Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Apartment vs. House

The one big thing that happened in the last three months is I got skin cancer, and we bought a house. I know that sounds like two big things, but they happened right on top of each other, so it feels like one really big thing to me. After two surgeries, I am all recovered now and have been declared cancer-free. As for the house, here's the first of a series of entries on the experience.

January 30th, 2010 - apartment vs. house

10:14 am
At 9:30 am, I head to the dairy (aka convenience store) down the street to pick up a banana and tinned fruit salad to go in my morning yogurt. It's already over twenty degrees C, and not a speck of cloud in the bright blue sky. Rarest of all, there's hardly more than a flutter of wind this morning. I have some chewy rye bread at home that I got from the Italian bakery around the corner, with which I intend to make toast with cream cheese. If I were in the new house, I would eat my breakfast at our new outdoor table and chairs, under cover of the umbrella. I would soak in this brilliant summer weather, out in the open air. Maybe I would bring a book.

Through the gate, up the stairs, around the corner, down a dark hallway, and through a door is my apartment. As I walk, I'm thinking about security. Despite the central city location, inside my apartment I feel safe and secure. I leave windows open, even the deck door open. Anyone who would go through the effort of scaling the wall to get to my deck would not be stopped by a locked door anyway. In the new house, I anticipate I might feel a bit... exposed at first. Outside the door, there will just be The Outside, not a series of other doors, some of them locked. I'm thinking about a story I heard, about some tribe living in a dense jungle. If one of them traveled out of that jungle, they would be very disoriented, because they wouldn't be able to focus on anything more than fifteen feet away from them. Because they'd never had to before. Even an anthropologist living with them for any length of time, would find themselves temporarily nearsighted.

Back in the apartment, it's stuffy and warm, even with the lack of sunlight. The living room windows are open, but they all face one way. I open our bedroom window, but the smell of the restaurants behind our building is too much for me. Instead I crack the guest room window, which I normally hate to do because the soot from the car park next door builds up on the window seal so quickly, and Goodness knows how much of it we end up inhaling. But we'll be out of here soon enough, so I'll chance it. In the new house, sunlight is angling in the North-facing windows in the lounge (living room) and master bedroom right now. If we threw open some windows, the worst we'd be facing is a little white noise from the freeway. Probably not much more than the hum of the city I'm hearing from our apartment windows right now.

This Friday the 5th, the new house will be ours. At 4:30pm we will be sitting in the empty house, waiting for the power to be switched on. We'll drink bubbly, and we'll eat take-away, and we'll talk about where we want to put the furniture.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving - Part II

I have been neglecting this blog. In my defense, my life got a bit hectic there for a while. The dust having more or less settled, I look around to find I haven't posted in exactly three months! I have not stopped writing in my journal, however. So I will be pulling entries from it to get things caught up. Starting with the second half of the Day After Thanksgiving story.

January 23rd, 2010
7:36 pm
Thanksgiving morning, my parent's elderly neighbor brought over the paper, as she always does. And although we are all various shades of liberal, socialist, anti-consumerist lefties, every one of us eventually found ourselves enthusiastically browsing the large stack of Black Friday sale inserts. The Tribune Herald's front page, above-the-fold story that day was about the fact that Wal Mart would be having a massive sale. Among us, Dad is clearly the most radical anti-consumerist, which is why none of us could fathom his level of interest in the subject. Turned out he was plotting to buy Mom an ipod and ipod-compatable stereo system for her birthday.

So now here we are, at the town's one and only mall, 7am on Black Friday morning. There's free egg nogg on offer at the door, and I'm actually a bit disappointed that the crowds aren't as massive as anticipated. That doesn't stop the lines from being painfully long at the electronics store, though, so I feel I've gotten a sufficient taste of my first ever Black Friday shopping experience.

On the ride home, Dad hatches a plan. How can Mom wait 'til her birthday to open these presents? We still have the flowers and decorations, the tasty left-overs, the coolers full of drinks... everything set up from the Thanksgiving dinner party the night before. Why don't we just go ahead and have her birthday party today?

We get back to the house, and stash the presents. By now Loren's up, and he'd like to go to the mall to check out the sales at the video game store. So back we go... Round Two: The crowd is picking up, and the lines at EB Games are decidedly less pleasant. By the time we get back, Dad has announced his Plan to everyone else, and discovered that A's husband also has a birthday coming up. So now it's a double birthday party, and of course A now needs to go to the mall to get her husband a birthday present.

So, Round Three: A and my mother in tow, back we go. This time the crowd has reached a level I'd call appropriate to my expectations, and we actually duck out fairly quickly in favour of shopping at Borders. When we get back, A and I establish an undisclosed secret location for present-wrapping (the kitchenette in the downstairs office) and I manage to track down a cupboard full of present-wrapping paraphernalia. I grab us sodas, snacks, and cushions to sit on, and we settle into gift-wrapping mode.

This is certainly the shortest-notice birthday party I've ever been involved in. It reminds me of a story about a friend of mine who helped throw a surprise wedding for her friend. I tell A about it - how it sounds like and appalling idea, but in context it actually made sense and was a great success. We kind of loose track of time, and forget that we haven't actually told anyone that we were going to hide out in our undisclosed secret location. Some time later, we're just finishing up wrapping and the boys come in, saying they looked for us everywhere, and had given up finding us. They'd actually come into the kithchenette to use the microwave to heat up left overs.

And that's how the party got started. Low-key, impromptu, and completely lovely. And that turkey soup Dad and I put together in the morning was the best I've ever had.

table set 3
The table all set for Thanksgiving dinner. This room is normally Mom's art studio.