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Friday, October 21, 2016

Physical & Bureaucratic Discomfort

I don't think Trixie is as worried as she once was that I will dissolve during my evening shower and disappear down the drain. She still usually tucks herself into a cat loaf in the middle of the bathroom floor for the duration, but when I emerge and towel off, I no longer get a concerned meow. She's not sleeping on the ottoman next to my bed either, but instead curled up on a padded folding chair in my dining room. I feel positively abandoned.

Zits are like fire ant beds, my mom says – you can never truly kill them, you can just make them move. Right now the lower hemisphere of my face resembles a pasture plagued with ugly hillocks. In the upper hemisphere, the combination of crows feet and zits is not a pleasant one. The furrows do add to the rural look, however.

I've been in physical therapy for a week and a half for my arm pain, but have yet to feel a significant improvement. At the evaluation last week, I discovered I had lost some sensation in my fingertips--when the therapist asked for a comparison, I realized I couldn't feel fabric as well with my right fingers as I could with my left. After my session this past Monday, my forearm felt like it had been rubbed with a cheese grater--I guess that particular way of moving my neck wasn't the right one. How I've been holding my head the last 40 years has apparently not been correct either, and the chickens are coming home to roost in the form of multiple cervical disc problems. I've been forbidden to watch K dramas on my iPhone while looking down. I need to keep my nose and chin tips over my sternum, rather than thrust out over my toes. I have taken to wearing a lumbar support pillow tied to my waist like a bustle, so I won't have to remember to carry it around from chair to chair.

I ache when I sit for more than a few hours together, but I have been getting my work done. A recent entry I completed was on "Thanatopis." It inspired me to take a nap on the sofa. I assume that my dreams were pleasant, but I don't really remember.

I found myself interacting with a decidedly unpleasant person earlier this week as I roamed miles in order to get notarized copies of my university diplomas. Whereas in the United States notarized copies of your transcripts are considered proof of academic accomplishments, overseas places want to have apostilled copies of your diplomas themselves. In order to qualify for the apostille, a state level stamp of authenticity, my copies had to be locally notarized. And while one of the diplomas--all of which are framed, given that we Americans tend to think of diplomas more as wall decorations than as legal documents – had modest dimensions (about the size of a sheet of notebook paper) the others harkened back sizewise to the sheepskins on which they all once were issued. The copy machines at the library couldn't accommodate them. The librarian suggested going to the local FedEx store to get reproductions. I wrapped and stacked all my items, hauled them back out to the car, and managed to find the one remaining parking spot in front of the FedEx store. There was only one person working, and five people waiting, and when it was my turn, the young man informed me ungraciously that it was "against federal law" to make such copies. Horse Puckey. He could have simply said that he wasn't a notary, and so wasn't authorized to do so, but instead he implied that I was some sort of national-level criminal. So rude. So I picked up my ungainly stack again and drove several miles down the road to the nearest UPS store, having called in advance to make sure they had a notary on staff and that they wouldn't object to producing the copies I needed. There were four ladies working at UPS, all busy with customers, but they welcomed me cheerfully and not only printed out my images, but also notarized them right away. It was such a pleasant experience after the nervewracking confrontation with the man at FedEx. Not only was his information inaccurate, what sort of business that specializes in copying and shipping has so few people working in the middle of the day? And no notary on staff? And employs someone who covers over his ignorance with condescension? None of these are good business practices. I will most certainly drive several miles out of my way to UPS henceforth.

I had to have my fingerprints redone – the one processing company I could find that offers paper FBI reports (most background check contractors only offer digital reports – no pun intended – which can't be apostilled) required that all fingerprint cards not be older than 18 months. This seems a little odd to me, as surely my fingerprints would not have changed in that period! At any rate, I had to go all the way out to the county jail to be printed. When my report is returned, I have to send it up to Washington, DC, to the State Department to be authenticated.

If this all works out--the visa could still be denied because of my OCD--Trixie will be going to Virginia to stay with my brother Bob for the duration. He likes cats, and his house is large. I hate not being able to take her with me, but I did ask the school if they would be willing to pay for her plane ticket, and they refused. And really, the apartment they offer is so small that it cannot reasonably accommodate a pet any larger than a cricket. I would much rather Trixie be happy, with plenty of room to run around. My only concern is that my brother may become so fond of her that he might not want to give her back to me once I return...

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