Joern and I had a great Christmastime this year, and I can't believe we're already so far in to 2010, but I guess I have some time now, so why not catch up?
Our break started on Dec. 18th this year, with a little drama. My passport had expired on Nov. 30th 2009. I was a good little girl when I was home this summer, getting the proper passport pictures. When I got back to Germany, I immediately filled out the paperwork for passport renewal. Then, I realized that the passport photos I got were incorrect because they did not show my ears. So, it took us a while to find a photo store here that knew the requirements for US passport pictures. Once I got the pictures, I bundled up all the documents to send in the paperwork. Then I realized that I needed my passport to get my driver's license. This was in October. Once I got my license, I then realized that my bank card (which was then my only credit card) had been cancelled, and I needed to call my dad and send me my new bank card. I finally got my bank card at the end of October. Then we realized that I couldn't find an official marriage certificate, without which, I could not change the name on my passport. I finally got everything together, and sent my passport out for renewal the week before Thanksgiving- giving me 6 weeks till Christmas.
I started to get nervous the week before my Christmas break, somewhere around the
15th, when I still didn't get my passport. The embassy website clearly states that if you do not have 3 weeks to wait for a passport, then you should not renew by mail. I was working on 5 weeks at this point. I finally decided to call the embassy, during their calling hours on the 21st, my first day of break. Turns out that they have specific calling hours, all of which were during my work day, so I had to call when I was on break. When I called, they were able to track my passport. It was in New Orleans? Well, in transit from New Orleans. Seriously? I thought the whole point was that they did the passport there at the embassy, obviously not. Oddly enough though, my bank card had been charged with a foreign transaction fee. Whatever.
So, I was told to call back on Tuesday, because it was possible that it would be sent back soon. On Tuesday, I called, again, during calling hours, to find out the passport had arrived, but they could not tell if it had already been sent out to me. But, they finally red flagged it, and I was told that I would be called on Wednesday morning by the person who sends out the passports.
I thought that they would call and tell us that they would hold the passport and we could pick it up on Thursday. Ha! On Wednesday morning, at 7:15, we received a call from the embassy, saying that I had until 12:00 noon to pick up my passport, otherwise, it would be placed in the mail. Because of Christmas, I would not receive my passport in the mail until sometime the week after Christmas.
So, we jumped in the car, and made the 2 hour drive, in the snow, up to Frankfurt. Once we got to the embassy, I had to wait in line to get a number, and Joern was not allowed to come in with me :( I had to wait about 30 minutes for my name to be called, and in about 5 more minutes, I was out the door with my shiny new passport.
I have to admit, it was a lot of hassle, but it is so ridiculously cool. Joern is convinced that it is the coolest passport in the world. I have to admit, you feel a swell of patriotism when you look through these new ones. Joern said it would be worth it to become a citizen just to get one too :) Of course, he won't, but its cool.
Because Joern was so nice, he took me for a Starbucks in Frankfurt center, on the main shopping throughfair, the Zeil. Afterwards, we did our Christmas shopping too, which was also a relief, because I was nervous about getting pressies for everyone at home before we headed home.
Although it was stressful, it was a good day, and I am so relieved to have my passport back.