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September 1 was my one-year anniversary in Providence– though I actually spent the day in New York City. When I recently had a two-hour lunch with Curly-Haired Religious Scholar Friend, she remarked “I feel like you’ve been here as long as I have– three years.” I kind of agreed with her.

How long do you have to live somewhere before you can say you’ve lived there? How long do you have to live somewhere before you can move somewhere else and say you’re from when you just came from, or can you never really say that? I used to know a girl who talked about how she “lived” in Washington state and when I asked for how long, she said “5 weeks”; I knew another girl who said she was from Washington state, but then it came out that she had moved to North Dakota when she was three and had never even gone back to visit.

A year doesn’t seem like that long, but it kind of is. If you asked me if I wanted to go to jail for a year, the answer would be a resounding “no”, but part of the reason I moved to a part of the country I’d never even visited before, is because I was fairly sure that I can handle anything for two years. It’s weird because after I had been here a week, it felt like forever, and then time stopped being something I thought about.

So because I’ve been in a listy mood lately, here’s some of the stuff that has happened over the last year:

  • One year of library school is over, my GPA is excellent, and the end is in sight
  • I’ve had three jobs and a long stint of unemployment, which is a lot to cram into one year, I think.
  • I found a wonderful hairdresser who has big plans for my head
  • I found excellent mechanics for both bodywork, and internal car fixings though it is unfortunate that I’ve had to deal with both of those things in just one year.
  • No sales tax on alcohol in Massachusetts!
  • Visited NYC, Boston, Maine. Montreal, etc.
  • Had many superfun adventures including, but not limited to: hiking in purgatory chasm, Moby Dick Marathon at The New Bedford Whaling Museum, Museum of Work and Culture in Historic Woonsocket, Gaspee Days, walking tour of historic churches in Providence, Soundsession etc.
  • Slept on a rock in Central Park and discovered that I can still summon up amazing reserves of stamina when it’s important
  • Finally went to the beach!
  • Painted (or rather, had parents paint), furnished, and decorated my apartment in a way that is very pleasing to me, and didn’t spend much money doing it
  • Free cable!
  • I have the most ridiculous and therefore best Graduate Assistantship ever that not only pays my overpriced tuition, but also a nearly livable wage
  • I’ve eaten lobster, crab, and littlenecks for the first time and almost enjoyed all three though I really don’t get the appeal of littlenecks. They taste like nothing except what you put on them, and have the consistency of extra-slimy hardened rubber cement. So I now know that I dislike them, and I love to have opinions.
  • Finally have quasi-professional job that allows me to wear skirts and dresses as much as I want so I can legitimize buying these items and actually wear them instead of them languishing in the back of my closet
  • I now know what happens at the end of the Babysitter’s Club series: MaryAnne Spier’s historical house with the secret passage used in the Underground Railroad catches fire in the middle of the night. It was later determined to be an electrical fire. Thankfully, everyone gets out safely including her tiger-striped kitten, Tigger, but the house and all of the family’s possessions are completely destroyed. Kristy’s family (her step-father is a millionaire, an actual millionaire!), takes them in while they get back on their feet. Though the situation is a very emotional one, MaryAnne, who is brought to tears by nearly everything, simply cannot cry. How powerful.
  • Found out that Watson (kitty) is asthmatic, which is tragic, but a little bit hilarious since it doesn’t really seem to bother him and he makes the cutest wheezing noises.
  • I finally found the Wal-Mart that is right by my house but I could never see it because it’s behind the giant Home Depot. This is very handy when I need some kind of last minute item that I forget to pick up when I do my other household shopping– cat food, garbage bags– but problematic in that I keep going there all the time and now recognize a lot of the cashiers, but still cannot find my way around the place. Also, I really hate Wal-Mart, but it’s just so handy.
  • Taught screenwriting workshop to teenagers at the library, which made me feel like a bit of a fraud since I haven’t written for the screen in quite a while, but had fun, and they told me that they liked me and learned a lot.
  • Jewish Friend gave me a gunlock, which I have no use for, but is totally hilarious to own, and has taught me a bit more about safety with firearms.

I don’t really take the bus, I always mean to but work/work/school scheduling prevents it and I instead become that asshole who says things like “I really wish I could take the bus but my schedule is just so hectic.”

A busy person is never too busy to tell you how busy they are.

Also, I’m a bit afraid to take the bus. I have a huge fear of being stranded miles away from my home and having to walk along the side of the interstate 40+ miles wearing heels in the pouring rain with wolves and other beasties watching my every move because I lack cab fare and my cell phone battery is dead so I can’t inconvenience a friend.  I tried to bury this fear in my initial attempts to become “the girl who takes the bus”, I stuffed my purse with schedules, and read them like they were novels feeling green, public transit savvy, and inordinately proud of myself.

The first time I took the bus in Providence, I had to wait 35 minutes in the blazing sun because the bus was running late; the second time, I got to the bus stop five minutes early and the bus had already left– I started driving myself after that.

Recently, this bit of news came out:

“PROVIDENCE — The state transit authority yesterday spelled out the service cutbacks it is considering, saying it would eliminate a fifth of its service, affecting dozens of bus lines across the state and dropping service to four towns entirely.”

Naturally, as someone who wants to take the bus, I was outraged, especially when I saw that the one bus I might actually take was on the list to be cut.  Later they amended it saying: “Rte. 66 URI/Galilee, all supplemental Summer Beach Bus service”, so I guess that’s ok.

