Monday, August 28, 2006

One of these things doesn't belong here. Come on, can you tell which one?

I've been MIA so long, y'all must have thought I'd gone off my rocker. Celebrating my one-year blogiversary in July, having a big old yarn-giving contest...I was so excited, I tooted horns, did backwards somersaults, set sparklers alight, and then....nada, for a month and a half, except for the one post about my friends, which didn't even have any knitting in it.

(Thanks, by the way, to everyone who offered sweet wishes and kind words about Jennifer and Laura. And thank you for sharing memories of your cherished friends with me, as well.)

Was I quitting on a high note, like Jerry counseled George on Seinfeld? That's it, folks, my work is done, I'm outta here. If I had knit anything memorable recently, maybe I could get away with saying that. [Cranes neck, looks around.] Nope, no knitted magnum opus lying around here.

Well, you may or may not remember that my life got turned upside down and inside out, pretty much for the entire month of August. Moved out of my apartment, drove all the way to California with my girlfriends (road trip! woo hoo! no truckers were harmed, if you must know.) Attended a wedding in New Mexico, and THEN came back to an unpacked apartment, which took much longer than I thought to set to rights.

There were the obvious things to unpack, like kitchen and bathroom stuff, and then the zillion and one doodads and thingamajigs to be weeded out and thrown away...I am worse than a magpie, y'all. Any bright piece of string (and knitters, you know there's lots of those to go around) and it gets tucked into a book/keepsake box/underwear drawer. My new apartment is lovely and spacious, but let's face it--even the roomiest closet has a finite amount of space. Sad, but true.

So after all the weeding out and donating and giving away was done, I finished putting away the sizable amount of stuff that remained, and my apartment was almost there. Almost there.

Jewelry arranged on my bureau drawer, books shelved in a loosely logical order, the re-emergence of my knitting on the futon, beloved posters and plaques hung, my full-size box spring leaning against the wall.

Um, you don't have your box spring leaning against the wall? You don't enjoy sleeping on the floor and waking up with a bad back for the first time in your lives? Yah, didn't think so. Neither do I.

Turns out, my full size box spring does not fit up the narrow back stairs that leads to my loft bedroom. My friend, who was the previous tenant, warned me of this and offered to give me her split box spring, which comes in two pieces. I didn't take it, because this was back in May and I didn't have anywhere to store it for three months. And yes, I've heard of Public Storage, but royal fool that I am, I figured I'd find a way to get another.

So, two weeks ago, after some calling around, I ordered a split full size box spring from a local, apparently reputable mattress store, and happily awaited my new foundation. At night, I would drop all the way to the floor where my mattress rests, and thoughts of luxuriating in a proper bed would lull me to sleep. Last Wednesday, the day the foundation would be delivered, I woke up as excited as if it were Christmas morning.

When the delivery men knocked on my door, I flew to answer it. "We're here to deliver a foundation."

I smiled happily. "Yes! It's in two pieces, right?" "Nooo. It's in one piece. Split box springs don't come in full-size."

"But, but, I ordered a split one! Over the phone! With Greg!" "Oh, yeah, Greg. He's only been there for four months. He doesn't know."

Grrrreeeeaaaat. After he investigated the back stairs, confirming that a full-size box spring would not go up (which should have been obvious, since my old one was leaning forlornly against the living room wall), he suggested a twin size. And burst into laughter. The other guy burst into laughter. We all had a good laugh at my expense, and I'm still not sure why. Single girl like you? You're going to need a bigger mattress! Or maybe, Thirtysomething old fart like you? In a twin bed?

Appealing as this idea was (and I have to say, visions of pink canopies began to float through my head later that day, only half-ironically), I hustled back to the mattress store to get my money back. Sauntering in, I chirped, "Which one of you's Greg?"

A salesman at the desk lifted his head and said, "That's me." Trying to remain polite, I launched into a description of who I was and what my problem was. He said casually, "Oh yeah, the delivery guy called from your apartment." I nodded expectantly. He slowly shook his head, a carefully cultivated blank look on his face. "But they don't sell split box springs in full size."

