25 August 2008

Traveling cat circus

out of wonderful kindness, two co-workers of mine offered up their houses/beds to dave and i while they were out-of-town, in exchange for us watching their cats. one was for two weeks, one was for a weekend. these adventures have now come to an end and we are back on the sofabed indefinitely but we had a nice time while it lasted.

for two weeks we became even more nomadic than i had felt even previously. we didnt stay at these places 100% of the time. if dave wanted to work late and stay at school then i just stayed on the sofabed so that i wasnt all alone (cat and roomie). so it was a new assessment every day of where we were going to sleep that night. while it was nice to have options and to actually have a nice comfy bed where i could finally acquire close to 8 hours of sleep, it wasnt the joyride i was expecting. it was easier to come unglued than i thought.

i had all these things swirling in my head.
- keep track of house keys and dont lose them because you were entrusted with this entry into the house and the cats need food! you cant lock yourself out!
- take care of the things you were 'hired' to do: get the mail, scoop the litter, keep the food bowls full, change the water regularly, make sure nothing bad or unsafe has occurred while you were gone
- keep the place as you found it or better/cleaner: take note of your surroundings, put things back where you find them, dont use all the paper towel/toilet paper and leave the person one square left for their arrival home, dont track dirt in, sweep up/wipe up after yourself
- cat tending: make sure you attempt to bond with the cats so they are less traumatized, pet them, play with their toys, brush them, clean up lovely vomit piles
- keep your regular life going: make sure your own cat is fed, that you are able to get to work easily in the morning from wherever you are staying, make sure you have clothes and toiletries for wherever you are staying, shuttle library books and movies around so that you dont miss their return dates, leave your food at homebase but remember to take snacks or meal-parts with you to the other places, remember that if you hang out with friends you arent going to be able to bring them over to your place after dinner to hangout, cuz you dont have a place!

there were some nice stress-reducing bonuses however that we did welcome. we brought bags of dirty laundry that we still hadnt taken care of from the old apartment (bathroom rugs, shower curtain, duvet cover...) which was a great relief to get that done. having access to cable tv during the Olympics was fantastic! obviously the comfy bed was a plus and one day dave actually got to work-from-home in a normal homey environment.

18 August 2008

Visabound in chicago

dave needs a French research work visa. all the paperwork took months to compile and your best bet is to take care of it in person. so we make a French consulate appointment in Chicago for friday August 15, 2008 at 9a.

we drive to Chicago the thursday evening before, arriving near the city limits at about 8p, CST. it is still light out and we think nothing of our route plans when we decide to get off at exit zero on the SkyWay at the Indiana border. we take Lake Shore Drive, before it is even called that, ALL the way into Chicago. we drive through shady Mexicantown and sketchy residential streets very reminiscent of Detroit. dave remarks that, had we time, one of these Mexican restaurants is bound to serve tasty authentic food. after nearly 30 minutes of stop signs and strange neighborhoods, parks, shoreline, and cityscapes, we arrive at Michigan Ave and Wacker where our Pricelined hotel is located. we of course cant go turn the direction we need to onto Wacker, so we instead take a 15 minute detour on the weird/creepy lower level under Chicago city streets. this scares me far more than the Lake Shore Drive in. finally we arrive at the Hyatt where we are greeted by valetmen who want to store our car for the bargain price of $48/day, not including tips. this price is just $29 less than our hotel room costs for the night! however, through dave's freakish luck we have been upgraded to a deluxe room on the 32nd floor of this hotel that overlooks the river and the lake. gorgeous! we even need to put our key into the elevator to reach our specific floor...fancy! we tuned into the Olympics and decided to grab a beer and snacks at a nearby bar. we settled on Houlihan's...not our first choice. we had mediocre food and overpriced beer but we watched some gold medal performances and enjoyed the people-watching at the bar.

the alarm goes off, we get ready, head to the Corner Bakery and grab a muffin, snarf it down because i fear the building will have tight security and wont let us in with food...we arrive and are allowed full access to all elevators, take one to the 37th floor and wait in a weird little room that is half doctor's office/half bank lobby with other fellow 9a appointees. i again imagine it will be very formal and serious as we await the person to call our name. finally Sophie, the woman behind the presumably bulletproof glass, calls dave up to the desk, he slides his paperwork under the slot and 5 minutes later and $155 lighter is awarded an afternoon time of 12:30p to come back and pick up the official visa. simple.

we then spent the rest of the morning shuttling a friend who we carpooled to Chicago with around the city. he needed to get fingerprinted for his visa to the UK and India; he ended up spending a whooping $900+ on his expedited visas. once that was done, dave and i parked back at the hotel and walked to the Shedd Aquarium to enjoy an afternoon with children running around unchecked while their parents disobeyed HUGE "NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY" signs and proceeded to blind the aquatic animals. One woman keep exclaiming that she was getting blurry shots of the "swordfish" which was really a shark species called a saw shark with a weird 2.5' long nose that looked like a chainsaw. idiot.

truly though, i cant complain, we had a fairly uneventful day where there was plenty of room for things to go seriously wrong. we now have the visa in hand, and dave and i were able to enjoy a mini vacation in a different city, possibly our last before we leave the States.

