Sunday, August 30, 2009

role reversal

So.... I think everyone (who knows me) would agree I am the more social person in my marriage. In Seattle I had lots of friends, and liked to spend lots of time with my friends. Poor Michael would get dragged to gatherings and what-not more often then he liked; although for the most part I just went and hung out with my friends solo. Also... I had a friend who spent a LOT of time at our place, and when I say a LOT, I mean a LOT. If she wasn't hanging out at our place, or me at her place, I was often on the phone with her. This was status quo for years.

Well now here we are in Pittsburgh, and I have all of two people I would really consider friends, and they are busy with their lives and while I've spent some time with them it isn't comparable to my socializing in Seattle. Conversely one of Michael's good friends lives only a few houses up the street, which means he is either hanging down here or more likely Michael is hanging out up there. And of course because he is from the area he has LOTS of friends still in the area... and now I am getting a taste of my own medicine. I don't mind really. It's nice to finally see him socializing and enjoying time with someone other then me. There is a side of me that does like to sit back (be the wall flower, so to speak) and watch the hap's going on around me, and this does give me that opportunity.

Who knows? Maybe I will enter a new phase in my life where I am less social and more of a home-body, it was beginning to happen a bit in the last year or so in Seattle. I do imagine it will take at least a year if not longer for me to develop a handful of friendships here in the Burgh, regardless. Also, I don't see this as a bad thing, because having that kind of free time might also push me into pursuing things I've put off for a very long time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

enough with the choices already

If you’ve been following the story…. Well then you know the conundrums about decisions... We had to make a choice about housing… and today I’ve had to make a decision about the job situation.

I am sort of over making decisions… it's exhausting and somewhat wreaks havoc on your self confidence.

I’ve been unemployed for weeks. It’s been frustrating and difficult (REALLY DIFFICULT)… yesterday I got the call from the HR rep at the University of Pittsburgh that there was a temp position open and I was the first person she thought of… of course I jumped at the chance, and despite some absurd traffic and parking conditions showed up on time today.

While I was there, I got a call from a place I had interviewed with earlier in the week for a permanent position with benefits, but it’s a further commute, and it would certainly just be a job, not something I can see myself investing in… and they offered me the job. I will refrain from swearing… as I’ve done before, because I know my relatives read this…anyhow… there were several signs after I left the my first day pointing me in the direction of staying where I am. Granted it’s only temp…but I know in my heart I can find my way in permanently…so I suppose I will stay put on the far end of the top floor in the donut and see where it leads me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

maybe it was penance…

So sure the house we passed up was clean, but that was about all it had going for it vs. the house we chose which had everything, but being clean; and not just to my standards but honestly to any civilized human being standards. Even the plumber who had to be called in the first week had said when he had been to the house before he thought the people who inhabited the place "lived like animals". UGH, maybe I didn't need to know that much.

Supposedly each tenant needs to have the carpets cleaned upon move out, but after vacuuming up two bags full of dirt; I called the landlady to arrange for a house call by Rug Doctor© free of charge (to us anyway), which she did; even they were kinda grossed out. The beautiful subway tiling in one of the bathrooms was dingy and grey until me and my friends: bleach and scrub brush came in. And I will only say about the kitchen that I spent approx. three hours on the floor alone. Eee gads. Not to mention when I went to wipe some primer off the celing in the dining room I realized I would be spending some time Michelangelo style with a rag and some Simple Green© up there. But in the end it has still been worth it, and I am grateful that I had the time to clean and make the place shine a little brighter. Sure, it’s an older home, and will never be sparkly like some slapped together new construction, but it is solid, it has character and it suits us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

why does everything have to be so difficult?

We met with the landlady at the house with the previously mentioned For Rent sign, and while we liked it and thought "sure we can make this home" it was a little more then we wanted to pay, and when I asked if it was negotiable she lowered the price by $25.00, which was still out of our price range. But after much consternation and admittedly some arguing we filled out the application and dropped it off. Didn’t hear anything for a few days, so… we kept looking and lo and behold Michael came across a possibility on Craigslist.

