Tags: apartments

Jason sepia

in which recent events are conveyed through interpretive dance

That faint sound coming all the way from Singapore that you hear, that relieved exhalation, that deep sigh of stress abated . . . oui, c'est moi. This week is the break between Term 3 and Term 4, and man alive do I need the rest. Last term was probably the most stressful and hair-pulling ten weeks that I've experienced at any job I've ever had. I was told beforehand that Term 3 is a killer, and this was a completely accurate assessment.

But now it's over, and I can breathe again before Term 4 (which is only two weeks of classes, mostly exam review, before final exams start in week 3) next week.

I haven't actually blogged (other than Surreal Botany news) in a while, and it's strange having to stretch those muscles out again, as if they'd atrophied during the Term From Hell. So here we go: stuff that's happened recently, organized by theme, and please forgive the length of the post. I tried to put this all in the form of interpretive dance, but my webcam is on the fritz, so you'll have to settle for text instead. Sorry.

* Recently, after going through a painfully confusing process both online and over the phone, I was able to book my tickets for coming to the States in December. I was trying to use my many miles accumulated on Northwest to pay for at least part of the trip, but holy monkey do they make it difficult to do this. I can understand that they want to try to fill every seat with paying customers, but the lengths that they go to in order to obfuscate or misdirect necessary information for cashing in WorldPerks miles is just insane. I almost said, "Screw this, I'll shell out the S$3K for a Singapore Airlines nonstop flight," but decided otherwise.

So anyway, I will be in Noo Yawk Sittay from 11-25 December, celebrating Christmas with my family. My parents are taking a train from SC on the 19th, so it'll be just me and my sister Kristin tooling around Brooklyn and the city for a week. I know that several of my peeps (at least 40 according to Facebook) live in and around New York, so if you'd like to get together during my first week there, I'd love to. I definitely want to spend lots of time hanging out with my lil sis, but since I hardly see my USian krewe anymore, I'd be keen on at least grabbing a coffee or hard cider (or, if pressed, beer) with youse. Just let me know.

Yay for seeing my family and friends in the US again! Yay for X-mas in NYC!

* Last Friday (the last day of the term) was Teachers' Day, and I have to say, every country in the world needs to have an equivalent of this. No classes, and the morning was nothing but a celebration of the teachers at Hwa Chong. There was a concert assembly thing by the students in the morning, and afterward we all went back to the staff room and the students gave cards or little gifts to the teachers who meant something to them throughout the year. I was incredibly touched by the displays of appreciation from my students, saying how much they'd gotten out of the class, and that I made English interesting for them. One student's mother even made me a small butter cake, and it was delicious. It went an incredibly long way toward balancing out all the frustrations and stresses of the term.

Then all of the staff (from the high school, junior college, international school, and boarding school) were treated to a lavish 8-course lunch at a fancy Chinese restaurant nearby. I made it through five courses in three hours before I had to leave to meet Janet. Incredibly delicious, but I would have been there for another hour at least, and I had stuff to do, man.

* Janet's birthday was on 24 Aug., and we celebrated by going antiquing (never thought I'd use "antique" as a verb). Her parents drove us around a bit, and we found a few things for the new flat (which we'll get the keys for in a little over two weeks, eee!). At the Changi Junk Store in Joo Chiat, we picked up a ~100yo carved bamboo bird cage stained a deep cherry; we'll use it either as a funky lamp, or to show off books that may be a bit naughty (hee hee). At Just Anthony, we found a 12-drawer fauxtique cabinet that will be good for storing all kinds of things. Dinner that night was Thai food. If you'd like to wish Janet a belated happy birthday, feel free to email her.

