09 June 2010

tsa, the state department, customs, and the Dutch embassy? Really?

It all started when I was chatting with Bonnie. And I remembered, oh that is right, my ticket and my passport are in different names.

Let me back up. My mom has been planning this trip to Europe for, well, ever. She and my Dad have been there a few weeks. My oldest sister is already there. And my other sisters and myself are leaving to join them tomorrow.

That is, if I can board the plane.

The trip is a trip of a lifetime, really, as my parents have planned it (and by my parents, I mean my Mom. She's the planner. It is great!) and they are paying for most of it. We are responsible for the plane fare. I kept waiting (we all kept waiting) for ticket prices to drop. But really, they just are high. At points I questioned whether or not we could even afford for me to go. My roommates are moving out. My house is not sold. My school loans are coming due. Did I mention two mortgages? :)

Sometime this spring I remembered my frequent flier miles (thank you Holy Spirit).
I had saved them for our honeymoon. But at honeymoon time, B was unemployed and we couldn't afford to drive anywhere, really, much less fly, so we did not use them.
Upon investigation my account revealed I almost had enough to book a trip to Amsterdam. So, through some amazing provision of God, through the years and presently, my $1300 ticket only cost me about $300. Hooray!!

That said, my frequent flier mile account exists in my maiden name. I contacted the airline and they told me how to communicate the change, provide proof, etc. etc. I fax over the change of name (three separate places, including the attached marriage license) and did not give it another thought.
Until I tried to book the ticket. And it would not allow my married name.
so I booked it anyway.
That was probably one of my first mistakes.

Flash forward now to the current conversation with my friend Bonnie. I recall that I was dreaming about not being able to board the plane. I also received an email confirmation that they had changed my name but nothing had changed in my account settings. And beyond that, I had an overall nagging intuition that something is not right.
So I called the airline.
And bless his heart, "John," the first attendant I spoke with said,
"Oh no. There is no way you can board the plane if your passport and ticket are in different names. And we cannot rebook this or change it for you. You are going to have to cancel the ticket and try to rebook it. But here, don't worry, let me put you through to our help desk..."
And so the transfers began.
The help desk person confirmed some of John's comments.
But it went deeper. She casually offered,
"oh, they did change your name. They changed it to Diana G Klungel."

People, I am holding back. I keep muttering in my spirit, "this is not her fault. She is not to blame. She did not do this..."
And I manage to blurt out,
"um, what did they change it FROM?"
"Diana Klungel. They added the G."

Not even sure I can adequately respond to that, I rummage through my paperwork to find the fax cover sheet where I had stated my name change THREE, did I mention this, three times, along with a marriage license which clearly defines a name change.

I ask her to please note in my file that I had previously requested the change from my maiden name to my married name and that I had been told repeatedly that they could not reissue my ticket or change my name.
She informed me that she does not handle that but she could note it in my file. I did also refax the original documents, including new notes in some rather "emotional looking" handwriting to highlight the ways I had communicated my name change when I had first sent the fax.

Then she suggested that although I could cancel my ticket, it would be a $150 cancellation fee, plus the rebooking fee, and that maybe I should call TSA first.

I call TSA. Who after transferring me around finally said, "no, we do not handle international flights, only domestic. You will have to call the state department about how to leave the country, and customs about how to return to the US."

The next call is placed to the state department and I wait to find the right person to help me there.
When operator #3 responds to my questions, she informs me that I need to call the Dutch embassy because they are the only ones who can tell me what is necessary to enter their country. (At this point I am still thinking, what does it matter if I can't even board my flight???)

I proceed to the Dutch embassy, who really, forgive my heritage, but they did not seem to want to give me the time of day. And although she suggested I could travel with my marriage license, she stressed even more strongly, "you need to call the airline. It is their problem."

Well, I agreed with her there but did not want to reiterate my whole life story so I ended the call wondering how I would communicate with my family that I would not be on vacation with them in the Netherlands.

