Friday, September 30, 2005
When I got my most recent apartment (the one I spent only four months in), I furnished it almost entirely from Craigslist. I found a great eggplant colored couch and loveseat for $400, a perfectly decent dining room table and chair set for $50, and some lovely bookshelves for $20. So when it came time to downsize in preparation for the big move, I decided to put some of my less beloved possessions up for sale on Craigslist. If you ever suspected that most people today are flakes, posting an ad on Craigslist will confirm that suspicion a thousand fold. I posted a 25" TV for $75, and got a ton of responses, but not a single person ever actually came by to hand over cash and pick it up. I put up some old bookshelves for $10 and ended up begging someone to take them. I made $5.
Here at my parents' house, I've posted a TON of things, and have actually sold a desk, a Nordic Track ski machine, a sofa slipcover, a king size headboard and nightstands, an armoir, and a tent. I've also posted many things that did not sell. We became desperate to get rid of them, so I posted them as FREE. Oh, the deluge. As in, 50 emails in 10 minutes, I kid you not. People will pass it by if it's $5, but will trample each other to get it if it's free. For instance, a very nice Sauder entertainment center, easily $200 new. We posted it for $75, had a couple interested people, but no real takers. Tried it for $25, still no dice. Posted it for free, and my gosh, you'd think we were giving away gold. It was gone within an hour! Same with a dart board and darts, router table, and a hand crank washing machine (we used it in our RV a couple times).
Tonight we sold some mirrors to a very nice lady from Hollywood who started up a dance studio where everyone has been practicing without mirrors. It's kind of neat to think these mirrors, which hung in our living room for years and reflected many a Christmas morning, will now reflect dancers practicing their routines. The poor lady was so desperate to have these mirrors, she offered to pay an extra $20 for us to hold them for her (we'd originally said, first come first served). She drove up here after she got off work, and arrived around midnight. In tears. Seems she got pulled over while she was lost...she said she signaled to change lanes, and the cop claims she cut him off. He was apparently one of those disgruntled "peace" officers, who gave her a hard time, searching her bag, etc. She was pretty traumatized by the whole incident. But she seemed determined to fight the ticket. I hope she wins. Otherwise those mirrors weren't such a bargain for her.
As a result of Craigslist, we've made a few bucks while getting rid of some old stuff we don't need anymore, which hopefully the new owners can put to good use. It's a win-win all around. (Well, mostly.) Not many things in life are like that nowadays. Maybe that's why Craigslist is growing by leaps and bounds. People may be flakes, but they know a good thing when they see it, whether it's a free entertainment center, or the free website that helped them find it.
Monday, September 26, 2005
So I found it very odd today when no tears came at the final moments. I mean, who knows when we will see each other again, and yet my eyes were dry. Even when my friend began crying on my shoulder, I must have appeared practically stoic. But in fact I was deeply touched and overwhelmed with empathy. I tried to comfort with a tight embrace. I tried to reassure and encourage with a smile, and it was mistaken for mocking. I felt horrible, like I wasn't honoring my friend's outpouring of raw emotion by not reciprocating, but I just wasn't "there."
Now, one cannot live for nearly three decades and not be at least somewhat experienced in goodbyes. So I do know that it doesn't usually hit me until the person is actually gone. So of course, the minute I drove away, the waterworks began. On the way home, I listened to one of my favorite songs, which never fails to evoke the mental slideshow--the parade of dog-eared and beloved mind's eye snapshots. Ah, the happy memories. The good times. What am I doing, leaving all this? But, the song ends, the images have been cycled through, and I tell myself it will get easier. The bond will never weaken--it is cemented in the formative experiences we shared--but I have to trust that time will cause the pain of separation to fade and be replaced with a bittersweet nostalgia for the past.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Getting him from my apartment to my parents' house, I did a trial run of the sedative. I could not discern exactly when it took effect, because he never did fall asleep. But he was kind of wobbly on his feet. He did not put up much of a fight when I put him in his crate, and did not meow once he was in there. The drive up here was peaceful. I left him in his crate in my bedroom to wake up, and when I let him out, he explored a little. He loves the window--has a much better view than the one in my apartment bedroom.
