Top of the list (for now)

Last weekend, we drove to East Greenwich, all of 15 minutes south of Providence, and found maybe our perfect town.

  • Good schools
  • Houses we like, in the price range we’re considering
  • A cute Main Street with lots of businesses
  • Houses we like, in the price range we’re considering, that are walkable to cute Main Street
  • Near water*

*The near water part isn’t perfect.  Main Street is a few blocks up from the water, and it doesn’t look there are any public spaces on the water.  There’s a marina, but no park over there or paths or anything.

[Pause for googling]

I stand corrected.  There is a park a little south of downtown, and I forgot about the state park that’s just on the other side of the bay.  So whether the park on the water is walkable from downtown remains to be seen, but at least it’s there.

When I think about things I miss about Eugene, the parks and the paths along the river are high up there.   I really loved the convenience of walking out the door and being in a park, right on the river, within a couple of blocks.  And the 20 miles of paths…but then I remember the gloomy winter, the ultra-dry summer, that John had sinus problems almost the enter 18 months, and the forest fires.  So I’ll keep missing some things about Eugene, but moving was the right decision.

We need some backup towns because when it comes time to look seriously for our next place to live, we might not find what we want in East Greenwich, but we took this weekend off.

Saturday night head explosions

John and I rent a townhouse in Providence.  Moving to Providence was the next step in figuring out where we want to live, settle, buy a house, and so far, we really like it.  We LOVE our neighborhood.  We’re not in any hurry to buy a house (still, although if we find one we like at a price we’re cool with, we might), and so the plan was to give this townhouse a full year, or at least get through the summer, and decide if we wanted to renew the lease or find another place.

That was the plan until our recent happy news.  Now, we know we have to move when our lease is up.  It would be easy to have an infant here, but once that baby starts to crawl…not so easy.  The entire first floor, with the exception of the entryway and the kitchen, which are both tiled, is old hardwood floor.  The old part is important – it was installed when you still nailed the floorboards down from the top.  So the entire first floor has row upon row upon row of tiny nails that are constantly popping up and ripping socks and hurting our feet.  No kidding – John keeps a hammer in the dining room cabinet.  Hammering down nails in the floor is nearly a daily occurrence.  Yes, we have a big area rug in the living room, but it’s not wall-to-wall carpeting.  A crawling baby on hands and knees on that floor?  I don’t think so.

Also, I think I take back the part where I said it would be easy to have an infant here.

  1. The stairs are twisty and steep.  And slippery.
  2. EVERY FLOORBOARD IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE CREAKS.  LOUDLY.  It is impossible to sneak around in this house.  If one of us is awake and moving, we’re both awake.  If this baby is a light sleeper…
  3. The back door (where we park) is hard to navigate if you have anything in even one hand.  It has stairs, a sharp turn, a railing that makes the space really small, a heavy storm door that opens out and takes up the remaining space, and an inner door that requires two hands to open (one to turn the key, one to turn the knob).  I have issues with it when I’m carrying groceries.  How will I handle that when I’m carrying a carseat with a baby in it?

Sure, none of this is insurmountable, but it’ll be a huge pain, and we can move, so we’re planning to.  Where?  NO IDEA.  I mean, somewhere in New England, but…that doesn’t help all that much.  So to find out, we’re going to drive all over New England most weekends for the next few months and scout.

Last Saturday, we headed to southern New Hampshire, which, to our complete and utter surprise, is only an hour away from us on a Saturday morning (because no traffic around Boston).  We drove around Nashua, Derry, Hooksett, Concord (lunch and a little walking, too), and Henniker.  Nashua and Concord are firmly on our list, and we’ve discovered that we probably don’t want to move to a town smaller than Concord (pop. 42K).  (Of course, that disqualifies all of Vermont except Burlington.  We’ll see.)  We got back home, tired and cranky from our long day in the car, and started talking about Providence.  Why have we essentially written off Providence after one day’s jaunt to New Hampshire?  Well, we haven’t.  We like it.  You know what?  Let’s focus on Providence for a while.  And then we realized one big thing we haven’t discussed AT ALL: schools.  The freakout began.  When we were thinking about kids years ago, it was easy.  We lived in the best (sometimes second best) school district in Virginia.  No thought required.  And while Rhode Island schools on the whole are pretty good, Providence schools SUCK.  Apparently.  Based on a couple of days of frantic research.  Everyone who lives in the neighborhood we want to settle in sends their kids to one of the three private schools nearby.  We are NOT doing that.  We went from “huh, New Hampshire could be it” to “Wait, we really like Providence, let’s just stay here” to “WE CAN’T RAISE OUR KID IN PROVIDENCE SCHOOLS AND OH MY GOD HOW ARE WE GOING TO FIND A PLACE TO LIVE THIS IS TOO HARD UNFAIR UNFAIR UNFAIR UNFAIR!!!!” in the space of two hours Saturday night.