Not even hoping, I did call the airline back. It was the same process of routing through the automated system until I reached the "general" operator this time named Erin. And within one minute of explaining, including the explanation of having resent my fax, my trip through the government and foreign agencies,and my overall somewhat crazy and nightmarish experience on the phone that very day, she asked me to hold. She returned briefly to say, "okay, I have re-booked your ticket. You should be all set."

Now, I am not ungrateful. I am really quite thrilled about this outcome because it is the VERY outcome I was hoping and praying for. But, adrenaline courses through my veins, and my blood pressure probably reached a tipping point, because I am thinking, why, or really why, did Erin not answer the call the FIRST time I called about this? Did I really have to call everyone and their brother to then return to the airline and have them take care of this? Really?

But I do not say any of this.
I gush, "Erin, you have made My LIFE. I am not kidding you. You have ended a nightmare and removed my fear completely. I now will have a great trip. I am so excited. You should take the rest of the day off because you have made MY LIFE!"

And so, I leave.
Lord willing.

Thank you, Papa.

22 April 2010

Worth talking about

Here are a few things I have witnessed lately,
that if I had a personal "like" button, would definitely
receive my thumbs up:

-on my way to work today, midst a lot of traffic as a semi attempted a sharp (tight) right turn, the traffic in the left turn lane (that the semi might have run over!), kindly backed up to make space for the turn. No fingers. No honking horns. No angry gestures. Just kind people accommodating this larger vehicle.

-in the grocery the other night, I witnessed someone recognizing that the person waiting behind them to check out had many fewer items, so they invited the person
behind them to check out first.

-a friend of mine recently lost her husband, and her neighbors have offered to maintain her lawn this very summer because they know her husband used to do so.

These are just a few kind acts. And they are not media worthy.
But they display love, compassion, hospitality, and grace.
These are beautiful things.

08 April 2010

in which I explain how I almost got to ...

It was one of those catch up days, the day after Easter, when I dug through work email to see what I missed. I am so grateful to work for an institution that honors Holy days like Good Friday and Easter and allows us to take some time away. Being with family is such a great gift!

That said, I stumbled across an email that noted my registration at a conference in Minneapolis in June. Because it was dated April 1, and was cc'd to a VP at this fine place I work, I forwarded the whole deal to my direct supervisor. I inquired whether this was an April fool's joke or a legitimate thing. My supervisor was in the office yesterday so he responded to my question. It was legitimate. I had been recommended to attend this conference and he wondered if it worked.
And it did...
until I really looked at my calendar.
The conference goes through July 1.
And I have an important date with B on June 30.
So, I can't go.
I want to be everywhere.
But, the reality is, I would rather be with B then traipsing somewhere else.
Even though it was a great honor to be recommended (and registered)
for an event like this.

AND, I still have the event with B to anticipate.
It is worth the sacrifice. Hooray!!

31 March 2010

Putting the question to rest

I am pleased to report,
to declare, and to state,
that contrary to my previously,
and frequently expressed lament,
that I might not meet my new niece,
Kayci Joy, until she is in high school,
that THIS very weekend, I will prove my own
predictions obsolete. Unless, of course, something
happens to prove otherwise, B and I will head to Fargo
to meet our precious niece and hopefully prove to her how
very much she loves us (smile) while being reminded how much
we love her. That part will not be difficult. But I am every shade
of excited.
Yes, I am equally excited to see my other nieces too, and hang out
with two of my three sisters. (We will miss you Jen!)
It is all part of the wonderful celebration
of this very Holy week.
And I am grateful to participate in it all.

29 March 2010

We DID consider paying someone else to do the work...

I will say this about my dear husband,
he is a trooper.
When the dishwasher installation
wanted the best of him,
he kept at it. Dishwasher install successful!
When the new bathroom light fixture came out of the box
bent and mangled,
he simply returned it and hung it in place anyway.
And when the replacement faucet revealed that the existing
copper piping was longer than needed,
he returned to the hardware store yet another time.

