Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Travels with Sallie

Do you ever have that feeling where you just don't stop? I feel like I'm in the eye of the hurricane right now, waiting for the next storm to pick up. It was a whirlwind couple of months prior to leaving DC, with some late-night packing (courtesy of my sister), a few too-long nights with friends, and a few crazy days at work.

After leaving DC on the 7th, I went to Chicago to visit a few friends. The original plan was Chicago for a week, then back home to Kansas City for a couple of weeks before getting on my plane across the ocean (pond, whatever). Unfortunately, as is often the case, an interloper appeared--Sallie Mae. Oh, I know she seems sweet and harmless, but she can be a demon of inefficiency when she wants to be.

Although the application/approval process for my loans was relatively easy, online and such, I didn't realize until it was too late that I needed a hard copy of my loan approval letter to accompany my visa. This shouldn't have been too difficult as I had a PDF. Our international office informed me that I would actually need a letter straight from Sallie Mae...on letterhead. With little time left (early July), I figured I could get the letter quickly, postmark my visa application, and get it back in time. This did not happen. After being tossed around to several people, I got someone on the line who said they would send the letter. Great, right? Wrong. When I got the letter a few days later, it was on letterhead, but was the statement of my current loans. Ugh. So another round, and a new person. She apologized and said they'd send a new letter. After one hadn't appeared for a few days, I called--concerned/pissed--knowing that time was running out. Turns out they denied my request for a letter. I'm not quite sure how they can deny a letter for a loan you already have, but they did. By this point, time is really tight. Had I had the letter originally, I would have been fine, but by now, it was looking like I would have to push back my flight. After leaving messages and getting tossed around again (round 3!), I finally got a message from a very nice woman in the middle of a trip to the newport folk festival with my sister. In between driving in the rain to Newport, and with some transcription help from sis, I got a hold of her. She said she could overnight the letter (huzzah!) but I would need a UPS account (ugh). All I can say is thank god for online applications that work on Good job guys. So I have the letter sent to my parents because due to the timing, I was out of my apartment. Letter arrives, parents overnight. Case closed? No. It doesn't have the account number on it, which, I may or may not need (the guidance on these things is kind of specific, but not). So round 4, nice lady (who is now programmed into my phone as "Sallie Mae") overnights me another letter. With account number. Finally, the golden compass/chalice/horcrux/whatever.

By this point I had given up all hope of getting a visa quickly. LUCKILY I'm apparently not the only one with documentation problems, among many others. Turns out you can stand in line and get your visa the same day! And in Chicago, where I would be! But, my "home office" was NYC; hence, plane ticket to NYC. And then back to Chicago, and back to KC. This is how Sallie Mae became an interloper on my vacation. For those of you who are still with me, allow a visual (kind of):

DC...(Crap, no letter!)...(Round 1--wrong letter)...(Round 2--denied letter)...Move out of Apartment...Newport Folk Festival...(Round 3--letter! No account number)...DC...Chicago...(Round 4--letter!)...NYC...Chicago...Kansas City.

And so now I'm back in Kansas City for a couple of weeks, hanging out with my parents and staying up late like I used to. Finally catching up on life and working on getting my housing situation squared away (more later). So after watching a movie with the 'rents tonight, I'm left with a stack of 6 month old magazines I've been meaning to get to, 12 boxes of clothes, books, and junk, 1 passport, 1 plane ticket to go, and 1 visa.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Whole Mess of Songs

For those who were unable to come on Friday or didn't get a copy, below is the track list from the "A Whole Mess of Songs" mix.

You can access the iMix from iTunes here. I'll try to find free copies and update the post with links later.

  1. Major Tom / Shiny Toy Guns
  2. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go / Madeleine Peyroux
  3. Tables And Chairs / Andrew Bird
  4. Stay Humble / Tyler James
  5. O Valencia! / The Decemberists
  6. A Death Waltz / Jay Brannan
  7. After Afterall / William Fitzsimmons
  8. Brown Eyes / Andy Davis
  9. Saro / Sam Amidon
  10. The Avalanche / Sufjan Stevens
  11. February / Barnaby Bright
  12. Sing, Theresa Says / Greg Laswell
  13. Hard Luck Tom / The Silver Seas
  14. 1901 / Phoenix
  15. Bay Springs Road / Charlie Mars
  16. Brother Sport / Animal Collective
  17. Snowblind / +/- {Plus/Minus}
  18. Gobbledigook / Sigur Rós
  19. The Opposite of Hallelujah / Jens Lekman
  20. Fake Empire / The National