Friday, April 27, 2018

Tales from the DMV

On Thursday, Grey and I decided to brave the DMV. I've been dreading this visit since we learned we were moving, given that the last experience I had involved one of the field agents chastising me for daring to hyphenate my last name following sending me home twice before to get signatures on paperwork that previously were not specified. Determined to not have a repeat, I spent a week researching all we would need ahead of time, including making sure that we went to the correct office (only 3 offices in California process driver's license applications without an appointment; it currently take 5 weeks to get an appointment; by law, we are suppose to get driver's licenses 10 days after establishing residency) all while hoping that we wouldn't have any more horror stories to add to our collection.

It was wishful thinking.

I knew we were in trouble when Grey woke up with stomach troubles. Despite the plan to drop the Beats early at school, we got a later start, putting us in line at the DMV around 8:30 am. On most planets, this wouldn't be a huge issue, but the end result of having submitted an application at 9:15 am instead closer to 8 am meant we would then spend the next 5 1/2 hours sitting in folding chairs, watching 2-3 DMV employees slowly service over 200 people.

In the course of those hours, I watched people of all shapes and sizes unleash their frustration in familiar and novel ways. The most memorable where the older woman who seemingly hexed the DMV manager after 6 hours of waiting and learning that most the staff was out on lunch break, the elderly guy who was angry that the staff called the police after he left a small dog trapped in his car for over 2 hours (it got up to 70 degrees yesterday) and overly entitled couple who decided waiting in lines wasn't their thing.

In the end, I left Grey at the DMV and made my way back to our town to grab the Beats. I would learn 30 mins later that not only was my name finally called 10 mins after I left the building (of course), but they had botched my name, asking instead for "Krishna."

Thankfully Grey passed his driving test and was through the process. But it meant I had to go back.

If you're ever bored or having a rough day, I highly recommend searching "DMV horror stories." Why an "Office" or "Parks and Recreation" version TV show hasn't been aired on the comings and goings of this setting baffles me as the amount of fodder is mind-blowing. From long hours of waiting to bizarre driving exam questions to the forms, there's enough there for any inspiring author. And that's the normal stuff. Where it gets fun is when there are disagreements or someone decides to get pushy. Usually fueled by the system crashing or problems with DMV machines.

In the past, I've failed driver's tests due to the online test freezing, had 3 different agents tell me 3 different ways to fill out title forms (sign here followed by "why did you sign here?" followed by "this is the wrong form" only to stop mid-sentence, look confused and mutter "never mind."). All of it gives me the shakes seeing as it's extremely easy to find yourself forever trapped in the confines of these offices.

Over the years the horror stories have only gotten worse, directly linked with cuts in government funding. Grey was quick to point out yesterday that when you underpay and understaff these agencies, it's hard not to expect dismal conditions. Still, after 7 hours of sitting, he declared this the worse experience he's had so far.

And he only had to get a new driver's license (Cristy is in charge of doing the car title transfer; which is at an entirely different office).

This morning, I was back in line at the same DMV. Determined to not wait 6 hours again for nothing, I made sure to arrive at 7:30 am. I won't tell you what time I was up this morning to make lunches and pack the Beats off to school, but my hunch paid off when the employees emerged shortly after I got in line and gave out instructions for how the day would proceed.

I got my new application in at 8:07 am and found myself in the coveted line for processing by 9:15 am. Unlike everyone around me, I had all my materials (Passport, Social Security Care, old driver's license and proof of residence) in order, meaning that the agent was easily able to finalize everything.

And then I failed the written test. Missing questions that were clearly misspelled or had two answers that were insanely close in meaning.

All making me want to cry.

Instead I found myself at window 5, wiping away tears while the agent behind the counter took pity on me and gave me a form to do the test again.

60 mins later I was back in front of a computer, slowly reading each question twice, drinking over a liter of water to calm my nerves. And only missing 2 questions. One of which asked the following:
You're on a one-way street and the driver in front of you is going slowly, making frequent stops. You:
A) pass on the shoulder
B) flash your lights at them
C) reduce the distance between your vehicles
I wanted to scream when the computer flashed "Congratulations" at me. That and the fact that I needed to pee so badly.

I'm still not in the clear as we still have to register our car (aka Lenny) and we are running out of time to do so (20 days following establishing residency). But given that Lenny has already passed his Smog check (with flying colors!!!) and we have the title, in theory it should be a fairly straight-forward process.

In theory....

#FlipTheScript - Stepping out of the shadows

In May 2013, Grey and I attended an American Cancer Society event for the Puget Sound Chapter to celebrate the Society's 100th birthday. After a light lunch, the president for this chapter gave an impassioned speech talking about who 100 years before, those living with cancer where living in the shadows. Prior to ACS's presence and push for education, cancer was considered a shameful disease, with many patients quietly battling, and often dying, surrounded by shame due to the fact it was assumed they were afflicted for a reason.

