My new favorite room

I didn’t realize it until this past weekend, but I have a new favorite room in my condo. I didn’t expect it; in fact, so many other rooms come to mind first as better rooms when I try to choose my favorite. There’s the room I spend most of my time in, the living room, which is open to the kitchen and dining room. My previous post was about wall-mounting the TV and fireplace, which make the open living room space the heart of my home and even more enjoyable for me.

As a former San Franciscan, I can also wholeheartedly say I love my laundry room. I love having my own personal washer and dryer that no one else gets to use, and which is not coin-operated in a dingy basement. I have a shelf for a variety of laundry detergents and fabric softeners because I love having options and different smells for my clean laundry.

I love my wrap-around patio, which has a teeny tiny view, and allows me to nurture my gardening hobby. It has a BBQ, genuine custom built Adirondack chairs, a firepit, as well as a dining table and chairs to enjoy a meal outside, too.

Memorial Day weekend was my first weekend with houseguests. My best friend for the last 10 years, who knows me better than most and still loves me, and her girlfriend came to Seattle for a visit. This was the first time I got to put my guest room to use.

Normally, I keep my guest room door closed, mostly to keep Cheddar from making a mess or getting his fur all over. I figure one less room for him keeps him out of that much more trouble. I never even had my own bedroom (let alone a guest room) in the last apartment in SF I had, mostly because the living room was the bedroom was the guest room in that studio. I’ve not had a guest room since 2008, I believe. Real estate was at such a premium in San Francisco and Sydney that I could barely afford my own room, let alone a separate wholly-dedicated empty room with a bed for guests which does not have a full- or part-time roommate.

I think I love my guest room most of all, when it is in use. That’s where people close to me, who care enough to come out for a visit, get to sleep. I try to make them as comfortable as possible. It’s not a fancy room. It has a bed, a shelf, and a bedside table. It has an old Australian flag I got for Australia Day while living in Sydney, as well as photos on canvas I took in Australia (one is of Uluru where I scattered some of my father’s ashes, whilst another is of the harbor at Rushcutter’s Bay near where I lived in Sydney.) I put up glow in the dark stars in the guest room, and the guest bathroom has a space-themed star shower curtain. I subconsciously made my guest room my Australia room. Miranda, my giant stuffed panda, a gift from a friend in Sydney, also resides in the guest room, welcoming guests to give her a cuddle. I didn’t realize I had enough for a whole Australia room until I saw what I had to work with. Australia was a big part of my life and who I am as a person, so it’s only fitting it should have its own theme room in my condo.

Having my best friend around me this past weekend made me feel more like me in my new place. I feel like since moving to Seattle, I’ve undergone a sort of personal renaissance. With so much that’s new, I didn’t have much of the old around. I haven’t felt so much like myself in a while. It’s refreshing. And my place finally feels like home to me. All of the projects I’d given myself when I moved in 3 months ago have been completed. It’s a great feeling, and to get to share that with friends who love and support me makes me incredibly happy and at peace.

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Wall mounting things

As much as I love DIY projects, I also know my own limitations. I’m having some guys from a maintenance company help me with a project, which to me, is like icing on the cake of my new condo. Today, they are wall mounting my TV, a component shelf, and an electric fireplace on one feature wall. I couldn’t be more excited! The wall was damaged when I had to remove the previous TV wall mount, which was apparently from before 2007 when VESA changed its wall mount measurement standards. Their old wall mount didn’t fit my TV I moved here with, and even when I bought a new TV thinking that would fit, it did not. I had to remove the previous wall mount, which was easy enough. The real damage came when I tried to get the cord-hider tube off the wall, which had been double sided foam taped to the sheet rock.

Fast forward to now, I’ve given the guys my measurements for the space (but asked them to measure again to be sure – measure twice and cut once, someone once taught me), centering/spacing requests, and am trying to stay out of the way, so they can:

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One of the guys doing the work today was one who previously patched the sheet rock, and did a mighty fine job keeping the texture so it looks unnoticeable now. I added a coat of paint, Behr’s “Jet Set”, a periwinkle/slate blue gray to my liking. The wall is ready to go for this final piece of the living room pie. I didn’t do most of the work myself as these jobs require patience and a skill level I simply do not have. Chaos would ensue.

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I think I read somewhere (probably a Malcolm Gladwell book) one of the signs of a true entrepreneur is they know their skill set, and know when to consult experts, bringing the right people to the team to get the job done. Wall mounting requires a precision I have yet to master. Taking measurements multiple times, allowing for offsets in TV wall mounts on the joints of their arms, finding studs and ensuring the weight can be carried by toggle bolts when not affixed to a stud. I’d love to say I did this work myself, but truth be told, the end result would look like a third grader half-assed it at the last minute, scotch tape hanging off at the seams, etc. At that point, I’d have to call in the professionals and beg them:

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There was a bit of stress around this wall mounting project too, not only to not look like I let a half-assing third grader run rampant with power tools, but because I put a deadline on myself to have this done before my best friend and her girlfriend arrived for a visit. I wanted it to be done so we could enjoy it, and it would feel more “done” around here. They arrive tomorrow. And I only made a final decision on this commitment to wall mounting on Friday. So orders had to be placed with Amazon for wall mounts and the fireplace itself. Treat yo self. Delivery had to be ensured before installation, and if I didn’t give myself a buffer, I ran the risk of a defective product being delivered and installation being a no-go. I also didn’t want my friends, especially one of them who works in construction herself, to see a shoddy job and ask me:

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These guys are doing a great job, while I work from home and “supervise.” Translation:

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Further, this project comes at a time when there are other forces at work. I went to a dermatologist yesterday about a mole which has changed since living in Australia, directly under that pesky little hole in the ozone that never went away, but somehow left the news arena and people’s minds. They took a biopsy of the mole to rule out melanoma, with results due in 12 days, so I’m sporting a pretty nifty Nelly cheek band-aid. No pictures of that, please. Further, I have some work deadlines and details that are getting a bit messy and outside the lines that I’m trying to manage, while trying to make my job look effortless, as I furiously tread water under the surface.

I’m looking forward to the time off with friends, my first house guests since I moved in almost 3 months ago. The weather looks as though it will not cooperate with my plans for hikes and BBQ’s, as the forecast is rain for nearly every day they’re here over the long weekend.

While it is stressful, this is life, and I’m grateful for it. I enjoy making my house my home. I lost my cousin not too long ago to very aggressive brain cancer, which was a painful reminder that life is too short to do anything but keep moving forward and keep yourself as happy as possible. So cuz, this project is for you, DIY (do it yourself) became PDI (professionals do it), but while I didn’t do the heavy lifting or the grunt work, I’ll certainly enjoy it for you and think of you often. Rest in peace, Larry.

California girl at heart

So I just had the pleasure (do you smell the sarcasm already?) of visiting Seattle’s driver licensing office (equivalent to the DMV) to get my first non-California driver’s license. I felt a little sad, going in, as I’ve always had a California license. I’m a California girl, born, bred, and raised. Even though I strayed to other continents and called them home temporarily, I still call California my original home.

My experience at the DMV was interesting… it started originally when I moved here back in February. I read online that I legally had 1 month after moving to change my address and to get a new driver’s license. However, one of the documents one must bring is proof of residency, via a homeowner’s insurance policy bill, or a utility bill (not cable or internet though, as that’s not considered permanent enough.) So I ended up having to wait over 2 months for my first utility bill from Seattle City Light, since they only send customer invoices on a quarterly basis. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone I broke that law. It’s been over 3 months since I moved here, and I’ve only just gotten my license today. Woops.

The Washington DMV works a little differently than the shitshow that is the California DMV. California at least acknowledges it’s a shitshow, and that people who show up and wait in line before the office opens in the morning may not even get to be seen the same day. So, you can book an appointment with the DMV to minimize wait times. Those appointments were super handy, as they minimized wait times to maybe only a couple of hours, instead of the whole damn day. Washington’s DMV system offers no such appointments. There is a tracker on their website which provides up to date wait times, but as I learned today, that can be, and usually is, wildly inaccurate. Half an hour in, this was me:

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I left my office when the tracker said the wait time was 0 minutes… and when I arrived to the poorly marked entrance downtown, the line was out the door. Bugger. That line was just to see the greeter, who then sorts everyone and gives them a number. I looked down at my receipt with the number F21 on it. I truly felt like Beetlejuice with the biggest possible number away, and they were only serving F8 when I glanced at the screen. Sigh.

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There were 6 service windows, with only 2 really in operation at any given time. Then the screen began announcing numbers nowhere between F8 and F21. E905. R319. Fuck me. Now they were just making up numbers on purpose to delay my intentions of painless, efficient service. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. There was no music, no TV, and I somehow could not find solace in my phone as I waited. I could pretend I was meditating peacefully, but let’s be honest. I was seething on the inside, imagining channeling a raging bitch letting loose on the system to the sound of resounding cheers from other citizens and DMV employees alike. Instead, I tried my best to be patient, calm, and not act on the outside how I felt on the inside: annoyed. I listened to everything happening around me. The family of 3 from China whose visas expired 4 days ago, but who successfully obtained driver’s licenses anyway. Or the woman in her twenties who didn’t know her learner’s permit actually expires and had been driving with it for the last year. The woman on the phone hopelessly explaining that something could be found on top of the microwave when it was very apparent the person on the other end of that call didn’t see it anywhere.

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Eventually, what felt like 15 screaming babies later, F21 flashed on the screen, and before the second flash of it could start, my butt was at station #3 to get this whole experience the f**k over with. I pulled out my Seattle City Light bill, only to have the attendant tell me it wasn’t necessary. Wait, what?!?! Your website said it was. No, it’s not. Well, shit.

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So as of today, my California driver’s license has a hole punched in the photo, invalidating it. But it doesn’t invalidate me. I’ll always be a California girl. I’m just a Washington resident, which apparently anyone can be, even if your Visa is expired or your learner’s permit expired a year ago. Welcome to Washington, people. Stay a while, buy some legal marijuana, go on some hikes.

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Boiling

When I left San Francisco to move to Seattle, I was very happy to be leaving many small annoyances behind. I was sick of hearing noise from very close neighbors through thin walls. I was sick of ambulance and fire truck sirens, and the F streetcar rumbling by on Market Street. I hated the cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment from a chain-smoking neighbor. I hated the construction on the empty derelict building across the street, too. Public transport was overcrowded and inefficient on the daily. Everything was just getting so stale.

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It hit me yesterday that some of those very things I’d hoped to leave have followed me here to Seattle. I have a chain-smoking older woman who lives above me. This morning, I was sickened as the smoke floated into my bedroom through the open sliding glass door before 6am. Last night, my neighbor’s living room, which is right next to my bedroom wall, had loud sounds from the TV roaring past 11pm. There are no sirens or streetcars where I am now, and for that I am thankful. But to me, cigarette smoke and TV bass is worse…

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There is a building across the street as well, undergoing construction on its façade, which filed for permits after my offer on the condo had been accepted, but before closing, and their permits don’t expire til August 2017! Construction next door for over a year – another inconvenience I’d left in San Francisco, hoping to leave behind forever. And it just so happened to begin right when I was securing my home! Not in the disclosure papers, so the sneaky little bastards managed to get this through without informing me. Maybe I would have backed out of the purchase if I’d known these would crop up!

But having these annoyances creep back into my life after hoping to be rid of them has me pissed off. I did not sleep well last night, and I’m just that little bit of grumpy about it. I’m up in arms and ready to write a damning, shaming nastygram to the smoking neighbor in the elevator for all to see about how to be considerate, and about how I don’t go outside her window after eating all the beans and fart up a nasty storm, polluting her air.

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I’m trying to not act out and to just be cool, but it’s taking every ounce of strength I have this morning. Luckily, it’s Friday. My plans this weekend are to pick up a Zipcar, head over to Home Depot, and go ever further into debt as I select an accent wall paint color and painting supplies for my newly refinished sheet rock in the living room. I also will be enhancing my patio and indoor gardens by procuring some new plants, potting soil, and pots. These are fun little projects I enjoy, so I’m attempting to think about how great it’ll all look when it’s finished, and how I’ll pay off my credit cards in a couple of months and be back in the black again. Home ownership is not for the weary. There is always something to be done, and when one doesn’t have anyone else to whom to hand off the honey-do list, one ends up being the honey-do herself.

So I’ll try not to bite anyone’s head off today, or retaliate against inconsiderate neighbors, but I’m not making any promises.

“We boil at different degrees.” – Clint Eastwood

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