Feeling at home

Mom bought me this book called This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, and it’s about someone who moves a lot and her attempts to feel at home in those places, either to make the stay more pleasant or to find that place that feels like home so the moving can stop.

I can’t help but feel Mom is trying to tell me something.  🙂

Anyway, early on, the author makes a list of things one should do to be active about feeling at home in the place you are, and as I read down the list, I was able to check off 8 out of the 10 things.

  1. Walk more.
  2. Buy local.
  3. Get to know my neighbors.
  4. Do fun stuff.
  5. Explore nature.
  6. Volunteer.
  7. Eat local.
  8. Become more political.
  9. Create something new.
  10. Stay loyal through hard times.

I did those things in Eugene, and I started many of them the first week we were there.  Those things were not enough to make me feel like Eugene was the place for me.  I did at least half of those things in Annapolis – again, not enough to make me feel like Annapolis was the place.  So either I’m difficult and really picky (possible, but I don’t think I’m that special) or those things aren’t enough.

I think it’s just about time spent in the same place.  We were ready to leave Ashburn for several years before we finally did, but it felt like home.  It still feels like home, sometimes, but it ought to after 10 years.  I don’t think having a place feel like home and feeling like you don’t belong there are mutually exclusive.

I spent most of the book disagreeing with the author and wondering why she was dumbing down the written version of herself.  Maybe it was supposed to make her relatable, but I found it irritating.  Those “insights” are obvious.

At the beginning, she talks about being excited to move to a new place right up until she gets there and then almost immediately feeling like it’s wrong.  I don’t feel that way – I keep the excitement of the new place for quite some time, I think, and I gotta say, I’m feeling pretty good about Providence.  Of course, I felt pretty good about Eugene, too, but I don’t think I ever really thought Eugene was going to be it.  For me, Eugene was always a fun experiment, but I didn’t expect to want to stay there (Eugene, or Oregon, or the west coast in general).  Maybe that’s why I didn’t, at least partially, but I don’t know.

I can understand the author’s urge to write this book, but I haven’t had any sleepless nights worrying about whether I’ll ever find THE PLACE.  I’m confident I can be happy in any place (and I’m certainly not miserable in the places we go or have been), but for now, I’m not ready to settle down.  That does not make me unhappy.

Making progress

We are down to minimal boxes, guys.  The first floor has zero boxes left.  On the second floor, the only boxes left are the two wardrobe size boxes from our closet.  In the basement, there are a couple of boxes, tools and things we don’t use much, and the third floor has zero boxes!

I was thisclose to suggesting we get rid of every item of clothing we didn’t travel across the country with – that’s all we had to wear for two and a half weeks, and we did fine – but then I remembered that it’s been summer and fall is starting and winter is coming and I’m not in the mood to buy a whole new wardrobe.  Some new clothes, sure, but I can’t handle starting from scratch.  Plus, I like a lot of my fall and winter clothes.

Next step for the house: unpack the rest of the clothes and sort out our closet situation.  We have plenty of closet space, but we’re not sure how to organize it yet.

Step after that: hang stuff on the walls!  We are actually going to hang our stuff up EARLY.  For real.  We totally are.  I’ll show you.  Trust me.

I have a desk!

I remembered where we put the screws first thing this morning, as we were walking to Starbucks.  They were in the toolbox because OF COURSE they were in the toolbox.  Now I have a desk AND a chair and they’re both set up in my brand new office with lots of windows that would be letting in all the sunlight if we weren’t in the middle of a rainy day.

Also, the pod is gone, our own washer and dryer are hooked up, and now we just have to figure out how to arrange the rooms.  Also also, I still have to work full-time.  Where’s my lottery jackpot?

I’m sitting in a chair!

