Monday, December 29, 2008

Here's to 2009...

I've officially given up on 2008. This year has been pretty cruddy overall - not entirely (NZ, Andy, lots of random memories...), but largely. I don't want to think about it or dwell on it anymore. I'd much rather just forget it and move on to 2009 - a.k.a. The Greatest Year of My Life.

Before I do that, though, I may as well document my latest drama - The Flooding of the Gustafson Grounds...

Last Sunday, I was happily painting away when I decided I should go downstairs to my bedroom and get my MacBook. As I was unplugging the charger, I noticed my sock was soaked. I looked around the floor, expecting to find a broken glass or a water bottle that Freddy had knocked over. When I didn't see anything, I took my sock off and smelled it thinking that the little bastard must've peed on the carpet. Nope.

At this point, both my socks were soaked with ice cold water and I was getting concerned. I put down some towels - they were immediately soaked. I put down more towels - more drenched towels...

I realized that the water had to be coming from the vacant house next door. Since the house is a foreclosure owned by HUD, I had no idea who to contact that might actually care that my house was flooding on a very cold Sunday night in December, just a few days before Christmas.

After making several frantic calls, a cop showed up at my house and confirmed that I was correct. Not sure why the city sent him since he couldn't DO anything about it...

Then, my fantastic realtor was able to track down the selling agent for the house next door and she came - and was very nice, but was also unable to do anything besides unlock the door.

And yes - I called my Homeowner's Association (everybody seemed to think I'd never think to call them and once I did, they'd rush to my rescue.) They do a very nice job mowing the lawn, plowing the snow, and making sure our trash gets collected, but they don't care at all what happens to the INTERIOR of our houses (nor do they answer on Sunday nights anyway.)

I was up all night trying to prevent as much of my stuff from getting wet as possible, switching out towels (mostly just to feel like I was doing SOMEthing...), and trying to figure out what the crud I was supposed to do.

The next morning, with my house getting increasingly wet, I called my homeowner's insurance right away and got my claim processed.

Then, some guys from the city came by and let me know that a pipe had burst in the house next door because it wasn't properly winterized. They shut the water off - which, of course, was good, but too late to make a difference. It was so cold in Minnesota that all the water was ice at this point.

After making a gazillion more calls, I went next door to check it out for myself. All the windows were frosted with ice and there were icicles hanging from the sills. Inside, there was a layer of ice about an inch thick coating the upper level floors (where our kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms are).

I went downstairs (where our bedrooms and bathrooms are) and it was like walking in a swamp. As I stepped one the carpet, the icy water covered my shoe. The ceiling was brown and looked like it may collapse any second. There were brown stains running down the wall we share and the paint was bubbled and buckling.

Back at home, I got back to my frantic cleaning, trying to get everything off the floor. It was a very. Long. Day.

Tuesday, the insurance adjuster came to do his initial inspection. He determined that I am not liable for any of the damages so my insurance company couldn't do anything for me till we knew what the OTHER insurance company was going to do. Problem is that we have no idea who the OTHER insurance company is - or if there even is one since the house is in foreclosure. Either way, I had to take immediate action to protect my property as much as I possibly could.

So, back to cleaning.

I have a lot of stuff downstairs - more than I realized...lots of clothes that were soaked, very heavy oak bedroom furniture, gazillions of books...tons of stuff...and nowhere to put it and nobody to help me. Ugh.

I was finally able to get my cousin Rodia to help and I was extremely grateful for that. Since my house is a split-level, getting things from downstairs to upstairs requires climbing 2 flights of stairs - being able to just hand stuff up sped things up exponentially.

The next day was X-mas Eve. Another visit from the insurance adjuster and then the contractors came. They ripped out my soaking wet carpet from the entire downstairs - which required them to shuffle my heavy furniture from one room to the next while I chased behind them, picking up all the stuff that fell out or that they knocked over or spilled. Being X-mas Eve and a ton more work than they had expected, I couldn't be upset that they were less-than-careful...

