Monday, March 31, 2008

Downs and ups

The not-so-great parts of my new life:

1. It has snowed the past two nights. As the room that I'm living in appears to have no insulation, the frigid weather means that if I'm in my room, I'm under my feather duvet.
2. While I found a sublet that is a half-hour walk from the university, it's an hour and a half walk to most everywhere else I want to go, like the grocery store or the movie theater. So, taking a trip to the bookstore can basically eat up the whole day.
3. I don't know anybody here.

The pretty-great parts of my new life:

1. I get a lot (A LOT) of exercise walking places.
2. I've found a terrific bakery that's just a fifteen minute walk from my house. In Maryland, I live on the (ahem) less affluent side of town, and there are no bakeries.
3. The people I work with are very nice, so I shall soon know people.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boulder beginnings

Of course I'll be blogging from Colorado. It is the frontier, but they do have Internet.

Thanks for all you suggestions of what to do while I'm here. I'd like to get to Denver, but that may involve complex bus connections, so this weekend I'm planning to just stay local.

Although I have lived in the West before, I haven't been here in a while, and there's small amount of cultural adjustment required on my part. The people here are so relaaaxed. I forget how uptight we all are in DC. I like uptight. It's the German in me, what can I say?

With respect to local diversions, my taxi driver with the long bleached-blond hair  told me which radio show features good discussions about aliens, and I was invited on a hike (which I regretfully declined, due to the fact that my feet fall off if I get too much exercise). 

My environments here (both work and home) are startling different than those in Maryland. There are the mountains, of course, and the more arid landscape, which is cram-packed with emptiness. The house I live in is a step above a hovel, thank goodness, but only one step up. It seems like the kind of place that if there's a hole in the wall they shove some rags in to fill the gap. There is an alarming infestation of slow-moving beetles, and because Andrew has more or less convinced me that it's bad to kill bugs (except roaches, of course - I show them no mercy) I find that I carry one outside every fifteen minutes. The roomies seem most friendly, though, so I think I shall be fine. 

The physics building I work in is awesome. At home I share a concrete block office with eight other people. Here no more than three are in a room, and the room has (Are you ready for this?) windows! Which look out on to the campus from ten stories up! And let in natural light! So there's an actual live plant on my desk! (I must pause here for today, lest I exclaim myself into breathlessness. But the window does induce a bit of giddiness...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where everyone speaks your language

Tomorrow I leave for my month long adventure in Colorado. I'll be staying in a sublet I found on Craigslist, in a town I've never been, and working with people I don't know. I only have one friend in the whole town, and I haven't seen her in six years, so I can't quite claim that we are bosom buddies. When I was a kid, the idea of doing something like this, where you had to spend all of your time with strangers would have terrified me. (Warning: shameless plug to follow.) But I can credit my current ease with such situations to one particular event - study abroad. (Thank you, Rotary.)

Sure, I spent the first four months in Germany dreadfully homesick and unable to communicate beyond rudimentary present-tense phrases. In spite of the fact that Germany is so similar to America (Work ethic, anyone? Latin alphabet? Strange appreciation for David Hasselhoff?) I still messed up lots of things: I kept the door open when I was in a room, when it should have been closed. I showered too much. I poofed up my bangs. (It was the nineties, after all.) I didn't know to bring flowers to every dinner or party I showed up to. I didn't know what forms I needed, before I was legally allowed to live in a city. (In Germany, everyone is required to register with the police, not like here, where just the pedophiles have to.)

So when I think of heading off to a new place now, it's not scary at all. At least everyone speaks English. In America, I'm perfectly clear an when I need to shake hands (not that often) and how to communicate with people in a professional setting without sounding clueless/presumptuous/foolish.

I still love going new places, but I'm also grateful when I'm headed somewhere where I know the unwritten rules as well as the written ones.

See you in Colorado!

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's done!

Remember the whining posts you endured, where I complained about my sawdust-filled house? Well, the complaints will now cease. I announce a new addition to our family: the window seat.
It's beautiful! It's sturdy! It can hold our entire liquor supply plus the good silver! (Hmm, have I just tipped off the thieves reading this? But really, how much resale value does half a bottle of brandy have?)

