Finally got my Atto Notorio from the local Italian consulate. Our two witnesses, Joe, and I went in this morning to sign it. Halfway through the process I was told I needed to get another apostille for the translation of my birth certificate. Fortunately I needed to get it from the Massachusetts Secretary of State… which was right across the Boston Common. Everything was finished within an hour. And we got to bum around the city hall, the location of all the marriage excitement this week. Note for future international paperwork: always, always bring your passport. Even if they say you won’t need it.
When I think about it, this paperwork shouldn’t be so stressful, but the world doesn’t work like it does in my head. I sent the certified copy I had of my birth certificate back to Maryland to get an apostille. At the same time, I ordered another two copies so I could have them on hand for Joe’s paperwork. Both came in on the same day within a week of being ordered/sent out. I looked into translation services in this area, because according to the Italian Consulate website they didn’t offer translation services. I found a place that could translate one into Italian and another into French: Linguistic Systems, Inc. Expensive, but fairly quick and close by, which is important since I no longer have a car.
I called the Italian Consulate to schedule an appointment for the Atto Notorio. The woman who answered told me I had the process all wrong and that I shouldn’t have followed the instructions on the website. Great. Now you tell me. She e-mailed me the information which told me to mail copies of the documents to the Consulate, then wait for a phone call, after which I could schedule an appointment. Since I live a short T ride away, I figured I would save some time and postage and just take it there myself.
Last Tuesday, I had everything except the translation for the Italian Consulate. When I went to pick it up the woman who worked on it for me seemed to be having a bad day. She kept saying, “If there’s anything wrong with this, I’ll kill myself.” Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with the translation… at least as far as dates are concerned. I can’t vouch for the rest of it. :) She kept forgetting I was in the office, and would leave me alone for excessive periods of time, only to come back and say, “Oh! I’ll be right with you.” So what should have taken 10 minutes took half an hour. I’d gotten a late start, but thought I could still make it to the Consulate before 12:30, which was when the website said it closed. I made it there by 12:10… only to find that the website lied. The hours are not 8:30 to 12:30. They are 9 to 12. The doorman told me that several people have been confused about that because of the website.
So I was stressed and frustrated. If I’d had this much trouble getting the papers actually delivered, then who knows just how long the processing will take? I declared that I would be at the Consulate by 9 on Wednesday morning.
I woke up at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. (Well, I actually woke up at 7 and was far too groggy to do much more than reset the alarm for 7:30 and stumble back to bed. I don’t remember turning off the alarm at 7:30. I’ve been known to do it in my sleep, even though the alarm clock is on the other side of the room.) After some rushing, I made it to the Consulate and delivered the papers.
(Joe had gone to the French Consulate as well, so we decided to drop by Hefez & Sons Jewelers to see if the rings were finished. They were and they turned out better than I expected. We decided to get them engraved, which would take another week. *Sigh* My lab-created sapphire forget-me-not ring will be ready soon…)
Writing about paperwork should be broken up into several entries… or maybe I just don’t want to think about it anymore tonight.
Update: July 11, 2004
Boy, I really didn’t want to talk about paperwork, did I?
Anyway, just a few days after dropping off the papers, I got a call from the Consulate saying that they didn’t have all they needed, blah blah blah. This didn’t sound right, but I got all twitterpated and couldn’t figure out where the misunderstanding was. Another few calls later, it was all worked out. The whole French citizen thing had them confused, but now everything was settled so we and our witnesses headed down to sign our names. After the little drama mentioned earlier, all was ready.
Since it’s been awhile I don’t remember the dates of this part of the saga, but this part of the adventure makes me cringe. However, posterity must be served, so here’s my biggest blunder of this whole thing. Joe’s papers were completed, so we had to send them along with some of my information to the French Consulate in Milan, Italy. The woman coaching us through the paperwork, Gabriella, told us to send it to them via DHL. In her e-mail, she wrote the address on one line and then gave her address in multiple lines with instructions for them to forward the package to her once it was complete. (This probably isn’t making much sense… oh well) When the DHL guy came to pick up the documents from us I got confused and thought we were sending them to Gabriella rather than the Consulate, even thought I dutifully wrote down the correct address. The confusion was over payment for shipping. I thought we could just have it shipped COD, since the guy picking up the package didn’t have a credit card reader with him and we don’t have an account with the company.
It wasn’t until he was pulling away that I realized what a huge mistake I’d made. The consulate would not be happy to pay for something they didn’t request and it might end up getting sent back or trashed which could mean this whole thing would be kaput. I hurriedly called DHL and asked if I could pay for it over the phone. At first, the woman said no, that they couldn’t change the payment method because that would have to be taken care of at the shipping off point. I explained what had happened and how important it was and she transfered me to the station in question. I explained again how this mistake had occurred and how much I needed to pay for the package rather than have the recipients pay. Perhaps it was my desperation showing through my voice, but the woman took my credit card info and assured me that there would be no problems or confusion about payment when the package was delivered. After stammering out my relieved thanks, I got off the phone and shook with tears for about half an hour.
I fully accept being an airhead. I just wish it didn’t get in the way so much.
That was the worst of the paperwork complications, thus far. There’s more to be done once we get to Florence. I’m a bit nervous.