Thursday, August 12, 2010

Off the Grid

Arrrrrgh! I hate this place! And you all are not being very helpful! I rage at the world!!!!!!

I hate it when I'm out all day and can't even get started on my to-do list. Stupid place. I have groceries, true, but I still have a car full of recycling and I have been driving around all. day. Plus I could easily pack my entire car full of more recycling still in the house and might have some left over.

A little background: most cities west of the Mississippi are planned communities and are set up on a grid system. If you know any architects or urban planners, like some of my relatives, you will hear much kvetching about the suburbanization/homogenization of America, the increased reliance on cars, the lack of any local community or acknowledgment of local culture and topography, etc etc. And back when I lived in the stultifying and rational realms of the planned grid communities back in California, I would have completely agreed with you.

But this place isn't on no fucking grid. My street? Well, the name of my street, which is named after an Indian tribe, I'm told, traverses almost this whole place, yet it goes from a one-way to a two-way to a couple different dead ends back to a one way back to a two-way right around my place and furthermore shows up on a totally random corner of my map, nowhere connected to the rest of this street and facing the other compass orientation (ie e-w instead of n-s). No wonder when I do my google maps on my phone and then try to map it again to go home it gives me a completely different set of directions --- I have learned the hard way (as in, suddenly I'm getting off the freeway in a different city) that I can't simply retrace my steps back home. My street is the norm not an exception, here. And they have this stupid habit of giving everything a name and fifteen different state and interstate numbers, so the signs are crazy, especially if your eyesight is at all off.

And this doesn't mean that the place has all sorts of wonderful local culture, either. It's all chain stores. It just means that you can't make a left into the Target; you have to make a right, cross some sketchy train tracks and ease your way across a gravel field before you u-turn back onto the service road and then make a right into the big T. Trust me, everyone is doing this, it is not just me. Except for the first time I tried to make a left there and discovered the lack of an entrance too late and I had to go another twenty miles before the road became the type where you could make a left turn into something. (If I had a truck, life here would be easier. But my little car isn't going to make it across one of those grassy median thingys.) Don't even get me started on onramps that make you stop and wait for a light before trying to merge from a dead stop in fifty feet or so.

Ugh. So I just called the recycle people and they confirmed that there are bins for dropoffs near the power board. I already had to go to the power board building to turn on my electricity because you have to do that sort of thing in person here and with a zillion different types of picture id, and that day I must have driven up and down Old Dude Road fifty zillion times before discovering that I was a half-mile off and that was why I couldn't see it. (Love their directions, grr.) So today it was quite easy to find the power place ---- I have memorized not only the order of all the stores but their address numbers ---- and I drove around it a couple times but didn't see any sort of thing labeled "recycling." Grr. So I went off to the grocery store and now I must go back and try again tonight or tomorrow. Maybe the bins will show up on google street view.

After bringing back my groceries and making myself an heirloom tomato basil and mozzarella salad (tasty! though, missing something --- do I usually make it with lemon?) I ventured back out again for the used furniture stores, of which I had a list of 5. I found 2. Grr. I have no fucking clue where the others are; once again I was lost and circling except you can't circle or turn around very easily in that part of town. And the directions at one point had me getting on an on ramp and circling around the cloverleaf (ooh look! there's actually one cloverleaf in town!) and not getting on the freeway but spinning off onto a different street perpendicular to the first one. Then the directions were all "you're there!" but there actually wasn't anything around for a few streets and then by the time I was able to pull in somewhere and check again google maps was saying I had overshot by five miles. Is this the mysterious bermuda triangle of furniture stores? I have no fucking clue.

And the used furniture stores, I think, are just not going to be an option. Like I said once before, the people around here are like me and don't throw anything away until it has been used hard. I'm not buying anything that's broken. And if I'm going to get something that is cheap laminate and only held together by staples and wood glue, I'm going to buy the new version of it at Target instead of the used one at Cog's Crazy Deals.

I found an office repo place that had some more promise (couldn't find anything on the school web site about selling surplus or used furniture), but I didn't really like any of the stuff for the price. This guy had a lot of nice older desks in that chippendale or queen anne style (one of which had bicentennial celebration papers lining the drawers!) but I don't really like that style, with the dark wood and the leaf-drawer-pulls. And he was asking in the 500 dollar range for the nice ones with working drawers (huge! executive style desks with a massive overhang so you can have someone sign deeds or whatever across from you!) And that's not counting delivery and getting the stuff up the stairs. When I told him I where I wanted it delivered he just excluded five or six of the desks completely as not options. If it's not too heavy he'll hire people to get it up my stairs for me --- but that will cost extra. And once we're in this price range for something that is not new and that I don't love, now I'm balking at the idea. Which then leads back to square one, only with me more grumpy.

