25 March 2013


I had forgotten how completely, insanely, debilitatingly exhausting it is to start a new job. I forgot how quickly things look terribleterribleterrible when everything (save the streets) are new and I am no longer the experienced, competent one but the new person. I forgot how much worse everything is when I forget to eat.

But tomorrow I will be one day less new and things will be one day more familiar. I will remember to eat and drink.

24 March 2013

gone back

I ran frantically around my house this morning, packing and throwing the necessary items in my car. 

I wandered my old office this afternoon, feeling nostalgic. 

I stopped for my chai at my daily coffee place and sat in the window, savoring the moment.

Then I drove toward the highway, and as I took the on-ramp toward Gone West, I started laughing and beaming. 

I didn't even realize that I was excited to move back. These last few weeks, living in Universe City and trying to figure out a million little details, with no time to head up to Gone West even to look for a place to live (I haven't been up here since I took this job), I could think only of the list of things to do. I couldn't actually imagine being here. 

But suddenly, this afternoon, the whole thing became real. It happened again and again on the drive: I would break out in grins and sometimes in whoops. I was even more delighted when I took the exit to the street where my favorite tea place is. I could barely sit still in my seat.

I've been in Gone West for four hours now, and I have settled in at K.s' house and found a place to live, in exactly the area I want, with two girls who seem awesome, for less than I paid in Universe City. When I lived near there before, this was always the street I chose to walk down, because it is the prettiest. It also has the best name. (I have a horror of living on numbered streets. I don't like the ### ### format of living on street that has a number rather than a name.) This is a quintessential Gone West street, and I love it, and I can't stop smiling and dancing from one foot to another.

18 March 2013


My packing panic has been alleviated by a weekend of, well, packing. Things are coming together. 

The living room now contains a wall's worth of boxes and suitcases and bookshelves and filing cabinets, where I have moved them from the lower bedroom level. I gave away three bags of clothes and shoes. Another three bags of clothes and a box of miscellani are ready to go to St. Vinnie's. 

I have a plan of spending each evening this week going through at least half a box worth of papers. Tonight I have thrown out about an entire grocery bag worth of paper. (Speaking of which: does one need to keep EOBs? What about pay stubs? For how long?)

I threw one of my sets of sheets in the wash yesterday so that I could pack that set and put my favorite set on the bed.

Half an hour later, when I came out of my bedroom, there was water on my bathroom floor, which seemed odd. Heading toward the stairs, I saw, in that moment when you realize that it's all going wrong, that the carpet at the bottom of the stairs was soaked. 

Yup. It was what you think. 

I opened the door to the laundry room, and there was half an inch of water on the floor.

That is never a good thing.

My friend S. happened to be knocking at my door at almost exactly that moment to look through my clothes for tall girl things that might fit her, and she was an immense help. Between J. and S. and I, we wrung out enough towels to fill five buckets of water. 

The landlady told me to call the guy who fixes the place, and I did, and he came over with a shopvac and heaters and fans within half an hour.

The next time I went downstairs, the hall carpet was gone. 

Yeah, it's like that. We are now living in the sort of house where the white noise is almost too loud to be comfortable, what with all the fans, but it can't drown out the noise of footsteps on the bare plywood. We are wearing shoes in the house, lest we be grabbed by little nails sticking out of the wood.

The good news is that the wood dried incredibly fast, probably because we caught it almost instantly.

From inspection of the washer, it appears that the piece of plastic that directs the hose into the tub broke off and directed the hose toward, well, whatever it felt like directing it toward - in this case, the guts of the washer and thereby to the ground. The sheets in the washer were mostly still dry, since all the water had cascaded to the ground.

Come to think of it, I don't actually know if we have a functional washer right now. That would be handy to know.

15 March 2013


There is nothing in the world quite so lonely as packing and moving alone. I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. 

It's almost worth never moving again to not have to go through this. It is horrible. 

There are all those stacks of papers that I never bothered to file. There are all those drawers full of clothes I bought and never wear. There are shelves full of little knick-knacks that I can't believe I would ever need but I can't imagine throwing away. 

Actually, I am getting rid of some clothes that I can't quite believe I am letting out of my hands. I am a saver. I get sentimental. 

But I am getting rid of that dark red wool dress that I bought soon after I moved to Gone West, the one I wore to T.'s wedding and on my first date with B., because I have this wool allergy now, and I will never be able to wear it again, I don't think. Even my wool coat causes itchy sores on my neck if I don't have a scarf to keep the wool from my skin.

I am getting rid of that black pullover jacket that I bought in Montreal before I moved to Rwanda, that I wore almost every single day because Rwanda was much colder at night than I expected. It has filled my drawer for almost a decade, but I have a softshell now, and the old jacket is too short for my torso. 

I am getting rid of those red kikoi pants that I bought in Kenya on my way back from South Sudan, the ones that shrunk in the wash just a little and are too short for me now.

It almost physically hurts to get rid of these pieces of clothing that saw me through so much, but unless I plan to get a bigger house every time I move, it must be done. I have far too many clothes as it is, and far too many books, and far too many pieces of paper.

My friend S. is going to come over and look through my clothes on Sunday. I will feel better if things go to a good home with her. At least they won't feel lonely and rejected, then.

10 March 2013


I am proud to announce that I have done the following moving preparation steps:
  1. Retrieved five or six boxes from the garage.
  2. Purchased better bathroom cleaning products for the deep clean.
  3. Moved a suitcase to the hallway so I can begin to sort my clothes.
I have a really long way to go.

People keep asking me if I know where I'm going to live, and the fact is that I do not. I am moving in two weeks and I have made no progress on finding a place to live, other than perusing cr@igs1ist occasionally. 