So we went, we looked, we said we would take it… I think out of desperation, it was in our price range, it was clean, and it was ours if we wanted it. So we signed the lease, we filled out the check, we got the key and we waited. It wasn’t available for three weeks, which I don’t know what I was thinking considering I felt like I was dying inside due to our living situation, but it seemed to appease our desire to know that we would have a place to live at some point. We came back all excited, ready to celebrate and I called the other potential landlady and informed her; reluctantly she thanked me for my interest and I thought that was the end. I believe I even updated my status on Facebook to reflect this (which would later confuse many of my friends when I was talking about moving in, and unpacking before August 1st ). And then…

She called back… “Why did we rent the other place instead?” I told her mostly because of the amount of rent, and they were willing to sign a lease that day and she asked, “What if I match that? and you can move in this weekend?"... umm….internal dialogue: Okay, but when I asked if the rent was negotiable and you only lowered it $25.00 why all of the sudden… and when you had all that time to call us back why didn't you, and why, why, why? Why can't something just be easy for once? AAARRRGGGHHHH…. I explained that we had already signed a lease, I wasn't sure if they would let us out of it...

But (close your ears if you are opposed to foul language) F*@%ing Hell… I can move into the big house with four bedrooms, two ½ baths, and a fully fenced in back yard in the next week… for the same amount of rent,

or I can wait for three weeks to move into a two bedroom, 1 bath, back yard with no fence… I can sleep in my own bed, my dog can roam free without fear of being eaten, my teenage daughter can have her own bathroom, there is room for us to be without being all in the same room breathing down each other’s necks… and it can all happen like tomorrow… if only...

Let the negotiations (otherwise begging and pleading) began, with our barely day old landlords. Did I feel like an asshole? Sure, did I care, not really, because I knew if we continued to stay where we were for the next three weeks, I was most likely getting a divorce or killing someone, possibly myself… literally life depended on getting out of that lease and getting into the one down the street. It took some serious negotiating, even my MIL went into solution mode, but we finally wore them down … I think by the end they weren’t much interested in having us as tenants anyways.

Finally we could begin to really settle into this transition, and we could start at home....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

just passing through...

I will admit to having spent a great deal of time being transient in this life. I've slept on many a couch, floor, futon; inside sleeping bags; at airports, railroad stations, one or maybe two bus stations and occasionally a hotel room... much of that was done when I was young, carefree, but most importantly single. I’ve even made two major moves as an adult with a small child, both times though back to places I’d previously resided, hence I had a network of people (that I knew), there was familiarity and a level of comfort with the “lay of the land”.

That was not the case when I departed the Pacific NW and headed east; despite having visited Pittsburgh in May and been to the “area” for long weekends, I had no idea what it would be like. Not to mention, that I am a person who revolves in patterns… as many of us are when it comes to where you shop, what day or in what order you run errands, the way you drive to this place or that, especially if you have lived in the same place for a long period of time. There was a time after the beetle wreck, certain routes were critical to my sense of well being; some roads were off limits, others I could zip along gaily. Eventually you learn traffic patters, you even occasionally see the same car: there is a sense of control… and as those of you who know me know: I like being in control.

So when I arrived here and was staying with near strangers in a strange land, knowing not even where exactly in the city we really were, compared to the places I had seen in May or been during visits past, I will admit to letting each and everything push me into a corner. In some ways… not knowing what path to take, meant I didn’t take any path at all. In some respects I felt like I shouldn’t leave our ever so temporary home, because I didn’t want to leave Poppy in a little room all day, but we couldn’t take her and leave her in the car either. Occasionally Michael would drag me, begrudgingly, out. A few times we drove around aimlessly looking for rentals, Craigslist isn’t always the best method of finding something you need/want around here, and I think they still use the Penny Saver religiously.

