Operation: Read ‘Em All

A couple of years ago, I seriously cut back on my book buying; I started using the Arlington Library much more often, shifting what I bought to books I felt I’d actually re-read, or ones that just were not available at the library. (A lot of limited edition comics and art books, for instance.)

And then, of course, two years ago I got an e-reader and the number of physical books entering my home shrunk again. But all of this did nothing to change the number of unread books that I have owned, waiting for that day where they got tackled. So once we moved, I created one or two bookshelves with nothing but unread books, and now I’m going to try and make my way through them. The majority of them are ones that once read I’ll be giving away, so there’s added incentive to get moving through them.

(More importantly, having them all in one location makes it easier for me to hear their siren call, “Read me, Greg, read me.”)

So far I’ve finished off one book (Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni) and am almost halfway through a second one (DC Noir edited by George Pelecanos). Loved the first one, and am enjoying the second one. Now, I don’t see myself blasting through the multiple “to-read” shelves anytime soon, but it is gratifying to finally start tackling them. But heck, I’ve had that copy of Twinkle Twinkle for eight years now. It was time to finally cross it off the list. Between that and finally watching my copy of The Prestige from Netflix (which sat on my coffee table for several years, waiting)… well, I might make it 2010′s books by the end of the decade. Such progress!

My one consolation, of course, is that I bet at least half of the people reading this have similarly groaning to-read shelves… possibly more. Admit it.

How To Lose A Month In One Easy Step

When we first had our moving date, I had an incredibly ambitious plan. I was going to document the moving process, write up how the progress was coming along, take pictures each ste of the way, that sort of thing. And then, suddenly, it was over a month later and I’d done absolutely none of that. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s because we had actually, well, moved.

It’s a little staggering to me how much time and energy it takes. Maybe it’s because with each move I’ve been five or six years older and have that much more in the way of possessions to take care of? (Or alternately, it’s because I’m that much more old and decrepit. Please do not answer which of the two it probably is, unless you are certain it is the former.) But even with us hovering somewhere around the 90% done mark (I’ve got a handful of boxes to sort through and figure out what’s going away, the final step of hanging things on the walls, and the later task of putting some more books up for sale and/or donating them), it’s taken forever. And it’s been more mentally exhausting than physically.

Which is, of course, a great time for the edge of a hurricane to swoop by this weekend, right? I’m pretty convinced Hurricane Irene is doing its driveby merely because it heard about our 5.8 earthquake on Tuesday (which was disconcerting and exciting at the same time) and it wants to get in on the action. Honestly, I’m expecting it to be not as bad as Hurricane Isabel and its direct strike back in 2003, and I’m not even worried about it… if it wasn’t for its disruptive presence. Because even just strong winds and monsoon rains means no walking to the farmer’s market on Sunday (I suspect it will not even be set up), no trip to IKEA to get that nightstand we’re going to use to hold the printer, that sort of thing.

Right now so many things are at the “90%” done stage in my life that I just want them all to get wrapped up, feel closure, and move forward. I have a bunch of new projects I’d like to start. I have one writing assignment that’s been sitting untouched for two months (eek) that needs to get a jumpstart. I’d like to restart my “State Streets in DC” photo project from scratch and with a lot more focus. (Although for that I suppose I should first figure out where the heck my charger and spare battery for my camera have quietly relocated themselves. I’d settle for just the charger, honest.) And once I can strike all these other things off to “to do” list, then I can move forward.

In short, I’m putting this all out into the open to try and spur myself toward getting there. See if it’ll be the final gentle nudge to get to a conclusion, right?

Well, probably not. But eventually it’ll happen. It’ll be nice to add swimming, biking, photos, that sort of thing back into my life. Perhaps I can even start documenting some of the great new places I’ve found in Takoma, like I’d hoped. Tune in this time next month for another excuse why not. Or maybe, finally, some real progress.

The Joys of Moving

Saturday was our move-in day, which sounded great when we set it up after finally closing on our home last Tuesday. Sure, the air-conditioning had managed to stop working between our walk-through and closing, but someone had come by on Friday to fix it, and assured us that in a few hours it’d be back to normal. And everything was out of my old place and ready to be picked back up and moved. So easy, right?

Well, no. Not helping matters was Monday’s oral surgery, to which I’d been told quite firmly, “No strenuous activity.” Sure, we had movers. But on Tuesday when I’d hauled the three new rugs into my car, and then (with Charlie) from the car to the condo, just doing that had resulted in me having suspicious bloody specks in my mouth. So even moving heavy boxes around the condo upon placement was declared a big no. And of course, we’d gotten into the place on Saturday and were not even remotely greeted with cold air.

