Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

My Empty Passport

By Cam Mather

By Noble (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have a passport.

I’m not sure why I have a passport, but I do.

When they show you a movie character’s passport, many pages are filled up with stamps. I’m assuming each stamp is from a different country. Apparently whenever you enter a new country they stamp your passport, kind of like in a car rally.  In my passport, at the top of the empty page it says “Visa,” so I assume that a stamp is like a temporary visa or permission to visit that country.

I think I got a passport almost ten years ago when it became apparent that traveling in to the United States from Canada was getting more complicated and that a passport was going to be required for any cross border travel. My passport expired before I ever used it. (I don’t get out much apparently!) A couple of years ago I got a new photo taken so that I could renew my passport. I had been invited to speak at TEDx in Albany, New York but it was going to be in the middle of Michelle’s radiation treatments so I chose to take a pass. So I didn’t bother to renew my passport at that time.

Now I’ve decided that it’s time to renew it. I have some clients in the U.S. looking to purchase rural properties and they’d like to get my feedback on some potential properties. I’m hoping the properties are located in the “upper” United States so I can drive to them.

The thing with passport photos, and all government-issued ID’s like driver’s licenses is that when you are getting your picture taken, they tell you not to smile. Really? You want me to look serious? You want me to look like I have nefarious intentions? You want it to look like a mugshot, like those photos I see on Entertainment Tonight of actors arrested for drunk driving?

I resent that. I like to smile in photos. Most of the time I’m a pretty happy guy, and they want me to look oh so serious. Of course it never helps that Michelle is usually around when this is happening, doing her best to make me laugh. Or at least smile. Not that she needs to work very hard at this, because as soon as someone tells me not to smile or laugh, well, that’s just not going to happen.

I was going to include the last passport photo that I had taken but never used in this post to show you what I am talking about. I thought I could put words across the photo to prevent someone from stealing my identity, but then I realized that if I could take the words out using Photoshop, bad people could too.

My email account has been hijacked recently so if you get an email from me that seems strange (which might not seem unusual for me) I apologize, but I didn’t send it. Someone just decided to start using my email address to send out SPAM and apparently there’s nothing I can do about it. I use an email program called Eudora, which I really like. I use GMail as a backup. Well, after this person hijacked my account they started trolling for email addresses that will respond to my address, and when they don’t I get an error. In fact I get a lot of errors. I starting receiving several thousand SPAMs a day, but once it reached 10,000 I figured it was time to take action. We increased my SPAM filters, but then even the emails that I wanted to see couldn’t get through. So basically I can’t use Eudora anymore. That pisses me off.

But I digress. I’m looking forward to having my passport updated. Then I can feel more cosmopolitan and worldly. Kind of like Jason Bourne from “Bourne Identity” where he goes to the safety deposit box and he has passports from like 50 countries. All with that same serious, nefarious, emotionless smile. But it’s a passport. You’re traveling. You should be having fun and maybe your photo should reflect that. And it doesn’t matter how well I shave, I always seem to have that 5 o’clock shadow, again, like those mug shot images. I’d pull myself over at a border crossing looking at my photo!

This is supposed to be a renewable energy/homesteading sort of blog. Sorry, I digressed today. I love my house. I hate leaving it. I will get my passport updated in case I really, really need to travel. But it remains my goal to end my time on earth owning a passport without a single “stamp” in it. Then I’ll have succeeded.


1 Comment

  1. This year I renewed my passport since it had expired over 30 years ago….
    In addition to remaining ‘smileless’, I had to remove my eyeglasses for the passport photo!
    And when I did go to the US, greatly anticipating their country’s stamp at the border, I was disappointed to find out that they don’t stamp passports anymore!
    So you may be in luck and achieve your life’s ‘stampless passport’ goal…..

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