The Things I’ve Never Done: Part 2

It was late on a weekday night.
I really needed some cartridges for my electronic cigarette, and I know of a place that’s open 24 hours a day that sells them: A gas station.
I trotted into the little store, not really expecting anybody else to be there, but sure enough, a man stood at the counter, talking to the cashier.

Coming up behind the man, I patiently waited for my turn, and as I did, I began to space out and look around.

If you’ve read the majority of my posts, you may already know how I have a deep affection for foreign cashiers who call me ‘honey’ or some other pet name like that. Well, this cashier is one of those. I’ve been there a handful of times, and people tend to remember me. So now, whenever I’m there, his eyes light up in recognition.

I digress.

There are many things to catch a person’s attention in gas stations because they’re almost always bursting at the seams with merchandise, but I just had to pause at a certain wall, which was the right and front of the counter.
It was filled with condoms. ALL different kinds of condoms.

Magnum Thin
Magnum Ecstasy

A strained smile stretched across my face as I choked on a giggle. It’s not that I’m so much of a child that I find large condoms funny, but it was thought of me, (this short, demure, pathologically polite woman) cavalierly plucking a box of Magnums from the wall, and tossing them onto the counter.
‘Hey. How ya doin’?’
I’d stretch my arms out, placing my palms on either side of the counter top, then tap my fingers, looking past the cashier.
‘Phfft…’ I’d make a long, obnoxious sigh while squinting to read the text of the tiny boxes behind him. ‘Gimme a box of V2 Reds, would ya?’

I wonder if he’d still call me ‘honey’ after that.
My smile was almost out of control.
Going to a gas station to get a box of condoms…who DOES that? I have never once done such a thing. I mean, how do you fail to plan for that? And if you did, could you ever show your face in the store again?

My mind went momentarily blank.

Ok, let’s pretend that you NEED those Magnum condoms. Your imaginary boyfriend’s in the car, waiting outside and…and the grocery store was completely out of larger condoms and he simply cannot fit into regular ones. Oh, and he totally decided to come and visit at random (he’s sweet like that) and you just went to dinner, and he was alluding to the fact that he wanted to make love to you as you guys were heading home, and you PROMISED him that you’d get the condoms, but you didn’t. So, it’s up to YOU to get those condoms…RIGHT NOW, do or die! What’re you going to do?

I looked from the cashier to the condoms…then back at the cashier, and the condoms, again. My brow furrowed in desperation.

Hhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllooooooooooo…hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooonnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyy…
His voice warbled in bass tones as the scene played out in black and white, slow motion in my imagination; his eyes traveled down to the black box I had laid on the counter. When they came back up, he stared at me in pained disappointment, as if he were silently saying ‘Say it isn’t so…’

White hot embarrassment shot through my body at the thought of it.

You’re 31 years old and you’re seriously too ashamed to buy a fucking box of condoms? REALLY? Just grab them and stop being ridiculous!

Try as I may, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

‘Hello, honey!’
This time, he was actually talking to me. Giving him a very big, but almost culpable smile, I came up to the counter, defeated.

I’d officially let my imaginary boyfriend down. I was ashamed of myself, and I just knew we were going to fight about it the entire way home.

When I got back into the car, the situation haunted me. I’d wussed out, much like the way I had with so many other things due to fear. Even though it’s very foreign to me, buying a pack of condoms at a gas station is something that’s relatively normal, yet when I pressed myself to do so, I prevented myself from doing it.

How many things are there that you’ve missed out on…how many ‘normal’ things have you missed out on because of your fear?

Well, I’ve decided that I should try to do some of these things. Like I said, they’re normal things, so no bungee jumping or anything like that, just, things that my panic or fear has prevented me from doing. And I’m setting a time limit for myself: August.

Here is my list:

1. Get a pedicure.
I’ve never had one…EVER. I wasn’t interested as a kid, I couldn’t afford it in college, and I was too scared to do it with my panic because I felt like I’d be unable to ‘escape’ if I needed to.

