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Thursday, 21 August 2003

Went to the chapel, got married eventually

Well, the largest power blackout in US history had some sidefx. for instance, many east coast states have no backup for water pumping, so many people were without water! As a californian, I'm shocked. systems here are not robust and nobody conserves. they all made fun of us when Enron was looting our power system and causing political rolling blackouts. they actually have infrastructure problems and still use incandescent lightbulbs.

anyway, when the power went out, it screwed up the phones. I could call folks around michigan, but I couldn't call california and apparently could not receive calls from Canada. So when we showed up at the chapel, we had no marriage license and could not get one until Monday. We decided to go ahead with the ceremony. In attendance were Christi's parents, my dad, Matthew, Jenny, Owen, Xena, A video taper, a photographer, a minister and an Elvis impersonator. The chapel's website boasts that they have London, Ontario's best Elvis impersonator. This is not an idle boast. Recently, there was an international Elvis impersonating contest in Vegas and the London guy won. He was offered a contract to stay in Vegas and perform but, as a city hall worker later pointed out, he couldn't keep working at our Ford plant and have a contract in Vegas. However, this was not the Elvis impersonator who was at our wedding. We got the understudy who did not go to the Vegas contest. A contest had been planned for the previous Friday in London, to finally settle who was London's best impersonator, but was cancelled due to the power outage. thus the answer to who is really London's best Elvis Impersonator remains unknown. Our guy did resemble Elvis, if Elvis said "aboot."

Our dads walked us down the aisle while Elvis sang an appropriate song. We said some vows, signed some paper work. Elvis sang another song. The minister said that we could kiss our partner (no "you may kiss the bride.") and our families giggled for some reason. then Elvis sang another song while we walked outside and everyone came out after us blowing bubbles instead of throwing rice Nobody had brought any rice except for Owen who is eating rice cereal flakes these days.

afterwards, we went to a restaurant/bar sort of thing and ate some food. My dad left to head back towards Detroit. He got a red eye to see us get married and then took a red eye back. Jenny had a migraine so Matthew drove her and Owen back to Anne Arbor (the locals say a^^2). Christi's parents and us went on around the lakes towards Niagara Falls. We did some wine tasting and got a few bottled of very decent Canadian wine. I lived an hour from Napa for many years and never went wine tasting there, but in Canada. I got a flyer for the Niagara wine harvest festival thingee. I'll post more about that later, if I decide to go. I really like Canada a lot. The next day, we saw the falls. It was like our honeymoon, except that Christi's parents were there and we weren't actually married. We drove back to London that night so as to keep our 9:30 AM appointment with the minister to sign the paper work.

Matthew, Jenny and Owen returned to London to be our witnesses. Matthew called us early the next morning to inform us that London's city hall was closed. He heard it on the news. All of Canada was experiencing rolling black oots. We drove to a nearby town whose city hall was open and made a later appointment to see the minister. the chapel called to say that because of the blackoots, they would have to mail us the pictures and video rather than give it to us. We got to St. Thomas and got their first same sex marriage license ever issued. apparently, they're supposed to cross out "bride" and "groom" and write in "partners," but the city clerk didn't get the memo, apparently. For the record, Christi was the groom. Anyway, after many many many small, boring glitches involving differences between Us and Canadian ATM cards and other impediments, we finally got married. Christi and I are now legally wed.

then at 2:00 in the afternoon, we left London and drove all the way to Middletown. We got a hotel and then, the next day, yesterday, we got an early call from Luoi. the city of Berkeley is working on 5th street, where my truck was parked and put up tow away signs and she can't find the key anywhere. We called 411 and asked for any towing company in Berkeley. No dice. then christi called AAA and explained our story many times to several service representatives who all explained that since we weren't members, they couldn't really do anything for us, but since we were in such unusual circumstances, they would pass the call along to someone who might be able to help. finally, someone read us a list of phone numbers of towing companies. the first one said they could tow the car provided we could find a friend to stand there and vouch it was ok to tow it. Luoi had gone off to the dentist or something, so we woke up Jean and asked if she would do it. she said yes, so we called back the towing place and they told us that she would need to have a key. If we had the key . . . Our theory is that the first place we called is the place that gets the city contracts to tow away cars and they probably get paid more by the city than they would get from us. the next place required nothing from us but a visa number and towed the truck into the parking lot. yay

