What we have here is a failure to communicate

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.

Car title.

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.

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26 responses to “What we have here is a failure to communicate

  1. When I got married, I didn’t change my nam.e on my SS card, so when I got my first Medicare card, it had Don’s SSN, my maiden name. When I presented it at the first doctor’s office, along with my insurance card with my married name, it caused all kinds of havoc. I got different reactions at every doctor’s office I went to.

    I’m glad for the update, even though you had such a horrendous experience. I’ll miss seeing you in Florida. I get back on the 2nd or 3rd.

    Did you talk to Louise’s family? How are they doing?

    The baby moose is adorable. I read all the way to the end.

  2. Glad to find a post here, vicki. I’ve been missing you. That’s quite a story of DMV hell. One of the things we like about living in the middle of nowhere is that there is no line at the DMV. I can’t believe the paperwork required of you to get a driver’s license. I’m pretty sure all we had to do was turn in our old licenses and present something that had our new address.

    That is the cutest series of photos of baby moose and momma. Makes the whole bureaucratic nightmare of the world just slip away.

  3. I think I fake being a people person really well when in a room full of people but boy, do I ever love love LOVE retreating to my quiet house and spending time all alone. Well, you know, when the kids aren’t home. I can relate rather well to this post.

    These pictures, btw, are FABULOUS!

  4. I was in for the duration anyway, but the moose shots are pretty cool.

    Ya should’a just got a FL license. Much simpler than in the socialist north.
    I’ve renewed mine on line with a click so often the photo is now 7 years old and is starting to look better than me.

  5. Hi there,
    I’ve been reading your blog off and on for a few months now and just wanted to make my first comment.

    First, love the photos! They made my crummy day a little less crummy.

    But, I really wanted to comment on your comments about lack of posting. I have a blog and I hate how it has made me feel guilty about not blogging, about not reading others’ blogs and commenting so they know I’m reading their blog, etc., etc., etc. I found this little treatise on Blogging Without Obligation and feel so much better. I even put their symbol on my blog. Since I’m not a techie, I can’t link it here but google “blogging without obligation.” You’ll feel better.

  6. Actually, what I am thinking here is: why is she renewing her licence now? Her birthday isn’t until Wednesday!

  7. Had I gone through your experience at the DMV, I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone or post either!

    I read all the way, Vicki and the photos of the baby moose are sweet – but it’s truly a face only a mother could love.

  8. I have that blogging without obligation thingy on my blog now, Vicki.

    I don’t think we have an obligation to blog, but I always worry about people who don’t update for a while.

  9. I shall refrain from posting my concern as it was misconstrued as guilt. I will simply offer it up to the universe—which always hears me as I intended.

    Obligation is not a word I use with blogging.

  10. I love the moose photos. My husband’s family had a ‘family summer home’ on the UP forever. It was a freakin’ huge place on the water but they called it a cottage. They even made postcards of it. Wild. I would like to go to Mackinau Island. I didn’t spell that right.

    I hyphenated my maiden and married names when we got married, almost 25 years ago now. I thought that would maybe make my life easier in these type of situations.


    Who took those awesome moose photos? They almost brought tears to my eyes.

    Oh, I’m off my medication. WOOO! I’M UP, I’M DOWN!

  12. See what you get for moving away from Michigan? Hea, my brother sent me a neat link to an article about Shakey Jake.


    Kinda tells the man like he was. Nice tribute.

    I’ve been on vacation and still not back in the swing of things. I accidentally clicked on your old website–Outside In. It seems to be a recipe site now. I’ve seen old bloggers’ websites become a lot worse. Wait, they’re recipes for COOKING HUMANS!

    Heh, heh, Just kidding. I get like this around Halloween

  13. I ditto FC, you should have waited to get your driver’s license in Florida. They hand them out like candy here and you do not have to see. Blind people with white canes get them all the time. :0) I have been checking in regularly, but thought perhaps you had flown off to some exotic place so I was not worried just jealous. So, don’t feel guilty. It gave me much pleasure to imagine where you were and what your were photographing. The moose pictures were worth the wait! Welcome back.

