an open letter to the state department

26 Aug

Dear State Department,

Hi! How are you? I am fine. How are things in the rest of the world? I hope your embassies and other establishments of note are doing well. Are you enjoying the end of summer? Hopefully you’re having some nice weather.

I thought of you yesterday. I went to two (yes, two!) post offices to get passport photos taken, since it seems you won’t let me leave or enter this country or other countries without a passport that is up-to-date. I’ve had the paperwork filled out for quite some time now, but the photo part of the deal, well, that took some time getting done.

But yesterday, since it was so nice, I decided to go get my picture snapped. I tried to have it done at CVS, since I had a coupon, but it turns out you need to have a photo already taken and uploaded, which I didn’t realize. So I hopped the bus up to the Chevy Chase post office, but guess what? They don’t have passport services there! So I hopped a bus down to Cleveland Park, which is where the very kind woman at the Chevy Chase post office said was the nearest post office that did passport photos.

And yes, it’s true. They do take passport photos at the Cleveland Park post office! Hooray! And let me also add, State Department, the woman who took my picture was quite possibly the nicest postal worker I’ve ever encountered. Then again, I’ve never actually encountered surly post office workers, or waited in line anxiously wondering if today was the day one of them would haul off and go postal when all I was trying to do was mail in my quarterly taxes like a good citizen.

And I am a good citizen, State Department.

Which is why I don’t understand why you’re such a tightass about these passport photos. Why so strict? What have I ever done to you that such stringent photo limitations are in place? Why must my eyes be at a certain height? Why must the photo show my whole face and only my face? Why are you putting me in a box?

Don’t you think, State Department, that if I wasn’t a good citizen, that I was some sort of woman who fancied herself a terror on other countries (not a terrorist, mind you, because I’m not smart enough to put together bombs to blow shit up. Well, I am, but I’m too fucking lazy, frankly, to try something like that. I mean if I fancied myself a terror, as in one of those obnoxious Americans who thrust themselves upon other cultures and then complain about, OMG, this place is fucking weird, they don’t do things the right way, i.e. the right way being America’s way) it would be better to have a full-bodied photo of me in action? Are you really going to recognize me with a photo like this:

When it’s really more likely that were I to get caught in an act of terror it would look something more like this?:

Granted, that first picture, let’s be honest, is pretty terrifying. (Then again, so is the second one. And no, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.) And while it’s not the actual passport photo I sent in with my filled-out forms and check for $75, it’s not far off. (Also, did you like the green shirt I’m wearing in the photo I sent to you? I wore it all special-like for you, because it looks good with my hair.) As I’m sure you well know, State Department, 97.6% of passport photos look like this—wide-eyed and freaked out, multiple chins, with hair that looks like maybe it was done nicely at one point but has since gone the way of the bird’s nest.

How that’s going to give you a good idea of what kind of terror of a woman I might be is anyone’s guess. I’m telling you, State Department, don’t look for the rigid girl standing in line at customs, look for the flailing, carrying-too-many-bags-to-be-healthy, eyes-dodging-because-maybe-there-are-flavored-cigs-in-her-carryon, unsmiling-due-to-lack-of-sleeping-on-planes young woman, and you’ll find me, if you’re looking for me.

Anyway, keep in touch. And I hope to hear from you soon! (You know, with my new passport and all!)




2 Responses to “an open letter to the state department”

  1. Steph August 27, 2010 at 9:36 AM #

    I love the look! Funny thing – in my reader that passport pic showed up really LARGE, like 1000 pixels tall or something ridonkulous. It was awesome.

    • mollystrz August 27, 2010 at 1:18 PM #

      Um, yeah…that’s because I put it on “full size” but then realized how frightening it was so I went back and resized it. Heh.

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