#604 – Been a While, Hasn’t It?

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So hey there, how are you doing? Been a while, hasn’t it? I have over two months to catch you up on, and that has been a hectic time. My apologies for disappearing, but there have been reasons.

The last time I wrote to you, I was just getting ready to start the spring semester with 14 credit hours and was preparing to move. There have been a lot of things going on, so I’m going to split this up into categories instead of trying to remember the last two months chronologically.

School: Fourteen credit hours is a lot to take on at once, and with two pre-requisites and two co-requisites on my schedule – and a target of applying to my program a year from now with at least a 3.5 GPA – performing well is very important. I’m taking anatomy and physiology I and applied physics (both pre-requisites) as well as English composition I and something called Effective Learning (both co-requisites), and none of these are really easy courses. I’ve been worried about my performance, especially since I’ve missed at least two class sessions in all four classes thanks to various illnesses, and my reading is falling further and further behind. However, here at roughly the halfway point of the semester I’ve got a high B, in A&P, and As everywhere else. That’s on target for my goal GPA – now if I can just maintain this for about eight more weeks, and hopefully bring that B up to an A, I’ll be very happy indeed.

Home: We’re moved! On moving day we’d not packed up even half the apartment when folks started coming around about 9:00 am, so we knew we were in for a long day. However, we had a lot of friends that came to help us, and by noon we had packed everything up and gotten the vast majority of our stuff down to the truck and assorted vehicles, ready to take it to our new apartment. By 4:00 pm everything we’d brought over in the first wave was either inside the apartment or on our patio. All the furniture was in place and my wonderful mother-in-law had almost completely unpacked our kitchen. That left only a few things to do on the second day we’d set aside for the move, and it seemed like in the blink of an eye our environment had transformed. We had moved from a 34-year-old 2/2 apartment in a less-than-ideal part of town to a ten-year-old gated community in one of the nicest places in town as well as a freshly renovated unit. We moved in about two months ago, and even though we’ve still got some stuff in boxes it still feels a little like us moving into a resort. And then the bills came in. We are estimating that our rent and water bills would be comparable between the two apartments – but our rent includes a surcharge for a reserved covered parking spot, something that wasn’t even offered at the old apartment, so, all in all, we’re paying less here than we would have been at the old place. Our water bill is half of what it was, as is our electric bill, and our internet bill is cheaper for service faster than we had by an order of magnitude. Even our car insurance has gone down. The only expense that’s gone up is our monthly fuel bill – my wife’s commute has doubled in length and four days out of five that trip is being taken twice to allow me to have the car for class.

Health: My anxiety has been doing very well given the added stress of a heavy course load, and only in recent weeks has my anxiety been really elevated. (More on that in a minute.) My blood sugar has been slowly rising, and this morning I recorded the highest glucose reading I’ve had since my diabetes has been controlled, so I’ll be going to the doctor soon to talk about that. Good thing too – my blood pressure has been on the rise as well, although part of that is likely due to school stress.

Family: I got a call from Mom one day a few weeks ago with her telling me that she was in Dallas strolling around the thousand acres that she’d just bought, and wanted to know what kind of cars we wanted her to buy for us, and took special care to point out that she had a private plane on call to whisk us from Austin to her property in about an hour and a half. Since that point, my dad has apparently taken over $2000 out of her account and changed her banking password and disappeared with her car. She figured he’s gone for good and is talking with a divorce lawyer about what she needs to do to file. Fortunately, her brother and sister-in-law have been visiting on the weekends and keeping her company. Here’s the problem: Mom is in a skilled nursing facility in North Carolina and has been unable to walk for well over a decade. My father passed away in 1995, and both her brother and sister-in-law are also deceased. There’s no property in Dallas, there’s no money for his and hers cars, there’s certainly no private plane. My thought is that she has a chronic infection that’s been causing hallucinations for weeks, and despite the facility supposedly treating it her symptoms have not abated. If she were living in the past, then I’d be more concerned about dementia setting in, but this is all new stuff that she’s telling us, so it seems to be more hallucinatory than memory loss. The good news is that the ball has finally started rolling to make me a secondary medical power of attorney for her, which means that the facility will now start calling me, her actual son, when they need to advise us of treatments and progress in her conditions, as well as the family friend who’s local to her and who has been taking care of her for years – and who is her primary medical power of attorney due to his proximity to Mom.

