Chelsea VS. the State Department

Well, I never thought I’d be writing this. By the time this blog entry comes out, I should have the end result of my efforts here, but until then this will remain a draft. For context, I started writing this on 11/9/2023. It will almost likely be January or February of 2024. Maybe even March. Maybe I’ll be 23 by the time the end result turns up at my doorstep. Maybe Chelsea vs. NYC: The Nomenclature Rant(TM) will be written and completed by then. Who knows. (spoiler: it was 12/12/23, much earlier than anticipated) But, until then, I will be documenting my misadventures involving the State Department and obtaining a passport.

ATTEMPT #1: 2023-11-06 to 2023-11-09
“APPROACHING: Garden City….at….Midway Road…and….Garden court… :(“

The first attempt starts when a friend texts me and pesters me about getting a passport. Now, anyone who knows me would know I’m staunchly against getting one on two grounds:
1. They’re stupidly overpriced (over $200?! Really?!) and
2. …why do we need to carry a freakin’ book around, when a normal ID has all the info that a police officer would need?

Anyone who also knows me well enough, also knows I’m not one to bail out on commitments, either made by myself or someone else (if that “someone else” is overly pushy, I’ll do it to shut them up – if it’s not illegal), as I otherwise feel like an asshole if I bail out. Of course, that “commitment” can be something as simple as getting a paper in by week’s end, or something as elaborate as documenting every train and rapid transit station in southern New England. And, so, I felt obligated to buy a passport now that I got put into that predicament. So, upon being told by my friend they made an appointment in my name, on my behalf, for Thursday (2023-11-09), I obliged. I go through everything, print everything out, go crazy looking for my birth certificate to photocopy, photocopy everything I need, and bring it in, and I pay the $200+……or it would be so, IF THE DAMN DEPARTMENT OF STATE WASN’T SO DAMN NEEDY! YEAH, NOT ONLY DO YOU NEED TO PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING, THEY ALSO DEMAND YOU HAVE ORIGINALS ON HAND TOO! Like, why even photocopy at that point?! Just save the damn trees! And I say this, as someone who prefers double-tracking through the Needham wetlands and sending the Orange Line through it, over a double extension solution! (that is, Orange Line to Millennium Park & double branching the Green Line to split at Newton Highlands)

And so, I walked away from the Garden City post office defeated and (thankfully) not short $200+…….for now, went back to West Warwick to run some errands, and picked up a non-photocopied, well, copy of my birth certificate to cover my ass (hopefully they’ll take it!), and got lunch at a local restaurant. Next attempt would have me go down to the Nooseneck Hill Post Office, just outside Woodland Manor, on 2023-11-20.

The long corridor of Post Office Plaza – the office building housing the Garden City Post Office in Cranston

ATTEMPT #2: 2023-11-09 to 2023-11-20
“APPROACHING: Rhode Island Route 3…and…Reservoir Road…..”

Okay, so after waiting for about 2 weeks from the last part, I took the trip out to Woodland Manor in the borderlands. Scheduled appointment time: 10:30 AM. My bus arrived at the end of my street at about 9:40ish, and would get to Woodland Manor for 10:06, about 3-4 minutes ahead of schedule. Neat! This gave me about 24 minutes to spare in the borderlands. While annoying, it wasn’t too bad to work with since I was hungry and there was a Cumberland Farms right there. And then came 10:30ish.

One of the clerks asked me what I needed, and I told them I was there for a passport appointment. I hung tight for the passport lady to call me up (under deadname, sadly, but oh well!), and…..well, it actually wasn’t painful! She looked over the paperwork, confirmed that I needed photo services done too (admittedly, I didn’t trust myself with this part DIYed), and went over everything in a clear and concise manner, right down to correcting any erroneous information or the offchance the photo taken got rejected. But, with that all taken care of, everything was all submitted for a grand total of…….drumroll please……


$212. Yikes. But, I knew what I was getting myself into here (at least moreso than the original plan for the 2023 Thanksgiving Special, which got canned for a combination of self-preservation and an inability to find a fitting helmet in time). Besides, I had 2 and a half hours to spare before work, and what better way to spend it from there than to buy lunch? From there, I opted to go down to Arctic, buy a burger (with 2x hot weenies, fries, and hot chocolate!) from Ferrucci’s NY System, and then go to work. Overall, good food if you’re willing to tolerate eating in a locally-owned establishment plastered with some right-wing propaganda.

The borderlands…

PART 3: THE ARRIVAL (2023-11-20 to 2023-12-12)
*ding dong!* “[DEADNAME], YOU GOT SOME MAIL FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT!” -stepdad, probably (yeah sadly they deadname me. Oh well!)

Well, this happened MUCH earlier than anticipated! All of….THREE WEEKS?! Huh, interesting. Actually, the issuing date was listed for just last week (as of me writing this), which lines up with when I got a phone call from a 617 number that I didn’t recognize. Turns out, it was, in fact, the State department, and they wanted to double check that “X” was, in fact, my gender. Yep! And then came the morning of 12/12/23, as I was about to go shower and get ready for work. So, I go shower, open the packages from the State Department, and wouldn’t ya know it: I got my birth certificate copy back! Furthermore, I got a US passport! What’s in it? Well……not a lot, actually. I’m not even sure what it’s made out of, but it feels like a hardcover book. I also admittedly don’t dig the monochromatic color scheme, but whatever. I’m also not sure what the square-shaped Pokeball thing is supposed to be. The first page is a picture of what looks to be from the Civil War the War of 1812 and some lyrics from the national anthem (thanks Avery for letting me in on this!), and the page adjacent has a Lincoln quote and a bit about the Secretary of State (Anthony Blinken as of the writing of this!) requesting that the bearer be let into a country without delay or hindrance. How often is this request honored? I don’t know, and I’m a bit scared to find out.

The cover!
The first two pages

Well, up next is the actual “ID” bit of the passport. For the sake of my own safety, I can’t really show this part as applicable to me specifically, however below is an example. Here we go describing what’s on it, from top to bottom. On the top row you have your passport type (P is for your standard US passport. Not sure if this holds true for other countries, nor do I know what the code is for special-variant US passports), your country’s code (the USA in this case), and the number. Then, you have your surname, your legal first & middle names, nationality (is usually the same as country’s code in long form), birthday, gender marker (X in my case. This may not be an option elsewhere, and most places don’t allow one to self-declare gender), place of birth (how is this relevant?????), followed by issuance and expiration dates. There’s also a bunch of characters at the bottom that I’m not sure what they’re for.

The ID page (not mine)

The next page goes into detail about security measures implemented, along with a blank to fill in emergency contact info. Lastly, you have about 26 or so blank pages. Apparently they’re called “visa pages” however I’m not exactly sure what a debit card company has to do with this. Then there’s the rear, which has a QR code that brings you to the State Department’s website. Neat!

The back page

So, overall, was this worth it? Eh, I guess it depends on which lens you look through at it. If you don’t have even an inkling of interest in international travel? Not worth it, and you just wasted $200+. But, if you have even the slightest of interest in international travel, why not? Granted, it’s steep, but look at it this way: for every time you use it, the cost per use goes down, and there’s 26 blank pages, which brings it to…..$8.15 a use if used fully (for clarification, the math here is $212 divided by 26 pages, or 212/26). While I still don’t exactly see how $200+ is a “good” price, I’m sure if I find myself in situations where it’s actually needed, I might see how valuable it actually is. And, with that, concludes Chelsea vs. the State Department.


Author: chelsea

i own this site and write.

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