joys of the DMV

October 28, 2005

Today I took a friend of my husband’s to the Wisconsin DMV to get his state ID. Fermin asked me to go with him because despite having the appropriate paperwork before, he had been denied an ID twice. It didn’t make any sense. Let me also state that Wisconsin does not have a law requiring proof of legal residence as a prerequisite for getting a state ID.

You need three pieces of paperwork for a new ID – one proof of identification and one proof of residence, and then a third of either. Last time he brought three, one of which being his paycheck, which had his name and address printed on it. I sat and read the document list while we waited, verifying that last time they definitely should have given him an ID. Fermin said the woman had taken one look at them, his birth certificate (from Mexico) and his Voter’s Registration Card (from Mexico, but specifically stated on the Wisconsin documents list as acceptable) and then tossed the check back at them saying “I’m not familiar with this,” referring to his employer, a five-location chain of frozen custard places rather popular in Milwaukee. (Side note: Never toss, slide or throw anything at or toward a Mexican, even in a playful, casual way, it’s very rude).

I conveniently had to renew my license and change my address so I went first at the window. Oddly, when I said I needed to change my address, I didn’t need a single piece of proof of my new address – nothing! After I was done I told the agent (coincidentally he was bilingual and had turned down our friend before) that our friend had been there three times and had been treated badly and not gotten his ID. The agent looked at the papers – basically the same ones he had had before – made a joke with our friend in Spanish and assured me that I could go down to get my new photo taken because everything was in order.

After my terrible, unexpected photo was taken and we got our IDs, we discussed why this time it had been so simple, although virtually nothing had changed. There really was nothing to conclude except that my comments or presence deflected any potential bull@#%* from occurring. I was also amazed that at this DMV, where a good third of the people there appeared to be Spanish-speaking, there was one bilingual agent (out of thirteen) and no one available at the information area who spoke Spanish.

I suppose there are still people who believe that if you are in America you should speak English, but getting a legal state ID is one of the first things someone needs when they arrive here, in order to get a job. Later, an immigrant usually learns English. Other human rights issues aside, our economy needs these immigrants, and those who think we should discourage immigration do not understand who cooks the food in our restaurants, pick our fresh fruit, stock our big Walmarts and do all the other menial tasks that Americans find ourselves above. It’s just infuriating to see people treated badly simply for the fact that they are Hispanic, or foreign, or don’t speak English.

In other news, I’ve been downloading music into my iPod all day. So exciting.


language barrier

October 27, 2005

I’ve been a little intense and deep with my blog lately, so much so that a close family member said reading my blog is akin to reading my diary. I guess that’s somewhat true, this is a little like my diary, and that comment doesn’t bother me in the least. Anyway, onto some lighter material for the night.

I was thinking about how often I come upon something that I want to express that just doesn’t work right in English. I speak so much Spanish during the day that there are lots of colloquial phrases that I use that just work better for certain situations. Obviously, there are many times that I also don’t know how to translate an English expression into Spanish, but I always find it interesting when I find someting that I can’t express as well or at all in English.

I had the same experience when I was studying Chinese. After a while living there with some other Americans, we had our own mix of language that we used to communicate, English peppered with key Chinese expressions that just couldn’t be translated. It was great, and when I came back I had a hard time expressing those things purely in English with everyone here (who obviously didn’t speak Chinese).

In other news, I got an iPod tonight – so exciting. I love everything about it — the tiny, efficient packaging, the size, the look of it, the simple usage, everything. The only thing I don’t love is that I got six error messages in a row when I tried to download the software onto my computer, confirming the fact that there is something seriously wrong with my computer. A virus? Almost every time I try to download or install anything I get error messages and lately about every other time I shut down or start up the computer I either get an error message or it needs to be forced to shut down. My record with pieces of technology is not good. Anyway, I’ll have to call Apple tech support in the morning, and hopefully they can help me get the software loaded. It’s too bad, because I could have had half my cds downloaded by now. Oh well, tomorrow is another day off, and for that, I am happy.

