We pick up with our characters two weeks later…

This week the eldest sister asked if I was keeping quiet on the blog so that my new coworkers wouldn’t see it. The husband asked if I was going to continue the blog now that I’m working every day. And someone in the elevator at work asked how many months along I am and after pausing far too long, I responded, “Six! Eight! Nine! Seven! I don’t know even know what day it is!” Time, as one can tell, has gotten away from me.

It has been quite a week and a half.

Commonwealth of Virginia: Oh ho, Virginia’s got jokes. Last Saturday the husband and I went to the DMV to get our VA drivers licenses. It took us a half-hour to get a number from the information lady and then it was three hours of sitting and awaiting execution. On the information sheet that was necessary on top of all our other information, “weight” is a required field. I swiftly called BS on that one and made up a rather flattering number. The field trip to the DMV really requires its own post, so we’ll let this rest here for now.

Job: I love my new job and although the work days were about 11 hours, my first week flew by. When the House is out of session the days will be shorter. My fellow staffers are awesome people with my sense of humor and the good congressman is a precise and capable gent who communicates exactly what he wants. Considering that the old job in the old home state is currently embroiled in a scandal, I’m especially glad to be where I am now. My new chief of staff and the good congressman are ok with dog visitors in the office now and then so Dietrich can come to work with me when the House lets out. Speaking of…

Dietrich: Knowing our days would be long when the House is in session, the husband and I wanted someone to walk Dietrich in the afternoons. Easy enough, since I just left a job with a dog walking company, right? But frankly I didn’t want to pay a stranger to come into my house and let my dog out for such a pretty penny. Besides that, we can’t get another key to the building so there was no way to let someone in during the week. Fortunately, the husband belonging to the other housemate (from shoebox days) has moved to the east coast and is working for the same dog walking company. It can be slow going to build up a client base and, in the end, we agreed to a very reasonable rate for all-day dog care at their house. The husband and I drop Dietrich off at their place on session days and pick him up on our way home. Everyone is happy.

Home: Last weekend the husband and I went to Ikea and, at long last, purchased a bookshelf sufficient for holding the bulk of our library. We also came home with a small buffet for the dining room and now Dietrich’s goodies are discreetly tucked away and large yet attractive servingware is tastefully displayed. After our paychecks are deposited at the end of this month we are planning to acquire a couch in time for company.

Company: The parents are coming to visit just as August kicks off. Tomorrow I have brunch with a friend from the old job days and on another weekend two of my dearest buddies are planning a trip to see me. At the end of the month yet another friend will be in town and we have lunch plans already forming. Somewhere in there the husband and I will travel to the farm for a weekend and that will be our last trip before the baby comes, unless we decide that we do have time to do a babymoon in Baltimore.

Little oyster: She is 30 weeks old! During a commercial break in Master Chef this week, the husband leaned over her to holler, “Hi baby, it’s your dad!” and she immediately commenced an enthusiastic dance party. I think she can’t wait to meet this loud voice that talks to her all the time and I know she won’t be disappointed when she does.

Baby’s room: With a curtain, painted giraffe, and bookshelf, the secondary layer of necessities is in place. I spent time organizing the closet with her wee clothes and colorful goodies after my June baby shower (Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #4 will be posted soon) and in a few weeks we’ll unbox her Pack ‘n Play and car seat so they can off-gas with the Baby Bjorn. Then we’ll just need a dresser or changing table and a rocker and she’s welcome to come. And by welcome to come, I mean I’d selfishly like to sit up from a laying position without doing a three-point turn but really not before late September, so let’s hope she keeps that in mind.

Drivers licenses: As I said before, Virginia’s got jokes. Our licenses arrived yesterday and after much scrutiny, determined that yes, they had sent us the right ones. The husband looks like a felon and I look like his rather unwashed accessory to the crime. I think we both have mustaches. One of my eyes isn’t open all the way and the husband has a distinct leer. I had tried smiling in my photo but the DMV lady told me I couldn’t show my teeth, so the result is me looking toothless and yet extremely satisfied with the crime I have clearly just committed. The husband and I are comforted by the fact that if we ever DO do something bad and our photos are on the news, no one we know will recognize us. We don’t even look Caucasian. And now I know why they don’t let you proof the picture after they take it. The best part is, the license is good for eight years. We’ll have these until we’re 35.


