Sunday, 22 May 2011

Apartment-Hunting - The Pain of Success :)

So boyfriend and I went apartment hunting last week.  It was more like - apartment-hunting safari, or ... or something.  We went at it like "we was killin' snakes"*, which is a phrase I don't quite understand but I'm using it anyway!  It was an incredibly high-speed, hi-volume, exhausting hunt that started the morning after we got here, and involved like five or six apartment viewings PER DAY.  We kept falling in love with various places and completing the application, and somehow, despite the fact that boyfriend is a student and I am currently unemployed, AND we have a dog, we kept getting approved.

 * I read it in a book once and it's been stuck in my head ever since, probably because it brings up a hundred unanswered questions.  I mean, does one usually go at killing snakes with a sort of manic demented rage?  Unless you're terrified of them, but in that case I'd just run - I'm not fast on my feet but I'm pretty sure I can outrun a snake.  And even then - how does one wind up killing a whole lot of them all at once?  I personally didn't know snakes travelled in packs and have never encountered more than one at any time, and at that time I was definitely not seized by the urge to grab my machete and swing insanely.    Unless the originators of the phrase used to go to snake dens and kill hundreds of them wildly and furiously - in which case ... the phrase really makes no sense because it refers to a very few people with an extremely unique hobby, meaning it's completely unsuitable as a homily.

It was the getting approved part that made it brutal.  It was stressful, people!  I know it sounds good but you try it.  You fall in love with a place even though rental prices here in the big city are absolutely staggering.  It's beautiful, the area is great, it's shiny, it has all the features you want except for one or two, and you think, okay, we probably won't get it, but we have to try.  Then the phone starts ringing and you're approved.  And approved again.  And again.  And then you have to discuss them, all of them, cause nothing's out of the running cause you keep getting approved.  And you have to do so as calmly and rationally as possible (how many guesses on how well we did at that?).  And then you find yourself yelling at each other:

"I WANT A BALCONY" (well, I was yelling that part); then
"BUT I WANT THAT KITCHEN!" (boyfriend), and
"IN SUITE LAUNDRY IS AWESOME!" (boyfriend); then ....
 "BUT THAT STUPID APARTMENT IS TOO SHINY AND ANU WILL WRECK THE FLOORS AND WE'LL HAVE TO PAY A FORTUNE TO HAVE THEM REFINISHED WHEN WE MOVE OUT WHICH WILL BE IN LESS THAN A YEAR BECAUSE THEY'LL PROBABLY KICK US OUT CAUSE THIS APARTMENT COMPLEX IS FULL OF YUPPIE SNOBS!!" (phew, then deep breath.  That was me, btw :)

The fight above (sorry for subjecting y'all to it, but wanted you to know what I mean!) was abut the boy's favourite place.  Billed as a modern 1 bed + den*, it was shiny, with sparkling pale hardwood floors, an open floor plan, french doors opening onto the 'balcony' in the living room, with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen ....

Kitchen.  This was actual open to the living room area:

You can see the "balcony" through the patio doors.

*This is the "den".  You can't tell cause there's no furniture in it, but it's maybe four feet by five feet square - aka smaller than the walk-in closet.  
This part still perplexes me.  
Is it a selling point for anyone?  
You can barely even use this as an office, 
unless you don't get depressed working in a space that makes you feel like you're being punished by an evil lunatic who's locked you in a closet.
Since that is where my overactive imagination goes ... no thanks!


It was beautiful, and five years ago, if I'd been in a position to afford it, I would have been in love and awe and ... well, I'd have been living there :)  But that was five years ago!

So - here's the crisis with boyfriend's favourite apartment.  It was very modern, and my homemade dishclothes and pillows would look tragic there, instead of fun and unique.  None of the furniture I see in my future (thrift store & flea market finds) would look good.  We'd have to buy new stuff we'd be afraid to sit on.  And my dog would have to wear rubber booties to avoid scratching the floors.