By the way, Mary has a really great post on her blog right now, if any of you have not seen it yet, check it out. I couldn’t have written these thoughts and frustrations (which I share) better myself.

it’s my one-year blogging anniversary – a tribute to inheritance

October 23, 2005

I’ve just spent a frustrating hour trying to connect to the internet at my favorite coffee spot in Milwaukee. The tribal hold music was stirring my insides into a fury as I thought about my relaxing evening being wasted waiting for a support tech to help me connect my practically-new “wireless-ready” laptop to the internet. I was thinking how much I wished I had convinved my dad that the mac was right for me (sorry dad) and how much time I have lost trouble-shooting my internet connection at any number of wireless hotspots and rebooting my computer at home since every time it goes on standby I lose my connection. Oh well, maybe the mac would do the same thing, and it just goes to show that stubbornness runs in the family.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t planning to spend my evening surfing the web, or even blogging. I bought this writing guide the other week and have decided to go through it, working on the exercises and learning something about my future career(!?). But approaching the lake on my way here there was this big, bright full moon hanging right over Lake Michigan, peeking out from behind the skyline as I drove east on I-94. I had all these beautiful thoughts that I wanted to blog when I got here, but instead I killed it with minute after long minute of technical frustration.

Oh well, I mention the family stubbornness for a reason. I had a brief conversation with my dad recently–I don’t actually even remember how this came up–but he mentioned his tendency to not change his mind or behavior when he knows others may be watching. For example, he said that after living in Indiana moving houses (literally, like on those giant trailers) for a few years after college, he came back to Milwaukee deciding to be much more assertive in his life. I am not sure exactly what he was referring to, and I forget what exactly we had been talking about, but I realized I have this exact same tendency. I have a history of being ridiculously concerned about what people who know me think. I know I still do it at work, but I think I have partially cured myself of it in my personal life.

Example: When I was in high school I was dead set against going to UW-Madison because I figured everyone who went there had to be a crazy drunk and I didn’t want any part of that scene. For many good reasons (one of which being it’s his alma mater), my dad wanted me to go, and when I visited the campus I totally fell in love with it. I waited, however, for six months to tell anyone that I had decided to go there.

I had been so vocal among my family and friends about not going to UW that when I realized I wanted to go there, it was embarrassing. I especially didn’t want my dad to know I had changed my mind and that he was right. It’s so insane I laugh about it now. By now I have done enough surprising things with my life now that my parents and friends expect about anything, and I feel very free and good about that. But I could still name 10 times at work when a policy has changed or I have had to confront people about a new way of doing something (that involved more work/time/energy) and I have hated doing it or just not done it at all.

Sometimes the motive behind this madness is not about rocking someone’s boat. Like tonight with the internet, I could have just done something else, but I couldn’t. It bothered me so bad that it didn’t work that I sat through that horrible music just to prove a point that I should be able to get on the internet. And with this computer, (which really is a nice computer by the way), but when my dad had suggested buying me a new laptop for a wedding present, I had wanted an iMac. He had his reasons (he uses and loves PCs) and I had mine (I have used and prefer Macs). It mirrored our ongoing political tension where his Republican views battle my liberal views for correctness, both of us feeling firmly superior in our arguments. The discussion went on and on until the older generation won out I guess.

Anyway, it was funny, the other night we were at my cousin’s wedding and my husband Fermin and I were sitting with my family, and my dad and I started to get into one of our mini-discussion/arguments about something stupid, and Fermin said something like he guesses if my dad argues like that that’s where I get it from. Ha! How true, how true.

waiting on today…

October 19, 2005

This is my favorite title submission by far, although now that he mentions it, I really like “less crazy than the day before” too, which was the title of my last post, like Allan suggested. However, (and I am apparently going to lose Allan as a reader altogether now?) this week I was inspired by some U2 lyrics that have become my new title. I don’t know if it’s perfect, but it definitely sums up a lot of stuff that I struggle, live, think about, deal with, rejoice in, etc.

I was listening to U2’s How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb the other day and the start of one song goes:

“The more you see the less you know,
the less you find out as you go,
I knew much more then,
than I do now.”

This very much expresses how I relate to religion, faith and life in general right now. I was something of a fundamentalist for a time and really thought I had life figured out. I believed I understood Christianity and its place and meaning in my life. I had certain views about God, right and wrong, and the world and those views shaped the way I lived my life almost to a tee. The problem was, the world began to open up to me through places and people and emotions and just life, and things became so much more complicated.

I realized that the more things I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know, and that back when I knew a little, I thought I knew it all. It’s ironic, but I think many people would agree. There are still ragged strings of faith left, but only the really strong, ingrained deep-seeded ones of the human heart survive. The rest I ponder and wonder about and sometimes try to talk to the God I once felt I was “close to” about.


This is a rather profound post considering I have just finished a 10-hour shift at work and am sitting at the computer in the office, 20 minutes from home and a good, long sleep. I thought I would take a minute to read blogs and then Mary and Allan spurred me to write. I have another almost-finished post on my computer at home that will have to wait another few days for posting I guess.

less crazy than the day before

October 9, 2005

So, I want a new blog title, and the current one, which I started using last week, isn’t doing it for me either. If anyone has a new title for me, or really likes “where to begin?” – let me know. I am open to suggestions, inspiration, prophecy.

