Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. I had 700 pages of assigned reading for this week.
2. That's the minimum amount I needed to do. I also need to be preparing for a couple of upcoming projects and researching areas I might be interested in for my dissertation. And I've started reading some analyses of the readings for class so that I might actually understand what I've read.
3. I did not get all 700 pages done.
4. I have another 700 to read for next week.
5. I gave up book reviewing because the thought of reading anything else---even for pleasure---makes me want to cry.
6. Rowen hates grad school. She's very neglected.
7. I, however, have found time for my latest addiction: swaps.
8. I blame Crystal for this addiction.
9. I am terrible at staying in touch with people, and I'm so sorry I haven't returned any phone calls or e-mails. But, well, see 1-4 above.
10. I feel like 30 is too old to be living in a tiny apartment with lawn chairs and a folding table as my only furniture.
11. I am completely hopeless at making small talk at parties.
12. I had another mouse in my apartment. This one was alive. It scurried past my feet. At first, I was completely freaked out because I thought it was an enormous cockroach. I was actually relieved to realize that it was a mouse.
13. I've discovered that Rowen doesn't like bones. I have a very weird dog.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: I *Heart* New Paint; Marx and iTunes, Not So Much

Today is Thursday, right?

1. Things are looking up with the apartment.
2. One of the maintenance guys spent four whole days here taking care of most of the items on my complaint list.
3. Never underestimate the power of a coat of paint. I instantly liked my apartment so much more after the kitchen and living room were repainted.
4. My bedroom is still a ghastly shade of seafoam, but the paint was clean and uncracked, so I didn't feel like I could really complain.
5. My landlord still doesn't grasp the idea that if you do a job right the first time, you don't have to repair it as often. For example, he absolutely refuses to use primer. Even though using primer would mean having to use fewer coats of paint, which would mean that the paint is less likely to flake off in six months. Whatever.
6. As for the neighbors, well . . . I got some earplugs. I don't love having to wear them; they make sleeping on my side a little uncomfortable and make my ears a little sore. But I have been able to sleep through the night.
7. Marx. Smart man, but very longwinded. And confusing as heck. The Manifesto of the Communist Party isn't too bad---short and mostly readable---I give the credit to Engels for that. Because Das Kapital? That's just painful. For about 10 pages, Marx goes on and on and on and on about exchange values and how if 10 yards of linen equals the value of 1 coat, then 2 coats are worth 20 yards of linen and so on and so forth and OMG, please don't make me ever read Marx again. I felt better about not understanding Marx's critique of Hegel when the professor said that she couldn't lecture on Hegel because she didn't understand it.
8. Fortunately, most of my other reading is more accessible and more interesting. I'm actually enjoying Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western Pacific.
9. Yesterday, I went to a lecture on the relationship between biodiversity and poverty in Uganda.
10. I really like being in grad school. I may stay in school forever.
11. Last week, I finally got a project assistant position. For 13 hours of work per week, I get my tuition paid, health care, and a monthly stipend! I can't even tell you how thrilled I am. The position itself is interesting---it's an event planning thing---and funding in my department is seriously scarce. So I'm so lucky to get this.
12. For the first time, I'm one of the older folks in a group. Since high school, I've almost always been the youngest in my social and work circles. Most of my friends are older than me, and most of my coworkers have been, too. But I'm on the upper end of the age spectrum in my cohort (first-year grad students in cultural anthropology). It's a strange feeling. Particularly because I really don't feel my age (or look it or act it!).
13. The new iTunes 7 "upgrade" royally sucks. I really only use iTunes for downloading television shows---and really only for Project Runway (and thank goodness Vincent finally got the boot; nobody tell me about last night---I haven't seen it yet!). So it is really annoying that everytime I go to the television section, the program shuts down. And the help section on the iTunes Web site? Could not be less helpful.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why You Should Never Ever Rent an Apartment You Haven't Seen in Person

To: [redacted---landlord]
Fr: Lisa [redacted---tenant]
Re: Apartment Repairs and Condition

The following are items that were identified upon my move-in on August 16, 2006, and have not been addressed since I took occupancy of [redacted] Madison, WI:

1. Storm windows need to be replaced in the front and middle rooms.
2. The middle room and kitchen need to be repainted. The current paint is peeling from the walls of both rooms and around the window sill and frame in the kitchen. Furthermore, the paint in both rooms is heavily scuffed and the doors are dingy, yellowed, and scuffed.
3. The paint around the window frame in the bathroom is peeling and the contact paper on the sill is peeling off.
4. I have not received a copy of my lease with your signature.

In addition, I have identified the following problems since the initial walk-through:

5. The refrigerator is missing shelf fronts on the door shelves in both the fridge and freezer sections.
6. The electric outlet in the bathroom is loose.
7. Some tiles in the bathroom are loose.
8. The cable outlet cover in the front room is loose.
9. The right-side blinds in the front room have a broken rail; it was taped together, but the tape is not holding.
10. The right-side window in the front room and both of the windows in the middle room will not stay open.

Furthermore, I would ask that you give attention to the following areas:

11. The common areas, including the front and back entrances and the laundry room are filthy. Litter has sat in the front entrance area for the past three weeks. The back entrance is covered in dirt and cobwebs; there are holes in the walls.
12. The garbage area does not have sufficient canisters for disposal and is not well-maintained, which is causing stench, flies, and rodents in the area.
13. Residents in the other units continue to be disruptive---speaking loudly, slamming doors, and generally creating noise late at night (between approximately 1 am and 3 am). I have spoken to them about the problem but the noise persists; a word from the landlord might have a greater effect.

