Sunday, September 16, 2007

Highlights of my life

This post is going to be very boring for those of you who aren't interested in minutiae like grocery stores and furniture, but I'm proud of myself for having organized my life reasonably well in the first two weeks of living here.

- Furniture: I came to the apartment with just 4 chairs, but now it's nearly fully furnished from a combination of Craig's list, Ikea, Staples, Salvation Army, the alley across from my new apartment, and Target. Everything that I paid money for is solid wood except for my purple end table. Bedroom furniture cost a bit under $600, living room $95, dining room $215, kitchen $115, bathroom $26. Of course, there are innumerable small things that one does not normally think of as furniture, like the shiny red brand new toilet plunger which I hope stays in its pristine state, which add up far faster than furniture does.

- Food: I love my home (previous) supermarket. It has cheap produce, families with carts literally piled high with food speaking 40 different languages and paying for their groceries entirely with cash, wacky announcements with phrases like "You'll be dancing in the dairy aisle...", and tortillas so fresh that the steam condenses inside the bag. The new city has a diverse population too, but I'm in a yuppie neighborhood with only the usual mainstream and upscale stores. Cheap produce is important not just because I'm cheap (though I am) --- it means that I buy a lot more of it and therefore cook and eat extremely healthily, with larger proportion of my diet consisting of vegetable stews and the like, than if I had to pay retail.

I was thus thrilled to run across a supermarket with more than a passing resemblance to my home supermarket --- it has a wacky name, and is clean and even a bit swanky-looking, but is much more inexpensive than the mainstream supermarket and with all the brands I'm used to, though still slightly more expensive than my home supermarket. So I stocked up on way more food than I could imagine eating, and my purchases came to a whopping $60. I love supermarkets like that.

- Unpacking. A mantra's been rattling around in my head "Unpack with the end in mind," which is I think a variation on a dissertation writing mantra. The end, of course, being that I hope to be in a new job at this time next year, and will therefore have to move again, and I want to unpack so that packing is as easy as possible. I'm donating belongings that I didn't miss while they were packed away, leaving most of my books at my parents', and keeping nearly all of the packing materials. As of today, everything is either unpacked and in a good place, or on my bed.

I put together my last two bookcases today, and moved them around the apartment until I found the perfect place, and installed my stereo (probably a pretty good stereo when it was first bought in 1994), and was amazed at how good the acoustics were since I put the speakers high and spread apart, and the right speaker on the right side. My books are all in their place. And there is still lots of room for my roommate to get furniture when she comes.

- Work: I had the usual expected surprises of a new job: no phone, no computer, no reimbursement, no computer password, no network printer access, and an immediate need to print reams and reams of new material in order to start doing actual work, which I haven't done yet. I have managed to complete a draft of a paper for an upcoming conference, submit 2 job applications (9/15 and 12/17 deadlines), and start an application for a prestigious pie-in-the-sky fellowship, all of which is work, but none of which is what my job pays me to do.

- Parking: For the first time in my life, I have free access to a car, but once it's in a parking space I don't want to leave the parking space ever. I have my parents' old car on loan for furniture shopping and package hauling. I've learned to coordinate my schedule by the parking rhythms and restrictions, and I'm afraid that if I went out at a time when spots are generally not available, I would wander the neighborhood for an hour looking for parking, at which point I could have just dropped the car at my parents' and taken the train back. So I just don't go out except at those times. My neighborhood has attractions which draw both hipsters and sports fans, and is also densely populated in itself. The wonder is that it is ever possible to get a parking space at all, but in fact my apartment is perfectly situated that I can observe the parking situation at different times of day all the way down the street.

- Crime: Thankfully, no experiences relevant to this yet, but it's a difficult city for crime. I grew up here, and I frequently tell people about the mortality rate in my high school graduating class: 3 out of 800 killed over the four years. Recently I ran across some old high school newspapers and was reminded that my high school classmates were perpetrators as well as victims --- several of the papers had stories about high school classmates arrested for violent crimes like stabbings and shootings, which I have a hard time wrapping my head around.

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