Posts Tagged ‘housing’


March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve spent a lot of last evening looking up online listing of liveaboard boats for sale.  I should be clear upfront: I know almost nothing about boats.  I don’t know how to sail them, I don’t know how to anchor them, tie them to a dock, or fix them.  But here’s what I do know: I think I’d really like living on one.

Living on a boat is an ultimate minimalist lifestyle.  The furniture is almost all built-in, the storage is enough to hold what you need, but not much else.  I like the idea of being that streamlined, of living that small.  But most of all, I like the connection to outside.  A boat is tiny, but it’s surrounded by the world in a way that no apartment can be (at least in my price range).  I love the idea of windows on all sides, yet having remarkable privacy.  This winter my heart would soar watching the sun rise over the river; I felt as cozy as I’ve ever been drinking tea while the rain fell outside.  I think the isolation yet tight-knit community of a marina is right up my alley.  I want to know all of my neighbors and talk to them when I want to, yet be totally able to withdraw and have no one come talk to me.

I don’t see living on a boat as something in my immediate future (see above confession of total lack of boating knowledge), but I do think it’d be a lifestyle that would fit me.  I once interviewed a student whose family spent a year living on a boat and sailing around the Atlantic and Caribbean, something I could absolutely see myself doing.



Bodily injury

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve made a few good decisions during my recent packing/moving/storing adventure. My best decision was to abandon my attempt to carry the dresser by myself. I got one stair down the 40 or so steps leading to street level and realized, “this dresser is going to knock me backwards, tumble on top of me, and crush me at the bottom.” Wisely, I brought it back inside to wait for a second set of hands.

I’ve also made a few bad decisions during this move. Among them, slamming my left hip against the car mirror so hard I lost my breath. No blood, but there is a big, raised bump and the beginning of a nasty bruise.

Based on these experiences, my goals for the last 4 days of packing are simple: no scars, no dying. I really hope that’s a bar I can clear.

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Categories: Choices, Goals Tags: , ,

Moving, always moving

May 25, 2010 1 comment

Since I graduated from college eight years I ago I have moved all of my things 11 (about to be 12) separate times. I’m very good at it, but predictably, I’m also very tired of it. On the move currently in progress, I live two (very tall) floors up and a long sidewalk away from my car. Once the stuff is in my car, it has to get loaded back out at the storage unit and carted down the facility’s interior hallway, at which point I need to wrestle it into place in the unit, always keeping in mind when I’m likely to need it again and how that timing compares to when I’ll probably need the things around it. It’s taking its toll. My back hurts, my legs are bruised, and emotionally I’m spent. I’ve taken so many trips up and down the stairs in the last week carting things out of the apartment, yet looking around my almost-bare bedroom, I still have at least 18 more stair treks before it’s cleared out – and then there’s the furniture in the living room and kitchen.

As a veteran of many packing cycles, I recognize this moment as one of the low points on the moving-to-a-new-place roller coaster. I’ve grown used to the highs – “look how fast this is going! This move is going to be a breeze!” – and the lows – “I have too much stuff. I’m never going to finish. I should just throw it all out and live in a tent.” I know that this too shall pass, but for tonight I’m going to take a break, rest my back, and enjoy living in my apartment for one more day before I go back to packing it all up.

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Categories: Hobbies Tags: , , , ,

Birthdays and camping

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Today is special for one reason: it’s my 30th birthday!

Today is nothing special for another reason: it’s a Monday, and that means 6 hours of class.

Today is a reminder that my life stays constant, despite the passing years, for two reasons: first, my birthday was kind of blah, and second, there is no longer any furniture in my living room or dishware in my kitchen.

My birthday coincided with moving day for the person who used to live here.  Instead of leaving his common room furniture and kitchenware through the end of the lease, as he said he would, he came to pick it all up to move it into his new place.  On the one hand, I can’t begrudge him this. It’s his stuff and he needs it in his new apartment.  On the other hand, it’s a real pain in the rear end.  I can’t eat breakfast because there is no bowl for cereal, toaster for bread, plate for toast, or knife for butter.  And even if we did have all of those things, I would have to eat my meal on the floor because we have neither table nor chairs.  So I am faced with a choice: go to my storage unit and pull out all of my kitchenware, living room furniture, and the dining room set, only to move it all back to storage in one month, or stock up on disposable plates and cutlery and eat at the counter.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to live like I’m camping in my own home, and although I’m turning 30, I doubt it will be my last.  At this point, I think my pie in the sky goal for my 30s is to never spend more than 2 days eating off disposables or sleeping on an air mattress because of a move.

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Categories: Choices Tags: , ,

Geography Matters

March 12, 2010 1 comment

I have been giving a lot of thought to geography lately.

Not hills and valleys, but where people live and how it affects their lives.  Penelope Trunk’s post on her family’s move from New York City to Madison, Wisconsin, raises a lot of important  ideas about how to decide where to live.  In the comments, though, some people argue that a truly happy person will “bloom where she’s planted,” so it really shouldn’t matter where we live.  I disagree.  I think it is possible to be a happy person and hate the place you live, and that a good match between a town and your needs can make life 100 times better.

As support, let’s take a look at the places I’ve lived.

Lewiston, Maine.  I loved my job and liked a lot about Maine, but living in a town without a social scene and far from an airport was hard.  The winter evenings were long and very, very quiet, and I rarely got to see my family and friends.  I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t happy enough to stay, either.

Swarthmore, PA.  My apartment was great, I walked to work, and the commuter rail station was 3 blocks away.  To get anywhere else, however, I had to drive – on clogged, poorly designed streets.  And the downtown closed by 5 p.m.  I moved after a year.