I have an idea of where I want to live. That isn't the same thing.

But the sun was shining yesterday, and my friend S. and I walked down to the little tea shop that I should have been patronizing every Saturday the entire time I lived here. We pulled chairs into the sun and talked until we lost the sun behind a tree, and then we walked up the hill and then further up, with her little son K., and we ate dahl and naan while K. watched the Land Before Time on my laptop.

And the sun was shining this morning, and I met friends for brunch at a place with long communal tables, and when we'd eaten and drunk, we drove out to a hike along a creek, through mossy rocks and trees. Afterward, we drove to a coastal town for seafood. I kept looking at the State of Happiness scenery, trying to drink it all in, because in a very short time I will have a different drive to the coast, and a different drive home. 

Gone West may very well be my favorite city in the world, but this place has wormed its way into my heart, too, and it will be hard to leave so very many good things behind.

06 March 2013


I did my taxes today. 

Please note the date: March 6. This is the first time I can remember, other than (maybe?) when I was living in Rwanda, that I have done my taxes on a day other than April 15 or later. (Was it last year that April 15 was a Friday and a federal holiday, so tax day was the 18th?) In general, I am that person googling the post office hours on tax day and driving across town to get to an open mailbox. My first year in Gone West, I took the bus downtown at 10:30 pm to mail my tax return

(Side note: YAY! I am moving back to Gone West! Reading things like that reminds me how much I love it there, impending move notwithstanding.)

I am getting money back on my taxes, assuming I did the math right. Last year State of Happiness sent me a letter that said something along the lines of "You used the exemption for head of household, idiot. Please to send us $38." And I put a check in the mail, practically instantly, out of gratitude that I only made the one mistake. 

Money back is handy. I can use it, right now, with the move and all. 

I do my taxes myself every year, because my head spins when I have all the publications in front of me, but it spins even more when I just have to input numbers without knowing why, a la the online programs. (I had the same problem with physics in college: I couldn't learn it because the professor of physics-for-premed-students wouldn't tell me the calculus behind it. I loved calculus, and physics made no sense without it, and I find it impossible to learn things that do not make sense. I am not a memorize a formula sort of girl. I need to understand the reasons why.)

After I did my taxes, I realized that I paid about 20% of my salary in taxes last year, which seems high (including Medicare and Social Security, the second of which I do not expect to see any of when my day comes, the way things are going). I'm not complaining about how high it is, not at all. In fact, I'm pretty excited that I make enough money to pay that much in taxes, and I'm pretty excited to look at those numbers and think, "Hey! I'm finally making a real contribution!"

Maybe someone got food stamps every month this year from my tax dollars, and that thought makes me quite happy.

05 March 2013

not packing

I should be packing frantically - and I will; oh, that miserable day will come - but there is so much to do in the meantime. Life does not stop so that one can conveniently move. It especially does not stop so that one can conveniently move when you have only three weeks between resigning from one job and starting another, and you have a house and a job and a town to wrap up before you can go.

I won't be finished when I leave, probably. I won't have a new place to live, probably. I will be crashing at the K.'s and throwing my stuff in their garage, probably.

I don't know that for sure, of course. I just have so few days between now and the beginning of the new job in which to find a place and so few days between now and the beginning of the new job in which to move that it seems impossible to get it all done in time to move into a place rather than just get myself and my stuff to Gone West and I can't think of anything after that.

And meanwhile, there are snowshoeing trips to take. (I went on Saturday and ended up in pain and bedraggled thanks to over-enthusiasm on the part of the other participant. Namely: we attempted too much distance and by the end all I could think of was a blissful parking lot where I could take the snowshoes off and put my feet right next to one another instead of artificially forced apart do you have any idea how much pain this will eventually cause your hips? I really cannot do the one I am invited on this weekend. There is no tiiime.)

And meanwhile, there are dinners with friends who will soon be 100 miles away.

And meanwhile, there are the same questions to answer over and over, to new people each time, about what I'm doing and why I'm going.

I can't even think ahead enough to imagine being back in Gone West. Every once in a while, I think of the bustling downtown in the summer, or the view of the mountain as the train goes over the bridge, and I feel a little shiver of happy, but I can't jump ahead of myself lest all the many things that need doing here not get done before I go.

This seems to be the day of the run-on sentence. I think that means I need to go to sleep.

01 March 2013

gone west, reprise

I have made a decision. 
I have accepted a job. 
I have resigned from a job. 
I have given notice on my house. 
I have announced my move on facebook.

I am moving back to Gone West.

In three weeks. 

I think it's the right decision. But I only think. I don't know. Maybe there is no right decision and no wrong decision.

Alone, walking back into the dark after paying my last monthly bill at fighting class, after telling my martial arts family that I need to cancel my monthly billing, I thought I'd chosen wrong. 

Most of the time, I think I've chosen right. Almost everyone I talk to says, "We'll miss you and we are sad that you are going, but wow seriously have you ever chosen exactly the right time to get out." 

There is far more behind that than can be detailed on the internet, and a lot of local politics involved, but suffice it to say that I didn't think I would go, and then when the offer came and I started thinking about it, there was so much to go toward that I couldn't say no. I have spent my entire legal career worrying about budget cuts at the federal, state, and local level (thank you, recession(s) of the '00s), and I would like to think that this is the end of that worry in my life, although I'm sure it will come again.

In three weeks I will be finished with my obligations in Universe City, and on the move to Gone West. This means that I need to pack, and I need a place to stay/live, and I need to get myself and my belongings up there. 

The mere thought has me so tired that I'm spending the evening on the couch (albeit after an exhausting week of decision-making).

The enormity of moving is enough to make me want to live in one place forever.