What a day for traffic violations!
What a week, in fact. What’s today…Friday? Since Tuesday morning, I’ve messed about with the California DMV, the Pasadena City Parking Bureau, and the NY/NJ Transit Authority. Makes that business with the Ohio BMV from last week seem like mere foreplay.
My wonderful parents are wonderfully handling mail for me, which means they get to see all my bills before I do. To their credit, they refrain from commentary. Nothing good really comes in the ground mail anymore–have you noticed that? When people want to give or send you something nice, it’s an e-card or an e-vite or a social media valentine. Only disagreeable notices come in the mail.
…And checks. Sometimes checks come in the mail. But never enough, and seldom on time.
If you’re going to suggest an attitude adjustment, save it. I’m ragged with trying.
This morning, I woke up unusually early, and I thought “Ugh, it’s Friday…and we’re leaving for Île d’Orléans today…did I get enough done this week?” But still it was a pleasant ugh, because I fucking love work and if I must fail, it’s a pleasant thing to fail at.
But I turned on my email and the first thing I saw was the notice of impending collection, with the power of the great states of both New York and New Jersey marshaled behind it.
I tried to pray about it. I started crying, instead.
I try to ignore it, but moments like this reveal that not all the fan letters and Facebook “likes” in the world, even when they come from cool folks whose notice makes me feel like prom queen, can make up for the taut month-to-month anxiety that I wear like a bit in my mouth.
Crying is the chemical reaction at the fissure of expectations I didn’t know I had. Apparently, I expected that bureaucratic obstacle courses like this would be easier for me to handle, by now. Especially since I’m every day growing more preemptively responsible with stuff. Srsly. I am.
But when a girl doesn’t get mail on time, as will happen (even when handling her own mail), or when things outside her sphere of influence take place…as in the ability of an opposing insurance agency to declare her vehicle a total loss and thereby necessitate its re-registration as a salvage, with all the bureaucratic minuet that involves…or, hell, when computer systems monitored by humans change the order of two numbers on her parking citation so that her payment goes unprocessed (though they still took the money from her bank account)…
Well, it’s like I said. This is the year of asking for special favors.
But it’s no good asking when you don’t think they’ll come.
I feel as if there’s a metal plate in my head, blocking the transmission of the faith before I can ask.
And look, I can spend all day on the phone with a bureaucratic representative and even find the humor in it. It’s like when I used to try to make Mr. Harrell smile when he’d come into City Dock for an espresso…a little game I’d play against myself, and winning meant the pervy pleasure of having made someone do something they came determined not to do.
But it’s only good fun when there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do with that time. Like write.
I believe God will provide all the money I need, when I need it. So even if the NY/NJ transit doesn’t knock my toll back down from $63 to the initial $13, and even if I have to stay in Quebec longer because the City of Pasadena’s recalcitrance delays my registration renewal…I’m like, whatever.
It’s disappointing to find that the stress of whether is no worse than the stress of when.
Look, I’ll be the first to say that stress is what you make of it and if you don’t like it, you should get out of the game and find one whose stresses you can accept.
But I was wrong, okay? Sometimes the nail-biting tension of watching the clock, the staking of check clearance against bill collection, is more than I can bear. Not because I don’t want to bear it, but because I break so easy. It’s a nasty surprise to find I’m not as strong as I thought…especially since nobody’s going to be strong for me.
This is my game. I don’t want to be out of it; I’d rather have its inevitable and unexpected stresses than the comforts of another. I thought love would conquer all.
But maybe my love, at its strongest, still isn’t strong enough to conquer the rest of me.
While I have your attention, though, I’d like to shout some folks out.
While dealing with bureaucracy is like eating glass, I’ve had the blessing of being gently spoon-fed by some really lovely, helpful women on the other end of the phone.
Let’s hear it for Christina Tobar, with the Riverside DMV office…Lorraine, with the City of Pasadena…and Felicia, with the Port Authority of NY & NJ.
Thank you, ladies, for what you do. I wonder if you have any idea what a difference it makes.