We Just Need Your Birth Certificate

Standard

Let me tell you about my day. Let me preface it by saying that I lost my California Driver’s License when I moved from the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and I’ve been venturing around New York City sans ID for the past two months. This is not a safe practice for many reasons.
1. You never know when you may be attacked or murdered, and it is always helpful for law enforcement if you have an ID on you.
2. You never know if you’ll be served in a bar when you go out, so you need to pick your establishments with precise, which generally means you can’t frequent the more uppity of lieux.

So, finally, after much deliberation and a few overnighted FedEx packages from my mother in California, I finally went out to procure a new ID. I’ve been living in New York for a year and three months, so I am long overdue for a state-issued ID card. (after 90 days, you’re considered a resident of New York…) I went on the website, printed the application form, filled it out to perfection, and collected my necessary paperwork to prove identity: Birth Certificate and Social Security Card (thanks, Mom), health insurance card, and bank-issued debit card. The website says I only needed “4” points: 2 pts for my social security card, and one point each for the debit card and health insurance card. The Birth Certificate doesn’t actually hold any point value, but is useful to provide evidence of my birth – which is just ridiculous because look at me: I’m here; I’ve been born. And before any of you throw out that it’s proving that I was born in this country, halt! Because it’s not! They don’t care if you were born in this country or not.

Anyway, so all my paperwork neatly stacked, clipped, and stowed, I went to the DMV in Midtown Manhattan. I walk in and announce my business to the bored-looking man near the information kiosk.
“You need six points.” he says with a drawl.
“The website said four.” Me.
“You need six,” he repeats.
Then he starts listing off other options, and when he gets to “pay stub” and “credit card,” I say “YES! I HAVE THOSE! Thank you! See you tomorrow!”
And I run out of there and text my mother immediately to recount my failure.
“Why don’t you renew your passport?” She texts. “You can fly with that.”
“Where do you get a passport?” I text back, passing the beautiful monstrosity that is the New York Post Office.
“The Post Office.” Her.
“PERFECT!” and I run inside.

The colossal foyer of the New York Post Office is marble and echoing. It feels so regal with its gold bars at the teller windows, its impressive American Flags hanging at each end, and the seal of the State of New York in the center on the ground. I wait in line with a few impatient customers, dancing to and fro, tapping their feet and fingers on their packages. After 20 minutes, I approach the bench when called and ask “How do I get a passport?” The guy directs me to the opposite end of the long, narrow foyer, where I find a young guy at a podium.

After a series of seemingly non-sequitur questions, he gives me a few forms to fill out and lets me know he’ll be available to help me when I’m done. Ten minutes later, having finished my forms, I look around me for this young guy, and he’s nowhere in sight. I walk up and down along the closed windows in the passport section, walk out into the foyer, walk back into the passport section, trying to peer through any cracks in the windows. Nothing. Nobody.

After a few passes stalking around, looking for anyone who could possibly help me, a slightly older gentleman surfaces from a door in the passport section. He comes up to me and asks me if I’ve been helped. I affirm and proceed to explain my situation again. He was very accommodating and helpful. He offered to copy my paperwork (for $0.50/ea) and looked through everything to be sure I have all the information I need. He then asked for my picture ID, at which point I explained that I didn’t have one, and that is precisely why I’m here looking for a passport. He told me that’s no problem, I just need somebody to come down and sign witness to my existence – somebody who has known me for two years. I chuckle to myself at the absurdity of that, and call my roommate and ask him if he can make it down here before work at 5pm. He obliges, kind guy that he is.

Once he arrives, I try to get somebody’s attention again, because – once again – the podium attendant, my dear older friend who was so helpful, has disappeared. I catch a middle-aged woman with a caribbean accent behind the window where the camera is. I ask her if the attendant can come back out – I’m in need of assistance. She says someone will be right out. I say “We’re in a slight hurry.”
“Yes, ma’am, someone will be right out,” she repeats, same tone.
“Terrific.” Brandon and I walk back to the podium and wait.