My jaw dropped. I sputtered. Now, you should know that I am normally an extremely mild-mannered person. I rarely honk at other drivers on the road, and if I have to, I feel guilty for upsetting them. But this guy's comment just made my blood boil.

In a snotty tone of voice, I asked, "Now why would I order a full-size box spring if it weren't going to be a split one? I HAVE a full size mattress and box spring at home. Why would I order something I already had?"

He looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights, and cautiously began to offer other suggestions. Like a mini-foundation, or a foam one. "You. Don't. Understand. It's. Not. Going. To. Fit."

The salesguy behind him, watching this whole time, piped up. "I've been in this business for years, and I've never seen a split foundation in a full size. Don't worry, ma'am, we'll refund your money." Half-snickering, he said, "Yeah, Greg doesn't know. He's only been here four months."

To make a long story a little less long, I got my money back. My friend/previous tenant got back in from out of town and helped me find the mattress store she got her split foundation from. We went there, I told the guy what I needed, he said no problem, and I plunked down my credit card. They're supposed to deliver in the next couple of days. My aching back can't wait.

I also finally ditched the old box spring, setting it outside for the junk man to carry away. So my apartment is finally almost ready, almost there. Almost.

Oh, hang on, knitting content! The tank top pictured above is the one I've been working on since time immemorial, the camisole from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, in Jaeger Trinity. I'm on the home stretch with that, and am really really really hoping my next post is an FO post.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Endings. And beginnings.

Graduate school is not really supposed to be the time for making some of the best friends of your life. If anything, grad school is designed to alienate and exclude, pitting you against scores of other students--some whip-smart, some not so much but with hunger to make up for it. You rarely feel smart enough, let alone competent, and seminar rooms are regularly the scene of spectacles of public humiliation.

How blessed I have been, then, to meet and become friends with a brilliant, beautiful group of women who have kept me sane through five years of school. The greatest comfort I've found after days of bumbling through class or dealing with indifferent students is to vent to my friends and know that they understand, because they'd been there too. (Although retail therapy and Amy's ice cream always help.)

Once you've crossed this grad school Rubicon, your future is, in many ways, more uncertain than ever. Some people realize that books and poverty don't suit them, and return to their previous pursuits. Some linger long over their dissertations, settling into the velvet rut of professional studentdom. Jobs are never guaranteed, and are ridiculously hard to come by. If you think you'd like to be in (fill in your state of choice), it is pretty certain that the only job you're qualified for is in a state you don't even know how to locate on a map.

This is why it is amazing and wonderful that two of my dear friends have finished their Ph.D.s and landed plum jobs in the states of their choice, close to their families. Dr. Jennifer will be teaching at a major research university in California, and Dr. Laura can be found at a small, excellent liberal arts college in Colorado.

This is also why it is bittersweet that in order to move on with their professional lives, they have to leave ours. Over the past two weeks, I have been in the process of moving out of the apartment that Jennifer and I shared for two years, helping her ship her stuff to California, throwing my possessions into a new one-bedroom, hitting the road to help her drive across three states to her new home, and flying into Albuquerque for Lo's wedding to her Pete.

The wedding, by the way, was one of the best ever. I've thought that if our story were to be a novel, it would conclude at this celebration, a happy ending. Through all kinds of drama, from the mundane to the life-threatening, we'd come, safe and sound, to this lovely place in New Mexico. And all partnered in some way, whether with spouses or boyfriends, sparing ourselves the awkward position of being the odd Singleton at the table.

You know, though, that endings by their nature are not very happy. We tearfully said our goodbyes on Monday, headed for California, Colorado, and Texas. Toward our own respective futures. There are a handful of us still here in Austin, getting incrementally closer to our own Ph.D.s. We'll still go out, and do fun things, since it's impossible to do otherwise in Austin. But it won't be the same, and we'll feel their absence, and reminisce, and call them.

Jennifer and women are like sisters to me. I love you.