Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Moving pains...again
Or, The pantzites are coming! The pantzites are coming!

Lucky me: my tonsils reached their biggest, most disgusting size in several years just as my yearly checkup occurred last week. I felt fine otherwise; I assume this was a secondary infection to the virus I had at Coronation that made me so feverish. The tonsils were the only symptom. My nurse practitioner, a taciturn woman who does not seem surprisable, actually did a sort of a David Letterman step-back-"euuugh" thing when she saw them. "I think it's been a very long time since I saw tonsils that big," she said, and she wouldn't let me say aaah again. She took a strep test (which was negative) and prescribed Zithromax, and referred me to an ENT doctor, who (predictably) wasn't available until several weeks from now. In the meantime, six days into the antibiotics and it doesn't hurt to swallow anymore! Go me.

This is the first Passover I've had in decades where I consciously decided not to even try keeping kosher-for-Passover. Other years I've sometimes consciously decided to quit after having started, but never decided not to start. Not sure why I made that decision. Things in general feel disconcertingly overwhelming right now, and one more thing to think about--especially something that causes unnecessary stress--just seemed one thing too many.

I have pretty much decided not to buy my apartment. Even with $4,000 off for current residents and $6,000 off if I decide to take it as-is, it's still over $100,000. What it comes right down to, are two irreducible points: 1. It's not enough condo for $100,000, and 2. I never wanted a condo in the first place. A conversation with Dad helped me pin down these points.

Technically I have until May 22 to send in the form officially waiving my right of first purchase, but a woman named Theresa from the realty company has been pestering me about every other day since the open house last weekend. Apparently some other resident is interested in my apartment. Good for them; they can't close until mid-July anyway, so let them wait. I'm tempted to call her and inform her of my legal rights, and tell her to stop calling me/sending reminder cards or I'll report her company for harrassment. But I think that reaction would be coming from my current general irritation with the world, not so much from my smaller irritation with her.

Did I mention that as part of the condo conversion, Sleepy Hollow LLC is (as we speak) covering the gorgeous, rich brown vertical wood siding on my building with dull gray plastic horizontal siding? What a waste. Guess I'm getting out just in time.

My apartment search has begun in earnest. I saw the Monticello on Saturday, which is one of those large complexes off Sheboygan near the DOT. It's very classy in terms of how the buildings are kept and decorated; the hallways are nicer than most hotels I've stayed in. But the apartments are smaller than I'd like and more expensive. It's still near the top of my list, but just barely.

Took a tour of Yorktown Estates just because I was driving by and saw an "Open House" flag. Does anyone REALLY need a full restaurant breakfast every morning, provided as part of their rent? This place was waaaay beyond what I'd need, and altogether out of my price range.

Yesterday evening I saw a condo that a woman was renting out. I hadn't known there was a condo complex in that particular area off of Fish Hatchery, but lo and behold, I drove up and there it was. Besides being in a not-so-savory area, it was stiflingly small. The advertisement said there was a washer/dryer in the apartment, and there it was, plunked down next to the bathroom sink, making it nearly impossible to open the door. What cinched it for me was the master bedroom, which had a wall that should have had a window (I know it was an outside wall), but instead was dark and blank. I couldn't have fallen asleep staring at that wall.

The owner didn't help matters by telling me about how it was always hot in the apartment in the winter/spring, the heat didn't get turned on until late every fall, and the storage locker was damp and smelly. I mean, she gets points for honesty, but she didn't make a sale that way.

Tomorrow morning I'm seeing one that makes me feel considerably more hopeful: Wynwood Court, near the top of Allen Blvd., about ten feet into Middleton. It's maybe a half-mile down University Ave. from my current apartment, and I just find it impressive every time I drive by. Perhaps a little expensive, but things like two air conditioners, a private washer and dryer, and a fireplace are worth it, not to mention that their apartments seem like they'll be spacious enough to satisfy me, which isn't easy. Wish me luck.

If all goes well, I'll be moving at the end of May/beginning of June--fair warning to all. I never ask my friends to help move; that's not what I'm implying. Just take note in case you should need to drop by, that I won't be in the same place.

This past weekend, I did the Jewish thing every evening: services (which included a bar mitzvah, a kid of a family I didn't know) Friday night, and Passover seders Saturday and Sunday nights. Personally, I rather like seders. Yes, you wade through a lot of poorly-written fifties-style blathering out of the Folger's Coffee and Associated Foods haggadah everyone seems to have, about how our Lord effected our rescue from the land of bondage, but after awhile it gets sort of charming. And the food is always good.