And wait.
And wait.

We help two other people who are looking for the passport center.
“Yes, it’s right here.”
“great.”
“No, ma’am. behind us, please. we’re in line.’
“Ah, ok.”
“Yes, sir. It’s right here.”

And we wait.

Finally that same Caribbean woman of small stature comes waddling out and sits down at the podium.
“How may I help you?”
“Well, I was being helped by two of your colleagues. They know that’s going on. Are they back there?”
“No.”
“Okay. Well I’m trying to get a new passport – and I don’t have a photo ID, so I have my friend here to give witness. He just needs to sign the witness form so he can go.”
“No, ma’am. What do you have? Show me what you have.”
“Yes, here it is. I have the application form, my birth certificate, and my friend here to sign the witness form –”
“Ma’am, you’re reporting your passport as lost.”
“Yes, I am. I don’t have my old, expired passport, and don’t know where it is. So your colleague said I should report it stolen first, and then apply for a new passport.”
“Do you have your pictures?”
“Yes, ma’am, your colleague took my picture.”
“You have to have your pictures.”
“Right. your colleague took my picture about 30 minutes ago.”
“You have to make copies of these papers.”
“Yes, your colleague did that — really, ma’am, your colleague already knows my case, it would be easier if you could just find him, please, and you can help the people behind me.”
“No, ma’am.”
“I’m sorry?”
“I need a photo ID.”
“As I explained to the two gentlemen who helped me before you, I don’t have one. My roommate is here to give witness to my existence.”
“I still need a form of ID with a picture.”
“Ma’am, I explained to your colleagues that I don’t have one. That’s why I’m here. To get one. I have other forms of ID iwth no picture. My health insurance card, credit cards, bank cards, bank statements…” and I lay out all those forms.
“No, ma’am. I need a form of ID with your picture.”
“I’m sorry; I just don’t have one.”
“High school ID –”
“Don’t have one.”
“College ID with your picture–”
“Don’t have that, either.”
“Driver’s license–”
“I really don’t have an ID with a picture of it.”
“Ma’am, I need –”
“I understand that you need that,” I say, my patience wearing thin. “Your colleagues said all I needed was my roommate-” I point to Brandon “-to testify my continued existence.” People are starting to stare.
“Ma’am–” She began again, shaking her head.
“Oh! You have my expired passport on record! My picture is on that. Use that!”
“We don’t have that.”
“You have my passport on record,” I say, a bit bitingly, my patience wearing more and more thin as the moments pass on, my ears getting hot.
“At the state department, ma’am.”
“My mom has a picture of my passport! If she texts me the picture, can I just show that to you?”
“Yes, ma’am.” (!!!) Terrific!

I step aside with Brandon to let the people behind me get some help. I text my mom with a few profanities and a lot of angst, and she responds very quickly with two pictures of my passport book, opened to my information page.

I then step forward again and wait for the current customer to finish with her business. After many questions that had nothing to do with passports, I slide my phone under the attendant’s nose. “Here!” I say, triumphantly.
“Terrific,” she says, with a smile. “Now go across the street to Kinko’s and print it.”
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!”

And I leave.

Christmas Greed and Thanksgiving Gratitude

Standard

I’m upset with the whole concept of Black Friday happening on any day but Black Friday. Call me a conventional girl (not too often, please), but I feel like that tradition should stay as it has been for the last twenty (or so) years.

Black Friday has always been a terrifying situation for me, but I understand the need and want for it. I understand consumerism and capitalism, as it is, in America. I don’t quite know how I feel about it, politically, but I have grown up with it, and, therefore, understand and accept it, for now. Christmas is about a lot of things, but, for the sake of this conversation, it is about presents. Ok – only because I’m, pretty much, required to say it — Christmas is about love and gratitude, family, kindness, generosity, and charity. It’s about big hearts, empathy, and sparkles and snow (and sparkly snow.) Within all of that, it’s been about consumerism. It’s been about Ps3s and Macbook Airs, the new iPad and a brand new polly pocket (isn’t it 1996? no?).