13 August 2008

Being humbled by a tiny virus

Ugh. I HATE being sick. no no, i know, no one likes being sick. its just that i normally have a whole routine that i do in order to make myself feel as comfortable as possible while sick. and what happens when you no longer have that personal space in which to be sick...? you are left feeling like a piece of crap with the added guilt of feeling like you are inconveniencing others around you, thus making you feel worse.

the joys of being sick in the company of others:
- making it look natural that you've gone to the bathroom 3 times in the last half hour
- running the water and looking for any other way to make noise so that the paper thin door you are sitting behind wont betray and embarrass you too badly
- your friend's kid with a runny nose and dirty diaper is looking better than you
- carrying around a trash can with you or casually creating a leaning tower of used kleenex that you cant pretend is appropriate but you just have to accept
- covering up your desires to mumble and moan and stumble around like a zombie
- wanting to be a quiet nose-blower but its really not worth using a tissue unless you can let lose and call the geese home with your eardrum shattering honk
- trying to make your coughs and sniffles and other "sick noises" tolerable, or at least not revolting
- forcing your wonderful friend/roomie to watch movies with you because you are invading her personal relaxation time and space
- wanting to pull out your bed early because you just wanna snuggle in some sheets and be covered in pillows and just feel better already, but its 7p and you still have a roommate who would be totally inconvenienced
- finding yourself still awake and still feeling crappy at 3a, normally you would elbow the husband and make him take notice but he is at the office and the roomie would probably poison your food if you woke her up to tell her you are still feeling crappy
- resorting to making your cat the thing that comforts you

so, after spending 3 days with stomach problems and 3 more days with a super fun head cold i was at my wits end. if i hadnt felt good enough to go to work this morning i dont know what i woulda done, but i suspect that the poor maintenance guy who knocked on the door 6 feet from my sofabed at 8:15a this morning to fix the toilet, woulda gotten more than he bargained for. as it was i answered the door in my sleeping standard of t-shirt and men's boxer briefs without brushing my hair. after being humbled for several days in front of friends, i couldnt muster the ability to give a shit about a maintenance person who i hopefully will never see again.

06 August 2008

Homelessness makes the heart grow fonder

so, technically our "adventure" began on Sunday, July 27 when two of our fabulous friends helped us move our big/heavy crap into storage in Canton, MI. the rest of the week we were frantically shuttling the rest of the junk outta the apartment to get it empty by the end of the month.

we had been trying to find a craigslist sublet but the options we found both fell through. so we concocted the following plan: we moved our sofabed into our friend Julie's place where she has room in her living room for me and our cat. Dave needs to work late nights and needs a fancy computer set-up, so staying at Julie's didn't really work for him. he then was staying on a friend's floor who lives closer to campus and is in the same finish-up-the-PhD situation as dave.

anyway, last night it got ramped up to even an even crazier level. the friend's place where dave was staying needs to be painted and then vacated early, so dave AGAIN had no place to stay! the easiest thing for him, he decided, was to move his sleeping pad and sleeping bag into his office at school since he goes there every morning and stays there until the wee hours of the night. he will periodically shower and sleep at Julie's place on the sofabed with me. joy!

this whole situation has become SO absurd to me that it is now comical and i am just trying to find ways to patch my sanity together until this bit of our lives is over. everyone has been wonderfully kind offering us a room in their home in distant cities, offering us catsitting weekends where we can have access to a real bed, and all have offered their sympathy. dave seems to barely be showing a crack of stress as he is the one baring the brunt of this craziness. it has to be one of the worst ways to finish up a PhD, but he is functioning with his usual demeanor and i have to applaud him for it. i guess it helps me to try and keep it together if nothing else.

i find myself, more than usual, trying to remind myself that it could be worse. i saw a car crash being cleaned up yesterday and thought "i'm doing better than that" and i went to PT for my back this morning and i saw the limited mobility of some of the patients in the waiting room and again thought "things could be worse." i am grateful for what i have and that i have the resources to deal with most of these changes...

05 August 2008

Kick off!

so, i'm starting this blog because my life is going into upheaval for the next two years and i thought that others might want to join me on this runaway train.

dave (aka, the husband) is currently in the final stages of his PhD, hopefully defending in early September 2008. once this occurs the chain of events will kick off. he accepted an international 2 year post-doctorate position. he has two collaborators he will be working with; Jean in Rennes, France at the University of Rennes 1 from September-December 2008 and then Chris in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Dalhousie University until about August 2010. during this whole time dave will also be applying for professorships, so if a job offer comes during this time period, it is likely that we would take it and move on to our hopefully more permanent life.

anyway, while i am following dave around the world, i will not be able to have my normal stable life with a regular job. being Type A always seemed to be highly advantageous in my current lifestyle, but i am now realizing that evolutionarily, my kind of people arent meant to take on so much change so quickly.

thus, i am creating my alter ego 'Lotus' and will allow you to experience with us the joys and pain of this "adventure" people keep telling me will be so fun. for those who know me well, the name Lotus is one i have always wanted to name my child so that we could ride around in a Lotus Elise together and act like the nerds that we most certainly would be. alas, dave has vetoed this name choice, so i get to make a blog with the name and pretend i am both Lotus and Alyce. dont be jealous. ;)