A Conundrum of Contradictions

The musings of one born in the wrong decade

>Home Dilemmas February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 8:11 pm

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So we’re here and we have our shoebox (aka Home), now the question is how long do we keep it? Unfortunately it’s more complicated than it sounds. Suddenly having income means scrambling to juggle and keep the things you want (the same things you were sure you’d lose to repossession), and still get the things you need right now…you know, food’s pretty important. We need to get a place, the right place in a decent neighborhood so we don’t get killed since we don’t know how the ghettos work around here, something big enough for us and possibly big enough for Terrell assuming he gets his head right and moves up here (hint hint), within our budget, and with all the required amenities, which really boils down to hot water and a washer and dryer (I currently have quarters on my shopping list). Aside from finding that dream bungalow, we have to consider when. This shoebox we have isn’t a great deal but becomes a better deal if you can pay for an entire month up front, which we’re considering doing with my first check, assuming it arrives when scheduled and is enough for the job. We’ll see come Friday. So then we’re committed to a full month in our shoebox, but we’ll save nearly $400 for the month, not to mention get money back. For some crazy reason they want to give me back the taxes I paid at the end – they say in the vicinity of $280. Why they do this I’m not sure, but I’m not arguing. (Could I just keep it in the beginning?). In theory then we’ll only be spending for gas and food and saving every other penny in preparation for that dream bungalow I mentioned and flying Honey home, which may or may not coincide. Because…once I send Honey home I need to make enough money for him to rent a U-haul and pay for gas coming back. It cost $200 in gas one way for the Rover, so I’ll need more than that for a gas-guzzling U-haul truck that probably last saw maintenance in a former life. Also, if Terrell doesn’t move then Darryl will be driving and at some point I’ll have to fly him home. Terrell, this is where you realize it’ll cost me more money if you don’t move, so you should start packing. There is some good news…Honey will probably be in Vegas for at least a week. He’s doing a tile job for one of my oldest friends – he agreed to it before we dashed off to be hippies – and needs to pack up our room, his garage (dear Lord), and our storage unit located all the way across town. If we don’t have enough money for an apartment and the flight, then we camp in our new place on our trusty airbed and live out of boxes – I packed all the clothes and not a single hanger – until we do have the money. Which brings me back to the return trip. (Terrell)

In better news (a step up from good news), I’m working 17 hours of overtime per week. Ok, from a money perspective it’s better news. I don’t know what they take for taxes here since I’ve never contended with state tax, but the numbers I’ve been calculating are making me drool. The hope is that all this will fall together as easily as the interview-you’re hired-we’re moving scenario. I’m guessing it’ll be a month in extended stay, rent the apartment, live in it with the bare essentials for a week, fly Honey home, work another week, and he’ll begin the drive back, hopefully with the appropriate co-pilot. (Terrell) I just hope the boys don’t take too long on the return trip: A) Hotel costs; B) my poor cats will be in carriers the whole time, and if you’ve ever seen Bubba …think sardines in a can.

So we wait till Friday and see where we end up. No matter where we are – that’s Home.

 

>Happy Stuff February 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 5:13 pm

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I talked to my car insurance agent back home this morning. She was shocked we’d packed up and moved to Oregon, pretty much like everyone else. Good news though: Oregon has cheaper insurance rates – probably by half.

I like half. In fact, I love half. On top of that it costs only $100 to register any car, regardless of value, for two years. I could have a welded together Nissan/Ford or a Rolls Royce – $100. I like it here more everyday.

I’ve also located a local yarn shop so I can get better equipped for knitting, The Yarn Garden. There’s a kit with interlocking needle pieces that’ll make 10 different needle sizes plus corded ones for knitting in the round. I don’t think I ever went to an actual yarn shop in Vegas – Joann Fabrics and Wal-Mart don’t count – so all I’ve ever worked with is basic acrylic in limited colors. So as corny as it sounds to you non-knitters, this is exciting stuff. Alpaca is on the same level as chocolate as far as I’m concerned and a scarf made from it sounds simply divine, because here, every day is a scarf day. Oh yeah, and I’m dreaming about knitting projects. I saw a sample piece of a Mohawk hat yesterday online – I want the pattern for that so stay tuned for punk rock pictures at some point in the future – and a scarf I dreamed up using a knitted tube of insanely long proportions with the ends cinched closed and decorated with …I don’t know what. I woke up at that point. Anyway, knitting is better than therapy for me, and if you’re like me – someone who can’t turn their blasted brain OFF no matter how hard you try – I highly recommend it. A nice level of clarity and calm surfaces once all the jabbering is out of the way. I’m even thinking of joining a knitting club here – I’m not really the club type as far as I know, but it would be nice to have people to ask questions and who feel the same way I do about knitting, which would make me less freakish. Good stuff. Besides, once I get the hang of more difficult stuff, Christmas will be a snap.