In the end, I couldn't get to my bathroom (I've since cleared a path), I don't have a bed, I couldn't get to any clean socks or underwear, there are sharp little nails sticking up everywhere, and I was feeling very sweaty and stinky. With all the dust and mustiness and other yucky stuff filling my house's atmosphere, my eyes were burning and my throat was swelling and I wanted a shower so badly that I would've cried if I'd had the energy.

Luckily, Jim invited me over and let me use his shower and the next day, X-mas, was relatively relaxing.

Friday, more contractors came to check out my ceilings, walls, baseboards, etc; the carpet guy came to take measurements; and I made another gazillion phone calls.

Not much happened over the weekend. More water in my house - to be expected considering the mess next door and the warmer temperatures...more cleaning, more shifting and shuffling stuff around, trying to find things like socks and clean towels...

Now it's Monday - 8 days after the initial flooding incident...more contrators; lots of stepping on painful little nails; more calls; arguing with the HUD people; trying to keep track of all the damages, costs, and all the stuff my insurance guy tells me, what HUD tells me, what the contractors tell me....

AND working...from home since I can't exactly leave my house when people are coming and going all day. (Not to mention that even if I could, I'm sure as soon as I got to the office, I would need to be back here to sign something or figure something out or give directions to somebody or protect my stuff from careless contractors.)

I guess that's the plan for tomorrow too...Hopefully things will be settled down and figured out by next Monday.

Living alone is hard.

Life is hard.

I read a line in a book today that said something like, "Life should be simple. Not unchallenging, but not so difficult."

I agree.

But, here I am. Things could be worse. Things could ALWAYS be worse.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


It must be Italian...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Letter to Santa

Dear Mr. Santa Claus,

Please give me a break.

Thank you,

Amy Jane

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A classic holiday favorite...

Listen to this:


It's written by and read by one of my most favorite authors - David Sedaris - and I promise you will love it.

Or, since I'm totally convinced you will love it, just go buy this book.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

I am...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I love my chats with Albert

I was just thinking about how much I love "chatting" with Albert.

...I feel lame saying "chat" but I guess that's what it is, being online and via IM...

I can't seem to find the right words to explain why I love our virtual conversations so much...I'll let you try and figure it out with some randomly chosen - and somewhat edited - samples:

12/7/08 - - - - -
Albert: last question regarding 28 yr old girl-woman. What would you prefer for 2nd date setup- phone call, text, or email?
me: i prefer email
my phone just annoys me
but that's me
i think it is personal preference
Albert: alright
9:26 PM ummm, I'll just call her tomorrow evening
me: if she says "no", just remind yourself that you are in the bay area and she is most likely a lesbian
9:27 PM Albert: word
rugmunching bulldyke >: (
me: right