And I would bet that if anyone in the building DID have a dog, it would the kind that fit in your purse and never leap enthusiastically onto strangers (thinking of course that strangers are all coming to see THEM and probably throw the ball several million times).

I worry a little that boyfriend actually thinks we would fit in with those people.

why I am missmatched now ....

Five years ago I bought my first car, brand new, a shiny little black Chevy coupe.  I had a perfectly serviceable car at the time that was just much older and not flashy:
a 1994 Oldsmobile Achieva; I still miss that car!!

But I wanted to be seen looking successful and flashy and stylin' in my sporty coupe.  I was heading home to where I'd grown up and although I didn't know it at the time, I was feeling insecure about how little I thought I'd achieved in life.  I wanted a symbol of my success, or at least, a way to fake it, when I went back.  So I bought it, and went a step further and got the upgraded sports model with shiny rims & sunroof & spoiler & fancy-ass sound system .....



That car was awesome, and I loved it.  Until about five minutes after I signed the contract and went to talk to the friendly insurance agent.  When I realized that my insurance payment was going to be two thirds of my car payment all over again, I started to feel a little short of breath, but stupid pride wouldn't let me say "whoa, I totally didn't research insurance properly, I thought it was going to be less, I take it BACK, keep the car!!"  I was so stubborn, even when I had panic attacks driving away in that car, I still didn't turn around.  

Two years later, I sold it for a car that was less than half in insurance payments that I like just fine but I had to finance the shortfall (sorry if that was too technical; basically when I went to sell the coupe I owed more than it was worth so the salesperson very kindly just increased the purchase price of the replacement vehicle to cover it).  Ergo ... I'm still paying for that stupid car.

Here's the point of that sad, sad tale:  five years ago, shiny speedy new was my priority.  I stayed in the shiny, flashy, new mentality despite the panic attacks for a long time.  Actually I think until I adopted my dog, I still fantasized about wearing sleek, sexy clothes, driving a fancy car, and living in an uber-shiny, modern apartment:

I thought I wanted to live here....

But the dog changed everything.  Partly cause he chewed half of my stuff, but also because my priorities changed.  I wanted a car that I could put a wet, muddy dog in without wincing.  I wanted comfortable furniture, easy to clean floors, easy access to the outdoors, preferably trails and parks.  And when it's pouring rain or blizzarding outside, there's a certain point you reach when you just don't care HOW you look, you don't care if your boots don't match your coat or if everything you're wearing is giant and puffy and makes you look like the Michelin man and your touque is some retarded thing you found buried in the back of your mother's closet - you just care that you are WARM and capable of moving around with your extremely active dog:

 my niece and I in the backyard at my parents' place
you can just see Anu's head; watching us very intently in case we have a ball (of course I do!)

Also, I'd gotten into the habit of doing crafting, knitting and sewing projects.  I'm not saying I was very good, but it changed me dramatically.  I stopped wanting to buy anything and even if my dishclothes were kind of crooked with holes in them where I dropped a stitch, I loved them.  I gave friends homemade cards and when, instead of sneering at them, they expressed amazement that I was 'crafty', I honestly experienced a feeling just like when the Grinch's heart grew "three sizes" in his chest :)

And I got addicted to DIY blogs and the idea that I could actually create my own stuff that does what I want it to, instead of having to organize my life around premade stuff that other people want/ed.  When I came across this blog post on apartment therapy, I fell instantly in love (well, not with the rug, that stuff reminds me of milk commercials, eeeuughhh).  Someday I will make this!

... turns out I wanted to live here!

I love how no two items in this room match exactly.  The sofa's also modular and can be transformed into a bed just by rolling the two end pieces around front (so much better than offering guests a lumpy futon!)

I loved the idea of not only creating something myself, but also something that reflects me and my priorities.  Mismatched rooms illustrate a lack of concern with perfection, and a room/house that says "Above all, we prioritize the unique, comfortable, open, and honest" also says "WELCOME!  You're Awesome!  You fit right in!!"