In short, the worst move I’d ever gone through. Being boiling hot, tired, sore, sick to my stomach (thanks to a week’s worth of antibiotics post-surgery), and hungry is not good. And of course, being told that Comcast will show up between 2-5pm and despite calling every half hour starting at 4:45 (and being assured that yes, the Comcast installer was still coming) and continuing to be a no-show at 7:50pm? Really not good. (The killer was starting around 6pm we’d even said, “We have no problem with rescheduling if this isn’t any time soon, just don’t string us along.” Argh. They put a credit on our bill by way of apology but still. Not cool.)

We finally left at 8pm and had what I can only describe as a “sanity-restoring dinner” at Mark’s Kitchen (the bibimbap was fantastic!), ice cream across the street, and just relaxed for an hour or so. And we ended up sleeping at Charlie’s old place so that we didn’t melt, which was also helpful.

Fortunately, Sunday was a big turn-around. We found someone to come out and properly diagnose and fix the air-conditioning (which was not only minor, but happily we were told that the unit is in great shape), we got a lot of stuff unpacked, and all of the new bedroom stuff put together. We’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do, but Sunday felt like major progress. It’s no longer a labyrinth of boxes, now it’s more of a bunch of clusters of boxes. I think by the end of the week we should be awfully close to being in shape.

The chorus of the weekend, from both of us: “You know we’re not moving again for a very, very long time.” It’s nice to be in agreement on that front.

Finally, Closure

It’s only 15 days later than planned, but it finally arrived: Charlie and I closed on our new home in the Takoma neighborhood of DC. That’s right, I am finally a homeowner. Also, that means after the end of this week, I am no longer homeless.

The original closing date was supposed to be June 27th, but I have learned something very important about buying a condo versus buying a house. There is a third party—the dreaded HOA management company—that can do things so slowly that your closing date keeps getting delayed. On the bright side, neither we nor the sellers had done anything wrong. All of us had everything in order, but we just kept getting delayed while waiting for required paperwork to finally arrive.

I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, save that I had to be out of my old place on July 5th. Oops. So, everything got packed up and moved to a temporary location (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!), as did I. But that brief stop-over is now almost at an end, and in a few days we can start focusing on our new neighborhood, unpacking all of those boxes, new license plates and driver’s license…

…wait, why was I looking forward to this again?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Our beautiful new home. I am utterly thrilled that it’s ours; partially because it’s a great place, and partially because it’s ours. I’ve never lived with a boyfriend before, and the last time I even lived with another person was 2001.

I’m looking foward to this new portion of my life immensely. Hello, Takoma. I’m thrilled to be here, finally.

Jump (or, Giving Notice)

Five years and ten months ago, I gave notice to my old apartment complex that I was planning on moving out. At the time I was nervous because while the place I was living required 60 days notice, where I was (hopefully) moving only required 30 days notice. So I didn’t actually have a place lined up just yet. It was definitely one of those, “Are you ready to jump?” moments, at least emotionally.

But it was a good choice, of course. I got an apartment where I wanted, and I quickly began to love my new neighborhood. So when I dropped off a letter this morning giving my moving out notice for where I live now, I definitely felt a little déjà vu. Because of course, we haven’t actually closed on the new place and won’t for another three and a half weeks. And I still have a lot… and I do mean quite a lot… of packing and sorting to do. I did cart a large trash bag’s worth of stuff out of my hall closet last night, though, which felt good. (Also found half of a LUSH Christmas pack that I’d forgotten about. I’ve decided it’s never too early to smell Christmassy, post shower.)

In general, I’ve been a fan of the jump, even if it’s nerve-wracking at the time and I wonder what the heck I am really doing. It’s funny but whenever I have a big decision/choice to make, I always flash back to a book by Ellen Raskin (Figgs and Phantoms) that I read as a little kid. In it, one of the characters is getting hidden messages from books, and relaying them to the main character. And the one that always stood out was, “Jump!” That one-word directive was so nicely concise and yet held so much meaning in it.

(Now or never. Go for it. Don’t second guess yourself. Jump!)

Of course, several times I’ve jumped and failed to land properly. But so far, this jump feels like it’s going to get a good score from the Olympic Judges. Fingers crossed.

Things I Will NOT Miss About Arlington

And now, a follow up to the previous post… because I feel like I should make something clear.

I love Arlington, it is awesome, I affectionately call it the People’s Republic of Arlington.

BUT.