Saturday night Mom & Dad hosted a seder at their house; they usually wouldn't do that, but this year Passover fell after April 15, so Dad was more available to help out than usual. A motley group of their friends attended: a family with three kids between 8 and 12, a family with a sullen teenager, a new young professor in the Pharmacy school, and the widow of an old family friend. It made for lively talk. After dinner I gave several tours of mom's needlework, which is all over the house.

After people had left, Dad was doing a pass in the kitchen with the dustbuster, just to get any gobbets of food before they get ground in. There were these small black nubby things that were all over the floor. I noticed there were a lot under my chair, but the light made them look flake-shaped, like they had flaked off of something, so I checked my shoes; nothing was coming off of them.

Dad vacuumed up a bunch of them, then kept finding more. "I swear, what IS this stuff? I think it's coming off of you!" he said to me. "No, it couldn't be me," I said, doing a visual check of everything I was wearing to make sure it wasn't my doing. As a last step I lifted the cuff of my pants to peer at my socks. As I did, about a cup of the little black textile fluff things pooooooffed out of my pants cuff!

Dad went nuts. Mom started laughing hysterically. I kept lifting the cuff of my pants in disbelief, saying, "What IS that?!", while Dad shouted "Stop! STOP!" and attacked my feet with the dustbuster. Mom and Dad immediately concluded the best thing would be for me to a) not take any more steps in the house that weren't absolutely necessary, and b) to go home right away. So I stood there while they brought me the container of half-and-half I'd contributed to the meal, and then left.

I laundered the pants the next day. These are black velvet pants that I think I bought in Bismarck very cheap, that I've been meaning to shorten for years, but finally decided to wear them baggy. So I'd never worn them before. How was I to know they produce storms of little black pantzites from the inside of the garment? That explains why they were so cheap. Maybe I forgot to read the warning sign on the department store display: "Regatta black velvet pants, $10.99! Warning: may shed small black nubbins all over your house. Keep away from excitable cats."

Sunday night we went over to the home of old family friends, the Minkus' (or as my mom the Latin scholar calls them, using proper Latin plural form, the Minkii). They always have a big traditional second-night seder. I was especially glad to see the huge bowl of traditional apple, nut, and wine charoses, after the small container of rather avant-garde dried-fruit-and-spice charoses someone had contributed Saturday night. I'm sorry, I do not want apricots in my charoses. They do not taste right with the horseradish in the charoses-and-horseradish-between-matzoh sandwich.

Work is fine. I've mastered the new OCLC Resource Sharing system, at least the parts of it I use daily, and am getting back up to my normal speed on OCLC referrals. I've been told that there will be a government agency website cataloging project for me to work on with the remaining 25% of my time, starting in the summer. I'll be full-time then, but still LTE (no benefits). Not sure how I feel yet about waking up at an ungodly hour every morning, but I can use the money and would like to brush up on my cataloging skills.

I do believe this is the only post I've ever put here that didn't include an SCA component. Um: this weekend we're going to Arizona for my maternal grandfather's 90th birthday, so no SCA event. The following weekend is Novices' Day in Rokeclif (with Jara May Day that Sunday), then Northshield 3rd Crown in Neillsville, then I'm taking the next two weekends off to pack (and the following weekend, if possible, to unpack) before Woodland Romp June 10.

I was going to have a new Italian gown done by Crown. The fabric and pattern have been sitting on my dining room table for three weeks, along with a couple of tutorials nabbed off the web on how to do cartridge pleating. Do we think it's going to be done in 2 1/2 weeks, during a time in which I should also get considerable packing done? Noooo. We do not. Another big event with no new garb for me. Poo.



Sunday, April 17, 2005
There are pictures of the last three SCA events I've been to (Fighters' School, Jara Fools' Moot, Coronation) on the Unofficial Northshield Gallery. [His Excellency] Mikey is so good to make this service available. It really is important to have this visual record of Northshield's times together. See especially the recently-added photos of Siegfried and Bridei's horseback processional at Gulf Wars. Who knew that the new horse barding would look that good in use?

I went to the Sleepy Hollow Condominiums open house yesterday. (Couldn't convince Dad to come; it was his first day off in a long time. He stayed home and did Dad-type things. When he says he's going to "get things done around the house" I always picture him replacing the furnace filters.) The price is higher than I thought--$111,000--but they knock $4,000 off for current residents, and they say they'll give me $6,000 off if I take the unit as-is, with none of the improvements they're doing on the rest of the apartments. That'd mean I'd need to make enough improvements myself to make the place resellable in a few years. Would I like to shop for a new dishwasher? A new air conditioner? A new closet treatment? Would I? Do you even have to ask? Meet me at Best Buy!

