A Tale of Three Birth Certificates & One Certificate of Survival   

About four years ago, I had to apply for secret security clearance as a part of my job. Not only is it nothing special, it is a big pain in the butt. Lots of paperwork and recalling details that you’d never thought you’d need to know, ten years worth of details like neighbors who knew you well enough to give their opinion of you and so on. Fun. I also needed to supply a birth certificate. I managed to get through all of the paperwork and then couldn’t my birth certificate. My mother had given it to me when I went to college along with all of my shot records. Those I had but no birth certificate.

No biggie. Contacted the Maine Vital Records Office and ordered a copy. It’s bigger and fancier than my original and thus easier to find when shuffling through important paperwork. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to this week. I am preparing for my cruise. I do not have a current passport and, therefore, need to bring both my driver’s license and my birth certificate to board the ship. Cool, I think, I know right where that is… or, to be more truthful, I know what papers I put it with and I have a general idea where those are… in my closet full of unpacked stuff. Last night I began the search and, if you read yesterday’s post, you know I was having difficulty with the finding part. I finally decided the papers must still be with my files at work.

Ehhhh. Not so much. As soon as I got to the office this morning, I looked EVERYWHERE. Since I moved to this new group a year and a half ago, there’s not really many places to look. I wondered whether I had accidently left the papers in my old filing cabinet located in my office in my previous group’s area. I ask my lunch buddies (former co-workers) if they knew where the filing cabinet had moved to in their recent office moves. I located it but discovered it was empty. Since C (a good friend and the person who replaced me) emptied it, I knew that it must not have been there. This is both good and bad. Good because it means that I did have those papers somewhere. Bad because I didn’t know where and I had already searched all the possible locations.

At this point, I’ll admit to feeling a bit of panic. Maybe a little stupidity and guilt as well. If only I had begun my search last week or this weekend, then I’d have had time to find an alternate solution. Still, I check the Maine Vital Records Office website and see how long it’d take to get a new copy sent to me. There’s still some confusion at how long it takes but at best it could take 1-3 days. This seems to be a bit of a misnomer because the company you can order the certificate from notes that the Vital Records Office says it usually takes them three days to process requests (finding your certificate, authenticating that you’re allowed to have a copy, and getting the appropriate seals/signatures on it) – I think this is on top of the 1-3 days but then I got confirmation that they had authenticated me by early afternoon. I was all confuzzled. Regardless, it seemed to be a bit on the hopelessly optimistic side to think I’d get the copy by Friday but I ordered it anyway figuring I’d still need a copy if I couldn’t find the certificate and maybe I’d get lucky.

Someone burnt (as in on fire in the microwave) a bagel later in the afternoon and, seeing as my office is one door from the kitchen, I fled the horrible smokey atmosphere of my office as soon as I could. The smoke was convenient because I wanted to get home and begin the search again. And, yet, I still managed to leave after everyone else in the office. I’m so dedicated! HA! HA!

At home I was feeling a bit defeated but I got some garbage bags to ditch things as I searched – might as well do some fall cleaning while searching – and started the process of going back through the previous locations. At about 8:30, I had searched all but two places and still hadn’t found a thing. There was a small stationery box next to me on the bed with old passports and report cards and such in it. I knew it wasn’t in there but decided to go through it anyway. At the bottom of the box, there’s my shot record book inside it’s royal blue cover… sort of like a checkbook. It holds the shot records and has a couple of other pockets. If you remember back at the beginning of this story, my mother had given these records to me at the same time as my original birth certificate. To this day, it drives me crazy that I can’t find that original. As a lark, I decided to take the shot records out of the cover book and just check to make sure it’s not hiding underneath them… AND IT WAS!! Unbelievable, it was there all the time. I’m so stupid.

At this point, I didn’t have to keep looking but I was a little afraid they wouldn’t accept the original certificate. Yes it has the raised Maine seal on it and it is official but it’s old and it just looks like an old piece of paper. Plus it’s been folded up this whole time so it’s kind of fragile. Ack. Still, they can’t deny that it’s original so I was relieved that I had an actual certificate (I had found a birth “card” on Tuesday that also has the Maine seal and it was going to be my last resort but I was afraid they wouldn’t accept it because it’s not an actual certificate) and I’d be able to board the boat on Friday.

Though happy I had found the original, the frustration was still there because I *know* the copy is with my clearance paperwork and I remember seeing it recently. You know how it is when you’ve lost something and you *know* where it is but you can’t find it. That frustration. So I decided to keep looking, after all I only have two more places I thought it could be.

I pull out the box that has all of my important papers in it, where I was certain it had to be despite not finding it there the night before. I go through the whole box, throwing out some old bills over four years old, etc. Get to the bottom and all that’s left is a box with resume printing paper. Defeated I sat there looking at the box and trying to think of where else it could be until I really *looked* at the box of resume paper and it hit me – over the head with a really hard hammer. I remembered standing at my desk and putting several printed resumes back into that box ALONG WITH THE CLEARANCE PAPERWORK. I’m such a fucking idiot. I flipped right past that box the night before, didn’t give it a second thought. So, I open the box, flip through the papers at the top, and THERE IT IS! Folded up and paperclipped to the front of the clearance stuff. Un-flipping-believable! So, yeah, I’m an idiot. Look at all the stress I would have saved myself if I had been thorough while searching last night.

At the end of the day, I have the original birth certificate, the copy I ordered four years ago, and a new copy I ordered today on its way to me. All I have to say is, with three copies, I better not have this problem ever again or I’m requesting that everyone on my f-list hit me upside the head multiple times. But, hey, I found them! Yay! I can now go back to figuring out what to pack and getting my house cleaned up before I go. I feel better already – except for that cleaning up part.

Now that the looooong story about how stupid I am is over… I did find something pretty cute and somewhat crystal ball-ish. In the box with a bunch of old report cards and other things from elementary school, I found a Certificate of Survival. This is what it says:


This certifies that Rae Lee Hanson did bravely confront and successfully survive all of the supernatural dangers and blood-curdling terrors of the HAUNTED HOUSE and is a monster in good standing.

Signed: Dr. Frankenstein

And it’s really his signature so you know it’s real. Heh. I don’t remember much about the haunted houses I attended as a kid but the things used to scare me silly much like roller coasters did. I blame this less on the actual houses and coasters themselves and more on my sisters who were quite skilled at freaking me out before I even got close to the line for either. Still, I survived! And went on to be freakishly in love with horror movies and haunted houses. Knowing that I have been a monster in good standing all this time explains so much…….

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