Atta Ikede

May 26, 2009

Checklist

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:32 pm

Ok — here’s my new apartment checklist. Am I missing something?

  1. Top Floor apartment

Obviously.

Size and location are also givens – the place has to be big enough to fit all my stuff and has to be in a short list of neighbourhoods I’ve compiled based on earthquake readiness (dont want to live in a house built on reclaimed land… never know when an earthquake could strike!) ,  safety, vibe and familiarity.

Other things I’m looking for …

  • Cheaper or obviously better in some way. If I am gonna keep paying a ridiculous amount every month, I either want a killer view, a patio or an in-unit washer and dryer.
  • A bedroom closet that’s in the bedroom. Yes people, this is a tough one.
  • A nice kitchen/bathroom.  Doesn’t have to be new, but i refuse to leave my lovely granite counter tops for pink formica and lime green fixtures.
  • Bathroom and kitchen separated by some space and preferably a room. Having these two right next to each other is just gross.

Luckily, we’re in a recession right now and it’s starting to show. I’m seeing “for rent” and “for sale” signs all over the place and prices are coming down.  Maybe i’ll get lucky and really score an amazing deal! Even saving $300 a month really adds up.

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Q: What’s worse than a schizophrenic neighbour?

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:08 pm

A: A neighbour who wears shoes in her apartment, has her radio alarm turn on at 7 am on the weekend, comes home at 3 am on saturday night, talks really l0ud, hogs the laundry room and lives upstairs.

I’ve always been able to hear a little bit of what’s going on upstairs, but it seems like this new person moved in while I was in Australia because I’m now in a very uncomfortable situation.

I thought about talking to the landlord, but I know it’s pointless. I mean, my crazy lady next door who screams and pounds on the walls when she’s not on her meds (she’s been on them for several months now… but I’ve realized she’s extremely catty and aloof. Makes me miss the days she was a recluse) has apparently been living here for 7 years, driving the old granny on my floor nuts that whole time!

The only option is to move. I checked out a few places last weekend but all that did was remind me what a daunting proposal apartment hunting is in SF.  Why?

1. High prices

2. Crappy layouts due to repeated conversions. The edwardians and converted victorian mansions are the worst.  No closet? No bedroom door? Weirdo layout where there’s a door in every wall? Where do I put my couch? Aah!

3. Lies. A “1 bedroom” apartment will be a place with a bedroom and one other room which is supposed to accomodate everything else but is usually only big enough to accomodate one couch and a tv. Nothing else.  A “2 bedroom” apartment is even worse! The 2nd bedroom is often what you’d normally call a dining room, separated from the living room by sliding doors. If it is a real bedroom and has a door and a closet, it’ll be at the expense of the living room! Hard core roommate living. That’s what I call that.

Basically you have to pound the pavement and make an immediate decision when you find the right place.  Ugh. I guess i’ll go request my credit report now. I’ll probably still need my Canadian one. What kind of US credit rating do I have with my $700 credit limit and nothing else to my name?

Honestly, I’m bitter.  Grr! I shake my fist at you, scruffy, evil woman upstairs. Screwed up my perfect lifestyle here.

May 20, 2009

Back in Elementary School

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 8:36 pm

I joined a volunteer program here back in January that aims to improve kids literacy. It’s a reading buddies type program that runs in several participant schools in northern and southern California, pairing volunteers with kids who are reading just below grade level. The emphasis of this program is to help kids get caught up while they’re still a little behind.  They have some standardized tests here in California that are used to identify kids as good candidates for this program.

I went through the training, got fingerprinted, passed the security test and then got paired up with a little girl in Grade 4. We met Thursdays at 4:30 pm for 45 minutes every week. That was the plan, anyway. She was a no-show a few times, and I had to send in my apologies a few times because of various trips so in the end I only really met her 7 or 8 times this semester. Our tutoring semester justended today – they had a “graduation” party for the kids this afternoon.

Overall, the tutoring was really fun and I’m really, really glad I did it. My kid started out quiet and shy but turned out to be quite a fiesty little creature! We had fun together, reading books, playing the kid verison of Apples2Apples and learning new words like “utensil” and “foreigner” (I used myself as an example for the latter. Hehe.)

Unfortunately though, there was also a dark side to the tutoring. The worst part of every tutoring session was the 15 minutes at the end when we had to do the paperwork. Each lesson came with a couple books which had to be read and discussed and a worksheet which had a couple exercises related to the lesson. The kid and I would talk about the worksheet and figure out had to be done, but when the time came to fill in the first blank, she’d put her pencil at the front of the blank line _______ and look up at me. “So I should write ….”

How do you fill out a worksheet that is titled “Topic: _____” and has 4 empty stars in which you’re supposed to put “Examples: __________” of “Category:___________”
So many questions. What’s the significance of the star shape? Is it just to make the worksheet more “fun”? Actually it stresses the kid out because they have to write in small print to get their “examples” to fit in the stupid shape. Are we supposed to make up our own examples? Pull them from a book? Is one example enough? Do we have to fill out all 4 stars? And what is “topic”? Same as the book title? But I already entered that into the “Title:_____” blank next to the “Name:__________” blank at the top of the page. Is it ok to enter the same thing into two blanks??

WTF? I’m well educated! I did my own ridiculous 2 country taxes this year. I should have been able to spank those worksheets!

But in reality, those worksheets spanked me! So every time when my kid would look up at me, pencil poised at the front of the line, and I tried to encourage her to think of her own ideas for the form despite her obvious anxiety in having to do that, I felt like a total lying bastard doing it!