I introduced him to my parents' cat, Mazda, and there was much hissing on both sides. The dogs' reaction to Comet was mixed. Boom Boom is rather indifferent. She must have been raised around cats. She is the mellowest of the dogs. Who could resist this face?
Now Speedy, on the other hand, cannot control his canine instincts and insists on barking and chasing when any cat is present. Who would know by looking at this sweet pooch face?
There have been a couple of altercations, but I'm not too worried. Comet has his claws, and is bigger than Speedy. Speedy will just have to learn to stay away!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The POD will be stored in Sylmar until we tell them where in NC to send it.
After she left, I continued the packing, and never did make it to bed. Of course, not every moment was spent efficiently. I did take a break to snap a photo of my kitty perched on a newly cleared closet shelf:
Around 10 am Sunday, my dad arrived with the U-Haul truck. I had suggested we get some help loading the boxes and furniture by hiring day laborers from outside Home Depot, but my dad was pretty confident we could handle it ourselves. After the first half dozen back-breaking trips, though, he agreed that we should seek assistance. Rodolfo and Francisco came to the rescue. For a mere hundred bucks, they took care of all the heavy lifting, and loaded the truck quite professionally.
Shockingly, my stuff barely fit. There were even a few items that wouldn't fit. And mind you, I'd rented the 17' truck. The PODS are only 16' long. So this was worrisome. Thankfully, the PODS are taller inside than the U-Haul, so there is actually more room. But once something is loaded in there, it is as good as gone. Say goodbye to it until you unload at the end of the trip. You'll see in a moment why this can be a problem.
With this transition being dragged out over the next three weeks, the issue of receiving mail is problematic. I cannot forward my mail to NC, because I do not have a place there yet. I cannot file a forwarding order using my parents' address, because I'll only be here 2 weeks and that's how long it takes to start receiving forwarded mail. The post office recommended that I put a hold on my mail for the next two weeks, and then pick it up right before I leave, meanwhile acquiring a post office box in Cary, to which I can then forward everything. It seems that to get a box, the post office requires two forms of identification...with matching addresses. This is not an easy requirement for me to fulfill--not only have I moved a lot lately, so nothing matches, but even if I had two that matched, I couldn't get to them, seeing as they are buried underneath mounds of stuff in the back of my POD.
Plan B was to forward my mail to my brother in NC, but he is in the process of interviewing for a position as a police officer in a city three hours from his current residence. Thus he could be moving shortly too. So I came up with Plan C: I will forward my mail to the ever dependable and ever helpful Nicole. Now it's just a matter of keeping my fingers crossed that the post office can get this right. The last time I filed a forwarding order, I never received a single piece of forwarded mail, and my old roommate kept having to send it to me.
So last night there was some pretty awesome thunder. Woke me up from a sound sleep, and my immediate thought was, "Wait for the shaking." The last time such a, well, thunderous sound awakened me it was the Northridge earthquake. Thankfully, this time it was just a storm. And today the air smelled SO good. You can't beat the smell of the desert after a rain. And the sky was gorgeous with all the dissipating clouds. It was still pretty warm, despite the rain, which is a good appetizer for NC.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
But it is progressing. I may have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, but it will get done. And I still have tomorrow night for last minute stuff.
I'm bummed that I have to relinquish my cable boxes tomorrow morning. I have a ton of stuff saved on the DVR (which is like a Tivo) that I simply won't have time to watch. My packrat tendencies are reflected in how I accumulate hours of television. Multiple episodes of Ellen, Daily Show, $40 a Day, 30-Minute Meals, South Park, and Queer Eye. Not to mention the charity concert for the Gulf Coast that aired the night I saw a taping of Joey. I really wanted to see that. Oh well. Now if only I could be forced to part with all my other packrat junk as easily.
