Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Living in a Fish Bowl

Not much has happened with the house since last I wrote, although a lot has happened in it.  My parents spent the weekend-- our first guests! --and helped us put a whole bunch of stuff away, emptying a lot of boxes and creating actual open space in the great room, rather than the huge pile anchored by our two enormous armoires and covered with plastic sheeting.  We put Lola's bed together, and decided to buy a new version from IKEA rather than putting together the identical one we bought from a couple off of Craigslist what seems like ages ago; it worked out, too, because my parents took the used one back to their place so the kids can use it when they sleep over.  Slowly but surely, the place is becoming livable.

Living in the house is definitely going to be interesting.  We have chosen to be in a fish bowl by buying the house that's pretty much at the center of the community-- and don't forget the 49 windows-- but at the same time, it'd be nice to, oh, I don't know, be able to change my pants in my own bedroom!  For the first four workdays this week, I would go downstairs to take a shower in the morning (the upstairs shower is still doorless), then come back up and grab clothes from my closet, then head to the upstairs bathroom to change.  One day I picked a shirt that was too wrinkled, so I came back into my bedroom only wearing pants, and a neighbor walked right by.  I'm sure all she saw was me standing there with no shirt on, but I'm also pretty sure by the look on her face that she was pretty sure I was naked.  Oh well-- that's what they get for letting exhibitionists into their fishbowl, right?  (Um, right?)  However, as of the weekend, all of that has changed, as we have had our cellular shades installed.  We got the kind that can be pulled up or down, so we can still have daylight in, say, the top two windows without putting on a show for the neighborhood.  The shades are in the three bedrooms, and should assuage my sister's fears of people watching the kids while they sleep.

The kids, by the way, are sleeping just fine.  The first night they slept with each other in Isaac's room, but ever since they've used their own bed. Lola's tickled pink about her new bed, and I'm sure she'll be even more so once Abby gets her built-in completed.  Isaac's still in his old bed, which will eventually be given over to the guest room once we get a new mattress and give him our current one, but his room's all decked out with the solar system on the ceiling, his toys already strewn all over the place, and his aquarium humming in the corner.  Ah yes, the aquarium.  Abby tried her darnedest to get that thing to stay in DC, but it's made its way over, which I'm happy about.  Having had one all through growing up, I really liked staring at mine as I was falling asleep, and I know I was much healthier for having had a giant humidifier in the room.  That said, we'll take much better care of it in the new place than we did in the basement; when I emptied the water there, it looked more like iced tea than something fish would want to live in.  Driving the six miles with the aquarium in my passenger seat was a lesson in how smoothly I don't drive; even when I tried the most babyish of rolling stops and starts, the couple inches of water I had left in there (with all 30-some fish wondering what the heck was going on) sloshed in a great example of what a tsunami might look like if the earth was placed in a car and driven up 16th Street...

The commute's not nearly as bad as I feared, although it's much better in the morning than in the evening.  In the morning, I'm getting up at 6 instead of 6:10, and I'm not making the kids' lunches-- at least not yet.  If I get out the door before 6:45, I can catch a Montgomery County Ride On bus right outside, take that to Silver Spring Metro station, and I get to work in Rosslyn by 7:40.  If I miss the bus, it's a one-mile walk to Forest Glen Metro station, which takes about 17 minutes.  Of the seven morning commutes I've had so far, I've missed the bus twice, but only once have I gotten to work late, and even then by only about ten minutes.  On the walk to Forest Glen, I see practically no one, which is weird.  That's not the same on the way home, though. Twice I've been timing myself to see which way walking from Forest Glen is the fastest, and each time I've been thwarted by pesky neighbors wanting to --gasp!-- talk to me!  Actually, it's great, because I'm making an effort to learn people's names, and there's no better way to do that than to actually meet them on a regular basis.  I'll admit that after living in our house in DC, there was one household on our block that knew everything about us, but we knew the names of exactly two people in their large family.  Yeah, after nearly a decade on the block.  Now you can imagine how embarrassing this was for me, since I grew up as the paperboy who at least knew the name of the head of every household on my block.  So this time around, I mean business, and started by going to the Homeowners' Association meeting on Thursday, and taking detailed notes not on the issues at hand (which are mostly about money), but about people's names and where they live.