- - - - -
me: anyway
i have no idea what a "date" is anymore
8:12 PM same with "messing around" and "hooking up"
Albert: I think the problem is that people want to shirk any self accountability
8:13 PM me: hmmm
Albert: if they never went on a date, then they can escape without complication?
me: true...
Albert: bastards!
me: but it gets so messy
people cannot read minds
8:14 PM Albert: and then they will argue with you about how you should've been able to tell and this is a sign you should not see each other (even though they say you were never seeing each other). These are the signs of selfish people who need to work some shit out. I'm all angry, haha
Albert: why do you like the new boy?
also, I can't explain why, but I love this picture:
me: every time i think i have him figured out, i find out something new about him that totally surprises me
Albert: ah
being a puzzle of sorts is attractive, no?
8:22 PM me: he makes me feel more normal
i like that patient bear
not "more normal" in the normal vs crazy sense
8:23 PM more normal in the "where do I fit in this crazy world where everybody else seems to fit an easily defined mold" sense
8:24 PM Albert: ah
I like that
I want more of that
I need to meet a skinny asian girl who speaks english, has a degree in something traditional, and then does something she loves that is not so traditional
Albert: if you get a good asian boy, they learn fast, and get better at anything they do. ANYTHING
me: heh
does the kind of asian matter?
8:28 PM Albert: mmmm, not exactly. It's just how they've dealt with life. If you get a good one, they've gone through the wringer of standardized tests and such and so: they are very good at ingesting information and learning and adapting
8:29 PM you need one that's gone through the wringer of growing up with asian parents and come out ok the other side though
you don't want one that's been crushed by their folks, or that was not under a strict parental law growing up
Albert: haha
could be
now where the hell am I going to find the kind of girl I described?
8:31 PM me: a coffee shop?
are coffee shops still hip?
Albert: I have no idea
I have been in a few and it's mostly students :(
8:32 PM I don't care to hear about "papers due" and "assignments" and people being stressed over stuff that does not involve them making money
me: yep
Albert: it's so silly!
me: ...
there's definitely a level of maturity they cannot even imagine
ah, to be young again...
8:34 PM Albert: haha
for real though- just having to pay for your life, no matter how hard or easy, for one year and that's it- no papers or whatever- it's really a mindset that's important
me: agreed
Albert: even if someone's working and going to school at the same time, I feel like school is still a safety net
8:35 PM not having yet faced "this is my life. Nothing else"
me: life without the structure provided by school is so totally different
Albert: ah that too
me: i definitely agree w/ the idea of school as a safety net
Albert: just a mental safety net even, but on so many levels
8:36 PM of routine, of maybe a few years of your future life
me: school is EASY - in the sense that it's defined, you know the rules, you follow them, you get judged accordingly
8:37 PM there's a beginning, middle, and end; somebody is in charge; you have deadlines and schedules structuring your existence
Albert: I hear ya
8:38 PM me: the real world....not so much
Albert: I wonder what people feel when they're faced with their lives for, really, the first time in their adult lives
8:39 PM also, I heard people get divorced quite a bit after 7 years of marriage, because that's the point when it really sinks in "this is the rest of my life"
8:40 PM me: 7 year itch
Albert: pretty crazy
how could anyone see that coming?...
me: i've lost interest in hooking up...
it's not fear of diseases or pregnancy or trying to be a "good girl" or anything....
it just doesn't seem worth the hassle
Albert: haha
8:47 PM me: sex v. 1.0 sucks
it's like the beta version
Albert: haha
me: too many bugs to work out
Albert: we need the 1.12 patch?
8:48 PM this conversation just got entirely too nerdy
me: i'd rather just wait till 2.0 is released
it would be hip if you had a mac
8:49 PM Albert: there is no laptop more inducing of jealousy than a macbook pro
though even the normal macbooks look awesome now
I was not so much a fan of the white plastic macbook
me: ohhhhh
i dream about the new macbook pro....
Albert: hehe
what mac do you have again?
me: macbook
Albert: boooo
me: and imac
Albert: a white macbook?
me: yes
Albert: I want to tell people "look, you only like your white macbook because you're white. It's so obvious!"
me: AND because the black ones cost $200 more for no good reason!
Albert: I think there's a slight processor upgrade?
me: perhaps
Albert: not really worth it though
me: i don't like that my white is yellowish
8:51 PM Albert: oh dear
me: fingerprints and all that
Albert: I'm going to just go ahead and assume you're all greasy and maybe smell like bacon
me: i'm a messy girl
Albert: baconsweat
me: and eggs
me: i've embraced my me-ness
8:58 PM we're growing up, Albert, old sport
Albert: paragons of health
me: and emotional well-being
8:59 PM Albert: well, I should eat and work, so I hope you have a good evening
me: you as well
cheers, mate

9/29/08 - - - - -
8:07 PM Albert: Ms. Gustafson
I am about to consume garlic fries and a mushroom cheeseburger
8:08 PM me: i hope you enjoy it
Albert: for the good of america, I will
me: you are a true freedom-fighter
8:09 PM Albert: I have declared that it is patriotic to be brand conscious and conversely, decidedly unpatriotic (treasonous) to be brand ignorant
me: obviously
american = capitalist
8:10 PM Albert: i will be indisposed now - hands are full of burger
me: understandable
good day
Albert: /tips hat

