said the TSA chick at Midway as she handed my shoes back to me. I smiled and thanked her, wondering how many other people she says that to are leaving town for good.
My roommate Amanda and her boyfriend Jon met me at PDX, both looking like they were about to go rock climbing. (I love Portland.) We immediately went out for beer and grilled cheese, then headed back to the House.
The House is Amanda's extraordinary DIY project. She bought it at a bargain price about four months ago from the bank that had foreclosed on it, and she and Jon have been working steadily ever since to make it a home. They've been busy -- hauling literally thousands of pounds of junk out, ripping out tons of awful carpet and wallpaper and trim and bad plumbing, and re-sheetrocking, painting, and sealing everything, teaching themselves what they need to know as they go along. I hadn't even seen pictures of my loft before I walked in on Saturday night, and I was a little unprepared for how unfinished everything seemed -- missing outlet covers, no baseboard, and so forth -- but what I'm finding is that this is just one of those last-20-percent deals, and that the loft is entirely livable already and improving every day. Even in the short time I've been here, we've put new baseboard in the bathroom, put in a new showerhead that's about a thousand times better than the old one, put in missing cover plates all through the upstairs, painted the closet floors, painted window trim, and added a fair amount of missing door trim. (I say "we" 'cause I helped! I did the outlet cover plates! Aww yeah. Watch out. Amanda tried to get me to paint the closet floors, but I was scared.)
The other roommate, Bill, hasn't been around too much, but from what I've seen of him, he's pretty cool. As far as I can tell, my roomies like me, but I think they're all (Amanda and Bill are the only ones who live here officially, but Jon's always around) a bit skeptical of my so-called job. I don't blame them, since I haven't exactly been working a normal schedule. It's weird to begin with, since the official hours of work are on CST, so that means I'm working from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on top of that, I haven't been able to get much normal work done at all. I've spent most of the last couple of days waiting for my computer to arrive, then struggling to set up wireless networking, then panicking as I lost my entire user account thanks to having accidentally changed my "workgroup" or whatever while trying to do the networking thing, then breathing a sigh of relief at being able to log in under a different account and recover my stuff, only to panic again at the prospect of having lost 321 KB of work-related Firefox bookmarks and all my Dreamweaver site definitions. (I got my bookmarks back, thankfully. The site definitions seem to be gone, but that's not really such a big deal. I can put them back as I need them.)
Sometime around 9 a.m. PST today, I began feeling awfully stupid for having allowed myself to become so dependent on Microsoft Exchange Server. I couldn't seem to connect to it. My co-worker suggested Web Outlook or VPNing to get my mail, both of which work, except ew. So I downloaded Thunderbird, and I think it's going to work really well. I even managed to get some actual work done today, despite Amanda pounding nails into the door trim ten feet away from me.
Oh, yeah, and the crate containing the rest of my worldly possessions arrived today. With Jon's help, I just managed to squeeze my mattress and box spring up the stairs. (I suddenly understand why meterbridge uses two twin box springs under his king-size mattress. A king-size mattress is bendable, but a king box spring would be pretty much impossible to move around.) Nearly everything's still packed, but I have the bare essentials. I want to make sure each room is clean and relatively finished before I unpack stuff in it. This is going to be really fun, though! I can't wait to buy curtains and area rugs and lamps and an overstuffed armchair or two. Oh, yes, and a desk. I totally can't wait to get a desk.
One last thing. People here are unbelievably nice. In three days, I've had more strangers smile or say hello to me on the street than did in a whole year in Chicago. I guess maybe it's that I'm smiling too. Since I'm smiling a whole lot. Since the mere sight of Plaid Pantry, or of any place that boasts free wifi and coffee and beer, makes me smile for two blocks.