So Susan and Ron, who moved here from Pennsylvania, I was very happy to talk to you two on the way home from work the other day.  And Amy, who just had a baby with her husband Tony, I'm sorry if I freaked you out by knowing your name (and saying it) twice as I walked by over the last couple of days.  And Bobby, who works as a wine specialist at Dean + Deluca, I hope you did well on your test, and will refer you to the winos that are my mother-in-law and her husband when they come by this weekend; and I'm definitely intrigued by your wife, because I can honestly say I've never met a woman named Lady Stacey. And Paula and Richard and Peg with the Easter egg tree and Minh and Janice from Australia and Miss Sally and her daughter Shelly and Jim and Susan and Carol and Lou (whose dogs are Diva and Pierre) and Brian and Laura (hey! I know two Brian-and-Lauras now!) and... well... you get the picture.  We may live in a fishbowl, but those things are made of glass and the fish can see out just as well as we see inside.  Abby and I want to live here for a long time, so it makes no sense not to know our neighbors.  So, neighbors?  Please don't get freaked out when I call you by name, because if I don't do it now, it'll be 2023 and I'll be asking my kids to find out the names of the people we've known since before we moved in.

So moving back inside the house, I guess there have been some small things going on.  All four new windows are supposedly in now.  One has been installed-- in the kitchen-- which is good, since any time the wind blew, the insulation that was there made a crinkly sound that reverberated throughout the whole level. I see one other one ready to go in up on the balcony, but have no idea where the others are.  The cabinets are not complete yet, but the last one has finally been delivered, so we are in the process of scheduling the final install.  Once that's done, they'll take back all the mistake cabinets, which will free up another huge corner of the great room.  The countertop is done, except we realized we needed them to drill four holes instead of two, based on our choice of faucets.  So I emailed them last night and am still waiting for a response.  As a result, the kitchen sink is still out of commission, so tonight I had to wash the dishes in the bathroom. It's gross to wash the dishes in the bathroom, but it's also very nerve-wracking to have to do it on a brand-new porcelain sink that is ridiculously shallow.  I was treating each dish as if it were bone china, not because of the preciousness of the dish, but because I didn't want the sink to get another chip.  Yeah, I said "another;" no idea how/when/why, but there's a tiny chip right on the inside corner of our upstairs vanity.  Already.  I guess it just follows us, since there's one in our upstairs sink from DC that's been there ever since I mistakenly dropped one of Abby's mysterious glass bottles from the medicine cabinet way back when. (Who'd'a thunk that the porcelain would break and the glass bottle would come out the victor in that contest?)

Tomorrow we're having the measure for the upstairs shower door.  If you'll recall, we turned down the $3000 custom door our contractor suggested, but Abby also turned down the perfectly good $700 one I found online because it had an edge on the side, and she wanted a perfectly frameless one.  So we're going to inch up a bit, and go for the Home Depot custom ones that are about $1500, after which we can take a shower in our own bathroom instead of running up and down the stairs to do it.  After that, hopefully the cabinets will be installed within the next few days, which will include the hookup of the dishwasher and range, and the ability of our contractors to install the range hood.  Next Monday we're scheduled for a Comcast install for Internet, cable, and a security system, although we're pretty sure none of it is going to work.  You see, we've been going back and forth with both Comcast and Verizon for weeks, trying to see if they actually provide service to us.  At first neither recognized our addresses, but then they did.  Now they want to just come out and do an appointment, even though Lee told us the windmill next-door was told they can't get service because no wires have been pulled for our side of the street.  If you can imagine, I'm trying to get Comcast to put my house on the same work order as theirs, to save us time as well as to save the Comcast guy from having to come out for no reason.  Comcast refuses to give me any information on an account that's not mine, even when I assure them I in fact want absolutely no information.  "Just look at their account, don't say a word, and see if they can physically get cable; if they can, great! Schedule the appointment for us; but if they can't, wouldn't it save us all the trouble?"  "I'm sorry, sir, but I can't give information out on anyone else's account."  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.   So Comcast is coming out on Monday, but the smart money's on us not having cable on Tuesday.

So that's the update for now.  Again, due to that whole not-having-cable thing, I can't upload pictures.  So I promise a buttload of pictures once everything's hooked up.  In the meantime, I've gotta run home and pack for my three-day Buffalo adventure that starts tomorrow and will hopefully include Duff's chicken wings, Anderson's lemon ice, and Alex Trebek. :)

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