2. Do a home improvement project completely on my own.
I have not dared to even attempt this, as I’m terrified of screwing something up in my home. This is the first house I’ve ever bought, I’m not really very handy, so I’m scared that I can’t do it.

3. Go to a bar alone.
That’s right…alone. I’ve met up with people at bars who I’ve arranged to meet with before hand, but I’ve never just gone by myself. Besides, being in a crowded place and with loud people and no support is horrifying.

4. Make a souffle.
The souffle is supposed to be one of the most difficult dishes to make, and to be honest, I’m proud of my cooking skills…so proud that I’m scared of finding out that I’m not able to do this. I know…you’re probably thinking that this one is lame, but it’s scary to me, and that’s why I haven’t done it, so it’s on the list.

5. Buy condoms.
If you thought that I would let that one go, you were mistaken. It’s personal now, so there.

Five goals. Five months.
Hold me accountable.

3, 2, 1…BEGIN

The Things I’ve Never Done: Part 1

There’s something I haven’t revealed about myself on this blog before. I really want to come out with it now, but I’m not quite sure how to word it…

I guess I could say that I’ve suffered from severe agoraphobia.

Let me set the record straight on what agoraphobia actually is, because it’s a very misunderstood mental illness. Most of the time, people believe agoraphobia is a condition where a person cannot exit their house. Even I, before I had it, always thought of the heroine of the movie ‘Copy Cat’ whenever I thought of agoraphobia, but it really isn’t like that all of the time.

The literal meaning of the word is ‘fear of open spaces,’ but it translates into the actual mental illness a bit differently. It’s like this: People who are agoraphobic TYPICALLY (and I say that quite generously because there are some people who ARE literally just scared of open spaces) have a ‘safe spot,’ which is very often their home. If the person should attempt to vacate their safe spot, there is generally a radius outside of it in which they are free to travel without panic, and that’s IT. The safety radius could be up to the threshold of their front door, or it could be 30 miles from their house. Go past the oh-so-holy safe spot, and it’s pure panic, unending.

When I first became agoraphobic, I didn’t HAVE a safe spot. I had a SEMI-safe spot, but I didn’t have a true safe spot.
I panicked in my living room, bedroom, kitchen…and I had to take baths because I panicked in the shower. Hell, I panicked in my sleep; I woke up night after night, gasping for air. I almost did a sleep study to find out why I would stop breathing while I was sleeping, but soon realized that it wasn’t the case. This was in the Spring of 2008, and it all started with a stupid fucking vaccine.

Don’t freak out: I had had a panic disorder long before I got the vaccine, so I was predisposed to panic…it had just morphed into OCD while I was in college, which made it tolerable.

What had happened was I got a letter from my insurance company saying that all women who were younger than 26 were eligible for a free HPV vaccination. I remembered this one very tragic story I had heard about a woman my ex-roommate had known. If I remember correctly, the woman had just gone shopping at the grocery store in the middle of the day, and as she was walking to her car, she got pulled into the back of a van and got raped…and sadly, this horrible story doesn’t end there: It turns out that the rapist was infected with HPV, and passed it on to this woman. Well, it was one of the strains of HPV which causes cervical cancer, and she ended up dying from the cancer.

That put the fear of God into me, and I decided that I should probably take this free vaccine.

So, I went to the doctor’s office after making an appointment. You only visit a nurse or MA when you JUST need a vaccine (most of the time), and that’s what happened: I got my shot, and they sent me on my way.

Well, apparently, the protocol for administering vaccinations wasn’t being followed at my doctor’s office that day. I try my best not to be bitter about things I cannot change, but it’s exceedingly difficult in this situation, because if that mother fucking bitch had JUST FOLLOWED PROTOCOL, my life may’ve been COMPLETELY different.

The protocol for any kind of shot (for those of you who aren’t familiar with it) is to make a person wait 15-30 minutes after it is administered, because the person MIGHT BE ALLERGIC to what has been injected.

And SUPRISE! I fucking was.