Our container was delivered today!  And five hours later, it was empty, and our house was full.  We have chairs and shelves and dishes and a couch and a TV and OH OUR BED HALLELUJAH, but you know what I don’t have yet?  A desk.  I have a chair and a table top and I have four legs for the table, but we can’t find the ziploc bag that has all the screws to connect the legs to the table.  We both remember putting them all in one bag (all the screws for both of our desks are together), and I remember taking it from John, and I think I remember making him look at where I was packing it, but neither of us remembers where that was.  We’ve opened every kitchen box and most of the living room boxes.  We’ve searched the car and we’ve searched the suitcases we packed in the car.  Hopefully it will turn up soon.

In the meantime, now that we have chairs, I can at least work with my laptop on my lap.  Which is how I’m typing right now.  It’s SUCH a nice change to have chairs.

A Typical Day

Cross-country moves really screw with your daily routine.  Before we left Oregon, here’s what my day usually looked like:

5:45am: Alarm

6am: At my desk, 9am (eastern) meeting started.

6am – 9am: Work.  Coffee and toast around 7am.

9am – 10am(ish): Run in the park.  Maybe.  If not in this hour, then it happens after work.

10am(ish) – 2pm(ish): Work.

2pm(ish) – 6pm(ish): Run, if it didn’t happen at 9am.  Maybe a riding lesson.  Errands.  Read.  Your standard after-work stuff.

6pm(ish) – 9pm(ish): Dinner, TV, clean-up, shower.

9pm(ish): Bedtime.

Repeat.

Then we started the cross-country drive.  Over 6 days, we developed a pretty good routine.

7am: Get up and work out, if the hotel has a gym. Shower. Check out.

9am: Hit the road.  Breakfast and coffee somewhere.

9am to 2pm(ish): Drive drive drive.  Usually John took the morning shift.  Maybe lunch.

2pm(ish): Switch drivers.

2pm(ish) to 7pm(ish): Drive drive drive.  Usually I took the afternoons and evenings.  John got sleepy.

6 or 7pm: We figure out where we’re stopping for the night and John books us a hotel room.

7pm or 8pm: Check in to hotel, find dinner.

9pm or 10pm: Crash hard.

Repeat.

We knew exactly what had to come out of the car each night, and we knew exactly how to put everything back in the car each morning.  We listened to audiobooks (the first Ellis Peters monk detective book (good enough, but MAN it was slow-going), two MC Beaton Hamish Macbeth books – I love Hamish Macbeth), podcasts (mostly Hello from the Magic Tavern), and music (Sirius XM’s Pop Rock channel is good, and for Labor Day weekend, they had a road trip channel that was fun), and mostly stayed off the internet because we had basically zero reception nearly the whole way.

Then we got to Providence and moved in to our empty house.  Since hardwood floors are not a comfortable place for sitting and I still have to work, we’ve had to develop a new routine.

7am(ish): Get up.  Run.  Breakfast at home (cereal – we did some basic shopping).

9am(ish): Arrive at the office, otherwise known as the Starbucks about five blocks away, to work where we can have internet, tables, and chairs.

9am(ish) to noon(ish): When I can work quietly, I work inside where there are outlets.  When I have to talk during a conference call, I pop outside, where I can speak loudly enough to be heard (and also where I mute for passing traffic).  Then back inside.  If I have a call with clients, I head back to the house to avoid the background noise.

Noon(ish) to 1pm(ish): Back home for lunch (sandwiches).

1pm(ish) to 5pm(ish): Same as the morning, back at Starbucks because chairs are a wonderful thing.

5pm(ish) to 9pm(ish): Clean the house or run errands or take a long walk (one afternoon we drove to Narragansett to find a beach) or otherwise kill time outside of the house, find dinner, bed.

Repeat.

And it is a routine – we’ve been doing approximately this for a week now.  The baristas at Starbucks recognize us, and a number of the regulars recognize us, too.  Oh, the regulars.  I don’t mean regulars in the sense of people who always go to the same place at the same time every day and order the same thing.  I mean the people who come to this Starbucks every day to work.  Like, every day.  And they stay all day.  I mean, it’s exactly what we’re doing, but we’re only doing this until our furniture gets here.  These people have been doing this for years.  One guy brings a power strip to get past the limited number of outlets and has been nice enough to let us use it.  So, you know, we’re making friends, but I’m not going to be too sad when I can go back to something resembling my Oregon routine again.

