"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hello Maryland!

We moved! The weathermen were wrong after all last Thursday-no snow, not even rain, until 4:00 pm when we were leaving Virginia-we had a few sprinkles at that time, but by then we were all packed up and sitting in traffic on our way to Maryland. It was cold-low 40's, but it felt like it was in the 20's from the windchill and thick, gloomy cloud cover.

Astarte curled up in the front seat on the way up to MD. She gets carsick if I leave her in the carrier while driving. She was a good girl, staying either on the seat or on the floor on the passenger side.
All went well basically, but it was a mission: we drove the 25 miles to Maryland to sign the paperwork for the apartment at 8:30 am and leave Astarte and Charles's truck at the apartment. From there we had to run over to the closest bank to get a money order-we'd had a brain fart about that the day before, and completely forgot we could only pay the first month of rent and pet deposit with a money order, but the banks don't open until 9:00 am. At this point, my right eye, which had been red since the day before, was really bothering me. I haven't had pinkeye since I was a kid, but the itching, pain and swelling are unforgettable, and I was pretty certain that this is what I had. The next day I had to go in to work, and knew my coworkers would flip out if I went in with untreated pinkeye...plus I didn't need the entire ER department to catch it! As luck would have it, there was a walk-in clinic right next to the bank, and they took our health insurance, so I sat down to wait while Charles took the money order and Astarte (who was still in the car in her carrier being a good, patient girl) back to the apartment (we wouldn't get our keys until we brought the money order, so of course we couldn't leave our little old lady until we had the keys) and unloaded the stuff we'd been able to cram into my car.

It worked out timing wise-the clinic was full, but the U-Haul in DC wouldn't have our U-Box down until 11:00 am. I was seen and diagnosed with conjunctivitis, and by 11:30 am Charles had picked me up at the clinic and we were on our way back to DC to rent a U-Haul truck and get our stuff out. 

It took them forever to set up the truck rental. There was no one else there-we were the only customers.The employees at this place are really nice, and they remember Charles by name, but man, they are SO. SLOW. We were in a hurry because we wanted to start our drive back by 3:00 pm before traffic really got bad.

We finally had our truck, and so we quickly transferred all of our stuff (most of our heavy stuff, mind you-all of our boxes of books, my filing cabinet, boxes with paintings, our futon, etc) into the truck. My cough was almost resolved, but I felt my airway constrict as we were moving everything, and that's when I realized there was a very fine layer of dust covering all of our belongings. 

We couldn't park close to our apartment, which meant we had to lug all of our stuff down the loooooong windy hallway to the U-Haul. Walking to the apartment, we were facing the wind, so we were freezing, then walking back to the U-Haul we would be roasting in our jackets. I ended up taking off my thermal first layer at this point and was much more comfortable.

The looooooooong hallway from the U-Haul to our apartment.  Ours was the 2nd door from the end. I was halfway there when I took this pic!
It took us almost 2 hours to get that done, even with the dolly we had rented to save us trips. By then it was 3:30ish and I knew we'd be hitting traffic on the way to MD. We had ordered a futon mattress for our futon (our old mattresses simply didn't fit in the U-Box, plus they were old, so we had chucked them in FL with plans of getting new ones) and there had been a glitch with the delivery. It had arrived in Alexandria on time, but it was at a UPS holding facility about 15 minutes from our old apartment. We decided to drive over and pick it up, as we only had 5 days to get it-both Charles and I were working that weekend, and Monday was Inauguration, which meant getting to Alexandria was going to be impossible no matter what. So we went to UPS and got the mattress...that took another 15 minutes, as the lady at the desk couldn't find it. She assumed that because I was a small person, it was going to be a small package, I guess. I told her it was a rolled  up mattress, the size of a large duffel bag, and she eventually found it. I was fidgeting and watching the minutes tick by. As we finally loaded the thing into the truck, it started to rain, but the car thermometer was still reading 42, so I knew it wasn't going to freeze.

Now, which route to take? We could drive all the way back through Alexandria and take the GW, which is what Charles wanted to do. Or simply take the dreaded Beltway all the way around to 270. 80% of the time, there is traffic on the Beltway. 100% chance of there being traffic during rush hour. Charles let me choose, as I had the GPS. We were right next to the Beltway exit, and we had driven past it on our way to UPS and there had been barely any cars at all on it. Despite my love of the GW, I had a really, really strong feeling that we should take the Beltway today, so that's what we did.

