to stage. If only I was fluent enough in Italian to understand it in lyric form. John Adam’s Dr Atomic is coming next and I was delighted to read it’s in English with English subtitles. I think that’s good news although it may mean that you can’t understand a word of opera in any language, no matter what and watching One Life to Live is easier. That reminds me: here’s one of those things that might go on a 100 things about me list that I’ll never write. I’ve never watched a soap opera. Ever. I did watch Queen for a Day and I’ll be their biggest fan if they ever resurrect that show, but no soap operas.
I’ve given a couple private tours at the zoo. One was behind the scenes with just a major donor and the lead zoo keeper for the Western Lowland Gorillas. You have no idea what a wonderful experience that was, since I didn’t write about it.
I endured the fourth and final assault on my gums and roots at the dentist’s and now I have a spotlessly clean mouth right down to the bone. I bought a WaterPic and that has replaced the kitchen trash compactor as the toy du jour. If I was horrified at the unsanitary implications of smashing 70 pounds of garbage into one bag, well, suffice it to say, Rich and this WaterPic, unleashed in the bathroom, are too frightening for words. Also, I finally got those annoying stitches removed and I can move again.
It’s that time of year when the plants need to come in. Usually this happens in September but we’ve been graced with unseasonably warm weather and no frost yet. Today it’s supposed to reach 79 with possible tornadoes. I’d be delighted with the Big Weather aspect of such a day if not for the house plants. Damn! Those suckers grew! I have a 10′ x 8′ ficus, a 4′ x 4′ jade, three Christmas (zygo) cactus, all with buds, all a couple feet in diameter, a GIANT squirrel’s foot fern, a lovely string o’ hearts succulent that hangs about 6 feet to the floor and so forth and so on. This is a dilemma because I’m reluctant to let them go. I had to get rid of so many plants when we moved here and these survived the cut but now there’s essentially no room for them.
Speaking of poor communication skills, this was the sort of experience that makes me want to retreat from human interaction. I had been putting off getting my new Illinois driver’s license and plates as long as possible because I knew it would be a big ordeal but with my birthday looming everything was about to expire. I’m flying soon so I needed a valid license for TSA and the rental car people. Back in Michigan I was such a good do-be that they were going to let me renew online until three years after I was dead, but not so here. I had to take the dreaded written test and the even more dreaded vision test (right- easy for those of you who have two eyes. For me, passing this test is like trying to make sense of those dot pictures at the mall.) The thing is, my vision (or partial lack, thereof) doesn’t impact my driving. I use a passenger side mirror for the peripheral vision issue and I just don’t do that much night driving when the lack of depth perception kicks in, especially here in Chicago. Back in Michigan I had figured out how to stand back an inch or two and catch the right eye part of the test with my left eye.
Here, the road test study guide is about the size of the metropolitan phone book and that’s the least of one’s problems when it comes to getting yourself legal. I had to go downtown to the State of Illinois building where there is, of course, NO PARKING. Therefore, you can’t take your vehicle and apparently no one ever does have to take a road test, which accounts for the insanity on Chicago’s streets. In actuality, no one has to be able to drive; you just have to know, on paper, 75 different road signs and the consequences for the third time you pass a school bus with open alcohol and two minors in the car, not related to you, while driving a taxi with an expired commercial license.
Here’s what you do have to take:
A certified birth certificate. Mine is so old it’s printed on that heavy black paper with white lettering. I hadn’t really looked this over closely for say, ever, and so reading it the night before I went, I was interested to discover that I was a “singleton.” I always thought I had an evil twin.
Original, not a copy, social security card.
A passport or something else with signature and photo verification, in addition to…
Current driver’s license.
Lien release/payoff letter for car.
Proof of insurance.
Utility bill in your name or other proof of residence (not someone like your husband, if he has a different last name).