Somewhat less stressed, but still furniture-less

UPDATE: During our first phone call with PODS this morning (after an hour on hold), we found out that the company didn’t know where our container was.  They were going to find out and get back to us in an hour.  Two hours later, after no update, I called back.  After nearly another hour, I got the person who could actually tell us what was going.  While I was on the phone, NOT ON HOLD, she contacted someone in Logistics who called the truck driver and asked when they were arriving.  The truck with our container on it will arrive at the storage facility tomorrow.  Since they don’t know what time yet, they can’t schedule the delivery for tomorrow, and since we’re going out of town for the weekend, we can’t get our stuff until we get back.  BUT.  The delivery has been scheduled for Tuesday.

So the mystery of our missing stuff has been resolved, although not entirely because I was so relieved to get some answers that I didn’t ask all of the questions.  Why is it late in the first place?  Where is it right now?  Why are ALL OF YOUR SYSTEMS CENTRALLY MANAGED WHEN YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A NATIONAL COMPANY?  I wouldn’t have asked the last question since the woman I spoke to is in customer service and not responsible for that part, but still.  I would like to know.

Disaster recovery systems are important

The cloud is not really in the cloud.*  I mean, I knew that – the cloud is really just a server farm (or several server farms) and thus entirely physical and subject to disasters like hurricanes and I’m mentioning this because we’re using PODS to move our stuff across the country and they’re based in Clearwater, FL, and apparently they got destroyed by the hurricane because their phone lines and EVEN THEIR WEBSITE have been completely down since Saturday.  (That run-on sentence was sponsored by my fear that our truck will not arrive tomorrow and we’ll be living on the floor for another week.)  Based on the phone message I heard on Monday, they had deliberately shut down the customer service center Friday to Monday to keep their employees at home, which makes sense.  I can understand and appreciate that.  But they said they’d be back up Tuesday.  They were not.  They still are not, and now it’s Wednesday.  I can’t get a live person, which, again, I can understand considering they’re probably literally underwater, but for the website to still be down?  I can’t log in to my account to see the status of my shipment.  I scheduled it to arrive tomorrow (Thursday, earliest day possible).  Is it still coming tomorrow?  I can’t check.  I can’t call anyone to check.  Local PODS storage facilities don’t have local numbers.  All numbers route to FL, where there are only unhelpful recordings and hang-ups, and all web URLs route to the Hurricane Irma page they put up.

UPDATE!  All of the above was written earlier today, when I had been trying to contact PODS for three days.  This evening, I checked again and the website was back up!  With a message saying their phone center is open again!  And that they’d be prioritizing existing customers!  Unfortunately, I didn’t see that until after their call center was closed for the day, but I logged in to our account (yay!) to find no new information (boo).  It says our POD is due to arrive at the local storage center before 9/13.  That’s today.  Did it arrive?  That step doesn’t say it was completed, but is that because there’s a backlog and they haven’t updated the system or did it really not arrive?  It also says they’re going to deliver the POD to our house on the 14th.  That would be tomorrow.  Will it happen?  I can’t say.  The night before they delivered it to us in Eugene, we got a phone call, and email, and an update on our account online giving us a three-hour delivery window.  I have not gotten any of those alerts, and it’s nearly 10pm.

It’s all a mystery that I hope will get resolved tomorrow.  More to come.

*If the computing cloud were actually in the real clouds, this hurricane would have REALLY messed with their systems.

Made it!

We’re here, in our new home, and the massive drive is over. That is a relief (even though it was fun and I didn’t have to work much and we had no responsibilities and we were seeing things we’ve never seen before and where was I going with this?), but the celebration will have to wait until the cleaning is done.  The big rooms are all okay (bedrooms, living room, dining room), but the other rooms are gross. Both bathrooms are grimy and the kitchen is grimy and greasy. Every surface in the kitchen, including drawers and cabinets, is greasy and vaguely yellow. The crew that was in here painting when we saw the place a month ago cleaned up after themselves, but no one cleaned up after the previous tenant.