Wouldn't you want to go visit / live there?

~Jace

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Moving - aka the epic tale of the tarp(s)

The day before we met for the first time, the (now) boyfriend made a very offhand comment about how his brother could get me a job in Vancouver and I could come back with him when he went to finish his last year of school.
I was having a party with a couple of friends at the time and because I'd had a glass of wine or two I immediately turned from the computer and said excitedly "He just asked me to move to Vancouver with him!!"
A part of my brain observed this more soberly and thought "Wow, jump to conclusions much?" but the rest of my brain drowned it out with cries of "oh my gosh we are going to fall in luuuuuuuve" and gleefully leaped around in romantic twirly skirts in the middle of a field of wildflowers.



It was about a week after we'd actually met that we were sitting at a stoplight and I turned to him and said "So - I'm not really into long-distance relationships" (smooth, huh?).  And he looked at me and said "me neither" and grinned.*
So from that point forward it was basically understood that when April rolled around and the boyfriend packed his car, I'd be packing my stuff too and I'd be right next to him on the way back to Vancouver.

*Re-reading this paragraph a year later, I realize this sounds completely the opposite of how I meant it, like we were both chatting about breaking up in the most unconcerned way possible.  Even though this post makes it self-evident that that's not what was meant, let me clarify:  We were both saying we would continue the relationship but not from a distance, ergo I would have to stay with him when he moved!!
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Packing ... sucked.  There is no more eloquent way to put that while still encapsulating the sheer suckiness of it.  Boyfriend is (as mentioned) a little OCD and when he's under pressure he tends to act like the team lead of an important project - worse, when he's under stress, his whole demeanour radiates barely contained impatience and frustration.  This means I feel less like a beloved girlfriend and more like a moronic junior employee on the verge of being fired.

On top of that we were moving in a 1996 Subaru Outback which just doesn't have all that much storage.  For almost the whole 8 months before we moved I assumed that boyfriend had a secret stash of crap in the back of his car (he had to have something somewhere!) and that was why the whole back section of the car looked half-full.  Turned out it was just a blanket and some random cleaning supplies (of course) - and when I realized that what I saw was what I'd get, I just burst into tears and said "fine, throw out everything I own - NOTHING will ever fit".  (I have a tiny tendency to be a bit dramatic, sometimes.)  I'd already thrown out almost every piece of furniture I own and now it looked like everything else had to go too.  I mean, my beloved "stuff" was mostly freebies, gifts, and garage sale finds, but just because stuff is free/inexpensive doesn't mean it's worthless.  As I tried to explain to boyfriend - just cause I bought the teak dresser for $40 doesn't mean it mightn't take $200 to replace. 

On top of that my dog has serious separation anxiety and maybe some kind of dog-autism that means any disruption in his environment* = panic.  The rescue that I adopted him from said he'd been found wandering on the highway and they suspected he'd been dumped by his owners.  How anyone could have abandoned a puppy this cute (this is the picture on the ad I responded to, taken by the rescue people):



The only thing that calmed him down was the phrase "Nobody's leaving you" which left me wracked with guilt considering that we WERE leaving him with my parents for a month or so, while we drove cross-country in a car he couldn't possibly fit in, then found a good apartment.

He took to sitting in front of or on top of things I wanted to pack:


"You ain't goin' anywhere without me, lady...."
Since it made him happy I didn't bother moving him.  The idea that he was the boss of the suitcase & dresser seemed to calm him.  (Yes, this is the state to which my packing degenerated.  In my fantasies everything was neat and labelled.  That lasted about five minutes.  Boyfriend has PROMISED that we get to hire movers next time we do this).

BUT .... I did it!  There was much stress and tears and a few explosions wherein this underappreciated employee shouted "I QUIT" to the irritable "team leader". 

It helped that my wonderful brother came through with the loan of a giant roof rack which we also packed to the teeth.  Boyfriend was practically snatched bald at this point, wild with the idea that we were literally packing six hours before we were supposed to be on the road, but my family is pretty good at making things work, no matter how unlikely or impossible they may seem to the innocent observer.

