Sunday, January 23, 2011

Solo Living

For those of you who do not know, I recently moved.  This is nothing new:  I have now lived in four different apartments since I graduated from college in 2007.  4 places, 2 different roommates, 1 lost security deposit and endless boxes packed and unpacked later, I have my own place.

I have stewed with the idea of living alone several times before.  Each time it seemed either financially prohibitive or too lonely to tolerate.  And while everyone says that roommates come with a whole collection of problems, I had been lucky enough in the last 3.5 years to have lived with two different housemates (both males) with whom I got along famously.

Then I realized I was living 9 miles outside of "town" (town being the booming metropolis of Oneonta, NY, population approx. 11,000, not including college students) and driving into town at least once every day.  With a full-sized pickup truck (which I just HAD to have during my "all my friends drive big trucks and I want one too" phase), I figured I was spending between $6 and $9 a day on gas. 

Among a few other factors, this discovery spawned the search for an apartment.  My price range was quite limited, but I found a place in a building owned by a friend.  After my new landlord completed several minor repairs to the unit (including a bathroom sink that didn't drain and a leak in the ceiling), I painted the entire apartment.  Voila!  Home sweet home. 

I have been living in my apartment for about 8 weeks.  So many discoveries are made when you don't have to think about anyone but yourself.  For instance:

Garbage:  I have made exactly 3 full bags of trash since I moved in.  I am quite sure that Jeremiah and I (my last roommate) were disposing of about 1 bag of trash a week, sometimes more.  I haven't figured out exactly why I make significantly less waste, but I have been bragging about it to anyone who will listen.  Hey!  I'm going green!

Toilet Paper:  I have used about 3 rolls of TP since December 1st.  Don't worry, this doesn't mean I am neglecting my hygiene.  But it is interesting, since both of my former male roommates had suggested that I purchase the toilet paper because, as a female, I was obviously using more than them.  Ha!  Take that.  I'm going REALLY green.

Privacy:  My apartment is on the 3rd floor of a tall building.  In fact, the tallest building on the block.  When I look out any of my three dormer windows, I see the tops of other people's homes.  If I look down from my living room window, I can see what appears to be the next door neighbor's living room couch.  More often than not, the couch is occupied by a small gray kitten, so needless to say the view from up here isn't so bad.  I can also do anything I want in my apartment, with no chance of being seen.  Yesterday I baked 6 dozen cookies in my bra.  Talk about liberating. 

There are never dishes in the sink that I didn't use myself.  Every time I buy groceries, they're still in the fridge when I want to use them.  The perks are endless.  However, there are some downsides:

Cleaning:  I have never been particularly motivated when it comes to vacuuming.  I suspect this trait is genetic (sorry, Mom), but I never seem to think about vacuuming until I can actually SEE physical particles on the floor.  By this time the rugs are probably filthy with invisible dirt, but I so rarely have any guests in my apartment that it simply doesn't seem like a priority.  I also never put my boots or sneakers in the shoe rack where they belong.  You'd think this wouldn't be a problem, but that brings me to my next point...

Electricity:  My entire apartment is wired on one breaker.  13 outlets.  If I want to dry my hair, I need to be sure to turn off the television and most of the lights.  If I forget, pitch darkness ensues.  I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. to discover that my breaker had tripped in the night.  Curious, since I wasn't running any appliances or lights.  On my way out the door to the basement (tiny pen flashlight in hand), I tripped on 2 pairs of workboots and stubbed my toe on the door frame.  Ouch.

Now, if I can just figure out how to steal free cable to go with the neighbor's internet that I am illegally tapping into...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Why

Welcome, to the very first blog post I have ever written.  Well, perhaps I should amend that.  I had a "livejournal" in college.  On this public forum, I posted the intimate details of every illegal act I committed (from which lawn ornaments my friends and I stole to the ounce measurements of the beers we were chugging in bars at the tender age of 19).  Of course, that ended badly when it was discovered by my mother.  I don't like to think of that as a "blog" anyway, since it was more like an annoying, whiny diary that everyone in cyberspace could read.  Not that I think many did, because it was annoying.  And whiny.

Mainly, I am writing a blog because my mother has a blog.  While I don't have any delusions of being half the writer (or person) that she is, I like to think that it's possible the creative genes have been passed down in a diluted state and that I might possess some fraction of her abilities.  I guess that makes judges out of anyone who reads this.  Daunting.

I suppose I should take a moment to address the title of this blog.  In the event that I actually end up with any readers who do not already know me personally, here is a brief synopsis:  I am 25, have a four-year degree in history from a liberal arts school, and I work as a groundskeeper full-time for a large, multi-location facility for developmentally disabled children and adults.  I supplement my income by bartending part time, but that's a story for many, many subsequent posts.

A quick story about an event that drove me towards blog-creation:

At my place of work (called "Springbrook), the staff have the opportunity to collect boxes of goods from the local food bank.  The food bank provides Springbrook with items ranging from dented cans and boxes of food to returned items, such as housewares and kitchen gadgets with damaged or no packaging.  Whatever the homes and the school cannot use is sent to the staff break room, where anyone who works at Springbrook is welcome to paw through it and look for treasure.

Yesterday was a food bank delivery day.  I happened to walk into the break room, so I looked around.  I collected an ice cream scoop, a veggie peeler, a couple boxes of macaroni and cheese and one insulated beer "koozie" that looks like a referee's jersey.  One table contained several Brita water pitchers and PUR water faucet filtration systems.  These things are not cheap.  Since I have recently moved back into town, I have been drinking chlorinated city water for six weeks.  I investigated the table, but couldn't figure out what might be wrong with any of the items.  So, I gestured and asked a member of the education staff who had been placing things on tables, "what's up with all of these?"

His response:  "Oh, they're water purifiers.  You know, like to filter your tap water.  You can either run it through the pitcher or you can use one of the other ones that hooks on your faucet to filter it right there."

I almost slapped him.  Now, it should be noted that I strolled in around 2:30 pm, half an hour before quitting time and wearing my work clothes, which on this day happened to be a full Carhartt outfit and winter boots, all soaking wet and covered in grease and road salt.  None of this matters, as this particular staff member already knows I work in the maintenance department. 

I nearly opened my big mouth and informed him that I happen to be literate, could read the boxes that clearly described the items (with pictures!) and that, furthermore, I possess a 4-year liberal arts degree and choose to work maintenance because I enjoy it, not because I am unqualified for anything else.  I also considered noting that I happen to know that HIS job requires nothing more than a G.E.D.  Of course, I said none of this because I realized less than 5 seconds later that it would have been a tad of an overreaction.

And so, a blog is born.  A blog about the interesting (I hope) happenings in the life of an educated 20-something who is willfully choosing not to use her very expensive degree.  I guess I could have entitled it "My Unexpected Life", but maybe that will have to wait to be the title of the book.