Tuesday, August 23, 2005

To: Potential Landlords

When you post an apartment listing, I assume you are aware that this may lead to people actually calling you and wanting to look at said apartment. I do not understand why this seems to be news to so many of you. When I call you and tell you that I would like to look at an apartment, you behave as if this is some huge imposition upon your time and resources. "What?" you say, "You want to come and see the place? Can't you just make up your mind over the phone? Well, why not?" It comes as a terrible and unexpected development that people do not wish to move without knowing where they are moving to.
And this worries me. Here's the thing, see: when you act all imposed-upon because I want to come see an apartment you want me to rent, I start picturing how you are going to act when I call you and say "My stove/sink/god-forbid-toilet is broken. Please come and fix it." I picture you putting me off for days, weeks, months. I picture you whining about how you don't like to hire other people to fix things, but you can't fix it yourself because your feet hurt/you don't have time/you're really lazy. And this is exactly why I moved out of my last apartment.
So, Potential Landlords, please remember this. Be friendly and pleasant on the phone. Do not sigh and moan. This way, when you put off fixing things it will be far too late for me to escape.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Apartment wanted in exchange for pie.

Who I am: A Temple grad student in need of housing for the coming school year. I have two cats and a lot of furniture.

What you will give me: A one bedroom apartment. Not a studio. You heard me, one bedroom. This implies at least three other rooms, counting the bathroom. This apartment will be in a safe neighborhood, as I do not wish to be mugged every morning on the way to my car. It will have the usual set of kitchen appliances (stove, fridge, sink) all of which will be in usable condition. It will have a complete and functioning bathroom. It will not have funny smells. I will be allowed to keep my cats here. Neighbors will not complain about my habit of staying up until 1 am doing my homework and watching TV shows I download off the Internets. It will be not more than 45 minutes drive from Temple University Main Campus in morning rush hour. The area of this apartment will be not less than 600 square feet. If anything breaks you will fix it with extreme promptness and no complaining about how your feet hurt you. There will be no slithering out of this.

What I will give you: Pie. Once a week. Not hair pie, or muff pie, or some other euphemism for sex. Actual pie. Baked-in-an-oven pie. Whatever kind you want. Except not with meat, because I'm a vegetarian. So mincemeat pie with venison the way my grandmother makes it is right out. Perhaps this seems like a bad deal to you. You have never eaten my pie. Men have fought duels over the last slice of my Peanut Butter Mousse Cheesecake. I don't even want to get into the unfortunate happenings of last Thanksgiving and the apple pie. So here's the deal. You call me up Saturday night and tell me what kind of pie you want. Come and get it Sunday afternoon. That's it. Perhaps you will want pumpkin pie every week. That's fine. Maybe you want to alternate chocolate cream pie and lemon meringue. That's okay, too. No pie on weekdays; I have too much homework.

What I will not give you:
-Rent money. This is a strictly for-pie deal.
-Sex of any kind. Unless maybe you want to relive that American Pie scene once a week, in which case, hey, once you take the pie I don't care what you do with it. Please don't tell me, though.

I'll throw in homemade ice cream if you throw in utilities.
Am I serious? Are you willing to give me an apartment in exchange for pie? You bet.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Home again, Home again

We are back from Maine. Things which happened:
-Fuz and I, Mom and Bob, Eric and Susie, and Hillary and Ben met up at Seng Thai in Portland. Everyone got along like a house on fire. Much Pad Thai was eaten.
-Went to camp. Lovely night swim.
-Hung around. I am sure that Fuz will relate the story of the accidental 25-mile bike ride he and his father went on.
-Went swimming everyday. Ditto kayaking. Picked buckets of blueberries from various islands on the lake. Made blueberry Swedish pancakes with blueberry sauce. Made blueberry jam. Made blueberry crumble. You've seen Charlie and the Chocolate factory? I have two words for you: Violet Beauregarde.
-I did a watercolor of the view from camp for mom.
-Went back to Mom's in Cape Elizabeth.
-Went shopping with Mom. New shoes!
-Went to visit Grammie. Boring. Moved giant oak file cabinet I intend to inherit. Ate Italians.
-Went to Two Lights. Looked at ocean. Collected shells.
-Came home.
-Found that cat sitters had left a Stench. A bad, bad Stench. Stench Which Walks Like A Man. Opened windows. Took out trash. Cleaned things. (This phase actually went into today. We spent several hours cleaning today.) The Stench is now mostly gone. May it never return.