Community: This is where the elevated anxiety comes in. It is not internal. I live in Austin, which has until earlier this week been dealing with a domestic terrorist that planted seven bombs in town, six of which detonated with two fatalities and several more serious injuries. The suspect had started to change up his level of sophistication as well as his delivery method, with one bomb exploding in a FedEx facility south of town, which had the whole of Austin on edge. That fear was almost palpable in the 48 hours leading up to police catching up to their primary suspect, only to have him die in a self-triggered explosion early Wednesday morning. The whole thing hit home with me on several fronts. A friend of mine lives just a couple miles from the sites of multiple explosions and was seriously considering keeping her kids home from school until the perpetrator was caught. Another friend of mine was told by police to stay in her apartment while they investigated a suspicious package left at the high school next door to her. One of the explosions was just a few doors down from a fellow physics student and she was being told to stay indoors until the all-clear had been given – she’d gone so far as to write our professor and tell him she’d likely miss class that day.

So that’s pretty much been my last two months. My schedule has been hectic and a lot of things I used to do on a daily basis have fallen by the wayside since the semester started. I mentioned this to my therapist a couple days ago and she brought up the excellent point that the important things, the medical reasons that I started keeping a daily checklist in the first place, are all being done more or less without fail, so I shouldn’t worry so much about keeping up with everything. She’d also like me to write more often, so I’m going to try my best to get back to at least a couple times a week. On that note, I’ll be around again in a few days with a shorter post.

 

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#601 – What a Lovely Day

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Today was a fantastic day. I got to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite people, and when I picked my wife up from work found out that she had an even better day after a conversation with her supervisor.

The evening’s been spent lying in bed and goofing off on the computer. I’ll enjoy this little bit of respite. We’re going to be packing tomorrow night for a flight to Orlando Saturday morning to spend time with my wife’s family for New Year’s. Once we get back, the packing and preparation for our move is going to start in earnest, and it won’t be many days before I’ll be back in school.

Gotta enjoy the downtime while I can. There’s not a lot of it on the horizon.

#588 – It’s Official!

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We have an apartment to move into come January!

We went this afternoon to go sign paperwork and drop off the check for all our move-in expenses. Pretty much the only thing left for us to do to make the apartment ours is to pick up the keys and the gate remotes on the 26th.

I’m very excited about this move, although I’m not pleased with the time frame. The spring semester will have just started, and I am liable to be up to my neck in studying and homework at that point. It means I likely won’t be able to help much during the actual move dates and will probably have to go to a coffee shop someplace to study while everyone’s lugging furniture back and forth. I hate it, I really do, but given the difficulties I had with getting behind in the fall semester, I’ve got to make school my absolutely highest priority.

Speaking of school, I got my final grade in biology fundamentals – 95% for a solid A. I’m pleased with that. I just wish that my algebra grades were going to be so high. I’ll be lucky to pass that course with a C, most likely.

Still trying to get the hang of writing daily again. I’m sure it will come back to me soon.

#585 – Luck, Both Good and Bad

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First, let’s get the bad luck out of the way, because it’s not that much fun to talk about. I had an algebra test last Thursday and I did abysmally on it. Like, might have dropped my average two whole grades bad. I still don’t have a score, but it will not be high. I also did not, on purpose, turn in a homework assignment today. I’ve had this assignment for about a month and like an idiot I waited until the last minute to try and get it done, and doing that drastically affected my test score. Based on that, I opted to cut my losses and start in on the semester’s fourth homework assignment, to be sure I’m doing the work pretty much as we cover the material in class.

That botched test is 21% of my final grade, as are all four tests for the semester, for a total of 84%. We’ll drop the lowest two quiz scores for the semester and average what’s left for 12% of my final grade. That means the four homework assignments will be averaged to give me the remaining 4% of my final grade, so in the broad scheme of things, taking a zero on today’s assignment won’t affect my final score that much.