I am his biggest fan. Go you, B! I can't thank you
enough for all your efforts and expertise!

25 March 2010

in the category of awkward (ALL shades of awkward)...

"I was set up," my roommate begins.
And so goes the story of another well meaning
married person, who discovers they know two
single persons, and that they need to force
two said singles together.

This particular instance included the well meaning
person, we'll call him Bob, holding my roommate's hand
and walking her to the other single person. Bob then
led the conversation including,
"do you want to go out with her?"
"do you want to go out with him?"
"Good. There. Now you have a date."

You can about imagine Bob rubbing his hands together
with a satisfied grin about him, as he considers
what a good deed he has accomplished.

What Bob might NOT realize is the conversation
after his interference, which included the boy
saying to my roommate,
"sorry about that.
You don't have to go out with me if you don't want to."

Maybe my 39 years of singleness, multiple set up date
experiences are blurring my perspective here, but really,
I'm thinking we could avoid these situations.

I know Bob's type, and I know he means well.

20 March 2010

Speaking of games...

So today is the day!!!
For the last year,
the planning and scheduling commenced.
One of our neighbors invited us
to participate in a board game decathlon.
The inspiration for the evening
came from My Boys episodes (search for the one with Game Decathlon in the title).
I have no idea what games we will play,
only that video games are not allowed,
and we will have partners,
and prizes.
Now, we shall see how I do with maturity tonight...

15 March 2010

you know you're too competitive when...

B's kids love video games. And I, well, I like games.
For the most part, I have plenty to do and can keep busy.
But when K got Super Mario Bros for his birthday,
and they kept begging me to play,
I caved.

And so we played.
More accurately, my player kept dying.
And so there are these flower power flowers,
and these power giving mushrooms,
that randomly are available to give lives
or grow you bigger,
or grant you a propeller,
or you can become a penguin (very fun),
or give you the power to have ice or fire,
or you can become very tiny and invincible.
(All very attractive options, especially when,
did I mention, my character kept dying.)
Only, if you know anything about these games,
and playing with multiple players
(which, I really don't know that much),
any one player can get much further ahead than the others.
Thus, the opportunity for these flowers or mushrooms,
while they might dispense enough for four players,
if only one player is at that part of the game,
(can u see where this is going?),
and they activate the certain power,
may actually prevent the other players from
receiving the extra boost, life, etc.
Upon detecting that my character had one remaining life,
I implored my fellow players to not "activate"
until everyone (well, namely my character)
could get there.
But that strategy failed.
The first player got them all.
So, I maturely threw down my wii remote,
said I didn't want to play with such selfish
teammates anymore, and righteously (ha!)
stomped out of the room.

The jury is out on whether or not I am smarter
than a fifth grader,
but the verdict returned that I am certainly
not more mature than one.


14 March 2010

best laid plans

It's time. We made the decision to list my condo. I love the space and have completely loved living in it. It has been a delight to host friends and family through the years. The neighborhood and neighbors add to the pleasure.

Nearly eight years ago, a friend of mine helped me pack my belongings in his pickup and fit the larger things into his flatbed trailer. I drove from Zeeland to GR and another friend helped me unload. The unloading took about an hour. Since then, I've replaced the loveseat with a full coach, a few chairs. To accommodate my nieces I acquired and assembled bunkbeds. My sister offered some things for me to store because she did not have the space, so a sideboard, some end tables, some lamps, and even an additional bed joined me. Suddenly the 1800 square feet did not seem so empty. And then my roommates arrived and added their treasures. And, because I have more storage than my neighbors, I shelter their bikes and outdoor furniture. Whether it was my intention or not, I have definitely filled the space.