Holding a copy of this chapter president's speech in my hands (how I wish I had taken it with me), I was dumbstruck by the similarities in experiences those from a century ago diagnosed with cancer faced to those who are currently living with infertility. Thanks to the ACS and other organizations like it found globally, the conversation has dramatically changed for those diagnosed with cancer. Yet the stigma around infertility and repeat pregnancy loss (RPL) remains.

Which is why work from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is so incredibly important. Since 1974, this organization has been working to change the dialogue surrounding infertility and RPL, working to educate the public about the truths surrounding these conditions and bringing those living with infertility and RPL out of the shadows. This year's National Infertility Awareness Week theme of #FlipTheScript represents this so well, helping turn the idea of infertility being something to be ashamed about into awareness about the realities.

But we still have more work to do.

Over the past 7 years, both Grey and I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to find support through the online ALI community as well as through organizations like RESOLVE. But in my day-to-day life, there was a lot of pressure to remain silent. I'm glad I didn't as living in the shadows was slowly killing me, turning me into a shell of a person. But I've also learned that the only way to end stigma and shame is through education in advocacy. And the best way to do that is through changing the conversation, celebrating those who are infertility/RPL survivors, no matter the road they've taken to resolution, and offering support to those who are still in the thick of it.

Over 100 years ago, people thought nothing about chastising and shaming those living with cancer. Today, we as a global community know better. My hope is that within my lifetime I see the same change for those living with infertility/RPL. That instead of living in the shadows, they find themselves wrapped in support and love as they battle these conditions.

Monday, April 23, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: All the changes

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Today marks 3 1/2 weeks since we landed on the West Coast. It's odd to think about this time as we are literally still unpacking, partly living out of boxes, and yet so very much has been changing. 

Like the Beats being settled into a new school and me learning to navigate the school system for upcoming Kindergarten registration (whole other post on that madness).

Like upcoming surgery for She-Beat.

Like me finding myself in a new role of finishing teaching from 2,673 miles away, literally watching my students take ownership of this project that I created and making it their own (and being insanely proud of them for it).

And handling material changes, like purchasing new beds and furniture. Oh, and Lenny officially has a new sister named Ruby, making us a 2 car family for the first time in 15 years (damn if that hasn't been a surreal experience).

Sitting here, taking a breath from unpacking, scheduling, making phone calls and mapping out job applications, all the changes make our life in Boston seem like it was from a different time. Even though I get vivid flashes of moments there, making me remember it wasn't that long ago. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dealing with porch pirates

It started with 3 missing packages. In an effort to circumvent all the hassles we faced with our last move (i.e. no litterbox at 11 pm), I ordered a bunch of pet supplies and had the shipped to our new address. I knew we were risking things when I got an alert that the order was arriving a day earlier than planned, but I hoped that no one would be interested in cat food.

The order was quickly replaced when I couldn't find it, but the sizes of the boxes indicated they hadn't simply been misplaced. The next evening, I would find a young man hanging out in what was supposed to be a locked off area behind our unit. When confronted, he jumped and than accused me of racial profiling. Never mind he was trespassing.

Over the next couple of weeks I would be lulled into a false sense that the package theft incident was singular. During this time, a neighbor would start coming over to our complex, hanging out for hours on end in the carport area, watching me the whole time. But I wanted to believe it wasn't anything to be concerned about.

Until yesterday when the period of the loiterer on the property correlated nicely with another package disappearing. Him laughing wildly when he saw me come home. And then getting very agitated when the mother of his daughter dropped the little girl off, making his home address painfully clear.

Police reports have been filed (though let's be honest, the police aren't going to do a damn thing) and management has been alerted. Originally management assumed I was just being dramatic until they found the loiterer on the property, refusing to leave. Supposedly the police are going to show up, but who knows.

In the meantime, Grey and I are devising ways to handle porch pirates, given we have no firm evidence who the culprit is. We're rerouting all package deliveries to Grey's work (meaning now I owe the loading dock crew) while I'm looking into a lockbox/locking bag, investigating delivery services, looking into security cameras and other options. All while resisting the temptation to buy a bait box.

Sadly, as annoying as all of this is, it's still better than our previous rental situation (read no leaking oil tanks or lack of heat). A beast I can handle given we are living in a transitioning neighborhood. But given this is a growing problem, would love thoughts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Spoke too soon

On Monday, She-Beat was formally diagnosed with sleep apnea. In the midst of moving and transitioning, she's been waking up in the middle of the night choking and wheezing and snoring has become routine. One night it became too much and after dealing with a screaming Grey who was clearly scared out of his mind, I got her in to see a new medical provider where she immediately got a referral to the local sleep clinic.