I ask that you clean up the common areas to at least a sanitary condition and that you speak to the residents to remind them of their responsibities as good neighbors.

I would appreciate a quick resolution to these issues.

And this doesn't even include a mention of the two---count 'em, two!---dead mice I found on Sunday: one in my apartment and one outside the laundry room. I called the landlord to let him know and his response was to get miffed that I had called on a Sunday.

I tried to speak nicely to the girls upstairs about the noise problem; their response was "Hey, it's an apartment." I've lived in apartments for almost ten years and have never once had to complain about noise.

So learn from my HUGE mistake and never rent an apartment based on a couple of pictures. They somehow "forgot" to send me the pictures of the gunk hanging from the laundry room ceiling or the stains on the ghetto carpet in the front hall.

I'll be sending this note to my landlord this week and calling the Tenant Resource Council this week to discuss my options.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Still Alive

Really. Even though it's been one of the longest lulls on my blog. When I'm on the computer, I'm looking for an assistantship or ordering books or reading for a class or trying to find the bus route to somewhere or downloading the latest episode of "Project Runway" (which I have become totally addicted to, and I'm calling it right now: Michael, Jeffrey, and Laura in the final three), and when I'm not doing one of those things, I don't want to be on the computer.

A lot has gone on the past week, so I'm not sure where to start. I guess with thanking everyone for the birthday wishes. It was a lowkey affair---mostly ran errands and unpacked and then went on a small scavenger hunt in the pouring, pouring rain. But at the end of the hunt was a very yummy cake and a gift certificate for goodies from a French bakery, so it was worth it.

Since then, well, wow . . . I've been getting to know Madison, or at least the eastern part of it. I love having a park just two blocks away so I can sit outside on nice days (although I miss having a balcony so I can sit outside at home!), and I've been spending a lot of time at the coffeehouses on State Street (for the Austinites, State is like S. Congress but without the traffic). I'm trying to spend at least a few hours every day outside of the apartment so I don't go completely stir crazy. As a side benefit, all my exploring has been great exercise. I've lost at least five pounds since I've been here. Although I may have gained it all back at Taste of Madison today! This weekend, a bunch of restaurants have set up booths around the Capital Square and are selling samples from their menus for just a few dollars. I had hush puppies, custard with caramel and hot fudge, crab rangoon, pad thai, and coconut shrimp (all but the custard were shared with two other girls---I'm not that piggish!). The festival is just about three blocks from me, so I may go back tomorrow if I can work up the courage to try deep fried cheese curd!

What else is there to say? I've had two interviews for assistantships; one I didn't get, the other I'm still waiting to hear back from but I'm not getting my hopes up. I have a work study set up, though, at a media literacy organization, so I'll at least have some income soon. I thought that my old job was going to throw me some freelance work, but so far they aren't coming through.

I've finally starting meeting some people. This past Tuesday and again this morning, I went to a knitting group. And yesterday, I took an orientation tour of the campus where I met two people from my program, as well as a couple others from various programs. So, yay! It was nice to commiserate with the others in the anthropology program; none of us has funding or an assistantship and we all have more reading than can be humanly done in one semester. We're very jealous of the other programs where the students are getting full funding and stipends and will finish in five to six years instead of six to ten years (and that's only if we take four courses a term, one more than full-time). What have I gotten myself into? And why aren't I in library school?

Another good thing: Rowen and I found a dog park. Actually, we were shown the dog park by a very nice woman who helped me out when Rowen freaked on a hike/bike trail along Lake Monona and decided that she absolutely, positively would not move from the fishing pier. After at least 20 minutes of trying to cajole, trick, and drag her off the pier, the nice woman came along with her dog and we got Rowen to follow the other dog down the trail and to the dog park. Thank goodness. Let me tell ya: Rowen may only be 40 lbs, but when she gets stubborn, she might as well be 40 tons.

The living situation is still less than good. My landlord has gone MIA, which is really frustrating. I don't have a lease with his signature on it---not good in general and really annoying when I need that to get a parking permit, which I would have liked to have done before classes start. And the list of repairs for the apartment is getting longer, although I'm not holding out much hope that any of it will get done. I'm considering repainting one of the rooms myself; it's a horrible seafoam green that looks terrible against my wall decorations. I was thinking of doing a light latte or khaki, something more colorful than the basic apartment beige but still neutral. But if some of the other repairs don't get made and the noise issue doesn't improve, I may be looking to get out of my lease at the end of this term, so . . .

And, yes, the noise is still a big problem. I apparently am living on a block with a lot of undergraduates. The house next to mine is host to myriad parties, as well as some romantic liaisons (or porn viewings, I can't really testify to which and I really don't want to know). The girls directly above me continue to think that the wee hours are the best time to rearrange the furniture, and the girl in the other upstairs apartment has a boyfriend who is fond of showing up at 3 in the morning, drunk and shouting because he smashed up his cell phone after a fight (which I know because after he spent ten minutes shouting for her, the girl came downstairs, let him in, and had a row with him right outside my door, and did I mention that this was all at 3 IN THE MORNING?!). No one seems to be able to shut a door without slamming it or walk on the stairs without stomping. I finally ran into the landlord this morning and asked him to speak with the girls and his answer was for me to call the police. Gee, thanks.

At least if I do have to move again soon, I'm only half unpacked. There are still boxes and piles of stuff everywhere.

So anyway, that's the rambling update from here. I have photos, but I'm too lazy today to post them. I didn't get a ton of sleep last night thanks to the Drama Girl and her boyfriend, and I've been running around all day today---the knitting group and then Taste of Madison.

Only two more days of freedom!