Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How I spent my summer vacation (2013 edition)

With Labor Day right around the corner and the start of school the next day, I figured it was time to look back on my summer. Although, with the current heat wave, it sure doesn't feel like summer is almost over. I'm not a big fan of hot weather, so I'm currently channeling my "future-old-woman-who-complains-about-everything-without-caring-who-is-listening" personality.

Last we chatted, I was finishing up cleaning and packing for my move to Albert Lea. Since I'm quickly approaching the third rent check, I guess I should fill you in on how it's been going.

First of all, I have a love-hate relationship with the apartment. It's a great apartment, but the kitchen is smaller than any place I've lived in, so I'm struggling to figure out how to best organize it. And I might be lucky that IKEA isn't right in town or I would be there with each new idea, and thus, busting my budget. 

And I have interesting neighbors. Nuff said. 

There's no way I can say that the apartment was move-in ready when I was ready to move-in. I spent quite a few days cleaning up the place to my low standards. I insisted the management company give me a cleaning credit for the number of hours I spent cleaning - and they did.

My apartment faces the ambulance bay for Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) in Albert Lea. (For native Albert Leans, translation: Naeve Hospital) The Gold Cross ambulances have a policy to not start the sirens until they are off Park Avenue and on to Fountain Street. That's a nice thing for them to do because the rare times that they have turned the sirens on early, I nearly jumped out my skin.

Even though the apartment was built in 1906 (or there about), the place has garages attached. But they're not very wide and I go into minor stress mode whenever I have to park in the garage. Thus I'm mostly parking on the street.

One weekend in July, I was walking out to my car (parked in front of the apartment) and I noticed it had a parking ticket, but it wasn't from the city. It was a MCHS parking ticket. Because I have a Mayo tag on my car, they thought I was an employee illegally parked. I stopped by the hospital's security office, explained the situation (hey, I live there) and the guy apologized and tore up the ticket. Only it happened again the following weekend. The time on the second ticket was 4 a.m., so I'm surmised that it was a very bored security guy looking for anything to do. This time I called the Director of Security at the hospital and informed him of the facts. I guess I'm now in their 'database.' (should I be worried?)

Hopefully they registered my license plate (SK8 4ME) and not the description (a sorry-looking, beat-up 2001 PT Cruiser), because I finally broke down and purchased a new car. I don't think of it as much as having a new car, rather I think of it as having a car payment.

I held off buying a new car for as long as possible, but when I reached the point where driving over 60 mph caused me to pray the rosary out loud, I knew I could wait no longer. 

It was that and 
  • the fact that the brake light would come on if I accelerated too quickly,
  • that my left rear blinker would only work if I slammed the trunk just right,
  • that the driver's side rear door handle had rusted off,
  • and perhaps because the check-engine-light had been on for the last 20K miles.
My new car payment is a 2009 Pontiac Vibe.

Earlier I mentioned that my garage is narrow, so as I was car shopping, I carried a tape measure with me. Many vehicle were ruled out because they were too big. Yes, the sales guy thought it was bit strange, but I'll be glad that I did it once the snow arrives. Which can't be soon enough for me.

The question that I'm most frequently asked is if I'm happy being back home. The answer is yes, but it's more than that. There is a level of comfort that I feel being back here. It's still feeling like I'm just here for a visit, but that becomes less and less each day. 

To be continued...