Wednesday night, we got in after dark, did a quick tour and unloaded the car, walked to dinner, and dropped by CVS for some cleaning stuff. Then we spent the next two hours on the bathrooms so we could shower before sleeping.  Today (Thursday), I worked most of the day, and John spent the afternoon de-griming the kitchen. New appliances, but it looks like the previous tenant spent his three years deep-frying everything he ate.  When I finished working, we headed to the nearest Target (in Seekonk, which in my head sounds an awful lot like a donkey’s heeHAW) to buy the stuff CVS doesn’t carry, like a mop, a bucket, a broom, and some heavier duty cleaning stuff.

At least the house is empty. This would be a whole lot harder with our stuff in it.  And the weather is lovely!  It’s not all bad.

Too many nights in hotels

Speaking of hotel oddities, there was this gem in the hotel in Wisconsin.

Too bad for the people in room 121.  Our room in Erie, PA is quite nice, although the bathroom door doesn’t close all the way. There’s always something. We’re in the type of hotel I stayed in the night I walked into a dresser and tore my toenail off (three years ago in Philadelphia) so I’m going to be extra careful when I get up in the middle of the night. My toenail has STILL not fully recovered.

Hotel oddities

We had two hotels in a row with soft water, which I HATE.  For two days, I felt like I was covered in soap that would never rinse off.  John’s parents’ house has soft water, but it’s never this bad.  Makes my skin crawl.

Oddly, both of those hotels had weird gym situations, too.  The one in Montana advertised a gym, but when we asked at the front desk, the guy said they have an agreement with a gym downtown.  When we’re ready to go, he can give us a key and direct us there.  It’s like 5 miles away.  We didn’t go.  The next night, in Minnesota, there was a gym in the building, but our room keys wouldn’t give us access.  We had to go get special keys made for access to the gym.  Why would you set up a gym for your guests and then not give them automatic access to it?  At least they had one, and once we could get in, it was nicer than the one in Bend – this one had a window.  And water.  And an A/C unit and a fan.  The one in Bend was like a cave.  A hot, sweaty cave with no windows, no water, and no fan.  Turns out I have expectations for a hotel gym.

I carried a watermelon

We found a magic hotel in Minnesota.  We watched the very end of Dirty Dancing AND THEN IT STARTED OVER AGAIN.  Heaven.  I may never leave.  Also, it’s late, I’m tired, and I may be a little giddy.  Sitting on my butt in the car all day is exhausting work.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Whoops, that was last night.  We left.  Spending tonight in Racine, Wisconsin.  Ooh!  Maybe A League Of Their Own will be on!

Movin’ right along

For those of you following along at home, Thursday night we drove from Eugene to Bend, OR.  Not terribly far, but we got a late start.  Friday, we drove from Bend to Pocatello, ID, a town I’d never heard of before picking it off the atlas page as a likely place to spend the night.  Saturday, which I think was yesterday (and figuring out what day it is is part of why I’m writing this down right now), we left Pocatello and headed north to Montana, clipping the very western edge of Yellowstone National Park along the way, which was REALLY neat.  I’m not a camper, so I never put seeing that kind of national park very high on my list of things I was likely to see.  Ever.  Happening upon it while trying to do something else was a nice surprise.

I suppose we could have put something more inspiring behind us, but it seems I didn’t take any pictures of the more spectacular views we drove by.  Short-sighted on my part.

Anyway, we found the mountainous pretty part of Montana first (which is how it always looks in our heads), but then we kept driving east and it got flatter and more desert-y.  It does indeed have a big sky, but the sky would have been bigger without the smoke haze.  Blue sky straight up, haze on every horizon.  Oh, well.  We’ll keep plugging east until we can get past all the fires.

A little friend

Updated with Instagram link.

When we moved to Oregon, Will and Christina gave us a keychain with a little 10th Doctor. Now that we’re leaving, Li’l DT is sharing our adventures.  In a fun twist, he has become OUR companion.

