Adios, Mendota

Just a quick update.

The apartment is fully packed (well, 90%) in boxes and bags. Some will go into my car; most of it, though, into storage.

I have about half of my paper down, which I will finish tonight come hell or high water so I can print a copy, then pack up the printer.

I still need to eat the dinner I just cooked, put laundry in the dryer, and take books to the library.

Tonight will be my final night in 620 N. Carroll St., Apartment 409, ever.

Tomorrow morning I will return my Internet box (too stressed to think of what it’s called), get some money from the ATM, retrieve my water bottle from the gym and possibly take a shower if I feel so inclined, pick up some contact solution at Walgreens, shove some stuff in the mail, and get the 1:00 PM bus to Chicago (already paid for!), or, if I play my cards right, the 11:30 AM bus.

I will have no fixed address for the next month.

Adios, Mendota…hola, being a hobo.


I Own So Much Crap

The past few days have been dominated by a combination of worrying about the conference and packing up my apartment. And somewhere in there, trying not to think about those things.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I realized today that I just own so much crap. That’s really what it boils down to.

I have nine boxes of books packed, most of which I have not read. That’s legit stuff, along with my clothes and toiletries.

But the rest? Mostly crap.

I have papers with notes scribbled on them, papers without notes scribbled on them, and envelopes I’m keeping for the return address. I have magazine and journals that are probably accessible online, and that I rarely, if ever, look in. I should do that. I have half-empty boxes of incense sticks and matches. I have half-empty containers of paper plates and cups. I have a broken lamp and a vacuum cleaner that hasn’t been used in over a year since I haven’t had carpeting. I have stuffed animals and pillows.

And so, so many Post-It notes. Different shapes, different sizes, different colors…I always seem to have them.

The rest? Probably just garbage.

Oh, moving.


Saluting The Spreadsheet

I’m really stressed these days, with the work and the moving that I have to do, plus being alone all the time. My apartment is a wreck, even more so in the past twenty four hours with all the laundry and packing I’ve done. Moving sucks, and there are few joys in the process.

One of those is the spreadsheet.

I am eternally grateful for Microsoft Excel’s existence. Sure, it’s built for all sorts of math-type things, but it’s perfect for making lists; even better than Microsoft Word in some ways. Thanks to Excel, I have spreadsheets of all my boxes and what’s in them. Especially helpful with my massive collection/accumulation of books. Seven boxes of books made it up to Madison from Houston; I think I probably have about nine now.

In real life, it helps me organize:

  • The books I want to order from catalogs.
  • The book I want to read from the library.
  • My top scoring Words with Friends words.
  • My dictionary-diary of words that I’ve learned since the 10th grade
  • All my gradebooks.

So, thank you, spreadsheet, for existing and making my life easier.


Against the Wind

New month, new apartment, new school, new Hebrew year…basically, lots of new stuff. Even though September is in the middle of the year, it gets a surprising amount of street cred for being a middling month. Most schools, including mine, start in September. Rosh Hashanah usually happens sometime in September, beginning the Jewish year. Overall, it’s like a post new year New Years, or maybe a per new year New Years.

Although things are starting to even out, I still feel like I’m walking against a stiff wind. Every time I want to do something, something else needs to be done before it. And then when I do it, two other things come up to do.

After two weeks of living in what basically a cardboard box in the sky, the actual cardboard boxes showed up this morning, all fourteen, plus the furniture. Only casualties were a lamp and my television, which wasn’t properly packed in Texas. My empty apartment was suddenly full, with the previously clean and spartan spare room transformed into a giant walk in closet.

I feel like I haven’t done anything constructive in the past two weeks here. So far I’ve gotten my school ID card, bus pass, health insurance, employment forms, wireless router, parking pass out of the way. One more day, then class. I still need to assess my books and see what I need to buy, and also stock up on food and other necessities because who knows when I’ll have the time or desire to shop once school starts. Then figure out where to put my books and everything, and get back on an eating/sleeping/exercise routine.

The wind is blowing against me but in times like this, I just have to remember that not only is my sole option to face it head on, but that I have a small breeze at my back.



