Friday, July 17, 2009

Why the more things change, the more they don't change nearly enough

So, here I am posting a third day in a row, which has to be nearly unprecedented in DoW history. I know, I know, who is this impostor and what have you done with the real Diary of Why, right? But I'll be honest with you: I'm bored. I've been home for about two weeks now, and really? Is that all? Because it feels like so much longer. I'm down to showering once every couple of days now, because, honestly, what's the point? I have nowhere to go and no way to get there if I did. If a tree stinks in the forest, and all. What it comes down to is this: I am trapped here, Internet, trapped in the suburbs. And not even the good suburbs with public transportation and Panera Bread, but the suburbs of those suburbs surrounded by rolling countryside for miles around. And there is only so much relaxing one person can do. I am relaxed, dammit. Now get me out of here!

When I first arrived home and dusted off my Massachusetts driver's license, I discovered it had expired last April when I was in Paris. And so off I went to the MVA, as soon as I could convince my dad to give me a ride there. I went armed with everything I would need: passport, social security card, old driver's license, and two pieces of mail I had managed to scrounge up: a bank statement and a notice from Sprint. All of which I presented triumphantly once it was my turn. "What is this?" the woman asked, and that's when I knew things might not be going my way.

"It's a bank statement," I replied, though I thought the answer was somewhat obvious.

"It's not in English," she said.

"Well, yes, it's a French bank," I said. "But as you can see it's addressed to me here, so..."

"We can't accept this," she said. "It has to be translated or we can't use it."

"You want me to...translate my bank statement?" I asked.

"And this, we can't accept this either," she said, pointing to my Sprint envelope. "It's not a bill."

"But I don't get bills," I said. "It's all paperless. I do everything paperless."

"So you can print off the online bills and bring those in."

"Really?" I said. Hadn't this lady heard of Photoshop? Wasn't the whole point of bringing in mail to provide irrefutable proof of residence in this miserable state? With an online statement and hell, a brief session in paint, I could live anywhere, is all I'm saying. "Well if I had known that..." I said, and then headed home defeated. For a moment I felt like I was back in France, what with all the "Denied! Please come again!" but I guess bureaucracy is bureaucracy wherever you go.

So then, several days later, after I had managed to wheedle my way into another ride to the MVA, back I went, and this time it was as smooth as silk. I eve
n lucked into what is probably the best driver's license photo of my life, thanks to the kindly Indian woman who took a liking to me because her daughter was also born in 1980 and is currently living in Paris. "Hmm..." she said, looking at the first shot. "Let's do that again. Can you move your hair out of your face? And keep your head straight." Which was interesting because I thought my head was straight, but apparently my default photo pose is a vacuous stare and a cocker spaniel-like head tilt. She seemed satisfied with the next one, though:

And if you don't think this is a masterpiece of government-issued digital photography then you have clearly not seen some of my previous driver's license photos. Or school id photos. Or passport photos. Dear lord. And I guess this tendency towards terrible id photos may run in the family, because my sister, who is otherwise quite adorable, recently had a new driver's license issued, and she nearly peed her pants showing it to me. Let's just say she looks a bit...special. With a head like a basketball. Apparently pony tails and id photos don't mix. So it could have been a lot worse, is all I'm saying. Also, apparently the Maryland MVA is a kind of wormhole where time stands still and I revert back to my 21 year-old self. Only with more crows feet. "Have you had a license in Maryland before?" asked the kind Indian lady. Yes, I replied, and she pulled up my information on the screen. "Has your address changed?" she asked. Given that my parents have lived in this suburban-twice-removed town for the last thirty years, and would likely remain here for at least thirty more, I refrained from answering with a scoffing Yeah, right, and simply said, "Nope." "Would you like to change your height or your weight?" she asked. Again I said, "Nope." "That was a long time ago," she said, eying me skeptically. I wouldn't have believed it myself except that I had just weighed myself on the scale at my dead grandfather's house the day before. "I know," I said. And suddenly I was struck with the feeling of how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here I am, 29 years old, living in my parents' house, and just as unemployed, skinny, and prospect-less as I was at 21. A little boob weight wouldn't go unappreciated, is all I'm saying. Oh, and maybe an income. Yeah, that too.

"Well, my daughter is having a hard time in Paris," the woman said. "She doesn't speak French, and she can't even get a driver's license there, it's so complicated. And expensive."

"Yeah, well, you don't need to drive in Paris," I said, "that's the good thing."

"Yes, but she has the kids," she said. "And plus she's used to driving, she's from here. But it's so complicated to get your license there."

"Yes, I think that's why most people in Paris don't have cars," I said.

"Oh, she has a car!" she said quickly. "A BMW. But she can't drive it. It just sits there, and her husband has to drive her around."