I don’t know about you but just getting this collection of stuff together is stressful. But I had it all and presented myself at 8 in the morning when they opened for business. I got in line behind the 300 plus who had presented themselves an hour earlier. This line, mind you, is the line for the line. When you get to the front of the line, you state your need and present your papers and, if you are very very lucky, you get a deli number to wait in line. In front of me, at least one half of the people in line did not speak English. Don’t take me wrong; they just didn’t speak English and had reams of paper printed in Arabic and Mandarin, visas, letters of introduction from foreign embassies and, one by one, they got their deli numbers. I got to the front, beamed nicely at the lady (even though I already hated her because I had to wait in line so long but I know when somebody owns me) and proudly laid out all my paperwork. She barely glanced at it, looked up and said, “The name on the birth certificate doesn’t match the name on the rest of this stuff. NEXT!” I sputtered, what? What do you mean? and she said, just what I said NEXT! So I said, well no, I had gotten married during the past 56 years. She said, well I need proof of that- a certified marriage license. I said, “yes, but that was about 30 years ago and then I was divorced about 20 years ago and…” And then I realized I wasn’t helping my case and it would be unwise to add that I was now married to someone else with a different last name and the only reason I hadn’t changed my name to his yet was because I never had six months to devote fulltime to the red tape involved. So she said, “well, so I need to see the marriage license and the divorce decree, official copies, NEXT!” I mumbled that that was all back in Michigan and it was so long ago and she said, “well, go back to Michigan and get it and come back, NEXT!!!”
I slumped next door to see if I could at least get my plates and registration and while I was filling out triplicate copies that wanted to know the phone number of the Honda dealership in Ann Arbor a kindly employee asked if I needed any assistance. This was no doubt because I was twitching and uttering foul gibberish, but I said I was fine, just frustrated over trying to get my license. He told me to go back and ask to see the supervisor, that the lady with the deli numbers was supposed to direct me to a supervisor under those circumstances. So I thanked him, got my plates (only after I waited in line and then had to get out of line to go to the ATM machine because, of course, I had forgotten my checkbook and they didn’t take MasterCard for everything else and this process is not only traumatic, it’s expensive) and I went back to stand in line behind more people who couldn’t speak English. When I got up to the deli number lady I asked to please see the supervisor and she looked me in the eye and said, “Go to window 12. NEXT!” I could have bitch slapped her, then and there, but I remembered the bigger agenda.
By now, I’ve decided that all these foreign people are terrorists who are being given not only driver’s licenses but also chauffeur licenses, pilot licenses and coupons for free flight instruction on 737s. DMV induced paranoia. The supervisor, to his 400 pound credit, looked at the birth certificate that says Vicki Ann Something, date of birth and everything else, that said Vicki Ann Something Else, date of birth and shook his head and told me to go back in line and tell the deli number lady to give me a ticket to wait in line. So I waited in line again and told her the supervisor said to give me a number and she did.
So, I waited some more and worried that the office would close before I could take the test but it didn’t. While I waited I called Abby and told her not to EVER change her name, ever. Because I had hours to study all the signs for no passing and construction zones I passed the written test with ease. The vision test was problematic because you have to lean onto the machine (yuk) to activate it. The supervisor happened to be giving the vision test and he asked me to read line 5 so I read with ease KNTJ LEDP. He said, “and?” and I said, um, well that’s all there is and he asked, “what about the other two sets?” I looked him in the eye and said, “I always use the passenger side mirror” and he went all silent for a while and then he just checked ‘pass’ and directed me over to the photo station. There, a young woman took one picture and then said, “Let’s do that again with a smile” and “There! Now you look like a happy felon!”
Two minutes later I had my license in hand, felt inner joy, took the bus home and didn’t want to talk to anyone for a month.
Instead, I had to go home and spend two hours on wait for Apple tech support, for the third time, because they had sent a replacement power cord but failed to include the part that plugs into the wall, which seemed odd, but then no one at Apple support speaks English so, you know, communicating your needs, while obvious, is difficult.
I bet you took one look at the length of this post, got half way through the drivel and went away. If you didn’t here’s your reward. A baby moose born in a front yard in Naubinway, Michigan. Up in the Upper Pennisula things like that happen.