Still, I'm not 100% sure I'll buy. It's a lot of money. Compared to renting, if I put 30% down my monthly costs will be about the same, but factor in closing costs, paperwork, consulting a realtor, writing checks to two different places every month, general confusion, sprucing up the place over time, etc., I won't save money. And unless I get a full-time job that pays a reasonable salary, the tax deductions for owning won't mean anything--and if I do that, the rest of this gets harder as my time/attention is taken up by a "real" job.

All of this is made slightly ridiculous by the fact that last year's unemployment qualifies me for not one but two renters' credits, which will add up to more coming back to me for 2004 than I would pay in property tax for the rest of 2005 if I bought this place. It's a renter's market. If I just move, I'll probably get similar fundage back for 2005.

I feel like a little kid trying to assimilate some large change in her life. When choosing between a panoply of ways to go forward, some part of me keeps repeating obstinately, "But what I REALLY want is to stay here and keep paying rent and NOT have this place go condo!" Yes, little girl, but the place IS going condo and there's nothing you can do about it. Let's go back to talking about what you can do to move forward, shall we? You have to choose something...

I have until mid-May to a) purchase, b) arrange to move within the complex, or c) arrange to leave. I don't think they need me out by any particular date as of now, but I'm renting month-to-month, so I need to be prepared for them to set a date and inform me of it, without consulting me first. Geez, this is feeling less and less fun as I type about it. Must think about new-air-conditioner-shopping...

In a similar vein, LJ is getting tough to read. My friends page is overflowing with people I know and love, of which one just got out of jail after some horrible happening with his wife (he won't elaborate more), at least four are dealing with major and/or lingering depression, one has just gone off her antidepressants, and several are at crossroads in life: about to get married, about to start school, about to switch jobs, about to move, about to end their marriage, etc. One is trying to figure out how the SCA group she left in anger can still be part of her life. One is slowly coming to terms with a major crime committed by her husband's family. One is doing the hardest job in the SCA and finding the demands on his time and attention, and others' differing attitudes towards him, to be frustrating and fatiguing. One is struggling through nursing school--she's too smart for it. Then there are more little things than you'd think a bunch of human beings could go through: people scrape up their cars, lose their keys, forget to show up for tests, get cut off in traffic, dump coffee on themselves and others, can't afford to eat feast at an event, can't figure out how to solve a costuming problem, lose the attention of people on whom they have crushes, get colds and flus and food poisoning and "female troubles" and strained backs, and it goes on, and on, and on...

These are my friends. I love them. I look forward to reading my Friends page on LJ, several times a day. I put comments in their journals and I remember what they say, and ask them about it when I see them next. I even like LJ itself, even though I've been established on Blogger since 2001 and chose not to "go over". But reading all these journals, it's sometimes just...just...

...exhausting.

It does, on the other hand, prove that when I feel alone, unfortunate, unmotivated, sad, or afraid of change, I am NEVER the only person feeling this way...and I'm usually handling it better than they are. Well, all right, in a way that's better for me, anyway.

Solidarity through misery, comfort through (slight) superiority. What a worldview THAT is--it almost constitutes one more reason to feel bad. There's got to be a better way to look at things than this, but it's been so long since my college philosophy class. I'm having trouble finding a viable model.

Maybe I should watch I Heart Huckabees again.

I've had a nice quiet weekend, with which I've done very little (besides attending the open house and spending $119 at Target). Last night I did venture out of my hidey-hole to see a play, Sourcecode: Candide in a blackbox studio at the Overture Center. The theater company that wrote/produced/performed it appears to have their roots in tap dance, which just seems odd to me, especially since the only tap dance in the play was during the two brief musical pieces. Basically, this piece was Candide rewritten in modern times: Candide is a computer programmer working at a Christian conglomerate on something called the Source Code, which is supposed to bring the world into compliance with the Word and bring about the Rapture. (Oh yeah, and the Source Code is symbolized by one of those bottle-opener keychains.) Dr. Pangloss is a randy older executive at the company, and tap-dances wearing a business suit and huge eyeglasses.