9/22/08 - - - - -
9:05 PM me: so, how's your love life?
any new developments?
9:06 PM Albert: alas, no. It's frustrating. You'd think just by pure numbers you'd hit chemistry by now
me: you'd think....
love defies logic
Albert: I think we're at the dozen mark since this rapid dating scheme started
9:07 PM me: wow
sounds exhausting
Albert: it is
expensive too!
it's not just meeting people, but meeting NEW people and having to be charming and witty and such
over and over and over
9:09 PM me: i bet
at least i get free meals out of it
Albert: it's a lot tougher on the dude's part
me: i don't envy you at all
girls make no sense
Albert: and cursed people all want things handed to them, so they're not trained to be engaging in conversation!
9:10 PM I thought only boys were socially retarded
9:11 PM me: i hate awkwardness so i at least do my part to avoid that
9:12 PM except sometimes i think i talk too much
to avoid the awkward silence
Albert: people really should be trained to handle interacting with others. We need basic conversation etiquette classes reinstated
"finishing school"
me: definitely
9:13 PM i'd feel so much more comfortable if i knew the rules
and there totally ARE rules
Albert: totally
and generally you have to fuck up a lot to learn them
me: and then you meet somebody else and suddenly the rules are all different anyway
9:14 PM Albert: this is much more complicated than we signed up for
can't we just slick our hair back and have unhappy marriages and mistresses and such?
me: everybody else does it
9:15 PM hummmm
did you get your comic books back from the girl who doesn't answer her phone?
Albert: not yet
I wonder if I'll get them back...
it may be months anyway!
9:16 PM me: i love sharing the things i love....but i hate losing them
Albert: yarrrrrr
I have a theory
9:17 PM the girl I will like next (or forever!) will be the one to show me a song/band they love that I'll totally love. I'm sorry to say, but usually girls like some bullshit music with dudes with acoustic guitars and slightly raspy voices and no soul damn it
me: heh
Albert: haha, you know what I'm talking about!
9:18 PM me: i wish I had a theory
Albert: like, THE SIGN that you'll know when a boy is right?
me: yeah
9:19 PM i don't know....
9:20 PM i can't even tell what's an official date anymore
Albert: that's the worst
I hated that
the upside of internet dating is that there's no question
me: very true
Albert: because, really, if two single attractive people are out doing things, it's totally a date
me: you think?
9:21 PM Albert: generally yes
me: it seems like that should be true
Albert: if it isn't, then someone there is psycho and you probably don't want to date them anyway
me: long do you do THAT for
9:22 PM like, just hang out?
if you don't determine it IS dating, you fall into the friend zone
so then, was it really dating after all?
Albert: I know! Friend zone sucks
but there's always the awkward chance you'll fuck it all up anyway
I tell you, we need rules and contracts
9:23 PM "the undersigned agree to be in a relationship as defined below for no less than 6 months at which time renegotiation will be possible"
9:24 PM me: with bad habits, routines, and general facts noted in advance
Albert: right
9:25 PM my friend Jenna says that phase 3 of a relationship involves realizing that the things that were cute about your partner (habits) at the beginning of the relationship are now annoying, and that's not changing, and that's ok
me: heh
what are the other phases?
Albert: uhhhh
9:26 PM gosh, I don't remember. I think it starts off with "honeymoon phase" which comes and goes
interesting points- you'll know you're in it for the long run when you are willing to change
also, a man can only be made by a woman
me: humm
9:27 PM interesting....
Albert: her and my friend kevin did just get legally married
and they went through a shiiiiiiitstorm during the previous 3 years
it is shocking they stayed together, but now they really know how to stay together
and know each other
at one point, they were BOTH physically abusive!
9:28 PM me: oooh
9:29 PM Albert: also, when they knew they loved each other but also fought nonstop, they went to a relationship counselor, which has even more stigma than a psychologist it seems
but he fixes them when they need it
me: my friend Amber is in grad school to be a relationship/marriage counselor
Albert: I think it's very healthy
we're all crazy and limited, so we need help sometimes
9:30 PM if I don't have the tools to deal with something, then I would like someone to help me until I do have the tools
me: yeah - i think a 3rd person could add a lot of insight
Albert: for real
and if you're both talking to them at the same time, there's no one sided story
me: right
and you're less likely to fight in front of somebody
9:31 PM how is it that you and I get these things and other people don't seem to....
yet we're the single ones?
Albert: ...
it's time you adopted a family
10:06 PM me: i always offer myself up to nice people at work
Albert: well, time you adopt others instead of them adopting you
go find yourself some orphans
10:07 PM me: i would like a nice boy to start a new...thing with
i have my dog
he and i do our thing
well...he mostly acts like a dog...but he's nice to have around
Albert: yes ma'am
10:08 PM I am looking after my sister's dog currently
he is up here quite a bit of late
me: it's nice knowing something needs you
and that it loves you and forgives you no matter what
10:10 PM Albert: there is also the poop factor on the other hand
me: well
Bailey does that outside
and can't go standing still
10:11 PM so his little poops don't matter much
if he has a lot to poo, it takes like a dozen laps across the yard
i couldn't find that and pick it up even if i wanted to
10:12 PM a boyfriend who didn't poo all over would be nice