* A little over a week ago, I conducted a workshop on "Prose Writing for Publication" for the 2008 Literature Seminar run by the Ministry of Education's Gifted Education Programme. The same folks who put on the Creative Arts Programme back in June. Despite some A/V problems, the workshop went okay (my PowerPoint slides can be found here), although I was a bit dismayed that only a few of the students wrote fiction on a regular basis, especially as this was supposed to be an intermediate-type workshop (apparently, the kids got randomly put into the 24 various workshops that morning, so I had quite a mixed bag). But there was some interesting writing that was shared, and I tried to inspire them to keep it up.

The seminar itself was a bit chaotic, but with the number of students there (which I think was in the thousands) from schools all over Singapore, it was maybe to be expected. After the morning workshops, they fed us lunch, and I got to talk to Wai Han at Ethos Books and Enoch at Firstfruits Publications, both of whom had book tables outside at the lunch area, as well as Wei Wei from the School of the Arts (who was helping out at the Firstfruits table). Nice to do a little networking as well. The afternoon was full of student presentations, but I just saw one group from Hwa Chong before leaving.

My payment for doing the workshop was S$300 in Kinokuniya book vouchers, which I can definitely put to good use. After the Teachers' Day lunch, I met Janet at Orchard Road, and browsed the Kino store there for a while. Janet found an illustrated edition of Dante's Divine Comedy, but it was a massive hardcover, and she wasn't in the mood to carry it around all day; I'll go back at some point and get it for her, since it's part of her birthday present.

Here's what I got:

I've been hearing incredibly good things about The Boat by Nam Le, and I was very impressed by what he had to say on The Leonard Lopate Show (WNYC) and The Bat Segundo Show. I'm a big fan (along with bajillions of other people) of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing, so picking up Unaccustomed Earth was a no-brainer (although I was a bit annoyed at the Frank O'Connor Award jury, who thought that the book was made of so much awesome that they didn't even bother to come up with a shortlist). And I'd previously read Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi, but didn't own them, and wanted to snag the box set (which is harder to find, now that the two volumes have been repackaged in an omnibus edition to tie in with the animated film, which I also enjoyed).

I still have about two-thirds of the vouchers left, so I'll definitely go back to pick up some more books; I'm trying to get titles or editions that I might not normally buy otherwise with cash, although my Me Wantee list is pretty long at this point. Yay books!


Jason sepia


Is anyone here interested in the Star Trek: Customizable Card Game? It's a bit like Magic: The Gathering but for Star Trek geeks. I was pretty big into it at one point, and collected a metric ton* of cards, which I'm now at a loss as to how to get rid of them. Email me if you're interested.

Things have shifted into overdrive at the ChuiLund HQ. We've had a lot of interest in our apartment since the craigslist ad went up; Janet's gotten over a hundred emails, and about a dozen people have come over to take a look. We've had to keep the place as immaculate as possible since folks could come over anytime with only a 30-minute notice, which has been interesting for two people so in the thrall of entropy, although it has been nice keeping things clean. However, we've yet to get a follow-up call back from anyone, even when people have said they would let us know one way or the other; we've also had a surprising number of flake-outs, about half-a-dozen inconsiderate dinkwads who just decided not to show up, and also didn't bother to call and let us know they were cancelling. It's all been a bit frustrating, and the stress of it, on top of everything else, is starting to wear really thin on both of us. I'm personally starting to get a little panicky; if you know of anyone in the Raleigh area, or looking to move to the Raleigh area, who is searching for a place, please refer them to our craigslist ad.

We've also been in a bit of limbo, since we didn't want to start selling furniture, because that meant the apt wouldn't look as nice for people viewing it, but we've run out of time on that count, and Janet put some things up on craigslist last night and this morning. Two small black media bookshelves have gone already, as well as two white 3-shelf bookcases, and our 27" television. It looks a bit as if we've been robbed. I have a 13" TV that I got back in high school as a reward for good grades, so we can still watch our shows, even if all the people on it are weensy. And if we still want to watch DVDs, we can do so on my iBook.

