Memoir Mondays are a flash back to the past to examine my writerly roots. People, places and events that shaped me and influence my world and how I write about it.
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.
So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
While in my previous Memoir Monday, I pondered the question of representation. Back in the day (early 60′s in my case), it was brave enough for me to be the Indian when my cousins were all cap-gun wielding cowboys and cowgirls. What I realized by looking through family photos and stringing together bits of family data was that there was a grand chance of African-American bloodlines coming from both my grandfather’s parents. While I have questions more than answers, the possibility throws new light on family relations and twists on the plots of our collective timeline. Mind you, I’ve seen copies of the census reports that identify everyone as white even as other evidence would suggest otherwise. Not an uncommon thing to have an airbrushed identity back in those days, I’m finding out.
When the past crashes into the present
It is getting harder and harder to reinvent oneself in this day of instant internet fact-checking. Good and bad can be said of it. Lack of privacy, for one. As we steam our way toward out future at greater and greater velocity, it is a wonder at the strange things that hold us to our past.
Because it is so easy to discover so much of a person’s past, one would think that it would be snap to get accesses to your own personal records, get your ID reissued, all of that necessary stuff we take for granted as we bop along at electric speed. No so fast. That’s what I found out at a point when I could ill afford it. Homeland Security is quietly changing all of the rules. During the time when I had my concussion, my Hawaii Drivers permit was set to expire. I was meaning to get it taken care of earlier, but how many friends with cars can take time off of work to get me down to the DMV? Easily put off until I had to. I take the bus, after all. But then the concussion where I couldn’t take the driving test. And the change in all of the rules.
The Name Game
My Social Security card has my legal name on it, as does my expired Illinois and Hawaii drivers licenses as well as my expired passport. But my birth certificate, now that it is a different matter. My copy of my marriage license (Both of them. Married twice to the same man because LA lost the original documents) were being shipped from the Mid-West. Before I realized that my documents were insufficient, I tried to get a duplicate copy of my marriage certificate from the filing courthouse. They needed a valid state issued ID to process it. A Catch-22. Some old episode of the Twilight Zone, that is what my life had become. I only thought I existed. I could Google myself and see quite a trail of identity, but I wasn’t able to vote in the Hawaii primary.
As vulnerable as I feel, I keep thanking my lucky stars that I am not stuck in Arizona in this condition looking Mexican. How awful is that to even think? But I believe it needs to be said.
The full story will not be told to protect the innocent (of heart).
Yes, I just received the needed documentation in this week’s mail. How? Let’s say, I proved my identity beyond a reasonable doubt in an area where there exists a bit of wriggle room. Am I privileged? You betcha! The way the rules now stand, I should not have gotten this exception. Others might not be so lucky. Who does this affect? Predominately women and poor women at that. If I hadn’t had a different last name from my birth certificate. This would be moot.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Make sure that your birth certificate still shows the official seal imprint. It is worthless if it doesn’t. Yes, even if it originally had a seal, if you can no longer see it––No Good. Same goes with your marriage license. You need to have documentation of going from one name to another. They didn’t accept my seal imprinted divorce papers without the marriage license.
Don’t let this happen to anyone.
Call your member congress and your senator. Tell them that this unnecessary level of documentation is bad government. It is too costly to implement and has no real use. The government workers that I dealt with during this crisis told me that they are having to go through anger management classes and they have psychological counseling due to the hostility and anger of the folks caught in these binds. I am far from alone, it seems.
Laurie Meggesin, a friend of mine going back to 6th grade who currently occupies her time as a lawyer, writer and kayak-er in the great state of Florida, also wrote on this subject for her firm’s blog this summer. Trial Lawyers Must Band Together to Protect Voters’ Rights, Now More Than Ever.
What has this to do with my writerly self?
Plenty. For one thing, this year and more intensely this summer has been nothing if not the past crashing in on the present. Memoir Mondays are one of attempts to sort through some of the surfacing materials. Some of the materials are physical, some emotional, some spiritual, and quite a lot of it is all of the above. And boy does it have an effect on my writing!…and sometimes the lack thereof.
Any horror stories on your end? Have you felt yourself suddenly vulnerable? Has there been a time when you could not do simple functions of modern life? Tell us your stories.