A Declaration of Pain

You’ve read that headline correctly. It doesn’t mean anything except a representative of my lack in sleep and well, I’ve lost my mind a little bit today.

I’ve been up since 5-ish hoping that I would arrive at the Secretary of State building in downtown L.A. by 8am. You may wonder why I’m up so early or why I’m even doing this? Remember that Declaration of Value document I mentioned a few weeks ago? Well, my dear, this is all part of that process. Indeed, the document has become a Declaration of Pain. Excuse my bitterness. I think I’ve lost a brain cell somewhere between 5-8am. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/dichiarazione-di-valore-declaration-of-value-dv/

Last night, my mind was set on a specific routine for the next day. I would get up, have coffee and leave at 7am. Instead, I woke up to the sound of the heavy rain outside my window putting a damper to the start of my day. Booo. Of all the days, today had to rain. If you’re a local and know about L.A. traffic in the rain, you’re probably thinking “Good-luck”. As presumed traffic was bad but, not the worst. If, you hit traffic in LA and you’re consistently moving then, you’re considered lucky. If you hit traffic in LA and you’re not moving in a mere 2-5 minutes, it’s bad. Today, on the freeway luck was on my side.

Finally, I take my exit after an hour and a half sitting in traffic. I meandered through the streets and spotted my destination. Jackpot! As I get closer, I looped around a few blocks in hopes of finding the best and the cheapest parking rate. I finally settled for a $6 flat rate parking a block down. Not bad.

At this time, it was still a bit dark outside and oddly not cold at all despite the wet morning. I get out of my parking spot, paid and headed out in the rain. Meanwhile, as I walk to the building I came across parking attendants who were all very helpful, talkative and cheerful. I asked one of them for a confirmation on the building to make sure I was going the right way. The attendant was very helpful and definitely had a better start of the day than I did. I thought to myself, “Gotta love people like this!” I read somewhere that L.A. was one of the top unfriendliest cities. Clearly, this is not 100% true as you can see.

Finally, I entered the Secretary of State building and came face to face with metal detectors. Wow, this feels like LAX airport except it was a few notch less rigid and strict. I placed my bag and jacket in a bin then, went through a metal detector. The man on the other side stares at me as I stared back with a blank look. I waited to get questioned but, the man didn’t say anything so, I uttered a “That’s all I have!” comment and smiled. He smiled back and pointed to my bag. The security guy who took care of my belongings asked if I knew where I was going. I replied, “Yes, 12th floor for Apostille.” He directed and pointed me to the correct elevator. I nodded, said thanks and left.

As I sauntered off to the elevator, I was amazed by the cleanliness and quietness of the main floor. Maybe I came too early which, could explain the quietness of it all. Although, there’s no denying that this building was huge and somehow, it had a way of making you feel important. I knew at that moment I was definitely at the right place.

Anyway, going up to the 12th floor there was another security guard that helped guide me to the appropriate room. She spoke very softly, hands me a yellow paper and I eventually realized, I was on a quiet zone floor. Interesting. I looped around the hallway, followed signs on the wall and finally, I found the correct room. I entered and gasped. I literally stood there for a whole minute and looked around. The only guy in the room besides the employees looked at me with a questioning look on his face. He must’ve thought I’m crazy because I literally just stood by the door holding it wide open while I looked around deciding what to do.

Honestly, I expected a line and people cramped in a room waiting for their turn. To my surprise, there were seats against the wall with no soul sitting in them. My eyes couldn’t believe I was the second person in the room and in my mind, all I wanted to do at this moment was laugh. Of course, I didn’t. I’m not that crazy! I eventually came to my senses, took a number and sat down. Within a minute a guy behind the counter calls my number and helped me processed my documents. In 5 minutes I was done. Painless.

On my way home while driving, I reflected on how everything went very smoothly. I wondered why every process I’ve been dealing with for school couldn’t be as easy as what I had just gone through? Why is it that I had to jump through loop holes just to get 1 simple question answered? Then, I thought, will the process be difficult, a struggle or simple once I’m abroad? Base off of my experience in the last few months, I feel I might be in for a long and rough ride. Sigh. At some point today, I sat and stared at my computer screen. I seemed to have hit a point and realized that I’m tired from all of it. The never ending questions, the back and forth and the constant pulling of information from people. I hope one day, when I’m in my 80’s sitting somewhere on a balcony with a nice view, drinking the best red wine; that I can look back at this experience and hopefully, find all of this as a meaningful memory no matter how good or bad they seem.

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