We still have some bookcases to go, but we can't sell them until the books on them are gone. So please, fertheluvagod, head over to Second Chance Book Adoption and help us out. I know y'all are tired of me begging (it's been like a nine-month pledge drive), but we're getting down to the wire, and there are still over 250 titles left. I did recently add a few more books to the page, and just today we've slashed prices once again:

hardcovers = $4.00
trade paperbacks = $2.00
mass market paperbacks: 50¢

Two of the newest additions to the site are Men and Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem and Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest, both of which I blasted through, and recommend highly. With all the recent stress and busyness, it's been good to lose myself in excellent literature for a while.

I spent several fun** hours yesterday evening preparing 2006 taxes (although it was probably the least difficult in memory, since I wasn't self-employed last year), and we look to be getting a decent refund this year, almost enough to pay for our plane tickets to Singapore, which I also booked yesterday. It hit me all at once then that we were leaving. True, we've been shipping and selling our possessions in preparation for the move, but buying the tickets made it all more real somehow. I shall make the *eep* sound now.

**Not really, but it's a pretty damn big number.
**Not fun.

Jason sepia

apt for rent (updated)

Last night, Janet posted a Craigslist ad for our duplex, and has already gotten half a dozen emails about it this morning. The above photo is of our living room, all nice and clean; ain't it purty?

I'm hopeful that we'll be able to get someone new in this apartment by the beginning of April, so it'll be a smooth transition for everyone involved. We've really enjoyed living here; it's the perfect size for our needs and the amount of stuff we own. It's also been fantastic to be so close to shopping at Cameron Village and Ridgewood (where Quail Ridge is located), and the access to the Beltline, I-40, and Captial Blvd has been incredibly convenient. A nice safe neighbourhood. I'm really going to miss this place.

Update: Less than an hour ago (around 1 p.m.), we had our first walkthrough, a young lady from Chapel Hill. And Janet has already gotten some more inquiries about the place. At this rate, we may have a new tenant by the end of this week (though I'm crossing all my fingers and toes so as to not jinx things).

Jason sepia

stars in my brain

Man, I'm going to have to seriously jack up my caffeine intake. I feel like I have stars in my brain. Or something.

I walked into the MWF class this morning, and the number of students had doubled from last time. I tellya, having 26 students stare at you instead of 13 is quite a difference. It threw me for a few minutes, and I had to recenter, but all I did was talk about the syllabus today. And most likely, I'm going to rework it for next time.

See, McGraw-Hill was being slack about getting the instructor's edition of the textbook for me, so the head of the department had to buy a copy just so I'd have one last Friday. When I walked in this morning, he handed me the instructor's copy, which had just arrived. And after looking at the sample syllabus in the back, it makes a lot more sense than the one I deisgned. So more tweakage is necessary. And after all that work I spent on it this weekend. Le sigh.

On the home front, we got some more pictures on the walls this weekend, and some more things put away. The apt is starting to feel really homey now. We also ordered a cake at Whole Foods for Wednesday, because of...drum roll, please...it'll be Janet's birthday! She'll turn the big two-eight, and we'll go have a nice dinner and stuff. We also went out and got a few little things for the apt, and I bought a couple of new pairs of pants, since my old ones all sag in the ass now; I discovered that I've gone down a whole pant size.

Janet seems to be getting over her cold/allergies, but now it's hit me square in the face. I'm tired and sniffly, and somehow trying to keep it at bay while I do the teaching thang.

And now I need to get to work doing the editing thang.
Jason sepia

first night down

We survived the first night in the apartment.

After I finished writing the last entry, both of us got showers (since the gas heat won't be turned on until tomorrow or Thursday in the new place), then we filled up the car with another load of stuff, cramming both our computers, monitors, printers and assorted paraphernalia into the boot and the backseat. I really didn't want to leave any of that stuff at the old place overnight, so I'm glad we fit it all in. Drove back over to the new place, unloaded, then put a few more things away. Made the bed before we got too tired, started arranging the living room. Around 10:30, we both collapsed into bed and watched the last half of an(other techno-ridden) episode of CSI (which contained computer programs that just boggled the mind with their stupidity, such as the "extreme zoom" feature for digital media which can perfectly clean up the resolution of something tiny and far away, even though the image contains pixels, people) on our small bedroom TV. After the episode was over and we finished shouting at the writers, we turned the lights off.