The allergic reaction happened about three minutes after I went through the office door. I was driving home, when suddenly, it felt as if the world was closing in on me. It’s very difficult to explain the sensation, but it’s like you’re in an invisible box that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller…and I HAD to get out. Panicking, which I hadn’t done in YEARS, I called my mother, who is a nurse, and told her what had happened between the desperate gasps for air I was swallowing and saying ‘I have to get out of here! I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!’

Calmly, she explained that this was an allergic reaction, and that I needed to get Benedryl immediately. As we were speaking, I pulled into a left turn lane, which was packed with people in front of and behind me, with the lane to my right completely filled, and cars whizzing by in the left lane. If the previous sentence doesn’t sound like a reason to panic to you, imagine feeling like you are in an invisible box you need to get out of WHILE being in that situation. It was one of the single most terrifying experiences of my life.

I eventually made it to a store, and, paranoid as FUCK, found the Benedryl, ripped the package open, popped a pill or two, then paid for it. After making my way to the car, I sat there and smoked a cigarette (ahh, back when I used to smoke), and waited for this horrible feeling to subside.

And wa-la…it did. I drove back to my house and fell asleep on the couch with the cat, and when I woke up, I felt almost completely back to normal.

…So I thought.

Suddenly, I was panicking in stores, panicking while driving…panicking in my sleep, in my house…and the panic feeling was so scary, I would panic when I believed that there may be a situation I was entering that could cause me to panic. I became agoraphobic, and had to move in with somebody else because I couldn’t be alone…I was too scared.

…Hmm. I wonder if I could sue that doctor’s office.
But, then again, what’s the point? Even if I were to win, no amount of money could compensate for how much time I’ve lost.

Anyway…

I think the worst of it came in the summer of 2009, when I completely avoided anything that could trigger panic attacks, yet I still had them. 2010 was in no way fun, either.

I’m vehemently against being on anti-anxiety medication, as I am a staunch believer in cognitive behavioral therapy (I do have a degree in psychology), so I did try to get some help in 2010, but the therapist began to waste my time. He actually yelled at my once when he revisited the idea of medication, and I said something along the lines of feeling like he was violating my wishes in regards to that issue. I’m from New York; I’m used to people yelling, but it was relatively scary to get yelled at in the way he did it. It drove a rift between us on my end, and I no longer felt like I could maintain a good rapport with him, which was actually a very good thing. Having a rift allowed me to be more critical of his technique, and I soon realized that he had no idea how to implement CBT, and he was too lazy to actually go to the store or drive with me to teach me coping skills. The two last sessions I attended, he played movie trailers on Youtube and talked about nonsense for a half an hour before we discussed anything related to panic. I was officially done after that.

In the beginning of 2011, I moved to the town in which I currently reside, and I did a lot of research and found an anxiety specialist. This woman allowed me to do Skype sessions with her at first because I couldn’t drive to where she was; once she taught me the coping skills I needed to do so, she made me drive to her house, and stayed on the phone with me the whole time. She’s even driven with me. I also researched the herbs that are effective in treating anxiety, and I wound up on St. John’s Wort and Passion Flower, which are amazing. Should I find myself having depersonalization (which is FUUUCKING scary), I take two Passion Flower on the spot and I’m typically good within five minutes. There have been no side effects, and I’ve been on St. John’s Wort for about three years, Passion Flower for around two.

[By the way… Depersonalization: Feeling as if one is having an out-of-body experience or in a dream-like state. It can be a form of panic, and it feels like nothing is real or makes sense.]

Like I said, I do try not to be bitter. This whole ordeal has afforded me the opportunity to work out a lot of the issues I should have worked out in my early 20s, but I was so focused on school that I never made time for myself. Plus, being able to find the strength to complete my master’s while having severe panic is something I wasn’t sure I could do…but I did it. I had a lot of my freedom ripped away from me, and I’ve been trying to reclaim it. I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences because of my own fear, experiences that I feel like I really should have.

To be continued.