This weekend B and I are in GR to move most of my things. I suspect it will take a wee bit longer than the move in! The other desire was to attend my church. We arrived yesterday afternoon, we picked up the uhaul. We packed and assembled boxes and emptied shelves. My sister arrived to consider her items and determine what she wanted with her. Things were falling nicely into place. That is, until I awakened just now, and realized that we did not factor in the time change. And we will not make it to my church. Sigh. Sadly, watching Charles Stanley is not the same.

09 March 2010

eavesdropping? okay, maybe I was

It was one of those crazy date lunches,
you know, the really romantic ones
where I met B at McDonald's.
He was picking up the food,
I was getting the drinks and
settling into a spot to sit for a spell.
Of course, I kept him guessing,
not going to our "usual" place.
So when he rounded the corner to find me
I was already engrossed in the conversation
across the way.
It was the manager of the McDonald's, actually,
who appeared to be taking his lunch,
and was chatting with one of the "locals."
These are the conversations I enjoy overhearing.

Of course once B sat down, I stopped listening, er,
eavesdropping, and was completely present to him.
Much to my delight, however, the manager moved to chat
with the gentleman at the table next to ours.
At that moment, my female multi-tasking skills kicked into
high gear so I could listen to B AND overhear the table next to us.

What happened next was most exciting.
"You're a 'Bama fan?"
He asked, noticing my University of Alabama attire.
Our conversation covered the college football
championship game and his home state of Texas.
When B returned to the table (he refilled our beverages)
the conversation turned to Alabama and why we were here.

It turns out, the man's father grew up in the town next to B.
They probably went to the same high school.
(And these are not big towns, people, it was a very amazing discovery.)
So suddenly, the world was a smaller,
more cozy place in that Indiana McDonald's.

But it was the conversation exchange between
these two southern turned northern boys that really sticks with me.
The manager especially expressed that people
are more friendly and ready to have a conversation in the south.

so, what makes us northern folks so quiet, reserved, and, well,
perhaps downright unfriendly compared to our southern friends?

08 March 2010

Twister with a twist

As part of the weekend fun,
while we and Flat Stanley
awaited our delicious
Chicago style deep dish pizza,
C "invented" finger twister.

It was amazing to me that
the same competitive spirit that
causes us to push and knock one another down
whilst playing "normal" Twister,
also rears its competitive self in finger Twister.

Only, obviously, instead of knocking whole persons down,
we pushed against one another's hands and fingers, accordingly.
Additionally parallel, was the victorious sense of satisfaction
when you were the last person, er,
last hand standing, so to speak
(although, honestly, I can't personally attest to that,
as I never did win).
It was completely consuming
and a wonderful way to pass time
as we waited for our food.
I highly recommend it.

06 March 2010

Flat Stanley & the Garretts visit Hildred

In a rather uncharacteristic weekend activity,
we spontaneously drove to Hildred's today.
An even greater surprise awaited us.
Fargo's Flat Stanley was also visiting.
The terms of Flat Stanley's visit, of course,
were to engage some great adventure.

Part of the adventure included
serving pizza at Giordano's,
and working with 3D sidewalk chalk,
and sporting some funky shades.
We go all out for adventure
when Flat Stanley is involved.

04 March 2010

Anticipation: how I love thee...

We honor a few traditions in my family. We are not lavish in our birthday celebrations. But we do like to plan for special events. It seems strange to say this, since I feel much younger than 40 sounds, but, for all of our 40th birthdays, we have done something special. Except for mine.

Now, before you feel sorry for me, everyone would join this reminder train that I am the youngest child and have always been spoiled, pampered, etc. etc. (Groan!)

The beauty of my particular 4oth birthday is that it landed the day after my Dad's 80th birthday. And it happened just a few months before my Mom turned 80. Several years ago my Mom began thinking and dreaming and imagining and planning...
what if, for Di's 40th, and Dad & Mom's 80th, we do something really really special?

go to the Netherlands where my Dad was born and raised???

So, we are beginning to live into the plans. At first Mom scheduled for fall 2009. But for various reasons, including my graduate school demands, we pushed off until June 2010. And it is creeping its way into our imaginations and reality.

