Christening the New Digs

Tonight will be the third night that Steph, Susie, and I have been in residence at our new, commodious house in Clintonville.  I’m typing in the front room while Steph and Susie go to Target with Pat to buy cookware–his and Tanya’s housewarming gift to us.  The house is still in considerable disarray, but once we’re organized and "visitor friendly," I will be posting pictures in my blog and on Facebook, so stay tuned.

The past few days have been sheer insanity.  The big, final move will be tomorrow morning, all the stuff we couldn’t take in a pickup truck or friends’ vehicles–the piano, a big dresser in the master bedroom, etc.  The pound of flesh we need to pay the movers will be considerably less than we dreaded expected, because my old friend Tom from Marietta (I’ve known him on and off since 1977, when we met at the public library in Marietta), after several days of being uncertain about whether he’d come, arrived about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning from Marietta with his pickup truck.  From about 1:30 until dawn, he and I were constantly running boxes back and forth between Franklinton and Clintonville (nine miles), and until about 7:30 last night, that was pretty much what I was doing, with very minimal sleep.  (In order to "unwind," I went to work on Wednesday.)  Long and short, the movers will not have to deal with boxes–just big pieces of furniture.

I was humbled and baffled by how much my office held.  I stopped keeping track of how many boxes (milk crate bookcases, among other things) I had managed to put in a comparatively small room.  I have a Fibber McGee style of storage and decorating, so my office was the single worst room to pack.  My new office is the basement of this house, and I’ll be sharing it with the furnace, the litter box, and (after tomorrow) a washer and dryer.  There are also some puddles on the floor, so I’m stringing extension cords through the ceiling rafters.  How I’m going to lay the place out is very much on the drawing board.  I’m trying to initiate a regular writing regimen, so once I have my physical setting to my liking, production can begin.

The worst casualty this move has inflicted has been my sleep.  At first, I was sweating blood about how much the move was going to cost–I was afraid I’d be saying sayonara to the bulk of my paycheck.  Then, once Tom and his truck arrived, I functioned almost purely on adrenaline.  I had a good head of steam and surprised myself by how much physical effort I was able to exert.  Tom was a dynamo–he singlehandedly moved the dining room table, which is not only heavy, but awkward, to move.  I fell asleep right after Criminal Minds ended (I knew it’d be impossible to stay up for Law and Order–and awoke at 5:15, but all day I felt draggy, detached, and felt like I was swimming upstream against a heavy tide just in walking from one part of the office to another.

The Move is Definite–Keys on My Ring

Susie and I went to a morning workshop at church yesterday, and, after it ended, I met our new landlord in the parking lot.  There was a very brief ceremony–I reached into my wallet and pulled out a money order for the February rent, and he handed me two keys, freshly cut at Ace Hardware.  Steph, Susie, and I are now–however briefly–legally living in two places, a sign of look-at-me American affluence.  As she describes in her blog, we will be making the actual move to our new place in Clintonville on Friday the 13th, so I can take advantage of a four-day weekend.  (I’m taking leave on the 13th, and the 16th is Presidents’ Day weekend.)  We’ve begun packing–friends have come to the house with carloads of boxes of various sizes and shapes.  I try to bring home what I can from work, but half of the boxes are marked "State Property" and can’t leave the building, and there are limits to how many I can take on the bus.  I was at Family Dollar yesterday, in a futile attempt to buy rock salt, and was so disappointed about their not having any that I forgot to ask for boxes.

I don’t anticipate my office being that hard to pack up.  As you may remember from the pictures I posted in here last summer, most of my books are in milk-crate bookshelves, so all I have to do is carry them.  My bookcases are plastic and can come apart.  The giant desk, I am leaving behind.  Moving it to the office in the first place nearly resulted in slipped disks and hernias–it was kind of like a ship in a bottle.  Steph is giving me her desk and file cabinet.  I am both dreading and looking forward to emptying the drawers.  (Last year, I acquired the habit of idly pitching empty pill bottles into one drawer as I finished them.  The casual observer glancing at the drawer would think I was a combination of Elvis and Robert Downey, Jr.)  I once had a typical bohemian makeshift desk–an old door that I put across two sawhorses, but when I got into my full Pete Townshend typing mode, the door bounced as much as a diving board.

My new office will be in the basement, so I’m literally turning into an underground writer.  The less external stimuli I have, the more productive I think I can be.  There are windows at eye level, but I seem to remember they’re pretty grimy, so I won’t be as prone to daydream.

Steph is at church, knitting afghans for Appalachian families.  Susie and I are at the Whetstone Library–a friend of ours is taking her to the Ohio State women’s basketball game at the Schottenstein Arena (tipoff time is at 4).

Any of my loyal readership in the Columbus area willing to lend a hand with the use of a pickup truck to help move boxes to the new place?  That’ll be less we’d have to pay the professional movers.

