Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Passport Control and Mojito Chicken Salad

My passport is about to expire.

Not that I'm going anywhere exotic in the near future (unless you count Disney, for Thanksgiving ... and yes, that's a story worthy of its own post, I suppose), but still, it's useful to have an unexpired passport.  And having one makes me think that some day, I'll get to travel again like I used to do, only this time with extremely cooperative children in tow.

I was pleased to discover that the renewal process was pretty easy for someone with unexpired documents; all I have to do is fill out a form online, and send in the form with my old passport and a photo.

I consider myself adept at Photoshop, so I probably could have found a picture of myself to adjust appropriately (they have some bizarre rules about how large your face needs to be within the two inch square of the photo), but I thought it would be even easier just to let someone else take care of it, so I didn't have to worry about finding an appropriately expressionless specimen.  So I went to CVS.  'Cause, yeah.  Drugstore photo center.

The CVS near campus is abuzz with undergraduate and faculty activity during the day.  We don't have a grocery store nearby, so they might as well be one, minus the produce.  I tried to be inconspicuous, leaning across the counter to ask the clerk whether they take passport photos, but "YEP, WE DO!" she cheered, pulling down a white screen from the ceiling with a flourish. Voila!  Passport photo studio.  I spotted one of my students looking away as she skirted down the cold remedy aisle, trying to offer me some privacy.

Some people hate having their pictures taken.  I don't actually hate it; it just makes me conscious of my crooked eyebrows and slightly uneven eyelids, which still stand as testament to the stitches I got in the fourth grade, when Richie Gustafson slammed a frisbee-filled fist into my glasses and then into my face during a frisbee football game.  But this?  Something about this felt different.

I removed my glasses (an unusual accessory for me, since I prefer to wear contact lenses), my earrings, and my scarf, and squinted at where I thought the lens might be, since I couldn't actually see it.  I ran my fingers through my hair and hoped for the best.  Click, click; and then it was over.  I donned my glasses again as she removed the memory card, put it in the photo machine, and pulled up the pictures so I could see them while they printed. My student came back down the aisle shifting from one foot to the other while the clerk rummaged behind the desk for the next step in the process.

I found myself staring into the screen at a not-very-flattering picture of middle age: colorless lips, greying frizzed hair, dark rings under my eyes, a wan look in the fluorescent drugstore light. It was like looking into a time machine.  Only the future was now.  "Do I really look like that?" I asked the clerk, feeling like a character in a Richard Russo novel.  Maybe it was my glasses?  Not enough time for my skin to tighten up in the morning?

She ignored me, going cheerfully about her business, insistent on punching out the pictures with her special two-inch puncher, despite my assurances that I was quite capable of cutting them out myself.

At last she was done making cheery small talk, and as she started to ring up my student's order, I tucked my alter ego safely into an envelope under my arm and ducked back out into the street.  Questionable accuracy of drugstore photos aside, I've noticed, lately, that despite my best intentions about diet and exercise, my body is changing shape, too: softening, sporting bulges and bumps in new places, redistributing itself.  Things that I pretended fit, once upon a time, now simply don't.  Someone told me that I should anticipate all this when I turned 40, and perhaps I did, but not really, after all.

Because honestly, that's one leg of the journey I don't think I'm quite ready for just yet, even if I do have a valid passport in hand.

Mojito Chicken Salad
adapted from The Wholesome Dish . One of the places I've always wanted to go is Cuba, where my father spent many years of his life teaching.  He never would have eaten this, but I can imagine him kicking back with a mojito on a humid Caribbean afternoon.

1/2 c. non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. honey
2 T. minced fresh mint leaves
1 T. lime juice
2 t. lime zest
1/2 t. salt
4 c. shredded (or chopped) cooked chicken breast (about 1 ½ lb.)
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
3 large celery stalks, diced

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, mint, lime juice, zest, and salt.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Combine the chicken, red onion, and celery in a large bowl.  Toss together with mojito dressing, and serve cold on a bed of lettuce.

Pretend you're in Cuba.
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  1. I had a moment like this recently too, glimpsing in the fluorescent lights at work a cluster of grey hair.

    I used to say with such conviction that I would age gracefully, embrace my grey and wrinkles and middle-agedness.

    That conviction was bred of the idea that it was far, far away. Now that I'm here, because it really snuck up on me quickly! - it's much harder.


  2. I have that moment all the time, especially because the woman in the mirror doesn't exactly match up with the woman in my head. But I also believe that we look at ourselves with a critical eye that others don't necessary extend. So... for what it's worth, I don't think you look middle age.

  3. I started having these moments this year, not quite 40 yet, but still with graying hair, not so firm body, little lines on the face. Its just such a shock that the woman in the mirror does NOT match up the one in my head!

  4. I have this moment constantly, but mostly in the mornings when I'm getting ready for school. Who is that woman staring back at me?

    Did you find it hard not to smile? I was told not to smile when I got my last passport photo taken and it was almost impossible. I'm making the strangest face in an attempt not to smile.

    Recently I had to brave the DMV to get my license renewed and I didn't realize I had to get a new picture (because I wouldn't have needed a new picture if I had renewed by mail as I was planning to do *cough* my husband never mailed my paperwork *cough*). I was kind of freaking out because I hadn't washed my hair in days and I just looked... disheveled. Anyway, I finally took my picture and when I got it two weeks later I laughed so hard because it was just awful, and my greasy hair had nothing to do with how awful it was. I've managed to keep a healthy sense of humor about what a bad photo it is, but I will admit, there are times I consider braving the DMV again to get another picture taken... it's seriously that bad.

  5. Noemi, it *is* hard to figure out how to look serious without looking silly ... and would you believe it ... I actually went back and paid to have them re-done (#vanity)! The second time wasn't much better.

  6. I so relate to this post.

    And can't wait to try the recipe!

    Wanna travel to Cuba together with extremely cooperative children? (And do you know where we can get any?)


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