Stunningly beautiful Baltimore, MD

Ah, vacation. Today I saw a matinee at the Charles Theater, an art house in which I haven’t set foot since the first Bush administration. New discovery: you can park across the street for $2! The title of this post is how the Charles describes their location on their website, which I find awesome.

Not much more to report, except a bit more furniture. I can finally see my TV at eye level! Some of the newscasters on local TV are the same ones from twenty years, which amazes me.

You may have heard there is a lot of violence this summer in Baltimore, and there has been. And that it is a dangerous city, which it is. But it’s also a very segregated city both by race and by class. In most of the city, you would not even know that this other Baltimore exists. And maybe vice versa, I don’t know. It’s an odd thing.

I worked hard to find a neighborhood that was integrated and mine is. It is also quiet and friendly and tight-knit. But I still have a good alarm system. I set it off accidentally more than I should, but it is good. And I still think the city is stunningly beautiful.

Baby, it’s hot outside

It’s close to 100 degrees here today and is supposed to be all week. Officially, that’s called a heatwave but is more familiarly known as “Baltimore in the summer.” I haven’t been out today and am majorly enjoying the comfort of central air-conditioning. This was the answer that I gave people who asked me what I was thinking spending summers someplace even hotter and more humid than my regular residence: central air. In my apartment in Manhattan there are two through-the-wall units, one for the bedroom and one in the living room for the rest of the apartment. This means that at night, I either listen to the roar of a jet engine feet from my head or swelter. Daytime is better but still “turn the TV up” loud and spotty as to area. But here, everywhere is cool and fairly quiet. Upstairs is warmer than downstairs but still good at the right thermostat setting, plus I’m mostly up there at night when it’s cooler, anyway.

Another reason I’m home is that my car is in the shop. Yes! Already! I parked it at the train station while on a short trip home and came back to a huge dent in the driver side fender and a door that made crunching sounds when it opened. This car is three weeks old. They gave me a rental but you know what? I want my car. Plus, did I mention? It’s hot out. But this will cost me $250 for… nothing. To make the car look like it did a week ago. And I’m lucky, because Maryland considers a hit and run an “uninsured driver” issue, so my deductible is lower. Otherwise, it might have cost me a thousand dollars for nothing. I know: welcome to car ownership. I also noticed this when I went to fill up this week and the prices had jumped 20 cents a gallon in the past week.

In other news:

My ant problem seems to be totally gone! Hurrah! Instead, I have a leak in the pipe under the basement sink so that there is a small flood when I do laundry. But I am too happy doing laundry without waiting for a machine to care. No, no, I do care. I need to get a plumber in at some point.

Before the heatwave, I had a lovely evening out on the deck which has a built in bench-with-back, surfing the web, which for the first time in a while had a good signal (don’t get me started on the miserable Internet in Baltimore in general and this neighborhood specifically). The mosquitos also had a great time, unfortunately.

Even before that, when the trash pickup was rescheduled due to July 4th, I actually chased the sanitation truck down the street with my can. I guess they came early because they had all that make-up trash to pick up, but I was leaving for New York and could not have my trash sit for two+ weeks. But it had a happy ending and they accepted my trash. Phew. Trash is one of those things, needless to say, which is SO different with houses. With an apartment, you can get it out of your home at any time and never worry about it again. Here, I get one day a week and if I am not around, I am screwed. During the year, when I am generally only here on weekends, I have to take it to Penn Station and dump it there. Luckily, no one seems to blink at big bags of garbage being deposited in a train station.

Furniture update: I have mostly decided what I am doing, it just needs to arrive. Some is from my Dad’s place so that might be a while. I may buy cheap substitutes from Ikea in the meantime, the meantime being until his apartment sells, as some is part of the “staging” for prospective buyers. Some is from Ikea and has to be ordered, as it’s not available at the local store, which is quite small by Ikea standards, I’ve discovered. Some I will tote in my car, mostly because I have a coupon which can’t be used online.

I also have the general colors of each room down, I just need to find the right shades which will be excruciating, but compared to problems you could have, is pretty low on the scale. Thank you for your patience with lack of pictures.

In the last bit of news, my friend Alfa came down to visit this past weekend and I showed her only 50% of what I could have and yet it was still awesome. and delicious. We even saw Hamsterdam. If you would like a similar tour and can put up with a curtainless room and an outdoor “real feel” temperature of 105, come on down! Or up! Or east!

Early summer diary

What I get when I go to Google Maps.

What I get when I go to Google Maps. No need to correct it.

I realized after the last post that it was exactly one year since I made my first trip down here to house hunt. Amazing to think that a year later, here I am in my house. I mean, that was the plan, but it was a much longer journey than I thought it would be. How did I come to remember? I was watching the evening news and they remarked on how temperate it was when a year previously on that date, it had been the first heat wave of the year and reached 100 degrees. And I remember how I came down on a hundred degree day and my agent and I could barely stand to get out of the air-conditioned car. When I checked my records, sure enough, it had been the first day of summer.

Anyway, some notes that I have been keeping in my mental notebook, working backwards…

1. Today, I did the first load of laundry! Clean laundry from my own place! It was actually slightly less wonderful than it sounds. First, the washer and dryer came with two different sets of delivery people. Each one had to take off my door and then the railing to my basement stairs. One actually rolled the old one down the hill with a push. Now that they’re all in, they make weird noises and exist in my basement, which has no super, just me. So it is filled with spiderwebs, insects, and assorted drops of stuff that I don’t know or want to guess what they are. Still, clean clothes without having to run into anyone!

(This was where I was going to post before and after pictures of my scummy washer and dryer with my new shiny ones, but the basement, if anything, somehow looks worse. So imagine shiny new appliances in this space).

2. I have air conditioning! This involved a repairman who almost didn’t show up but when I demanded it, he finally came, two barefoot little girls in tow. I gave them ice cream and chatted with them while he ran around fixing my A/C. He did find time to tell me that a man of his age (45) should not go marrying a young (now 28) woman who wanted children and what had he been thinking? But, cool air!

3. While at K-Mart last week, I had an epiphany. No one in Baltimore walks around in stores wearing headphones the way they do in NY. Why? You drove there and had music in your car. Why would you put them on to walk into a store? In NYC, I rarely shop without headphones. Shopping in silence is weird.

But also, I just have to say again, that life here, compared to there, is so easy! You need stuff, you get right into your car and drive there. You fill up your car. There is no walking from place to place, up and down stairs, with heavy bags. Then you come home and there is actually space to put things without reorganizing an entire cabinet, should you still have one where things will fit. When people would tell me that life in NY is hard, I would scoff. Now I really get it. It is hard.

4. Speaking of driving, I got hooked up with a parking space near Penn Station and went down to park there before my trip home last week. I got there early, just in case there was an issue and… I don’t know what to say. I wish I had a picture. It was on a hill with a sharp angle, such that the left side of your car was way lower than the right side. The entrance was between two telephone poles with little margin for error. The line of cars was about one car length distance from the other. I tried three times to get into this space but could not, and even those tries made me panicked that my car was about to roll over. So, no space at Penn Station. I’ll have to keep looking. Otherwise, it’s $35 in cab fares every time I come down; this the price of choosing the house near the park and not the one near the bus route.

(I ended up parking in the Penn Station lot – $45 for a week, ugh).

5. You know what I haven’t done? Go downtown. I mostly stay up here and shop: groceries, stuff for the house, etc. I need to do that soon. Next week I’ll be back in New York for some medical things, but after that, I’ll be here for most of the rest of the summer.

6. Lastly, I may be changing the color of the bedroom. Stay tuned…