Back in March, I announced that I’d accepted a spot in the PhD program for Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Much has happened since then, and so I thought now was time for a bit of catch-up.
First and foremost, I’ve found a place to live in Lawrence already: Park 25 Apartments, a little over two miles from the KU campus and where I’ll be teaching. It’s a one-bedroom apartment, about 750 square feet, in a nice part of town. My official move-in date is Saturday, August 10, 36 days from now (hence the countdown in the post title).
I’m very happy with where I’ll be living. I took a trip up to Lawrence with my parents on Memorial Day (May 27, for those not in the States) and spent the next day touring apartments that I’d researched online and inquired after by phone, narrowing down to facilities that fit my necessities and budget as nicely as possible. What impressed me the most about Lawrence while I was there was how green it was. Even though it’s a fairly big town (about 90,000 in population), it didn’t feel too densely packed; it has a nice sense of sprawl to it, and it’s surrounded by gorgeous nature trails, lakes, and parks. One of the best moments of the entire trip happened when we took our dogs out to one of the parks on the southwest end of the town to run around a bit and burn some energy. My border collie, Molly, brought back a giant felled limb longer than she was, which turned out to be a branch cut from an Osage Orange, a tree practically nonexistent in the Ozarks. So, even before returning to Lawrence this August, I have a personal memento to tie me there (and a good walking stick at that).
The apartment hunt was much more uneven in quality, and probably more interesting to talk about. I was aided in this by my parents. My mom is a financial wiz, and my dad is a master carpenter and contractor, so both of them can smell lemons from miles away. I thought it was important to get their impressions of apartments alongside my own because I trusted their experience with apartment shopping and property appraisal more than my own. Some of the apartments we saw, however, were blatantly bad enough that even I noticed it, with my relatively limited experience.
Here are some, ahem, highlights of the various apartment tours:
- Walking up to an apartment built into a hillside and noticing how the entire building is in fact curling away from it.
- Walking into an apartment bedroom and noticing at first that the sliding closet doors, covering the entire height and width of the wall, are slanted, and then realizing they’re in fact standing straight and the room itself is slanted.
- The distinct smells encountered, including but not limited to mold, trash, and animal “leavings.”
- Having a leasing agent offhandedly refer to an adjoining neighborhood as “Drugville” and, when asked about building security, saying “You’ll have a deadbolt.”
- Being taken into not one, but two different apartments that turned out to be inhabited by outright hoarders or slobs (albeit with very charming pets). The inhabitant for one of them wished us luck getting to the bathroom, namely because it was at the end of a hallway blocked off by a waist-high snowdrift of dirty clothes.
In the end, though, it came down to two apartments which were the best by miles: Peppertree Apartments and Park 25. Both had good facilities, clean and well-constructed rooms, and affordable rent/utilities packages, and the people we interacted with at both facilities were pleasant, intelligent, and well-prepared. Even though I didn’t choose Peppertree, I was still very satisfied with the attention I received there and the quality of the apartments themselves, and I would recommend anyone moving to the Lawrence area to check them out.
I’m pretty comfortable with the actual move-in schedule as it stands. Moving in on August 10 gives me that weekend to unpack all my stuff (or most of it anyway), build/install furniture, and make the apartment into a home. That also gives me a whole week to just decompress and get to know the area before I start official KU business. Truthfully, I know that when the time comes the move will be stressful, despite my overall excitement for it. It’s a much needed change of scenery, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to feel really weird being on my own in a new land at first. So, it’ll be good to just have a week to relax and get to know people.
Sadly, because of the move I won’t get to go to ReaderCon this year; it would be hard to justify airfare and hotel reservations when I need to stockpile money for moving and apartment rent and services (I’m hoping to make it out of KU without student debt; I’ve pulled it off with all my other degrees so far). Hopefully once I get settled in and have a better idea of how far my money will need to go for various things, I’ll be able to set aside funds for going to conventions again. My big goal for next year is to make it to ICFA, since it’s a more academic conference on fantastical literature, and of course making it to ReaderCon for that go-round.
For now, though, I’m going to keep packing and cross my fingers. I’m hoping for a smooth relocation to Kansas, but I’m also hoping I don’t go nuts waiting for it. Thank goodness I’ve got Weirdfictionreview.com and other projects to keep me occupied in the meantime!