Fun times.  And NO, this was not just me and my hormones.  John was right there with me, although he was more constructive about it.

We’re better today.  The plan for now is to check out the rest of Rhode Island, see what’s out there, see what towns we might like to live in and afford on OH YEAH HALF OF OUR CURRENT INCOME possibly – exactly what I’m going to do for work, both short and long term is still very much TBD.

It’ll be fine.  We’re not obsessed with making sure we live in the best school district ever – our bar for that is pretty reasonable, I think.  It was just such a shock to realize that we had NEVER considered schools in our plans to move around and find our perfect place to live.  We didn’t think we’d have to.

Disposable Income

I finally figured out the level of rich I’m aiming for.  I don’t need a big house or fancy cars, but I want a staff.  I’ll pay them well, of course – I want them to be happy and comfortable, too.

  • I want a personal shopper/stylist/tailor.  One person who can do it all or three people or whatever – the end result is a closet full of tailored clothes that look great on me.  If the person also does hair and make-up, bonus.
  • I want a personal trainer/nutritionist to help me with my workouts and my diet.  Help me be healthy!
  • I want a personal chef.  I don’t like to cook (or shop for groceries), and someone is going to have to prepare the nutritious meals my nutritionist says I should eat.

All of those titles start with “personal”.  Maybe that goes without saying when my premise is that I have a staff of people to help me out.

John reminded me that I also want a gardener. YES!  I want a gardener.  And of course, this staff would be OURS not mine.  Of course.  I can share.

So much no

I try to keep this blog free of real things that bother me.  I mean, I certainly complain about stuff, but I don’t get into serious issues.  I don’t plan to, either.  I spend all day reading the news and talking about the god-awful things that are going on, and the last thing I want to do is write about them.

I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m scared, and I DON’T want to talk about it.  I want to hide and wake up from this terrible dream.

I won’t hide, and I will do something.  I donated to the ACLU, I’ll be donating to other organizations, I’m calling my congresspeople daily, and I’ll continue to go to protests and otherwise get involved locally.  I’m thinking about other things I can do.

In the meantime, I want to stay light here.  It’s a nice distraction, but there are days I just can’t.

Like today.  I just can’t.

Should I stay or should I go

We had an ice storm today.  Well, we didn’t, but there was an ice storm in parts of Oregon today.  And we had enough sleet that we’ve got little icicles hanging from the gutters and the trees are covered in ice and the poor rosebushes are weighed down by the ice.

It’s icy is what I’m saying.  Also cold.

We’re slow-cooking for dinner (good day for it), and The Bloggess made me laugh.

We are considering sticking around Eugene for a little bit longer than originally planned.  Partly, it’s because John is excited about his new band (which still needs a name) and wants to give it a real shot, but mostly it’s because we’re not ready.  We haven’t made much of an effort to figure out where we’d go next or how we’d make it happen, and if we go right when our lease is up (which is less than four months from now), we have to be moving at full speed on that right now.

I don’t want to do that, and neither does John.  We still like our plan (possibly with modifications), and we still don’t plan on staying in Eugene forever, but we feel like we just got here.  There are still things to do.  So maybe we’ll stay a little longer.

On the other hand, John is sick again (congested and miserable), for the third time in five months.  Maybe it’s the house and maybe we should move.

Big sigh of relief

Our moving documents are signed (we officially have movers coming to pack up and move our stuff), with a date and everything AND our lease is signed.  We officially have a place to live!