I love it. (And the guy who made it, of course, but I'll try not to get too mushy on you.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Prettying up the house

I may disappear from the Internet for the next week on so. I mean, I can only rely on pictures with pithy comments to entertain you all for so long. But my trip to Colorado approaches, I'm swamped with preparations and trying to write a draft (or at least part of one).

Can I fob more pictures on you? My parents were in town this weekend, and when my mother the photographer snapped away I realized we had completed some more styling projects that I hadn't managed to slip into a post. The first one shows the shelf that Andrew built in our living room. My inspiration for this project was a built-in, back lit shelf, filled with objets d'art in a swinging bachelor pad from the movie "Down with Love." I really like how it turned out, although I'd like to replace a few of the things up there, especially the boring clear glass vase.
A more recent product of arts and crafts time was this clock. I learned how to take apart a wooden Ikea lazy susan and use the wooden disks as clock faces on Ikea Hacker. It sounded pretty easy, so I found inspiration in a 60's children's picture book, Harry the Dirty Dog. (No, it's not X-rated - Harry just doesn't like baths.) I mod podged the pictures on and installed a clock kit through the back. I make it sound a little easier than it was: I foolishly didn't realize that the size of the clock kit determines how thick the face can be, and Andrew had to carve out the back to make it thinner. So, if you decide to try this on you own, I recommend either measuring first or having your own carpenter on hand to fix your mistakes.

(A shout-out to my styling dad, who did the final assembly of the clock. Thanks, dad!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More new glasses

I just can't stop! They were only $40, and that included my splurge for thinner lenses (that's a higher n, for you physicists).
Now, the real question is: do you think I bought these glasses so I could look like him or him?

Monday, March 10, 2008

My secret desire...

Right now, the cat is longing for spring, so that she can go outside again. I am longing for a microphone that runs on AC power and a couple of really cute pairs of spring pumps. Andrew is (always) longing for more golf stuff. What do you long for?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Even the trees are styling

Because of work, I'm going to be going to Colorado for most of the month of April. It's a great opportunity, and I'm happy to have the chance to go work there for a bit. But I've been a bit disappointed that I'll miss spring in Maryland, because Maryland does spring better than anywhere else I've lived. There's just enough cold weather in the winter so that you really appreciate the warm weather, and the trees and bushes just erupt with color.

But today I looked out my window and saw a little bit of spring. And I rejoiced, for I am happy to have moved from a basement apartment to an attic apartment, and I am happy to see these beauties:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Make it so.

I am a little bit poor and a little bit crazy. This Sunday a car full of Star Trek friends will be attending a convention in New Jersey so we can see (gasp!) Patrick Stewart, a rather rare convention guest. The convention starts at 9am, however, and we are all too poor to get a hotel room. So we plan to leave DC around 4am. Add to this the fact that Saturday evening is the daylight savings time switch, and I'm looking at veeeery little sleep on Saturday night.

My plan? To wake up a half an hour earlier each day, to help prepare myself. By Saturday I should be grumpily rising at 5:30am, which is a full three hours earlier than my regular weekday wakeup time.

(For the record, the part showing that I am crazy is not that I'm attending a Star Trek convention, it's that I'll be up before the birdies.)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Muffin Smackdown!

Due to poor planning, circumstances forced me to make two kinds of muffins this week. (i.e. I forgot to buy enough ingredients to make a double batch of any single kind of muffin.) In one corner, the Iron Chef of my muffin recipes, the Sour Cream Blueberry Orange Muffin, reliable standard of Fine Cooking magazine. In the other corner, the upstart Banana Raspberry Muffin, the untested yet hopeful recipe from the newly acquired Australian cookbook. The Blueberry Muffin was expected to be the winner as it has not one, but two types of luscious dairy fat - sour cream and butter. But the Banana Raspberry won hands down, mainly due to juiciness of its lovely, ruby raspberries. The banana base provided a fruity, moist base. Considering the two recipes have the same amount of sugar but the Banana Raspberry muffins have much less fat and are being consumed at a much higher rate, we have a new Styling with Renee Michelle champion!

The muffin is dead, long live the muffin!