Monday, November 19, 2007

Condo Craziness

As if getting married and moving halfway across the country weren't big enough life changes for one week, Jon and I BOUGHT a condo.

Okay, so we actually officially signed the papers back in October, but since I hadn't been living here, it didn't seem real. Yet. But now I'm here and in addition to my regular on-line bank statements, there is this one scary addition, labeled MORTGAGE. Yikes.

But so far, it's turning out to be pretty great. I like to be freakishly organized (and am dragging poor Jon down with me), so nearly all of the boxes were unpacked within a day of moving in. We are nearly finished hanging up all the pictures and posters we've acquired from our various travels through Europe...and to garage sales.

Since I'm currently on sabbatical from teaching (which is a much nicer way of saying that I'm unemployed), I've spent the past week or so playing housewife. I may not have cooked every meal, but I have done the majority of the laundry.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a washer and dryer (and a ridiculously cheesy song we made up about it). Not only did the growing mound of dirty clothes prompt us, but also the fact that we still had the U-Haul parked outside for a few more days encourage us to act quickly in this first major purchase as husband and wife.

I now yield to my friend and teaching colleague Nicole with an insightful description of the aforementioned washer and dryer:

"Somehow, purchases of major appliances thrust you into the stratosphere of adulthood like nothing else can. Not sure what that is about, but there is definitely something there. Maybe it’s because a washer and dryer are the secret keepers of a household. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of life. They accept, without argument or excuse, the mistakes we make when we aren’t careful with the things that belong to us; they take the blame of 'dryer shrinkage' when last year’s clothes don’t fit so well; they are an integral part of the joyful experience of washing baby clothes for the first time; and, they only fall off balance occasionally. "

Deep, huh? Much better than I could describe, hence the quote. Prior to reading Nicole's e-mail, I was only going to mention the comedy of errors that occurred when we tried to haul the darn things up the stairs. Sure, we saved a bundle on delivery charges, but at 10 pm on a cold (rainy) November night, I was certainly not in the mood to entertain any engineering whims on how to move the appliances upstairs. Especially when the 275-pound washer hit me in the face as we lifted it out of the truck.

I huffed and puffed (even though we all know Jon did most of the heavy lifting) the dryer up the stairs, but the washer was simply not happening. So we left it in the garage and called it a night. The next day, Jon came home during his lunch break as usual (we only live about 10 minutes from post) with a slew of new ideas. We scooted it, we pushed it, we tilted it, we turned it...all to no avail.

Until Jon saw his trusty fest table standing in the corner.

Some of you may already have guessed what he was thinking. I, however, had no clue until he laid the bench across the stairs as a ramp. We tested this method up to the first landing and it worked like a charm. Now we only had 16 more steps up a very narrow staircase to go!

With a mighty heave, Jon pushed the washer up the stairs as I did my best to help. But we were faced with a dilemma when we reached the end of the first bench. How to line up the two benches and make a smooth transition from one to the other? There was no way I was going to fit in between the washer and the wall, so I ran around outside and back in through the front door multiple times to make adjustments, all while Jon placidly supported the massive appliance. I can only imagine what the construction guys working on the siding outside were thinking about the whole ordeal.

But it was all worth it. Success! We danced a little jig when the washer slid across the linoleum, very satisfied with our efforts. I'm not quite sure I'll be so pleased as I continuously wash and dry the ever-multiplying laundry, but for now, it's pretty exciting.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Moving Odyssey

For those who are more numbers-oriented, here is a brief summary of our cross-country trek:
*5 days
*2000 miles
*8 states
*2 U-Haul trucks
*259 gallons of gasoline
*43 state license plates spotted
*4 breweries

For the story behind the numbers, read on:

After realizing that living in two different states wouldn't exactly be good for our marriage, I decided to take the plunge and move out the Northwest. After lots of tears and "freak out moments," I was sort of, almost, maybe, kind of ready to relocate.

Actually, Jon has been amaaaaazing throughout it all. He has not only been overly supportive (causing my Catholic feelings of guilt to kick in once again because he's been so sweet while I've been slightly less so), he has proven himself to be an incredible packer. I was quite impressed at the sight of (nearly) all my worldly goods securely tucked inside a 14-foot U-Haul truck.