Friday, August 12, 2005

It's like a bad movie.

Fuz and I are leaving tomorrow to spend the next few days with our parents. Fuz, myself, my mom and Bob, his parents in a tiny cabin with no indoor plumbing. Our parents have never met before. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

We are living in the future.

Item #1-
I am re-reading Kim Stanley Robinson's excellent Mars series. Hard sci-fi with sociology and economics thrown in for fun, but very entertaining. I keep hearing things on NPR about NASA and their goals which make me think that these books are coming true. Very slowly. This has been slightly creepy ever since I realized that the main characters of the books are approximately my age.

Item #2-
The other day on NPR someone pronounced the current year "Twenty Oh Five". It was very unsettling. We live in two thousand five. Twenty oh five is clearly a date in the future.

Item #3-
That newly discovered planet/planetoid? They're calling it Planet X now.
"Where are we going?"
"Planet X!"
"When are we going?"
"Real soon!"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thirty Hours

830 am (Dublin time): Taxi arrives. We go to the airport.

915: Arrive at airport. Realize that our flight is delayed by four hours, due to weather/crash in Toronto, where our layover is. This means missing our connection. Stand in line.

1000: After being politely brushed off by the re-booking people, we are checked in and given "light refreshment vouchers". Value: 7 euro. Actual cost of eating: way more than 7 euro.

1015: I am given the toll-free number for Air Canada. The nice man tells me that I will not be able to get a flight from Toronto to DC. It is not clear if he means tonight or ever again. We go upstairs and play gin rummy.

1200: We discover the airport's wireless internet. w00t. It costs 15 euro. We must have our fix.

145: We go through security and actually start waiting at the gate. Gate area smells of vomit. We change seats.

245: Boarding begins. There is no announcement, a woman just mutters something and starts taking tickets. As soon as I sit down on the plane I fall deeply asleep.

325: Take-off wakes me only briefly.

425: We land in Shannon to pick up more passengers. Everyone must get off the plane, taking all of their belongings with them. We do so.

500: "For security, all passengers waiting to reboard flight 894 to Toronto must exit the gate area and re-enter for reprocessing." Dammit.

525: Having had our passports thoroughly glanced at, we are all on the plane. Take-off for Toronto. I cannot fall back asleep, and the movie is Fever Pitch. Double dammit.

This is when I changed my watch to EST, so times will now confuse those viewers playing along at home. In reality, it was not like this. It was actually much more confusing.

Sometime mid-flight: "If there is a medical doctor aboard, will you please identify yourself to a flight attendant at this time." Repeated.

745: Landing in Toronto. Now, when you go through Toronto to the US, you actually clear US customs in Toronto. So you have to claim your checked luggage, clear customs, and then re-check your luggage to your destination. We get through Canadian customs, get our bags and go to stand in a line.

810: It is clear that this is the least useful line ever. We will have to stand in it for several hours if we want to get anything done. Carolyn and I decide to try our luck at the lines upstairs, leaving the menfolk to guard the luggage.

835: Dad comes upstairs to inform us that, because Air Canada operates on the six-year-old model of behavior, it's not their fault that our flight was delayed and therefore they don't have to give us fuck all in terms of hotel rooms, food, etc. However, Dad and Carolyn find out that there is a flight leaving for LA in... ten minutes. They will have to clear US customs, get to the terminal and get on the plane in ten minutes. Off they rush. "Bye," I yell. "Good luck! Hope I don't see you soon!"

855: There will be no flight tonight for us. Not to National, not to Dulles, not even to Baltimore. Suck. I get us seats on flight 300, boarding time 655 am. Back to Fuz.

900: We call The Moms. Both numbers are busy. For a long time. "Perhaps," says Fuz, "they are on the phone with each other, commiserating over the possibility that their darling children have been in a plane crash." I dismiss this as unlikely.

915: Fuz gets through to the FuzMom. "Oh, I was just on the phone with Dante's mother. We bonded." My mom's line: still busy. Hint to Moms: when you leave desperate messages to your children to call you and confirm that they have not been in a plane crash, stay off the phone.

