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Protected: The doorstop of defiance

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Airline Valentine

Dear Porter Airways,

I am sitting in the airport and right now, I kind of hate you. Why? Because you have spoiled me for all other airlines.

You see, the flight I am waiting to board is not a Porter flight.  The flight attendant who checked my bag charged me for it — the nerve!  In this airport “lounge” there are no complimentary snacks, no water or coffee set out for me, and no comfortable chairs.  In about fifteen minutes I will board a plane with so little leg room that I, a slim 5’4 woman, will feel cramped and claustrophobic.  On that flight, there will be no free wine or beer, no Terra veggie chips, no lightly seasoned roasted almonds.  They will likely offer me a bag of neon orange “jungle mix” instead, which I will return to the flight attendant unopened.

I will endure this farce with all the stoicism and dignity I possess.  In another not-so-long-ago time, I would not have known that flying could be any other way.  But after flying Porter, an airline that treats me not just like a human being but like a valued customer, I am finding it terribly difficult to return to my life as a detested lump of cargo on every other airline.

In closing, dear Porter Airways, please, please, please, expand to every airport everywhere as soon as humanly possible.

Love, Petite Chablis

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For the uninitiated: Porter Airways is a small airline with a hub in Toronto’s Billy Bishop International Airport.  They fly to a handful of destinations; fortunately for me, one of those destinations is Boston.  And yes, they really don’t charge you for bags.  And yes, they have an airport lounge with snacks at Billy Bishop.  And yes, they give you free wine and beer.

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So, as you may have heard, after much toil and trouble and lots of anxious tears,* I have a lease on a new apartment.  And it is so very pretty, y’all.  Lovely hardwood floors, great view, granite countertops in the kitchen, and did I mention the hardwood floors?

The problem with that is that I have no furniture.  Well, to be fair, I have furniture.  But most of it lives in Boston.  I got by this year because my basement apartment was partially furnished, but I’m going to need to acquire some more stuff.  Here is (no lie) the complete list of the furniture I will bring with me to the new apartment.

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It’s over!!

I’ve been afraid to post because I thought I would jinx it, but the lease is signed, so now I can officially announce that we have a new apartment!!!!!

Econo Man and I spent an absolutely exhausting Monday looking at tons of apartments.  We woke up Tuesday morning ready to sign a lease on the only one we’d actively liked … but then I checked Craigslist and a new ad had just gone up, for a place that had a shorter commute to my work AND was $150 cheaper per month.  We arranged to see it that night and I spent Tuesday fretting that I might have cost us our chance at the one apartment we’d actually been excited about. (Turnover in the Toronto market is insanely fast.)

But the gamble paid off.  The new apartment is darn near perfect — in fact, so great that I spent the rest of the week worrying that our background check wouldn’t go well and we wouldn’t get the apartment (despite our perfect credit and excellent references).  The new place has hardwood floors, a great view, an exercise room in the building, and it’s a 3-minute walk from both a subway stop that takes us downtown and a bus stop where I can catch a direct bus to the university where I work.  No more driving to work.  I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

I’m going to make the move to the new place in mid-August.  Next project: furnishing our new digs on the cheap.  Brace yourself for picture-heavy posts in August and September!!

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Back to the apartment hunt

It’s happening again. I am spending the last week of June searching for an apartment in Canada.

“But what happened to your old place?!,” you ask.  Well, nothing really.  My landlords are lovely, the location is convenient to work, and the price is still excellent.  It’s pretty much a perfect unit … when I’m there alone.

But when my husband is there, it’s just too small.  There’s no place for him to work comfortably; we’re always tripping over each other; and because there’s not much going on in my neighborhood besides horrible weather and the local falafel joint, we get a little stir-crazy at the end of a week together in that place.

If we were going to continue exchanging weekends, I wouldn’t move — it works well enough when he’s only there for 3-4 days at a time.  But my husband will be on leave for part of next year (which means we get to live together full time — YAY!).  We need a bigger place, one where we can both have a desk.

In a lot of ways the hunt is easier this time around.  We’ve narrowed the neighborhood search down to 2 neighborhoods that have good transit connections and lots of affordable buildings.  No more driving all over Toronto because I have no idea where I might want to live.

But since we’re looking to move to someplace a bit bigger (and, uh, above ground), instead of dealing with kindly grandparents looking to rent out the basement unit, we’re dealing with brokers and property managers who oversee dozens of apartments.  And I cannot get these people to return my e-mails!  I’ve filled out so many forms that promise someone will get back to me within 2 business days, only to hear nothing for weeks; I’ve sent off e-mails in response to ads on Kijiji and Craigslist that never get a response, including ads that say “I am a broker who would love to find you the perfect rental apartment!”

This feels bizarre.  In the US, if you even give a whiff of a hint of being interested in a property you can’t get the brokers to leave you alone.  In Canada I feel like a potential tenant is roughly as popular as a debt collector.  What am I doing wrong?!

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Moving to Canada has been … a mixed experience. My husband likes to say that Canada is just different enough to be annoying (see: immigration procedures, international taxes, favorite US items missing from the grocery store) but not quite different enough to be interesting.*

But Canada does have its fun perks.  Either a very bad or a very good thing happened about a week ago.  I discovered Canadian reality TV. Specifically, Canadian home-improvement-themed reality TV.  I. Am. Addicted.

There are two shows that are now appointment TV for me.  The first is called “Love it or List It,” which finds families who are considering moving to a new house.  The show brings in a home renovation specialist named Hilary and a real estate agent named David.  Hilary works with a budget provided by the family to renovate their house and fix the things they don’t like about it; David searches for a new house that already has the family’s wish list built in.  In the end, the family decides to either stay in their old house (“love it”) or move (“list it”).

The second show, and my favorite, is called “Property Brothers.”

The Property Brothers, Drew and Jon Scott. Image from IMDb.com

The Property Brothers work with couples and families who are house-hunting and finding that their budgets don’t quite stretch to cover their entire house wish list.  The Brothers find slightly shabby or outdated houses and then renovate them, giving families great homes within their house-hunting budgets.

I am not quite sure why this particular genre of TV appeals to me right now.  I think part of it is the wholesome optimism of the shows — fundamentally, they are about nice people creating homes for themselves.  I find the lockstep formula that governs the shows weirdly comforting; you meet the family, there are setbacks along the way with the renovations, there are some fake-ish squabbles, but everything turns out OK in the end.  I also like seeing the end result of the renovations.  Econo Man and I aren’t actively house-hunting, but we are at a stage in our lives where we’re thinking about what kind of home we might like, and I’m fascinated by the possibilities that open up when you knock out a useless wall or update kitchen cabinets and appliances.

What are your television guilty pleasures?

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* I suspect that Canadians feel much the same way about living in the US. Also, having visited Montreal, I think I would feel very differently had I moved to Quebec.

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Making the transition from writing my dissertation to having a real job has been tougher than I anticipated.  For the past year or so, my workdays involved me sitting at home in my pajama pants, frantically writing and footnoting, with occasional forays out into the world for conferences and seminars.

Now I have an office, and a course to teach, and project meetings.  I put on real pants every day.  That part is … actually kind of nice.

I’m having more trouble adjusting to working with other people and with being the new kid on my project.  I’m extremely introverted, and while I enjoy meeting and talking to people, I also find it exhausting.  Especially when they start quizzing me about my background and my life.

Now, I’m perfectly happy to answer questions like “what was your dissertation about?” and “what are you teaching?” and “who was your advisor at GSU?” But there are a few recurring questions that I find uncomfortable, and I haven’t figured out how to deflect them without seeming rude or unfriendly.  I really wish people would stop asking me:

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