Flannery Correspondence

January 30, 2010

I’m Outraged! Today’s Episode: Social Security

I lost my social security card. I tore the house apart looking for it. No luck.

You know what that means. What’s funner than the DMV? The Social Security Administration.

I know what to expect from a well-oiled government bureaucracy: Bad fluorescent lighting; bland, dingy room staffed by unmotivated misanthropes; waiting in an endless line with general population. (Ah, gen-pop. Aren’t you glad you’re not one of them? They wear clothes that don’t match and sneeze without covering their mouths.)

I’d better get there early. Reserve my spot in misery. I want a 30 minutes jump-start but I only manage 15. I’ve got my driver’s license, my checkbook and a roll of $20s, my W-2s, my passport, my birth certificate, my parent’s birth certificates and social security cards, photographs of my birth, notarized vouchers from people who have known me for decades as Brian Flannery, 52X-XX-XXXX. My cell phone is on auto-dial to LifeLock in case I need them.

The SSA door is very clear: They open at 9AM. You can wait in the lobby starting at 8AM. I look around the lobby. There’s only two other guys. One guy is trying all the locked doors like he’s gotta get out of there. (What bomb?) The other one doesn’t speak English. Not bad: I’m third.

It’s only 8:57 but the door opens. It’s not locked. I’m not third. There are dozens of people ahead of me, fidgeting patiently on uncomfortable seats in the real lobby. I take my number from the computer printer. “S106,” it says. Over one hundred people know that getting there “early” does not forgive Flannery Standard Time.

So I sit down in despair. I have my book. I wonder if it’s long enough. I guess I can re-read it. If necessary, I can also eat some pages and burn the rest to survive this nuclear winter of the soul.

9:00, they start calling numbers. But this counting is different. “M47.” “321.” “M48.” “S104.” “322.”

“S104”! That means I’m third in line in the category of clumsy native citizen who merely misplaced his existing social security card.

“Last call for S104.” Yes! A quitter. “S105.” “S106.” I hop up amidst snarls from the poor seated souls with more complicated cases. My bureaucrat awaits me behind the seven inches of glass named Window 5. Am I in prison or is she?

With shaking hands I fork over form SS-5, dutifully completed and twice reviewed. She asks for my driver’s license. She reads a run-on sentence about answering questions truthfully, otherwise: perjury. I clench for the barrage of questions. What if I go blank? You can’t expect me to remember every identifying detail about my life!

“Is your name and address accurate on this form?” They are. She prints a receipt and says I’ll get my card in about two weeks. I even got my driver’s license back.

I just stood there.
“You can go.”
“Where?”
“Home or work or anywhere. Leave. You’re done.”
“That’s it?”
“S107.”
“No foolin’?”
“S107! (Go away. I don’t date general population.)”

I’m driving away at 9:07.

You can see why I’m so outraged: I didn’t get any reading done. (Just when you thought you knew what to expect from America’s longest running Ponzi scheme.)

What’s worse? I’m apparently a member of general population. I should have sneezed on her. Bulletproof glass can’t stop gen-pop germs.

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January 9, 2010

Christa’s Christmas Greetings

As you can imagine, most days with the Flannery Family contain a lot of drama. With five children under the age of four, how could they not? In fact, if our family were compared to a theater, you would find nearly every role needed in our company. Here’s how the production works:

Lana (3.5 years) is our writer and overall creative genius. She is always coming up with elaborate stories and plots and even creating her own words to familiar tunes. In 2009, Lana started preschool. Her sweet spirit and non-stop flow of conversation is enjoyed by all around her.

Ada (2.25 years) is without a doubt our acrobat and special effects. Her favorite activity is climbing up and down the top bunk. Though she refuses to use the ladder but instead chooses to maneuver her way over the safety rail. With Ada everything is bigger. Bigger fits and bigger love. I can see her watching a special effects explosion and saying “I think we can make that bigger.”

Zella (16.5 months) is our techy. While the other three girls are playing together, Zella is often found off on her own, pushing buttons or delicately disassembling something with great attention and patience. Zella has just begun saying a few words, but usually communicates with elaborate facial expressions and grunts.

Tirza (16 months) is our music maniac. She loves nothing more than a good song and some dancing. Her rhythm is already better than both Brian and mine combined. While Zella communicates in silent pantomime, Tirza is already an explosion of words. She has nearly caught up with Ada.

In November we rolled out the red carpet for our newest addition. Judah was a surprise baby, in the truest sense. Brian and I had just agreed to try conceiving another child when we got the call that Tirza and Ada’s baby biological brother was being born that day (November 24th)! Judah lived with my parents while we caught up on our foster care paperwork and officially moved in on December 30th. Jude (6 weeks) is currently the critic of the Flannery Family Theater. His wide eyes take in everything (when he’s not sleeping). He mostly frowns at the shenanigans that occur around him. We look forward to watching his stoicism fade and personality develop.

Brian is our producer and business manager. In addition to making sure our bills are paid, he is always coming up with new, inventive ways of working. In the summer of 2009, he struck out on his own to try some various business ideas. During the past six months, we have learned so much about each other, and how to work and parent together. However, we also discovered that working from home was a little difficult. (With this many kids, it’s impossible to hear yourself think, much less use the telephone. Brian’s first job was sales by telephone. It did not work out so well). Now Brian is looking for some work outside of the home.

Me? I am the director, of course. My primary responsibilities are communicating stage cues (go here and do that), teaching lines (please and thank you), making sure that costumes are clean and correctly fitted and that the sets and props are all in their proper place. In 2009 I also tried my hand at some pubic relations. I am in charge of publishing the Newsletter for my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this year. Also, my friend Willow and I started a small photography business (2womenphotography.com).

This is no one-man production. Brian and I are so thankful to have each other (we celebrated our 4th Anniversary in June 2009), as well as this gifted company of players. We hope that you enjoy the show (we cross blog here and flannco.blogspot.com) – and that your own theatrical adventures in 2010 are grand!

Christa and Co.

Five pair

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