Most of the fun is happening in real time on my Instagram feed (which anyone can see online, without an account, by looking up zannah42 on Instagram.com), but I’ll probably compile the pictures here once we get there.

Here, I’ll make it easy for you.  Go here.  You’ll see the captions (because I always include captions) if you click on an individual picture.

Road Trip Day 1 – The Flames

When we left Eugene, the road ahead looked like this.

Not too much later (remember, we only drove for about two and half hours the first night), we could see smoke over the mountains in the distance.

Okay, so that one is not very much in the distance.  We’d heard there might be road closures due to forest fires, but we didn’t expect to see this, right from the road.

 

The traffic merged to one lane and there were fire trucks and firefighters and it was all very exciting and SO TOTALLY WEIRD.  All of my other pictures are big blurry messes, but there were individual trees burning like torches.  It’s one thing to know it happens and another to drive alongside.

Today (Day 2, or full Day 1) was uneventful.  Plenty of smoke haze on the horizon across the rest of Oregon and into Idaho, but no visible fires.  We may be taking a slightly more southerly route across Montana to stay on the interstate and get away from the smoke faster.  We’d like to drive away from the scratchy throats, please.

Road Trip Day 1 – The Movening

Yesterday and today were long, hard, and exhausting.  On the other hand, they’re over.  The pod was filled completely, although not without injury.  I bashed my forehead on the side while we were trying to maneuver the mattress in.  That was the least fun part (both the maneuvering and the head-bashing).  I’m okay, but I do have a lump.

We didn’t leave town until after 6pm and we only made it as far as Bend (2 and half hours or so), but we plan to do better tomorrow.  Leaving before 6pm would be a good start.

Say goodbye to the cute yellow house on the hill.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, featuring flames.

POD Day

Today our POD arrived.  It’s enormous, and we spent a solid seven hours filling it.  Mostly there.  One last night in our bed, then the bed goes in the POD and we start cleaning the house AND THEN WE LEAVE TOWN.  It’s crazy how fast this all went (especially since last week time was crawling).

This is going to be short because I’m sitting on the floor in my totally empty office with my laptop on my knees, and I’m very uncomfortable.  Also, it’s crazy late right now because John and his former band-mates decided to go to the weekly funk jam tonight and maybe play together (for the last time – sob!).  They were all set to play in the third set, but the second set didn’t start until midnight (or nearly midnight), and nobody had the energy to stick it out.  The guys who did get to play were really good, though, especially James (the band’s bass player and also apparently the best regular at the funk jam).  The part we stayed for was totally worth it.  Except for the part where someone spilled beer down my leg.  That part wasn’t worth it.

So yeah.  It’s late.  I’m tired.  We move tomorrow!

Burning

It’s forest fire season here (still, because you know, hot + dry = fire), and the air quality SUCKS.  Today’s high is 99, we don’t have A/C so our windows are open, and it smells like smoke outside and in.  John is feeling it more than I am, and he’s pretty miserable.  I’m considering buying disposable face masks, like the ones people wear in China, to see if we can stop breathing in all the stuff that’s causing raspy voices and crap in our throats.  The sky is so hazy it’s whitish-gray, and I’m not running in that.  John tried to fly again Sunday morning and had to come down again pretty quickly because the visibility was so bad.

If this had happened last year, I’m not sure we would have spent another summer here.  So…thank you, Eugene?  Trying to push us out the door is SUPER helpful.  I know we’re just trading these inconveniences for others, but we’re all about instant gratification at the moment.  Being three days from moving day will do that to you.

Our last Saturday in Eugene

We’re less than a week from leaving town, and now every day is our last day of the week here.  Last night was our last Friday.  We finally went to this restaurant two blocks away.  It was really good, but I don’t feel like we’ve been missing out because it’s a tad on the pricey side.  Today we picked up more boxes (repossessing boxes we lent to Will and Christina for their move last summer – this will be move #3 for these boxes!) and a few other packing supplies and took care of the closets and the bathrooms.  John will finish up his office tonight while I’m out with Wendy and other horse people.  All that’s left is half the kitchen and the rest of our clothes.  Mostly.  And the TV and the receiver and the speakers.  And there are odds and ends, of course, and we’re still working out what’ll go in the car with us.  There’s plenty left to do.