Sleep was fitful and spare. We were spending the night in a new place, and every little foreign sound brought me back to full wakefulness. Plus, I kept worrying about the fact that our kitchen has no curtains over the windows, so anyone can look inside from the back yard. And I kept thinking of where I could unpack things. I woke up this morning at 6:30, and after laying in bed with mind racing for a half-hour, I got up and got clean. While I was shaving, it started raining outside, and the sound was cozy in our little duplex.

Since Janet is now temporarily unemployed, we had a little extra time this morning, so we drove the quick three minutes to Cafe Carolina and Bakery for croissants and bagels and coffee. The coffee's done a bit of a number on my stomach, so I haven't really imbibed enough to wake up fully yet, and I'm sure I'll be dog tired for the rest of the day.

We're hoping to go back over to the old place this afternoon to get a few last things, and maybe to start cleaning. It just started thundering like hell, so I'm not sure how much we'll get out today. We definitely need a grocery run, but I won't be too disappointed if we're stuck inside, since there's so much that needs to be unpacked and put away.
Jason sepia

moving day, part two

I'm currently sitting on the floor of the study in my old apartment, because all of our furniture has been moved out. Today was a long and exhausting day, but the majority of our stuff is now in our new place.

I went over to my parents' house this morning to wait for the movers, since they were going to pick up a dresser that my parents didn't need anymore, and which we now do, since our closet space has been drastically reduced. Plus, it matches our other bedroom furniture. They said they might be there as early as 11 a.m., so I was there around 10:45. I sat around, watching Comedy Central for two hours before they arrived, directly at 1:00 p.m. Antwahn and his two buddies from Two Men and a Truck loaded the dresser into the truck, then followed me from Fuquay to Cary, where they did an amazing job getting all our stuff loaded up, getting everything finished right around 3:00. They were cheerful and talkative the whole time, discussing Confidential Moves, where a wife wants to move out in a hurry before the husband comes home, and a move last week where Antwahn asked the lady if he could have a rag to wipe his face with and she handed him a pair of panties.

Then we drove over to the new place and they got everything off the truck in 40 minutes. These guys were fast.

We still have some things in the old place (which is why we're here now), but it's not much. We're still hoping to sell some more things on craigslist, and we have a big load to bring to Goodwill, but we have the rest of this week to get everything all finished and cleaned before we have to turn in the keys on Sunday.

And so, I probably won't be checking many journals this week. Y'all may come up with some brilliant stuff, but chances are I won't be able to get to it, or if I do, I won't be able to comment on it. Don't take it personally.

Damn, I'm tired.

P.S. I took some photos of the state of our new place, and Janet just uploaded them to Photobucket.
Jason sepia

moving day, part one

Today we rented a U-Haul and moved over a remarkable amount of our stuff in two trips. Packing and lifting things for nearly eight hours has me absolutely exhausted, so I'll just point you toward Janet's journal. It was in the nineties all day, and I think I lost ten pounds from sweating, but we got a helluva lot done. Once we turned the truck back in and came home, I crashed into bed and slept for about two hours. I'd been anxious about today, and only got about five hours of sleep last night anyway, so I was out almost immediately. After Janet cooked some dinner and I got a shower, we headed over to Target for a quick trip to get contact paper and a wire shelf to go above our washer and some screw anchors.

Tomorrow, I'll be paying a quick visit to my parents to drop off an end table that we just can't fit in the new place, then we'll be taking some more things over in the car. Though the big priority will be getting the rest of everything all packed up and ready for the movers on Monday.

