Friday, October 10, 2014

New stomping grounds

Good news- we got an apartment!!

It took a lot of Craigslist browsing, phone calls, and sitting around in leasing offices, but the paperwork is finally all done and the place is ours!

We went on a lot of viewings. There was the fancy apartment with all hardwood floors and a haunted house next door. The tiny apartment with no closets behind the train station. The two-story townhouse forty minutes away on the other side of the river. The cheap apartment in the suburbs we saw on a rainy afternoon. The studio with a breathtaking city vista and a price to match. The place with a 15-month wait list. And a few more. It's all starting to blur together already but I do remember how we ended up here; after being stood up by the leasing agent, I called the office and the girl on the other end of the phone sweet talked me into coming out to another property the following morning. "Oh, you'll love this place for sure! It'll be just what you're looking for!" Oddly enough, she was right.

Goodwill, my lifelong provider of colorful plates.
This being our 4th autumn in a new apartment, we're getting pretty used to the make-a-list-and-then-see-how-many-of-those-things-can-be-found-in-one-place process.

Balcony? Check.

Pet friendly? Check.

Bathtub and washing machine? Check. Even a dishwasher! That I didn't remember how to use after all this time.

Walking distance to public transportation? Check.

Interesting view? Check.

In fact, the only things on the list that we had to compromise on were price and (the always inescapable, unattractively-colored) carpet. But I was totally willing to negotiate on that because THERE IS COLOR on the walls!! How rare is that in a rental?! The agent was apologetic as we walked down the hall towards the front door that day: "The previous tenants painted the walls blue but we can easily repaint them white for you, no problem, just let us know when." Um, how about never?

Meet the wonderful non-white tea corner!
I was wary during the final stages of approval- aka, the credit check- thinking they'd turn us away because of 3 missing years of rental history + student debt, but no. Nobody even blinked.

So here we are, installed in our new place. It's already feeling pretty cozy. Кит, by the way, is in love with his new surroundings. There's an 8-foot windowsill allowing him to covertly spy on the outside world and his very first wall-to-wall carpet to shed all over.

As sweet as always!
For now we're sleeping on the floor (pretty comfy) and slowly scouting for furniture. Family and friends kindly donated two chairs and a coffee table and the Dollar Store has become my new best friend... by which I mean 134 items have made their way from the store shelves to our kitchen and bathroom. It's been years since we've had to furnish an entire apartment ourselves and I had forgotten how many mundane little things it takes- the trash cans, the spatula, the hangers, the knives, the shower curtain, the frying pan, and about 128 other items.

Our "couch". Appropriate shock and awe please, people.
It's also been entertaining to re-open the boxes we had left behind a long, long time ago. Kirstin from the Ivory Pomegranate once wrote a good post on this experience.

Tiny little cups from a secondhand store in Alaska. Have we ever actually used them? No. But someday... :P
All this time I'd been thinking "Yeah, we're minimalists!", especially flying here with only a cat and 2 duffel bags. And then I saw what awaited at my parents' home:

Thus, it appears the minimalism is still a work in progress.

There are a few other details that sold us on the idea of living here. For starters, there's a gym. A gym! We've never lived anywhere with a gym. In fact, I'm not sure we've ever been to a gym together. But this means that surely, yes, someday soon I will be both a minimalist and super-fit. Right?

Although... there are these food carts nearby...

18 of them, in fact.

Well, maybe the food carts and the gym will balance each other out and in the future I'll just be a minimalist with the same body. So far I've not visited a single food cart (nor gone to the gym). D, though, is rapidly becoming a lunchtime expert. It's a-food-cart-a-day lifestyle at the company he works for. This week he's brought home leftover pad thai (twice) and a burrito, yum.

Another plus for this building is its lobby.

A couple events are hosted in the lobby each month and you can help yourself anytime to free wifi. Today I hung out down there for about 30 minutes, studying ANKI and waiting for the mailman to deliver the mail.

We have never ever lived in a building with a lobby. Unless you count the last two apartments in Ukraine. But they came equipped with shout-y desk ladies, so it was more of a dragon's den than a lobby. This feels like a swanky new world. Oh wow, am I a grown up now? :p

Okay, last thing- it's completely and undeniably fall and that's really lifted my spirits.

