I’ve upgraded the site to Django 1.5 and take advantage of the new extendable AbstractClass user model. Unfortunately django-registration 1.0 isn’t completely 1.5 compatible and still directly imports User directly instead of using the new get_user method. Luckily the folks at django-registration were kind enough to post all the edits you need to make to their code to get it up and running with less work than I’d feared.
In Buenos Aires Christmas falls in Summer and Santa Clause wears shorts. It’s nice to come back and have some nice, down to earth, and really “normal”. This Christmas was low key, more like the ones in sitcoms than movies.
This year was the first time I did the rosary thing at Annette’s house. Everyone kneels on the floor and repeats Our Fathers and Hail Marys. It gets old quickly. I’m used to Judaism where even if you aren’t sure what’s being said, trying to figure out what page you’re on is at least a great brain teaser for the kids. You can focus on understanding what the Hebrew means. The praying was in Spanish so by the second time I’d figured it out. I think you repeat it 50 times… At the end there’s a small Jesus doll that people kiss the doll and get a giftbag of an orange and some chocolate.
After the rosary were the gifts. Growing up Jewish, Christmas as always what the “other” kids did. We’d have Hannukah and all. I remember always hearing about the kids who had one Christian and one Jewish parent and got presents for both holidays. That was epic, I thought.
Each year Annette’s family does a white elephant gift exchange. While I’m a part of it, I am not told or expected to participate because I don’t know anyone in Annette’s extended family. Instead, Annette’s mom buys presents for the people whose names I “draw” and when I show up I get presents from people who hardly know who I am. It’s funny because people thank me for things and I have to figure out what I apparently bought for them.
I should warn you that this post is just a bunch of whining. Mostly about a really bad property management company. Coming to a new place is tough in a lot of ways. If one were all settled. One of the toughest is getting started (housing and job) while not having either of the two. Here’s a story of Alori Property Managementand how they made the process a little harder.
The first job is housing. It’s hard to apply to jobs without a home so it’s good to get that first. The last I looked for housing in the States was four years ago and craigslist was the way. Now, however, while there are lots of advertisements for places, it seems to have been co-opted by property managers or agents, both of which take their cut. Our experience was probably typical. In our first day looking we saw maybe 7 different places. There were a few nice ones and at the end of the day we decided on one we liked a lot.
The apartment was run by a property manager called Alori Apartments. We went to the place and filled out the application and put a deposit down. The first bad sign was that they seemed to have called it a day at 5:30 and were already drinking in the office. Everything seemed in order but it was odd because they didn’t seem excited about renting to us.
We both have impeccable credit but they were only interested in our rental history (we had none from the USA, only Buenos Aires) and if we had jobs (we just got into town). So they asked for a two guarantors. This was fine but when I asked if one would be ok, they got snippity. I asked for a few other questions like how the deposit worked, what happened in case of breaking the lease, and if we could look at the lease. They didn’t like answering any of them. I assume it was the alcohol.
My dad agreed to guarantee us they faxed him a blank form saying basically he guaranteed us. He asked for a copy of the lease (or something saying how much we were paying in rent, etc.) and they refused to provide it. He said he’d like to know what he was guaranteeing.
When I called at 11am the next day, they said that there’d been a terrible mistake and apparently they’d rented the apartment to someone else who had put in a deposit before us. I asked them why they’d accepted our deposit and he said it was a clerical error. He refused to say anything more or explain how it had happened. I asked him if it was usually their policy to accept deposits on a property while not telling applicants that they were considering other people. The man refused to answer.
It makes no sense why they did any of that. I really doubt someone was actually in front of us. Someone else just probably arrived after us but had a rental history and a job and so after taking our deposit they decided on someone else.
It was frustrating and emotionally draining because we had really like the apartment. It was strange too because Alori never actually told us that they preferred the other people, just that we weren’t fast enough in getting all our information in, something that they had been holding up.
So not a big deal, but it is really indicative of our experience here. It’s weird that a company like this could be so cavalier and unprofessional but it’s something that’s been coming up a lot. From the temp agency who doesn’t answer their phone to the tutoring agency who wanted me to sign a contract saying I wouldn’t tutor for any other company for two years.
It’s Texas and people here seem to make their own law.
Let me just briefly explain the title of the blog:
It started with EXNAT, my blog about being an expatriate in buenos aires (expat+nathan=exnat). Now, after what will be three years abroad, I’m moving to Texas. Yes, Texas.
I once drove around the country for 3 months visiting 36 of our 50 fine states but when I never messed with Texas. My friend and I drove over 20 hours across the state to avoid sleeping there. Texas has always been a bit of a scary place to me. It was the mythical place that cowboys came from. Not cowboys from Westerns, the cowboys in my high school who chewed tobacco and always looked like if they ever actually noticed me they would beat me up. I’m from Sacramento and the “cowboys” from Sacramento are just working class white idiots who dress that way for the image. They’re not idiots because of dressing that way. They’re idiots for the chewing tobacco, among other things.