[Break for happy dance.]

AND it’s a beautiful day AND it was 55 degrees at lunchtime AND I ran outside for the first time in a couple weeks WITHOUT A JACKET and life is good.

BIG exception: I logged in to TurboTax to continue the taxes I started a month ago, and it got all crazy.  And what I mean by “all crazy” is really “why on earth does TurboTax think we owe almost $9000 in federal taxes and over $12,000 in MD taxes?!?”

I logged out of TurboTax and looked for local personal tax accountants.  Found one.  We’re meeting her on Friday.

Even with that hanging over us, we’re still getting things done and that is good.  I’m certain the tax thing will get figured out.  THAT is not what I’m going to worry about.

SO ready

It rained all day yesterday, which was fine, and we had high winds and pouring rain and thunder in the afternoon and evening, which was cool, EXCEPT for the leak.  Yes, our apartment has ANOTHER leak.  Apparently, one of our side windows (and the wall where it meets the ceiling) leaks.  Like, a lot, but apparently only when the wind throws the rain directly at that side of the house (since we haven’t noticed it before).  Big puddle on the floor, water dripping down the wall from the ceiling, the blinds on that window are actually DRIPPING WATER…

Also, the basement has standing water in it, right by the washing machines.

We need to move.

Here is a picture of the front of our new house:

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Here is part of (most of) the backyard:

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Here is part of the kitchen:

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And here is the front room (gas fireplace):

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Haven’t signed the lease yet (soon!), haven’t chosen an actual move date yet (even sooner!), but we’re getting there.  We just have to deal with the crappy parts of our current apartment for one more month.

To Do, Part 1, Move 3

We’re past the halfway mark for Annapolis (that happened a month ago).  These next three months are going to FLY by.  We’re super-excited, but the list of things we have to get done is growing.

  1. Visit Oregon again and find a place to live.  I’m on lots of apartment rental sites, but the first thing we have to do is plan the visit.  When are we going?  How long are we staying?  I need to call places and make appointments and maybe try a real estate agent or two.
  2. Call moving companies.  Get estimates.  The last move was 4 and a half months ago.  On the one hand, that’s long enough to have dimmed the pain.  On the other hand, it’s not that long, and I still want movers.  PLUS, we’ll be driving across the country, and I’d rather not caravan.  How miserable would that trip be with John in the truck and me in the car?  Much more fun if we can do it together.
  3. Continue to get rid of stuff.  The purging won’t be as drastic as the last two times, but there are still things we can (and want to) get rid of rather than take along to Oregon.

Hm.  That’s not too bad, actually.  Those are the big items.  The more detailed lists will come up as we make some decisions and get closer.

Mr. Blue Sky

All it takes is one sunny day.  Yesterday was a gloomy, chilly, rainy day.  Today has been the clearest, sunniest day in the history of clear sunny days.  And even though it’s a bit chilly (I wore a scarf with my jacket and hat to lunch), it is glorious.

Good things that happened today, in no particular order:

  • John had a good phone interview for a great job
  • Jess got very positive news about a potential promotion
  • I had a GREAT run this morning (five miles with perfect music)
  • Lunch was half of a delicious burger, split with a giddy Jess
  • Except for one meeting this morning, I have not wanted to reach through my computer screen and throttle anyone

It’s a banner day!  And it’s Friday!

 

Come on, Oregon, now you’re showing off

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On Wednesday, John and I decided to head to the coast and sight-see (and give Will and Christina a day free of house guests), and I may have fallen into a beautiful scenery hole.  I don’t know if I can get out.  It’s almost overwhelming.  The road we were on to get there took us through the mountains and along a river and then there was a lake (with the trees on the mountain going right down to the edge of the water and the water was like glass and the trees were perfectly reflected) and oh, hey some elk (elks?) and it was SO beautiful.  I didn’t get any pictures of that section because I was driving and there was nowhere to turn off, but then we turned south onto 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway!!) and aimed for Coos Bay.  We went to a state park Brian (who used to live there) recommended and BAM.  There was the Pacific Ocean.  It’s been a long time since we last saw it, but hey!  It’s still there.

