Saturday, August 30, 2008

Letting Go

I turned in my keys to the apartment today. It was two days early, but the apartment was all cleaned out and ready to go, and I was down in the neighborhood.

This process has been harder than I've admitted to most people. For the last couple of days, I was going back and forth between feeling a little weird about the transition, and then feeling like the weirdness was me being crazy. The best explanation is that I kept feeling as if the apartment was one of my last remaining connections to my mother -- she picked it out, she came to visit there, she stayed there to take care of me when I had my wisdom teeth out -- and how by moving on to some place that she has never seen and never will see, I am losing yet another connection. It's hard even to explain to people who haven't been through something similar, and it's not a feeling that I would wish on anyone.

But, ultimately, it all comes down to the fact that I have to keep moving -- keep moving on, keep moving forward. And the only way to do that, I suppose, is by letting go of some things. The apartment is just one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blog in Action

For the first time, this blog has proved itself useful in a way other than providing me an opportunity to vent or otherwise amuse myself. As you all can read, on Sunday, I blogged about my problem getting cable and internet.

When I called to reschedule my appointment with Comcast, I had asked to have a manager call me back, but none did.

But apparently, there are those within the company who are concerned about their customers. Mark C. from Comcast's headquarters found my posting and left me a comment with a contact email. I emailed him my number, and within hours, a representative called me.

I wound up with an appointment for this morning.

By lunchtime, I had cable and internet. This evening, I set up the wireless router. Right now, I am typing this while watching Project Runway.

So thank you, Comcast -- and especially Mark C. After Saturday's experience, this level of customer service was refreshing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Moving stinks

I am so tired and stressed out that I just got in the elevator to go down to the parking garage, forgot to get out, and pressed the button to go back up to the condo. At the time, I was carrying an empty suitcase to take back to the apartment to fill with the last of my clothing -- so when I got back into the condo, I stood around wondering how I wound up with an empty suitcase.

Nothing about moving ever goes as planned. I had written out a schedule for myself, and I am so far off schedule that there is no way that I will ever get back on track. And now, it looks like I'll have company the second week of September -- my Nana wants to come visit. I'm just hoping that there will be a pathway to the guest bedroom by then.

Last night, I rushed around to get back to the new condo in time for the cable guy to meet me to install the cable -- and thus the internet. He called me fifteen minutes before his appointment to let me know he was on his way, and to ask me if I could get "the key" from the management office. I had no idea what he was talking about. He told me that he would need access to a cable closet outside of my apartment, and that the management office had the key.

I went downstairs to ask the concierge, who is there every night until 9pm. Of course, the concierge said that he did not have access to that key, and that it would have to wait for the management office to reopen -- on Monday.

So, who's the asshole? (a) The condo, for not giving access to the key to the concierge? (b) Comcast, who clearly knew that they would need access to the closet, but did not tell me to make arrangements for access until WAY outside of regular business hours? (c) Me, for thinking that anything related to this move could get done without a problem? (d) All of the above?

Of course, I wound up having to call Comcast to reschedule. After explaining to me how "installation" appointments take much longer than regular appointments, they then told me that the first available appointment is on Sept. 3. So now, I will have no cable -- and no internet -- in the new condo until Sept. 3 -- which, coincidentally, is the same day that Macy's will be delivering my new couch.

If there was a way to fire Comcast, I would totally do it. But I can't and ultimately, I am left with nothing but respect for the woman who went into their office and started hitting computers with a hammer.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I spent my first night in the new condo last night, but only because that's where the bed is.

It was weird -- like sleeping in a stranger's room. Which is really weird, when you consider that I'm sleeping in the same bed -- different frame, different furniture, but still the same bed that I've been sleeping in for about 10 years now.

My new room is really dark. When I woke up, I thought it was really late, but it was 8am. Which is also weird, because without an alarm, I almost never wake up that early. Scratch that -- I NEVER wake up that early without an alarm.

