Category: Etc

New Apartment

All settled into the new apartment. It was six months ago that I made the move down to Lincoln with designs on getting back to class and finishing up the degree. I’m still on track for that, but in the meantime I ended up landing a pretty sweet job with a company clear on the other end of town. As it happened, there is an apartment complex five minutes away from the new job that is managed by the same company as the apartment I’d moved into at the start of the year. Higher-end location, higher-end appliances, higher-end everything – and of course, higher-end rent as well. I had some things to think about. Make a longer commute to work in exchange for a shorter commute to class, or cut the commute to work down to nothing in exchange for convenience and a longer drive to class? Well, my course load for this fall consists of two classes, both meeting every Thursday – so the commute to class isn’t much of a concern.

And of course, I had to assess whether I liked living where I was at currently. It wasn’t too long ago that the apartment I was in was starting to show major signs of not working out as I’d hoped. The grocery store nearby was a low-rent dump, and I found myself more often than not going to a different one the next exit over on the highway. (This in itself was a problem as road crews have been doing construction on that particular highway, including the exit ramps, and it would sometimes take 15-20 minutes one way to get to the store.) Work was 20 minutes away. That seems like nothing in larger cities, but for Lincoln that’s good for getting from one corner of town to the other. Going to a Wal-Mart or Target that hasn’t already been overrun by the dregs of humanity – even further out. And you had to swim through swarms of midges outside, due to some sort of ecological change in the environment surrounding the nearby private lake that you can’t access unless you own a house on it. They enjoy heat and bright surfaces, and they enjoy getting into your car and your apartment. So they’re kind of a pain in the ass, even if they don’t bite. Location-wise, the only thing good about this place was that it was 2 minutes from the highway, so getting away from it was fantastically easy.

But the complaints don’t stop there. The last person to live in my unit (before he was evicted, that is) was a complete slob and the cleaning crew didn’t do a thorough job of getting rid of the mess that had been left behind. I found beer bottle caps and other random debris floating in the bottom of the dishwasher, there was mold in the shower, and the carpets were not shampooed. There was an issue with the water in my apartment – the black stains inside the toilet bowl were impossible to completely get rid of and would just show back up again after a few flushes anyway, and tap water tasted less than terrific. The wall between my apartment and that of the Chinese guy next door was paper-thin. I heard every word he said, every song he played on his stereo, and every time his Ventrilo went on or offline. Thankfully he moved soon and nobody occupied his apartment after that. The coils on the stove were not level, which made cooking things other than a pot full of liquid difficult. The dryer in the laundry room was useless. It actually ended up costing me much less to just pack up and go to a laundromat once a week. And, just as was the case with the apartment I lived in from 2006 to 2008 – I was right next to the stairwell, so I heard all the incoming traffic.

The final thing is that oddly enough, the loft apartment turned out being too big. I left several areas completely unused because I was the only person living there, I couldn’t spend time in every corner of the place, and I didn’t have enough furniture to go all the way around. That seems like a weird complaint to have, but with a smaller place that’s slightly more packed-in you feel like you’re getting everything you can out of your rent money. Maybe that’s from living in a one room apartment in Japan.

So it’s safe to say that the apartment started bad and went downhill after that. After kicking the idea around for a couple days, I decided to go ahead and make some phone calls and talk about transferring over. This turned out to be a relatively painless process. The two apartment offices would coordinate with each other, and all I had to do was fill out the paperwork and take the keys to the new place on the first of July – and since the long holiday weekend was coming up, I had a week to clear out of the old apartment. Everything went over smoothly, and I had movers (read: family, armed with a U-Haul) scheduled to come down that weekend to help make the jump.

Then we had a serious illness in the family.

My mom called one night a day or two before I was scheduled to move to let me know my grandfather on her side of the family was on a morphine drip, shutting down rapidly, and it was likely he would not live to see the 4th of July. I started working on a plan B with hopes plan A would hold up, but it became apparent that would not be the case. Things worked out ok, as I was able to rustle up some last-minute help for all the big furniture. We got the couch, bed, and most of the other big items moved over the evening of the first, and I sent the help back up to Omaha well after dark on a full stomach and a full tank of gas. (Sure enough, my grandfather passed on very late Friday night, and by Sunday morning my folks and brother were in a car headed for South Carolina to attend the funeral.)

