Coffee Table Declarations
Thursday, April 28, 2005
I'm really exhausted today. It's been a long week. You'll have to excuse me therefore, if I take this opportunity to throw a question-post out to the audience.

The other night, my roommate said something was "the bee's knees" which had me laughing hysterically and had my other roommate who is from Switzerland, staring at her confused. That made it even funnier and we had to explain to her that it's an old expression that doesn't make a lot of sense - I even drew a picture of a bee (smiling widely, as most of my drawn creatures are - apparently my brother got the designated art gene in the family) with legs bent in the middle and a little arrow pointing to his knees. Imagine being able to speak a language really well, but not understanding every phrase and nuance, and then having someone throw a curveball like "bee's knees" at you. I mean, bees don't even have knees. It got me thinking so here's my question. What other expressions can you think of that are funny in English and would baffle a non-native English speaker?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Do you ever, just for fun, imagine what your own personal episode of Fear Factor would be like? Mine looks like this - eating sheep's eyeballs, riding a broken down elevator, being chased by faceless ghosts, and... oh yes, spiders in my bedroom. So now my cozy, comfortable new bedroom, with it's peach painted walls, flannel sheets, and cable television, has gone from a safe haven to my own personal fear factor. No, there are no ghosts or sheep's eyeballs. Guess again.

Saturday morning at 7:30 something outside woke me from a sound sleep. I lazily rolled over and glimpsed something on the ceiling right above my head. It was a spider. Keep in mind that my ceiling (at least where my bed is) is one of those slanty ceilings. It meets the wall about 6 inches from the head of my bed. So when I say there was a spider on the ceiling right above my head, what I really mean is that there was a furry, brown spider about a foot above my face first thing in the morning.

I leapt out of bed and introduced the spider to a wad of tissues. Normally I am far too squeamish to squish them myself, but no one else was awake, so this was one of those survival instinct, adrenaline kicking in kind of situations. It was creepy, but hey, it happens. Not in my old apartment where I never once saw a spider, but it does happen.

The next afternoon I was talking to my roommate in the upstairs hall and caught site of a spider on the bathroom door. I have radar for spiders. She got him but seeing two spiders in two days did not bode well. That night, I fell asleep reading with the light on at about 10:30. I woke up around midnight, got up to go to the bathroom, noticed my roommate's light was still on, and went back to my room. I was just about to crawl back into bed when what did I see? Yep, a spider. Right where the sloped ceiling meets the wall, a mere inches from where my head had been seconds before. I knocked on my roommate's door and she got him for me, noting he was the same type from the bathroom door.

After a sleepless night of tossing, turning, and periodically bolting out of a sound sleep to turn the light on and do a spider check, I did some research online. It seems that getting rid of spiders requires vacuuming and using household cleanser which, because they have tastebuds on the bottoms of their feet, they will avoid walking on because they don't like the taste. I have learned more about spiders in the last couple of days than I could ever hope to know. And I'm no more fond of them than I was before. My roommate suspects there are eggs hatching somewhere, a thought that sends chills up and down my spine.

When I got home yesterday I was talking to my dad on the phone and he happened to mention that he had noticed a rather large crack above the window near my bed when he was hanging curtains. He said it was not huge, but large enough for spiders to come out of. That information was very useful in planning my attack (spraying Raid into the crack, vacuuming, using the cleanser, and plugging in a thing I got that sends a high pitched noise that repels spiders among other things).

I realize that like all fears, the problem lies in feeling powerless. I know the fear is a learned response because as a kid I can remember closely examining spiders building webs and feeling no disgust whatsoever. I'm not sure what happened but now spiders are to me, the equivalent of evil incarnate. I keep reminding myself there are worse things to invade my bedroom. Cockroaches for example. Bats. Sharks. But if I told you I slept calmly without being on spider watch or having spider nightmares, I'd be lying. The spiders I saw were just a little too close to my head than I'm comfortable with. What are you afraid of and how do you face your fears?
Friday, April 22, 2005
Though my rent is a little cheaper, if I keep taking walks in my new city, I'm not really going to save anything. Here is a list of things I have spent money on so far just taking walks up two blocks to the busy area:

1. mocha latte
2. cd (well, this was not purchased on a walk, but was inspired by hearing it in the coffee shop and being unable to read my book because the music was so compelling and having to ask an employee what cd was playing)
3. a "walking satchel" at the Gap. Walking satchel is my name for it because I wanted a bag I could fit a book and my wallet and cell phone in for my walks
4. shoes - Payless for $5 a pair
5. groceries - at the organic grocery, yay!
6. household items - dustpan and broom, potholders, Venus razor
7. Mexican food - two separate meals on two separate occasions
8. one scoop of ice cream in a cup (flavor: cake batter!!)
9. t-shirts at the Gap
10. tall white chocolate latte at Starbucks
11. berry smoothie (at deli counter of organic grocery)

I think that's everything but I've only been there a week, give me some time!