It'll definitely take some getting used to.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Deleting the past

I've decided to become one of those people who just has a cell phone -- no landline. My father and aunt are very opposed to this turn of events, but then again, my aunt doesn't own a computer, and my father doesn't know how to work the VCR -- let alone the DVR or the DVD player. So I'm taking their complaints with a grain of salt.

Besides, if I need a landline, I have one at work.

What this means is that I'm donating a couple of phones to Goodwill, and in so doing, I've been sitting here cleaning out the memory of one of those phones.

Then I realized that I just deleted the record of the last time that my mother called me -- the last time that my mother will ever have called me. It made it real, I guess -- the death, the move, the moving forward. My eyes filled with tears and for a second, I could hardly breathe.

Move in progress

I ran out of boxes at about midnight, and my kitchen wasn't yet packed. (Not to mention the closet, but let's not even go there.) So, I set the alarm for 5:30, woke up, moved the wash into the dryer, and started throwing pillows, blankets, and other bedding into garbage bags. Then, at 8, I went to Staples and bought more boxes. You know how they advertise about it being "easy"? Well, buying boxes at Staples was probably the easiest thing I did all day. It took longer to drive there than to complete the transaction -- and, as a point of reference, the store is 2 miles away.

Anyway, then the movers came. The kitchen was still not packed. By the time they finished loading the stuff that was packed, I had managed to pack one box of dishes and glasses. Boy were they quick! After they left, I tried to take a nap, since my head was pounding due to a lack of sleep and the remnants of the cold from hell -- actually, I'm becoming suspicious that it's a full-blown sinus infection.

So I got up and came back to the old place for the evening, ostensibly to pack the rest of the kitchen, but really to check my email. (Alas, there will be no cable or internet in the new place until Saturday evening.) I'm hoping that I'll be able to get the rest of my stuff packed and brought over to the new place tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath. And I have until the 31st -- well, really I have until the 29th, because that's when the cleaning lady is coming. Still. . . .

On the drive over, I saw something that made my day. There was a traffic sign that said "Short Weave Area." I laughed out loud, at least until I started sneezing again.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The consequences of not leaving well enough alone

This weekend, I had a ton of stuff that I wanted to do, and I had a ton of stuff that I should have done. But instead, I wound up repainting my bathroom -- badly.

Let's start at the beginning: Back when I first decided to paint the new condo, I inherited some emerald green paint from a friend, and thought, "Hey, that might be a neat color for a bathroom." Then I decided that painting my entire condo would be overwhelming, and wound up hiring painters. They painted the entire place, but when they got to the master bathroom, the light wasn't working. They attempted to paint in the dark, but it wound up looking like, well, they painted in the dark. And the defects were glaring once the electrician came and fixed the light fixture.

So, I needed to fix the paint job. I wanted to sponge paint a lighter shade of green over the darker green -- which could have waited until after I moved in (and unpacked). But no, despite having hundreds of other things that I could have or should have been doing, I started sponge-painting right after moving the bed into the guest room on Saturday afternoon.

It looked like crap from minute one. So I gave up on the sponge painting, and decided to repaint the entire bathroom in the lighter green color -- which, coincidentally, is the same color as my living room.

I made a complete mess of it. Dribbled paint everywhere, got green paint on the ceiling, on the mirror, on the fixtures, on the tile, on the cabinets, all over myself . . . . Well, you get the picture. It was decidedly NOT GOOD.

Yesterday, I went back to finish, and, after painting for about an hour, noticed that in one section, layers and layers of paint were peeling off -- not just my paint, but at least the last two layers of paint. So, I took the utility knife and tried to trim the hole as best I could. Of course, this left a hole in the paint -- approximately the size of a paperback novel -- making yet another issue that I now need to fix.

So tonight, instead of packing, I went over to the new place and spackled the hole in the paint and tried to clean up the gobs of messy paint all over the place.