Also, having been inspired by the Queen of Cake (a new blog I’m deliciously following) I’ve decided to share my Bad Ass Brownie recipe with the world. It’s stupid-simple and yummy beyond comparison. My honey, who doesn’t really like chocolate, eats them 5 at a time and gets rather panicky when I attempt to share some with the office or neighbors. He tells me to make them their own batch, this one is his. Without further ado:

Bad Ass Brownies

Preheat oven to 350°F and hit edges and bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick spray.
Ingredients:
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 bag semi-sweet choco chips
Enough milk to follow pudding box directions

Mix milk and pudding. Add cake mix and combine (beware it gets pretty thick about now). Stir in choco chips with wooden spoon (yes, the whole bag). Pour (or scrape) into baking pan, smooth out. Place on middle rack and bake for 30 minutes. If your oven doesn’t have issues holding temp, 30 mins is all you need. The toothpick-in-center method isn’t effective because inevitably you hit a melted chip, but trust me they’re done. Let cool in pan. They’ll sink a little in the middle. Cut to desired size and try to share. Cold milk recommended.

I have used Ghiradelli chips while staying with someone else – I prefer the regular semi-sweets though. There’s a happy balance there and when you mess with it…it sorta becomes overkill if there is such a thing. This is my easy last minute potluck dish, house-warming for new neighbors and friends, and absolute necessity on girl’s night. Vanilla ice cream optional.

 

>Lazy Sunday February 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 6:44 pm

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Originally I was going to go with an anti-American rant because I watched Michael Moore’s Sicko documentary and want to move expeditiously to any continent besides this one, but figured a happy post about our lovely but short weekend would be better.

I got to sleep in today until 9:30am. Honey made me breakfast – scrambled eggs with biscuits and gravy (substitute English muffins for biscuits) – and I lounged in my pajamas until noon before suiting up to get some stuff out of our boat, still stored with our gracious hosts, the Wellmans. It was supposed to rain today and it did, but not until I had arrived and taken the tarp off the boat. Needless to say I didn’t get what I had planned. A couple of guys were fishing in Scott’s pond and dragged a monster rainbow trout out just in time for us to see. Honey dashed back to the boat and pulled out the tackle box, strategically located at the back, and proceeded to fish in the pouring rain for nearly four hours. He caught and released 11, 6 of which were beasts of unnatural proportions – we’re talking 25” long, 9” around.

I, however, am not that hardcore. I stayed inside with Scott, watching the Nascar race, and unintentionally tracking mud on their carpet. I checked on Honey every now and then, you know to make sure he hadn’t fallen in the lake and drowned, and as usual within 5-10 seconds of every cast he had another one. I got two words for you anglers: Little Jake. Check them out. Take a look at what some locals caught in the Williamette River on Father’s Day last year. That’s an 8 foot long stergeon fish.

Tomorrow I have to pull it together and go back to work, probably wearing a shirt out of the dirty clothes. Laundry got done once and one load – which was all I could afford – wasn’t enough. So we fake it till Tuesday. I wear a hoodie so often I don’t think anyone will notice. We’ll see; I still have to dig to the bottom of the suitcase. I didn’t get my other boxes of clothes because of the rain and we’d have to untie the entire boat in said rain. You get the idea.

 

>The Office – Like No Other

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 9:50 am

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I’ve survived my first week, one that didn’t feel as long as it actually was. It was Thursday before I realized we were half way home. The office here is like nowhere I’ve ever worked. The place is constructed of after-thought additions and yes you do need a map to find your way – there’s one in the drafting room, assuming you know how to get there. There’s lots of wood paneling, the front office is coated in it and sports auburn carpet from 1975. I’ve seen at least 3 carpet colors here, all are equally retro, worn, and desperately need multiple shampoos or to be replaced. The seams have separated as far as two inches and are badly frayed. A lot of the chairs are mismatched and held together with tape or commercial shrink wrap. I have the largest computer monitor I’ve seen since my dad got into pc’s when I was 10 – actually this one is bigger than those. Every drawer in the building squeaks and the kitchen closest to my department is battling an ant problem. Oh yeah, and the nice restroom by the front office has a metal box on the floor called a Victor Tin Cat.

