I know what you’re thinking: “Two posts in two days? Did some one die?” No. No one died, why would you think that? That’s horrible. Can’t a woman deviate from her regular blogging schedule without the internet rubber-necking for a look at the bodies? Yeesh.
Actually, this week has been a mix of awesome and frustrating. I’ll start with the awesome first, because it’s really, really awesome. Also because I’m sure people will read the whole thing if I promise some sort of emotional carnage at the end.
Starting at the beginning, way, way back at the start of this week, I came home from shopping to a failure to deliver mail slip from the embassy. Sweet! New passport, I can finally buy my Christmas plane tickets home! But there being no time to pick it up at that moment, I went after work to grab my stiff new passport. When I got home, I found yet another failure to deliver slip waiting for me. This one from a package sent from New York. GASP!
So I busted open the door and cried, “Alex! We gotta go to the post office. NOW!”
“Why?” she called back down.
“Because it’s here!”
“IT!” And then I ran outside and whined at the door until she sauntered out as if the post office were open 24/7 and I wouldn’t die of disappointment if I didn’t have it in my hands that very night. I think I might have violated a few traffic laws in rushing down there, but I was too much of a blur for the cops to see me running reds on my bicycle. It was 8pm. When did the post office even close? Would I be able to retrieve it at all that night?
The lights were still on at the main office, and no one had bothered to pull down the blinds. It doesn’t matter what office hours are printed on the door, post office availability follows the same logic as Halloween candy availability: if the porch light is on, we’re good to go.
Huffing and red-faced, and slapped my second failed delivery notice on the front desk. “So-Sorry. One- just one more- please.”
The lady at the counter gave me a pitying look as she took my slip to the back, but I didn’t care. It was back there. The good vibes could not be contained. When she handed me my package, I left her with my identification card. No time could be spared. I had to get home. Had to open it.
Magically we acquired food somewhere along the way, but that was secondary compared to the package I had in my hand. With the tender care of a heart surgeon I slit open the box, and with the energy and excitement of each of my twenty-eight Christmases combined, I lifted away the protective wrap. This is what I found:
Books. Beautiful, coveted, signed books. I was not expecting such generosity. I wasn’t expecting anything for what was a small favor to an admired author. I’m delighted and anxious to start reading all of these, but I really have to be done with Empires of Sand first. (Honestly, I don’t know why I bother making a yearly reading list. Too many other books jump in, demanding to be read.) My most gleeful thanks to both Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman for the above gift. These will most certainly be numbered among my personal treasures.
Let’s now return to the aforementioned Christmas plane tickets. Due to some family concerns, I’ve decided to go back to Canada this Christmas again. Waiting another two years for another visit is undesirable at this time. My family had in the past expressed puzzlement as to why Alex does not travel with me to visit them, and the reason for that is purely economic. It costs on average about $1200 for a single person to fly from Japan to Canada and back. For the both of us to take the trip would be at least $2500, not including finding someone to take care of the dog. My family, inclusive as they always are, decided to raise the money among themselves to pay for the both of us to visit this Christmas. (This would make a terrific holiday special.)
In fact, I managed to find good plane tickets for the both of us that didn’t even use all the money they sent us. Huzzah! The difficulty started when, in the time it took for me to submit all my information to the travel agency, the price jumped up by $800. But when I say that the tickets were good, I mean it. They were really good tickets, with a fast airline and short layovers. I figured that they were worth the increase, and accepted the change. And immediately after I confirmed the whole thing I realized that the increase put the total price over my credit limit.
Naturally, the charge was declined, but the agency kindly informed me that I should double check all my information and try again, or call them to consider other options. Knowing immediately what the problem was, I called my credit card instead. The continuation of my problems was likely in part my fault. The company assured me that the increase would be easy and simple, rattled off the information they had on file for me, and without pausing to allow me to confirm or edit any of it, sent the short application. It was rejected.
So I was sent to another department for a long version of the application, in which I corrected all the information they had on file for me, and answered all their questions truthfully. Perhaps too truthfully. I probably should have mentioned my marital status, but they never asked for it. As a result, it likely looks to them that I am living way above my means. I seem to have been denied my increase.
But, no matter. The agency gave the option to pay over two credit cards. All I had to do was call them and request that the additional cost be charged to Alex. It was a flawless plan that had only one flaw: the agency call center appears to be abandoned. I waited on hold, listening to the same robot man informing me that they were experiencing an unusually high call volume, for thirty minutes. Twice. While calling on international rates.
So I sent them an email. It may have been slightly passive aggressive. I’m still waiting to hear back.