Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Busy Week

Inventory for the past 7 days:

New Apartment: 1
Major Pieces of Furniture Needed to Make the Place Really Livable: 7 or 8
Craigslist/Classified Ads responded to for furniture or cars: about 10
Empty Boxes Cluttering My Dining Room: about 15
Garbage Disposal: 1, the first in my 30.5 years of life!
Box Stores visited: 5
Frequent-buyer tags now attached to keychain: 2 (Dick's Sporting Goods, Wegman's)
New Store Credit Cards: 2 (Ikea, Target)
Dollars Spent at Target: 250
New Checking Account: 1
Money left in Old Checking Account: $3.59

New (Used) Car: 1, 2000 Honda Civic, my new baby, mine as of today
Requirements for Transferring Car Title: Proof of Insurance, PA Driver's License
New Car Insurance Mascot: 1 Gecko
PA Driver's License requirements: 2 forms I.D., apartment lease, utility bill
Utility Bills received thus far: 0
Nice DMV employee accepting Fire Inspection Certificate in lieu of utility bill: 1
New PA Driver's License: 1
Quirks of my cousin's pickup truck, which I've been driving for the past week: about 5, including a gearshift knob which comes off in my hand and a gas gauge perpetually reading Empty
# of Walmart employees recruited to jimmy open truck door with a wire coat hanger after discovering (too late) that the ignition key does not open the door locks: 1

New cellphone: 1 sweet silver Razr
New phone numbers: 2, cell and work

New Job: 1, going pretty well so far
New Colleagues: about 50
New Colleagues whose names I remember: about 10
Approximate number of students expected to arrive in town in the next week: 30,000
New Medical/Dental Coverage: Full, activated August 23
Broken Tooth: 1, August 25

Feelings of accomplishment and pride at having handled all of this myself, and excitement at starting a new phase of my life and finally starting to put down some roots, however tentatively: infinite.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Getting There

Over the past two weeks I've been steadily gathering together my possessions, new and old, for the big move this Friday. As a result, I am sitting here at the dining room looking over a sea of household items. There is the haul from my tag sale blitzkrieg last Saturday. There are laundry baskets and rubbermaid containers filled with the items I shipped home from Switzerland a year and a half ago. There are flatpacks of Ikea furniture bought during a marathon 5-hour trip there this past Sunday. There is furniture, pots and pans, and small appliances given to me by family members and a stereo I saved from retirement in my dad's basement.

I hardly know what lies at the bottom of some of these containers, and I have no idea what it'll all look like in an apartment together, but at least, as of last Friday I officially have an apartment! Due to an enormous housing crunch in State College, I had to jump on the first place available. Why the housing crunch? Apparently Penn State's incoming freshman class is about 4,000 students larger than they expected it to be. Can you imagine that!? They accidentally enrolled an extra 4,000 students--more than two times the total number of students at my alma mater. Signing a lease on a place I haven't seen is a little scary, but I have the floor plans and I've seen photos, and numerous people have vouched for the quality of the apartment complex. It's very large and has a balcony, and a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher! It's three miles from campus by road, but there's a bike path that leads directly to campus, shortening the distance, and apparently if I ride or walk that to work I am likely to cross paths with legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who walks it every day.

Slowly but surely, the elements of my new life are falling into place. My cousins are lending me their pick-up truck (yee haw!) until I can find my own car, I have communicated with one of the professors in the Master's program I am considering, I'm having a bed delivered to my apartment the day I move in, and I'm looking into getting internet access set up to be ready when I get there. In just a few days I'll be heading out with a trailer full of stuff, in a move reminiscent of the one I made 12 years ago. Similar emotions of excitement and apprehension accompany me on this move, but after the worlds of experience and many changes and moves I've made over those 12 years, I know there is much less to be apprehensive about and much more reason for excitement in any new adventure, so I look forward to this one for all the surprises it has in store.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Wait is Over!

Your job-search enforced Distant Wanderings hiatus is officially over! I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a position at Penn State University , and will start on August 23rd. Now, State College, PA may seem like an unlikely place for me to end up, given the "glamour" of my previous work and travel abroad. But although it is hundreds of miles away from any major city, the town itself is really pretty cool, has all kinds of interesting restaurants and cultural events and all the amenities of life one could hope for. Plus it is surrounded by beautiful countryside, state parks, mountains and rivers. Also, my grandparents, an aunt, my cousin, her husband and their three little kids live only an hour away in Williamsport. Finally, taking this job fulfills a long-standing family tradition: eight of my close family members went to Penn State as undergrads, so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised to end up there myself, and even possibly wind up as a Penn State grad: I am hoping to start a Master's program right away. My first challenge? Becoming a football fan. After a great season last year, the Nittany Lions' home games for Fall 2006 are almost entirely sold out, and the first game will be played before the semester even begins. With Bates as my only college football experience, I will definitely have a little adjusting to do.

I'll be spending the next two weeks getting ready to move, which is going to be a lot of work: I need to buy a car, find a place to live (my new colleagues are helping me find something temporary), and replenish my supply of real-life things that I need. When I left Switzerland, I only shipped some things home: clothes, books, photos, kitchen things, etc. I sold all of my furniture and gave away a lot of stuff. So basically, aside from some pots and pans and framed pictures and some knick-knacks, I don't have any furniture or anything for an apartment and will have to buy it all. But today I got a really good start on this task. My mom and I made the rounds of all the tag sales we could find on our side of town--we knew of four from the paper and one we had seen signs for, but by noon we had visited ten, with a spectacular haul: a microwave, a toaster oven, a George Foreman stand-up barbecue-like grill, a set of 12 very nice coffee cups and saucers, four knives, an ironing board, a loaf pan and two little kitchen implements mom thought I had to have, a laundry basket, a garbage can and a brand new (but pretty small) TV/DVD combo, all for $111. Awesome. So I can definitely cook things now, and watch a movie while I eat my meals, but maybe soon I should start thinking about a place to sleep or sit down...

Anyway, stay tuned for more news about the move and The All New Adventures of Jess in Central Pennsylvania.

P.S. My new senators will be Arlen Spector and Rick Santorum. Oh god, how horrible! But Santorum is up for re-election this year and you can bet I will be the newest registered Democrat in Centre County, PA, as fast as humanly possible.