Even though I'm pressed for time I felt I needed to take the time to post because when I return my cable boxes, I will also be returning my cable modem...thus, no more internet. I do have the wireless laptop, and there are several signals in my building, but they're all encrypted. Phooey. So I don't know when I'll be able to post again...probably not until Monday. I will be experiencing serious ISW (information superhighway withdrawal)!
What's been on my mind lately is the odd phenomenon I'll call "finale courage." How many classes did you have in college where you didn't get to know your classmates well until the very end of the term? I doubt I'm the only one who noticed that toward the end of the quarter or semester, everyone in class got friendlier and more outspoken. Or how on a plane ride (if you're lucky) your neighbor has been quiet for the past 5 hours--but suddenly during the last 10 minutes becomes a chatterbox? In both cases, I think it's because we know the end is near, so to speak, and therefore the potential for being judged is also ending. Subconsciously (or perhaps consciously) we are aware that even if we say or do something stupid, we won't have to suffer through the resulting awkwardness because, "We're outta here!" This basically frees people up to be themselves, for better or worse.
Well, last night I experienced finale courage of a more personal nature. I won't go into the sordid details, but let's just say I asked a friend a question I would never normally ask because of the high potential for a disastrous answer. But I will probably never see this person again, so I figured what have I got to lose? The answer ended up being less disastrous than I feared, but also less encouraging than I'd hoped. Please forgive me if this is incredibly vague and enigmatic. But I think that if you've ever experienced what I'm talking about, you'll know exactly what I mean.
I'll leave you this evening with this: I've been seeing tons out-of-state license plates so I decided to take pictures of them and try to collect all 50 states. I'm proud of this latest "score" because I think it's probably pretty rare out here.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
So now I'm packing. It is going slower than I expected, I think because I'm used to moving across town with just me and my friends and family to do the labor, so I've never really packed things all that securely. Knowing a box of fragile items is going from my bedroom, to my car, to my new bedroom, in trusted hands the entire time, I'm a little lax with the cushion. But now I have no idea how much jostling and bumping and bouncing all my stuff is going to endure, so I'm packing it as if it will be both dropped and stomped on. Which means lots--and lots--of bubble wrap. That stuff's not cheap! But if it protects my precious knick knacks from unspeakable abuse, it's worth it. Can I tell you how many times I wrote "knick knacks" today? Yeah, like eight. Twice on each box. For crying out loud, I have four boxes of knick knacks?! I need help.
I was thinking today that I enjoy my stuff the most when I'm packing and unpacking it. Case in point: I was wrapping up a Venetian glass bowl I acquired in Italy a year and a half ago, and it occurred to me that I had not truly appreciated it--in the sense of contemplating its beauty, remembering how I acquired it, etc.--since the last time I packed and unpacked it. But at least it's on display, unlike a lot of my stuff, which is hidden away in boxes because I don't have room to display it.
It also occurred to me that the poor victims of Katrina don't even have "stuff" anymore. It would be heartbreaking to lose all the souvenirs and collectibles and mementos that I have gathered and saved over the years. Of course it's not the things themselves that are so valuable, but rather the memories they evoke. I'm not even 30 but I am already disturbed by how much my mind is like a sieve. Without these things to jolt my memories, what would be left? It's sad to think that we recall our lives by way of materialistic goods, but it's true. The only way around that is to write down everything you experience, everything you think about, all your feelings and opinions. Which is why, I think, blogs are so popular. It's like a journal, but better, because you'll never lose it. (Unless Blogger goes under, of course--don't even go there!)
