Monday, December 10, 2007

Busy Weekend and Update on Us!

So, I apologize that I haven't written in awhile. I am a terrible blogger. I update it excitedly for a month and then just stop writing... blah. But I have good reasons, I promise! So to those who are interested, yes I finished my 50,000 words last month (that's 100,000 words in 2 months for those of you keeping track). I didn't finish the book, though. And, since it's my life story, the content is rather important to me, so I plan to finish it either while I'm on vacation or in March as another NaNoWriMo challenge. I think I can finish it in 30,000 words, so I'll be challenging myself to write that many more words in about 3 weeks or something that equals out to be about 1,600 words a day (the NaNoWriMo amount).

As for us, well, we have quite a busy time until we leave for Indiana this Saturday, December 15. Here is our itinerary in case you wanted to know: We are flying into Indianapolis around 4pm, where we will then be picked up by my in-laws. They will then drive us to Lafayette, where we will stay the night. We will most likely meet up with my parents for dinner and I might meet up with a Grad School friend who still lives in the area. The next day is my brother's graduation. We will check out of the hotel, attend the graduation, have another dinner with all of my family and then the Kirk's will drive us to Muncie. We will stay in Muncie until the 23rd. There will be a huge party for Christmas (we hosted it a couple years when we lived there) on the 22nd. Everyone we know is changing their schedules to be there. Then we leave on the 23rd for Atlanta, GA. We are renting a car to drive down there and then should get there that evening. We will stay there until Jan 1, when we fly back to San Jose.

Whew! With all that in mind, I have some serious packing to do. So, this weekend I spent packing, getting last minute things and all that. I have a really big project at work that culminates on Friday. People in my position doing similar projects have been at work until 9, 10, or later at night on the two days preceding the culmination point. On the day of, they stay, typically to 7 or later. That's what I can expect until I leave. Thus, why I'm packing now.

To throw another crazy item into the mix, our lease ends in January and since we picked a teeny tiny place to live in until we could find something better, I'm itching to move to a bigger one as soon as possible. So the other half of the weekend, I spent apartment hunting. I have to say that it is REALLY hard to find a place around here. I'm told of horror stories of what it was like to find a place in 2000 during the dot com boom. That people would line up with suits on like it was a job interview simply to find a place, paying money down above and beyond what the landlord was asking for, just to get in. I can't even imagine that and I'm thankful it's not that bad, but it seems like it's getting there.

Since people have been getting forclosed on and, I'm sure, no place worse than here. It makes an already competitive renting environment worse. It's really hard to, first, find a place that takes pets. Most of the time, only the larger managed companies (and consequently more expensive) take pets. But I want to live in a cheaper, privately managed place. A small one that's maybe a little older, but where people know you and you don't feel like a number.

Not that it matters, as long as the price is right. We want a 2 bedroom apartment and right now it is difficult to find one for less than $1700. That's right. $1700/month. About 7 months ago when we found our current apartment, I could have sword the same places were going for $1500, but the market has gotten significantly more competitive in the last 7 months. To make it worse, you shouldn't even waste your time walking in to apartment complexes in the areas you want to live because prices vary so much (up to $3000 for 2 bedrooms) and hardly anyone takes cats, and, worst of all, usually only 1 apartment is open per month, at BEST! That means, if you find a place you like, you better hope and pray that they have one available. And, if you are lucky enough to find one that is available, you better put your deposit down RIGHT AWAY or else you have no chance of getting it. None. They go that fast. Doesn't matter if it's one month, two months, or more in advance, you'd better put that money down.

Not that anyone actually has the foresight of more than one month. Since apartments are only available as people give notice, most of the time, they only know 30 days in advance if they have one available.

So, I spent all week (and the week before, but it was still too early) collecting Craigslist ads, mapping them, looking through apartments for rent books and ripping out pages. I called, I emailed, and finally I had a list of 5 apartments that were barely in our price range, maybe with the amenities we wanted, with and without exorbitant pet rent, but that had availability in January or February. Most of them were pushing $1700, when we wanted to stay under $1600. I looked last month and found a whole bunch of them. Now, there are hardly any. I also decided we wanted to move to the communities of Sunnyvale or Mountain View. Both have cute little downtowns, have lots of shops and groceries and other things we need. They don't have too much traffic and are close to work. Unfortuantely, Mountain View is an extremely desireable area, so rent is very high for what you get. So I was trying to find a place between the two, or in Sunnyvale, but right on the border. The most important thing for me was being able to walk to one or both of the cute little downtown areas as well as having a second bedroom. For Aaron, it was a fitness center or being close to work.

He said, if the apartment didn't have a fitness center, it should be close to a gym and, of course, the cost of the apartment should offset the cost of a gym membership. So... after all that and all my looking, I think I found an apartment!

It's a 2 bedroom 1 bath in Mountain View. The community is small and privately owned. It's a little older, but it has a gorgeous courtyard and just a really fun, cute vintage feel to it. I really liked it right away. The place is incredibly spacious. There's a giant 15' by 9' master bedroom that might just fit all our giant furniture. There's a large living room, decent sized kitchen (big enough to add an island in the middle), and a dining room. Even better, there are lots of windows. The apartment I looked at is available now, but one is coming available in January or February, which is perfect for us. The one we looked at this weekend is on the second floor and overlooks a parking lot. But the one coming available is on the third floor and has a mountain view! Imagine that! A mountain view in Mountain View! Spectacular! The view is of this mountain by the way (but not the downtown area):

The best, most awesome thing about this apartment is that it is $1450 a month. If we renewed our lease at our current teeny tiny one bedroom apartment it would cost the same. A gym is only .7 miles away and a membership for Aaron and I is only $100/month, making our total "rent" $1550 a month. Plus there's a pool. I looked at a comprable unit in the area right after. It was again a small, privately managed community and it was definintely cheaper than most at $1595, but it had no fitness center nor a pool, so we really, really lucked out on this one.

The only problem, and the one partially stunting my excitement is that it's slightly farther away from work than we wanted. It's maybe 15 minutes without any traffic at all. But, with traffic, it could be as much as 1/2 hour or 45 minutes. Aaron is not so excited about that. Since we work together, though, we could carpool and drive in the carpool lane, so maybe it won't be so bad... but he's not yet convinced. Hopefully he'll get on board or I will magically find a place just as cheap and closer to work. In the meantime, we are going to turn in our application and everything. That will buy us a couple days to make up our minds...

Just after that, I bought some yarn for the trip. I got Cascade Pastaza for a new black cardigan for myself! It will be my trip sweater! I will make it while on vacation! YAY! It's 50% llama and 50% wool. This yarn:

This color:

I'm going to make this sweater (which calls for this yarn), but I'm going to turn it into a cardigan. Really, I'm not going to do much that looks like this, but I wanted to use a pattern that I knew uses the same yarn:

After that, we went to a Christmas party. It was pretty fun. I gorged myself on all kinds of cookies and random snacks.

Then, yesterday, we went to church, met with the lady and her sons that will take care of our cat while we are gone. Then we went on a 15 mile bike ride, I wrapped presents, started packing, then we went to the library to return stuff before our trip and then the mall to buy and return some last-minute items which was, by the way, a complete and total nightmare. It took me about 1/2 hour to return an item to Old Navy and 45 more minutes to purchase 2 things from Game Stop. Argh!

Then we came home and I made Christmas dinner and Aaron and I opened our presents. Then I finished packing, finished some knitted gifts and collapsed in sheer exhaustion. But it was fun. LOTS of fun!!! I got some awesome Christmas stuff and so did Aaron. :-)

Merry Christmas all!