Sunday, July 23, 2006

I was just over at Jen’s blog and she’s written a longish “here’s my day” post that has inspired me to write whatever it is that I am about to write...

The Decameron-esque doldrums of an erstwhile cabin buyer:

Since we’re a national disaster, both in my neighborhood and in the larger St. Louis area, we decided to get out of town yesterday and go to H. I felt a little like Giovanni Boccaccio, fleeing to the Italian countryside to avoid the plague (that’s the Decameron part of my title). When we left town the National Guard was moving through our neighborhood, they were shifting the debris into orderly stacks so as to clear the streets for traffic.

It’s been fun getting to know the neighbors during this little incident, especially these two characters Phyllis and Ed. Phyllis is in high victim mode and most of that anger is directed at Mike, the wealthy rehab owner whose tree fell on my car and took out Phyllis’ power lines. She is also upset with the Guard for putting the debris on her property when they cleared the alley. I like Phyllis, and it’s quite entertaining to hear her string inventive expletives together with random references to Katrina, the values of community and the evils of gentrification. She’s angry and expressive enough for all us. Our landlord Kathy says, “That Phyllis, she’s a pistol.”

I haven’t felt the need to feel other than lucky to have dodged a bullet on my van’s near miss. As I was working to clear the alley of cut logs and other debris Phyllis kept trying to get me to stop. She wanted Mike or the city to clear the mess. I told her I was just grateful to have a job I could do after being relatively – and literally – powerless for two days. Besides, the Ameren guys didn’t have to cut up the tree for us, we didn’t have to help fill their water buckets with gator aid. Nobody has to do anything extra, but then where would we be?

Ed lives on the other side of Phyllis. He has the waddling walk of a man whose hips are going and his face is peeling from a rosacea that reminds one of tropical sunburn. He is a retiree of some local note as he is one of the few people to have worked in all three baseball stadiums. The media and his employers have been using him as a human interest story to provide a sense of continuity in the face of so much change. He’s not to sure about the structural integrity of the new stadium and isn’t afraid to be quoted to that affect, cutting against his pawn status in the grander schemes of the stadium-reset set. He is a good man, both charming and sincere who was on the phone to Jefferson City, the Senior Citizen’s Bureau and the local Alderman in the quest to get our power restored. We came back up relatively quickly and I think Ed might have been part of that. Even if he wasn’t, I’d like to think that he was, because a man like Ed should have some influence.

I had started to write about the travails of our travels yesterday, but other travails prevailed. Our traveling trouble began with the basics of transit. It took awhile for us to get to the highway because most of the signal lights in our part of town are offline. Imagine trying to get around in a major city where every intersection has suddenly become a four way stop. These aren’t country roads such that right-of-way is clear. These are two to three lanes headed in each direction with additional turning lanes in the middle. It adds a few minutes to your commute.

We actually took the trip because we were having a building inspector fine-tooth the property in H. We have a contract on the house and we wanted to be there for the inspection so we could ask questions and be sure we knew where potential problem areas were. Of course there are potential problems everywhere. We knew that going in. Despite the fact that we do really like the place, we are close to walking away from the deal. The sellers will either need to do some major repairs or they will need to drop the price substantially. I’m not sure that they will want to do either, but that’s why they call it a negotiation. All we can do is offer a price that we feel is fair for the hassles that might await us.

Our real enemy is time, in that I start work in nine days. Without a home in H I am looking at a three hour round-trip commute. I also have a final test I need to take for my certification, so there’s a sword of Damocles in the mix. I have these Netflix movies sitting around that I don’t have time to watch. They are a tangible reminder of the wedding planning, certification and home buying to-do tasks that are nibbling on the edges of my sanity. We got the tuxes ordered on Friday and also expanded our registry list so we are making progress. Our menu tasting at Bevo was scheduled for this morning, but they don’t have power. I suppose we could go try cake.

What we’re lacking is a good set of alternative options in H. I might have to go up again this week and find us some fallbacks.


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