My department consists of 4 other drafters and the boss. “Rob Dog” programs the CNC machine and is the oldest, Heidi is the only other girl (I loaned her my Fit for Life book the first day), Randall is the broodingly quiet resident genius – I got his old computer with all the toys, and Brandon is the newbie from California who started a week before me. Nat, the boss, listens to various Zen-like music from a site called Pandora on the web and has his office plastered with drawings and pictures of his two daughters. It’s also the quietest office I’ve ever been in. Nobody really talks. At all. There’s little to no audible music, just clicking (computer) mice and keys. Not everyone gets up during break, they just switch to the internet – they trust us with internet here. I generally eat alone in the break room right outside our office (one room, Nat’s office, the printer room, and a scanner room – the fluorescent light of which can be seem from my cube through my steel-mesh, safety glass window).

Sounds kinda scary, doesn’t it? To me, it came across as well-used shabbiness and no time or need to update for appearances. Pretentiousness couldn’t get a foot in the door here on a good day. I’m wearing jeans and a white T-shirt under my hoodie with hiking boots – completely acceptable dress here. Due to my laundry situation and only having two small suitcases of clothes at present, I had to wear the shirt that reads “genius by birth, slacker by choice” to the office yesterday and nobody said a word. The only way to get more relaxed around here would be to wear pajamas. There’s a rumor that some guy used to work with no shirt on – hence we got the attempt at a dress code that we have now. In the first week, different people have brought in banana bread, two pies from a local restaurant, and a box of donuts to share with co-workers. Several people outside my little department know my name already and greet me on sight. I’ve even run into the company foreman from the Encore job site.

All in all, I think it’s going to work out just fine. They pay me for overtime, there’s actually room in the frig for my salad, no pit vipers in the kitchen judging my clothes, shoes, or the size of my rock, and no first-day haters… it’s all good. Everyone keeps saying I brought the sunshine with me and seem happy about it. It’s rained twice since we landed, both times during the night.

 

>First Week February 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 4:15 pm

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It’s Saturday. I can’t remember the last time I worked a Saturday, but lemme tell you, it took all I had to get out of bed this morning. It’s a short shift when you compare eight to ten, but my brain and I have a sort of long standing deal that neither of us works on weekends. Hopefully I can get through today without embarrassing myself.

We moved into ESA on Wednesday. I’d have to say it’s the nicest little shoebox I’ve ever lived in. The kitchen area has Pergo floors; the shower has a higher head than at my house (and that’s saying something) plus lots of hot water. The king bed only squeaks on my side. There are windows that open and a closet, not to mention we’re on the top floor. It may be overpriced but it’s worth it. We’ve been roomies for over a year now – I think we needed a little space. We smile at each other a giggle when calling it ‘home’.

Honey has complained everyday that he misses his office chair and I should have brought all the pillows. He’s rearranged the furniture twice now – the two tables and three chairs, trying to find a reasonable comfort level so he can vanish into the vortex (as Sazzy called it) of his website. He’s already sent out a casting call for models in Portland – you’d be surprised how many of them will do nudes here.

We’re broke to the point of it being funny after paying for our room and groceries, but we went to see Coraline in 3D last night, the last night you could I think. It was AWESOME!! I’m going shopping on DealOz for all books by Neil Gaiman as soon as I get paid, which unfortunately isn’t for another week. But for the first three months I get paid every week, so that works out. The company has this policy that all new employees be temps for the first 3 months, has something to do with the quick turn-around of a lot of shop guys. Anyway, I don’t get direct deposit, but I do get a check handed to me every Friday afternoon. And since my bank isn’t up here and Wal-Mart (of all places) has started cashing payroll checks for $3 a piece, it all works out. Happy Friday! (Yeah, I know it’s Saturday).

 

>We’re here. Now what? February 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 4:36 pm

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Ok, so now we’re here. I’m working lots of hours; they’ve bumped it up to 8 on Saturdays. And we need a place to stay. The ads on craigslist have produced an array of responses that runs the gamut from making me laugh to leaving me speechless. The people here in Oregon are a whole other breed. Besides being very specific about what you eat (we’re vegan and you must be too) they get into your orientation (must be queer or queer-friendly) and your personal hygiene (must not wear synthetic cologne). One response to our ad was from a married couple (CPA and Asia director of a humanitarian group) who purchased an 8-bedroom house specifically to have a community feeling and came across as being very generous by asking for 3 months rent up front (deposits and what not). I had two thoughts on this: first, if I had $1500 in my pocket I’d just go get my own pad and be done with it, second, they should work on their social lives – like going out to meet people. Another one sounded more promising: 4-5 twenty-something’s, one guy was in a reggae band, another was a cook – Honey talked to them for maybe 20 minutes, during which time they asked how we felt about smoking pot. Honey decided that the combination of them needing money and the guy asking about his camera (we were expecting “oh yeah, I have a …”; what we got was “oh ok. [pause] Cool”) that we’d be really pissed if anything got stolen and maybe it just wasn’t worth saving the money if it was going to cost us big time later. We’ve been back and forth on this at least 6 times. We decide we’re going to the over-priced Extended Stay America (ESA) and then another response comes through and we consider it. The last one (we might go if he says yes) came from a guy who owns his own business and doesn’t necessarily need to constantly interact and communicate for us to stay there. Right now, he’s thinking about it and taking his sweet time. Tonight after work I’m driving ‘home’ to get Honey and our overnight bags, then driving back to town to get our room at ESA (Wednesday). It’ll cost too much, but it’ll be our space, with a locking door, private bath, and kitchenette. This was the original plan when we left OR to come home and get our stuff – then Honey found out how much it costs a month and said give him a few days to come up with something else, which is how we came to posting ads on the web. Anyway, we can’t keep roosting where we are and deliberating. We’re house guests that were supposed to be gone by yesterday (Tuesday).

