Sunday, June 29, 2008

Folklife Festival

Photos from the Folklife Festival (May 23 and 24):

Seattle Center artwork

Emily decorates an electrical pole

View of the EMP from the Monorail platform.
That's right, I took the Monorail!

Brain Cancer Walk

Just what you need in direct sunlight, 75 degree weather: an absurd-looking, cheap plastic, inflatable brain hat. With chin strap!

We walked in honor of our step-sister's fiance's dad, who passed away just last week from brain cancer. He was diagnosed only 7 weeks ago. Rest in peace, Randy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fire Alarm, Part Deux


I am SO FURIOUS right now! I'm shaking and my face is all hot! I don't know why I let myself get so worked up. This is why I hate confrontation, cuz it makes me feel like this.

So, my landlord did NOT change the battery on my fire alarm yesterday (last night, I suspected this might be the case, but told myself I was just being paranoid). It started beeping at me at 5am this morning. Why it only beeps from 5am to 7am, I may never know. I thought to myself, "Maybe if I stand on a chair and pry at it with my hammer, I can MAKE THE INSANITY STOP." And then I remembered that I left my tools at Jacque's new apartment. I brainstormed all the other long objects that I might be able to use to pry the lid off, but I didn't think knitting needles would cut it. I slept with a pillow held over my head and dreamt of torturing a voodoo doll of my landlord.

I called him later in the morning and left a second message. This one was a bit more forceful. I was tired and angry, but I think I managed to sound upbeat while demanding that he fix it pronto.

I did not hear from him all day. When I got home 20 min ago, I checked to be sure his car was here (it was), then called him. It went straight to voicemail (as it has for the last two times I've called). So I decided to pay him a visit in his basement apartment. The door was ajar and I could hear him inside, so I knocked. I waited, then knocked again. Nothing. So I called his name, and he finally came to the door.

"Did you get my messages?" I asked, flustered.

"Yeah, I took care of it. I've been pretty busy."

"Okay, great." I start to walk away.

"Your second message was pretty forceful," he says.

"Yeah. I lost sleep. It's woken me up two mornings in a row. The first morning obviously wasn't your fault, but I wouldn't have lost sleep this morning if you'd taken care of it yesterday."

His body language and voice were completely defensive. "I was completely swamped. I couldn't fit it in." He says this with a final air, as if there's nothing further to discuss.

I absolutely HATE HATE HATE interacting with this man, even just to exchange "hello's." He is horribly unpleasant. A few weeks ago, he posted a sign by the mailboxes that read:

"My cinder blocks are missing from the third floor. I don't know who took them, so I'll have to search every apartment. I don't want to have to."

Everytime I ask him to fix anything, he says, "You broke it?" When the o-ring in my swivel sink faucet broke, he asked me if I was turning the faucet inordinately "back and forth, back and forth." Yeah, it's a hobby of mine. I like to spend my evenings trying to break o-rings by turning the faucet back and forth.

One bright Saturday, Becky, John and Amy came to pick me up. They temporarily stopped the car in a place where it was double-parking another car, but they didn't stop the car or get out. After a few minutes, my landlord came out and said to John in a rebuking tone, "I need to get to my car."

When John moved the car, the landlord then sat in his car, in his parking space, for several minutes. He was still sitting there when we left.

I doubt he really fixed the alarm. It'll probably go off tomorrow at 5am.

The funniest thing is, one night we were having dinner with Ralph and Wanda, and I mentioned where I live and said my landlord was creepy. Ralph asked his name.

"Stu," I said. (Name has been changed for the sake of anonymity.)

"Stu Shortz?" Ralph asked.

"I don't know his last name. But he's creepy." I then gave a physical description.

"Yeah, that's Stu Shortz," Ralph said. (Of course Ralph would know every landlord in my neighborhood.) "We went to high school with him." Random! Ralph concurred that he was, indeed, a total douche-bag. ("Douche bags are a hygienic product. I will take that as a compliment!")

