Monthly Archives: October 2011

The days are just packed

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Being unemployed is wonderful. Apart from not earning income, I am enjoying life more than I have in ages. I am feeling less cynical, less anxious, and less depressed. I am nothing like the miserable wretch who was living in Williamsburg a couple of months ago.

I am watching my savings swirl down the toilet, but anyway.

Now that I’ve got an extra 40 hours per week, you’d think I’d have more time to do stuff, but I still don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like. I haven’t even read a book since moving to Weaverville on the 11th. Partly this is because the collection at my local library has some serious holes (“What do you MEAN you don’t have the new Chuck Palahniuk?!?… Oh, for the love of… Listen to me, Terry Pratchett is NOT A MIDLIST AUTHOR. Neither is Haruki Murakami.”). But mostly it’s because there’s so much stuff I want to do.

In Williamsburg, I jealously guarded my weekends and evenings, spending as much free time as possible alone, in my room, with a book. I reserve the right to return to this lifestyle once I reenter the workforce. Sometimes that is the only sensible way to cope after a day full of human beings.

But for now, at least, there are any number of activities to command my attention. There is a comic book store to hang out in. There is a tuba to play. There is a farmer’s market to visit. There is a mountain to hike. There is a yoga mat to stretch on after hiking on a mountain.

The mountain that needs to be hiked is conveniently located near my house. It is right next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and its hiking path is part of the Mountains to Sea trail. I have now hiked this slice of trail three days in a row. It looks basically like this photo, taken very near my trail, brought to us by the nice folks at RomanticAsheville.com:

On day 1, the hike took two hours. This involved me walking at a steady pace to the end of the trail and then walking at a steady pace back to my car. Plus also there was a minute or two where I stopped and presented some grievances to God, directly following a bee sting. (Tricep of my left arm, this was. It stings. Which is what bee stings do.) And also I had to stop and pet a golden retriever puppy.

On day 2, the hike took one hour and forty-six minutes, and today the hike took one hour and forty minutes. The decreased times are due to not getting poisoned by insects and due to my experimentation with jogging. Jogging is not an activity I feel any great affection for. Since I do not have health insurance these days, I do not want to break an ankle on the leafy trail, and any enthusiasm I might have had for jogging curiously wanes when I am confronted with an incline. But, having some vague awareness that exercise is good for a person and is maybe something I should do, I have reluctantly picked up the pace, a little bit, on the parts that are not too leafy or uphilly.

At some point I will unpack my pedometer and find out how long this trail is, but unpacking has been progressing at a very leisurely pace. No jogging going on there, nosiree.

My hiking ensemble consists of a plain black shirt, a brown flowy skirt, a backpack, and my toe shoes. And also next time I hike I’m switching to a damn sports bra, because jogging and my boobs are not good companions. A woman today complimented me on my hiking outfit, which at first struck me as odd but which in hindsight makes perfect sense as I have impeccable style and people are naturally compelled to remark on it. Maybe she liked my shoes (another hiker I met later certainly did), or maybe she liked my unorthodox choice of a skirt.

If you were scaling sheer rock faces or climbing trees or somesuch, a skirt would not be a practical hiking garment. As it is, if nobody’s around, you can hitch it up in a knot by your waste. This is absolutely the right thing to do, after you’ve worked up a sweat and want to streak nekkid through the trees. It’s a good compromise, and at the first sound of another human being you can undo the knot and once again resemble a civilized adult.

My bee adversary, by the way, managed to sting me through my shirt, so it’s not as though I’m impressed by the ability of clothing to protect one from savage animals. Other savage animals I have encountered on this trail include a little bitty lizard, a gray-and-black snake, and some doggies. And I had to stop my car the other day while a turkey crossed the road.

Tomorrow I’ll swing by the library to pick up a book waiting for me on the hold shelf, the new Neal Stephenson– that midlisting hack– and so I will presumably be engrossed in reading once again, along with hiking and bumming around downtown Asheville and bumming around downtown Weaverville and cooking up apple butter made from local apples and, at direst last resort, unpacking the rest of these boxes.

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A Chorus Feline

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According to global living standards, I have a ton of possessions. I have more clothes than I need, more shoes than I need, more kitchen gadgets and more computer toys and more stuffed dinosaurs than I need. And I have many, many, many books, excessive by even American standards.

But even when you factor in the books, I own far less than the average American. I don’t have a kitchen table or a couch or a television. I’m pretty good about purging crap I don’t need, and I’m even better about not acquiring it in the first place.

So at first blush, you might wonder why I hired movers.