But anyways, it’s time for me to ride off into the sunset towards Texas country. Why Texas? A girl. Her name is Annette.
Every expat wants to know what’s happening back in their home country. My home country? Well…
USA! USA! This guy is from Brooklyn (not Japan as the label says):
When coworker of mine recently got back from the States he was immediately faced with an array of questions from the US expats in the office: What was it like to be back? What had changed? What were the differences? As he spoke we savored the Indian curries, rolled our eyes at the anal retentive scheduling, cringed at the corporate box stores. “Our country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, but we live here…”
The next night we camped at the Andrew Malera State Park campsite, an old college stomping ground. It’s great cause it’s got flush toilets and all that, but you have to go about a quarter mile from the parking lot. This means no RVs and not a lot of people bringing in too much junk. It’s right on the coast.
I came back for the Choices graduation which turned out to be awesome. A few students I had had were graduating and it was great to see. Then off to the Choices dinner at El Torito. It was a set price, of course, and we each had little placemats which contained our orders. Kippie, the office manager, was organizing all the little logistical intricacies, Marie hobnobbed with the district brass, and the sportsloving men got loaded and raucous. Everything seemed in its place, like a little world where everyone has their own role. Friendships, hierarchies and alliances changed and shifted, like a little ecosystem. It’s reassuring, reminds me of my visit last fall.
i just ate a small piece of typhoid. or at least i think it was a small piece of typhoid. last couple days i got all my shots out of the way. all i have left are these pills which i can only assume are made from live typhoid. all they told me was that i have to take one every two days so as not to overdose. and the box says that there are living things in it. the whole concept of innoculations is weird. it’s like you get one of the enemy soldiers all tied up and blindfolded and give him over to the defense forces and they just beat the shit out of him. then apparently you’re immune.
i’m on this crazy sleep cycle. i have to get a handle on my schedule. i’m either tired or i can’t sleep; i’m doing nothing at all and then all of a sudden i’m rushing to keep up. it’s all a symptom of not having a home base or structure. no calendar, no regular meals, no place to store my clothes. my parents have essentially converted their childrens’ rooms into storage rooms, piling up the things they never use but won’t throw away. because no one uses the stuff in the rooms everything is overstocked, things falling off the shelves. it becomes a game of my moving stuff from shelf to shelf or out of one room and putting it in another. My clothes litter the floor because the dresser is filled with sheets, blankets and nicknacks and the clothes rack overflows with suits my dad hasn’t worn in 10 years. books are piled two deep in the bookshelves. it’s too much for me. i lost my phone today and had to search for over an hour to find it disguised on a shelf with a million objects that made no sense together. i swear i will clean this room out. make it safe for civilization.
i can’t wait till the end of the month. i was thinking of ways to keep occupied. since spending all the money on the plane ticket i feel crunched for cash. so then i figured i might do some kind of job for a week or two. but what kind of job could i get for that amount of time? sharon tells me that i should get excited about something. i think i may get excited about making a travel website. that’ll keep me occupied for a few days…
I’m sitting at the Fuel coffeeshop. Victrola, my usual coffeeshop has banned laptops on the weekends. They want to encourage conversations and save tablespace. It was getting to the point that you’d have the whole coffeeshop full of people staring at screens. I’m typing onto this little Dell laptop I bought because I was so freaked out that I didn’t know what else to do but buy a laptop and I kept it because I was too lazy to return it within the deadline. It’s plasticy and heavier than I would like but it gets the job done and the wireless is pretty on top of it. It came installed with Encarta Encyclopedia and a lot of other useless software which I immediately uninstalled. They’re almost dinosaurs compared to the speed and reliablity of Wikipedia and other opensource solutions that come with a broadband connection to the internet.
I’m in a coffeeshop right now because my ex girlfriend is at my apartment rooting through my old stuff and deciding what to take for her new place. It’s strange. I want her to have the stuff but contact with her, even distantly, still rubs at the old wounds. Happily Dan took care of organizing everything.
Protecting yourself becomes a top secret mission.
Dan calls me: “we’ll be gone in five minutes.”
Then I can return. It’s like I have a disease. I can’t be exposed or I will relapse into indecision and low self-esteem. It’s weird admitting your own limitations, your own failures. We wish we were stronger and we value our weaknesses but admitting the problem is the first step to recovery.