Acquired: Two Virginia license plates

Before anyone from the home state points out that we only have one car, know that Virginia is one of those places where you have to have a plate on the front and a plate on the back. Interestingly, the cost of these two plates plus the registration stickers for both of them was $52.75, a full $15 less than the registration stickers alone cost for one plate in the home state. I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth in this case, or maybe the heat is getting to me.

After a morning training session at work during which we learned canine first aid I was off to the DMV to bite the bullet and change our plates. Observe the scene below:

<redwhiteandnew enters DMV, providentially located right behind work, approaches woman at information counter>

Me: Hi!
<I smiled. She did not.>
Me again: Yes, well. My husband and I moved to Virginia recently and I need to get a Virginia license plate.
<I blink innocently. She blinks not at all.>
Me yet again: Yes, well. I have all my forms and my inspection certificates.
Her: You need to fill this out.
<Slides a form across the desk, never breaking unblinking, unsmiling eye contact.>
Me: Umm ok. I have with me in this bag right here my vehicle registration, my current proof of insurance, my old proof of insurance, my safety inspection certificate, my emissions inspection certificate, my driver’s license, my entire lease proving my Virginia residency, the title for the car, and an insurance binder from the week I bought the car.
Her: Are you getting your Virginia driver’s license today?
Me: Do all of those documents qualify me to get my Virginia driver’s license today?
Her: No.
Me: Then no, I’m not. What else do I need?
Her: A passport or a birth certificate and a proof of residency in the state of Virginia–
Me: Commonwealth. Please continue.
Her: –and if you’re married and your name on any of those documents doesn’t match the name on your Social Security card or driver’s license, you will need to bring a certified copy of your marriage license as proof.
Me: The ring on my finger and the baby bump I’m resting on your counter don’t suggest that my husband is a reality?
Me: Yes, well.
Her: Fill out this form.
Me: Ok.

In the end, I filled out the form that basically copied all the information from the Corolla’s title and asked for the address of the dealership from which I purchased the car. I suppose if things were different (and this wasn’t the Noble Bureaucratic Red Tape Land of Licenses and Regulations known as Virginia) I would have tried to put the husband’s name on the new title as a joint owner, but since I was pretty sure they would have me arrested for perjuring the form from the unsmiling information lady if I tried to add another name when only mine is listed on everything else, I didn’t do that. I even took off my ring when I went up to the counter, just in case they tried to force me into fessing up that someone else drives the car, too. I was so close to getting something right in Virginia at this point that I was prepared to call myself a surrogate if interrogated by the police officers stationed at the DMV doors. Sorry, husband. Victory was in my sights.

When it was at last my turn, I dealt with yet another unsmiling and efficient DMV employee at her little counter. And yes, I needed every single sheet, form, certificate, and proof that I had with me. In the old home state, you fill out a form, write the Secretary of State a check, and they mail you a license plate in a few weeks. Today the DMV girl just grabbed two off the stack behind her, pulled two JULY and two 2013 plate stickers out of a drawer, and handed everything to me in a bag. After I paid my $52.75, of course.

Gathering up my sheaf of personal information and tucking everything back into my own bag, I thought of one more thing.

Me: Oh, in my old state we only have rear license plates. How do I attach the Virginia plate to the front of my car?
DMV girl: You need to take it to a dealership and they’ll mount a frame for it. You’ll want to call for an appointment.

#$%@#&!$%!! I was so close to done.

So you’d like to drive in our commonwealth

When the husband and I first arrived in NOVA, we were struck by the heaps and piles of regulations concerning how and where and when and in which direction to park one’s car, among other things.

I can’t imagine how quickly my brain would have melted had we tried to switch our driver’s licenses and plates at the same time. But, that time has come now, and in a show of what I thought was due diligence, yesterday I set out to determine where exactly to begin with this process.


So you’ve been living in our commonwealth for nigh on six months now and you feel that you have bested the system by using the same three-day temporary parking permit to park your out-of-state car in front of one of our residences and sneaking it into the landlady’s driveway on Thursday mornings when you noticed the county goes around ticketing improperly permitted vehicles, eh? Oh ho. Well, we’ll just see about that.