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There was a trail along the top of the coastal cliffs – I could have stayed up there all day.

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Thursday morning, Will took us running along a trail that runs next to a lake near his house, and really – how do you expect me to run in a straight line when I’m craning my neck in every direction to look at the lake and the trees and the mountains and oh look! there’s a house nestled in there and wouldn’t it be great to live in that house?

Will has done his job – we’re convinced.

The purge continues

We’re still going through everything we own and trying to get rid of as much as possible.  We want to lighten the load, both for moving and for living.  “As much as possible” = as much as we’re comfortable getting rid of, and we don’t always agree on that, but we’ll keep adjusting as we move along.

We spent about 4 hours on Friday in the storage unit choosing which of our children to give away and which ones to keep.  It was painful, and we only got halfway through, so we’re going to have to do it again soon.  On the plus side, I don’t regret our decisions, and I get to drive around with a carload of books until I get rid of them (the car smells good).  It was the right thing to do!

Then we got home and I started going through my dresser drawers again.  I’ve got a stack of t-shirts that are going away, and Molly has claimed much of my work wardrobe (such as it is), which is helpful to a point – I don’t dress up for work much (mostly jeans), so there’s not that much to give away.  I think I can get rid of more shoes…  Winter clothes are harder to make decisions about now.  I’ve already done the easy stuff (I didn’t wear at all last winter?  It’s gone.), but in summer I’m inclined to toss everything.  That won’t be all that helpful when it starts to get cold again, and I have to buy new things.  I wonder how much of a pain it would be if we used the storage unit to store seasonal clothes.  Too many trips?  With boxes?  Maybe.  I didn’t even go to the trouble of storing seasonal clothes in the house (which is why I needed two dressers and a closet).  But it would mean we’d be traveling with less.  Except when we go somewhere for longer than one or two seasons…yeah, I think that’s a bad idea.  Fewer clothes!  I need to get rid of more stuff.

Good start

I heard “Shut Up and Dance” during this morning’s class.  Makes me happy.  There are worse ways to start the day.  And I get to spend this week telling the people I work with that in less than two months, I will be telecommuting 100%, so let’s discuss concerns now.  I will be having the same conversation over and over again.  It’s a good conversation, and so far all reactions have been positive.  And I’m happy to do it – it means we’re moving forward.

The biggest step forward right now involves finding a place to live next.  We should really get on that.

Obsolete media

I spent most of my Saturday using a USB video capture device to transfer old VHS tapes to mpeg files.  I had to borrow a VCR from a coworker because I haven’t seen one in person in…lots of years.  There’s no way to do it other than in real time, so it really took most of the day to transfer about 9 tapes.  There was also some time spent in trial and error, including trying to find a way to save to mp4, which I was unable to figure out.  And since I can’t figure it out just yet (I have to return the VCR on Monday, so I had limited time to troubleshoot), we won’t be getting rid of the originals.  We’ll just store them.  They don’t take up that much room.

Among the videos I transferred are three years’ worth of marching band videos, my high school best friend’s senior project, and our wedding video (because even though digital cameras existed when we got married, they weren’t used that often – all of our wedding pictures are analog, too).  I don’t know that I’ll ever watch all that stuff, but it’s nice to have it handy.

I’d like another weekend, though.  Can someone make that happen?

What’s to be nervous about now?

I got the go-ahead yesterday to tell my team about our plans.  FINALLY.  My boss, HR, the CEO, and the CFO are all being supportive.  (I haven’t spoken to the CEO and CFO, so I don’t know HOW supportive they are, but that’s irrelevant now.)  Yay!  So I wrote some notes yesterday, was nervous all morning, and met with Ben (my senior guy) just before lunch, where I blurted it all out with no regard for my notes.  Luckily, he understood what I was saying and doesn’t have any immediate concerns.  He’s the linchpin – where his mood goes, the team’s mood follows, so I need him to be positive about it, and he was!  Not over the moon, but why would he be?  I just need him to NOT think it’s a disaster.

So then I went to Wegmans to buy cupcakes so I can bribe the rest of the team into contentment when I tell them at our weekly meeting in….less than 90 minutes.   Updates to come.  Hopefully very boring updates.