  14. I hung on your every word, as always!

    You show your fine aesthetic taste in attending two of one of the world’s greatest opera company’s productions! La Traviata is a personal favorite! Those subtitles need to go the way of Cathelepistemian.

    I loath soap operas, too! We should meet sometime!

    Be nice to Rich!! He is a gentleman and a great golfer!

    Big Dave meant to say that he gets like this around Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517 – SPARTANS know stuff!), no doubt.

    I liked the moose kiss almost as much as the anticipation of seeing you in your birthday suit.


  15. Long post, lots of drivel – worth it for the pictures at the finish.

    Thanks for the smiles!

  16. Oh Lordie how I hate the DMV. Add to that that I routinely wait until WAY past my birthday to get my license renewed so I have the added stress of being late and all. Sigh.

    And, yes, I too wish I’d never changed my name. The really sad thing is that Greg couldn’t care less if I changed it or not. But, once you do, there’s not going back — well, actually, my sister-in-law did, in fact, change her name back. I wondered at the time if it indicated unhappiness in the marriage and as it turned out, it was a warning sign of impending divorce. Oops!

    But oh my, that mooselet was delightful. Thank you!

  17. I lost my SS card 20 years ago. To replace it you needed so many forms of ID, I had to wait until I got the passport. Yes, they only needed the birth certificate for the passport. Now you have me scared to go get mine renewed… coming up way to fast.

    The moose is adorable… love that mother/baby bonding picture.

  18. Did you actually SEE the moose? I drive all over Minnesota with Kathy Howe and I don’t see any Moose!

    I cannot BELIEVE you got out of there with your driver’s license. I thought you were a goner for sure.

  19. Loved your post, felt your pain. Illinois must have gotten stricter since I was there. All I had to do was show them my old drivers license if I remember correctly. That was pre 9-11, though.

    Your moose pictures are adorable!

  20. The moose is great but hearing from you is better. Are you watching Survivor this year? I want to come lay on your couch, drink wine and watch Survivor. Someday? Whattya say? You don’t even have to give me free therapy 😉

  21. I love the mooses. Meese? Whatever you call two of them.

    San Francisco Opera has supertitles above the stage. I depend on them even with something as familiar as the two wonderful operas you saw. I have at least one video of the Lyric Opera but can’t remember what it was. I’ll have to check.

    I don’t like opera in English unless it is sub/supertitled. Like you, I can’t understand a word they’re singing.

  22. Oh. Holy. Jeebus. I cannot fathom the stress of the dmv situation. I cannot let my license expire or move out of state full-time or anything. Because well. That sounds like hell.

    I managed to get the replacement cord/plug for my apple. But seriously? What the heck is wrong with that design? They should be replacing them for free. Apple has a design problem and we shouldn’t have to buy a new one every year. Grr.

    Would love to come visit.

  23. Hi Vicki! I’m just saying “hi” for now because I’m up to late and I want you to know that I was here and read and am too tired to respond with something clever, except that city life beuracracy sucks and I’m glad I don’t have to give birth to a Moose, no matter how cute it is.

  24. I love your drivel, Vicki. The baby moose shots are sweet.

    Your experience at the DMV made me howl…sorry, I know how wicked it makes you feel. First, the non-speaking English part makes my blood boil, and the deli ticket lady really did deserve the bitch slap. How stressful! Our procedures here in NC aren’t so convaluted but frightening anyway.

    And then you had to deal with an Apple tech. What a horrible day.

  25. Baby moose shots made my week!

  26. I have lost both my passport and my social security card.

    There’s a russian ranch out there somewhere that raises moose and they sell the milk. It’s supposed to have medicinal properties, due to all the herbs the moose forage for. Or at least the milk DID have medicinal properties before Chernobyl. I’m not so sure now. I’ll look for the website later, but I have to get my storage locker traded for one larger, due to my inclination to accumulate stuff.

    Does anyone want to buy any books?

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