this morning i did some final cleaning before my new roommate (henceforth known as LJ) arrives later in the afternoon. my father dropped by before his doctor's appointment to pick up my old roommate's belongings. other than stealing a moment to take a shower and eat some lunch (oatmeal), there wasn't a moment where i wasn't cleaning. i even scrubbed down the front steps (caked in dirt and pollen). my thermos raya bottles came today (i just can't get enough of insulated containers) and my parents came to pick theirs up on their way to chinatown. at 2:00 i had a conference call with client N (project PC begins).
at 4:00 i received a phone call from LJ. she was in harvard square and couldn't figure out how to get to my house and asked if i could come pick her up. i told her it'd take me 15 minutes. when i got there, i didn't see her anywhere, despite being on the lookout for a conspicuous blue suitcase. i circled the station twice, both inside and outside, and went to every exit point, and still couldn't find her. i tried calling but she had a chinese number so it didn't go through. i decided to wait, figuring she'd have to call me back eventually when she didn't see me.
when she finally did call back, i asked her to describe some landmarks. she said she was standing across the street from a CVS. there was a CVS in harvard square but it wasn't exactly across the street from the station. then it hit me: she was actually in porter square. apparently "porter" and "harvard" sounds similar in her thick chinese english. i just assumed she'd be in harvard square because that was the station i told her to get off at when i send her e-mail directions to my house. after letting out a frustrated sigh, i walked to porter square from harvard square, a distance of 25 minutes.
when i got to porter square i saw LJ right away since she was the only confused looking asian with a blue suitcase standing outside the station. she kind of looked like a chinese bag lady, with her layers of clothes and careless disregard for fashion. turns out she went to porter square on the advice of my former roommate, who told her it was closer (he failed to mention that it's also harder to get to my place from porter). i walked her back to my place, making sure to point out key landmarks, but i don't think she was paying attention. she had the awkward social graces of a stereotypical astrophysicist; maybe a little more social than my previous roommate, but still introverted enough that i ended up asking all the questions.
it was almost 5:30 by the time we got home. i made a point to take off my shoes; LJ didn't catch my cue and walked her dirty shoes inside the house. i showed her to her room. to her credit, she immediately paid her rent, all 2 months, and asked for a receipt so she could get reimbursed when she returned home. she also gave me two cans of tea that an tao - my roommate from a long time ago and who's also her co-worker back in china - asked her to give me. after giving her a brief tour of the house, i left her alone while i was out in the backyard working on my bikes.
i put back together the jetter, which was essentially putting the tires back on the wheels. i got a chance to use my new stainless steel bike levers to push in a stubborn tire rim. that bike's a mess, it'll probably never ride, wheels still rubbing against the brake pads, better to strip it for parts. i tried swapping the pedals from the jetter to the schwinn, but they were actually 2 different sizes (1/2" for the schwinn, 9/16" for the jetter). after storing the jetter in the basement, i took out the schwinn for a test ride. the bigger wheels and taller seat makes it feel faster than it really is. the stem shifters work but are a little tight (maybe some triflow oil could fix it?). definitely utilitarian, and the amount of rust on the chrome parts and scratched paint on the frame means a simple combo cable lock is all that's needed to keep it from getting stolen from the most desperate of bike thieves. i'll lend the schwinn to LJ if she wants to ride it; with her sneakers she's a bit taller than me so this bike should fit her well.
i noticed LJ had already figure out how to get online. around 6:30 she decided she wanted to go out and explore. i gave her a map of cambridge/somerville and showed her where her workplace was. "that's far," she said. she asked if the neighborhood was safe. "do you plan on making a habit of walking the streets late at night?" i asked her. i gave her a key to the house and showed her how to work the lock, which she had a hard time figuring out. at one point she was outside and i was inside instructing her what to do, when she suddenly pushed open the door and hit me in the head.
LJ returned around 8:30, getting close to dusk. she went shopping at the local supermarket and bought a week's supply of yogurt. starting with this roommate i forbid her from doing any wok cooking. fortunately she isn't much of a cook, since she works on at a university campus back at home and buys food from the cafeteria. i warned her against scratching up my pots and pans and told her to use wooden utensils.
i didn't see her the rest of the evening. like many chinese astrophysicists, she preferred keeping to herself, which i'm fine with. i even heard her having a few skype conversations with people back at home. she took a shower later in the evening (what a relief! a roommate who washes!) and went to bed sometime after 10:00.