Update: They’re fine!  They were outwardly supportive, at least, after they made sure I was NOT leaving them and they were NOT getting a new boss.  Which is sweet of them.

SO relieved.

On the edge of my seat

Trepidation is the word of the day.  Last Wednesday, I told the head of HR about our plans for working remotely (and gave her the mid-August date).  She’s excited for us (yay!), and she said she’d tell the CFO and the CEO.  Once I hear back from her (or them), I’ll know if they’re with me or against me (it’s an us vs. them world!), and I’ll be able to share what’s going on with everyone (at work – you guys already know).

I HAVE to wait for their response.  If they support me, I can tell my team I’ll be working remotely, and we can work through any difficulties that might come up.  If they say no, then the conversation with my team will be very different.  My HR person said I should know by the middle of this week (it’s performance review time, and everyone is very busy), so I’ve been sitting on this for days and I WANT TO KNOW NOW.  Tomorrow is the middle of the week.  Has she told them?  Do they know?  Every time I see them, I wonder.

I hate being left hanging.  HR is usually very good at getting back to me, so I can only assume they (CFO, CEO) don’t know yet.  Or they know, they’re thinking about it, and they haven’t told HR anything yet.  I’m going to ask her, of course.  I’m not the type to sit and wait, and it’s been four full business days, so I’m not being crazy-impatient.  Just normal-impatient.

Hunting

Molly is apartment-hunting in DC!  This is going to be cool.  She’s looking in a lot of neighborhoods that were fairly shady 15 years ago, but have changed a lot since then.  I keep thinking we’ll have live vicariously through her, but no!  We can do that, too!  We ARE going to do that, too!  We’re going to move to cities we’re not familiar with, and rent apartments short-term in cool neighborhoods!  Even though I’m living and breathing this giant change, I keep forgetting that we are going to be able to do whatever we want.

Whatever we want!

I would like to stop having such long days

It appears to be Crisis Week at work.  I spent hours on conference calls with one client yesterday, and hours on conference calls with a different client today.  Also, I went in early to help wrap up yesterday’s problems, but couldn’t do that (someone else did) because of the new crisis, AND I worked until 8pm because we’re short-staffed and I didn’t want to screw anyone on my team by making them work the late shift more than once this week, so I just finished an 11-hour day.  Half of it was productive, much of it was annoying.  But it’s over now.  John just watched Atari: Game Over (which appears to be an episode (the only one?) in a series called Signal to Noise that maybe failed, based on the IMDB results), and the music over the end credits was happy enough to make those couple of minutes the best part of my day so far.  Of course, Google is failing me – I can’t find the song.  Don’t ruin this for me, Google!

But hey – I feel much better than I did, and it was super-duper nice to work the afternoon from home.  My twice-monthly meetings with my boss start next week, so I plan to make this a regular thing and let everyone get used to the idea.  I want to talk to her about it before I do it, but it’s going to happen.

Reading is next, and bed, and tomorrow is Thursday, and you know what?  I really like Thursdays.

Sleeping until 7am feels sinful

This whole getting up at 5:15 every morning thing is wearing thin.  I like working out in the morning MUCH more than doing it at night, but 5:15 is just SO EARLY.  I’m 36 years old – I shouldn’t feel like I’m up past my bedtime at 9.  It’s 8:34 right now, and I can feel the anxiety creeping in.  I’d better start getting ready for bed so I can be falling sleep by 9 or a little after.  I know I need about 8 hours every night, but worrying about not getting enough sleep doesn’t exactly help.

Good news, though: the end is in sight.  We just have to make it to August.  We’ll continue getting up this early most mornings as long as we live here and belong to this gym.  The 6am class is the class we can get to before work, with the instructor we like, and the other people we know and like, so we’ll stick it out.  Even if we’re working from home before then.  We might not go that early EVERY day if we’re working from home, but instructor, people, etc.  We’ll do it sometimes.

Once we’re really working from home, we’ll have more control over the work-day schedule.  No commute?  That’s sleep-in time!  No office clothes or office people?  The post-workout shower can wait a bit.  More sleep-in time!

