Saturday, May 3, 2008

No Country for Old Me!

Some of you may have heard about my struggle to attempt to renew my expired passport. After many mailed documents, phone calls, and emails, the newest issue is that the Thai government wants my marriage license to be certified by the US Secretary of State.

"You mean Condi Rice?" I asked with amusement.
"US secretary of State" an officer from Thai embassy said
"You mean Condi? Condi Rice?"

I saw my research presentation in Germany waving goodbye and I already bought the ticket! But I'm most frustrated because it's been a really long process so far.
My expired passport can't be renewed. After 9/11, the Thai government issued a new passport system which requires me to go to the embassy and do it in person. There's no embassy in Portland. Plus, I can't use the last name "Christopher" until Condi signs the document. I asked if I can just get a new passport, then change the last name part later.

"No, once the new passport is issued, you can't change anything. You're stuck with it for the rest of your life" the Thai embassy said.
"How can I get back to the US then?" My green card has "Christopher" as last name"
I asked and received no answer.

More bad news is that the passport takes about 2-3 weeks and I still have to apply for a visa to go to Germany because I am a citizen from a developing country. Americans and citizens from other rich countries are free to travel to most countries in the world without a visa as long as they do not stay longer than 90 days. I have to pay about $95 for a visa application, provide proof that I have enough money, provide proof of round trip plane ticket purchase, etc. and I have to go to the nearest German consulate (San Francisco) for an in-person interview.

Such is life and I can't complain. I just feel a little bit like I'm in limbo. I'm half Mon which has no country, half Thai but received very little help from the Thai embassy/government. I can't get a US passport because I'm not a citizen and I can't get out of the US without a valid passport.

But as my husband said "When life gives you lemon, make a stiff Long Island Ice Tea" (he never actually said this, I just kinda wish he did). So I'm going to make this an (art) project somehow.

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