Monday, June 29, 2009

Mission Unaccomplished

I have a bit of a problem completing projects. I start something with great enthusiasm and somewhere, usually about halfway through I stop. Whether it's doing laundry, organizing some hovel in the house or a home improvement project, nothing, it seems, ever gets finished.

I would love to blame it on having kids and say "my time is not my own", but I can't. First because I have incomplete projects dating back to my childhood. Second, even I know that if I have time to start TWO projects, I would have had time to finish ONE.

Today, I dropped off the kids at bike camp (week 1 of the summer) and had just under two hours to do something. I was planning to go to the gym, but I sabotaged myself by not recharging my cell phone overnight and I needed to be available by phone. So I came home. I pondered my options: laundry, cleaning, organizing the guest room.

Then, in a flash of brilliance, I thought, I would make the mother of all to-do lists. I will have hours sans kids here and there all summer to work on projects. I imagined a lovely calligraphied list affixed in an honoured place and dreamt of the satisfaction and crossing things out.

Then, in a bold and frightening move, I decided instead of MAKING a list, I would DO one thing to completion that would have gone on the list. And I knew just the thing: my passport.

Last September, I thought my passport was about to expire. We were thinking of doing a family trip to Disneyland in December, so I figured I better get on the project. So I filled out the online application. I went so far as to contact my 2 references to ascertain their middle names and to ensure that they would vouch for me if the passport office called to verify my existence.

Then I let the completed form languish.

In November, I picked up on the project and got my passport photos taken. See HERE for them in all their mugshottedness.

Then I checked my passport and discovered that it did not expire until May 31, 2009. Phew. I unloaded the guilt that my lack of passport would kybosh a family trip.

We then decided that we would not go visit Mickey and the princesses in December, and I really should have gathered up the completed application and photos and fired that puppy off.

But I didn't.

I did mention it about once a month to Husband, but that was all I did.

So today feeling emboldened by the beginning of summer, I re-filled out the application, actually located the photographs and found my recently expired passport. I went so far as to address the envelope and seal it. I was about to do what I always do with ready-to-go mail, and put it at Husband's appointed spot on the dining room table.

I have a fierce aversion to things postal. Even if I have stamps in my purse, I will not muster up the coordination to stick one on an envelope. Further, I have had envelopes WITH stamps or prepaid postage ride around in my purse for weeks or months because I can't seem to get it to a mailbox. Since we retrieve our mail from a "superbox" which has a mail slot, and I pass by a mailbox on my way to the bus stop and I have a mail drop in my building at work, I have absolutely no freakin' excuse.

But I do have a blind spot.

I don't know if this started my postal paranoia but I do have a bit of a history with passports and the post office. In 2002, my parents announced they were taking the whole family on a cruise to Hawaii and we needed a passport for the J Boy, who would be 10 months at sailing. Mine was in my maiden name and I thought I may as well get that updated to reduce the chance of border complications, though it was strictly speaking not required. So I put together my application for name change and included my existing, valid passport. In a separate envelope, I inserted J's completed application.

I felt very proud that I had completed this project including getting the envelopes into the mailbox. In particular, because we were in the midst of selling our condo, buying a house and moving. It did not dawn on me, perhaps because I was too busy being proud of myself, that I should not put a valid passport in the regular mail.

Another thing that did not dawn on me, was to put any postage on the envelopes. J's passport application came back a couple weeks later "insufficient postage". Since I no longer had time to get it processed by mail, I had to take my 9 month old baby to the passport office where we lined up for 4 hours and left not only the promise of his passport being ready in two week, but with the Norwalk virus.

But my passport application did not come back in the mail. I picked up a new pastime, trying to get through to the passport office on their 1-800 line. Succeeding at this is right up there with capturing unicorns. When I did eventually get through, they told me there was nothing they could do as they had no record of receiving it. Until they charged our credit card, signifying it was actually in their office, they could do nothing. They would not issue me an emergency replacement passport until 72 hours before our trip. I'm not exactly comfortable deadline-skating, but I had no option.

About 75 hours before our trip, I made my daily check to see if our credit card had been charged and saw that it had! That meant it has just been touched by human hands. Now just a scavenger hunt to find my application and some expeditious treatment by some earnest passport office employees and I had my passport in hand.

Perhaps because of this whole experience, Husband has stepped in to fill the postal void . He always has stamps on hand. I give him envelopes addressed and he sorts out the affixing of postage and depositing to mail box. If a trip needs to be made to an actual post office, he will go. Even when it comes to the kids' activities, which is clearly in my portfolio, I will hand him an application form and he will attend the cheque writing and mailing. And he will shepherd the whole thing to the mail box.

So today, in a small effort to prove to myself that I can complete a project, if belatedly, I went to the post office (no lineup) and mailed the passport application registered mail.

Now, I should get to the laundry, oh wait, I need to empty the dishwasher, but first I should return that phone call, right after organize my purse but not before I figure out what I'll make for dinner...


Minako said...

Hi... just happen to cross your site...

Im planning to go to Tokyo or Hong Kong Disney this Christmas. Hoho and I found some stuffs from Hong Kong Disneyland here as well:

I will definitely take tones of photos there!!!

Ellie said...

Further evidence that we were possibly separated at birth. I hate all things postal, too. The only thing I hate more than things postal are Forms. I. Hate. Forms. So the whole passport process has always been grueling for me, too. I nearly got divorced over it when we were trying to go to London last year. I simply could NOT get my act together. So you have my sympathies. And that is the mother-of-all passport photos. You should submit it somewhere to win something. :)

Konnie said...

Thanks Ellie. I'm quite fond of getting forms half filled out and then leaving them on the kitchen counter to get kethcup and spaghetti sauce dribbled all over it.

Konnie said...

OH and I didn't think you could have your postal phobia with your business?? That reminds me, need to check the mail!