For example:
-I sent off my passport for renewal and name change last very week. And they have already cashed the check as part of the processing.
-We are discussing the places we will visit and the relatives we may meet.
-Lodging reservations are being secured.
-We are looking at the flights and hoping prices go down.
-And looking forward to the honor of
having Dad show us around his turf, among other things.

Oh, yes, I do love the anticipation.
Stay tuned.

02 March 2010

to our neighbors...about the car alarm...

so this very Sunday past, I had opportunity to meet a beloved friend for coffee. As per the usual, I went to start my car. As per not so usual, I turned the key to hear a not so welcome clicking noise, accompanied by an even more unwelcome chirp. My car alarm began to signal to all and every neighbor within well, the whole town, actually, that I was stealing my own car.

B rushed from the house with that "are you so silly, hit the panic button" look on his face to add just a little more excitement to my moment.

Um, yeah, about that panic button. I don't have a remote-unlock-panic-button-key-thingy.

If my husband looked confused before, trust me, my response regarding the absence of a remote key thingy, put him over the edge.

To get the full picture of this story, let me rewind a few years. I purchased my lovely lil' Honda from the owner who had installed an after factory remote opener with panic button, etc. I used such remote happily, cheerfully, responsibly, (mostly). Until one day, I visited my friend Beth at her very work, while they were cleaning up after an event. In my foolishness, I set my key thingy on a table. And it was thrown away. We scrounged through the trash looking for it, but to no avail. When I called an alarm company about replacing the remote feature, I was informed that my system really doesn't exist without the remote piece so I would need to pay $100+ for a new system, which would then include the new remote. Tempting as it was, I said no to the expense. My bad. I lost the remote.
Rejoining "the real-time moment" I have to admit, that advice seems a bit off, considering, the very alarm my car did not possess, was in fact blaringly (new word, anyone?) revealing its existence.
And it went off.
For ever.
It is still ringing in my head, honestly.

The bad news is (all the other up there= good news!) that the alarm is connected to the ignition so we couldn't even take the car somewhere to receive expert advice. And the only way I could "trick" the car and silence the alarm was to perform some try to start the car antics and crawl duke style out of the window. (Yes, that was a scream of another sort.) Fortunately, B saved the day and could figure out a way to permanently silence the beast. Unfortunately (we are so sorry neighbors and city!!), it could not be done without the door open which means the alarm continued for nearly an hour, without any decrease in volume I might add. But the best news of course is that after silencing it, and jump starting the battery, it is now running, sans alarm. Phew.

Have I mentioned how much I miss the Metro in Seattle? Public transport does have its benefits! Sigh.

28 February 2010

conclusions and new starts

I watched the Olympic torch go out tonight. It was a bittersweet moment.
Some are eager to get back to the 'real" NBC lineup.
For me, I love the Olympics.
Nice work, Canada: Vancouver, Whistler, and Richmond.
You will be missed.
And to all the athletes
who pursued their dreams and trained to compete,
be proud.
I am.
May the spirit of good sportsmanship,
and the heart of these interactions,
lead us on toward something better in the world.
I know I love this admonishment
from the ancient text of Hebrews:
Let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.

That is another thing to pursue and train toward.
I hope we can live out that kind of love
whether or not we are in an athletic competition.

26 February 2010

But then again, maybe not

As B left for work today,
he asked me to drop off some dry cleaning.
This simple request launched a period of brain synapses
(or something) that reminded me
I never drycleaned my wedding dress.
So I grabbed it from the closet and packed it in the car.

This is all a rather mundane story
(perhaps even worthy of the dullest blog in the world material). The mundane ended, however,
when they informed me they charge $150
to dry clean and press my dress
Seriously? How did I not know this.
Call me crazy, I was thinking more around $50. But three times that amount??
Perhaps you suspected this,
but my lovely dress found its way
back into my car
and is now happily hanging
back in the bag in the closet.
Back to the mundane...

