A Little Hole in the Wall Place

Ahhh, Saturday morning. I love weekends, especially when they start off with me sleeping in (or, me getting up at 5am, feeding the cats, and immediately going back to bed – those spoiled animals do NOT wait for their meals).

This past Saturday, I woke up around nine feeling incredibly refreshed. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sleep in like that and it was amazing. I got up and set about making a pitcher of iced tea for the weekend, thinking that it would be nice to have tea for the warm days. It’s been a minute since I’ve pulled out my iced tea maker, and I had to fish around in the pantry to find the tea bags. When I opened the cupboard, I found that there was water on the shelf. Not a lot, just enough for me to say, “Huh, there’s water in here” and look down at the floor to see if there was water anywhere else.

There was no water, but there were ants on the floor.

ANTS.

I have not had ants in my kitchen since moving to the Northwest and had (falsely, I now know) believed that ants don’t attempt to take up residence in kitchens around here. In California, they’d make their way in every summer, usually dining on cat food before drowning in the water bowl. I would wake up to a little trail of them going across my living room more often than I care to think about, and I got very good at being careful not to leave anything out that would attract the little bastards. Here in Edmonds, I never worried about it, and to be fair there wasn’t much around that ants would like besides the cats’ breakfast.

My zen totally shattered, I set about removing the ants from the kitchen by way of spraying everything down with Windex and then cleaning up the carnage. Sorry, creatures, we have enough freeloading animals in this house already – we have no room for more. I will not go out of my way to kill bugs and things when I’m outside, but they come in my kitchen and they’re toast.

Once I finished de-bugging my kitchen, I went about my day, forgetting about the water in the cabinet that started the whole debacle. Well, forgetting for a couple more hours anyway, until I heard something dripping in the kitchen. I went to investigate, and found water dripping out of the wall and down the pantry. Although it undeniably created an ambiance, water definitely should NOT have been cascading down my pantry door.

As much as I yearn to be a homeowner again, I cannot deny the luxury of calling property management as a renter when things in my home are broken. We are incredibly spoiled where we live, as our manager and maintenance are beyond kind and responsive whenever we need anything. As the developing situation in my kitchen was one of the more immediate problems we’ve had, maintenance was out within the hour to investigate.

The maintenance fellow was very nice and jumped right in to attempt to locate the source of the leak. He went upstairs to the apartment above ours and turned on the bathtub faucet, but couldn’t duplicate the problem (we did take a video of the dripping water when we noticed it, which came in very handy since by the time maintenance arrived, the leak had stopped for a time). Apologetically, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to have to cut open your wall.” Since I was not going to be paying for the creation or subsequent patching of said hole, I was not too concerned, and set to leaning on my counter and watching this unfold.

Adds a certain something to the decor, n’jes?

Once we had a good-sized hole in the wall, it was apparent that our pantry cabinet was totally waterlogged, and that there must have been a previous water leak in the pipe above the cabinet because there was putty that has now fallen away. The maintenance man was hopeful that the water we were experiencing in our kitchen had been trapped previously by the putty and that there was no current leak, but I was skeptical. After giving us instructions on what to do should water come gushing out of the newly-exposed pipes, our new friend left with the promise to follow up with our property manager.

Of course, on Sunday while we were sitting in the living room the pipe began leaking again, confirming our suspicions that the water from the day before was not from an old problem but from an existing one. We stuck a towel underneath to catch the water, knowing that nothing much more could be done until a plumber could be called on Monday. This morning I was assured that the problem would be fixed in a day or two, but I’m bracing myself to wait this one out for awhile until all repair efforts have been coordinated. In the meantime, I will be amusing myself by telling anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with me that my kitchen is just a “little hole in the wall place” and laughing at my own joke.

V Goes to College (Again)

This week is a big one for me, as I re-join the academic world as a full-time undergraduate student yet again. I’m no stranger to the full-time student/full-time employment combo, so it’s not new territory for me. I do remember how much work it is, but I’m ready for this new journey. Finishing my degree is something I’ve always wanted for myself, so here I go!

I dropped out of community college after only one full semester, and ultimately earned my Associate’s degree online while working full-time. It ended up being a good thing for me, because I was able to use my company’s tuition assistance program and graduated debt-free in 2010. Since then, I’ve stopped and started a few times as I worked toward my Bachelor’s degree. I tried University of Phoenix, but didn’t like the group-work format (why on earth an online school requires so much group collaboration is beyond me). After taking some time off I enrolled at Washington State University, only to find that it’s really difficult to be an online-only student at a school that is really designed for full-time students who can attend classes. At most, I was able to manage two classes at a time, and ultimately it just felt like I’d never graduate and I tabled the whole idea.

The idea of finishing my degree never really left my mind. Last year, after being with my current company for a year, I became eligible for their tuition assistance program. It would have probably been a good idea to jump back into school right away, but I was busy planning a wedding and taking classes was NOT in my plans. Now that the wedding is over, I feel like I can handle balancing work and school, and I’m ready to try yet again to finish college.

Since my real goal is to just be DONE already, I decided to enroll at Western Governor’s University. The courses are online, the classes are individual and completing them is based on a competency assessment, and there are no traditional class schedules. I can take as many courses as I’m able to per semester, and each semester’s tuition rate is flat – meaning that the more classes I complete, the less I pay (or my company pays) for school in the long run.

The enrollment process at WGU wasn’t a walk in the park, I admit. When I decided to move forward, I applied online and was accepted, but never heard anything further. I did some research online about next steps, and proactively ordered transcripts from my previous schools to be sent to WGU. I could see online that they’d been received, so when I still hadn’t been contacted I reached out and spoke with an enrollment counselor. Although he was very nice, he wasn’t a lot of help in the subsequent enrollment process; I did a lot of researching online until I figured out what I needed to do.

Financial aid is no picnic, either. In the past, I’ve always had company tuition assistance programs that issued Letters of Credit to the university I was attending, so I never had to pay. This time, the program is tuition reimbursement, so I have to pay upfront and then seek reimbursement after the semester ends and I pass my classes. Not wanting to drain my savings to pay upfront, I decided to apply for student loans, knowing that they will come due six months after I graduate and that I can simply use my tuition reimbursement money to pay them off. While this sounds simple enough, you can’t just apply for loans – you have to apply for financial aid first. I knew this was going to be a waste of time; my husband and I make far too much money for me to qualify for assistance. Still, the rules are the rules, so I filled out my required FAFSA and got my reply that I qualified for $0 assistance, then was finally able to move on and apply for my loans.

Once I got through all the admissions requirements, things got a lot easier. Yay! I was paired up with my Student Mentor, a former student who has successfully completed the program herself and who will check in with me weekly throughout this process. She got me set up with my orientation, and helped me with a road map for what my degree program is going to look like. She gave me a bit of an overview of what I could expect in the next year and a half (hopefully I can be done by then!). I completed the online orientation, and I’m all set to start my first class. Whew!

I really want to finish this time. Wish me luck!