The thing is, by grade 4, kids already know that there’s a “right” answer to exercises like that. This fact was readily illustrated to me when my kid’s precocious little friend joined in on our sessions. She’d be like “you have to write this here. No, I know it says <foo> but it means <goo> so you have to write <boo>.” I don’t know how this other kid figured out the secrets of filling in the blank forms, but that girl was totally on the ball.

My kid and I obeyed her friend’s instructions on the occasions she was with us and basically just wrote our own random stuff in the worksheet otherwise. I guess I could have asked the reading buddies organizational leader for guidance, but I didnt like asking the teacher for help when I actually was a kid so obviously wasn’t about to start now. Call it a character flaw. I’m ok with it.

I’d literally have to brush the worksheet-induced anxiety off myself when I left the school at 4:45 and stepped back into the sunshine outside, squinting, relieved, thinking guiltily that the poor kid has to deal with that 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Thank god I survived elementary school and will never have to go back.

I guess if there’s any conclusion I came to after this experience, it’s that if I have kids, I’m gonna seriously consider keeping them out of the traditional school system. I imagine an alternative where the kids run around all morning, do calculus and read Hemingway in the afternoons, and go on field trips to art museums and forests.  Maybe I’m getting carried away with my bohemian child utopia, but geez… I’m gonna do my very best in keeping them away from “fill in the blank” exercises.

Sydney: Wind, Birds, Lebos, Opera House, Sun, Pho.

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:38 pm

Ah .. where to start.

Despite a population of over 4 million (according to wikipedia), the city feels small and cozy.

I typed this post’s title and the previous 2 sentences in Sydney after my first week there had drawn to a close.  It’s been just over 2 weeks since I got home and honestly, now that I’m going back to this post and trying to finish it, I have to say, the title really says it all. What was my 13 days in Sydney?

– flip flops

– short little palm trees

– streets lined with tidy bungalows, properties bounded with iron gates

– flowers everywhere

– screaming birds everywhere too, and yes, they scream.

– Fancy, Fancy, Fancy McDonalds

– Really good south-east asian food – malay, thai, viet! Probably the only time in my life I’ll have pho, cuz it’s never vegetarian here.

– A little golden hair dog named Ding Dong who can speak Chinese, English, “Gestures” language, and can apparently ride a seesaw.

– Going to Tenren Bubble tea, only to find they ran out of QQ. Twice. We got lucky the third time.

– Lebanese pizza

– Touring around in the backseat of the Silvia, going fast, going around roundabouts, with a frequently barefoot driver

– Vaguely inefficient but completely adequate public transit

– Espresso machines. Everywhere. Aussies don’t believe in drip (apparently Kiwis don’t either)

– Enjoying cocoa on every single cappuccino I ordered

– Following a law student around

– Enjoying remarkably poor customer service

– Shopping at Wooly’s in the ‘burbs

– Assigned seating at movie theaters

– Feeling guilty about not buying aboriginal art but also feeling guilty that the art is super lame

– Watching a lonely wombat

– Fall colours in April

– Getting lost finding the Federal Way in the Blue Mountains

– Continually wondering why the immigration policy seems to freshly generous in a country founded by convicts

– Taking trains

– Waiting for trains

.. missing it now :)

When the right emoticons aren’t available, just imagine them.

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 9:36 am

This is a snippet of a chat between my friend “Picnic Buddy”, who is severely obsessed with 24, and me. The chat took place today, wednesday morning. The 2 hour season finale of 24 was 2 days ago and I still haven’t watched it. In other news, the new terminator movie apparently opens today.

Picnic Buddy:

YOU watching terminator tonight? you can go line up at 11pm and be the crazy friend I have….

10:29 AM


me:

10:30 AM
probably not tonight. there’s a 2 hour season finale of “something” i have to watch tonight.


Picnic Buddy
:
10:30 AM
DON’T TALK TO ME UNTIL YOU DO
me;

10:30 AM
the emoticon with the zippered smile would be appropriate right now. This software i’m using doesn’t support it though, so just imagine it.

Picnic Buddy:

10:31 AM
i am!

May 4, 2009

Gonna walk before I fade to black

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 1:24 pm

Tom Cochrane – Wish you well

May 3, 2009

My plant died

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 10:35 pm

My Jasmine plant, previously documented here, is dead.

I thought about taking a photo to document its demise, but that would be too sad to look at later. I’ll have to toss it tomorrow morning. It never once managed to flower.

One of the 3 lucky bamboos I had died too. It was green when I left. It’s brown now. Brown like a dried twig. If you saw it now, you wouldn’t even guess it used to be a lucky bamboo.

So now I have 2 half dead lucky bamboos and new Pete, my hardy ikea plant. Pete the  Ikea Plant weathered my 3 week absence very well! Just goes to show … can’t go wrong with Ikea purchases! The soil’s all dried out but the plant leaves are still mostly green. Hmm. I guess it hasn’t gone through as many drought-flood cycles as the older plant did.

In fact, I have a new hobby – watching Pete the Ikea Plant drink water.  Here’s how it works:

1. wait until the plant is kinda dried up

2. put some water in the plant dish

3. watch as the water gets absorbed into the plant! It’s aliiiiiive!!!

I fed the ikea plant 3 dishes full of water today and cut off the dried parts of the leaves. Here’s to long life and vitality! Go Ikea plant, Go!

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