Thursday, June 30, 2011

The joys of home ownership: fait accompli

Well, it’s done. After all the years of imagining, and all the months of signing this and gathering that and then waiting, it’s accomplished. I’m in the new place.

In truth I’ve been moving stuff over slowly since the closing. Books, DVDs, and video tapes mainly; there were a lot of them. But they were all over there, along with most of the loose stuff in various drawers, by the time the big moving day came.

P-Doug had helped me break down my queen-size bed on Wednesday so I’d been sleeping on the mattress and box spring on the floor, kind of Japanese style. When I woke up just before 5 Saturday morning, and noticed my cat Max sniffing the cat carriers I’d set up. I figured strike while the iron’s hot, and I managed to quickly get him into it. Twinkle came into the bedroom, wide-eyed, looking at Max, looking at me, trying to figure out what was going on. I carefully dressed, willing her to say in the room till I could shut the door, and she did. I cornered her there when she tried to get away, and gently coaxed her into the carrier. It was a lot easier this time than when I took her to the vet. No blood loss on my part this time. Bonnie, I think, somehow knew the drill; she was hiding in the lining of the couch. I got her out and carried her to the bedroom, and with a little trouble, got her into the last carrier. Again, no scratches. The first job was to get them over and settled in the solarium of the new place where they’d be out of the way, but able to see us bringing in familiar things. I had that accomplished by 6 a.m.

Larry had decided to hang with friends Friday night. I needed his help to pick up the rental truck and when he wasn’t home by 7, I had to call him. Luckily, he picked up. He sounded like he’d only just gotten to sleep. Even so, he was back not long after 7:30 and we were at the rental place ten after eight. By 8:30 or so we were up the street at McDonald’s having a quick breakfast. Jay called while we were there, letting me know he was already at our building. We had to dash back.

Alongside Larry, of course, and Jay, I had the help of P-Doug and G and my manager from my previous job. Most of what we had to move by Saturday was just the big stuff I couldn’t move on my own. Took us a little over two hours to get everything into the van and about an hour to unpack it, but another hour to get it up into the unit (I’m informed that I’m supposed to say “unit” now instead of “apartment” because it’s a condo). Once the van was unpacked, Larry borrowed it and Jay went to help him move the gigantic TV friends of his gave him when he moved in with me nearly two years ago. Jay took off from there, and my former boss went home because her daughter had to get to a birthday party.

Once the move was finished, I could let the cats out. Max and Twinkle immediately started exploring, but Bonnie stayed in the solarium (when I’d first settled them, she wouldn’t even come out of the carrier). Hours went by before she even stepped into the living room.

After that, I took Larry, P-Doug, and G to Pizza Hut. We hung around there for about two hours, I’d say. P-Doug and G went home from there, and Larry drove me back to our place, where I picked up my car and drove home to... my place.

P-Doug had kindly put my bed together for me while Larry and I were dropping off the rental truck (grand total, $72). I went to bed about 10 and sort of lightly dozed for two hours. I remember thinking I couldn’t recall when the bed had felt so comfortable. It was the first night in nearly two years I knew pretty much for certain that Larry wasn’t in the next room, or that there was essentially no chance he’d be unlocking the front door at two in the morning coming home. It was a mixture of faint relief and lingering melancholy.

Sunday morning the Rogers guy came back again, between 9 and 10, I think. The week-and-a-half clusterfuck of getting cable turned on got solved, slowly, over about 90 minutes. He also managed to get the internet up and going before he left, much to my surprised; I’d been anticipating THAT taking weeks as well. After that I did a little shopping for things I needed, then back to the old place to help Larry move things into storage (more on this in a moment) and move some of my own stuff we’d left behind for reasons of space. As it turned out, he really didn’t need my help moving stuff to storage, so we just moved my stuff over.

Monday evening I came back to pick up luggage and a table, with the intention of sweeping up and mopping, but only the sweeping got done. Larry and I went down to the Wal-Mart in Agincourt and, once again, bought stuff we needed. Larry didn’t have a pot to... cook in... ;) so that was one of the things he bought. I promised to come back Tuesday night to mop the floors.

I didn’t.

I came back to mop the floors last night, Wednesday. When I got there, at quarter to six, Larry wasn’t home. There was still some stuff in his bedroom, but not all that much. I swept it out. I ran hot water into a bucket and mixed in disinfecting vinegar and soaked the places where the cats had puked up hair balls over the last few months, hidden from sight. I guess it was about seven when I was done. I took a red dry erase marker and wrote REDRUM on the bathroom mirror for whenever Larry got home. :) The last things I needed to take, mops, brooms, buckets, I took with me. As of 7 last night, I was 100% moved out. Only took a bit of May and essentially all of June, but it got done.