There’s a backup plan for the poor performance on the test, too. There will be a comprehensive final exam given the last day of class, and that score, should it be higher than my lowest test score, will replace that score in the computation of my final grade. I received a 94 and a 95 on my first two tests, so the chances that my final grade will be better than what I turned in on Thursday is very high. I just need to spend some time in the learning lab between now and then to catch up on the concepts that I’m missing from the third test. Hopefully, that final will be good enough to get me back up to an A for the course.

Okay, on to the good news. We’re moving!

Those of you that regularly follow my blog know that the place that my wife and I live now is an older apartment on a boiler system, with pipes that regularly fail, leaving the complex without water for hours. The complex was built in 1983, so it’s seen better days.

While the condition of our current apartment is enough to warrant moving at the end of our current lease, the real impetus is to get me in-district for Austin Community College to drop the price of a three credit hour course from over a thousand dollars to below three hundred.

On Saturday we looked at one apartment and fell in love with it, so much so that we asked for an application on the spot and dropped it and the deposit off yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon we received word that we were approved for the unit, but that a move-in date would be dependent on when the apartment would be ready. Today we got that confirmed, and we’ll be picking up the keys on Friday, January 26.

But here’s the really cool part of this. The new complex was built in 2008, and is currently undergoing renovations. The unit that we’re getting is not currently renovated, but will be so before the move-in, making us the first occupants of the newly renovated unit.

The new place is on the first floor, a very welcome change from the second floor apartment we’re currently in. My wife has chronic back pain and the stairs have been aggravating that for years. There are at least a couple of handicapped spots right by the walkway our front door is in, in case she needs it after a rough day.

The complex is extremely nice. It’s a gated community, and there’s a 24-hour fitness center, a gorgeous pool, a rec center with TVs and a pool table and even a Starbucks-branded coffee bar, a cyber cafe, a dog park, and a gift wrap station. It’s nestled in a quiet community that’s close to everything – the closest H-E-B (that’s the local grocery store chain here in central Texas, and it’s hands down the best store we’ve ever had) is within walking distance and doesn’t require even getting on a main road, and there’s a medical center right beside that. If I could get in there after I get my degree, it would be amazing to be that close to work. The apartment is less than five minutes away from the ACC campus my degree program is taught at.

We knew we were going to have to downsize when we started looking, so the move from a two bedroom, two bath unit to a one bedroom, one bath was expected. That’s pretty much the downside to the place. There are hardwood floors everywhere but the bedroom, a washer and dryer included in a laundry room large enough to hold both the washer and dryer and our small chest freezer, a garden tub, a security system, ceiling fans in the living room and dining room, a sizable patio with additional storage off of that, a good size coat closet, a nicely sized walk-in closet off the bedroom, and built-in shelves between the bedroom and bathroom, plus valet garbage service. And then there’s the kitchen.

The renovated kitchen will have all-new granite counter-tops, an all-new tile back-splash, all-new stainless steel appliances (including a full-size refrigerator, a built-in microwave, a glass-top stove for easy cleaning, and a fantastic dishwasher) a pretty big pantry, and a new sink with garbage disposal and fixtures including a retractable hose. It is the largest kitchen I have ever seen outside of a single-family home.

We’re also taking advantage of a move-in special that cuts our application costs somewhat and shaves our first three full months of rent in half. So really, the only two downsides that I can think of are that we’re moving to a 1/1, and that the kitchen sink isn’t double-sided. That’s it. Everything else in the place is a plus.

We got so lucky with this place.

We’re already trying to determine what’s going where, and what we need to get for the new place, and starting to think about what needs to go to our off-site storage facility.

There is one more downside that I can think of, but it would be a downside regardless of where we moved to – this move is taking place the second weekend of the spring semester. My ability to help with the move is entirely dependent on what my course load is going to be like at that time. That can’t be helped, though, so we’re going to have to be extra nice to the folks that come help us with the move.

We’re both so excited about this move, and I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.

Quickie Report

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Today was pretty low key. I helped a friend move this morning and early afternoon. It’d been a long time since I’d done that, and I definitely needed the exercise.

I was also on the air for the first time in almost a month tonight. It felt good to broadcast again. Once again, we’re not doing our Saturday show because we’re planning on attending an SCA event this weekend, but hopefully next week we can get back on the air.

I’m exhausted tonight, so I think I’m going to make this short and sweet and hopefully have more to report tomorrow.