I let this information sink in for a minute, and suddenly had trouble mustering up much sympathy for this woman's plight. "Yes, well, if that's everything," I said, "I really have to go."

BMW indeed.

Anyway, long story short, I have my license. So! I'm free! Get me into a carbon-emitting, fossil fuel-guzzling piece of steel and get me out of this town! Except...right. I don't have a car. Now, technically there should be enough vehicles in this family to go around, except that one of those vehicles has been up on blocks in the driveway for the past several months. Every once in a while my dad putters around trying to "re-build the engine" or something equally mundane, which means that while my sister's car is out of commission she's been driving my mom's Ford Focus. The Ford Focus that should be mine. Not to be all possessive and grabby or anything, but, you know, I had dibs. So that means my mom is now driving my dead grandfather's Buick LeSabre, leaving me my dad's Ford Ranger. And while at one point I may have bragged about totally learning how to drive stick, a full year of not driving anything at all has me less than confident in my abilities to drive a clutch in the kind of traffic that is notorious around the suburbs of our nation's capital. Also, eww, pickup truck. I could probably convince my mom to take the truck, leaving me her car, but then I would die a million deaths from the shame of being the only 29 year-old on the planet driving a Buick LeSabre.

Aside from that there is the annoying little fact of having nowhere to go. Which, car problem solved! It turns out that you don't actually need a car to sit in your parents' house alone all day. It also turns out that while I am still at the mental age of my 21 year-old self, my friends have all made full use of their 29 years and now have homes and steady employment and no longer need to move home with their parents every summer like we did in college. Huh. Which, come on guys! Seriously, quit those pesky jobs and come home and hang out with meeeee! We can totally live the dream!

Until then, I'll be here, living the dream for you. Woo...hoo?


  1. OK, listen.

    You're 29 (I'm 44).

    You're 5' 10" (I'm 5' 0", as in ZERO!).

    You're 120 pounds (I'm 99 pounds but, relatively, that translates to 999 pounds).

    You've got three things that I'd kill for -- young age, high height, and low weight.

    Be happy. Or I'll have to smack you. :)

    PS. You're going to find a job and get out of the 'burbs soon. It's only been a couple of weeks. Don't fret quite yet.

  2. "my friends have all made full use of their 29 years and now have homes and steady employment and no longer need to move home with their parents every summer like we did in college."

    True that I don't move home with my parents in the summer.

    But that deal about homes and steady employment.... hahaha You're not the only one, Rach! Hang in there!!

    Come visit!

  3. I'm heading back home to New Zealand in August. Come on over!

  4. I'm about your age and do have a house and steady employment and while they have their benefits, they're also not all they're cracked up to be either. It looks like any of my husband's and mine free time and disposable income for the rest of the year will be spent on fixing up our old farmhouse so we have the hope of getting a decent price when we go to sell it. I also spent the last year in a small Iowa town as an engineer working in a factory while you were in FRANCE!

    So not to underrate the difficulties of your present situation at ALL (I can usually only stand to be with my parents for about 3 days before I start going nuts), the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

    But I'd definitely take your skinniness too - I'm 5'7" and I'm just happy that I'm pretty consistently under 140 these days (and not much of that is in the boobage department either :-).

    P.S. You definitely ARE a writer! When you write your book I will be one of the first in line to buy it. (And sorry for the book-length comment.)

  5. I do have to say "a car is a car". I moved home from France 10 months ago, a little sad to leave and feeling a little defeated.
    I drive a 1991 Oldsmobile. It gets me around and hey, I don't have huge car payments. I'm happy with my 50$ insurance each month.
    It took me a month to find work (through a temp agency) and as I had moved back in with the parents (at 26) to the countryside I feel your pain. It takes time and patience but you'll get there. I have moved out and have a decent contract job...just give it time.
    Good luck!!!

  6. I drove my dad's Ford Ranger all during high school. It was hot! Hot, I tell you! Don't tell me otherwise; I won't hear it.

    The driver's license photo is awesome. When I was in college, I had a terrible school ID with a weird shadow behind me that made me look like I had a mullet. When I lost my ID (woo! college!), the old man at the office told me I didn't have to take a new picture... until he looked up the old one and gently suggested it might be a good idea to do a retake. As it turned out, they briefly had a guy working for their office who didn't realize he was supposed to turn on ALL the photo lights when he took pictures. Several of my friends also had shadow mullets.

  7. You have totally just shamed me!! I am also 5'10" and like to claim that if I weighed less than 140 lbs I would look like a skeleton and you look nothing like a skeleton at 120 lbs....sweet moses, someone needs to light a fire under my rear! I can no longer claim I'm too tall to be your blog! Sitting at work reading it for the past 2 hours...great writing!