I took this very short quiz-type thing - the results are...interesting. Check it out - it takes less than 3 minutes and you don't have to register or anything like that -

Your Existing Situation

Willing and adaptable. Only at peace when closely attached to a person, group, or organization on a which reliance can be placed.

Your Stress Sources

The situation is regarded as threatening or dangerous. Outraged by the thought that she will be unable to achieve her goals and distressed at the feeling of helplessness to remedy this. Over-extended and feels beset, possibly to the point of nervous prostration.

Your Restrained Characteristics

Willing to become emotionally involved as she feels rater isolated and alone. Egocentric and therefore quick to take offense, though she tries to avoid open conflict.

Circumstances force her to compromise and to forgo some pleasures for the time being. Capable of achieving physical satisfaction through sexual activity.

Your Desired Objective

Wants to make a favorable impression and be recognized. Needs to feel appreciated and admired. Sensitive and easily hurt if no notice is taken of her or if she is not given adequate acknowledgment.

Your Actual Problem

Depleted vitality has created an intolerance for any further stimulation, or demands on her resources. This sense of powerlessness, combined with frustration that she cannot control events, subjects her to agitation, irritation, and acute distress. She tries to escape these by stubborn insistence on her own point of view, but the general condition of helplessness renders this often unsuccessful. Is therefore very sensitive to criticism and quick to take offense.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I'll be 28 in 6 1/2 hours.


I feel sad and lonely and old.

I wish this whole stupid month was over.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

so much to do, so little energy

40 minutes till I can head home...
I'm exhausted...
I hate the thought of my dad being pumped full of poison in order to kill off the nasty cancer cells, eating away at his insides...
That thought alone exhausts me.
I spent Thanksgiving with him - it was nice.  He felt good and his spirits were high.  We met my grandparents for dinner and it was fun seeing them too. 
I didn't see my mom.  She, apparently, cooked at her house.  I wasn't invited - I just heard about it from my gramma.
Work is good...I was assigned to a new project last week that I'm really enjoying.  It's a welcome change...
I'll be 28 in 6 days - December 9th.  It's an insignificant milestone - and a Tuesday - so I'm not especially excited. 
I've fallen behind in pretty much everything over the past year.  The overwhelming feeling paralyzes me.  I haven't always been like this, but I'm not exactly sure when I changed or what caused it.
Thinking about it certainly doesn't do me any good, though.  I need ACTION!
Actions need energy....and I need a nap. 
I'm out like trout.

Monday, December 1, 2008