The diagnosis is a double-edged sword. First, we have an explanation. And this ENT has suggested that this could be the underlying cause for She-Beat's developmental delay as we know that poor sleep is linked with learning difficulties. In light of the fact that there is a growing body of evidence about the links of poor sleep quality with early onset dementia/Alzheimer's, ADHD, diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc, none of this is surprising and it actually gives me hope that in combination with continued therapy we may end up with a kid who once again falls into the normal range.

But I'm also insanely pissed off that this was completely missed by the Harvard-educated ENTs in Boston as well as the daycare we divorce. These supposedly world-class physicians missed something that was immediately obvious to the ENT on the West Coast, demonstrating once again how full of shit they can be. And I'm actually looking into reporting that daycare to the Board of Education given that they missed something that should have been addressed (the use to let her nap until 5 pm, claiming they were not allowed to wake children up and ignoring something that was glaringly wrong).

Finally, I'm frightened. Because this means surgery number 5 for this child who isn't even 5 years old. Following when the Beats had their ear tubes removed, I assumed we had put all of this behind us. I spoke too soon. And though adenoid and tonsil removal is routine, it's none the less scary to know there's yet another operation.

The summary statement is we're moving forward, with surgery scheduled for May 3. And I'm thankful that we have some way to help She-Beat as this cannot continue. She needs to be able to breathe.

But I dare anyone to argue with me about how superior medical training in Boston is. Or argue in general.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


One week ago today, Grey and I loaded up the family and headed to a hotel by the airport. Over the next 24 hours we would fight exhaustion and stress, navigating 2 separate airport and all that was needed in between. I'll be honest and state there were moments where Grey wanted to slip me some of the sedatives Jaxson and Daisy were on (apparently I looked like a ghost after dealing with TSA), but somehow we survived.

And now we've been focusing on adjusting.

There's so much I forgot about the strangeness that came with arriving on the West Coast for the first time. The car-centric culture with wide streets and access to freeways. The distance between destinations. But most of all is the warm weather and sunshine; going from winter-like conditions to summer-like conditions has been unsettling.

Equally unsettling has been navigating the porch pirates and petty scams. One unexpected blessing of our Boston experience was having zero issues trespassing or package theft.

But the biggest adjustment is finding ourselves once again close to family. Over the weekend, Lucas and Moon invited us over to their home for Easter, which was an easy 30 min trek. It's the first time Moon has ever met the Beats and the cousins meeting one another. MIL is also currently in town celebrating her birthday, which has given her a chance to see the Beats in almost 3 years. And my brother is planning on visiting this coming weekend.

There's a lot of weirdness surrounding all these events and as we begin to establish a new normal and routine. Some days all I want to do is pull the covers back over my head, sleeping until my head isn't as foggy or allowing myself a glass of wine earlier in the evening.

But then there's seeing the foothills in the distance or watching the kids interact with one another. There's watching Jaxson and Daisy sun themselves on the patio. And finally there's seeing the smile on Grey's face that disappeared during our time in Boston; hearing the excitement he has once again about the future and life in general

This past week also marked 6 years since my second miscarriage, which I've been quietly dealing with. Normally this week is a harder one, with me hiding more from the world, but the truth is it feels like hope and light are finding there way back in to spaces of my heart that I didn't know were darkened. It's far from perfect and all of this has made me realize more healing needs to happen, yet its progress.

All of it part of adjusting, both to this new normal but also to a new chapter.

Monday, April 2, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Rants from a cat (moving edition)

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Dear Humans,

Our mom sucks. Daisy and I had a feeling we were going to be shoved into a plane again, given all the furniture disappeared and we had to have a visit with the evil veterinarian to discuss "pills," but deep down I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't go through with it. 

Then we woke up early on Wednesday morning to an extra early breakfast, only for me to realize too late that the food was laced (Daisy wasn't fooled, resulting in another pill being shoved down her throat). Then we were locked up in our canvas cages, with the humans thinking it was so cute we had our own tags. We officially pee on tags like this.

"Check me out, I'm checked in." is missing "in HELL" at the end.
Equally not fun are the X-ray machines. Any organism who thinks that practice is humane also gets peed on.

But the worst was spending 6 1/2 hours shoved under a seat, having to endure the farts of some stranger while occasionally being placated with head rubs. Daisy and I have survived torture.

Sure, California is pretty peachy. Granted there are less bugs and I miss hearing the mice run through the walls, but there's grass and sunshine and it's been warm.

Plus Daisy and I have claimed new outlooks

Note the lone paw indicating I'm fully stretched out and unconcerned about the humans opinions about my new outpost
Still, this whole moving thing is for the birds. I just want things to calm down and for my mom to get rid of any future ideas of relocating.

In the meantime, I officially have claimed the stairs. Toll to pass depends on how you chose to please me, including chewing out my mom.

With kindest regards (unless you chose to drug me too),
Jaxson Euripides Meowser
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved