The end of October marked our two-month anniversary of moving to Johnstown, and since my last update, we had the pleasure (and sometimes displeasure) of experiencing a few things completely foreign to us.
1. Becoming a resident
Pennsylvania was not nearly as excited to have me as a resident as I thought it should be. Okay, it wasn’t anything against me personally; they just like to make sure you’re not a terrorist before giving you a permanent license. If you *are* a terrorist, though, you’ll be happy to know that you can get a temporary license and reap all the benefits of a PA resident for 15 days. Don’t we all feel safer now?
The temp license makes you feel like you’re underage all over again. They stamp a red “TEMPORARY” across your license so that everyone knows you haven’t been cleared yet.
And then there’s the issue of trying to register your car. There are no DMVs, nor are there tag offices like there are in FL. To get your license, you go to the licensing office. Make sense. But to get your registration, you have to go to AAA. On your *first* trip to AAA, you have to apply (and pay to apply) for a copy of your title (unless you own your car outright) and get a form on which a mechanic must verify your VIN. On your second trip, which is hopefully your last (it wasn’t for Allan; in fact, he’s still waiting for his registration), you get to spend at least an hour watching them complete forms, for which you, of course, have to pay. If you’re lucky, there are no complications and you get your license plate. But don’t get too excited! You’re not allowed to put it on your car until your vehicle is inspected. Once your car has passed its inspection and emissions test, *then* your friendly mechanic will put your new, shiny PA tag on your car. Now when I accidentally make a left turn where I’m not supposed to, I can’t use the old, “I just moved from FL” excuse. Boo.
2. Staying warm
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I became a whiny baby about the cold as soon as we flipped the calendar to October. After deciding that I do not like wearing long johns under my jeans, I convinced the cheap landlord in me to turn on the heat.
Lesson #1: Furnaces, no matter how new (ours was installed right before we moved in), make a lot of clunking and clacking. It took several days before the furnace turned on without my thinking a pipe was bursting, something was combusting, or an animal – human or otherwise – was attempting to break into the house.
Lesson #2: Radiators need to be bled. This requires a) knowing what that means and b) knowing what to do with a radiator key. Lucky for us, people just as clueless as we were admitted their ignorance online from which we (and our frozen extremities) greatly benefited.
Lesson #3: Merely closing an old crank window will not suffice. Unless you latch the windows, cold air will still seep in and heated air will attempt to warm the neighborhood. Begin scene: Allan standing in the bushes, using the handle of a broom to push against the windows while I attempt to push down the latches at exactly the right moment so that they catch the panes. I wonder what the neighbors must have thought. Moral of the story: the windows will be replaced before the next winter.
Lesson #4: Turning the air conditioning window unit to the “off” position does not prevent cold air from being drafted through the vent. One must close the vent.
And if you cannot find the window pane to replace the unit like desired, you should try to seal around it. I guess a lot of people lose their window panes in between summer and winter because Walmart sure does sell a lot of sealant.
3. Buying beer, wine, and spirits
Days of one-stop shopping are gone. Alcohol is not sold in grocery or convenient stores. Not very convenient.
Wine and spirits are sold in State Stores. Beer is sold in “Beer and Pop” shops. Seriously. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. The catch, though, is that you can only buy beer in cases of 24 from these stores. If you want a six-pack you have to find a pizza shop or bar that sells them from their cooler. It kind of feels like you’re trying to buy beer on the black market when you go in search for a six-pack. Oh, and don’t even bother trying to find cold beer.
If all the policies are in place to prevent people from abusing alcohol, it’s not working. We have more reports of DUI in the newspaper than I ever saw in the home of the #1 party school.
4. Depositing money
So you understand the need to stay warm, the difference in liquor laws, and the lack of DMVs, but what, you ask, could possibly be different about making deposits at the bank? Well, if you want to do it after hours, you can’t. The ATMs here will allow you to withdraw money but not deposit it. Okay, so it’s admittedly not *that* big a deal, but it is pretty annoying when a check arrives after the bank closes on Saturday. Especially if Monday is a holiday. I’m just saying.
Here’s looking forward to a whole new set of challenges once the snow arrives…
(On another, unrelated note, several of you have asked to see pictures of what I’ve coined our “very Brady” house [aka 70s fabulous]. I’ll post some photos soon as long as you promise not to judge me for not having unpacked all of our boxes yet.)