Jus Sanguinis: Notorized

This is a bit on the late side, but I finally got the birth certificate applications notarized by my mom. If you go to your bank, it’s typically a free service they offer, so we did that last Thursday, and was able to send them on Friday.

Funny thing, though:

As I was stuffing the envelope with the applications, I could smell something…bad. It smelled like pee…old pee. I frantically sniffed around my dining room, trying to find where the smell was originating from because…no. Then I paused for a moment and looked down at the envelope.

Sniff

‘Oh my God…’

I took the applications out of the envelope and sniffed the notary’s stamp.

‘UGH! That’s disgusting!’

Yup. The stamp was definitely the source of the smell.

Those poor sons of bitches at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should be in for quite the out-of-tune symphony of fragrance upon opening that envelope, granted it gets there.

And that’s right: Absolutely freaking nothing has been delivered to me as of today…oh, bureaucracy.

Stay tuned.

Jus Sanguinis: The Well-Traveled Letter

Three letters made it to the mailbox yesterday:
1. My parents’ marriage certificate request (signed by my mother with her photo identification, the return address being hers, but the money order signed by me);
2. My grandparents’ marriage certificate request (signed by me with my photo identification, the return address being mine, and the money order signed by me);
3. My bisnonno’s birth certificate request.

I drove to the post office to send the letters because honestly, I was paranoid that something stupid would happen if it sat in the mailbox in front of my house for a full 24 hours, and I was not having that. First, I popped the grandparents’ certificate request, then the parents’ certificate request, and when I came to my bisnonno’s birth certificate request, I gave the envelope a kiss before I sent it on its long journey.

I did learn something, though…something important about stamps.

The commune where my bisnonno was born requested a self addressed, stamped envelope. Not being all that seasoned of an international mailer, I figured I’d just need the equivalent postage cost of American stamps.

I was wrong.

American stamps are worthless outside of the American post. I’d basically done the equivalent of flush three stamps down the toilet.

Deeerp.

Like a champ, I’d researched this after I’d sealed the envelope. So, I carefully opened the envelope, took out the self addressed, stamped envelope, and made a new one without stamps. I happened to find two 10 euro notes in my safe, and chose to send one of those in lieu of useless American stamps. I stuffed both the euro note and the new self addressed envelope into the commune’s envelope and taped it closed.

I have four more missions at this point:

1. Get my mother to notarize the three birth certificate requests and
2. send them. Then,
3. get the court order for my grandfather’s birth certificate and
4. send away to get that one, as well.

I did call my good friend’s lawyer mother; she answered and told me that she was driving and couldn’t talk, but she’d call me when she got home. This was Thursday. I still have not received a call back.

And I still haven’t received anything from USCIS.

Stay tuned.

Italian Easter Bread

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of it or not, but Thursday was the Spring Equinox. I usually celebrate by making a small feast: A roast, roots, egg custard, salad with edible flowers…you know, that type of thing.

It should come as absolutely no surprise that the Spring Equinox reminds me of Easter, and I have a very private and sacred tradition on Easter: Watching ‘The Last Unicorn,’ and eating Pane di Pasqua (Italian Easter Bread) while I cry myself silly (in a good way).

Pane di Pasqua/Italian Easter Bread: A sweet, braided bread baked with dyed Easter eggs. It may also contain dried fruit and/or topped with icing and sprinkles.

I live in an Italian-American neighborhood, and there’s an Italian grocery store down the street from me. It’s wonderful! It’s one of two places I can actually find scungelli, and their bakery? Absolutely un-fucking-believable. They have stuff you can only typically find back home in New York or New Jersey…stuff like sfogliatelle (lobster tail pastries). For the last maybe…two or three years, I’ve gotten my Easter bread from them, but I’ve been itching to take a crack at making my own for a while.

So, since Thursday was kind of a not-so-great day for everybody else to celebrate Spring, I had my mini feast on Friday, and used it as an excuse to try baking myself some Easter bread for the first time. I figured I could stay up late on Thursday to make the bread so I had time to complete the food preparation Friday afternoon, and that’s what I did.

