Wow, two posts in just one day, this must be juicy! Only four short hours ago I was sitting at a Starbuck’s (don’t hate) wondering why I hadn’t brought my jacket with me to Chicago, with a big smile on my face in honor of La Journée de la Joie.
While waiting for my 5:15 train back to St. Louis, I received a phone call from the lovely lady at the consulate who helped me so much to locate all of the documents that I need for my long-stay visa. She called to tell me that, unfortunately, my passport will expire NEXT April (2014). The problem is that the visa I need is valid for one year. See the problem? My American passport absolutely must be valid for one full year from the time that visa is validated, which will be June 18 when I arrive in France.
My first reaction? ”Darn it.” I meant it, and that’s a strong reaction from me. I don’t curse, but “darn it” is a pretty close euphemism to what I really wanted to say. I’d just come all the way to Chicago, spent the night in a hotel (spending money that could have been better spent on a wonderful dinner in Carcassonne, for example), gone through all of that just to have this one little stress completely off of my plate. And here it’s been regurgitated, right back onto my plate. But I have to remember that if I were in France right now, it would be National Joy Day!! So I’m taking my husband’s advice, “Jenn-ee-fère, zen!!!” Ok. I’m zen. No really, I am. I’m on the Amtrak, the “high-speed” Amtrak with free WiFi, and they have a bar.
I called the National Passport Service to see what could be done. It seems that the expedite process to receive a new passport takes 2-3 weeks if done by mail. If I get an appointment at the regional office in Chicago and go back there to get it, it can be done in a day. I think that’s what I’m going to have to do, because I’m leaving for France on June 17, and the visa could take up to 21 days to receive. I know from last year, when I did the same exact thing, that I got it back in one week. Zen. I’ll get an appointment to get an expedited passport, and once I have it I will hand deliver it to the French Consulate. Zen. Then I’ll certainly receive it by mail before my departure on the 17th. Zen.
I don’t want to do the trip alone again. I’m going to have to find a friend to come along. Then there’s the problem of work. How can I take off another day when there’s only one week of school left? Then again, what are they going to do, fire me? Can’t miss Wednesday afternoon, though. My colleagues in the Foreign Language Office are taking me out to a French restaurant for lunch. Happy Joy Day!!