The Dino Nest is relocating this week. I’ve got all our utilities set to start up at the new place tomorrow and Friday. Boxes (for moving) and bags (for Amvets) are starting to fill the living room.
Our cable bill will be decreasing slightly even though we’re adding a third box to accommodate the basement and the bitter reality that no one wants a TV-free zone on the ground floor except for yours truly. Part of the reason for the decrease is that I’m finally letting Comcast sell me the phone line I don’t need so they can give me a better service bundle. The other part, according to my sales rep, is that they offer better discounts in my new zip code.
My new zip code is no more than a mile from my current zip code. The main difference between them is that my current zip code is dominated by multifamily dwellings. Comparatively low-rent ones. About 2400 of them. Occupied by people who can’t afford better or are saving up for more. Mostly working-class people without a lot of fat in their budgets.
My new zip code has plenty of apartment buildings, townhouses, and duplexes, many of them housing the same kinds of people. That’s why I can afford to make it my new zip code. But it also has lots of single-family homes, some of them quite fancy.
My credit rating may have been to blame for the deposit Dominion Power charged us when we moved to our current digs – $180 (broken into three installments, applicable to final bill or refundable at move-out) to protect against the possibility of us not paying bills. But that didn’t come up when we set up service for the new place.
In the year that we’ve lived in the Apartments at Mark Center, aka The Hamlets, we have paid out $300 in towing fees for visiting family because our parking lot is patrolled zealously for car without guest passes. This year the management company got rid of the permanent guest parking pass it used to provide with each apartment and has instituted a regime which requires daily in-person registration of visitor cars during office hours. Or leaseholders can buy reserved spots for $50/month. By contrast, there’s ample street parking in the new neighborhood.
The West End Alexandria Patch just reported that the only grocery store in 22311, the Giant on Beauregard, will close June 6. The next closest grocery (in my new zip, 22304) was the Magruders that closed this winter. This will leave the carless residents of The Hamlets with just CVS in comfortable walking distance. The choices will be pay more for worse groceries OR pay more for bus or cab fare to get to better options.
Being broke stinks. Having bad credit stinks. I’ll cop freely to having dug my own financial hole, but what about people who have been felled by illness? Or people who are working multiple jobs and still can’t quite make ends meet? Or people who have had to flee abusive spouses – or governments – with nothing but their lives? Is it fair to impose additional financial burdens on these people just for being broke?
How on earth is anyone supposed to climb out of the hole if they have to pay extra for the dubious privilege of being there in the first place?
Day one of excavating the Dino Nest began in earnest about two hours ago, once I finished launching kids to school (and buying move-related doo-dads, and farting around on the internet). So far have isolated all remaining pieces of my skinny-plus phase* wardrobe and am preparing to vacuum-seal them into a storage box in hope of wearing them again someday. Next will be isolating specimens of papers we no longer need, shredding them as needs shredding, and then getting them into a recycle bin before anyone can stop me. Kids have been sternly instructed that they will only be allowed to stay home from school this week if they’re on verge of hospitalization.
I love having my digitized music collection with me as I do all this. But sometimes I think it’s trying to kill me, or at least stun me into complete uselessness. It started with this and just kept going with more in the same vein until I had to cue up some damn Rihanna or something just make it stop.
Mouse and I spent a lot of quality time at Ben Brenman Park this week. For my friends in Columbia, think Lake Elkhorn or Wilde Lake with slightly more grassy open space, if either had sports fields and only 12 years of plant growth. Mouse rode her bike and attempted cartwheels* there Saturday and Sunday afternoons while I tried to write to-do lists for our impending move or just walked around the pond a couple of times. We saw turtles and fish in the pond and goslings, plus an older South Asian gent rockin’ out on a sitar. If the playground** weren’t so cramped and toddler-centric, I believe Mouse would anoint it her official happy place.
Podrostok played soccer earlier in the afternoon on Saturday at Mason District Park in Annandale. He was happy because he played forward – not his usual position – with some verve. I was not unhappy, but I managed to sunburn my face a bit. On the bright side for me, I found a hat later that day that actually keeps sun off and fits my ginormous head.