The ESA is closer to work – probably 10 minutes away instead of 30 – it has a full size frig so I can get back to my fruit and salad bingeing. Our host’s wife loves to cook with butter and bacon and other heavy things that make me sleepy and stick to my butt – a week with them and I need to lighten up. I’ve resolutely ignored the scale set prominently in their bathroom (Sazzy will be proud of me). I only get 30 minutes for lunch, so it’s either bring your own or chance it on the food wagon that comes at 9am and 11am.

Notes on occurances since typing this post: the guy who sounded so promising and sent us two emails, upon our response of interest said he wasn’t sure he wanted roommate at all. Twerp. I’ve managed not to get lost on the way to work so far this week, which doesn’t officially end until Saturday. This may be the only time I get on the internet – throwing off the emperor’s new groove (of revamping his website) is not encouraged. 🙂
 

>Welcome to Portland!! February 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 5:56 pm

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Well, Gresham actually, slightly southeast of Portland, but close enough. We got in Sunday night after nearly 12 hours in the car, 8 hours the day before that. On the road to Reno, which is normally a blast doing 80+ mph, we got stuck. Well, a semi truck got stuck…trying to do a U-turn in the middle of the interstate. The driver, who I’m assuming was male, got the trailer effectively blocking both lanes with his tires in the sand, and could go no further. We waited over an hour, parked on the highway, until a tow truck of sufficient size could be summoned to maneuver him out. We made it into Reno around 9:30pm and met an old college buddy for a cup of coffee (tea in my case). Caught some zzz’s before attempting to continue on. I say ‘attempting’ because first, we discovered the headlights weren’t working anymore. Second, once we checked all the fuses and decided we’d just have to run on fog lights and high beams, we got sorta lost on the way back to the freeway. Once we got that all sorted, we stopped at the California border checkpoint. Usually they just ask if you’re coming from Reno, which is dumb cuz the highway that brought you only goes to Reno, and let you through. At 3:30am and when you’re towing a boat, however, they are mighty interested in what you’re hauling, doing, where you’re going, and where & when the boat was in the water last. I think I may have slightly offended the guard also – I wasn’t fully awake yet and he asked where I was coming from, to which I answered thinking in most recent terms, Reno. He gave me this look that said I must think he’s stupid and he doesn’t appreciate it before telling me that everyone comes from Reno. He checks my boat straps and wants to know which waters I’ve been in and how long ago. Cave Lake in September, but also Lake Mead and Kirch. This is when he asks if we live in Reno and of course we don’t. After Honey tells him the boat’s been washed, he abruptly lets us through. I guess California takes quagga mussels very seriously.

We didn’t make it very far. I was exhausted and he was too tired to keep me awake. We found a big bumped out shoulder and went back to sleep, sharing a blanket. Honey told me later I was out almost instantly. Good thing we stopped, I guess. 7:30am we’re back at it. There were some snow-covered roads, some light dry snow (I like that kind cuz it doesn’t stick), and eventually a lot of fog. Driving through a wet pillow or a very fat cloud kind of fog, where visibility shrinks to 30 feet in front of your car. It felt a lot like driving into oblivion; on-coming headlights told you you weren’t there yet. The boat, bless its aluminum bottom, did awesome – no sliding, pushing, or other shenanigans. The only scary part of the whole trip was the last hour into Corbett. In case you didn’t know, I have relatively poor night vision. Combine that with failing light of dusk, short throw fog lights, and on-coming traffic – I was driving basically blind. I did manage to get us there in one piece, without scraping anything or anyone, for which I was profoundly grateful. I let our host, Scott, park the boat where it’ll be stored until further notice, down a very long dark driveway with a ledge on one side. I had a shower and was in bed within two hours.

I’ve logged nearly 3000 miles in 9 days. I went to work promptly at 7am the next morning and I am very glad I don’t have to drive anywhere long distance for awhile. Unfortunately, now I need to do another oil change.