I cannot wait to be rid of him. CAN'T. WAIT.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I hate fire alarms

Somewhere around 5:30 this morning (i.e. half an hour before my alarms normally go off, and an hour before I normally get out of bed), my dreams started incorporating a loud and persistant "chirp." One of these "chirps" finally yanked me out of sweet, sweet sleep. It was a loud beep that reasserted itself every couple minutes. I got up and looked around. Surely, it must be my cell phone alerting me that it had run out of battery. Alas, no, the cell phone was plugged in and fully charged. I checked my CPAP machine, which doesn't normally churp, but perhaps it was unhappy for some reason. Alas, no, the CPAP machine wasn't plugged in. I climbed back into bed, confused. After a minute or so of silence, I realized it must be the fire alarm running out of batteries. Sure enough, after a couple minutes the thing "chirped" again, from the direction of the fire alarm, nearly scaring the living daylights out of me. You have to understand that, in order for this thing to wake me up (even if it did take a few times), it had to be loud. I use two alarm clocks to wake me up, and that sometimes doesn't cut it. My apartment has a high ceiling, so the fire alarm is located pretty high up, giving the "chirp" quite an acoustic dome to echo off of. Suffice it to say, it were loud.

The dang thing went off every five minutes (perhaps more frequently; I can't estimate time periods), ripping me from sleep each time. I wasn't comfortable climbing up on an insubstantial chair while half asleep without my contact lenses in (and I sure as heck weren't gonna put my contacts in at 5 freakin' 30 in the marnin'.) So I slept with my pillow over my head until 6am, put my contact lenses in, and climbed up on said insubstantial chair.

Wouldn't you know, the dern thing was still out of reach. Damn high ceilings. I had to tolerate that thing giving me mini heart attacks for the next hour, until I could leave for work. Sorry, neighbors. I left a message for the landlord to change the batteries, but he never returned my call. The chirping stopped by the time I got home this evening, so either he changed the batteries, or they ran themselves out and my apartment is unprotected. I reckon I'm happy either way, as long as that stupid "chirp" is gone.

(Sorry for the white-trash accent. I just watched three episodes in a row of "My Name Is Earl.")

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've got another riddle for you

Must remember to buy new nylons before I attempt to wear a skirt again. These ones make me look like an Oompa Loompa. *shudder*

In the UK, nylons are called "tights." So what do they call tights? Also, "pants" means underwear. Aren't they silly?

Finally got an official letter from my lender. Phew! I'll need that to get a visa.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I was still feeling cranky today about my teeth and other things I've been stressing over lately, but then I went and talked to my oral surgeon, and he showed me the CT scan images. He said, no matter what decision I make, it won't be a bad or wrong choice. He also said he talked to my dentist, and they decided to advise me to have my two top second-molars removed. I'd also have the bottom two wisdom teeth removed. So, I think I'll probably do that. He said it would be a little cheaper than they originally estimated, because it's cheaper to pull molars than to cut in and crack your wisdom teeth. If they remove the molars, it could take a year before the wisdom teeth move down, if they do move down. That was a little reassuring, knowing that I wouldn't have to deal with it until I'm out of school. By the way, did you know that Britain has universal healthcare on a program called the NHS? And the NHS doesn't pay dentists nearly as much as they can make if they're private dentists? So there's a huge lack of NHS dentists, and people have to wait over a year just to see one? Now you know why the British have such bad teeth! I found the following fascinating tidbit:

"While some dental work may be covered, most is not, dentists are rare, and as a result most Brits just don't bother to get dental work done. When they do need expensive dental work, they increasingly resort to becoming medical tourists to Hungary or other less expensive countries. A British dentist explains the NHS dentist shortage in simple terms: 'I don't think that £37,000 is a particularly good income for a highly-trained professional person. That's one of the reasons why dentists leave the NHS.'"

Medical tourists?! I'd be frightened of getting any medical work done in Hungary!

In other news, though I still haven't received any official communication about my Stafford loans from my lender, I did log on to the website, and it said, "Loan processed; awaiting disbursement." It gave the details of how much would be subsidized vs. unsubsidized, and even listed the dates of disbursement. So I can go ahead and apply for the Grad PLUS, now, though I will eventually need documentation from them in order to get my visa.

