Posts Tagged 'Home'

City Parking

As any city resident, past or present, can attest, one of the worst things about living in the city is figuring out what the heck to do with your car. When I lived in Montreal, I left my car parked in my parents’ garage, because I figured public transportation and the occasional Greyhound trip would ultimately be cheaper than parking tickets and impound fines. Even counting the two times I rented a car, the price was well worth not having the daily hassle.

Now I live in a much smaller city where the the Greyhound only makes a couple stops a day, and my car is a necessity, but parking remains a nightmare.

My apartment building has a small lot behind the building. The store on the first floor owns four U-haul type trailers, and a big black SUV, all of which make homes in my lot. Additionally, we lack appropriate signs designating it as a private lot, so there are often random visitors taking up our few precious spaces.

Vehicles cannot park overnight on any of the downtown streets. I have, on occasion, forgotten that I just meant to park there for a short while, and then left my car on the street over night, incurring a $10 fine. On nights when there is a lot of snow, I fully believe the town would tow cars on the street and in the way. In the past, when my driveway/parking lot has been messy or full, I’ve parked at a nearby motel. But due to the economy, they’ve shut down for the winter. Their lot is still being plowed, but it could be a tow-risk. I had thought that a government owned lot slightly farther away could be an alternative, but they charge to use the lot. I don’t know how much they charge; it is probably similar to the $10 fine, but certainly less than a tow. But if I went in after they were closed and got out at 6:30 in the morning, it is possible that I would not be noticed. Sometimes the best option is the one where you’ll have to pay the least, when the police decide that you have parked illegally.

So, last week, my parking lot was a skating rink, and two of the three short, steep driveways were like icy waterfalls – dangerous and nearly impassable, even in my AWD car. Then it snowed. A lot. Then it rained on top of the snow, creating a heavy dense mush. The plows took their sweet time getting to us, and the street plows began inadvertantly pushing more slush down the waterfalls. And I needed to get out.

I cleared off my car and headed for the middle driveway. It is the shortest and widest of the three, and typically has the best flat acceleration area at the bottom. There was a white truck parked in the acceleration zone, but I tried to make do with what was left. I got halfway. Then, with all four wheels still spinning forward, I increased speed backwards down the hill, toward the white truck.  I had no steerage, but I would have only been able to steer into a building anyway. I managed to stop inches away from the truck and seriously considered leaving a note on his windshield. Dude! What were you thinking!

Shaking, I contemplated my next move. Was I trapped? The south driveway had a huge plowbank at the top. If I survived the hill, I wouldn’t be able to pass the bank. I went for the north driveway. This one isn’t flanked by buildings, and has the gentlest grade. However, it has a curve at the bottom – no room to accelerate and no room to slide back down.

When much to my surprise, I discovered a gift from the government! There exists a chain link fence between my lot and the pay-to-use government lot, but a segment was missing. I was able to drive through, and then get out up their plowed driveway. I also got home via the same route.

The following morning (yesterday, Monday) I went out to my car, pissed to realize that no effort had been made to plow the lot or any of the driveways (the significant precipitation had stopped more than 12 hours prior, and they really should have come when it was raining when the temperature was above freezing, before everything became cement, and then was covered with a pretty, but deceiving dusting of powder). I noticed the tire tracks of three cars, all of which had attempted to get out that morning. None had been successful; all had returned to their spaces. I brushed off the powder and drove off through my open fence and was one of the first people to arrive for work!

Someday, when I own a house, I want a short, flat driveway, not on a major road, and a garage. Ok?

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a poorly written ramble

There was a party after work on Friday to celebrate the completion of a beautiful, yet lengthy project. While waiting for it to start, I was chatting with Red-Headed Friend and New Girl, who are both among the small group of sub-thirty-year-olds who work there. They have a different job title than I, which I consider superior to mine, although I’ve been assured that is not true, and it shouldn’t matter because I don’t want their job any more than I want mine!

Anyway, they were discussing things I have trouble relating to. They are both seriously thinking of buying houses in the woods out of town. I sometimes wish that I had a house, but I’m not settled enough in my head to settle in a house. And I definitely wouldn’t want to live outside of downtown hickville! I need some kind of human interaction, and I like being able to walk places. These coworkers have moved around a bit, and always returned to this area, so they are finally confident that this is the place they want to be. Having never really lived in many other places, I’m still pretty confident that this is not the place I want to be, but my coworkers looked at me like I had three heads and said that I don’t appreciate the beauty of this place, how nowhere else is like this. Ok, but maybe there are other beautiful places too, and frankly, a little not like this this might be good for me.

They also went on and on about how we work for such a wonderful company, but that the old-timers whine so much because they’ve lost touch with the real world. It doesn’t matter how great the company is if the job isn’t what I want to do. Oh, and my job really does suck compared to theirs, but they’ve lost touch if they think I have it easy, huffing chemicals and working through tendinitis. Good for them that they’ve figured out their calling in life; I wish I could do the same.

I get short-lived inspirations of what I might want to do, but generally I find out what it takes to get there and have to abandon that thought. Lately, I’ve been thinking about working in a hospital lab, performing chemistry experiments on people’s body fluids. No, it’s not creepy! I don’t want to suck their blood, and it is an actual job. My local hospital even has current openings, but they require a specific certification. I was thinking that with my math/science background and all the lab courses that I have taken I might need some kind of 2-week course in hospital safety practices. No. I’d need a whole ‘nother degree, associates for the lower level position, bachelors for the higher, to qualify to take the certification exam. Really? Are you kidding me? I wonder how many of the courses I’ve already taken could be applied toward that degree. But still!! I really really really don’t want to go back to school. It just wasn’t my thing. I don’t learn like that, with a disinterested person droning on and on at the students. I learn by doing. You know what they say, ‘Life is not a spectator sport’. So I guess I’ll cross this job off the list.

