Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Two down

Well, here I am. I still don't have internet at home [or, didn't, at the time I wrote this section of the blog], so I am writing this from a Starbucks, but the internet should be coming soon.

When we last left me, I was homeless and carless, uncertain of where exactly I was going to go that night. Some phone calls revealed that I did in fact have a long-lost cousin living in Denver, and cousin Kate, whom I had not seen in a decade or so, took me in for a few nights. Here, a photo of grey Denver as seen from near Kate's house. Incidentally, this is the same location from which I watched that sunny jazz concert over the summer...

The woman at left is Jess (also seen in the tubing photos of the "Golden intermission" post), who has rescued me from the streets! She happened to need a roommate, and I am very grateful to have forged this particular friendship over the summer (as if I wasn't already... who else was going to go tubing with me?). So, I am no longer homeless. However, the day after I moved in, Jess left town for a week, and I had to rely on buses for a bit longer.

I spent Thanksgiving with the folks I lived with in Golden over the summer, with three students from the Middle East, and after dinner we had Arabian coffee with cardamom and baklava. Then I went to say goodbye to my car.

To recap, the car, which (after $1100 of repairs) had basically become undrivable and would require hundreds of dollars' more work to even diagnose the remaining problems, was sitting on the lot of a mechanic in Golden. I brought my backpacking pack with me to Thanksgiving and the next day I was at the mechanic's, packing up all the camping crap that was still in the car. I couldn't fit it all in and hid some stuff in the bushes. As it was, my pack probably weighed about 40 pounds. I took the bus home.

Not only is my backpack full of crap, but there is also crap strapped to the outside, and more crap in the milk crate by the bench, all mine. But note the mountains in the background. It is nice to come over a rise in the city and see them there, a reminder of how close the wilderness is.

My new home is exceedingly nice on the inside, with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, laundry room, fireplace, etc. It is also very nicely decorated (which I had nothing to do with... okay, everything except for my room is very nicely decorated).

Within a few days, while searching the internet from the library (an hour's walk away from home), I had found a car on Craigslist that I could afford. I called the owner and she said I could come on by. I put the address in to Google maps; it was a 20 minute drive. Oh, wait, I need to take the bus. Two and a half hours by bus. Two and a half hours??

For me, the bus system in Denver was life-saving, in that, well, I had no car. Also, there are bus stops absolutely everywhere, and the fares, while not cheap, are at least manageable. But the bus system was also soul-destroying, because... come on, two and a half hours to go ten miles? (That is precisely my walking speed on level ground with no weight in my pack, now that I think about it.) It takes so long because there's no direct route; I needed three buses to get there (thankfully, transfers are free).

Counting out money to buy the car.

Anyway, I liked the car, a Mazda Protege, and returned again the next day to take it to a mechanic, and the next day to buy it. These days were gruelling. In fact, any day I wanted to get something done involved getting up at sunrise to walk to Starbucks (half an hour away on foot) so I could look up location and bus route information, another half-hour walk back to the apartment, a walk to the bus stop, a 2.5-3 hour ride on multiple buses, a couple hours to do what I wanted, and another 2.5-3 hour ride back home. By the time I bought the car I was just about tearing my hair out. The first thing I did with it was go up to my storage unit and get my bike, so that even if my luck remained bad and something horrible happened to the car, I wouldn't be so dependent on the bus again.

This remains my most reliable vehicle. Also see my new apartment building, with the highway in the background. Not the most ideal location, but it is exceedingly cheap. Also, hey. Quick access to the highway.

This is the car. It is the most generic-looking car ever. I have been having special trouble finding it in parking lots. Once I tried for some time to get my key to work in the lock only to realize I was attempting to unlock someone else's car.

But the main thing is, two down--the first two in this elegant grand plan for my life:

1. Home
2. Car
3. Job
4. Relationship
5. ???
6. Profit!

I am writing this section of the blog from Connecticut, to which I have returned for the holidays, and have learned that we now have internet back at the apartment. This is a hard-won development that required a week and a half of misery, at least twelve calls to customer service, and four (4) visits by technicians. I drew the above cartoon (on which you should be able to click for more detail) in an attempt to reinvigorate Jess, who at the time was sprawled prone on the floor, her head turned slightly to one side so that she could continue to say "uh huh" to the customer service rep on speakerphone some distance away.

The problem turned out to be very simple--Dish Network had made use of the cable line that was last used by Comcast, but there was another line Comcast could hook up to--but the fact that not a single Comcast customer service rep nor technician could figure this out was slightly disturbing. It took Jess and I compiling the various scattered bits of info offered us, plus the insight of a Dish technician who also came out, to figure out the solution ourselves and instruct yet another technician in how to implement it. (Per our genius, our internet now comes down through a hole in the ceiling of the laundry room, rather than out through a cable outlet, but that's okay.)

The weather in Denver has been quite warm and I have ridden my bike a lot; here, a hawk at the state park that is a 15 minute ride from my apartment.

But I left Denver a few days ago for D.C., which is not warm.

Despite the bitter cold, there were still insane half-naked people who insisted on playing soccer in the snow of the mall.

I was there to visit some friends...

With me above are Katie's friend from middle school, Katie, and my friend from elementary through high school (whom some of you will recognize as Diana). Though I was impossibly sick with a cold while in D.C., I managed to see many things, like the Natural History Museum, three art museums, the cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian, the Botanical Gardens, the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, and the Library of Congress. I also saw Pink Floyd's The Wall. Now I am in Connecticut for the holidays, but before I left D.C. I obtained from Katie a very important document that is necessary to complete the story of our October travels, and which I hope to treat in my next post.