Also, I think I found my "goal" for London. I'm not convinced it'll work, but I'll give it a try. Several months ago, I was hanging out at my favorite hang-out (Barnes and Noble), browsing the travel guides for London. I found one called, "TimeOut: 1000 Things To Do in London." I wrote down the name of it and planned to check it out someday. Well, today, I was at my other favorite hang-out (the library), and there it was on the shelf! So I borrowed it, and it has a lot of cool suggestions (also some that I'm not sure I'll ever do). The TimeOut people asked their travel experts what they would do in their final hours in London if they were forced to leave the city. Number 1 is as simple as, "Take in the view from Tower Bridge." So I think I'll purchase the book at some point, and my goal will be to accomplish as many of the suggestions as possible. Most of them are pretty simple, so I could do multiple items in a day. One small thing I don't like about it is that, if you can do an activity at multiple places, they list that activity as multiple activities. For example, "Skate outdoors," is listed as numbers 217-225, and "Skate indoors," is 226-230. Numbers 163-187, "Get on location," list different London sites that are featured in various movies. Still, I think it could be a lot of fun. I can't wait!

Anyway, I'm in a better mood now. I'm not stressed anymore (for this fleeting moment).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stupid Teeth

I'm very proud of the fact that I've never had a cavity. Despite the fact that I never floss, my teeth are in pretty good condition. I went to see a dentist back in March for the first time in four years, and the hygienist told me, not knowing that it had been four years, "You could probably come in for a cleaning only once a year, instead of every six months."

The dentist recommended that I have my wisdom teeth taken out. None of them are "grown in," they're all still hiding under the gums, but he thought they could be doing some damage. One of them was sideways, you see. I procrastinated for a month or two, not wanting to get surgery, but finally called the oral surgeon to schedule a consult. At the same time, my friend Sara had also been to see a dentist for the first time in years, and had her wisdom teeth removed (she had a cavity in one wisdom tooth and the molar near it). Her experience was pretty good, and so was Emily's a few months ago. Becky also had no problems with her extraction, but Jody got a bad infection, and Rania had nerve damage for six months. "Sign me up!" I thought to myself. Anyway, I went for a consultation with the surgeon, and he took a panoramic x-ray that showed that the two bottom wisdom teeth were sitting near nerves. The sideways one was pushing against the molar, crowding the whole row of teeth (and I thought the bottom row was all messed up cuz I didn't wear my retainer). He didn't know where three of the wisdom teeth were located in relation to the "second" molars (the ones at the back), and he wanted to know for sure where they were before he went in and started slicing things open. So he recommended a CT scan.

That's right, my teeth were so f*@$ed up they required a CT scan. But it gets better. He called me today with the results. The two bottom teeth are sitting very close to nerves. One of them is actually "straddling" the nerve. If I have the tooth removed, the nerve may be exposed in the open hole that's left behind, and I may "feel numbness in my lip for a while." When Rania had nerve damage, it wasn't "numbness," it was PAIN. But the two top wisdom teeth are even better: they're sitting directly above the molars, and the molars are very clearly deteriorating. He said I have three options: 1) Do nothing until the molars fall apart completely and start hurting (could be 15 years down the road), then have both molars and wisdom teeth removed; 2) Have the molars removed and hope that the wisdom teeth slide down to replace them (perfect scenario); if the wisdom teeth don't slide down, they'll have to be removed later (at extra cost, of course); 3) Have everything removed now. Here's the best part: he didn't know how best to advise me. He said, if I was his own kid, he'd say don't do anything about the top teeth. But if I was his kid, I'd have access to an oral surgeon at a moment's notice, and I probably wouldn't have to shell out a ton of cash a) for the extraction of the bottom teeth, and later b) for the extraction of the molars/wisdom teeth when they disintegrate into a festering, oozing infection.

This is, of course, all very inexpensive and should be no problem for a 26-year-old who's living paycheck to paycheck. I mean, who doesn't have a few thousand dollars stashed away in a shoe box?

Does God think my body is some sort of experimentation ground? "What would happen if I took asthma, non-specific allergies, narcolepsy that doesn't respond to treatment, sleep apnea that doesn't respond to treatment, small nasal passages, a small jaw and throat, crooked teeth, really bad eyesight, and screwed up wisdom teeth, and put them all in one person?" Me, that's what. But even saying that, I know I should thank my lucky stars I don't have anything worse. I mean, at least I've never had a cavity, right? *crosses fingers and knocks on wood*

Friday, June 13, 2008

Housing Crisis

Yesterday, while daydreaming about my new life in London, I realized that I'd never actually seen any pictures of the inside of the rooms in the residence hall I applied to. Obviously, I expect it to be tiny, free of any charm, and dorm-like, but I had somehow got an image in my head of a nice-enough room that I realized wasn't necessarily associated with that particular residence hall. I knew the room I applied to had a kitchenette, and I worried that I wouldn't be able to ever bake cookies (or chicken nuggets or French fries!) until Jacque suggested that I get a convection oven. I figured I could make it work, and I started to get really excited about a.) living in London, b.) living so close to school, and c.) living so close to pretty much everything else worth seeing.