If you know how Candide flows, either the original or the Bernstein musical, you know how this play goes: endless coincidence and seemingly random travels, during which Candide "goes with the flow", believing that all's for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Lots of current events jokes kept people interested. But overall it was one of those plays that doesn't really have a reason for existing. They didn't change the ending: the characters end up back where they started, changed by their adventures and by knowing each other, but determined to make a quieter life work for themselves. I kind of would have rather read the book again--or seen the musical. Oooh! I loooove the musical.

Anyway.

I took a walk today. My illness of last weekend seems to be gone. I didn't get a headache or that strange shortness of breath that I got last week while walking around. Whatever it was, I don't have it any longer. Along with my appetite. Maybe that's from the fever? I've spent far too much of the weekend staring into my fridge, wondering why I'm not hungry. I finally decided on my normal I-have-to-eat-something food (cereal), only to discover I have no milk. In the end I cooked up some zucchini; either my appetite is really gone, or zucchini does NOT go well with lemon-wine-butter-caper sauce. I managed to finish it, but mostly because I had had very little else all day besides ice cream and ramune candy, and I thought I should have something a little less sugary.

(Yes, I've ordered from AsianFoodGrocer.com again. You have got to try the E-Ma Nodo Ame Candy--I recommend peach.)

And now, off to sleep. Tomorrow evening is the first W&W work moot, at Iohanna's. Must remember to stop by Whole Foods and buy some Official Jararvellir Work Moot Cookies to bring.



Thursday, April 07, 2005
This post has been backdated to last Thursday, when I wrote it, since Blogger was down all that evening. Grrrr.

Calm down, lymph nodes
Or, Going to Provence after all

I'm fighting off some kind of something. My neck lymph nodes have been tender for a few days, and when I woke up this morning most of the other ones were too. It adds up to a flu-like achy feeling, except I don't have any other symptoms besides a little tiredness. This week I haven't gotten as much sleep as I'd like, and I've had the windows open all night; it's possible that the combination has just got my immune system raring to go, and it'll calm down. We can hope. I really don't want to be sick this weekend (see below for what I'll be doing).

You know how smells often evoke memories? The smell of the outdoors coming in through my windowscreens reminds me most of all of the first apartment I had in Marshfield, the one where I was only there for a year. There were so many things wrong with that apartment, chief among them the fact that it had no air conditioner, hence the windows open all summer.

It was the top half of an older house: spacious, with hardwood floors, but that's about all it had going for it. The downstairs neighbor was an irritable woman about my age with two extremely noisy boys about 6 and 8, a dog that would bark nonstop whenever none of them were home, and a cat (after the landlord promised me there would never be any pets in the downstairs apartment, since the ventilation system was connected). Neither she nor the landlord ever did any shoveling or plowing, making getting to my mailbox on the front porch a real challenge during the winter. On weekends when the kids were with their dad, she would bring home some stranger (different car every time) and turn up bad country music as loud as it would go until 3 am, to cover up the sex noises. (I once called the police on her and she actually refused to come to the door. Isn't that against the law?)

Also, my thermostat didn't work. I called the landlord when it got cold and he actually said, "Oh, that doesn't work, it's just decorative, they control the heat in the downstairs apartment". So I was always either boiling or freezing in my bed. When the landlord called to say the downstairs neighbor had accused me of peeking in her window when I was on the porch putting out my mail, that was the last straw. I started looking for other apartments.

But while I was actually living there, it was rather pleasant, if a bit echo-y. (The only reason I took Falcon's Keep's suggestion to start a Choral Guild was that I thought rehearsals would sound great in my vaulted living room.) I had lots of windows and tons of storage. I've sworn off parts-of-older-houses apartments now, even if they're spectacularly beautiful, because of the problems I had in Marshfield. But that doesn't mean I don't occasionally look back with fondness on the good days in that apartment.

The main reason they were good days, by the way, was that I was so outstandingly happy to be back in Wisconsin after having lived in North Dakota for a year. But we won't go into that.

Except to say, guess what? Alissende and I are driving to Northshield Coronation in Minot, ND this weekend, and she has promised we'll stop in Bismarck at the International Stir-Fry Restaurant tomorrow night for dinner. This is a Mongolian Barbeque restaurant right near my former apartment. I used to eat there 3-4 times a week; it was filling, unpretentious, and cheap, but tasty. I know it's still there, because when the bus drove by on the way to Northshield's Last Coronet Tourney in Minot maybe 18 months ago, it had a brand spanking new, bright-colored awning. Can't wait!

It's funny...I took nearly three days to drive back from Bismarck when I was moving to Marshfield, but we are leaving at 8 am tomorrow and intend to be in Minot in time to greet friends at the event hotel and get lots of sleep. I was kind of a wuss about driving back then.