On Monday, 5 November, we hit the road. We were doing great: Jon was driving and I was reading in between mini-naps. Until we made it to Hays, Kansas. For those uninitiated with western Kansas, Hays is approximately 50 miles west of "Are we there yet?", 30 south of "Where the heck are we?", and 10 miles due east of the "Middle of Nowhere." A perfect place to have a flat tire, no?

Not only was the tire flat, but when the tow truck driver arrived after approximately an hour of waiting, the compressor on the jack didn't work. I pretend I know what I'm talking about, but the gist of the matter is that we had to be towed into town. Picture in your head a truck towing a U-Haul towing a car. Yeah, that was us.

Fear not, however. Like bloodhoods, we sniffed out a brewery, so the evening was not a wash. Sure, we weren't in Colorado as anticipated, but we would get an early start the next morning...after the other front tire was changed. Sounds simple, right? Not so much. It turns out that the problem was actually one of alignment and not a single shop that Jon called was able to fix it.

So we limped on to Denver, stopping at every rest stop along the road to make sure the tires were okay. Keep in mind that every time we pulled off the highway and hit even the slightest bump my car alarm would go off. It was certainly quite the drive. Unfortunately we arrived in Denver too late for any of the technicians to look at the truck, so were sent on our way under the assurance that U-Haul would reimburse us for any hotel and food costs.

We took that for what it was worth and found a really cool hotel in the heart of downtown Denver. Definitely a far cry from the Budget Host Inn, Economy Inn, and Royal Motor Inn in such bustling urban centers as Hays, Evanston, Wyoming and La Grande, Oregon. Oh, and we found another brewery. Near a train station. Shocking.

Denver was great, but we knew we had a long way to go, so we headed back to the U-Haul shop in the morning. We then discovered that our alignment issues resulted from a problem with the tie-rods. At this point, I kind of quit paying attention, so you'll have to ask Jon for specifics. At any rate, while they could fix the truck, it would take several days, so they decided to give us a new one. Jon and I stood by as the truck that had taken so long to pack was transferred into another truck. I am not making this up.

The "excitement" of the trip pretty much ended there. We had an uneventful drive through Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. We managed to stumble upon a couple of more breweries and some incredible scenery. And yes, we had to feed two meters when we stopped for lunch in Hood River, Oregon.

We finally rolled into DuPont, Washington on Friday, 9 November (good day), apparently hungry for sunglasses.

Although our driving odyssey has concluded, I'm confident we're in for many more adventures in the coming days/weeks/months...

Wedding, Part I

[Cut and pasted from a mass e-mail]

WE ARE (legally) MARRIED!!!

The chaplain in Bamberg can perform the religious wedding ceremony but doesn’t have the legal jurisdiction to issue a marriage license. Therefore, we needed to get it before getting to Germany. We talked about the timing and decided that by getting married now [at the courthouse], Kristin can get a dependent ID card to get onto post, because, let’s face it, the only reason she is marrying Jon is for the commissary privileges. (And his awesome puns.)

So what is next? We load up the U-haul and move Kristin out to Washington Monday and should get to Fort Lewis by Thursday. The condo we bought is about five minutes from post, 20 minutes from Tacoma or Olympia, and just over an hour from Seattle. Portland is close, too.

We are still getting married on March 4th in Bamberg. Father Kopec will perform the ceremony and we plan on having an amaaaaazing honeymoon. Kristin says this is the one that counts, but Jon is pretty sure Kristin is entitled to half the condo as of today. Also, mark your calendar for May 17th. We will be holding our German-fest-themed reception in Blue Springs, MO, just 20 miles east of Kansas City. We’ll hold a smaller gathering in Seattle in June (mainly for Jon’s family and hometown friends). Details to follow.

If you wind up in the Seattle area, please stop by. Kristin needs friends.

Jon thinks the third person narrative of this email is odd. Kristin says it is just because we are writing this together.

Please note that Kristin will not be changing her name until after the March wedding. We are not sure she could get a new passport in time. But please, feel free to address her as Mrs. K (and Jon as Mr. Walstrom).


Kristin and Jon