Monday, January 18, 2010

grand prize winners

i can't promise it is always pleasant to be the recipient of a letter from the United States government.  even if we are anticipating good news the mad dance of butterflies can be felt in our stomach while slicing into the envelope.  similar to when we were beckoned to the principal's office as  middle schoolers.  depending on the colorfulness of our prepubescent years, we may or may not have been able to come up with one offense, but boy did our minds work overtime trying to recall every possible misstep.  through my school years, i was called to mr. borchart's office many times.  only on one or two occasions (if i remember correctly) was it for trouble.  but there was never a time, however, when the mere summons didn't cause some serious nerve racking rumbling and tumbling.  it was about authority. it was about power.  mr. borchart had a firm handle on both.  he had the authority and the power to bring good or bad to my world and there was very little i could do about it...(or so i thought).
this was very much how i felt tearing into our letter from the US government this afternoon.  it was the letter we had been anticipating.  we expected it would hold good news of our immigration approval.  but, there was alway that chance...  that chance we could have messed up.  failed to submit something.  neglected to sign in the correct color ink on the correct line. we had checked our paperwork and rechecked and then rechecked again.   i am a firm believer, however, in operator error.  i like a little wiggle room when i am at task.  i knew early on i was much better suited for a career in horsehoes than one in neuro-surgery.  i could get credit for being close in horseshoes...not so much with brain surgery.  i am especially grateful, however, that we are not all created in this same way.  i really do prefer my airplane pilot and my varicose vein surgeon to have a great love of precision and accuracy. in fact, i count on it.  one of my favorite math concepts, perhaps my only favorite math concept, was rounding or approximating.  i loved that.  "678 is about 700."  that worked great for me.  it works for me even today.  when rick asks me what i spent at target...i just use that favorite math concept and round (down).  it's quite a lovely tool.  he caught on to that trick years ago, though, and now knows that if i say this new lamp cost about $60 was most likely $69 dollars.   as a teacher, i seemed  never to be able to pass out the correct number of papers per row to my students.  i never worried if there were exactly 11 sheets for 11 students.  i realize that sounds quite sloppy.  it reeks of inexactitude.  it drove some of my more analytical students crazy.  but in the middle of discussing macbeth, i would smile sweetly and respond, "this is english class, not math class."  i did try to be a little more careful when averaging their grades come semester's end.  i tried.
so as you can see, i had reason to doubt the content of this letter.  i was also pretty sure that if something had to be redone or resubmitted for the US government  it wasn't going to be a timely thing.  i had no illusions that they would hurry up something for someone that had already messed up.  so, it was with some slightly shaky fingers that i slit the envelope. i carefully unfolded the document and scanned it repeatedly.  it took me about a half hour to decide if it was good or bad news.  seriously.  remember this is a government issued notice.  we receive publisher's clearance house notifications all the time announcing us to be the grand prize winner....the next millionaire!  the bold, glittery, enormous words jump out at us as soon as the paper is extracted from it fold.  those exuberant announcements come printed on slick textured and multi-colored paper...with stickers and holograms and our own names emblazoned upon them: Jody McNatt - you're a winner!  you've won! we've won and we didn't even know we had entered anything to win. crazy. 
so there i sat with my 100% bona-fide-government-official and serious-looking document.  small print. evenly spaced and seriously sedate.  all black and white no nonsense. lots and lots of words and numbers and codes.  i scanned and rescanned the notice attempting to find one phrase that announced us to be winners.  and there it finally was:
You have been approved to adopt one child from the following Convention country: China.
one line in the middle of the paper. one line in a sea of unintelligible government-ese.  i caught my breath.  standing in my kitchen i said out loud,  "this is good. i think this is good." and it was. it was only one more step in a long process.  we are certainly not done.  there is more to do and more approval to anticipate. but at least for today, we won! we have been approved.  we aren't going to be millionaires...but we certainly do feel like grand prize winners.

1 comment:

andrea said...

Thank God for being one step closer to bella grace...Congrats!