There were no cars. Almost no cars at all as we drove up. We found traffic when we were 5 miles from the exit to 270. As it turned out, my gut feeling had been right: there had been a massive accident on the GW, and it was backed up almost all the way to DC. We would have been stuck there forever. 

I had Aengus in the carrier on the front seat with me, and he was such a good kitten. He's gotten big-he's almost the size of Astarte now, but he still has his little kitten face and giant paws. I suspect he's going to be a solid 15 lb cat when he's done growing. He was a bottle baby-his foster mom had rescued him and his 4 brothers and sisters when they were only 3 days old. He is used to being in carriers, as she would have to take him and his siblings to work with her so she could feed them every 2 hours. Now, he made himself a nest with the towel and pee pad in the carrier, and curled up in the back for a long nap. He was a welcome distraction while sitting in traffic-I HATE traffic jams. PR is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, and traffic is really bad there, but the police are really lax, so you could get away with cutting through the emergency lane over there. In South FL, traffic was even worse, except you couldn't cheat your way out of it. For my first job, I was driving 40 miles one way, and one time I got stuck in the Turnpike. An oil rig had crashed and spilled its contents across all the lanes, and the Turnpike had come to an absolute standstill. I sat in that for 3 hours, inmobile. And I had to pee really bad! Even after we were allowed to move, it still took me almost another hour to get to work. It was an experience that would leave a mark-I now always, always use the restroom before leaving the house for anything, and I get claustrophobic in traffic. It is a battle of will to keep myself calm when the cars are not moving. (Plus it's not like freaking out is going to change anything.) While going to tech school 4 days a week in downtown Miami, I was driving 35 miles each way. I could get to Miami in less than 40 minutes when there was no traffic, but when we got out of class at 5:00 pm, it was a solid 2 hours or more to get home. Yes, this is horrible, but I would study in the car. I would put it in Park when no one was moving, and read to distract myself.

So when we couldn't move now, Aengus would get up, come to the carrier door, and stick his paws out, chirping and purring, asking for attention. I haven't been that relaxed in a traffic jam in a long time. 

In MD, I swung by CVS to pick up the antibiotic drops for my eye while Charles drove straight to the apartment in the U-Haul to start unloading. I stopped by a Burger King to get us food, as we had not eaten anything since 6:00 am! It was now 6:00 pm. By the time I got to the apartment, Charles was cranky, which is very unusual for him, and I was exhausted, and we still had more than 2/3rds of a U-Haul truck to unload. Up 6 flights of stairs to our new 3rd floor apartment. 

Charles is still having nightmares with those stairs. Between the cold air and his lack of fitness, he was really out of breath carrying stuff up. I have to start dragging him to the gym-he was wheezing like a man in his 60's. He's 35! My airway still felt constricted, but I was recovering within 30 seconds of going up the stairs. If I took the boxes into the apartment instead of leaving them at the top of the stairs and immediately going back down, it gave me time to recover. At this point, I really started peeling layers off. By 8:00 pm, I was down to a microfiber short sleeve shirt under a fleece jacket, nothing else. 

We stopped by 10:00 pm-I had to wake up at 5:00 am the next morning, and still had to shower and set up the bed. We still had to unload the filing cabinet. It is only 2 drawers, but it must weigh close to 300 lbs, and being a rectangular box shape, there is no good way to grab it. We had to return the truck the next morning, so it absolutely had to come out...we ended up putting it in the trunk of my car, just so we wouldn't have to carry it up the stairs that day! It's still there today. We'll get to it eventually...

After I went to bed, Charles kept bringing stuff up, but the heaviest and largest boxes had already been brought up. 

We are not moving again until we can afford to pay movers to do it for us!

Between the dust, the sweating, the cold, and the effort, I ended up with full-blown bronchitis. *sigh* I'm currently on albuterol, prednisone and azithromycin, plus Nasonex and Claritin for good measure (I'm pretty sure there is an allergic component to this b**ch of a cough, and the doctor said the same thing). The eye is better, though!

Aengus enjoying the warmth from the electric fireplace after a  very long day!

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