At this point I'm pretty set on just grabbing some sort of cheap crap from the Target or the Sam's Club or the Office Depot around here, just because I have successfully managed to get there and back before and know where they are. Either that or have something shipped to me. That way I won't have to leave the fucking house.


Belle said...

Well, hell girl, just call Office Depot & have them deliver a folding work table! I used one of those for years as a desk - and now they're lighter! I had one of those 6 foot suckers, and it served me well over 10 years, through multiple moves. What you save in gas, time etc will be worth it - and they'll deliver!

They're also open early in the mornings (I'm a morning person) so I could go in, pick out precisely what I wanted and it'd be delivered next day. Grumpy isn't good this early in the process.

Dr. Koshary said...

Quoth Cog:
"I rage at the world!!!!!!"

Quoth Koshary:
I laugh hysterically at your exclamation points!!

I'm a little surprised that you take your furniture this seriously. From my perspective (having done it the wrong way back in the early days of my grad school career), there is little point in investing either money or energy in acquiring really nice furniture, even for the all-important workspace. You're going to move around, you need to save your money, and there are more worthwhile causes in the Cog Affairs portfolio than "awesome office furniture." Don't get yourself tied up in knots by exploring illogical street grids in a non-truck just so you can look at a hundred permutations of crappy broken-down furniture. Save that for the first evening on which you venture to a local bar, get shitfaced on whiskeys the toothless guy down at the end keeps buying you, and have to spend four hours in your car after the bar closes, alternately sobering up and swearing like longshoreman as you try to figure out where you live.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. ;)

Lucky Jane said...

You're going to move around, you need to save your money, and there are more worthwhile causes in the Cog Affairs portfolio than "awesome office furniture."

ITA. Academia: it's why we can't have nice things.

Get stuff delivered, but do leave the fucking house (and the fucking car, where you seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time) to do something fun and social. Join a museum society or a charity, attend something on your city's events calendar (I know, you said there's little local culture) find something on, anything—while VAPing, it's important to establish some sort of life outside of your employer. As Belle says, grumpy isn't good this early in the process. Even better if you could prevent it altogether.

PMG said...

For many years my desk has been an unfinished door ($25 at Home Depot) slung over two file cabinets. A little grad-student-y, but functional!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you're operating on the principle that if you can't control other parts of your life, at least you can control your living space -- but that can, unfortunately, be a trap, and you can end up breaking down in tears because the noise of the upstairs neighbor's heavy tread JUST WON'T STOP, HE WON'T STOP WALKING AROUND UP THERE, DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT. However, I think your grumpiness is also totally understandable. Having just moved, I know we felt slightly ill and irritable until pretty much every major task had been completed. And we had the day of crying and screaming that our lives had "become terrible", which is far from true -- but it was really cathartic. So if you need to take an hour to pace around, wringing your hands and shouting that things are terrible, just terrible, awesomely terrible -- it might be helpful. And no one has to know it happened later. In fact, no one has to know if it happens more than once.

The door + file cabinets thing seems kind of promising. Can you run cords through the doorknob-hole?

Finally, if you have a lot of paper recycling and you're not far from a state park... you could just drive up into the hills and set it all on fire, and toast marshmallows over it. Mmmm.

Bardiac said...

Does your department have an admin assistant? Ours know everything about getting cheap surplus stuff, and also tend to be local and thus know all sorts of other stuff. (And the campus surplus isn't on the web here because the local citizenry would be OUTRAGED if they found out we were replacing chairs from the '40s.)

I hope tomorrow goes better for you.

Musey_Me said...

Check to see if there is a Freecycle in your area - then post a wanted ad asking for the furniture you need. You might get lucky :-)

Then, use the money you would have spent on furniture on a GPS. We broke down and did that when we moved here - probably the single smartest thing we spent money on. We also live somewhere without a grid and I think I would be homebound were it not for the magic of the GPS.

Susan said...

Just to say I bought the door/two file cabinets thing when I got my first job 25 years ago, and I still have it. Very portable, useful, etc. You can often get one file cabinet that has drawers, too.