This week is the big push for our family move to a nearby townhouse community. We get the keys to the new place on Thursday but I am taking the whole week off in an effort to clear out the current Dino Nest, set up cable and utilities and such, take a lot of stuff to Amvets, and coordinate furniture deliveries. Tomorrow it begins in earnest!
* Pa Protosaur had this thing about the health benefits of cartwheels when I was a kid and insisted that my sister and I do them daily. Unfortunately, I can’t do them anymore without spine damage and a diaper. So my training efforts have been sorely limited. Alas.
** Best playground in Alexandria to date is a tie between the school at Blessed Sacrament and George Mason Elementary. Patrick Henry ES has great playground equipment but it all seems to be about four inches too high off the ground.
I once read a book about professional diversity once that described a workplace filled with different types of birds, in which peacocks were expected to become more penguin-y and the chickens and ducks learned from each other’s differences. According to a quiz in this book, my professional bird totem is the humble vulture. I thrive in doing jobs that others abandon as boring or obscure, where my eccentricities are accepted because of my willingness to support the institutional ecosystem.
Tonight I should be going asleep but I am obsessively reading about edible invasive plants and animals. This is more agreeable by far than learning about taxes and farming, which was the focus of my obsessive reading last night. But it is not as useful as doing the actual farm class homework.
Dino Spouse loves the ID Channel and Oxygen as much as he once loved Lifetime and the FIFA Soccer video game franchise, which is to say he turns one of them on when he gets home from work and turns it off to go to sleep at night (or to play FIFA 2013 or surf Netflix in search of Swedish crime dramas). I recently realized that I can do a spot-on imitation of one of the voice-over artists who narrates Dino Spouse faves like “Snapped!” This discovery and my hatred of true crime TV have prompted me to narrate aspects of my husband’s evening/weekend routine for the last several days. “But (name redacted)’s love for the cat soon revealed a darker side,” I intone to his amusement.
This morning the whole family simultaneously began narrating itself in “Snapped!”-style voice-over. Now I’m envisioning a series of cool promo spots for the Oxygen or the ID Channel featuring an imaginary Dinosaurov clan narrating its daily experiences true crime style, like the glorious “Noggin” promo spots of yore. “But (name redacted)’s teachers soon saw a different picture emerge,” Infidel can be thinking to himself as he saunters into math class. Yes, I see it all coming together.
(Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I got evangelized Friday morning at work about the importance of Creative Commons. So until I get my sh*t together enough to download a badge and such, I demand credit and compensation from anyone who uses my cool idea.)
I’m not sick anymore. I’m not sure I’m exactly at full strength, but I made it through a full week of work. That feels like an achievement.
Now to start winding up for scheduled move to new Dino Nest in the second week of May. The new nest will feature three levels, including a partially finished basement area where Podrostok can kick around a soccer ball and Mouse can dance without disturbing neighbors. It will have a washer and dryer. It will not have a second shower or bath tub, but I entertain hopes that it will at least have a larger hot water heater than our apartment.
(I never found a home for my useless Russian piano, which is currently sitting in our still-pending-short-sale-settlement townhouse. Maybe I will move it to the basement of the new place, since a basement is a good place for a large noise-making object.)
Not that anyone reads this blog for the political commentary, but:
(1) Julia Jackson McReady should have won in Oakland Mills yesterday because she would have been a great board member. Drat.
(2) Just legalize pot already, for cryin’ out loud. Because living in an apartment building, 4/20 is a fragrant and depressing reminder of just how good legal pot sales would be for our tax base. It’s a lovely teachable moment and all, since I get one more chance to give my “getting stoned as a teen makes you complacent too early in life” and “responsible adults choose the ability to hold steady employment and security clearances over getting high” speeches. But derp, America. No one can credibly claim that marijuana is a bit worse than booze.
(3) DUE PROCESS FOR ALL. Really. No exceptions. Thank you.