unpacked and moved in

My favorite part of my house is to stand in front of the refrigerator.  I asked around and most people set their central air to 78 degrees and have ceiling fans on high.  I set my air to 78, turned on the fans and feel hot.  I am constantly sticky and prefer 70 with fans, but everyone says that’s cold and it would mean my electric bill would be high.  I’ll just suffer for another week until classes start and I’ll be in air-conditioning all day, every day.

For the last few days, I have been straight up camping inside my house.  I slept on my camping Thermarest and sleeping bag because I neither had a mattress, blankets, or linens.  I slept on the floor for two days until the mattress was delivered and I bought new linens and a comforter.

I sat on the floor for two days on my yoga mat until I finally found a good enough sofa.  I tested over 50 couches in many stores and finally settled on one.  It happens to be new but discounted.  I try to buy things only that I love, and although I do not love it, it was good enough.  I am grateful to sit on something other than the hardwood floor, somewhere I can stretch my legs out while I study from heavy textbooks.

Standing in front of the fridge, I have been drinking out of my camping Nalgene bottles because I don’t have any glassware.  I have since bought two glasses at a thrift store.  I only bought two because I only liked two.  I am inheriting a full dining set of plates from Publishing friends, nearby.

I went to Costco and bought enough cleaning supplies probably to last six months, if not the entire year.  I bought new Tupperware called “Snapware” by Pyrex both glass and plastic.  I am super excited about the snap – leakproof containers since I plan on bringing breakfast, lunch and snacks with me every day to class.  My class schedule is Mon-Fri, 8-5:30 pm, August-December.

I am working on picking up a small bistro dining set with two chairs for my kitchen tonight so I can have somewhere to sit instead of standing while I eat my cold tomatoes from the fridge.  I did turn on the stove to steam dumplings but more to check the stove worked.  It is an electric stove, not nearly as good as a gas stove and takes much longer to heat up. I’m planning on trying the oven tomorrow to roast brussel sprouts and maybe checking my dehydrator, drying apples.

I went to all the grocery stores in the area (Compare Foods, Li Ming’s, Krogers, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Food Lion, Costco) to find my foods.  The local Spanish/Latino grocery “Compare Foods” store has the best prices for chickpeas/garbanzo beans.  Kroger’s sells peanut butter in large quantities inexpensively and I bought the entire section of Almond Milk at Whole Foods.  Hopefully I am stocked for the month until my CSA begins in September.

It has been madness, running around, going to some stores twice, even though I had a list but forgot items.  I am determined to be settled before orientation next week.  All my books arrived in the mail except one, which hopefully they can send another copy because it didn’t make it to me.

Also, for those of you interested, when I removed my boxes from the storage unit, several more items were wet and didn’t make it – the modem, the fuzzy winter boots grew mold, the Anatomy book had several hundred pages stuck together, and the storage unit manager already threw away all the linens (flannel bed sheets, duvet cover, etc).  I don’t know where my two booties went. Did he throw those shoes away too? The rest was salvaged and the insurance is paying out the full claim of $2,000.

Amtrak update: I called Amtrak twice while I was in NYC for a status updates and waited on the phone for 45 minutes each time.  I don’t care enough to continue with the claim, since the $2,000 will more than pay for all the items missing or damaged.

Frizz defying

I switched my shampoo and conditioner to humidity protection, frizz-defy. It doesn’t really matter though because within five minutes of being outside I am literally a hot mess. I don’t know how anyone lives in this hot, humid sticky weather.  It is 95 degrees by 10 am.  No one bikes in Durham because it is too hot.  Even traveling a short distance, my arms get hot from the sun and I need to take a break in the shade before peddaling along.

My move to North Carolina was less than smooth. All my Amtrak boxes arrived except one, and they did not all arrive at the same time. The majority of them arrived on Thursday morning, one week after I delivered them to the Emeryville station in California. They traveled by train to Chicago, them switched trains in Washington D.C. then to Durham, North Carolina. One separate box arrived alone the next day via a different train.

The lost box is my kitchen things. I am grateful the lost box was not my gear or winter clothes. It could have been a lot worse. My takeaway from the experience, is move by Amtrak if cost is your priority and you do not care if something is lost. It was $400 for a pallet of 500 lbs.  The lost box will not be reimbursed until Amtrak corporate has done an extensive search for 90 days.  The boxes are now in a storage unit until my lease begins.  

My bicycle shipped separately via UPS or Fed Ex, I don’t remember which, it was damaged in transit and required special parts replaced.  The bike shop in Durham will order them and replace those parts.

Finding housing was also tedious. I thought I had everything settled before I arrived, placing a deposit on a property. However, upon arrival, the house next door to this property is undergoing a major renovation and I did not want to live next door to a construction zone. The ceilings were also very low and the house much smaller than I had viewed on Face Time.  I received my deposit back, but lost $45 on the application fee.  Then over the next few days I looked at ten+ properties and different neighborhoods.  I hope to live in the Old West Durham neighborhood as it is closest to West campus and shops.

I stayed my first two nights with a recent nursing school graduate, then the next four nights at an Airbnb (two nights were over the weekend). At the Airbnb, the host put my housing request on the neighborhood list serve and someone replied with a house that works perfectly for me. It is a 1B/1B, completing my only requirements of a indoor area for my bicycle and a washer/dryer in unit. It is a 10-15 minute walk to the 9th street shopping/market area or a 5 minute bike ride. I completed a rental application for this house and hope to report back positive news soon by signing a lease. I am in NYC now and return August 15 to Durham, and stay until December.

Autumn in the Northeast

Once upon a time I thought taking the bus from DC to NYC was painful. Oh, how things have changed or rather my perception has changed. It was a short 5 hours and quite tolerable. The bus was clean, with wi-fi and outlets. I sat in the very front of the double decker so I could look out the giant windows and admire the autumn colors. I miss the fall and the change of the seasons. The bus ride was pleasant, comparable to the many bus rides I have taken in Asia, riding on dirt roads, paying bribery fees for being a foreigner and being squished with live animals. The bus ride was $19 vs. $149 for Amtrak. Of course, Amtrak would have been quicker and quieter, but I find believing I am in poverty, whether I am impoverished or not, serves me well financially.

Photo: apple picking with small friends.