Anyway, I'm really enjoying living in "the big city". I've been taking a lot of walks up the main street where there is a subway stop, lots of bars and stores, and tons of people at all times. I wouldn't walk around at night by myself but I find the atmostphere to be very laid back during the day. People don't seem to pay much attention to each other and people feel free to express their individuality and diversity. Everyone I have interacted with has been friendly. One day I was crossing the street and I sneezed. "Bless you" said a guy as he passed, crossing the street in the other direction. "Thanks" I replied. The whole interaction took place as we were walking, neither one of us stopping, just some courtesy in passing.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The move itself was stressful, as all moves probably are. I managed to get most of my stuff packed but I still have a lot to deal with at the old place. It's amazing how you don't even realize how much you have until you try to move.

The movers showed up right on time but spoke with a thick, barely understandable accent. The guy in charge (an older guy, at least 50) was extremely touchy and it was pretty horrifying. I feel like maybe it was a cultural thing, or maybe he was being fatherly rather than molesterly, but it was annoying all the same. He kept putting his arm around me or grabbing my hand and standing too close to talk. I wanted to scream "For the love of god stop touching me!" but I couldn't exactly hire different movers at that point. I feel like I spent most of the day dodging his attempts at affection and that made the stress even worse. Additionally, he kept asking things like, "how old are you?" "are you married?" "do you like to go dancing?" And between the unexpected personal nature of his questions and the frustratingly difficult to understand accent, I didn't know what to do or how to react.

Thank goodness my mom met me at the new place. He immediately seemed a lot more respectful. Until they couldn't get my box spring up the stairs and tried to saw it with my roommate's new bread knife. (It never would've occured to me either - if you saw some of the wood inside a box spring, you can fold it in half and unfold it later. I'm living proof that it works.) I kept asking them to stop using the bread knife but no one was listening to me. Finally my mother went over and pried it out of a young mover's hand. He then asked my mom if she had a saw as though she carries one around in her back pocket. (Luckily she told them to forget about it and my dad brought his tools over the next day to finish the destruction).

All in all the movers worked quickly - the whole thing only took about 2 and a half hours. And the price was right. But I wouldn't hire them again. Do I contact the customer service person I set the move up with? She seemed nice and professional. But how do you tell someone that their movers are a little too... familiar?
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
It's normal to have mixed feelings about something big changing, right? It is just now hitting me that I am really moving on Friday. Of course I'm excited, but I'm also feeling sad. I've lived in my current place for three years and I've been in close proximity to people who are important to me. (It is now that I hear my mother's voice in my head saying, "Katie, it's not like you're moving to darkest Africa". She used to say that same phrase whenever I was panicking over a trip and what I might forget to pack. She would say, "it's not like you're going to darkest Africa, you can buy a toothbrush if you need to" or "I'm sure they have stores there, you're not going to be in darkest Africa for goodness sakes.")

I've given away half my wardrobe. I am sloughing things off like pieces of myself. Cleaning house, starting fresh. And I'm trying not to think about what I'm leaving behind. It's the end of something, that's for sure. But it is a moving on toward something else. I'm discarding books, candles, little pieces of dead weight that I don't feel like dragging around for the rest of my life. I am saying goodbye in more ways than one. Streamlining. But it is sad. It is hard to let go of things that meant something to me and things that mean something to me still. Some things can't be replaced, even though I'm not going to darkest Africa.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Can I just reiterate again how much I love craigslist? Seriously, everyone go on over and check it out - you have to click on your respective city, but then you're good to go. Need an apartment? No problem. Trying to find roommates? No problem. Seeking to buy something? Or sell something? Craigslist will hook you up. Looking for love perhaps? They've got that too. (Disclaimer: I have never tried to find love on craigslist. I'm sure it's just as great as everything else they have.) You can even look for a job! (Disclaimer #2: I have never tried to find a job on craigslist. I am not looking for one at this time.)

Anyway, my roommate has this pink couch. It's a perfectly respectable couch, but neither of us want it anymore for our new residences. My roommate asked if I would have my movers carry it out to the curb for the trash when they come to move my furniture. I had other plans.

I posted a picture of the couch on craigslist and I asked $50 for it. I got more than 20 emails from people wanting to buy the couch. My roommate was impressed considering she didn't realize what a hidden jewel it really was. Fifty bucks? I thought I was aiming high - I should've aimed higher.

So this one woman was interested in getting it and I said "possibly tonight or Thursday night" - that was last week for those following along at home. The next day I had an email from her claiming she waited around all night for me to call and she had even rented a truck. Oooookkkkaaaaaayyyy... I think I said "maybe" but whatever. I wrote back saying we must've gotten our signals crossed and would Thursday night work? At this point it was Wednesday. She wrote back Thursday morning saying she waited around again for my call and that she finally had to return the truck because she couldn't afford it.

Suspecting I was dealing with someone slightly... unstable, I asked my roommate to be home with me when the woman came on Thursday - this time I sent her the pertinant info and set a definate time. But she never showed up and never called me! The funny part is that if she thought somehow that I cared, she's sadly mistaken. Hello? Twenty people were interested - why do I care if she decides to play silly games?