There are things that I will not miss about living in my current apartment. Not one bit. Such as…

  • The apartment complex maintenance crew which half the time seems unable to fix anything.
  • That horrible ice cream truck that plays a song over and over again involving animal noises and a creepy child voice saying, “Hello!” at the end. I am pretty sure if I ever end up in Hell it will involve this song.
  • Caught in Traffic [365portraits: 099]Rosslyn during rush hour, and inching through traffic to go not even half a mile. (It’s great for the purpose of self-portraits, but other than that…)
  • The thirty-seven thousand Irish-themed bars (which is a shame because Ireland’s Four Courts is great, but the Irish invasion has been a bit much).
  • The narrow streets that often make me back up half a block so a car coming in the other direction can pass.
  • The perpetual, never-ending construction.
  • Route 50. Doubly so with the road work that took over a year to finish just outside my apartment, and the next phase which is beginning shortly.
  • That one kid who plays outside my kitchen window that shrieks so loudly that it makes my ear drums want to explode and die.
  • Having a first-floor bedroom window next to a courtyard where people think nothing twice about standing outside of it at 2am and talking extremely loudly.
  • Seeing another cute business getting torn down for multi-million dollar condos. (Full disclosure: if I could afford a multi-million dollar condo I might not be so down on this.)

Not going to miss any of those things one bit. Especially the ice cream truck. I am pretty sure almost six years of that horrible ice cream truck song is punishment for something I did a long time ago. And whatever it was, it must have been particularly dreadful.

Things I Will Miss About Arlington

Obviously I am super-excited about moving into the Takoma neighborhood of DC, and more importantly moving in with Charlie, and I’m looking forward to it a great deal.

But there are things I will miss about Arlington. Namely…

  • Carvel’s amazing soft serve ice cream
  • Pio Pio’s Peruvian style chicken and rice (and just around the corner, El Pollo Rico with their chicken, fries, and cole slaw deal)
  • Whitlow’s brunch buffet, especially the fried chicken and waffles (although the mac and cheese is a close second)
  • TJ Rec Center’s amazing Wednesday night spin class (but I do have a few more months, and I’m going to see if I can still continue it beyond that!)
  • All of the cosy and cute houses I see on my jog down Pershing Street
  • Container Store! Container Store! Container Store!
  • Ten-Barton Community Garden next to my apartment complex
  • Two great bike stores just around the corner (Revolution and Conte’s)
  • The annual Arlington Tour des Bibliothéques
  • Living around the corner from Karon, Steve, and Britt
  • A ridiculously short commute to work
  • Living somewhere that offers FiOS for my television/internet
  • Guajillo’s chocolate flan
  • Ray’s Hell Burger being just a short walk away

Now with all that in mind? I’m dying to find all the things around the corner in our new home that I’ll learn to love, too. And I’ll still see the friends that won’t be quite so near, of course. Knock on wood, closing in one month!

Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakoma!

It’s been a busy May. An intensive project at work (not bad, just really busy!), helping someone out after their surgery, multiple trips up to Pennsylvania (including for my grandmother’s funeral), not feeling well for about a week and a half (and having to scratch a planned triathlon), that sort of thing.

Oh yeah, and Charlie and I put an offer on a home.

We’ve been talking for years now about buying a place together, when we found the right one. We’ve talked about different neighborhoods in DC as possibilities (Downtown, Logan Circle, U Street, Atlas District, Southwest Waterfront, Brookland, Brightwood Park, you name it) and casually checked out open houses and such. But nothing jumped out at us. So we continued to bide our time and figured it was still a ways off, until we saw a listing for a condo in Takoma that just screamed, “You must buy me.”

The listing was too good to be true, so we went to see it at an open house… that turned out to be a glitch in the system and there was no open house. (Fortunately one of the owners was home and graciously let us in to look around.) Ten minutes later, we were in love. Two days later, we’d gotten a pre-approval letter from the bank and put an offer in. And the next evening, we heard our offer was accepted.

Now obviously until every last paper is signed things could still go south. We just had the home inspection, which went well. But the bank still has to do their appraisal, and of course this is the age of nervous banks. So even though all our ducks are in order something could go wrong with the appraisal, or perhaps Venus will eclipse Mercury and the bank will freak out and decide to grant no one their mortgages for the next two months. But, knock on wood, so far so good.

It’s funny because while we both love the Takoma neighborhood of DC (and the neighboring Takoma Park, Maryland), neither of us figured we’d find anything there. But sometimes a winner just drops into your lap. We’ve got great restaurants, retail, grocery stores, the pool, a farmer’s market, a library, the metro station, and yoga studios just a short walk away. It’s in many ways the perfect mix of small town and big city all in one.

So, more updates to eventually come. In the meanwhile I am playing the game of starting to sort, pack, and discard books. It’s going to be a busy June as well, it seems!