After all this came to light, I had many, many heated discussions with co-workers, and friends where I fiercely advocated for the poor and the carless and almost convinced myself that I will, at some point, take the bus.  Then I started noticing the signs:

So I found that amusing, and Jewish Friend and I had a good chuckle.  Then, like always happens the first time you notice something, I started to see these signs everywhere.

So, I have to ask, with all of the money saved on cutting bus lines is RIPTA just going to turn around and put up 11,000 more signs?  With the exception of the first one, these are quite well made– sturdy, reflective– can’t be cheap.  Also, the first two signs pictured here are on the same street about one block away from each other, and the second is in view of a still-used bus stop– like 10 yards away from it.

Rhode Island, you are just not good with money.

My parents moved into a new house a few years ago. Because my mother is the nesting sort, I was required to come and visit and help her come up with a design scheme for the interior. I’m pretty sure I disappointed her greatly because despite the fact that I used to watch Trading Spaces (I know), once I approach a wall of paint chips, I freeze up, melt down, and pick either the ugliest color available or a very boring palette that doesn’t even really go together.

She decided that the kitchen would be “Tuscan” themed, which apparently means “hemorrhaging grapes.” She bought a wine rack and a few bottles of Sonoma “just for decoration” because neither of my parents really drink (though they did serve one bottle to friends that came over for dinner, and then my mother refilled it with pink-tinted water and set it back on the rack), and proceeded to cover every available surface with grapes, grape vines, and signs that say “Vino”.

It’s awful, simply awful, but she seems content.

The rest of the house ended up looking like their old house because she had to match the new design scheme to the accessories she already had. The only other conundrum was coming up with something to hang behind the bed just over the headboard. She agonized about it for days and I suggested every single thing that I could think of: The series of pictures of her beloved children that had been displaced by the signed Ronald Reagan picture hung prominently in the AMERICA themed living room, my dad’s running medals; finally I suggested that she get a long shelf and put knick-knacks and trinkets on it since she had run out of shelf space for many items and they weren’t grapey enough for the kitchen.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to do that,” she said emphatically, “I don’t want things falling on me when I sleep.”

My mother has lived in the Midwest her entire life– she’s never lived anywhere where there are earthquakes or any kind of seismic activity that would cause items to fall off of shelves onto her as she sleeps. For about a year, we lived very close to the railroad tracks, but I don’t recall anything scarring happening in that time except my brother almost sleepwalking out his bedroom window. Eventually, she settled on one of those bundles of decorative sticks that middle-aged women seem to love saying, “This is light enough that it wouldn’t really hurt even if it did fall.”

I didn’t point out the risk of getting ones eyes poked out, or choking on the tacky silk flowers and ribbons– it wasn’t worth it.

I asked my brother about this and he informed me, “Yeah, mom is totally worried about things falling on her when she sleeps, and why not? You wouldn’t want that to happen to you– makes sense really.”

“Are you afraid of this as well?”

“Well, I have seven foot longhorns hanging above my bed, so, no, but I made sure that they’re bolted in very securely.”

Now I’m in the throes of a decorating crisis as I have acquired the greatest item of kitsch that I’ve even seen, but I don’t know what to do with it.

The walls in my living room are very odd in that there seems to be a layer of metal just under the surface so nails go in about 1/8 inch and then bounce– clearly not deep enough to secure such a large piece of art. I’ve been toying with the idea of hanging it over my bed, but my mother’s irrational fear seems to planted itself in my brain, and I know that I would not be able to sleep with a black Jesus above me just waiting to crush my head.

  • I’ve saved quite a bit of money on gas (obvious).
  • I’ve gotten a bit of a tan.
  • I feel now that I have more license to eat whatever I want since I’m getting exercise– not that my not getting exercise stopped me before, but I’m sure this has alleviated a bit of guilt that I may or may not have acknowledged.
  • A girl on the street told me that she liked my dress.
  • A rather unkempt man wearing a Harley Davidson shirt spit on the sidewalk in front of me, which grossed me out, but then without my even indicating that I was going that way, hit the walk button on the stoplight for me, then continued on his way.
  • I got hit on by a tall urban youth with nice shoulders.
  • A grizzled old man told me that I’m beautiful.
  • The crossing guard who works in my neighborhood stops traffic for me and allows me to cross safely even though I am clearly not a ten-year-old.
  • Oktoberfest beer is in season again, and this year I stocked up so I won’t run out before the end of September.
  • One of my bosses at my new job told someone else that I am “amazing”, my other boss told me, “we are so happy you’re here.”
  • I’ve been working half days and was told that I’d also better take off Friday, but this will not affect my paycheck in the slightest.
  • Jewish Friend’s car got backed into by an engineering professor, which is not a good thing, but it allowed me to refer her to my mechanic who I love, and love to give business to. She has also acknowledged that he is a wonderful human being, and he remembered me fondly telling her “Andria needs to keep her car cleaner.” I’m still unsure if he means the inside or the outside.
  • Since I’ve been working half days, I was able to have a lovely two-hour lunch with Curly-Haired Religious Scholar Friend and we caught up on all we had missed over the course of the summer.
  • I visited New York City for the first time and had a seriously kick-ass time.
  • With all of this free time I’ve had, I discovered that I too can make a delightful macaroni and cheese from scratch. I will use this knowledge this winter and subsist nearly exclusively on macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, and feel more like a grown-up because I’m cooking for real and not from a box.