Ah, the joys of moving. A shiny, clean apartment that you get to mess up with boxes and bags of stuff, only to clean it up again. In order to set yourself a new schedule, you have to mess up your schedule and your routine, running out to replace things and spending excess money on things just because you need them now. The worst part of all that is you probably had those items before the move, and then they got tossed in a box that you can’t locate or, in fact, tossed in the trash.

I’ve been here in Madison for just over a week. The day I made my last post, we were planning on stopping at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, until our trip came to a grinding halt somewhere between the towns of Adair and Casey, about halfway between Omaha and Des Moines. A blown tire caused a full-blown meltdown from my dad, but for some reason, I wasn’t too bothered by it – it was just a tire, something easily fixable. Also, we were able to safely pull off the highway and into a rest stop which had water, vending machines, and bathrooms. Neither of us got hurt, and we had a car full of food and clothing. That, and the fact that there were three geocaches in the immediate area. After the first hour with no tow truck, I started to get a little worried, especially with my paranoid father lamenting the fact that it was Sunday, and we might have to sleep in the car if we couldn’t get a tow. Fortunately, we got the call that they located a tow in nearby Atlantic and two hours or so after the incident, we were in the back seat of a tow truck on our way to Des Moines, where we got four new tires, even though I had just replaced the tires about two years prior. It was quite a boring hour, but once back on the road, Dad decided that we would get into Madison that night rather than spend another night on the road in Iowa. I was secretly happy, as it meant that I got to see my new apartment. But that happiness faded rather quickly when we got in at 9:45 that night and I realized I had to sleep on the hard wood floor. Ouch.

The apartment is actually a little bigger than we remembered, and it got the Mom seal-of-approval when she arrived a few days later. In terms of furniture, for the second night, I borrowed some chairs, a table, and a teeny, mildly uncomfortable mattress from some storage area downstairs. Coupled with my Target chair and the last of Mimi’s tables (I gave the rest to Najeeb, who lived two floors up from me in Houston), it’s an odd agglomeration of stuff. All my clothes are here, but I’m a few hangers short.  The bathroom is pretty much stocked, except paper goods and some shampoo/conditioner we bought here. The second bedroom is pretty much empty, though currently my clothes are drying in a pile on the floor because the dryers here kind of suck. All my stuffed animals are hanging out with some spare linens in the closet. My living room is a few piles of papers and crap, my winter coat (again, no hanger for it), and a few things lying around like pens and water bottles and my master’s diploma. Whoops. At least the massive amounts of trash and recycling left today, courtesy of me (no trash removal service here). The kitchen is probably the area that’s the most set up, with toaster oven, microwave, can opener, and general kitchen supplies. I bought new dishes yesterday at Kohl’s. All my mugs and glasses survived this move (generally, I lose at least one) and much to my mother’s relief, Mimi’s wine goblets, as well as her wooden salad bowl and tongs, and all her cutlery. The counter space, what little there is, is occupied by appliances, random stuff like cereal and room spray, and this laptop, which was previously in the corner near the router where I sat on the floor using it, not realizing that the ethernet cable was actually quite long, so now I’m in a chair in front of the dishwasher. Behind me are some cabinets with food and supplies and a disgusting little drop-leaf table that is stacked with – you guessed it – more random papers and crap. And some books, three of which I bought at a used bookstore here on State Street. The floor is currently decorated with plastic bags from Target and the stuff I bought tonight. The walls are all just about bare, except for my hamsah that Neta gave me, which I like for some odd reason.

The building itself is pretty nice, if not hot, with fans in each room not really doing the trick. The lake is gorgeous, but I could do with less music and singing from the sorority girls next door. I have cable included (but the TV is with the movers), and cable internet access, although I get my wireless router tomorrow. I’ll probably feel more at home once the furniture arrives, which I thought (or at least hoped) would be this week, until I got the call this morning that it’ll be here Sunday, meaning I have to endure another six days of camping out in a sleeping bag atop a mattress. There is a gym in the building, but the equipment’s not great and some of it was very dirty, so I think that until it gets too cold to walk outside after a shower, I’ll probably just go to the campus gym.

I just went to the Super Target in Verona, where I got about $150 worth of stuff, some which I already know I’ll be returning. I found everything on my list except for matches. Why would a Super Target, which carries literally EVERYTHING, not have a single box of matches?There’s not much storage room left in the kitchen area, although there’s a weird little closet with little shelves by the front door that I haven’t a clue what to do with, so for now it’s got a box of DVDs and my new Chefmate dish set and kitchen utensil set, still in their boxes.

