Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Beginning

We have been back from China for exactly two weeks now. Time has gone quickly. We have already been to Buffalo for my job interview to teach English as well as for us to find an apartment. I cannot say it all went smoothly. In fact, I felt incredibly frustrated with our lack of planning. This was mostly because we did not have the necessary phone numbers and information that I thought we needed, and Meng's computer decided not to work when we tried to find wireless although it still works fine at home. It is a bit of a pain in the arse. In addition, we did not really have a map and the GPS system was not working properly for us either and it just seemed so hard.
I think as we were apartment hunting, I realized my dream was slowly being crushed. For years now, I have dreamed of buying a house. Of course, I have not dreamed of buying a house in China, but I thought that I would be able to buy one once we moved back. I worked hard for many weekends telling myself that this money would be put in the unused account and it was especially for the down payment on a house when we moved back to the States. I managed to save quite a bit into that account. Moreover, every summer when I came home I would spend hours watching HGTV. My thoughts would often drift to how we could decorate our home, and this made me really happy. So when we were apartment hunting, the realization that this dream would not come in to fruition suddenly struck me. Meng will tell you I broke down in Starbucks. In fact, it makes me really sad to think about this right now. However, I am excited about the apartment we found, and I do believe Erin was right in telling me that it is probably a wiser idea to rent for at least one year. I admit when she said it I knew she was right, but I did not want to hear it. Now her words come back to me and provide a smidgen of comfort.
I was also frustrated because I thought I had found and began the process to reserve an apartment, and when we arrived to take a look, the apartments were already rented out. This was very frustrating to me and all Meng would say for comfort was "first come, first serve". I spent quite a bit of time doing my research, and was excited to find this place which seemed at least $100 cheaper than other apartments and I thought it seemed to have a good location. After visiting, I probably would not say the location was as ideal as I had imagined, but that this totally failed signified a sort of bad omen for me. Looking back, I realize it was just a minor setback and probably a good one. We got referred to look at another apartment that was in a better school district; however, it was more expensive and had a really crappy location. By luck, we drove by some places and were able to see them. Many of the places we called on had already been rented out, so we were satisfied when we found one on a dead end street that we were able to see. It was $200 cheaper than the first apartment! It was a condo style, and I quite liked the apartment; however, it was located on the second floor and there were some pretty big power lines directly overhead and I do not think they are good for a person's health.
After obtaining my UB card and beginning to inquire about insurance, there was a helpful lady who referred us to the Amherst Bee, which is a local newspaper that has classified ads. We called on some of those places and made arrangements to see some of them. The first place we looked at was a house. It was advertised as a 2 bedroom, but it actually had 4 bedrooms, a full basement that was partially finished and a great fenced backyard. All utilities, internet, and cable were included for a mere $900 per month. The school district was still pretty good. However, the downside was that this place was located on what I thought was a big too busy of a street. Also, the landlord's office was located on site, and I am still not sure if that is good or bad. However, we were really happy about this place and thought if we do not find something better then we would be happy to take it. After that one, we went and looked at an apartment in a bigger complex; however, it was also on the second floor and quite far from my school. Unfortunately, we had to wait until 7 to see the last apartment. I thought we could drive by to see if it was worth waiting to look at it or not. As we drove through the neighboring areas, we knew we had found the place where we wanted to live. The apartment is located about two blocks off the main street, and Main Street reminds me of a sort of tourist town you find in places like Sutton's Bay or St. Joe. There are several cafes, a bar, a pancake house, little shops and the like. It seemed like a place you could enjoy walking to and living in. The apartment was decent heat was included in the rent, and the school district was really good. Unfortunately, the laundry is in the basement, and we are on the second floor. The apartment is also a bit on the small side and it has an electric stove. I did not bother to check the water pressure, so I can only hope there is a decent shower. I gave the deposit right away. In Chinese, there is the saying that if the old doesn't go the new doesn't come. I suppose it also applies to out apartment hunting. I will be so happy about the situation once all the moving is done.
I am not really sure how the job interview went, but it was probably good experience for me.
One of my future classmates, Qiongqiong was a great help. She let us stay in her vacant apartment and also invited us over for a home-cooked meal. Rice tasted pretty good and I even choked down some mushroom, tofu, and bitty shrimps with the bodies in-tact to be polite. (I am not sure I will take her up on future dinner invitations very often). We also attended a birthday party of one of my future classmates and I got to meet some of the people who are going to be in my department. It makes me look forward to the future, but it also made me a little nervous about my supervisor who apparently is a work-a-holic. When people found out I was going to be working under her direction, the had a sort of knowing reaction that indicated I did not know what I was getting myself into. However, they were quick to say that she is really helpful in doing things to help her students get published. Both Vanessa (the birthday girl) and Qiongqiong are working under the direction of the same supervisor.
After returning to Michigan, I managed to get sick. I am quite sure it is sick in a way that requires medical attention. As I do not have insurance, I have been putting this off; however, I feel that is no longer an option, and I plan to go to redi-care this morning. I am not looking forward to the bill, but now I am willing to sacrifice just about anything to be able to breathe and to stop coughing. I can't take it anymore.
Hudson's birthday party went off without a hitch, and the kid made out like a bandit. I enjoyed having a interested audience to look at my embroidery and paper cuts. Grammy was even more interested and impressed by the embroidery than I was. It was nice to find anyone who can appreciate what it is I am so interested in. Although if I were as interested in the embroidery as she was, I doubt I could have afforded to buy it.
In addition to this, I have also decided to join Weight Watchers with Grandma. During the first week, I lost 6.4 pounds!

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