Here’s the thing: I’m a cook, not a baker. I love cooking. As a matter of fact, cooking is how I bonded with my mother. We both love to cook and love food. Most of my childhood memories take place next to my mother’s legs while she was cooking one thing or another, and when I was a teenager, my favorite thing to do on a Friday night was go to the grocery store with her.
While my friends ate frozen and canned food in university, I cooked my meals. I even fed my roommates. Hell, I sometimes flagged down my neighbors and fed them, too.
What can I say? I’m a little stereotype. I LOVE cooking so much.
But baking? Hahaha…

The only thing that I’m confident about baking is a simple French bread. It’s just water and flour and yeast with a bit of salt. Sure, it’s time consuming, but it’s difficult to fuck up. Anything else, and it’s a total gamble. I’ve burned bread…using a BREAD MAKER.

It’s quite difficult to imagine what a neighbor would’ve thought had they been able to hear what was happening in the kitchen last night:

Whir, whir, whir…
‘No, no, no, no, NO! What are you DOING?’
Thump…thump…thump…
‘You dirty son of a BITCH!’
Thud…slap!
‘You’re SUPPOSED to be satiny! WHY AREN’T YOU SATINY?’

I must’ve done something very wrong because my dough did NOT rise. Maybe the water was too hot for the yeast? Who knows. All I know is that somehow, I ended up with this:

IMG_1734

And yes, I’m boring because I didn’t color the egg.

It wasn’t a replica of the Easter bread from the bakery, as each braid kind of…rose up and separated from the others, but I was pleased to have it look half-way decent.

The next morning, I got up and worked on it a bit:

IMG_1737

The recipe I used for the icing said to mix powdered sugar and orange liquor. Not only does synthetic orange flavor make me gag, I thought lemon liquor would taste better with the bread, so I used Cavarella.

While the icing was perfect (so perfect, in fact, that I kept sampling what was left over and began to feel mysteriously lazy), the bread was dense. My guests did not seem to mind, as they went back for seconds, but I was a bit disappointed. But hey, this is why I tested it out before the day I really want it to go right.

I did learn something, though: Icing is a REALLY fun way to get drunk.

Jus Sanguinis: Check or Money Order?

I received a phone call at around 11:30 am from my mother; she wanted to know if she could come over to pick up something.

Once she entered, though, I trapped her in my dining room and made her sign for her marriage license; then, I commandeered the driver’s license of which I so desperately needed two copies.
Remember the printer? The jammed printer?
Well, I figured that I could just scan the license, but, haha, no. My computer is pissed at the printer, as well, so it seems, as they refused to speak to each other.

But then, something very wonderful happened: A back panel to the printer was discovered. Out came the paper, and the printer is now in working order for the time being.

It seemed like an opportune time to get my mom’s/brother’s/my birth certificates started, so I went to http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/vr-order-other.shtml and checked everything out.
New York City really encourages one to order from VitalCheck; the issue with VitalCheck is that each record costs $8.30 more.
Fuck…that.
So, I printed off the three applications, and tried to convince my mom to stick around until I completed them. They need to be notarized before being sent.

Well, my mom refused to stay around for me to fill in the applications. I kind of can’t even blame her…she’d sat there and watched me fight with a printer for a very long time. I was about to very quickly throw the marriage certificate application together for her to mail, and I just happened to study the instructions one more time before I did so. It was good that I did, because I learned that the fucking city clerk does NOT accept checks, only money orders or cashier checks.

The good news? Long form or, as they call it in New York, vault form birth certificates don’t cost more than the normal ones.

So, here’s what these certificates should cost me:

3 Birth certificates at $15.00 each: $45.00
2 Marriage certificates at $35.00 each: $70.00
Total: $115.00

Add the $26.00 that I already spent at the Manhattan Municipal Archives, and that brings the grand total to $141.00. And I’m sure that the fucking money orders will tack on even MORE money.

New York City Clerk, why are you too good to take a check from me?

Stay tuned.

The Strangest Kind of Blessing

At the very end of last month, I wrote an email to a stranger.