It was difficult, and I begun to let fear rule me. I gave in, at last, to the sadness and grief I felt over leaving my friends, even my life and not just where I lived and worked, but the patterns, the easily met expectations. I felt that by making this decision we had ruined our lives irreparably. This, of course, did not come across well to those we were staying with. They didn't know me from jack, and I suppose at the moment I didn't want them to know me, and I didn't want to have to get to know them. As Ani Difranco sings, "I want my old friends. I want my old face. I want my old mind. Fuck this time and place."

Of course navigating their lives, including their children and animal’s lives did not help me stand up any straighter, or find my way out… in fact I felt like I had two left feet and was tripping over everyone and everything. I was NOT in control. I needed space: a room that wasn’t covered in someone else’s photos, and the trinkets of their life; a place for my puppy dog to play with her toys and laze around that didn’t smell like a gigantic dog that wanted to eat her; most importantly somewhere I could bring my daughter home to, a place we could all be together again as a family…

One day when I was willing to step outside the door into the unknown… I came across a For Rent sign, only a stone’s throw away from the corner I had gathered myself up in. But alas it wasn't that easy and there would be hurdles to jump, and choppy waters to cross before I could call the place ours.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Uncertainty, discomfort, and discombobulation and the corner they were lurking around

Last I left you; we had arrived (barely) at my MIL’s, which thankfully offered some measure of comfort and solid ground. Crazy us though: we decided to drive into the city with Nick, my brother in law, and drop off the auto-transport-trailer and drive around and look for rentals. Get a move on so to speak, be motivated and OVERLY ambitious.

I should have known the day would not go as planned, when we arrived to return the trailer, the Customer Serviceman asked me who had hooked up the trailer to the car we were using to tow it. I said my husband and his brother and he informed us that any U-Haul agent who hooked up a Ford Explorer (of a certain year) to an auto transport would be fired on the spot for liability reasons. Great, good to hear; I’d managed to forget about all those Fords flipping over a few years back. Ah well… we dodged that bullet.

We then went to meet Chuck. Chuck was a man we had been in contact with prior to leaving Seattle about rentals. We had called him while still living in Seattle and neither of us was really sure what we should expect. He was a bit strange over the telephone. So when I had to call him again to let him know we were on our way… he proceeded to ask me a million questions, while being evasive himself. Eventually he provided us with an address, and we met him at his office, which was in a teeny tiny little township. After introductions and waiting for him to meet a contractor we finally arrived at a teeny tiny little duplex that was smaller then our Seattle place, dark, dirty, and honestly dreadful. During the viewing of the apartment Chuck proceeds to wink his little eye out at me while telling me where I do and do not want to live over and over. Of course this left me a bit trepidatious about the rental situation in P*burgh, especially as we had somewhat been bankin’ on good ol’ Chuck. After excusing ourselves from his attention and getting a bit lost in this teeny tiny township we did not want to live in we drove off forlorn. Since we had time to kill before picking up Nick at their Uncle’s, we met up with an old friend, who lived in a decent neighborhood, of which we had been warned against.

After visiting with Michael’s friends, we agreed to take them up on their offer of a place to stay, and store a small amount of our stuff. Plans begin to take shape: We would head back to Ohio for the evening, unload a significant amount of the U-Haul into the garage attic of my In-Law’s. Drive both the U-Haul truck (remember we’ve only given up the trailer at this point), and the Subaru into town in the morning, unload it at our friend’s place and the best option for temporary shelter. So… that is indeed what we did. It was a bit hectic, but our friends were so kind to clean up and arrange their basement for our stuff, and “prepare” space in the spare room.

Did I mention they have three dogs and three cats? Along with the family of four, two adults, and two tweens? We made six + little dog…. We were hoping that because their three dogs were big, and our little dog usually likes big dogs… that they would get along… but no. That was a pipe dream. We tried, but frankly Poppy was too much like prey for their youngest biggest dog, so there was a lot of rotating the dogs, and maneuvering of pets, because Poppy thinks cats are prey, and I’m allergic. Sound like fun yet?

It wasn’t… but everything happens for a reason and I think all these things did too…