So, much to boyfriend's shock and awe (well, I may be editorializing, he might describe it as "surprise and relief" - either that or he hid the "awe" really well) the next morning .... we were on the road:


Just want y'all to observe for a second the beautiful, tidy, shiny neatness of this vehicle. 

Two hours into the trip we were already going crazy with the noise of the tarp flapping against the cargo on the roof.  The night before we'd joked about keeping duct tape on hand to secure the tarp, little realizing how quickly it would become reality.  Boyfriend decided that this was a great idea, and as we wrapped tape around the corners and patched the minor tears, we laughed about being 'typical Canadians' doing our own problem-solving via duct tape.  Initially it looked great ....


 ... but we were still worried, as the torn sections spread across the top of the tarp.  Boyfriend added a rope and a "bit more" duct tape, but by the end of day one, the ceaseless flapping and incessant wind had taken their toll:

[excuse me while i die laughing.  this picture could cheer me up at a funeral
everytime i see it i laugh so hard i'm crying ....]

Morning of day 2 dawned cold and bright, brilliantly illuminating the fact that this tarp was not quite doing the job.  By this time I'd completely washed my hands of the tarp:  boyfriend was still being team leader (aka drill sergeant) and I decided it would just be easier if the whole tarp business was his fault brilliant success.  We bought another tarp and more rope and I sat in the car and [very helpfully] uploaded photos of the tarp onto facebook while boyfriend secured the second layer:


By the end of day 2 even boyfriend was laughing.  I also began to suspect that boyfriend might need professional help for his duct tape addiction.  He scoffed at this notion, stating that he only had a problem if what he was doing wasn't working:  obviously his success proved his usage was judicious rather than excessive.

By the last day the rope and tape were being knotted together in a truly creative attempt to hold everything together, and we'd had to stop to buy more duct tape because the two rolls we'd started out with were gone. 


What I find the most shocking about this is that when we arrived virtually everything had made it through the trip dry and intact.....

Not to mention the fact that boyfriend's brother managed to help him unload this monstrosity without becoming paralyzed with hysterical laughter.  Clearly they share that "calm, reasonable" gene that I suspect I might rather lack :)  It was dark when they took it off, so I didn't get pictures, but it looked pretty much like that.

~ Jace
....

... had to show you my favourite part just one last time :)


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* I once got a noise complaint from neighbours in my apartment complex about a sudden increase in his barking - the thing was, it was when I took 4 whole sick days in a row and I was HOME the entire time.  He was just completely confused and infuriated because I was home, but not spending every waking minute with him.  He just couldn't handle the fact that I wasn't at work the way I usually was on weekdays.  Every once in a while he'd bring me a ball or toy and if I didn't throw it, he'd bark at me. Sometimes he'd just wander over and bark, then wander away, as if to remind me that he KNEW this whole situation was pretty weird and so he was keeping a close eye on me just in case I decided to do something else crazy, like not change out of my pyjamas by 8 am sharp.

so - WHY mis(s)match(ed)??

I met the boy that I love on Labour Day Monday last year. He was (well, still is - don't worry, he's not dead, this isn't that kind of blog!) working in a nearby city and was (is!) the most intelligent, hilarious (read:  ridiculous), infuriating, sexy person I've ever met. So of course I'm crazy about him.... even if he does refuse to submit to having his picture taken unless he is a person of mystery:



We met on a dating site of all places - I love telling people that* - and on May 1st we're taking the wildly crazy step of moving in together - after we drive 5,000 kms across Canada to settle in Vancouver. The boy has one year of school to finish and he's lived here for a year on a very sweet work co-op that got extended to an unheard-of full year when his boss realized that if boyfriend leaves, he has to train a NEW person. [ That sounds like sarcasm: it's really not. I get the impression the boss is kind of the absent-minded professor type and I could see how the realization, having abruptly dawned at the last minute, would have thrown him a little :) ]

