Dear friends,

Source: Primitives by Kathy

I’ve been singing the Heinz Ketchup “Anticipation” song for a while now, only I’ve been substituting the word procrastination in the melody.

Pro-cras-tin-ation. Pro-cras-tin-AAAAA-AAAAA-tion.

Sorry. Anything to take my mind off the actual task for which I’m procrastinating.

I’m not usually a dawdler. Truly I’m not. I did my taxes in February and pocketed my refund a long time ago.  But the task I’ve been putting off is more annoying  than taxes.  And worse, it has a tongue-twisting acronym.

Have you heard of the FAFSA?

As in, “Oh, god, I HAVE to do the FAFSA?” Or, “Have you DONE your FAFSA?” Or, “What the HECK is the FAFSA?” (Pronounced just like it looks: faf-suh.)

I’ll tell you what it is — it’s a torture device for parents of college students. It’s a stupid electronic form that you must fill out if your child plans to attend college. It becomes “available” on Jan. 1 of every year. So I’ve managed to put it off for exactly 107 days.

Kate and I are headed to her college of choice next week to enroll and sign up for financial aid. I happened to mention this fact yesterday to a friend who’s a financial aid director of a university. And she immediately asked, in an urgent voice, “Have you done your FAFSA?”

I uttered a mild expletive. Then I answered “No.”

“Do it tonight,” she urged. “Otherwise it won’t be processed by the time you enroll.”

So that’s how I spent my Monday night. Reading instructions and cursing and looking for tax information. Creating log-ins and passwords and PINs. Entering field after field of personal information. Like my net worth.

Do you know your net worth? You know what, good for you if you do! I think if I knew my net worth (or even thought about my net worth), my net worth would be higher.

After I got most of the way through it, I realized I had filled out the wrong year’s form. (You have to choose a year. I know it sounds simple, but it’s more confusing than you might think.)

So I had to “clear” the form and start all over.

Then when I got to the end again, it wouldn’t let me electronically sign and submit the form. I was desperate for help, so I opted for the live web chat. It’s not really live by the way; it’s delayed by several minutes.

A woman named Siera Pink helped me. Isn’t that a weird name? You’d think they’ve give their customer service folks fake names, like the Pakastani fellow named “Albert” who took my CitiCards call the other day. No way in the world he was named Albert. And Albert is such an odd choice. If I were in charge of the fake names, I’d use lots of Jacks and Janets and Beckys and Toms. Easy stuff that’s not weird. Albert is weird.

Anyway, Siera Pink is weird, too, but she helped me find my mistake and get the whole thing submitted ONE HOUR after I began.

It was hard to be terribly appreciative on a Monday night when the last thing I wanted to do is the FAFSA. But I did it. And I guess the good news is Kate can go to college now. Hooray for us!

With gratitude {for Siera Pink who kept me from throwing a brick at the computer screen},

Joan, whose customer service alias would be Beth Parker (which is a combo of my favorite girl name and my favorite boy name; nothing weird; easy to say and spell; see how easy this is? I really should work in Customer Service)