1. Welcome to Virginia. What color is your car?
a. Red
b. Black
c. Gray
d. None of the above
e. I don’t understand the question

2. So you’ve been parking your <color> car in front of your current residence since you moved in, without acquiescing to our nonsensical permitting requirements.
a. Yes
b. Maybe
c. In a way
d. Depends who you ask
e. I don’t understand the question

3. And now you’d like to properly register this car with the commonwealth of Virginia, county of Fairfax, and city of Alexandria?
a. I guess
b. Apparently
c. I feel like I’m out of options
d. “Like to” is subjective
e. I don’t understand the question

4. You need a Virginia driver’s license.
a. I know
b. I’m trying to get one
c. Your mom needs a Virginia driver’s license
d. All of the above

5. To obtain a Virginia driver’s license, you will need to verify, using notarized documentation, the following:
a. That you are over 18
b. That you are over 19
c. That you haven’t had your current license suspended, revoked, expired, damaged, lost, stolen, mutilated, copied, run through the washing machine, or left in the sun
d. That you are a citizen of our great nation
e. That you are a resident of our magnificent commonwealth

6. Please prove that you are a resident of our magnificent commonwealth. The following forms of identification are required for this:
a. Virginia driver’s license

7. You don’t have a Virginia driver’s license?
a. No

8. Hmmmm. What color is your car again?
a. Red
b. Black
c. Gray
d. None of the above
e. I still don’t understand the question

9. You have library fines, don’t you?
a. Yes
b. Maybe
c. Your mom has library fines
d. “Fines” is a funny term
e. I don’t understand the question

10. Your car needs to be emissions inspected.
a. I read that on your website
b. I don’t understand the question

11. It’s not on our website, it’s on a different website. Why would we put that on our DMV website? It’s on the EPA website, duh. Can you read?
a. Yes
b. Duh back to you
c. Can you?

12. Well you need to have an emissions inspection before you can register your car.
a. I just want a driver’s license right now
b. I’m selling my car
c. Pretend my car doesn’t exist
d. Do you make people without cars get emissions inspections?

13. We make it easy to get an emissions inspection! You just take your car to a commonwealth-approved inspection garage and have it tested, at which point the passed emissions test is valid for 90 days until the renewal of your vehicle registration and a failed emissions test grants you a window of 14 days in which to have the vehicle repaired and retested so that at that time the garage may scan your registration application request, sending the emissions inspection information to the DMV and the commonwealth EPA for timely processing of the emissions inspection results in order to renew your vehicle’s emissions inspection approval tags which are valid for only one year if you had to take advantage of the 14 day window but are possibly valid for two years if your vehicle passed its inspection the first time around and you are not delinquent in having your vehicle inspected and your registration renewed–plus you can’t have library fines–which means that we recommend setting up an appointment for the emissions inspection in the first place and trying to do that within the middle two weeks of each month to avoid delays. Bear in mind that at the commonwealth-approved emissions inspection garage, they will need to scan your Virginia driver’s license for record keeping purposes and expediency.
a. You don’t have a Virginia driver’s license?
b. How does your car operate???
c. You’re poisoning us with your emissions!

14. Well this is a pickle.
a. I just need to change my current out-of-state driver’s license for a Virginia driver’s license first.

15. Did you say that your car is red?
a. I lied, I don’t have a car, does that help?

16. You can’t lie in Virginia.
a. Ooops.

17. You need a Virginia driver’s license. And new plates. And an emissions inspection. And a vehicle registration.

18. And you must have your vehicle inspected for emissions. It’s the law.
a. My vehicle emits.
b. Boom, inspection done.
c. Can I have my license now?

19. No.
a. I hate you.

20. We don’t care. You need to register your vehicle with the commonwealth, the county, and the city.
a. I’m just going to park on the grass.

21. Oh, and also, all of this stuff costs money but we only accept payment in gold coins, unfolded Euros, and blood.
a. I assumed, considering that you are northern Virginia.

22. Yeah. There’s a fee for the license application, the license itself, the emissions application, the emissions inspection, the tags proving your emissions inspection, a license plate application, the license plate itself, the vehicle registration, and a service fee for coming into the DMV.
a. Where are you going with that baseball bat?
b. And that gasoline?
c. Are you setting your car on fire?
d. Why are you doing that?
e. Don’t you want to register your car and yourself and your dog and your hair gel with our magnificent commonwealth?