I've got precious little time left...tomorrow I'm out of commission, going to Santa Barbara, and Saturday I'm going to a play (the tickets were bought a long time ago). So that leaves Thursday and Friday to get everything ready. And Thursday I'm going out to lunch and dinner (gotta get all the goodbyes taken care of!). Sleep? What's that?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
To test my wireless photo-posting capability, I'll try uploading a couple shots I took recently. I've been growing quite sentimental about leaving behind everything that is So Cal, from the beautiful desertscapes,
to the archetypal palm trees,
to the gorgeous ocean sunsets (those black specks are birds!).
Friday, September 09, 2005
Today I wasn't as productive as I'd hoped. I arose at 6, showered, and went to take care of Molly (Bichon) and Kelly (cat). Stopped at computer repair shop, and picked up my laptop. Haven't had a chance to test the wireless functionality yet...hopefully it works, or else I paid $165 for nothing! Drove to AAA to pay for my car registration. Got there and saw a hand-written sign, "Due to major plumbing problems, we are temporarily closed." Drat. Well, I can just go to Santa Clarita early tomorrow and take care of it at the AAA there. Stopped at Trader Joe's to get Rescue Remedy; they claim they've never heard of it. Called the other Trader Joe's, they also don't carry it. Drat again.
Came home, checked email, did some research. I thought renting a post office box would solve the problem of where to send my mail during this transition, but there's some uncertainty about whether you can use a PO Box on a forwarding order. Also looked into how much renting a U-haul would cost ($30 plus 79 cents per mile if I do an "in town" move, over $300 if I do a one-way move). Then the guy from United movers came over around noon and basically took an inventory of everything I want to move. He did not give me an estimate on the spot, because he said he had to "run the numbers" at the office tomorrow. I think it's going to be really high, because he was talking about shuttling my stuff (i.e., they can't drive a semi down my street so they have to use a smaller truck and shuttle my belongings to the semi that is parked elsewhere) and charging for storage (lame, since most places give you a month free). So I've pretty much decided to go with PODS, but the question is, can we get them on such short notice? We'll find out soon enough.
Then 1:45 rolled around and it was time to take my kitty to the vet to get the sedatives. Just walking toward the front door, Comet was not having any of it. Thankfully I'd put on my denim jacket, so his claws did not dig into my skin. We got into the car and he immediately dove under the front passenger seat. I was kind of worried, because he is a big boy (17 pounds) and that's a tight space. But he seemed to be able to turn around under there so I thought it was fine. Then we arrived at the vet and I could not get Comet out of the car. He was wedged in there in such a way that he was not squished, but I could not get a grip on him to pull him out. It did not help matters that the vet is right on Sepulveda, so there is mega traffic noise that must have scared the bejeezus out of him. I had to go into the vet's office and plead my case. They were SUPER nice and VERY understanding. They wrote up a quick statement saying that I accept all liability since I'm medicating my cat without a proper exam, and then they gave me the pills (well, sold me the pills). The vet was very friendly and cordial, and he encouraged me to enjoy my cross country trip.
When I got back home, I still couldn't coax Comet out of the car to save my life. I tried treats, I tried tuna, I tried poking him from the back seat, nothing worked. I had to leave him in the car. I came down periodically to check on him, but he was determined not to budge. Poor guy, must have been so traumatized. Then it came time to go on my evening rounds for pet sitting. I thought I had no choice but to take him with me, since I couldn't get him out. Then I had an idea. There's a body shop right around the corner from my house. I pulled in there, and went into the office.
Me: Hi. I have kind of a situation and I was wondering if you could help me.
Auto Man: Okay.
Me: My cat is stuck under the front seat of my car and I was wondering if you could unbolt the seat so I can get him out.
Auto Man: What?! Well that's a new one. I've never in my life heard of that situation before. Let's go take a look.