I, for one, want nothing more than to buy my best friend a Superman onesie & pocket watch combo, a metal, life-sized R2D2, and a ticket to NY so he can visit me. I want all these things because I know it will bring a myriad of giggles (to a guy who doesn’t usually giggle), shrieks, and happiness to his life, which, as of late, as been rather bleak and disappointing. (which, for the record, devastates me.)

So, call it consumerism, but, actually, it’s coming from a very generous place. It’s when assholes and spoiled brats take it for granted that it gets really spoiled – when stupid teenagers cry because they got a white iPhone 6+ instead of a black iPhone 6, or the new ps4 instead of whatever the newest Nintendo is.

Which brings me back to my original point. ATTENTION EVERYBODY: BLACK FRIDAY IS OCCURING ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH, 2014. ON THANKSGIVING. NOT ON BLACK FRIDAY. BUT ON THANKSGIVING THURSDAY. Stores are opening at morning-hour for Black Friday shoppers. Last year, my New Jersey cousin had to leave Thanksgiving Dinner (yes, both capitalized) to work at Hollister in the NJ mall where he worked. He couldn’t even finish his Thanksgiving meal. He had to be there at Hollister to sell overly-sexualized, overly-small pairs of jeans and shitty t-shirts to asshole consumers who wanted a jump-start on Christmas. How is 12 hours a jump-start on Christmas? You’re already shopping a whole month in advance. Want a jumpstart? Shop in the summer.

When did our desperation for consumerism get to this point? When did we become this? Polluting a holiday about gratitude and family and love with consumerism greed and blackness? (for lack of a better word.)

I have a few friends who are forced to work this Thanksgiving because Black Friday starts early. I find myself in Revo-Mode. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am a revolutionary. I am an indigo-child. I am born and bred to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. To fight for the causes that lose traction, but are equally as important as those that don’t. I am a Revolutionary, and there are a few who have joined me in my fight in the recent years. We call ourselves the Revos, and I am still fighting!

Unless you work at a grocery store or a coffee shop in your town. you should not be working. Nobody should be shopping for Christmas on Thanksgiving. You should only be buying coffee for your dinner guests, or getting the Turkey your mother or father forgot to order, perhaps even buying canned gravy because – let’s be honest – nobody can make a perfect Turkey stock gravy.

My Life in Craft Services

Standard

Idea for a new book, developed via conversation with a lovely lady with whom I work. Or maybe a blog, on its own … called “My Life in Craft Services”. First entry: “‘-Ey! You want a meatball?” ….

It was a normal day in the west village, a bit brisk, but we were outside on the stoop, taking a little peanut butter and jelly break, and we noticed a drool-worthy smell wafting from a tin truck parked in front of the church, and, both of us having worked on a film set before, we recognized it immediately: Catering at Crafty! Oohh, how scrumptious the scents, how penetrating — we were both Buggs Bunny, floating along the current of cooking meats and roasting vegetables.

This started a spattering of stories between us — that one time she was on set for Stuart Little, the other time I was on set for a few of the projects I’ve worked on, and then we moved on to my first few months in New York, when I was traveling among different film sets, asking people if they needed a hand.

“Did you actually get work?”
“Yeah.”
“Paid?”
“Yeah.”

She and her crew couldn’t believe it. (to be honest, neither could I, really, but there you have it.)

So, that led to us riffing about how to score four breakfast burritos from the cart tomorrow morning. We landed with dressing up our second carpenter in my tool belt, equipping him with my gaff tape, a radio in his ear, and a big ring of keys. For anybody who actually works on set, it’s sort of amusing to make a caricature out of a gaffer or an AD. We were throwing out things for him to say — we’d have to find out which TV show was filming down the street, then have him go up to the chef and start making small talk. “Chilly weather we’re having, huh? Freaking Crazy. Those poor guys are on fire watch and I’m sent over to grab ’em some breakfast burritos. BUt, let’s be real, a little fire would totally toast us up! Lucky you, in that oven of a tin truck!” and, then, come back with four breakfast burritos and extra guac, and four coffees …….