It was a really emotionally trying thing to do, and to be honest, I put off writing it around a year and a half because I was terrified.

What were you terrified of, Luna?

I was terrified that I would pour my heart out to this person, and he would read my words and ignore me, maybe not even read what I had written, or think that there was some motive behind my email that simply wasn’t there.

What had happened was somebody had inspired me with his passion for his career, and it was at a moment when I was in dire need of motivation. The whole situation was so profound to me that I needed to share it with him.

So, when I tried to find this particular man’s email address, I found out that, well…he…umm…how do I put this? In his…field of work, he is kind of a big deal. Well-known. Bumps a lot of important elbows. He’s in such a high position, he could be easily used by fake people if he were to not be suspicious, and many people would want nothing more than to dialogue with him for their own gain.

Me being me, I had no clue as to who he was, and to be perfectly honest, I was so disappointed.
…Scratch that: Depressed. I was so depressed.

I figured that this man was just a ‘normal Joe’ who just loved his job.
That would’ve been a good thing…a very good thing.

If I’m honest, the idea of trying to talk to or form a relationship of any kind with a socially ‘important’ person makes me tired.
I don’t use people: Period. I don’t look at anybody and think:
Hmm…I’d better try to get into their life. Just think of what they could do for me…muwahaha…
But, I know others do, and without scruple. And because of them, there’d be an unspoken rule that I would need to prove that I’m not like that. Besides that, when a person is socially ‘important,’ it seems as if they can only make time for people who are like them; they don’t have time for ‘normies’ like me.

Here’s my take: If I’m not rich enough, important enough, or trustworthy enough to talk to, well…you can fuck right off. I don’t care who you are. I don’t treat people like that, and I sure as hell won’t tolerate being treated like that. The creatures who are important in MY world are important because they’re kind, genuine, and good. There is absolutely no sum of money or anything else that can serve as a substitution for a place in my heart, ever.

Wow. I think I really needed to get that out.

Anyway…
Once I realized who he was, I immediately figured any email I sent him would go unread, deleted, and/or ignored.

Why even bother? It would be a complete waste of time to put the effort and emotion into something he won’t even read or care about.

So…I dismissed the situation altogether.
The Universe, however, wouldn’t let the situation go.

I told somebody about what had happened (somebody who I knew WOULD care), just to get it out of me when I was on the way to work. I trotted in as I normally did, grabbed a box of unsorted historical records, and put on my white gloves to start working. The first thing that I grabbed that morning was an antique booklet, and when I opened it to a random page to figure out what the booklet was about, the man’s name was written in cursive on the top of the page.
“REALLY?” I screeched. “Fucking really?”

That’s just one example. I dealt with a freaking year and a half long case of the Baader Meinhof effect until I was forced to confront the situation. TO MY CHAGRIN.

So, I wrote the damn email. It took me about, oh, two or three hours to do, and it took quite a bit out of me, but at the same time…it felt good. And what do you know? His name and the name of his company stopped popping up everywhere. It was like being told that I did what I needed to do; I had a certain role to play, a wheel to set in motion, and I did it.

Oh, yeah; I don’t mean to be suspenseful. I DID receive a reply…an auto-reply saying that he was somewhere else and would get to answering emails later that day.

There was an unsettled feeling in me, despite the strong intuition that I’d done what I needed to do. So, I explored it:

Why are you unsettled?
Because I knew this would happen…I knew I would be doing something for nothing at all.
So, you’re unsettled because he didn’t reply?
Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be? It feels terrible to share something important to you with somebody who doesn’t give a shit.
Why does it feel terrible? You’ve unburdened yourself, haven’t you? You told somebody about something they’ve done that touched you…how is any of that bad?
Because I feel rejected, ok? I stayed away from this whole thing because I KNEW he wouldn’t answer and I would feel rejected, and that’s exactly what happened!

OHH.
That’s what this was all about.