The no-photo thing scared me a little, so I quickly went online and searched for photos. I searched Google, Wikipedia, the hall's own website, even student blogs: nothing. Not a single image of the indoors. And then I found this. This is a panoramic of a "double studio." I applied for a "single studio," with a "double" as my second choice. I was not at all prepared to see a MURPHY BED in the studio. In case anyone is wondering, I'M NOT OKAY WITH THAT. There's not even counter space in the kitchen for a convection oven! (that's a microwave down there.) And I doubt that fridge has a freezer.

Obviously, my whole world came tumbling down around me. I can't see myself living like that! I have no problem with small quarters, as long as it's somewhat charming and there's an oven of some sort and there's room for my friends to hang out. And I was really looking forward to living in Bloomsbury. But I don't know if I can handle...that room. I freaked out, because everything else in London is insanely expensive, right? Well, I hopped onto craigslist and looked at apartment listings for the same price as the residence hall, and wonder of wonders, some really nice apartments came up in areas not all that far from the school. I'm convinced that it's a sinister plot of some sort, that people lure you in with low prices and sparkly, polished photos, then you show up at the place and it's a brown, mildew-y dump in someone's basement. Anyway, that gave me a little hope.

Then today, I was reading the London page at (travel site for the uber-trendy, like me!). After reading this long entry about hip places to shop, I realized I really want to live someplace central, and the only way to do that (affordably) is to live in the halls. Maybe if I'm surrounded by, well, London, it won't matter that I sleep in a bed that folds up into the wall during the day. Right?

Obviously, the only solution is to go there and check the place out, and see just how bad the rooms are. I'm the kind of person who is deeply affected by the look and atmosphere of my living quarters (who isn't?) so I'll just have to go see what's out there. In my two weeks before classes start, I'll travel the city and see all the fabulous/horrendous "flats" there waiting to be inhabited by a silly girl like me.

I realized something else reading that article. This should maybe be a second blog itself, cuz it could take a while to explain. I'm a homebody. Even when I want to go out and do something, I don't. I tell myself repeatedly, "Come on, walk out the door and go...someplace." But my feet don't listen. Instead, I sit around on my bum watching tv or surfing the net. Or both. I thought that if I moved to Seattle, it would be easier to motivate myself to get out, because there is inherently more to see. But I spend just as much time sitting around my Capitol Hill apartment as I did in my Five-miles-from-anywhere-remotely-interesting Renton apartment. I mean, I spent ten months on my computer in my bedroom IN FRANCE! Thinking about my future in London, I'm pretty confident that the same trend will continue. So I've been thinking lately about how to change that about myself, how to encourage myself to soak in as much as possible while there. I figured I should just make lots of friends, so they would encourage me to get out, and that might happen. But knowing me, it also might not happen. Reading the article about shopping, I realized that maybe I just need very strict goals (bear with me here.) What if I set the goal of seeing two or three different hip stores per week? I think I could handle that. Or maybe, I have to see every cathedral/interesting church in London before school ends? At least then, I'll get out. And obviously, I'd be required to blog about it, because that would add more motivation. My problem is that I only get motivated by very specific things. Telling myself to get out of the apartment leads to the question, "And go where?" Go to the park. "What will I do there? How long will I stay?" Go to a cafe and read. "If I go to a cafe, I have to spend money." By this point, it's too late, I've already lost the game. I need specifics. If I tell myself I have to go to Pike Place Market to buy a tomato, I'm more likely to get up and do it, and then I stop in and see other things while I'm out. So if I can set goals that I know I'll want to achieve (like seeing interesting fashion), I might actually not waste my youth away in a shoebox apartment in one of the greatest cities on earth.

All that from a silly travel article.

P.S. Still haven't heard anything firm about financial aid. Grrrrr...