Tonight, with only hours to go before I can’t legally set foot in the place anymore, one last look, with Shelly, who’s still living in the building, in attendance. Larry might or might not be there; I have no idea. If I had no idea when I’d see him when we were both living there, I have that much less idea now. But I need to turn in keys and the laundry card and my garage opener. Hopefully I can get my deposits back.

And so, there it is. I remember when I started working in Markham, over 11 years ago, before the dotcom crash, and my manager telling me we all had stock options and in a year or so when we went public we’d have hundreds of thousands of dollars and I could buy a place... I really believed that. I thought I’d live there for just a year or two. Never imagined the last of my youth would evaporate in the place. But I liked it. Stem to stern, the place had my comfortable ass-groove worn into it. I saw all seasons there. If they’d ever turned the building condo, I’m pretty sure I would have been happy buying it. But it was rental money out the window month after month, so once Larry budged me by talking about moving out sometime this year, it was time to move on.

Which reminds me. Larry’s tale.

Larry’s job affords him significant (read: I’m jealous here) vacation time, and he decided to “take May off”. Despite this obvious easement, he didn’t manage to find a new place to live in the five weeks he was free to look around. There was always something he didn’t like. One Friday in June (I guess it was the 3rd, given the timelines here), I was driving home from the new place along the circuitous route that avoids all the traffic and lights, and I passed an apartment building I’d passed several times, and it suddenly struck me to inquire. I stopped, and it being just after 5, the woman who ran the building, who had no personal skills whatsoever, refused to see me. The man who worked with her (possibly her husband) finally cajoled a “yes” out of her as to my inquiry if there were any single bedroom places available. I told Larry when I got home, looked up the prices, and he went over the following Monday and finally landed a place. But when the time came to arrange the move, they wouldn’t let him move in on the 25th, the day I was – we were – intending to move out. He finally wrangled an okay to move in on the 30th. Well, on the 15th, they apparently got fired, and Larry’s verbal permission to move in a day early disappeared with them. So, for the past week or so, he’s been bombing his stuff into storage to smooth over the handful of hours between leaving our old place and moving into his new one (which happens this evening, essentially). All this despite the fact that I signed the deal March 13th. So the lesson here, kids, is when you know three-and-a-half months ahead of time you’re going to be moving, you might not want to wait till the last handful of weeks to actually find your next home. (Or, actually, for your roommate to find your next home.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I went to Mars with DEVO

I've known Dig since we were both twelve, and we've been through a lot in all that time. We keep in touch and we're still pretty much the same guys to one another we were way back then. Just before we turned 16, he brought a tape over to my house with a song by a band I'd never heard before. It was Freedom of Choice by DEVO. I really thought it was something. Not long after that we moved several cities away. Dig and I stayed in touch by mailing goofy little tapes we'd make... I still have most of them. As I settled in at the new place, something, I'm not sure what now, reminded me of DEVO and I started buying their albums. I sort of gave back to Dig by sharing the music and it became a touchstone for us.

He works downtown now right at Dundas Square and a couple of days ago he learned that the music festival playing there was headlining DEVO. I never got to see them when I was a kid, but we made a point of it yesterday. A couple of his friends from St. Catherines came in and after a trip to a pub on Isabella and an Ethiopian restaurant, we nearly missed the start of their set. We arrived just as they started. We were way back, and could barely see them, but there they were... DEVO. Man, was that something.

They did a set of about an hour, during which time they went through a couple of costume changes. When they threw their DEVO hats out to the crowd, oh man, did I ever want one. They came out in the yellow jumpsuits and it was like I was 16 again. Seeing that was a real kick. Everything they played was stuff I knew, but then, I know most of their stuff. They "left" the stage showing the video of the DEVO Corporate Anthem, but then they came back and Gerry asked us if we wanted to hear one more DEVO song... we had a "choice". And they played it... my first, my DEVO non plus ultra: Freedom of Choice. And Dig and I sang along with it. I'm not joking when I say I had goosebumps.

But not a DEVO hat or shirt to be bought! Strange! I wanted to give these guys my money and I couldn't give it to them.

So... Mars. Not surprisingly, I dreamed about DEVO this morning. Dig and I were winners of some ultra-fan contest and along with about a dozen other people, we got to hang with DEVO. At some point, we all went to some cottage on Mars with them where were could see Phobos and Deimos skating through the Martian sky. We had to put on special breathing apparatus to go outside. It turned out it was all just a joke the band was playing on us. They played a few pranks on us but it was in good fun and otherwise they were really cool to us in the dream.

Then I woke up and told you! Tah dah. :)