Unless, of course, you have suggestions
on a different way to clean my dress.

Oh, one more thing, the dullest blog is really worth a read.
But the find goes to my friend Sabrina.
Thanks for the heads up, lady!

One last thing, the picture credit here is to Jewels! You should check out her work because it is fabulous.

25 February 2010

Celebrating Winerva Joanne Van Roekel Klungel aka My Mom!!

So, if my Mom was 39 when I was born,
and now I'm forty,
and today is her birthday that makes her...

amazingly young at heart. The first photo

(with Carmen, her girls, me, and Grandma, Mom's mom)
is from seven years ago

and Mom hasn't changed a bit.
God granted her incredible energy and health.
What a thing to celebrate!!
Happy, happy, happy birthday my beloved Mom.

21 February 2010

some of our favorite things

In the hope of
days to come,

In the memory of
wonderful events
of "oh-nine,"

I am celebrating
some of the things

we hosted and
some of the things

we like to do.
We love having company.

We love games.
And especially,
we love playing twister.

On bonus days,
sometimes we have guests
AND play twister.

I know,
Fun overload. :)

03 February 2010

in the category of...oblivion and gratitude

So, as I have mentioned, my husband and I live in Indiana. But I also live and work in Michigan. Yes. We sometimes choose complexity in this life, I know. Without regurgitating all the detail, some of the motivation revolved around me completing my grad school work and receiving a substantial discount through my employer, the University where I received my Master's degree. Which leads me to my weekly commute and married life where I spend my weekends with my family in Indiana, naturally!

Recently B scheduled a work trip. Although the thought of joining him in Texas in February whilst one winters (ha!) where we do in Michiana tempted me, the idea of hanging with my girlfriends in Michigan captured me more. So the plans were made...
I anticipated hanging out with my friend Beth for some long awaited time at Karla's. I scheduled time with other girlfriends for later in the weekend. It was like the anticipation of vacation, I'm telling you. I was delighted for the opportunity to have these moments with some precious friends.

And Karla's phone call did not deter me. She mentioned that she and the kids had experienced the flu. Her doctor assured her they would not be contagious after 24 hours sans-puking. And so our anticipated arrival at about 48 hours later provided us double precaution. Not to mention, anyone who knows Karla knows she keeps a very clean and tidy house so germs wouldn't have much a chance. Without hesitation I answered her question about whether I still wanted to come with a confident Yes! Who knew when the "stars would align" for me to make these plans again?

Now Beth, well, she did not have the luxury of saying, "I'll take a sick day if i get sick." Understandably, she leaves for Florida soon and needs to save up those days. So she rescheduled with Karla.

Sad, but resilient, I trekked north. And aside from missing Beth, had a blast. Karla's kids are always fun and always lively and the opportunity to talk late into the night with such a dear friend is priceless.

Phase two meant packing up and heading back to my house in Michigan where friends and my sister, Hildred, descended upon my lovely roommate, to share food, laughter, tears, and who knows what else for the rest of the weekend. We combined leftovers for a delicious meal, witty conversation, and God's inspired "communion of the saints" as we communicated about the things on our hearts and lives.

That is until my stomach began a now-familiar bout of discomfort.
And well, let's just say, by the time we all attempted to settle for sleep, the party in my stomach began and everyone else quickly hit the road.
Oh, not totally. My sister, Hildred, she took care of me. I haven't been that sick in years. Twelve, I think, if memory serves correctly.
And my Shirley friends, well, they provided the necessary nourishment and hydration that a sick "puppy" like myself would need.
They offered more than cups of cold water, although, really, cold ice chips is literally all I could stomach.

How crazy is it, to be here now, a couple days later, sipping on soup, my first "real" meal in days, with a settled stomach, actually thinking food might taste and smell good once again.
It is more than enough to say, "Oh Lord, please forgive me for taking my health for granted. Every moment of peace within the body is a gift from you. Thank you Lord."