From there the moving process slowed to a crawl. I woke up Saturday morning feeling like I’d had the workout of my life the night before, which wasn’t far from the truth. It was hot as hell and I had plenty more stuff to get moved to boot. So I didn’t get much done Saturday. I also didn’t get much done Sunday, on account of having committed to a cookout with some former coworkers back up in Blair. The next morning – Monday, the 4th of July – I was completely covered in bug bites. That’s a minor irritation until you get them on the top of your toes, then it’s just flat out painful. So I didn’t get much done that day either. Then it was back to the work and school routine on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

But the funny thing about not getting much done every day is that if you add up enough days, eventually you do actually end up accomplishing quite a lot. Little by little the old place was emptying out and the new place was filling up. I’d stop periodically and unbox everything I brought in to keep the paths clear, then go back to bringing more stuff in. And on the last day I had possession of the old apartment, the 7th, I went over and grabbed the last item out of there – a coffee table – then turned in the keys, headed over to the new place, and put the coffee table right in front of the couch in the living room of a completely-unpacked apartment. It was the coup de grâce – like I was putting the star on a Christmas tree, or a closing up the case on a newly-built computer, or topping that Thai yellow curry I make three times a week with some chopped basil.

So far the new place is working out fairly well. It’s nice to be able to do laundry when I need to and without feeding industrial-strength machines a roll of quarters, and the slightly smaller floorplan helps with the agoraphobia. Once summer class ends (in 10 hours), I’ll spend a total of 10 minutes in the car each day commuting to and from work. I have a private entrance and haven’t heard a sound out of the neighbors. There are a couple of good grocery stores all within walking distance as well. It seems like most of the complaints I had about the old place have been taken care of.

And I took pictures.

(Something I found interesting – when I posted this, it was about 1100 words. Then I went back and added some things and changed some other things, and now it’s pushing 1500 words. Anything much past this could probably be considered excessive.)

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Thanksgiving Dinners and Black Eyes

Funny story.

Last week I went home for Thanksgiving break. Got home Tuesday night, worked all day Wednesday, and of course Thursday was Thanksgiving. A regular Thanksgiving day for me entails waking up late, futzing around for a few hours, eating dinner with the folks, sleeping dinner off, then watching football or generally just screwing around the rest of the night. This time around I had a paper to work on, so I grabbed a nap and went back to reading about the relationship between imperial era China and the nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples in the outlying areas. Watched some of the Texas/Texas A&M game while I was at it too.

This went on until about 4AM, right about the point where I started sleeping more than studying. Pulled myself off the couch and went to the bathroom to clean up for bed, and… blacked out. Don’t ask me how or why. Probably a mix of being drowsy and stuffed full of Thanksgiving dinner. Either way, what do people do when they black out while they’re standing up?

They fall.

I woke up a minute or two later wondering what the hell happened and why I was sleeping on the bathroom floor. I stood back up, looked in the mirror, and saw a trail of blood running down my face from a pretty cool-looking zig-zag-shaped cut. Like the skin was torn open rather than just cut. I gathered I hit my head against the sink on the way down, because there was a drop of blood right underneath the sink right about where my head would have hit it.

End result – a partial black eye (not Jimmy Clausen got punched at the bar black eye), a huge bruise on my arm from where I landed, and a hilarious “what did you do for Thanksgiving break?” story.

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There are dangers to having just one pair of pants in your arsenal. Namely, when your pants get caught on something sticking out from a couch, and when you walk by that something takes hold of your pant leg and opens a huge hole, like this:

As you can see, the damage is extensive – it’s the size of a CD jewel case.

What’s worse is when this happens an hour before class. I ended up having to throw on some gym shorts, hurry over to Target, and buy new pants.

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Six Weeks of Kicking Ass

After finals wrap up, I go straight home for an Opeth concert on the 8th of May, then fly out to Las Vegas on the 14th for some much-needed R&R. Although today is the last day of spring break, I really only had about 2 days out of 11 where I truly did nothing – the rest were spent getting up at 6am, working, and occasionally doing random stuff until obscenely late hours.

In the meantime, I have six weeks left of school. There is plenty to work on, and with my Playstation 3 resting comfortably back at home there is plenty of time to do everything. I’m going to start hitting the gym much harder over the next few weeks and try to push myself down as close to 220 as possible for the trip to Vegas. Right now I’m checking in at around 236-238, which itself is 10 pounds lighter than where I was at the beginning of the semester. Funny story, apparently the scale I bought last year to start tracking my weight is no good. It’s one of those digital scales with no way to calibrate, and it’s reading 8-15 pounds lighter than every other scale I’ve set foot on. I was certainly able to track weight loss with it, but the difference means that at the start of 2008 I may have weighed as much as 310 pounds. Still, there is a 70 pound difference between then and now, I’ve lost six inches off my waist, and I’ve gone from XXL shirts being nearly too small down to XL being about 5 pounds away from a perfect fit.

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