In the past week, I’ve been trying hard to make this place my home, but with my furniture and 14 boxes of books and other supplies, I feel like I’m just squatting in a big cardboard box in the sky. The previous occupants left a microwave oven, which was nice, but then…no food to cook in it. So, we get some food…but there’s no dishes to put the food in. Also, no tongs or oven mitts (though I think I stuck a potholder or two in a box somewhere). It’s a continual game of dog-chases-tail, just kind of spinning in circles until I pass a certain point of progress that will make it feel like a home. Probably when my furniture decides to show up.


Houston, We Have Liftoff

Today was more difficult than I could’ve imagined. I left the apartment and city that has been my home for the last two years, and I’m not sure when I’ll be back.

I realized while I was packing just how materialistic I am. I had to get rid of some stuff, and even though I didn’t care too much for it, it was still hard. Most of my flatware and kitchen items are gone, and I gave away about three boxes of food. Also gone: cleaning supplies, and three of the four card tables that belonged to my grandmother.

I also observed the difference between packing fast and packing smart. It took us until a little after six to pack up the car and leave for good. Dad thought I took too long, but you spend a few moments not panicking or throwing stuff away. You may be able to think of solution to the problem if you take your time and put in the answer. Case in point: dad kicked a box to close it and not only hurt his foot but the box too.

Falling asleep here at our first overnight stop: Hampton Inn in Corsicana, TX.


Goodbye Hugs

This will probably be one of my very last posts from Houston. On Friday, I got the call from the movers that they’ll be here to pick up my furniture and boxes of books, so there’s no point in staying here much past Tuesday.

I’ve moved quite a few times in the past few years, but this one is especially difficult for some reason. I feel like I’ve really grown into my own here, and learned a lot about myself and about the way the world works. I was plunked here two years ago knowing absolutely no one and with no knowledge of how the city or even how the state worked. In two years, I’ve found a bit more solid the ground on which I stand, and have been following more of my own rules than the rules of others – but grounding my rules in firm reason. For once, I’ve developed a semblance of a circle of friends, cobbled together from different places and common interests, but each special to me in a different way. This task would have been impossible for me to do five years ago. I could do without the heat, the bugs, and the traffic, as mentioned in a previous post, but I’ll miss the beautiful Texas scenery all around me, and my beautiful apartment – which is, at the moment, in shambles, with boxes of books and piles of clean folded laundry everywhere.

My dad just called from the airport, so I’ll have to finish this up rather quickly.

Basically, I wanted to share my thoughts on goodbye hugs. I used to love to hug. I still secretly do, but I’ve become more cautious and careful about it, because you never know who might or might not want it. I thought about stopping, but when a friend told me “I don’t hug,” I tried to imagine life without hugging and found the thought unbearably sad.

The goodbye hug, however, should be a breed of its own. An average hug lasts about three seconds. Not knowing when you’ll see the person again makes those three seconds seem to either disappear too quickly without the sensation of the hug being transmitted, or expand to a five-to-seven second hug (or even longer) that can be misconstrued as awkward in the wrong place/time/context.

In these past few days, I’ve experienced several different types of goodbye hugs, and each of them tells me a little bit about the person. Rather than mentioning names, I’ll go with letters.

A is a person I’ve known for about a year. She and I have more of a hands-off relationship. Though a hug is not out of the question when we see each other, I don’t always feel that it’s appropriate. This hug was a brief squeeze, with a hint of lavender and off you go.

B is a person I’ve known for six months. She’s been there for me so, so many times and I am actually frightened by the thought of never seeing her again. She is rather slim, so when hugging her I had to gauge my own pressure. Her back is straight like a peacock or ostrich. Though it was a strange sensation to feel the bones of her back under my hands, the way her hands enveloped my body was like a bird cradling its young with its wings.

C is a person I’ve known for a year. He and I have had a steadfast friendship. A sanguine person, his hug filled me with warmth, and his clap on my back told me to keep it together, but in an affectionate way.

D is a person I’ve known for two years. He is a bit older than me. His hug was like holding a punching bag – enter, contact, go.