Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Last week mom and I drove to Houston to apply for my Spanish visa (5.5 weeks until departure, but who's counting). We got a later start then we wanted because we had to go by the doctor's to get a note that says I don't have the plague*. I had left the form, which only required the doctor to check one box and sign it, on Monday, so naturally when I arrived on Wednesday morning it had not been checked or signed, and certainly not photocopied. Fortunately, because I was there right as they opened it didn't take long for the form to be completed and returned to me. Then we had to make stops at the grocery store, the gas station, McDonald's, and Wal-Mart**, in that order. So it was 9 before we really got on the road. Normally that would be a good departure for us, but the Spanish consulate is only open from 9 to 1.

Those would be great hours if I were working them, but as a customer they're terrible. For those of you playing at home, remember that the Consulate*** is in Houston, and I am coming from one of Dallas's northern suburbs, a good 4 and a half hours away. We made good time getting there, but we still didn't make it into Houston until 1:40.

It was about that time that it started to rain. This was the very edge of hurricane Dolly. It was not nice drizzly well behaved rain, nor was it what one would characterize as raining cats and dogs. It was just rain, and it lasted the entire time we were there.

Houston is the largest city in Texas and full of interesting and cultural things. But we had been to the Kimbell on Tuesday and were planing on going to the DMA on Thursday, so instead of seeing the sights, we went to the Galleria instead and spent the afternoon looking in designer windows.

The next morning we could not find a good cup of coffee. The stuff in the hotel was no better than hot water with a packet of non-dairy creamer (ick :P) and two packets of sugar (stale, I didn't even know that was possible). Then we went to Taco Cabana (so mom could get her breakfast burrito fix) and the coffee there was so over brewed I could have used it for motor oil. All the half and half and sugar in the world could not make that drinkable.

So we set out for the Consulate and maybe a Starbucks only to discover that the windshield wipers, which had been working perfectly the day before were making a squeaky noise. I have only a small tolerance for nasty little noises, but mom has no tolerance for them. So after two repetitions of this noise, mom rearranges our agenda to 1.)new wiper blades, 2.)coffee, and 3.)visa. The auto parts store told mom they didn't have blades for our car and that we'ed have to go to a Honda dealership if we wanted to replace them. Then the only Starbucks we could find was on the wrong side of the street and didn't have a drive through, so we didn't stop because it was still raining and mom didn't want to get out of the car again.

We went to the consulate. I told the lady at the desk that I was there to apply for a student visa and forked over the paperwork. I was allowed to pay in advance to have the visa FedEx-ed back to me, so at least I won't have to go back there to pick up my passport when they are done with it. I didn't even spend 15 minutes in the consulate.

All in all, it was a pretty painless trip except for the bit where I had to make a overnight trip to Houston, we never got the wipers fixed, I didn't get my morning coffee until after 11, and in rained the entire time we were there.

There's nothing to do now but sit and wait for the FedEx man.


*the form really did say I don't have the plague, nor a host of other diseases as well
**to get a money order to pay the processing fee as the Spaniards wouldn't take a personal check
***where I must apply in person

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shameless Capitalism

It's been a pretty boring summer thus far here at casa del mi genitori*. So boring that the most interesting photo I could come up with is from last December. I use it anyway, because Abraham Lincoln makes most things better and I figure I can use the help.

I've been spinning my gears sending paperwork back and forth across the Atlantic in preparation for grad school in the fall. I leave for Madrid on the first of September and I really wish I could fast forward through the next month and a half so I can get started. Or, just travel to the first and switch places with my future self, except then she'd be stuck in an infinite loop of a really boring month and a half, and I wouldn't want to do that to her. Or me. Or whoever.

In the mean time, I'm bringing in gas money by doing housework for a few people from church, and searching for freelance writing work. I'm also supposed to be working on my novel and learning Spanish, but that's gotten about as far as my carrier as an artiest.

I just got my graduation/birthday present: a shiny new laptop to supplant the much-abused HAL**. I love my new machine, and the transition has been surprisingly easy, barring the fact that Vista is out to thwart my every plan, and I can't find the CD for Office.***

You might have noticed the advertising that has appeared in the sidebar. You might be gnashing your teeth and shaking your fist that yet another site has ads on it, but you shouldn't be. When people who aren't me click on the adds, AdSense gives me money. I like getting money without really having to do anything, so if all of you out there in reader-land will do me a favor and click on the ads, that would be much appreciated. (You don't even have to look at the pages. Just right click on the link and choose open in a new window. Wait for it to finish loading and then hit the Red X in the corner to make it go away forever. Unless you use a Mac. Then you have to do something else because you don't have a right mouse button and you probably call windows by some other name*. I'll let you figure it out on your own.)

If you like me enough to actually spend a little money, then you could also go to Deviant Art (link at left) and buy a print from me. They're cheap, I get a cut, and you have a crap gift to bring to your next White Elephant exchange, so we win all around.


*translation from my limited (and ungrammatical) Italian: my parents house
**HAL had an annoying tendency to freeze up and lock me out of important things, such as the pod bay doors.
***It's in the house somewhere, it just hasn't been used in a couple years and has been squirreled away in some really clever hidey-hole that I haven't remembered yet.
*like 'Apple Cores'?