So that’s the idea for my next book. I’m going to go around to different shoots and eat only from craft services. How does that sound to you??

Laptop: my girlfriend.

Standard

It’s remarkable, the relationship between a human and his technology. Our phones, tablets, and laptops become like friends to us: able to console, entertain, and betray. They can frustrate us, stand us up, and even completely blow us off, and, just like any of our close friends, when betrayal strikes, trust is lost.

I’ve had my laptop since my sophomore year of college – I’ll let you guess how long ago that was; a lady never tells her age – and she has been on quite a few adventures with me. She was there for me during every lecture, through every paper I handed in (late), six seasons of Lost, seven seasons of Boy Meets World, and eight seasons of Doctor Who. She was my companion when I began my journey as a writer, ditching five paragraph essays for quirky poems and short stories and even the odd screenplay. Now, I have a Mac, so I’ve never had the constant fear of my computer crashing, getting sick, or going crazy. She was reliable and unwavering in her loyalty to me.

And then she crashed.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was one spreadsheet too many, but suddenly, my screen froze, I got the pinwheel of death and everything went black. She woke up after a few agonizing minutes, asking if I would like to send crash reports. No. No crash reports, I thought, solemnly. Nothing can make up for this level of betrayal. For, she didn’t crash in the middle of an episode. She didn’t crash while I was about to Complete Check Out on Amazon. She crashed when I was twenty pages in on a Meditative Writing stint I’d been on for two hours.

“What an idiot you are for not saving, if you’re writing for that long!” you may say. Well, I say that, too, but when you’re “meditative writing,” the point is, you’re not thinking about saving your work, getting up to pee, or grabbing a glass of water. You’re thinking about writing. only writing. non-stop writing. stream of consciousness. The only rules in Meditative Writing are 1. Tell the Truth and 2. Don’t Stop Writing. So, she crashed.

If you know anything about Macs, you know that this incident is not the end of the world because, most of the time, the product is saved or recoverable. Yes, it is, but though this was not the end of the world, it was absolutely the end of our relationship. I had no choice but to break up with my laptop after that. The trust was lost. gone. forever. irreparable. We tried to make it work for a few weeks, but the trust couldn’t be built back. I was saving my work every five minutes, thus interrupting my meditation, blocking me.

So I got an iPad.

My laptop is still here. She’s still in the picture, and I use her for my other work. Spreadsheets, bookkeeping, as a DVD player, but that’s it. Nothing more than a booty call.

The Lady at 525 W 25th St

Standard

At building number 525 on street 25 on the west side of Down, a small town in a small county in a small state, there lived a woman with particularly fluffy hair and a particular attitude toward “cleanliness, neatness, and organization!” as the neighbors would hear her snapping aloud often, and often not to anyone they could see.

She always had a frilly ribbon tied in the right side in the tangle of kinky hair, and her stoop was always pristine. The neighborhood boys would sneak up her steps and drop pieces of garbage on it, taking bets on how long until she’d notice. She had a sense for it – like a dog who hears the jingle of his leash before a walk. Out she’d scurry, robe pulled around her, kinky hair askew, ribbon dancing in the wind, mumbling sharply as she’d bend down to pick up the matchbook, the loose bandaid, or the breadcrumb.

“Cleanliness! Neatness! Organization!” she’d snap and slam the door.

Growing Pains

Standard

Life is riddled with little milestones that mark our journey through growing up. Like our first smile, our first step, and first word.
Then there’s our first pubic hair, first kiss, first romp in the sack.
These milestones don’t end with adolescence.
I mean, just the other day, I had my first lift-thigh-fat-to-wipe-vag moment.

Somehow, however, I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for that one…

[ i n d i g o ]