Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My friend from the internet

Photo stolen from Andrea's flikr stream

As a semi-anonymous blogger, there is little overlap between my blogging social life and my real life social life.

Some of the people I've come across through blogging seem too good to be true. Like, to the point where I've been convinced they were manufactured by some kind of keyword deciphering googlebot.

Last week I had the opportunity to put this theory to the test when Kempt creator Andrea wandered into my new neck of the woods.

Andrea, for those of you remiss enough not to already read her blog religiously, is fabulous.

Her talent for writing and photography paired with her sense of humour and adventure make her more than worth reading.

Beyond that, despite never having met me face to face, she's become an incredibly kind and supportive friend.

Naturally my first meeting with this particular brand of awesome left me a little apprehensive. I mean, I like to think that I come across pretty accurately through my blog, but the truth is, for every lame joke I make online, I make about a scrillion more in person. Annnd I say things like "a scrillion."

I tell stories so lengthy that eventually I forget the point or just get bored of them and stop. Oh, and I have hyperhidrosis, so I sweat about 90% of the time and I make weird faces about 100% of the time.

I tried to keep my nerves at bay by telling myself there was no way she could be as bright and hilarious and stylish in person as in cyber space.

Colour me corrected.

No sooner had I popped up from the subway like a nervous, brown-haired little gopher, than a clever, quick-witted little pixie with perpetually perfect hair was dashing across the busy street to greet me with a hug.

After dragging her to the funhouse mecca of low-priced goods, or "old lady heaven", as she quickly and accurately dubbed Honest Ed's and then to a sushi restaurant where apparently someone recently died by stabbing (who knew?) we headed out for drinks.

Naturally I wanted to show her off to all my friends, some of whom looked at me strangely when I'd excitedly explain, "She's my friend from the internet!!!" prompting me to reassure them that I did not order her from Amazon's Russian Bride department.

Fortunately as well as being cool and fun, she was just crazy enough to venture out with me a second time. In daylight no less. I was just crazy enough to try the Vietnamese coffee she recommended at lunch. It was delish, and ensured that I was a giggly jitterbug for the remainder of the afternoon while we tromped around under ludicrously large umbrellas and completed a whirlwind tour of nearby vintage shops.

All this to say, there are times when I'm not sure why I've kept up this blog, times when it seems like nothing more than a vanity project. Sure it's therapeutic to write, not to mention good practice, but I could easily do that in a diary.

Meeting Andrea solidified the best part for me.

Making connections with the potential to become real and lasting friendships makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's where the signs are

I've mentioned previously that I tend to err a little on the superstitious side when it comes to "signs".

After the first apartment hunt fiasco and subsequent whining blog post, I dove back into obsessively searching online listings from the comfort of my parents' place while poor Sparta continued to work and couch surf in the city.

After sending him umpteen links to listings and persuading him to go take a look at any he could get to on his own with less than thrilling results, I came across a listing I could not believe.

It was a cozy little one bedroom on the top floor of a big, beautiful old house in a fabulous neighbourhood around the corner from several of my best friends. And somehow, it was in our price range.

I told Sparta about it immediately and insisted that he give the landlord a call as soon as possible while I tried not to get my hopes up two and a half hours away. When he called back, it was with bad news. The landlord, Grace, was showing the apartment that night, but he had to work. She had agreed to call him on Sunday if she hadn't given it to anyone yet but he said she didn't sound too enthusiastic about that.

I tried not to feel too dejected as I got off the phone with him and stood there staring at the scrap of paper where I'd scribbled Grace's phone number. As the numbers floated into focus, I realized they looked very familiar.

I bounded up the stairs to grab my address book, and sure enough, the last four digits of Grace's phone number were the same as the last four digits of my last landlord's phone number.

It was enough to make me pick up the phone and call her myself on the off chance she might respond better to me. While she basically told me the same thing she had Sparta, she actually asked that I give her a shout Saturday evening rather than waiting for one from her Sunday morning, which I thought might be a bit more promising.

The next day as I anxiously whiled away the hours until I could call, my mom got a facebook message from a woman she had been friends with while working in Germany but hadn't been in touch with for over 25 years. Her name? Grace.

Sure enough that night, just after I had given up hope that she would answer, Grace phoned me to say that if I could get to the city on Sunday I could come by and see the apartment.

I hastily arranged to stay with one of my friends in the area. When I called her to ask where to hop off the streetcar, her answer? Grace Street.

My hope took another dive when we arrived to find several other upstanding looking potential tenants touring the place. Still, I clung tight to my signs and my instincts and made sure we were the last to leave so we would have a chance to chat with Grace alone and so that she might remember us.

I was secretly hoping I might be able to just cram a cheque into her hands then and there, the place felt so right to me, but no such luck.

And then I was sure I had ruined our chances completely by not adequately explaining my current unemployment situation. I can hardly remember what I said I was that nervous, but Sparta had to acknowledge that he had noticed how I stumbled through that, so I knew it was bad.


Sure enough, those signs were pointing to something, because later that night, Grace called and offered to rent us the apartment.

So. As of April 16th, I will once again be a city girl.

This time, with a very cute apartment.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home is where the rats aren't

Despite no luck to date in the job department, earlier this week I trundled off to the city to join Sparta in undertaking round one of The great apartment hunt of 2010.

On the train ride up I read Cormac Mcarthy's heartbreaking, soul-sucking, post-apocalyptic downer, The Road.

The apartments we spent Tuesday visiting? More depressing.

For example, for $1000 a month we learned we could live in a tiny ramshackle bachelor walk-up.

The place was insulated with a healthy coating of grime and the previous tenants were clearly hippie/Christmas elf hybrids who loved red and green so much they even took the trouble of painting the 300 year old fridge to match the walls.

And a friendly, jauntily behatted cockroach carried my bag up the stairs for me...Actually, that sounds kind of cute. It probably would have been one for the pluses column at that point.

To be fair, it did have a pretty nice balcony...with an excellent view of the parking lot of an establishment Featuring "NUDE! INTERACTIVE! DANCING!"

It didn't get much better from there.

Next trip up I'm leaving McArthy at home and reading something about a sumptuously furnished Parisian flat. Any recommendations?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


All right, perhaps that's a little dramatic as far as titles go, but there is most certainly a sense of floating around untethered and uncertain of my direction these days.

Not to mention trying to keep a handle on the days themselves. I've been without employment for all of one week, and already the lack of deadlines has left me unsure if it's Wednesday or Thursday. (Don't worry though, I hear there are these devices called "calendars" that can really help with this kind of thing, so I should be all right).

Really though, there's not a lot to complain about. I mean, I spent the most active hours of my day wandering around the river in the sunshine and making delicious cous cous salad for my folks while watching Modern Family.

The problem is, the last time I moved all my things home and took my parents up on their very generous offer to let me stay with them while I sorted out jobs etc. I didn't leave for a year and a half. Granted, my situation now is vastly different, but I'm still wary of all this insidious comfort and relaxation attempting to seduce me.

To that end, Sparta has gone on ahead to the city to couch surf with friends and take on some shifts at a restaurant he used to work at and I plan to join him soon to at least get started at viewing apartments, if not for my own job interviews.

I feel like having that one thing to anchor me will work wonders at dissipating that little frowny-faced cartoon storm cloud that's been following me around like a helium balloon on a string.