1

Mid-Month Update with a New Business Idea!

Hey y’all, so it’s been a busy few weeks for TSJ. Two weeks ago was ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference in Las Vegas, and last week, I finally moved out of the apartment I’ve been living in for three years…and into a house (well, an apartment attached to a house) about 20 minutes down the road in Middleton. I don’t officially move into the apartment part where I’ll be living until 9/1, so for these next few weeks, I’m sharing space in the house part attached to the apartment, along with the owners, my dear friend Andrea and her husband Roger, living in one of their guest rooms. My dissertation proposal is also on 9/1, and I still don’t have a job for the fall yet, so I’m kind of freaking out, and all the news coming out of Charlottesville isn’t helping. So in the meantime, my main (read: only) source of income is from selling jewelry with Hanna, and even that basically only covers spending money for the day – coffee, food, gas, and parking meters, now that I don’t live downtown anymore.

I have been brainstorming other ways to make money and get my mind off of a lot of the stresses of life. Andrea, my new housemate, is quite the crafter and even though she has a day job, she makes and sells a few craft-type items on the side. Mostly things like little purses and magnets. The other night, as I was going through one of the thirty-ish boxes into which I packed my entire life, I found a small bag with some of the activities I made for Nigeria month at school. One of the things we learned was that different tribes in Nigeria have different costumes. The first week, we drew life-size versions of them, and I kept on reviewing the names of the different items each week so the kids would remember them, like the abaya (a dress for Hausa women), gele/buba/iro (items of clothing for Yoruba women), and lion’s head shirt/trousers (outfit worn by Igbo men). In the final week, Tribal Games, one of the activities was to match up pictures I had drawn of the different items of clothing to the correct names of the items and to which tribe they belonged. The drawings of the outfits ended up looking so cute that I kept them, and looking over at Andrea crafting at the other end of the couch, I got my idea.

Imagine it: a set of refrigerator magnets of costumes from around the world, that you could mix and match on pictures of your friends, so it would look like they were dressed up in fun and fancy outfits!

I would draw and color them, and sell them in sets of two, one male outfit and one female outfit, and include an information card on the origins of said costumes. Since I got the idea from African costumes, I might start with some African designs, then expand to include other countries, cultures and regions, both contemporary and historical. I don’t know what to call them yet (Fridge Brilliance? Flat Friends? Press and Dress? Wait…I actually kind of like that one.)

So, readers, here’s where you come in. Please vote in these two polls, as to a) whether it’s a good idea and b) what you’d be interested in buying. The choice is yours!

And the second poll…

::awaits results::

Advertisements
4

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.

0

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.

1

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.

0

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.

3

Move-In-Ception

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.

0

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.