Due to a couple of screwups (one mine, and one definitely not mine), we won't be getting the gas turned on until Thursday, and we won't have internet access until next Sunday. Fortunately for me, I'll be able to check email at work, but I'm sure Janet will be going batshit without her online fix. But there are some cafes nearby the new place with free wi-fi, so we should be able to manage.
Jason sepia

mad cad skillz 2

After about eight hours, I got the drawing finished. After having constructed the thing from scratch, and put all the walls and windows and outlets and phone jacks in, and after having started putting in our furniture, I started freaking out because it looked like there wouldn't be room for all of our stuff. A quick calculation of square footage revealed that the woman who rented us the place was a big fat liar. Or incomparably stupid. We signed the lease on the assumption that the duplex was 825 sq. ft., which would accomodate us just fine, since our current place is 800 sq. ft. After adding up all the room area, it turns out that the place is only 620 sq. ft., which is quite a big fucking difference. I could have forgiven her if the place had been 800 instead of 825, but to be off by 200 sq. ft. is just unforgivable.

When I realized this, I called Janet on the phone, pissed off and upset and ready to break the lease, no matter that we have to be out of our current place on August 14. Or if not, to at least get some kind of compensation from them for us possibly putting things in storage. Right about that time, I left to pick her up from work, grinding my teeth the whole way. I'd printed out what I'd gotten finished and brought it with me in the car. At each stoplight, I'd look at it again, realizing that maybe we could move this piece of furniture from here to there and it would open up the space more. As I kept looking at it, I saw more and more solutions, and my temper cooled. When I got to Janet's office, I was a little better, and she quickly made some more suggestions that would improve things even more. We drove straight to the new place so we could look around and see where things might fit. And also realizing that the maintenance folks still have a lot to do before we get in there this weekend, even though I received the keys today.

When we got home, I kept working, putting in the rest of our big things, and realizing that at 620 sq. ft., we can reasonably fit all of our things, and it won't look to cluttered. I'll be supplying the movers with the drawing as well, so they know where everything goes. I feel much better about this now, though I'm still angry at the rental woman.
Jason sepia

mad cad skillz

Got the keys to the new apartment this morning, and went over there while the maintenance dude was fixing some of the paint and caulk issues. And despite what the apt manager said, the floors were not buffed or waxed, so they'll be doing that later today.

I spent an hour and a half with notepad, pen, and measuring tape sketching out the floor plan so that we'll have a scale drawing that we can manipulate with our furniture and stuff. I'll be drawing it up in CAD just as soon as I finish writing this.
Jason sepia

auricular telephonic fusion

I talked for so long on the telephone this afternoon that it literally fused to my right ear. In the mirror, there's no gradient, no distinction between the plastic of the cordless phone and the fleshy cartilage of my pinna. My head is pulled to the right with the extra weight, and I'm developing a crick in my neck. It feels as if my ear wants to rip itself off of my head; the strain where it attaches to my skull has become considerable. Every time the phone rings, my heart is startled into infarction and my shorts are soiled.

All afternoon, I talked to the utility companies, getting things set up for the new apartment. Electricity, gas, water, phone, internet, all which had wait times, in which I listened to Beethoven concertos, or New Age ambiences. Ironically, the phone company took the longest, and I ended up just doing it online anyway.

Then, I went through the phone book and called mover after mover to see who was available and what their rates were. In the end, I went with Two Men and a Truck, who were willing to go to Fuquay to pick up a dresser at my parents' house without a minimum weight charge, and who seemed reasonable in their approach. Jamie seemed to like their service when they moved him and Steffi up to Virginia as well.

We move Monday, August 8. According to Chinese astrology, it's a very lucky day to move, and we'll have the weekend before to make sure everything is all packed up and ready to go so that things can get moved as quickly as possible (since they charge by the hour). I pick up the keys tomorrow afternoon. It's hard to believe it's happening so fast.

The price is the phone fused to my ear. Anyone know a good surgeon?