How can this beautiful season not boost your mood?
The warm weather and blue skies finally gave way to a foggy, gray morning today. Gorgeous!

And then, within a few hours, the mist had vanished. I hope to see it again sometime.

The part of town we live in is fantastic for walking in, exactly what I'd hoped for. In a land of cars, it's fortunate to live in a walkable area. With a nearby university, lots of benches, and tall brick buildings all around, it kind of feels like we're back in Ukraine. I like that.

After a few long months, it feels like things are slowly starting to come together as fall arrives. There's one other bit of good news I'll share with you soon, something that really opened my heart a bit more to this city. And I'm going to keep blogging on this site, despite the now-completely inaccurate title (neither 8 months nor Ukraine!). Oh well, you guys understand how that name came about.

I wanted to finish with a huge THANK YOU to all 46 of you who took last month's survey! Your feedback has really helped me make some decisions about blogging. Many of you are interested in the topic of readjusting to life in the US after several years away. That's coming soon as I finally start to get my feet back under me here. Hope you enjoyed this look at our new stomping grounds in the meantime!


  1. Congrats on the new apartment (especially the blue walls)! I'm majorly jealous of your food truck situation.

    1. I'm looking forward to lots and lots of thai/hawaiian/greek/vietnamese/mexican sampling :) There's even a somewhat-famous grilled cheese cart!

  2. An entry of contentment - congratulations to the two of you, I am truly happy for you.

    I must be brutally honest and say I do not think your #wanderlust has gone, how could it after your experiences, possibly only a baby would erase the urge! ;-)

    1. Oh my goodness, Rupert, that's a good idea ;) That baby will get strapped on my back and we will see the world together!

      I used to worry that at a certain age (30, perhaps) wanderlust dissipates. That it's a use-it-or-lose-it trait. That one day I would just stop wanting to see places and learn languages. Fortunately that appears to not be the case. I feel more secure now knowing that drive will still be around in the future. What about you? Are you thinking England long-term or might you eventually venture back out too?

  3. Congrats on finding a place! I bet that is a relief after so much time in flux. And--if it comes with a balcony and dishwasher, all the better! I'm also jealous of your food truck situation. Ideas for future posts, eh, eh??

    1. Thank you, Cassandra! Ideas indeed. After extensive research, that is...

      Your new post on blogging was great, btw. Very cool to get that insider peek at it!

  4. What a great update! I'm so glad that you found a place that you like, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for you. Enjoy the food trucks! (Also...curious...will you keep learning Ukrainian now that you're no longer living in the Ukraine?)

    1. Good question, Stephanie! When I saw your comment early this morning, my first reaction was "probably not". Living in the east I never learned that much Ukrainian in the first place. But later this morning a guy from maintenance came to fix one of the burners on the stove. His name was Volodymyr so, as an absolutely shameless language learner, I asked him right away if we could speak Russian. He agreed and we chatted in Russian while he was fixing the burner.

      It turned out that he was from western Ukraine and spoke Ukrainian at home. I apologized at not being able to use that language and he said it was no problem, that there was no difference for him between communicating in one language vs the other. What a small world it is, to be thinking "who speaks Ukrainian here?" and then meeting a Ukrainian speaker just a few hours later!

      I'll definitely continue to improve my Russian since I think it's very valuable, a master key of sorts. Even though it's not necessarily a "nice" language for many people (from Ukraine, Latvia, Azerbaijan, etc), many can speak it to some degree so it enables at least some level of communication that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Like with Volodymyr, for example (although he spoke English too of course). But I don't know about Ukrainian- I don't really have anyone to speak it with on a regular basis and learning materials are not so plentiful. Probably I'll make an attempt every once in a while, but barring a move back to Ukraine, won't make much serious progress. In terms of another Slavic language, Czech really fascinates me. And D and I have spoken before about taking a Japanese class together just for fun : ) So many languages out there.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  5. Eat at the Georgian food truck. Heavenly yumminess!