My brain has been working overtime in the last week trying to make some plans for the next few months. The travel bug has totally taken over my thoughts since I finished a great book strangely titled Foreign Babes in Beijing. It’s actually the story of a young American woman’s life in Beijing in the ’90s and nothing has made me miss China more than this book. It’s very insightful, funny, and well-written, and she shares a lot of things that embody why I love Beijing so much.

Anyway, with the frustration at my job I’ve really been thinking about trying to do something else, and maybe I should give writing a shot. I’m young and have few things to tie me down, I should at least give it a try, right? So I’m thinking to go to China for a week or two, use up my vacation, take some time to think, write, get inspired maybe. When I come back I’ll think of what I might write about, think about how that’s going to work, take a class, read some books, give it a go. All this sounds just slightly less like crazy talk than it did yesterday, but that’s still a great distance from sanity.

Then I started thinking about what I might do to make a little money while I try out this writing thing. And I have to say, the thought of having a job with little or no responsibility makes my heart race with excitement. I can think of so many things that I would love (and be great at) part time. I could waitress, I could be a shift supervisor at Qdoba, I could work in retail, I could work at the post office for God’s sake. It’s amazing! I know I sound insane, but the parts of my job that make me feel like “the man” (see Restless below, from 9/21) really make me want to be an employee, or just stop working for a corporation altogether, but being an employee is much more realistic. Of course, I am an employee now, but I also have employees, and that’s the part that’s stealing my soul.

So, we’ll see what happens, but I have the feeling that if I do a little traveling, take some classes, give it a shot, I will never regret it. Worst case scenario I’m a total failure and I look for a new job in the restaurant or some other industry after a while. What is there to lose? I know I can’t think of anything, can anyone else? Fermin would love to see a less stressed-out version of myself, and he’s even offered to pay my part of the bills would I want to go to China for a month or two. I actually just want to go for two weeks, and still figure out a way to go to Mexico, but we’ll figure that out later.

So, ideas and ideas, anyone have any for me to rename my blog?

I’m waiting for comments on life and blogging.

a drive to the country

October 5, 2005

So I sit here, enjoying the wind blowing my hair around, making swishing noises among the leaves below, as I try to forget my so-far disappointing day. A welcome peace awaits inside the aged brick tower, 1768 steps up, 1350 feet above sea level.

I’ve been to Holy Hill many times before, with my mom, when I was a kid. I remembered how they charge $0.50 to climb the tower by placing an unattended post with a slot for money at the bottom of the steps. When I was a kid, I wondered if people would really pay if no one was watching. I put in a dollar this time. It’s a good thing that I had stopped at the ATM because in my everyday life I always use a card, and they definitely don’t take debit here.

I’m alone at the top, in the little room at the top of the tower, listening to the wind. There’s a sign at the botom of the tower that wishes good luck with the stairs. As a kid I remember feeling the time it took to get up the stairs was an eternity. It really only took me about 10 minutes this time. Every few flights of wrought-iron steps there’s a landing room leading to another flight of stairs. All these rooms contain different colors or bricks, peeling paint, and beautiful old doors leading to forbidden closed-off areas. I am reminded of my love of exploring; unfortunately these doors are locked. As you reach the top the stairs spiral; open air windows would allow a clumsy person to fall to their death but provide the fantastic views that draw non-Catholics like me to this place. There is a creepy, homey feeling about the solitary climb, not unlike being home alone at night feeling comfortable but irrationally scared that an intruder could be in the next room.

It’s windy, which throws off my balance as I climb, and I feel a twinge of fear. As I reach the top though, it’s totally worth it. The solid brick structure reaching into the sky as the wind rips around it feels wonderfully solid, reassuring. I am reminded that some things endure — autumn leaves changing, the wind, the setting sun as well as some man-made things — old brick churches, some relationships, maybe dreams, if you’re lucky.

tv time

October 2, 2005

Seriously, what is wrong with me? Every time I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition I start to cry. I mean, even at the start of the show when they talk about these amazing families I get all emotional. Am I a nut or what?

Okay, part deux: I am thinking of getting some sort of iPod. I couldn’t think of a good reason to get one before but if I am really going to spend two months in Mexico, I would really like a soundtrack. I recently learned you can get an adaptor and use it in the car too, so that’s another selling point. I was thinking about a nano, but then I saw the U2 edition regular iPod and sort of liked that. Okay, any iPod users have any suggestions for me? Thoughts? Recomendations?