Auto Man brought out three other guys to witness my poor kitty lodged under the seat. One of them ran into the shop and came out with a socket wrench and started to unbolt the seat. Can you believe they dropped everything to help me? I was so grateful, you have no idea! It was a more time consuming process than I would have thought. We even had to slide the seat forward a little bit so he could reach the back bolts. Not a simple proposition when there's a little putty-cat crammed down there. But finally the seat came off, and Comet came out. I wrapped him in a towel and sat down in the driver's seat while the nice man reattached my passenger seat. I asked the owner if I owed him anything, and he said, "Just twenty bucks." I happily handed over my credit card (still seated in my car with the cat completely covered up) and he ran it and came back for my signature. I immediately drove home, cat still on my lap, and deposited him in my bedroom. Thankfully he seems none the worse for the wear. But how ironic that this happens when I'm taking him to the vet to get sedatives for the cross country drive because he doesn't like being in the car...duh! I should have gotten a cat carrier, but I'm trying to score one cheaper from Craigslist.
Now if I can just figure out an easy way to give a cat a pill...
Thursday, September 08, 2005
- Curb appeal to the nth degree! (overlook the photographer's lack of skill)
- Come on, you can't get much cuter than this (not counting the hideous wallpaper)
- What a single girl does with 1700 square feet, I don't know. But I can probably come up with something!
1. Reading blogs is fun, especially if you use the "Next Blog" button in the upper right-hand corner to randomly cycle through them.
2. Reading blogs ranks as the second leading cause of time suckage...the number one cause being searching real estate listings.
3. Lots of people are posting on their blogs about Katrina. And lots of them are not. I have not seen anyone apologize for not posting about it. Does that mean I'm too hard on myself for feeling guilty about being self-centered, or does that mean I'm the only one aware of it?
4. Cat carriers are expensive. A hard plastic one with a metal gate door runs $65 at Centinela Pet Feed and Supply (or $80 at Petco), while a soft-sided collapsible version runs $90 at Petco (not available at Centinela PFS). That's a lotta dough for feline transportation needs!
5. The fine associate at Centinela PFS informed me that Trader Joe's carries something called Rescue Remedy, which is an all-natural way to mellow out a cat. Upon further research, I discovered that while it is in fact herbal, it is intended for humans and contains 27% alcohol! I will consider it as an option (maybe for myself even!), but I'm still taking Comet to the vet tomorrow to procure the hard core drugs, just in case. I really want him to be as stress-free as possible.
6. It will cost $165 to upgrade my ancient laptop to Windows 98 SE, just so I will be wireless-enabled and can have Internet access while on the road. Not cheap, but way cheaper than buying a new laptop. And once I arrive, I will be able to sit on the couch and surf the web. The fact that I see that as the coolest thing since sliced bread reveals my true couch potato-ness. Why not upgrade to XP, you ask? Direct that question to the 32 measly MB of RAM on that poor old laptop. It's like asking the federal government to respond quickly to a major natural disaster: simply not capable.
7. Stupid Apple. They clearly have a master plan that involves record-fast mass obsolescence.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
But for now I must concentrate on how I will move my stuff. Yesterday, before all this happened, I spoke with two moving companies, one of which gave an over-the-phone estimate of about $2,000-3,000, while the other is coming over tomorrow to do an in-home estimate. The third possibility is PODS (Portable On Demand Storage). PODS will deliver a large container directly to your house; you fill it, then they come pick it up and take it to storage or move it to your destination. I wanted to use PODS from the beginning, but couldn't--living in an apartment building, there is no place to put the POD (except on the street!) for several days while I load it. But now, since I'll be moving with my parents, I have the option of renting a U-haul, taking my stuff up to Santa Clarita, and loading it into a POD that has been deposited in their driveway. Kind of a lot of work, but PODS are a little more cost effective than professional movers.
PODS charge a flat rate, regardless of weight and cubic feet, unlike professional moving companies. This means I can take more with me without paying more to move it. For instance, I was going to sell my two TV's, because they will cost about $60 each to move. With a POD, I can just add them to the load and not bother with selling the old and buying the new. However, I will be responsible for packing them securely enough that they are not damaged, AND I will be responsible for getting them to and from the POD. TV's are heavy! And they're not the heaviest of my furniture, either! So professional movers, who will do all the heavy lifting for me, and load my stuff properly, might end up being the better way to go after all. I must decide soon, because regardless of when we leave for NC (probably around October 1), I do have to vacate my apartment in twelve days!