930: I get through to my mom. She is most pleased to hear that I have not been in a plane crash. Fuz and I start debating renting a car and driving to Ithaca to spend the night there, and then driving to DC in the morning.

935: Phone message from Dad. They made it on the plane. I am killingly jealous.

1000: After looking at cars, we decide we are, in fact, too tired to drive. Also, too cheap to rent a car. Instead we sneak into the Interfaith Prayer Room and go to sleep. Ethics of this = doubtful. Carpet = comfy. Lights you can turn off = bonus!

1015: A security guard pokes his head in the room. We apologize for sleeping in here, he says it's okay, as long as we take our shoes off. Done and done. He even closes the door for us.

1100: I awake disoriented in a dark room! Where am I? Oh noes! No, wait, still the Interfaith Prayer Room. For some reason I cannot figure out how I am oriented to the door. This is somewhat important, because there is a different, much meaner security guy standing at the door. He is telling us we must leave this room. I hate this man.

1110: Having been ejected from the Interfaith Prayer Room, we drag our belongings out to the check-in area and find some seats to sleep in. Fuz looks up at the Departures screen. A flight is cancelled. A flight to DC. But not our flight, right? Because our flight leaves at 655. This flight leaves at 730. No, no, this could not be our flight. Except that it is. It is flight 300. Air Canada has booked us on a flight and then cancelled it less than two hours later. At this point it seems to be the most offensive thing to have happened since time began. Fuz goes to sleep, I make another sojourn to the ticket counter.

1120: The man in line ahead of me informs me that he has been standing in this line for over an hour. It is not a long line, but it is moving at a glacial pace.

1140: I decide I'm pretty lucky, because the pace of the line has picked up and I am seen by the nice night manager man, Chuck. Chuck is kind. Chuck is patient. Chuck is not allowed to rebook people. Sorry. Chuck directs me to the phones around the corner, which will give me a direct line to Air Canada reservations. I go.

1145: The reservations lady informs me that I have been automatically rebooked on a 940 flight to National. I tell her that this will not do. I must arrive in DC no later than 10 so that I can drive to Philly for an appointment. Oh. I can take a 655 flight to BWI. Will they pay for my taxi home? "When the airline puts you through this much, they'll usually pay for stuff like that. Mail them the receipt." Fine. Now I just need to go back to Chuck and have him check me out of flight 302 and into flight 7928.

1155: I watch Chuck deal with a middle aged woman having a temper tantrum because the shuttle bus to the hotel the airline is providing her with is late. The airline gave her a hotel and she is having a tantrum. I want to hit this woman. I refrain, because if I hit her and security takes me away, I will never get home. Of course, the way things are going, I may never get home anyway.

1157: Chuck informs me that he is not allowed to check me out of flight 302 and into flight 7928. I must come back to this counter at 430 in the morning and do this. Fuck you, Chuck.

1200: I stumble back to the waiting area and go to sleep. Sort of. I'm using the word "sleep" pretty loosely here. You know those airport announcements? The ones about "Unattended vehicles will be towed."? The ones that play every 15 minutes or so? They don't turn those off at night. I miss the Interfaith Prayer Room.

430: My watch alarm goes off, summoning Fuz I and from the land of sleep to the much more unpleasant land of Ontario. There is already a line at the ticket counter. Complete with a crying child.

515: We get to a ticket counter. The woman behind the counter has a thick accent and speaks very quickly and very softly. She tell us that she has been at the airport sine 8 last night and is about to go home. For some reason this means that she must take our tickets away to another counter and... do something. It is possible that all of this would have made more sense if we weren't so tired.

530: Having gotten our boarding passes, cleared customs and re-checked our bags, we go to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to our gate. I get breakfast from an overpriced airport cafe. Water, cranberry muffin, chocolate croissant. On the way back I spot Kindereggs in the airport convenience store! Kindereggs! The official choking hazard of fun! I buy two, giggling madly.

600: Shuttle bus takes us to the gate. We idle away the time reading about the horrific plane crash which occurred in this very airport such a short time ago. Newspapers with this as their cover story are all over the airport.

630: On the plane.

700: Take off.

855: We finally arrive at BWI. We get our bags and a taxi.

940: Home at last. Taxi ride: $60. Kittens greet us with yowls of welcome.