“Take Up Your Bed and Walk”

I’ve devoted a lot of bytes to complaining about our reprobate neighbors–the ones too crummy for The Jerry Springer Show.  After being awakened by yet another of their predawn shouting and throwing-things matches, Steph and I began prowling the classifieds and looking for places to rent.  We’ve had enough of The Bottoms, so we focused our energy and efforts north of the Ohio State campus.

Saturday we looked at a house in Clintonville.  It’s on a bus line, it has central heating and air (and a dishwasher–Susie will be turning cartwheels at that, as will I), it’s clean, the landlord is very conscientious, and it’s close to the Olympic Swim and Racquet Club, which was a second home for Steph and Susie (and me, to a lesser extent) during the past summer.  We came away feeling good about the place, and celebrated with a late lunch at The Blue Danube Restaurant, which is still my favorite restaurant in Columbus.  (Steph likes it, too, although she refused to set foot in it until they banned smoking.)

Monday morning, I faxed all the paperwork to the owner of the place, and this morning, Steph played back the voice-mail messages that had accumulated on her cell phone since yesterday afternoon when her phone battery gave up the ghost (Revol sells phones with chargers for a reason!).  One was from the landlord–can we meet him Sunday afternoon and sign the lease?  She called me at work with this wonderful news, just as I finished delivering the morning reports and resigning myself to a day of transcribing my least favorite doctor (praying the whole time he dictated before happy hour).

We’re still in awe over this turn of events, but it’s put a spring in my step and made the rest of the day easier.

I’m trying to be as Pete Townshendish in my typing speed right now, trying to make it as aerobic an activity as I can, ’cause I ate too much dinner (spaghetti and meatballs).  There is some in a Tupperware for lunch tomorrow, though.

The crisis on the Gaza Strip affected me personally last night.  After work, I went to the Target store in the Graceland Shopping Center to pick up my refill of Sinemet, and then picked up Susie after her geography class, and as we neared downtown, traffic slowed to a crawl and then came to a dead stop because of a march protesting Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.  It was a peaceful protest, and I didn’t see any counter-protestors (I saw many Palestinian flags waving, but no Israeli one), but nonetheless they slowed traffic down to the point where I was wondering just how long I’d be on the damn bus.

A Night Off the Grid

I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t missed an entry in the newest volume of my holographic diary since I began it on Wednesday.  I have never claimed that type of streak with this blog, but I’m guilty with an explanation for last night: No electricity.  (But you have a laptop, I hear you protest.  Yes, I say, but it’s useless without a router.)

Just after 4 yesterday afternoon, the TV and air conditioner in the bedroom suddenly sputtered, coughed once, and then died.  No rain had fallen during the day, but there was plenty of wind.  Susie and I noticed it when we were in Clintonville, waiting for a bus to take us home from First UU.  By the time we were done eating lunch, the wind was strong enough to start blowing trash and tree limbs in the circle outside our house.  Then, at 4, everything quit.

This storm is coming on the tails of Hurricane Ike.  More than half of Franklin County was out of power, and we remained so throughout the night.  It was a night like the Great Power Blackout of 1965 in New York, "when the transistor radio, the candle, and the art of conversation enjoyed a one-day renaissance," according to Walter Cronkite.  (I love all things radio, but if I still own a transistor radio, I don’t know where the hell it is.  We didn’t have C-cell batteries to power our boomboxes’ receivers.)

Surreal is the only word I can use to describe how it looked when I stepped out onto the sidewalk to look at the neighborhood.  No lights anywhere–not even street lamps or traffic lights.  As I looked toward downtown, all I could see were the lights on the tower at Mount Carmel West.  Later in the evening, the neon lights on the top of the American Electric Power building were on; I guess it wouldn’t restore public trust if they were blacked out.  We stayed in the master bedroom, using light from the candelabra I brought up from the living room mantle.  The battery on the laptop still worked, so I played some of the albums I’ve ripped to Windows MediaPlayer.

We got to bed at a decent hour–unlike right now.  I used the alarm on my cell phone to wake up, although during my many mini-awakenings during the night, I didn’t have the slightest idea what time it was.  I’m used to glancing across the bedroom and looking at the LED display on the cable box.

There was some free entertainment.  The couple who moved next door to us had a high-decibel and -intensity fight, and the sound echoed all the way up and down the block.  Words like "son of a bitch" and "crack whore" and "skank" were bandied about quite a bit.  It made The Jerry Springer Show sound like Masterpiece Theatre by comparison.

I had no way of knowing whether or not State offices would be open, so when 5:30 came, I treated it like a normal day.  Good thing I did, because the offices were open, although there was quite a skeleton crew.  (Besides there being no electricity in over half of Columbus, schools were closed.)  Steph heard that electricity could possibly be out until Wednesday or Thursday, so she called me at work and read me a list of foodstuffs to buy, all of them not requiring immediate and constant refrigeration.  I went straight from work to Kroger and bought over $50 of produce, snacks, bread, etc.  I came home and found that we had power–at least our side of the street does.  I’ve seen some candles burning the windows of our across-the-street neighbors.