Then I got a message from her Saturday morning asking if she could pick up the couch over the weekend. Um, I don't think so! Yes, I do love craigslist, but you have to watch out for the crazies.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
If you recieved a call on your cell phone from a number you did not recognize and the person did not leave a message, would you assume someone had called you accidentally and just forget about it or would you call the number back? I can't tell you how many times people call my company and when I answer they say, "yeah, um, this is Joe, did you just call me?" No, I did not call you Joe. In fact, there are over a hundred people in this office so any one of them could have called you by accident or on purpose and you would automatically come back through me if you called the number on your cell phone.

Today some guy called twice. Once I explained the situation to him and he hung up. A few minutes later he called back and asked if I was sure there wasn't any way I could find out who tried to call him. I told him that unless I individually asked each one of the hundred or so people in the office then there was no way to tell. I reiterated that if they wanted to speak to him, I was sure they would've left a message. He still seemed somewhat unsure.

What the heck? Are people truly that desperate for human contact? You see a strange number on your cell phone and the not-knowing is just eating away at you. You can't sleep, you're tossing and turning because you must know. Who tried to call? Why oh why didn't you just answer your cell phone? Now you have to live with knowing you may never know the nature of the missed call. Who was it, what did they want? Oh the suspense!

And speaking of cell phones, I have another question. Do you or people you know use cell phones only and have no actual land line in your apartment or home? I think that is the weirdest thing. So many people that I've talked to while looking for apartments/roommates say that there is no land line, they just use their cells. I feel like I'm old fashioned, but I just don't trust my cell phone. What if the battery dies? What if there is no reception? What if clutching the phone to your ear for long periods of time really does cause cancer? I still have both - a cell and a land line and I like it that way. I'm going to have my own private land line in my new apartment and I love it.

My mom asked, won't the other roommates be using the land line when they log onto the computer? Well of course not - we're getting DSL! I don't even know what DSL is - I've always used dial up. Apparently I've been living in the 1800's.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Last Friday (April Fools Day), my boss was leaving the office with a whoopee cushion in hand. She explained that she thought her kids would get a laugh out of it and so of course, I had to tell her my famous whoopee cushion story.

When I was in Junior High, I had a wonderful history teacher who made the kids laugh and threw candy at us when we answered questions correctly. One memorable day we played a game much like Truth or Dare. The teacher would ask someone a question related to history. If the person got it right, they were safe. If they got the question wrong however, they had to do a "dare" which wasn't really a dare because I don't think we had much choice in the matter. Some of the dares were embarrassing and all were funny. One kid had to ride a tricycle around the room, one had to compose a poem about the girl sitting next to him, etc. Those are the just the ones that stand out in my mind, but practically everyone got the questions wrong.

When my turn rolled around I was hoping to get it right but of course I didn't. For my "dare" the teacher gave me a whoopee cushion and told me that I had to put it on the science teacher's chair. All of the kids in my history class were also in my science class so everyone was in on the joke.

The next day before science class, a couple of us covertly hid the whoopee cushion on the science teacher's chair, under the regular cushion. It couldn't have been more perfect. The science teacher walked in with the strict, stern English teacher who had forgotten to give us a homework assignment. As she stood in front of the class explaining the assignment in a serious manner, the science teacher sat down and of course, a loud sound emanated from the whoopee cushion at just the right moment.

The English teacher turned and gave the science teacher a shocked glare while the science teacher turned bright red from his face to the top of his balding head. In retrospect I guess it was kind of a mean thing to do, but we didn't know the English teacher would be there. After she left the room we explained that the history teacher put us up to it and the science teacher swore revenge on him. We never did get to play that game in history class again and I never knew why.
Friday, April 01, 2005
And now the conclusion of the apartment story.

After emailing the two girls to see if they still wanted to meet, knowing that the beautiful apartment was gone, one wrote back saying "no thanks". But G, the one who had written to me within an hour of my ad posting was all for it.

G and I met for coffee and talked for three hours. I told her about the other nice apartment I had seen - the one on two levels with all the nooks. We called the realtor and miraculously, that apartment was still available.

What followed was putting down a costly deposit to secure the apartment and a whirlwind of interviewing for the third roommate (we ended up with someone who just mixed well with us - the three of us talked and laughed easily).

I admit I was very nervous about my credit check. I know my credit is, shall we say, less than perfect? I emailed our friendly realtor telling him I was really worried about it but assuring him I had never ever missed a rent payment in all my years of renting. He wrote back saying that he was going to make sure I got that apartment. He ended up telling me later that he and the owner thought I seemed like a nice girl and that I deserved a break. I asked him "so, how bad was my credit?" and he said, "well... there were some... spots..." Yikes! Well, I guess sometimes you can get by with a smile and just a dollop of charm.

So in the end, it all worked out the way it was supposed to. The universe really did direct my path to the realty office and craigslist did the rest. I move in two weeks. And, if you think I'm anywhere near prepared then you are quite mistaken!
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