I have recently grown quite reminiscent, as my passport is up for expiration after 10 years of globetrotting with me. Its been dropped in toilets, had extra pages sewn in (twice), and looks terrible. It earns me status at immigrations checkpoints, as its obvious that I have been doing this for some time. That passport was born in Boston in the week between pseudo-graduation from and my departure for study abroad in Ireland in order to earn the 1 credit (not 1 class, 1 credit, SERIOUSLY!) that kept me from be a bonafide college graduate. I gave little thought to the photo process, went to walgreens in a red BU t-shirt and received a set of underexposed photos in which both my complexion and bleach-blond hair look orange. This is the cross I have had to bear for the last 9.5 years.
As a result, I was determined to make this decade memorable in ways other than "that's you! Ohmigod! You look so different!" So, I went to a legitimate photo lab and put on makeup. I chose a photo that looked decent and returned later to pick up the prints. During that brief sojourn, the photographer decided to whiten my skin and retouch my lipstick, resulting in a greenish completion and vampire lips. I was pissed, but what could I do? So, the next day, I went to a different photo lab and made it abundantly clear that I did not want any retouching. The photos came out much nicer and I am pretty pleased. FYI: You are not supposed to smile in passport photos, so I didn't.
The next day, I got onto the overnight bus to Bangkok and arrived at the embassy at 7:30 am to get the ball rolling. I ordered both a new passport book and a passport card. Passport cards are a new phenomenon, they are cheaper than the books and can be used for traveling overland to Mexico or Canada. As I don't often do that, I thought the card would be a good idea to keep with me while going about my daily affairs, as I don't carry my passport with me often.
The afternoon in Bangkok included a trip to Webster where I picked up my diploma for the MAIR program that I recently completed. Then, I went back to the bus station and arrived back in Ubon the following morning, just in time to teach my 8:00 a.m math class. I will go back to Bangkok in 3 weeks to pick up the new passport and retire the old. Change is good!