But now it’s time to go back and take a nap, pack some stuff up, and relax before watching motorcycle diaries with a beautiful girl later tonight. Life is easier when you’re about to move away.
a few weeks ago i freaked out and called everyone to tell them i was freaking out, that i didn’t know where my life was going, that i was a bit depressed. everyone was very supportive, very nice. main point of advice: stop talking to aviva and either start travelling or get a job.
i went back to sacramento and made an appointment to see a career counselor. it was cool. i met with the nice lady and today i took her career aptitude test. it turned out to be a glorified personality test, dividing people into four catagories. it nailed me pretty well and then went on to describe careers from photojournalist to art therapist. it felt pretty good to be done with the test and it made me think a bit about where i want to go in the future.
so i’m sitting here waiting for aviva’s call and it’s like 1am and she’s clearly not going to call. it’s sad. i figure she probably just has more important things. i break down and call. i go straight to voicemail: her phone is off. probably dead. she was complaining that she had no batteries.
yknow… it makes sense. sure. her cellphone is out of batteries and a bit dysfunctional. i wonder if one day i could take her cellphone out to coffee. we’d probably have a lot to talk about.
bitter, i remind myself that she has many other friends who can provide support. i surf over to friendster and it turns out that she has 147 friends and glowing testimonials that say things like:
This girl is like no one else in the
world. I fell in love instantly. She
can make the darkest days into
colorful, messy, silly, hazy costume
parties. She has the softest upper
arms of anyone. It’s quite obvious
that I miss her terribly.
This girl is gold!!! If you meet her,
don’t let go.
with that kind of fanclub she doesn’t need me waiting up at 1am for a phonecall that doesn’t come.
then i notice that friendster has given aviva and i a joint horoscope:
You and Aviva can overcome any bumps on the road.
It’s time to share the love — affection abounds right now, in a myriad of forms and a multitude of ways. The time is right to let someone (or someones) know just how much their presence has really brightened up your life. It doesn’t have to be mushy and sentimental, nor does it have to be perfectly expressed. What matters most is sharing your sincere appreciation of your relationship. So go ahead — express yourself.
screw you, friendster.
It’s funny how you can get caught between two diametrically opposed points of view. Both are equally valid but to the exclusion of the other. I’m caught between travelling and putting down roots, between hoping that Aviva and I will get back together and getting over it. I’m sitting in Victrola listening to Ira Glass wax on about the screwball comedy notion of “just” friends in Get Over It.
In the episode he and his exgirlfriend go to Saks Fifth Avenue. They have been broken up for six months but still talking on the phone a few times a week. No sex but relying on eachother for emotional needs. In the small moments of her emotional distance, his trying to make the connection, whether he comes into the dressing room to see her try on clothes or not, her getting a black miniskirt for a date with a new guy. It all makes him wonder: what am I doing here?
It’s so interesting the difference between making a decision and following through. It’s so easy to talk about the green grass over there but making the journey “over there”
How much information do you want about the new guy/girl?
You want them to be happy BUT it’s sad that they’re happy without you.
I am happy. I enjoy my days. Yesterday I had a great time working with Teruki on the computer and eating dinner over at Devon’s. I’m learning a lot on Flash. Ira talks about willing yourself to get over someone or something. I want it to be NOW. I want it to be OVER. I want to have MOVED ON.
Life here in Seattle is kind of tough because I’m purposeless. Before when I asked myself why I was here I would answer: so I can be near Aviva. This was a terrible answer and, for the most part, I blame it for breaking us up. But now that we are broken up, why am I here? And I guess I am here cause I signed a lease and I’m stuck here. Otherwise I’d be… travelling. I think it’s hard to travel unless you’re running from something or going to somewhere and now I guess I will be doing both soon.
A lot of my problem is that I have nothing to “show” for being here. No big ol stamp on the resume. I remember the first time I ever hung out with Aviva she was upset because she had learned so much abroad but it wasn’t quantifiable. We drew with pastels and I was telling her that the stuff she had learned would be with her all her life. That she didn’t need a piece of paper just to say she had learned something.
Maybe I’ll draw myself a diploma.
I need one.
I wonder if I should give myself a minor…
so i guess i’m single now.
uhhhmmm…. yeah. single.
i guess it’s a cliche but i’m discovering all that extra time that i
always felt i never had. it’s amazing the stuff you can get
accomplished when you’re single.
the breakup was good. respectful. probably as good as it gets. both
of us were upset. both of us love eachother. neither of us is huge on
dating other people immediately. i really couldn’t have expected
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.6.0 – Release Date: 3/2/2005
i haven’t written on this blog for a long time. somehow it’s not nearly as much fun for me if i don’t get to put up pictures. however, i do have plenty of time and i really ought to be writing stuff down more.
here in seattle i’m enjoying the life of being independantly independant.
i live in an apartment with dan.
i see aviva a lot.
i am trying out yoga.
i am frequently tired.
the weather is gloomy.
i want to find friends.
i need a table for the apt.
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