Anyway, packing is packing, and it’s boring to everyone, including me.  It’s our last Saturday in Eugene.  Goodbye, Saturdays in Eugene.

I’d like to think it wasn’t on purpose

I had my next to last lesson with Wendy today, and it was awful.  Okay, maybe not awful, but it wasn’t good.  I rode Olive, and I was anxious and unsettled and so was she (probably my fault) and it felt weird and uncomfortable and like I couldn’t do anything right.  Objectively, I improved as the lesson went on.  Objectively, a lesson like that is a good thing because it forces me to focus on things I don’t have to think about when everything is going well.  Subjectively, it’s NOT FUN.  It occurred to me that maybe it’s subconscious self-sabotage, like how Mom has said she used to pick fights with Dad before he left on deployment in an effort (again, subconscious) to make saying goodbye easier.  If that’s what it was, it SUCKS and I don’t want to do it again.  I have one more lesson, I’ll probably ride Tigger, and I would like to enjoy it, please, brain.

Of course, right after I got her saddle off her, Olive peed all over the barn, so maybe she was uncomfortable, too.  Still, even it wasn’t just me, it was certainly a lot me, and I need to not do that.

A scare

We had a bit of a scare the Thursday afternoon we left for Portland and then Rhode Island. A few weeks before that, John emailed his HR department to find out if RI is one of the states his company has set up payroll taxes for.  I didn’t bother emailing mine because I’ve had several conversations with them about moving around, and they had indicated that even if they’re not set up in a particular state, it’s not a big deal to get it done.

So right at the end of the workday that Thursday, John got an email from his boss saying that HR won’t support our move to RI – it’ll cost too much for them to set it up.  John swooped into my office to give me the good news (really – he slid in in his socks).  If his company says he can’t move where we want to go, then screw the company – he’ll quit.  (He’s so excited – he’s been itching for an excuse.)  I had been waiting to email HR until we knew exactly where we were going to live because I didn’t think it would be helpful to them to know we were thinking about three or four states – they don’t care until we pick one – but I figured that with John’s news, I should check.

I emailed Jenny, my HR person, and told her that we’re probably moving to RI at the end of August, but we’ll know for sure by the end of next week.  Her response only said that RI isn’t on the list of states they allow, so I emailed back “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?” and tried to keep the freak-out to a minimum.  By the time I sent that email, it was after working hours, so we got in the car (Portland and airport-bound) and started discussing worst case scenarios.  I mean, there’s really only one worst case scenario, but what would we do if it happened, if both of our companies said we couldn’t live in RI?

And what does it say about us that our reaction is to quit, since we don’t think they should have any say over where we live?

We spent the car ride making plans.  Let’s say my HR says they can’t/won’t set up payroll in RI.  First step: appeal to my boss.  Can he convince the company to set up payroll in RI if the alternative is I quit?  Am I that valuable?  Let’s say they still say no.  What states are already allowed?  None in New England, but New York is on the list.  Would we consider New York?  Is it worth a year in NY if it keeps my job and gives us both time to find others (so we can move to New England)?  Or do we both quit anyway and take our chances on moving and finding work quickly?  What about not moving at all?  Or what about not signing a lease yet and moving homeless at the end of the month anyway, but when we maybe know more about the situation?  We could crash with family if it came down to it.

We had everything mapped out and were starting to feel okay with our plans when we stopped for dinner and before we even ordered I had my answer back from Jenny.  To the question “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?”, she replied “No, that’s not what it means.  Tell me which state you pick.  We’ll work it out.”

Big sighs of relief plus a cucumber margarita, and we were able to sleep that night.  As well as possible, anyway, in the loud and kind of icky Ramada.

I don’t need that kind of stress.  I aged a year in those two hours.