You could say the boy and I are mismatched .... but I'm gonna lean on the word a little and add "divinely so" .... The thing about being with someone who is so different from you is that you're never bored and you're always being taken by surprise when things are not the way you thought they were. Yes, the other person will make you crazy; yes, you will argue a lot; yes, you will find yourself fantasizing about throwing things at his head over an discussion about the make and model of police vehicles in certain provinces (not making this up); yes, there will be a time when you will find yourself crying in the garden section of the local hardware store (still not making this up) because you feel like it's _never_ gonna work.

But you also learn a lot - about yourself and what's important to you, you learn a totally different perspective on someone else, and you learn why you think/feel the way you do when you find yourself arguing for it. Sometimes you find out that something you think was of life or death importance has no real value to you anymore; and sometimes you realize that something you thought was a random quirk is actually part of a value system you didn't know you had ....
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So for me - the value system is "mismatch". I've always been drawn to the handmade vintage things of the world. Some of my favorite things - my pyrex cookware (can't show you cause it's packed and will stay packed until we find our new place!), a vintage pot trivet, iced tea glasses in glowing amber, and a grinning, cheerfully garish ceramic cat - were $2 garage sale finds or free gifts from the Chinese grocery I used to frequent before we moved across the country!  Boyfriend thinks they're incredibly ugly ....




.... but I love love LOVE them.  I think we'd been dating two months when I brought the trivet over to show him "THIS is what I like, and by the way, it comes with us when we move!"

It turns out I love things that don't match.  My favourite design style right now is still "shabby chic" - but I have a very active black Australian Kelpie mix who loves to get into everything, and thinks that beds are actually designed for him and humans have this irritating habit of wanting to sleep in them all night long - terribly selfish of us, of course:



Shabby chic stuff is gorgeous and white/pale pink/pale blue etc. and already a little tattered. If shabby chic incorporated short black hair all over everything as part of the style, and if it leaned further from "tattered" into "steps from the dustbin because it's held together with duct tape", then it would work - as it stands, not so much!

So instead my decorating style is a weird hybrid of shabby chic in select areas (i.e. NOT the bedding :), retro 50s/60s, French country, and steampunk .... And I love seaside influences, blue and white stripes, brass & stainless steel, dark wood, formica, and that scary 50s lime green for everything from lamp shades to appliances.

So you can imagine how boyfriend shudders when I talk about buying furniture and making curtains. It is going to be a struggle to merge just MY design ideas, never mind including boyfriend's design sense:



But we're gonna try -and the plan is to document it at least somewhat on this blog.  Hope y'all can follow along.  And tolerate the fact that I talk like I grew up in the deep South even though I'm from cold cold Canada.

~Jace

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*A fun fact about online dating:
Every single person we've ever told had the exact same reaction. First, a blank and faintly panicked look, like we've just admitted to wearing each other's underwear all the time. Then, bracingly, "well.... Yes.... That's good. My friend/cousin/mother/dog walker's sister has a friend who met someone on a dating site." Like they need to emphasize that there are at least two degrees of separation between themselves and the world of internet dating. This is usually followed up by a reassuring "It's the new way to date, you know! Who wants to go to a bar and pick up some drunk person! It's a new day and age, you know!!" Then there's a few moments of high-pitched laughter before they subside into uncomfortable silence.
It's like they all went to the same PR school that taught them 1) yes, you're right, internet dating _is_ weird ....  However 2) internet dating is currently considered acceptable so you need to respond appropriately without shock or judgement. I feel like we should come with a warning label. Or ease into it for the faint of heart. Mostly I just like blurting it out though. You should try it sometime :)

musings and an introduction

There is an incredible amount of pressure that comes with composing your first ever blog post, even if you don't have a single hangup about anything, even if your self-esteem is rock-solid, even if you think you're hilarious and interesting.  So you can imagine the paroxysms of panic that are gripping me right now!  Here's my biggest fear - I think I'm funny but I also come across as this kind of super-ADD/in love with parentheses/drive you to distraction lunatic.  And while my family has to love me for that I know y'all don't have to do the same.  So - if you'll indulge me this early attempt I promise I'll get better.

