As most of you know I have been dancing with our governing body and our legal system for sometime now.   All in an effort to renew my driver’s license.   Can I say that I had no true idea of how crippled those systems are and how most of the true power for decision-making lies in the hands of people who personally feel quite powerless and who hate their jobs and are ruthlessly underpaid.   So, they tend to be ruthless with me.

These clerks in life stand between a person needing to do some legal transaction that could change their life forever and getting a result.  This clerk can make or break whether you achieve your goal with one swift glance at your pile of paperwork, raising their thin eyebrows at you in disapproval or can brandish one signature on a paper that you hold in your hand like a sacrificial offering, only to be put in a pile to be never seen again, like a cast away orphan that no one will adopt.

So, now four months into my surreal process of getting my driver’s license renewed, I have not only been told I am a “one of a kind case” but my fabulous and accomplished lawyer Martha from Denver has this week been branded a full- blown “troublemaker”.  You must understand that neither Martha nor I look like street people, x-hippies, drug addicts or criminals.  We look well put together and between us have umpteen years of higher education, I am a Harvard Grad, Martha 22 years as a lawyer and we are kind and considerate.   In the end none of it matters. I might as well be Charles Mansen.

Since last writing I have flown to Denver, taken FBI fingerprints, supplied a second set of finger prints for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and been told that due to the use of curling irons as a teen they did not think my fingerprints would pass the scrutiny of either Bureau.  Hmmm….what was it about those little swirls at the tip of my finger that was so unacceptable that I might just not be fingerprint “worthy”?  And if I am not fingerprint worthy then what does that mean?  It means I don’t get to drive.

I then, off the record, drove like a little old lady in the slow lane and back roads to get to Court on the day before Thanksgiving.  I waited for my knight in shining armor, Martha.  I sat inside this beautiful guilded domed building called Jefferson County Court House tucked up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  The building was affectionately referred to by the locals as the “R2D2” building.  You get the idea.

As I waited, I saw a marble bench with a life size bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, the father of our country and our legal system, sitting on the bench with quill in hand.  I thought, “I will sit next to him and meditate on the outcome of my day, can’t hurt since maybe his energy would rub off on me”.  So Thomas and I sat there like an old familiar couple as every passerby from nose ringed and tattooed young people, to a group of Mafia looking guys that might have just been lawyers, passed me all saying, “Well he sure doesn’t talk allot does he?” The metaphor very apropos.

So, I sat in court with my lawyer who on that day had lost her voice too.  Now, I find that simply perfect since I had “No Voice” with anyone in the system up to this point and called her hoping her voice carried more weight than mine.  When the day we were hoping to plead our case in court arrived, she was not talking very much and in the end we were told we needed to file more and more papers and get fingerprints and generally jump totally new unnecessary hoops to satisfy someone down the chain of command that no one really knew the name of.

Then last week I hit the end of the line of options.  The last straw, the last attempt, was to file an appeal and go to District Court….now let me remind you that this was not to prove I was not the Uni-Bomber, not to win or lose some battle for my child, or right to put a fence up and keep my pack rat neighbors at bay.  It is not an appeal for the kind of justice we need and is only fair in our country to protect someone, to award a parent custody or to make sure child support is in fact paid.  It is an appeal to get the simple act of spelling a name correctly accomplished, so that the Social Security Administration can breathe a sigh of relief that in fact I am who I say I am.

The papers were filled out while my lawyer Martha drank hot tea for her throat and gargled and took aspirin, so she could meet Thanksgiving head on the next day.  She took time to run the gauntlet of absurdity while blowing her nose and feeling generally miserable and  get down to the court to file a motion to appeal.  She was told in no uncertain terms “that no one had ever attempted to appeal a name change document before!”  Am I surprised?

So, my gypsy saga continues.  I have no license, I cannot drive to the corners of the earth and in fact may truly need to buy a Gypsy wagon and a good mule.  Anyone know where I can buy one?  Or maybe a nice looking Chauffeur.

Winged Justice

How many Lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Well, I can’t remember the punch line to that, but is all but flattering to the law profession.  And I have to also admit that I have never retained a lawyer before. But I have one now.  And this good lawyer is clearly a tool in my toolbox for living life I should have had years ago.

My continued saga with not having a driver’s license and having my wings clipped as a Gypsy had become more and more like a bad sitcom on ABC.   The saga has continued down a road of both the inexplicable and the absurd and ended up with a drove of desk bound clerks scratching their  heads and implying that I just many never drive again and certainly won’t have a social security card anytime soon.  Ugh.

It became apparent that the core problem to solve in the debacle did not originate with some understandable mistake I had made, and I made a few mistakes that is for sure, but originated with a filing glitch that was the responsibility of the court in 2003.  No one seemed to know how to say to me that the legal system dropped the ball, so they just kept dropping me. Enter my angelic lawyer.

All roads lead to the following advice.  “Get yourself a damn lawyer Maya!”.  Three of them in North Carolina said they would not touch the case with a ten foot pole….now I know what a ten foot pole signifies. Then after going through the same process in Colorado, where the problem originated, I gave up.  I just surrendered and acknowledge that I just could not solve this one and went to the computer and looked for a face among a sea of faces called ‘Civil Litigators’ until I found a face that made me happy.  Her name was Martha, I called and left a message and did not hear back.  I was at another dead-end.

Days later, with head in hand and while searching Craigslist for a horse to buy that was fit for long distances, the phone rang and it was my knight-ess in shining armor, Martha, from Denver.  Her first sentence stood out in neon: “You poor dear, you have been caught in the bureaucratic ‘shit’ with the little people who have no power to help you haven’t you?” ” YES!”, I yelled in triumph.  And then she proceeded to say what every woman wants to hear from anyone when she is in an all too tight space;

“I will take care this, you just relax, I know how to fix this!”  I nearly dropped dead with relief.

What is my lesson at this point you might be asking?  Easy answer.  Sometimes I just cannot do it alone.  That is a big realization for a single mother, for a self-employed professional of 30 years, for someone like me who is way too accustomed to doing it alone.  And the other lesson is learning that, for me, it takes way too long to ask for help. I suffer far too many ways that are unnecessary because I believe in “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and just getting the job done come hell or high water”.  Thank you Dad, I will take it from here.

And, I also think there is a big something about being weak or not smart enough to figure it out on my own.  Something about perfectionism really that is in the groundwater of our culture.  I have worked on this lesson for a long time.  And I get more aware all the time how perfectionism is a crippling issue for men and for women.  It diminishes our worthiness and perfectionism keeps us out of the rich communal life of working with others, being accompanied and partnered by friends and helpers.

And the other lesson?  Surrender.  Letting go of the need to create an outcome when the outcome eludes you. When you simply do not know what to do.  I have learned to sit still and allow myself to simply not know.  Then to act on the only intuition I had, look at the face of this lawyer, feel something good and make a call and wait.  And then the angel flew in my window.

Since that phone call, Martha and I have become good friends, shared books to read and she has initiated some changes that I would have never known to do, that cleans up the edges of my life in a wonderful way and will help my life hum along, eventually putting me back on the open road.  I still think a horse might be nice though..

So, “How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?”  Simple.  One good one.