It sounds decadent and bourgeois. I felt like a traitor to my class when I hired some local guys to move me. But here’s the thing: I couldn’t see how to get me and the cats and my stuff AND MY CAR moved all the way to western North Carolina. In theory I could have rented a U-Haul and towed the car along behind me, but when I went to the U-Haul website to watch a video showing you how damn easy it is to load your car onto the trailer, I realized I was way out of my depth. Also, I could not realistically see myself driving a big truck all that way.

Now, as we have established, I don’t own all that much crap. I figured it would take the movers an hour or two. Instead it took them FOUR AND A HALF hours to load the van. I have never seen people amble along at such an unhurried pace. I was dying to get on the road, and the three cats were simply dying. Or at least that’s what it sounded like. They were locked in the bathroom while the movers busied themselves with cigarette breaks and leisurely strolls up the stairs.

When I finally got the cats loaded in their carriers (which entailed personally moving the stove to retrieve Gremlin from her hiding place) and into the car, it was 2:48 in the afternoon, and I was facing a six- or seven-hour drive, accompanied by the yowling of three exceedingly unhappy cats. They were my own private Greek chorus, wailing and despairing and warning of tragedy.

“Just remember that they’re not in mortal danger,” Mom advised me, only she was mistaken, as I was weighing the pros and cons of going Medea on them.

But finally we got to our new home, just past 9 on Tuesday night. It was a long, long trip for the three cats and their human driver, exacerbated by heavy traffic and heavier rains, but we finally made it to Weaverville.

I wish I could say the same for my stuff.

It is standard, I have discovered, for moving companies to deliver your items several days after you’ve moved. It is standard– but it is not common knowledge, and the moving company didn’t bother to inform me in advance. I was able to stuff a blanket, a sleeping bag, a few toiletries, a few undies, a litter box, and my coffee-making supplies into my car (which, you may recall, was mostly filled with cat carriers). The rest of my stuff should be here on or before Tuesday. I hope.

I’ll write more about the new placeĀ  and the new environment soon. For now, take a gander at the first few pictures of the new digs.

Mom and Dad got me this bowl as a housewarming gift. I love it. It’s the first piece of art I’ve ever owned, unless you count the Klimt t-shirt I used to wear.

Those are shiny blue stones at the bottom, but they’re underneath a smooth glaze.

I wonder where Gremlin is.

This road runs behind my house.

You can see my car down there, alongside the a slice of my house.

Mountain getaway vacation

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Happy October.

I’m moving in eleven days. Despite a recent spate of trashing, recycling, and donating, there is still an uncomfortable amount of packing to be done. I have embraced packing with the same zeal with which I embrace porcupines.

Packing the dishes has been especially difficult because of the ants, legions of which have been assaulting my kitchen for several weeks now. I have rigorously scrubbed away all traces of food. I have reasoned with the ants, and threatened them, and I have slaughtered them by the hundreds when they refused to enter peace talks. But they keep coming back, and they keep crawling over the dishes that I’ve set on the counter to dry, which means that I have to wash the dishes again, and so then I set them on the counter to dry, and then the ants come back.

I should probably just go buy an ant trap, but I’m tempted to leave the little beasties for the managers of my apartment complex. My lease had been scheduled to expire on October 24. I didn’t renew my lease, which I thought sent a rather clear message about my intentions. But, just so there was no confusion, I told them in person that I wouldn’t be renewing.

That’s when I found out that I was supposed to give 60 days’ notice, not 30. Nevermind that the lease was expiring. Nevermind that ordinary people cannot see two months into the future. I will be paying for my apartment through Nov. 16.

Oh, and since it switches to month-to-month after Oct. 24, those extra three weeks will be at a higher rate. And I will need to pay to have the apartment professionally cleaned.

I’m thinking I should leave some honey sitting out on the counter.

In other financially dire news, my new job will only be 37.5 hours per week, not 40, and it’s going to start three weeks later than I had planned. Instead of one tidy week between jobs, I’ll be unemployed for a full month. Or, to put a positive spin on it, I’m looking forward to a month’s vacation in the mountains!

More positive spin: I’ll have a place to move to. In fact, it’s already in my name, starting today.  I’ve found a cheap place to rent out in the country, quite near to the Blue Ridge Parkway, very convenient to a hiking access point. Hiking in mountains qualifies as free entertainment, which is about all I’ll be able to afford after my apartment complex wipes out my savings.

Not sure if I’ll be able to update here between now and the move, as all of my time these days is consumed by procrastination. If I don’t write again within the next week or so, expect to hear from me once I’ve got my internet working in North Carolina.