I thought of the previous times I had experienced rejection from others: How did it play out, who did it to me, why did I feel the need to put myself into those situations?
And the more I thought about it…I realized that the people who had rejected me…the people I had worried over and put up on a pedestal…they had turned out to be some majorly unhealthy people to be around. I would’ve landed myself in some very bad situations if they HAD accepted me.

It was as if my sense of logic had grown a hand and smacked me in the face: It was suddenly so obvious. This thing that I feared so much and tried so hard to avoid was actually my friend. This monster under my bed was helping me my entire life; it actually gets me away from the people and situations I’d be better off without. I should never be afraid of rejection; it’s an unlikely kindness….it’s the strangest kind of blessing.

It’s been nearly a full 19 days. I haven’t received a reply from him and I’m not going to. And you know what? I’m ok with that. As a matter of fact, I’m better than ok. I wrote one damn beautiful email that I’m genuinely proud of…I followed my intuition and did what I believed was right. I ran at my fears, knowing the consequences. But the most important thing that I can take away from this situation is that I’ve had a friend who I’ve been neglecting for far too long for all of the wrong reasons.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a plate of cookies to push under my dust ruffle.

Jus Sanguinis: You Want Me To Do WHAT?

[This is a continuation from the previous post.]

So, where were we? Ahh, yes.

Court Order for Birth Certificates
This sounds scary. I know. The good news is that you may not need to do this, but if you and your family come from New York City, much like me and my family, you probably will.
Let me make this perfectly plain: New York City will NOT release birth certificates to anybody unless they are the person who is named on the birth certificate OR one of the parents of the person who is named on the birth certificate; the ONLY way around this is by obtaining a court order.
And yes, it is definitely a normal reaction to want to pull your hair upon reading that sentence. Even more frustrating, the main rumor on the internet is that a lot of New York lawyers aren’t familiar with this procedure.
Fortunately, my friend’s mom is a lawyer in New York City, and she has agreed to speak with me about it: Unfortunately, we keep playing phone tag.
…That, and I’m kind of scared shitless of talking to her about it. I mean, I want to, but I’m shy around her…very shy.

The good news is that, in theory, I should be able to obtain the three other certificates I need (Mom/brother/me) by having my mom order them together. And yes, I do intend to fund the purchase. 🙂

Marriage Certificates
For my particular and unique situation, I need the following marriage certificates (in long formALL certificates, marriage and birth, need to be in long form):
1. Great-grandfather and great-grandmother
2. Grandma and Grandpa
3. Mom and dad

You can read about it more in-depth at: http://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/html/marriage/records.shtml but this is the short version. If the marriage took place in New York (which all of them did, in my case):

Less than 50 years ago: You need to be one of the people who got married, have written permission from the person/people who got married, or an attorney who needs the certificate for evidence.
More than 50 years ago, but before 1929: The certificate is considered historic and is available to the public.
Between 1866 and 1929: You must obtain the record from the Manhattan Municipal Archives.

Each certificate I need is under a different category.
Why wouldn’t it be that way?

Anyway, the fee is $35.00 for each record from the City Clerk’s office (duplicates are $30.00). I printed two applications for 2 and 3, (BEFORE my printer decided to be difficult) and I intend to have my mom sign hers and copy her photo identification for me. I have yet to send these out, but plan to do so soon enough.

For 1, though, one must go here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/archives/geneology.shtml
Well…it’s not a must: Feel free to try the research room or send away through the mail.
I ordered through the website, and with my particular search parameters and the letter of exemption (and YES, you need that), it came to $26.00. Ordered March 13th, and the email confirmation stated that it should take four to six weeks to arrive in the mail.

Well, that’s about it so far.

Stay tuned.

Jus Sanguinis: Anything Can Happen

I officially began my jus sanguinis campaign on March 2nd, and let’s just say…it’s been interesting.

When I begin to research something of this nature (meaning, something highly complicated and bureaucratic), I check sources of ALL kinds: The companies who want you to pay them for things you could do on your own, the forums for people doing the same thing or who have done the same thing, AND official government websites. When sorting through all of these resources, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out. So, the first thing I did after digging through all of the information was figure out what documents I absolutely needed.