The Northshield website has a new feature, apparently coded by the new deputy webminister: random photos show up on the main page. I think it's lovely, and moreover the choice of photos is excellent. If you have an eagle eye and if you get the one of Friedrich in teal-green garb to come up, you might notice my laurel, Owen, and I in the immediate background, watching Court; photo from Fighter's School a few weeks ago, I think. Or my memory might be failing me. From sometime in the last year, anyway.

So: two more people signed up for the dates we wanted, so Mom & I will for sure be going on the tour in Provence that we've been hoping to take for two years now. (The price hasn't even gone up that much since I first found the tour!) Our tour date starts on Sept. 24 so I will miss the Medieval Religions Symposium, but I think I can handle that. At least we won't miss Rosh Hashanah in Madison. I'm excited about the tour. I'll be sending in my registration soon and I plan to notify the tour guide that my "thing" is medieval stuff, so whenever possible, yes, I want to see the castle!

The last several weeks have been rather quiet. Weekends with not much going on, quiet evenings, not too much going on at work. Yesterday I went to a WILS training session regarding migration to the new OCLC ILL system. I found it very easy to understand, though I'm glad I used the old system for ILL for six months before transferring to the new one. It would have been hard to pick up both a new job and a new system at the same time. Since the workshop I've been using the new system and I don't find it difficult at all, though it has a couple of bad lag points in the process; I assume the server replacement they plan for the summer will fix that. Until then I will probably work at inserting searching tasks into the 45-second-long lags.

I also am moving next week from the ILL Coordinator's desk area, to a very quiet work area over in Circulation, so that the ILL Coordinator can return to her workspace for 1/2 day a week and not have to feel that she's sharing her space. It'll be nice to have my "own space" for a bit, even though I'll have to move again when they hire someone for the Circ position.

This week I've been drafting a 14th century hood for myself from info on this page, the same info I used to draft the hoods that Colleen and her sister loons wear. (I still think the blue one is the best; it was the first.) After only two drafts I have something that fits me and even looks luxurious. Last night I cut into the gorgeous $1-a-yard brown wool blend fabric I got last year in NYC. Next step: do the hand-sewing (tomorrow in the car), then do some serious thinking about what kind of embroidery I want to put on it. This is a present for me. So I want something that's going to make me look fabulous in the cool twilight at Pennsic.

S'true,I haven't updated my Books Page in far too long, but I'm still reading. I have a pile/list of things to put on it. To quote a dear friend of mine, "Books are love". Currently reading: Extra Life: coming of age in cyberspace by David Bennahum. So far I'm not too impressed, but it was recommended by someone who adores it so I'm sticking with it.

To return to the housing theme, there is some news on the condo front: my building is the first to go condo. They want everyone either out or purchasing by July. So they've put me on a month-to-month lease. They're currently doing various noisy and smelly improvements in the empty apartments around me (there's a horrid glue smell in the hallway right now). Next weekend there'll be an open house where they show one of the New! Improved! units, then talk turkey.

I am no longer set against buying this unit. The prices will probably be relatively reasonable, judging from the similar condos on the same development company's webpage at http://www.brunerrealtyinc.com/. My parents were making dire predictions of $150,000, but it's looking more like $75,000-$90,000 or even less. And there's a $4,000 credit for current renters. The complex manager also said they were willing to talk about additional credit for not taking all the updated features, many of which might be tough to put in my apartment without my vacating it (new carpeting, for instance). (Sure would like the new tub/surround, and dishwasher, though...) So, I'll go to the open house, have a good conversation with Dad (after April 15) about what I can afford and how a wildly underemployed professional might go about getting a mortgage, and make my decision before the May deadline.

If buying this apartment isn't doable, I could move, but I'm just kind of not interested. It's expensive, a huge effort, and harder in the summer when it's hot. Honestly, I just did this a year ago. It's not like there aren't a ton of good places (even quite a few in this general neighborhood), but moving is just not fun. The complex manager says they would offer me a reduced rent and $300 moving assistance if I move to another unit in this complex, but they're all going condo inside of two years, so I'd be sealing myself into another move in a couple of years (or a more expensive purchase). And that'd still involve a move. And I like this apartment. Condo. Whatever.

The main question that I can't answer with just the input of friends/family, is whether I'd ever be able to sell this place, should my circumstances change...and whether I'd lose money doing so. I'll probably need to consult a realtor on that. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll see what happens when I get a price quote next weekend.






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