Yes, October 1! That's less than a month away! Somehow, escrow for the sale of my parents' house will be less than 30 days. In fact, it's scheduled to close on September 29, which is frighteningly soon. This leaves little time to fly back to NC and pick out a new house to buy. So now my parents are talking about putting their stuff in storage and living in a furnished apartment for a month or so, until they find just the right new house. Prudent, I suppose, not to rush into such a large purchase. But it would be so much nicer to arrive in NC to a real home. Well, we will see what happens. Clearly things can change on a dime right now, which is definitely testing my ability to go with the flow. I guess you just have to trust that everything will work out okay in the end!
P.S. I am aware, with much chagrin, that it can seem self-involved to blog about the trials and tribulations involved in moving when others have suffered, and continue to suffer, unthinkable horrors. Those affected by Katrina remain in my thoughts...
Monday, September 05, 2005
Welcome to my new blog. Until now I've been a silent observer of this somewhat new phenom, but finally I think I might have something worthwhile to contribute. I currently live in Los Angeles, California, a few miles from the airport. I'm moving to North Carolina in two weeks. I have only been there once before, for a week this past June. My brother lives there with his girlfriend, who recently gave birth to my niece, Cassidy Anne--thus the impetus for my visit. My mom came along, quite keen on the idea of being a grandmother.
Now, I'd made some rumblings about moving to NC for a little while before our trip, for a variety of reasons--mainly, wasn't happy at my job, was having difficulty getting over an old boyfriend, and wanted to have an adventure. But the main thing holding me back was I did not want to be 2,500 miles away from my parents. If I could convince them to come with me, though, nothing would stand in my way. My dad is always game for things like this, but my mom is more cautious. Then one day, apparently out of the blue, she started to warm up to the notion of living on "the other coast," North Carolina in particular. Not only is the cost of living much cheaper in NC compared to So Cal, but also it offers a plethora of new vacationing opportunities. We've lived here our whole lives and we've seen the West: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada. Love it, but seen it. How intriguing to have a new home base from which to explore the other half of the country! And, of course, we'd be closer to the new baby.
All right, I'm sold! So let's go already! Well, as I said, I'm moving in two weeks, but my parents can't yet. They own their house--the one my brother and I grew up in since 1979--and they have to sell it before they can move. You'd think this would be a simple and fast proposition in today's purportedly booming real estate market, but not so much. It's been two months now, and only one lowball offer. So, I'm moving out there ahead of them, trusting that eventually they will follow.
Why the rush, you ask? Well, I wasn't exactly a happy camper at my job. I will spare you the ponderous back story, and offer the nutshell: I was a junior high history and Spanish teacher for five years. I quit because the little brats drove me bonkers (although the other 90% were darling) and got a stop-gap job in the insurance industry. Then along came my "dream job," wherein I designed training materials and other such goodies for a nonprofit in the character education field. I don't want to burn any bridges, so I won't give details on why I wanted to leave. Suffice it to say: boss problems. But I will not hold back my praise of my cohorts in Publications: they are beyond awesome. Smart, hilarious, dedicated, capable, kind, supportive, the whole enchilada. Leaving them was hard; you can't get much better than these guys. Friday was my last day. Que triste!
So, having decided it was time to move on, I seized upon this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pick up and move cross-country and start fresh. I am so excited to live in a completely different region and learn all about what makes it unique.
I am writing this blog to chronicle my odyssey: the preparation for moving, the trek across eight states (driving with my cat, Comet) and settling into a new apartment, job, friends, and community. I hope you find it interesting, and please feel free to comment on anything that moves you!