If nothing else I'll guarantee that this year will be an experience not to be missed if I can manage to write about it coherently.

So this is a blog about me (I'm not shy, I'm just NOT photogenic, except for my feet, which I can shamelessly say are lovely) .....


.... and the boyfriend (while I do think his hands are gorgeous,
really he refuses to submit to being photographed unless he is a mysterious personage)....



... and the puppy, Anubis ....




And it's about the incredible complications of trying to merge our lives.  Boyfriend is a calm, organized, vegetarian, Israeli software developer who loves movies, smartphones, and washing dishes *just so* (by that I mean the "right way" whatever that is).   We argue all the time about the dumbest things.  Sometimes I can tell he wants to laugh but he doesn't cause he's trying very earnestly to make a point.  I think he has some form of OCD that's very intermittent and leads him to give you lectures about why you shouldn't do things that I swear even a monkey with bad manners wouldn't even do.

I am ... well, Canadian, and while I rarely eat meat it's cause it's expensive but not cause I don't love it! I worked in accounting until I got abruptly fired after the worst year of my life, and now ... well, this summer I hope to get a job delivering auto parts, and I'm not even kidding about that:  a whole summer to listen to music, drive around, do something physical, and hang out with parts guys & mechanics who are kind of awesome and maybe if I play my cards right they'll show me how to fix the rattling noise in my car :)

I love my immediate family and someday we want to all buy a big tract of land and build a bunch of houses spaced just far enough apart for privacy but not so far that we can't see each other all the time.  Right now my sister lives SO far away from me and it is hard bordering on painful not to see her and my gorgeous tiny niece and nephew.

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On the Blog's Title
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I'm really not aiming for depth by way of obscurity with this blog title. (If you can't see all the way to the bottom of a body of water, it doesn't necessarily mean the water is deep: it could just be a dirty puddle - the story of the blog title is definitely puddle-deep!)

I wanted to call this blog "MissMatch". Just like that. Short. Simple. Sweet, even.

Unfortunately the blog address and all the near approximations that I wanted were taken in 2007 and 2008 by angst-y teens (at least I REALLY hope they were teens) ridden with guilt or self-loathing - or, in most cases, ex-girl/boyfriend loathing - who all made one blog post at the height of their tearful regretful rage and then . . . never wrote in the blog again.

am still holding a little bit of a grudge against those talentless thugs,
holding _my_ address hostage .... but i'm working on that

On the other hand, if you want to have a flashback to when you were a hormone-tousled-drama-king/queen-hysteric, go check out the blogs on blogger.com incorporating the word mismatch/ed & missmatch/ed.

Anyway, since in the past I have been accused of being a tiny bit stubborn, I wasn't about to give up on my plan. I ended up having to deciding to choose an adjective which hadn't been taken before and adding it to the address. So - to cut a long story short: the title of this blog is supposed to refer to 1) "(The) Divine Miss Match" (of course, being me, I'm very modest that way) and 2) "Divinely Mismatched" which is the best way I can think to describe my life, my relationship, and my value system, which has changed so dramatically in the last few years but most especially in the last few months.  But in the interests of brevity - more on that later (you'll thank me for that when you read blog post #2 where I try to explain it briefly ... and fail .....  :).

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I've been trying to write this introduction for a REALLY long time and if I don't just post something I'll never post anything.  So.... be kind, dear future readers.  Someday we can all look back on this and laugh at the awkwardness, the clumsy imitation of the classy glossy blogs I love, and the poor segues.  Not to mention the rambling.  This should be called mismatched "ramblings" but that blog title is probably taken too.

There WILL be more pictures in the next post, I promise :)

Talk to y'all soon ....