Monday, August 18, 2003

STRESS!!!!! I hate to whine too much about my stress level, when poor Fred has single-handedly taken care of the delivery of all of our stuff, the assembly (and disassembly and reassembly) of most of our furniture, and the unpacking of at least half of our boxes. But these past few days have totally kicked my butt, so whine I must.

It all started on Friday when I took the cat to the vet for his health check for the flight. I have been unable to get a coherent answer from any one source as to exactly what one needs to transport an animal to Germany. Most websites (for airlines, the Army, and such) tend to say things like "Make sure you find out what is required to take your pet to Europe." Gee, thanks.

I made two phonecalls to my mom's vet to set up a well-kitty check for Eddie, and both times the staff seemed fairly clueless on the process. In fact, I was once again admonished to make sure I knew what I needed. Thanks to google, I managed to find a link from the German consulate in Hong Kong that said a rabies certificate in German and English is all that is needed. I also found a US government form for a general health certificate in English, French, and German. Fred confirmed with the military vet in Mannheim that, indeed, these were the documents I needed.

So we arrived at the vet's Friday morning only to be greeted with--surprise!!!--a 6-page carbon-copy form from the USDA. And--surprise again!!!--I was instructed to overnight this form to the USDA with sufficient postage for them to overnight it back to me after embossing it with their special seal. Ha ha--and make it back in time for my flight on Wednesday? I don't think so.

I called the USDA to find out if I really, really, REALLY needed this form, and the woman remained steadfast: "Germany requires it." I was very close to driving two hours up to the nearest USDA office (Gainesville, FL) to have this done, but first I talked to Fred on the phone. His advice: "CALL the German embassy." Both the German consulate and the embassy (left multiple voicemail messages) insist that all Germany requires is a particular German-English rabies form (of course not the form I found on the Hong Kong website). So I got that form and took it back to the vet, but the receptionist continued to assure me that "the United States requires the USDA form."

I am leaving here on Wednesday with two German-English rabies forms, one health certificate approved by the military vet, NO stupid USDA form, and (I hope) one cat. If I get Eddie into Germany without anyone wanting the USDA form, I intend to devote at least two hours of my time to raising hell with the USDA for putting me through this in the first place.

Today was spent in car hell. Took the van to have it washed, waxed, and detailed before taking it to Jacksonville tomorrow to get it shipped over. Due to a brain-fart that occurred when I was busy putting out multiple fires, I came very close to missing closing time at the "auto spa." Fortunately, Jenny and Jeff were here to rush me right over to pick up the van. After Jeff's high-performance driving exhibition on the way there, Jenny informs me that I no longer have the title of "Dumb and Dumber" driver for this family.

Upon arriving home with my freshly detailed car, I went to print out my dock receipt and the email giving me directions to the port. Come to find out, the lady at the shipping company has sent me directions to--get this!--the port in freaking Baltimore!!!!! All I could do is laugh (and have a Tom Collins . . . and another Tom Collins). Obviously, I won't be getting as early a start tomorrow as I had planned. Instead, I'll be waiting until 9 so I can call her and see if perhaps I could get directions to the JACKSONVILLE port instead!!! (And here all along I was wondering how on earth I could have driven through Jax so many times and totally missed the Fort McHenry tunnel!)

I've also been stressing over how much junk I should mail versus how much I can stuff in my suitcases. Tonight I had an epiphany: I'm mailing just about everything I can that isn't clothing. I don't care what it costs. I don't care how many boxes that is. I just want all of this STUFF out from under my nose, and I want to get us all to Germany without me having a nervous breakdown. All else is gravy.

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