But speaking of sleeping, it’s 8:43 now, and I need to get ready for bed.

It’s my party. I can freak out if I want to.

Written this morning, approximately 10am:

There is no wrong answer.  There is a better answer, an easier answer, but any answer will have the same result.  So why am I so nervous?

I’m meeting with my boss in an hour, to tell her that we’re leaving the area by mid-August, but I’d like to keep my job and work remotely.  I have all kinds of supporting details about why and how and how this can work, but that’s the main point.  I figure there are four possible outcomes:

1. She says “Oh, how exciting!” and “Of course we can do that!”  Best outcome.

2. She’s less enthusiastic but willing to give it a try.  Good outcome.

3. She says “No, I’m sorry, but we can’t work that way.”  Not the best outcome.  I use the time to look for something that WILL let me do that while working here for the next five months.

4. She says no and fires me on the spot.  Highly unlikely, but possible.  Worst outcome.

No matter which of the four outcomes I get, we’re still leaving the area in 5 months.  This isn’t a negotiation.  We no longer have to carry a mortgage (whoopee!), so we can handle it if I end up unemployed for a few months.  I might even enjoy that.  For a little bit.  (John would totally be jealous.)  Mostly, I want to keep my salary and not have to look for a new job (because that sucks).  I’ll have to eventually, but I don’t want to now.

So…I’m nervous.  Logic has nothing to do with it.  It’s a hard conversation to have.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.


Post-Meeting Update:

My boss had the best possible reaction.  She didn’t exactly say “Oh, how exciting!”, but when I said we’re leaving the area in 5 months, and I would like to keep my job and just do it remotely, she said (very quickly and sounding somewhat relieved), “Let’s do that.”  No hesitation, no problems.  I am free.  We’re just not telling anyone until about a month out.  I feel SO much better.

Eeeeeeeeeee!!!

And a little more eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!  It’s done!  We are no longer homeowners.  We are ex-proud owners of a house.  Proud ex-homeowners.  Proud mortgage-free people.  There’s a little sadness (we were downright weepy yesterday evening when we went to say goodbye to our little house – 9 and a half years and both dogs and I’ll just stop right there), but it’s mostly glee.  Not even a little bit of oh-my-god-what-have-I-done (which is good, because my goodness it’s too late for backing out).

Our buyers continued to be annoying right up to the last minute, but they are no longer our problem, either.  Now I can think it’s funny instead of super-irritating.  Let me count the ways they are not normal.

1. They saw our house during an open house we hosted on a Sunday afternoon.  The following Saturday morning (around 10am), they showed up on our doorstep unannounced, wishing to take another look.  Who does that?

2. They made their initial offer, including a request that we carpet the entire second story (plus stairs) at our expense.  (We said no.)

3. They made their second offer, which included us paying their entire closing costs.  We negotiated that down.

Okay, so maybe #2 and #3 are somewhat normal.  They’re first steps in a negotiation – whatever.  We were still irritated.

4. A couple of weeks before closing, they asked us if they could store some things in the garage.  We said no.  (What if the deal fell apart?  We’re not babysitting their stuff.  Besides, at that point there was no room in the garage for their stuff.)

5. One week before closing, they asked if they could come in to get measurements for the carpet they’ll be installing.  Our agent would have to let them in.  We said okay.  (We’re not heartless.)

6. They asked if they could do the walkthrough at the same time.  We said no, probably not a good idea.  We weren’t entirely moved out, and the house hadn’t been cleaned yet.  (We didn’t want them to freak out over something stupid – we weren’t ready.)

7. We finished moving out (and cleaning) by Saturday night, and they did the walkthrough Sunday morning.  We went back to the house Sunday evening to take the trash out (from Saturday) and say goodbye to the house.  We walked in, moved through to the dining room, and hey!  Someone gave us a big TV, some boxes, a child’s easel, and a pair of longhorns mounted on a big plaque.  Yes, they took advantage of the walkthrough to move some things into the house they didn’t own yet.

Well, they own it now, and we’re 100% done with them.  Or we’ll be 100% done when the check clears.  We had a celebratory dinner tonight of pie and champagne.

Bring on Phase Two!