This sounds like a simple enough task, but haha, you’d be surprised at how incredibly difficult is it, especially when the Italian consulate you need to submit your materials to does NOT have a list of what you need in order to apply on their website. This, I learned, is paramount. It does not matter what other consulates require…it only matters what YOUR consulate requires. If I had followed what random people on forums or the websites who you pay to do the research and acquisitions FOR you said, I would’ve paid for at least six more documents (apostilled and translated, not to mention the court order cost) than I needed. I don’t know about you, but even entertaining the notion of a consulate official waving a dismissive hand at documents I didn’t need after going through THAT much to get them makes me want to scream. Save yourself the time, frustration, and money and check with your consulate first.

Something else I learned is that Italian government entities may move slowly. Being completely unable to obtain the official list of required documents from my consulate (I am under the jurisdiction of the Detroit consulate), I decided to email them, despite the fact that I’d read most emails are completely ignored.
My email was sent on March 2nd; I received a reply on March 13th, so not too bad!

If you, too, are under the jurisdiction of the Detroit consulate, I’ll make it easy for you:

Determination of Italian Citizenship (jure sanguinis)

So, basically, they’re only interested in the naturalization records or lack thereof and the birth and marriage certificates of the direct descendants of the Italian citizen, it seems. This is in stark contrast to what I’d read about needing EVERY birth, death, and marriage certificate from EVERY parental person between my great-grandfather and me.

Ok, so since the list has been in my possession, I’ve become confident about knowing what materials I need. I felt that the appropriate next step was to figure out what documents will take the most time to acquire, and go after them first. Here is my best guess, from slowest to fastest:
1. Great-grandfather’s Italian birth certificate
2. Proof of record non-existence from USCIS
3. Court order for birth certificates [Let me explain at a later date!]
4. Great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s marriage certificate
5. Grandma and Grandpa’s marriage certificate/Mom and dad’s marriage certificate
6. Birth certificates for Mom/brother/me

I knew from the get-go that I’d need all of these documents, so on March 2nd, I started on 1 and 2.

Great-Grandfather DeMasi’s Birth Certificate
I’m fortunate enough to know a native Italian person who was willing to help me, so I asked him to contact the teeny-tiny Southern Italian village (or commune) my family is from. To my amazement, the commune responded to my friend quite quickly; he emailed on March 12th and received a reply on March 14th. When he emailed, he included my great-grandfather’s parents’ names and the date of birth from his naturalization petition (do try to include this information, as well, if you are trying to acquire a birth certificate).
The commune stated that they did find a certificate for Bisnonno DeMasi with all information being accurate except his birth date, which was 11 days off from the birth date he had reported on his naturalization petition. [Bisnonno is Italian for great-grandfather, by the way!] Oh, my…he really was absolutely inept at dates, wasn’t he?
The commune said that they’d need my full name (first, middle, last), birth date, place of birth…all of the same information of all of the relatives I have tracing back to my bisnonno, a copy of my photo identification, a statement saying why I want the birth certificate, a stamped envelope to send it to me IF they can find it, AND 20 days for research. And yes, I found it strange that they’d need 20 days when they said that they knew they had it.
I have typed a response letter in English, put it in Google Translate, then sent it to my friend to have it edited; he has edited it and sent it back, but my fucking printer is jammed up, so I can’t print and send it yet. I had to buy a damn claw grabber on Amazon so that I might be able to pull the two tiny pieces of stuck paper out.

Proof of Record Non-existence
This step was MUCH easier.
The concept is that if a person never naturalized, there should be no record of their naturalization. So, if my bisnonno did, in fact, rage quit the process of naturalizing, there should be nothing there, but you need the USCIS to attest to this.
It was relatively easy to send away for proof. Go here: http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-tags/unassigned/faq/how-do-i-get-certification-non-existence-record-or-no-naturalization-record-deceased-immigrant
Then type up a letter using their instructions and send it off to the address.
I sent my letter on the night of March 3rd and have yet to receive a response.

Stay tuned.