Bein’ Green

“But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder,
I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.”

Kermit the Frog (It’s not Easy Bein’ Green, lyrics by Joe Rapposo)

Happy Earth Day! What are you doing to ‘save the planet’? Did you know that this year has been named The Year of the Frog by zoologists? Frogs are a barometer of our environment, as they are very sensitive to climate and habitat changes. If drastic measures aren’t taken to preserve their niches, they will follow the dodo and the dinosaurs.

I planted a garden the other day! Um, well, perhaps ‘garden’ is too generous a term. Living in an apartment building, I have zero outdoor space. Instead, I took a windowbox and set it up just inside the windowsill in my kitchen. I’m hoping to grow some herbs, but my garden still looks like a box of dirt. Yes, I am aware that it takes a while for seeds to sprout, but that doesn’t stop me from checking a couple times a day! To start with, I’ve planted flat-leaf parsley, basil, thyme, dill, and rosemary. I wonder if there is enough space in the box to grow some lettuce; I don’t need much.

I suppose I should also note that I have a black thumb. I enjoy having greenery in my apartment, but in general, plants don’t seem to enjoy me. I do have a few plants in my apartment. A friend gave a cactus, as they are low maintenance plants. I still have that original pot, but I believe this is the third cactus (this one’s an aloe) living in it. My other cactus has flowers and has had three bright pink flowers for as long as I’ve had it (a year maybe). Is this normal? Of my other plants, I have some ivy that took over the big pot it lives in, killing off it’s neighbor, and now it is trying to spread out over the whole room. And I have a variegated leafy thing that must simply have a very strong will to live.

Many of my coworkers are planning their summer gardens, which are, in some cases, over 1000 square feet! That seems like a lot of work to this lazy couch potato. But I guess the results are pretty good, and some of the veggies (like beans and peas) are freezable. Many of these same coworkers have animals as well. Ducks and chickens for eggs are the most common, although pigs are becoming popular, and I know of at least one person who plans to raise chickens for meat this summer. Maybe this is all just because I live in hickville, or maybe it is all part of the rising cost of energy and food and the attempt to consume more locally produced goods. You can’t get much more organic, either. My coworkers also spend a considerable amount of time discussing solar panels and wind turbines. This state also has one of the highest percentages of hydroelectric energy, due to our many rivers and streams. Huh. Who’d of ever thought that this state would have forward-thinking trend setters?

Home Sweet Home

“I don’t regret this life I chose for me.
But these places and these faces are getting old,
So I’m going home.
Well, I’m going home,

~Chris Daughtry (Home)

Today is my anniversary, the first anniversary of my life in this apartment. In all the rest of my prior life I had never spent any 12 consecutive months at one address. So, welcome home, to me.

Growing up, my family split life between two houses in different states. My brother and I went to school and my parents worked in one state, and we visited the other every single weekend, school vacation, and summer. As a side note, this really stunted my social development and affects how I (don’t?) connect with people today. Jumping around led to a discontinuity in my relationships with others. I vow not to do this to my children. My Dad is, and his dad was, a wanderer. Perhaps it is a rebellion against my family, and I bucked this for a long time, but I am not a wanderer. I’m a content-with-home&hearth kind of person.

In university, I split my life between two different countries, school in Canada, work/summer in the US. In each of these two situations, yes, I did return to the same address year after year, but I was never there for 12 months in a row.  Since leaving university, I’ve had a couple leases that just didn’t work out.

About a year ago, I mentioned this phenomenon as a reason why I didn’t want to move, again (I was constructively evicted by a landlord who turned out to be a crook and and asshole…I later sued and won, but never collected…the legal system let me down, but that story’s a whole post in itself). My boyfriend asked of all the places I’ve lived, which one felt like ‘home’? Initially, I didn’t have an answer. I’ve long said that “home is where your favorite pillow lies”, but I never stopped to compare my various addresses. Eventually, I decided that my tiny, dark studio apartment in Montreal was the most like ‘home’. I spent three winters in that cave; it contained all my worldly possessions (I didn’t keep a car in the city), and it’s where I took significant steps toward becoming an adult. I learned to cook in that apartment. The first winter I lost 15 pounds because I was so bad at cooking, but I worked it out; I like to cook, now. I had to take on the responsibility of keeping the whole place clean. All right! I confess, I still don’t do my dishes every day. Actually, that apartment had few redeeming qualities, but it was all mine.

The place I live now is huge by comparison. It is a 1 bedroom (separate living/dining room, so not a studio) with hardwood floors, high ceilings, and westward facing windows that let in tons of afternoon sunlight. Boyfriend bought me some artwork for Christmas (Ansel Adams, I love b&w photography) to go with all my mismatched random furniture and strange tall empty walls. It overlooks the main northbound street in my town, and it does get a little noisy in the summer when the motorcycles spend all night drag racing down the street. It’s an old building with old plumbing fixtures and radiators for heat. There is even an elevator shaft, but no elevator. When the building was constructed, they planned to put in an elevator but didn’t have the money, so the shaft was built anyway so one could be installed later. When later arrived, they couldn’t purchase a system that would fit in the dimensions of the shaft! But the best thing of all? I don’t pay for heat! This was the first winter in three that I was actually warm.

I’ve waited a long time for this moment. But I still don’t feel like I’m quite home yet. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the place (town, state, coast) where I belong. I wonder if I’ll ever find that home, or if I really am just the next generation of a wanderer family.