after that excitement, we got the keys to my new place. I found out several important things about it that my real estate agent didn't tell me about. First of all, my bedroom is much larger than the 8 by 8 measurement that she faxed me. the whole place is 1100 square feet. Second, it comes with a clothes washer and dryer. third, she negotiated a lower rent in addition to getting Xena allowed in. Christi was very relieved when she saw the house. It's three stories and I have the whole first floor. It looks a lot like a dorm room in Orchard Meadow at Mills College with it's wood flooring, white walls, high ceilings and dark wood molding around all the doors and large windows. some of the windows don't open, but, having experienced both, I'd rather have windows that didn't open than didn't close. It's a nice looking place and the neighbors seem friendly. First things first, we went to the town's espresso shop. It has gotten better since I first went there, on it's first day of business in April. then I checked in at school. then we went to buy a bed. the room is actually large enough to accommodate the bed that I already own, but it's already taking three week for my stuff to cross the country. the bed would have to be shipped after Christi returned, so I would go a couple of months sleeping on hard wood floors. So we went to a bed shop and asked for aloft bed with a desk underneath and they gave it to us cheep because they're not stocking them anymore. Joy! then we got more household supplies. I got a nice call from Polly. We ate at a local vegan restaurant and went to sleep. Yes, vegan in Middletown. Definitely geared towards very wealthy student hippies.

We puttered around in the morning. the bed got delivered and then we went to the hippie store attached to the hippie restaurant to buy food, stuff to mop the completely filthy floors with. Yes, my new place is great and I should have no difficulty getting my cleaning deposit back, cuz it's dirty. First one credit card got declined. Then the other one. then both of Christi's the ATM was no help. I called Wells Fargo. they put a hold on the funds I deposited before I left. My checking account is overdrawn and my visa bill is overdue. I tried to convince the customer service person to take the hold off my my money. No dice. It will be another week. I asked her if she could extend my visa payment thing another week, so I could keep using it and buy food and stuff until my funds cleared. Instead, she gave me a lecture about paying my bills on time. I have automatic bill pay. It didn't get paid because they won't let me have my money.

Yeah, so the day before I left, I thought I should deposit enough money to cover my existing bills from getting married, cover some rent, cover spending two weeks traveling and cover moving costs and thus avoid the problem I'm now experiencing. the bank decided my deposit was rather large and so is holding the money just in case... just in case of what I don't know. the check cleared. Maybe they're busy reporting me to homeland security or something. god only knows why the funds are blocked. So I spent a lot of time on the phone with bank people today explaining that I'm in another state where I have no food and no friends and no funds except what petty cash I have in my pocket. I have been a customer of Wells Fargo for years. I called my local branch and they said they would try to help, but they explained that they would need to request a copy of the check from the central archives and it would take at least a week. they were very pleasant and as helpful as they could be, but it's still a week away.

I called the bank that I wrote the check from. they transferred me to the branch manger where I have the account. She was friendly, helpful and told me that the check had cleared and gave me her contact information so wells fargo could contact her. I called Wells Fargo again and talked to the supervisor at the Reno call center. He said that he would personally call my other bank and see if the check had cleared and thus the funds could be unblocked. He promised me a call back either way. It's 9:00 at night now and I have not received a call. I tried calling back the service center a couple of hours ago, but they said the supervisor would contact me directly.

this could happen to you! you could be in another state with money, no friends and no access to funds if you bank with Wells Fargo. their customer service people at their central call centers are rude. when they are not rude, they're just trying to get you to hang up. apparently, they'll make promises with no intention of keeping them. they don't care that you're three thousand miles from home and do not have enough cash to wait out the one or two weeks that everything is supposed to take.

I'm furious. I am so closing my account as soon as this mess gets straightened out.

So, in short, it's been one disaster after another. I used the phone system bill pay to send funds from my other, nice bank to my credit card, so that should be online again in a couple of days, unless Well Fargo decided to hold it too because it comes from the same bank or because I called them too often or because somebody is having a bad day and wants to mess up my life. In the mean time, I have some cash money and half a pizza. Food here is actually pretty cheap, except that I can't afford to get hippie citrasolv at the hippie market and it was very embarrassing to have to leave without being able to pay for the things I grabbed from the shelves.

On a positive note, I'm very happy that Christi made us buy a bed first. And we're legally married! yay!

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