All of this, and I am still so not packed. And I don't remember when I last did laundry. But this speaks to a bigger issue, a character flaw: My inability to let things be. I always think I can fix things, and I always make things more complicated. I am very keenly aware of this tendency, but until now, I didn't know how it applied to home improvement.

Note to self: Next time you think you want to paint, don't. Just leave well enough alone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In the trenches

I think I am about 30% packed, and the movers come in six days. In other words, there's much work left to be done.

I am trying to figure out how I managed to keep so much stuff in this apartment. Because I keep bringing things over to the new place -- which is just about twice as big -- and I am starting to be concerned that it's not all going to fit.

Don't get me wrong: I've been able to get rid of some things, and not just the boxes. I already gave my old rollerblades to Goodwill, and I've got a bag of electronics to take over there this weekend. I have a pile of old suits to give to charity. I have a dress and a sock monkey to send to my sister.

In the meantime, I've learned one very important thing: I never ever want to move again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


On the surface, I am very neat and organized, but underneath the facade, I am, at heart, a pack rat. A collector.

I come by it honestly -- most of my family is the same way. But unlike most of my family, my collections are organized, to say the least. My clothes are in order. My CDs and movies are alphabetized. My tchotckes are all in their assigned spots.

When I was helping my dad out after my mom's funeral, we were looking for some paperwork about the house -- specifically the addition that they had built onto the back. Over the previous Thanksgiving, I had bought my mom a filing cabinet so that she could start putting her stuff in order, but apparently, her version of organization and mine were polar opposites. I eventually found the papers in three different files -- one marked "house," one marked "addition," and the last with no label at all. Other things that I found in those three files included my brother and sister's birth announcements, my bat mitzvah invitation, and a newspaper photograph showing my nursery school graduation.

My files are not like that at all, although I will admit that I have a tote of old pictures and clippings that I have intended to put into scrapbooks for years and just haven't managed to get to yet. But unlike my mom, they are all in one place.

Anyway, when I was packing and cleaning up some stuff, I found that I had a sizable collection of which I was unaware -- a box collection. Alas, they were not the useful packing kind; they were decorative gift boxes. Some were small, some were large, many had interesting closures -- one, from Sephora, was fastened with an elastic band with a feather -- and all of them were stuffed into a dark little corner of my closet -- along with yards and yards of wrapping paper and ribbon.

I don't know why I save boxes -- I almost never use them. And I know I never use them. But I keep doing it. Until tonight, when I stacked as many as I could inside one another and made the trek down the hall to the garbage.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving + Cold = No Fun

I have been working like crazy trying to get things in order for the big move -- the movers come in 10 days. But as they say, the best laid plans often go awry. In the midst of a to-do list that seems never-ending -- a feverish pace of packing, trying to get the developer to finish up the last few things on the punch list, painting, trying to schedule movers and painters, and trips to Ikea -- I got sick. So sick that I sat down in the middle of the floor in Ikea while trying to decide between two different wine racks to put in my pantry -- and then sat in the middle of what will soon be my living room trying to build those same wine racks with a fever. So sick that coughing hurts my abs way worse than pilates ever did. So sick that I've already missed two days of work -- and am seriously considering missing a third -- and yet, have only managed to pack six boxes. (But I have caught up on Mad Men.)

I am, officially, so far off my moving schedule that I might never find my way back.

So that's what's going on around here. And if the blog doesn't get updated frequently for the next couple of weeks, you'll know why.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Six months

The worst minute of my life was precisely six months, fifteen hours, and fifty minutes ago. It was also the start of what would be the worst day, worst week, and worst month of my life.

I am fairly confident that 2008 will go down as the worst year, too. I mean, I can't comprehend how anything could top losing both my grandmother and mother in the span of three weeks.