Philadelphia, PA.  Philly’s pretty awesome.  I had two great apartments in the city, walked to work or to the train, walked to meet friends (and walked home afterwards), shopped at grocery stores, fruit stands, and famers’ markets, and generally had a great day-to-day life.  After awhile though, Philly’s heavily female population meant I was making good friends and enjoying life…but rarely meeting anyone that I might want to date.

Charlottesville, VA.  Charlottesville has a great small town vibe.  It supports local business owners, has a fantastic farmers’ market, and has more restaurants than anyone could ever get to.  It’s downfall, at least for me, is that it is completely unwalkable and has limited public transportation.  That means that I can’t give up my car, I spend a lot of time fighting for spaces in parking lots, and I have to strictly limit my alcohol intake when I’m out with friends.  I’ve often wished I could push Charlottesville closer together so that cars didn’t have to be at the center of life; it’s the reason I’ll probably end up leaving.

Cambridge, UK. Cambridge’s bus system goes everywhere in town, every 10 minutes, almost all day long.  They have every store imaginable in the downtown shopping area, a daily famers’ and craft market, and an incredibly well-educated population.  The city supports a vibrant arts scene and tickets to national touring productions can be purchased for just 10 GBP.  There are a profusion of food options – from pubs to gourmet restaurants, and London (and therefore the rest of the world) is just 45 minutes away by train.  There is absolutely no need for a car – it is easier, in fact, to be a pedestrian or cyclist than a driver.  I was incredibly happy there and would move back in an instant.

So now I’m looking at new cities I could move to.  I’m pouring through surveys, studies, lists, census data, and blog entries.  I want to find a city with a low cost of living, a high population of single, well-educated people, more men than women, walkability, and great theatres.  Austin, TX, is coming often in my research, as is (quite surprisingly!) Milwaukee, WI.  Other suggestions are welcome.

Categories: Cambridge, Location Tags: ,

Why I love HGTV

March 1, 2010 1 comment

I watch a lot of HGTV.  I mean, a LOT.  I’m a TiVo addict, but I will happily watch HGTV live.  It is the only channel I feel this way about.

For those who don’t know, HGTV stands for Home & Garden Television.  The line-up consists of home buying shows, home selling shows, and home renovation shows.  I particularly like the shows that combine the renovation and the selling – shows like Designed to Sell, Get it Sold, and The Unsellables take houses that are sitting on the market and address the problems that keep them from selling – usually on a very tight budget.  I’m always impressed with how the realty agents and designers on these shows need to be tough business people, supportive counselors, and creative problem-solvers, all at the same time.  They take sellers who are often set in their ways and gently but firmly push them to where they need to be.  Sometimes this means convincing them to pack away Grandma’s ugly china, clean up the baby clutter, or repaint the bright orange rooms that they just love.  Other times it means getting them to accept that their asking price is a delusion based on memories of better markets.  Throughout, the shows’ staff just keeps toiling away to make the house better for the seller and for the buyer.  It’s pretty cool to watch families’ lives get changed, one half-hour tv show at a time.

I also watch a lot of the house hunting shows, and from this, have decided that many, many people are insane.  I sometimes find myself talking back to the television, telling people that no one “needs” 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms if they are just one person, or that a 3-month-old baby’s toys should not, in fact, take up 2 entire levels of a house.  In contrast, I find the young Mid-Western house-hunters adorable.  They walk into homes that others would dismiss out of hand (the master bedroom only has one walk-in closet!  there’s only a single vanity in the bathroom!  the appliances aren’t stainless steel!) and they say “Honey!  Look!  The master bedroom has its own bath!  You’ve always talked about how you wanted that one day.  And the closet’s a walk-in!  Can you believe it?  Oh – look in here!  They’re leaving the kitchen appliances – we won’t have to buy any!  Did you ever think we could get all this in one house?”  Such an adorable breath of fresh air, these couples inject some much needed sanity into a sometimes crazy (but oh-so-watchable) set of shows.

Categories: Hobbies Tags:

Dishwashers, refrigerators, and the meaning of life

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I came home today to a dishwasher full of dirty dishes from my roommate’s dinner the night before – the mixing bowl, the cutting board, butcher’s knives, big plastic spoons, broiler pan, etc.  Usually I pull these big dishes out of the dishwasher and just handwash them so I (or he) can use them again sooner that it will take to run the dishwasher and so that we can fit more of our regular dishes in the machine.  This afternoon I was too tired to handwash so I just ran it, but when I opened it up at the end of the cycle, all of the dishes were streaked with black gunk.  Turns out there was a lot of burned on food on the broiler pan and now it’s all over all of our dishes.  Oops.

To me, this reinforces what I’ve learned since childhood: wash the big dishes yourself.  I’ve never understood loading a dishwasher with 4 baking dishes and a spoon and declaring it full.  For every big item I wash, I can fit in nearly half a dozen smaller dishes – which means less dishes stacked up in the sink waiting for the dishwasher to finish, less time unloading the dishwasher, and more immediate use of the cooking supplies.  I must be the only person who thinks this way, though, because not one of my last three houses even had a dish drying rack.

Turning to another appliance, one of the only things my friend Stacey’s boyfriend knows about me is that my college boyfriend and I had a three-year argument over whether side-by-side or top/bottom freezer-refrigerator combinations were better.

Yes, that’s right.  At age 22, when we didn’t even have our own apartments, we fought over refrigerators.

It wasn’t a sensible fight, but to this day I still think I’m right.

Categories: Relationships Tags:
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