While I'm not sure that I have entirely processed everything, I am relatively certain that I am making progress -- I am moving forward. I tell myself that every single day. Or, as my dad said when he was discussing the fact that he now has a girlfriend, "I am trying very hard not to be unhappy." I have moments like that -- where I just sit back and say, "This is just the way things are, and I have to deal."

According to this article, my dad's behavior makes him a "coper." I think I'm more of a "muller" -- I am trying very hard to find meaning or extract some kind of personal growth from the experience.

I'm not quite there yet. Getting used to living without my mom is hard. It'll take a lot of practice.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sleeping through it all

My dad came to visit over the weekend. On Monday, he insisted that I drop him off a the airport what I consider to be very early -- 90 minutes before his flight. I then went to go run errands, and late that evening, realized that he hadn't called me to let me know he had made it back home. But it was too late to call, so I waited until yesterday.

As it turns out, he didn't make his flight -- not because he got to the airport too late, but because he got there so early. He fell asleep while waiting for his flight to board, and missed the announcement. Lucky for him, Southwest put him on another flight -- through Tampa -- and he got home really late.

Of course I made fun of him. It's what I do.

Cut to this morning. As usual, I was exhausted and running late. I got on the subway heading to my office and -- you guessed it -- fell asleep. I woke up after having missed my transfer station by several stops, and wound up being about an hour late to work.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dara vs. GPS

Today's Washington Post had a long feature on navigation devices. This is now a subject on which I am quite familiar.

It all started when Inbal took her brand new GPS device on the California trip. Before then, despite all my traveling, I had pretty much managed to avoid GPS. In fact, I can only remember having GPS in a rental car once: It was back when it was first starting out, and as it turned out, I didn't really need it -- it was in South Florida, where I kind of know where I'm going.

At first, my inner Luddite was a little turned-off by the GPS. I like having written directions and maps -- which is probably why I was an early adopter of Mapquest and then Google Maps. And the GPS said all the words funny, which, on occasion, made the directions difficult to understand. (It also made me snicker and mimic.)

And to be frank, the voice got annoying after a while. A surprisingly short while.

More importantly, the GPS doesn't really help with the confusion of figuring out which street to turn on when there are a whole bunch -- I mean, it's hard to judge exactly how far is 350 feet, and sometimes, you can't see the street sign until you're already in the turn lane. But in those cases, a map wouldn't really help either.

So, despite my initial reluctance, I embraced the gadget, and ultimately found it to be useful for navigating around new, unfamiliar places. Plus, I loved how it could pinpoint what time we were going to arrive at our destination. That way, when someone calls, you can tell them "I will be there at 8:43." If you try, you can make it seem like you're predicting the future.

When we got back from California, Inbal let me buy her old GPS from her. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of her new one -- for example, it has a smaller screen and it doesn't say the name of the streets (you have to look at the screen to figure that out). Still, I find it really useful whenever I'm not exactly sure where I'm going -- which is more often than I'd like to admit, as I like to think I have an excellent sense of direction.

On the flip side, I hate how I'm starting to let it think for me. I might have needed it to find Wegmans when I was at the closing down in Fairfax, but I certainly do not need it find my way from my apartment to the new condo. But I feel compelled to see what route it recommends.

Increasingly, I find myself talking to it. "Duh. It's a one-way street." "Alright, alright. I'll get over to the left as soon as I can." "How come you're telling me to stay on the highway when the sign for the airport says to take this ramp?"

I am, however, somewhat fearful that one of these days, she's going to say, "Just what do you think you're doing, Dave Dara?"

Yesterday, I was dropping my aunt off at her friend's house downtown, and I decided to ignore the directions, and go the way my aunt suggested. The GPS originally said that we would reach our destination at 2:23. Each time I ignored it, it would recalculate the route, adding another minute or two onto the ETA -- like she was punishing me. My aunt's directions -- the way that her friend recommended we go -- ultimately wound up costing me 15 minutes. At the law firm, that would have been around $100 of time.

You win this one TomTom. But I am confident that I will, one day, emerge victorious.