Monday, June 22, 2009

Moving, Part Two

I forgot to mention a few things in the last post, and now I've forgotten exactly what they are. I think it was something like, if you are moving to take a low-paying job in conservation work, then you have earned the eco-karma to use disposable cups before you move.
Now I remember--I was going to comment on not making yourself nuts trying to give away all usable items you don't want to move. Don't feel guilty throwing things away. Like broken things that can TOTALLY be fixed but you don't have the time. The infrastructure makes it difficult to not fill landfills and sometimes you just gotta give up. You can't take all the world's eco-guilt onto yourself--it's not your fault that there is no place to drop off "fixable broken stuff" for groups to fix or for artists to use in recycled-stuff-art. (There's a nonprofit I would like to see. That, and something like, matching up old coffeemakers that lost their pot to coffeepots that have no makers. Appliances and parts, that kind of thing--so no one has to throw away usable crap.)

I'd like to write on and on some things to get rid of pack rat guilt. Instead, here's some pack rat enabling. You know the magazine and newspaper articles you've been saving, holding onto because you don't want to throw them out? Old letters, brochures, etc?
You can throw them out. But if you REALLY don't want to, use them to pack breakables. I always use junk mail, old class notes, and things like that to wrap up shot glasses, wine glasses, ceramic stuff--just to cushion it. Instead of using junk paper, why not use paper you want to save? Then you can justify saving them and maybe someday, like when breaking up the monotony unpacking, you can read those articles/reread those letters.

Moving Every Year: a Primer

That is what I wish existed. A nice set of tips for twenty-somethings (or anyone perhaps) who move all the time. Out of dorm rooms and apartments. I am doing much better at it than last year, I have to say, but even now, I can see what I should have done differently a few weeks ago. Such as allotting time to pack up stuff I wouldn't need instead of thinking, "I need to spend all the time with my friends that I can." No, I should have passed up a few nights (and taken a few more sick days from work) so that I could spend time with those people during my LAST week instead of, with six days to go,finding myself confronted with an attic full of Christmas decorations and other odd junk.

The first tip I will give, for myself and others, is to give yourself permission to drop the eco-friendly stuff for the last week or two. You can do your Get My Deposit Back cleaning with castille soap if you want, but ditch the reusable dishes unless you plan on leaving them behind. This isn't true for everyone, but a big sanity saver, I've learned, is to break yourself from the wash-pack-crap I want to eat-unpack-rinse-eat off of-rewash-repack cycle and just BUY SOME DISPOSABLE CUPS. Plates aren't a bad idea, either, though I've been getting around this by merely eating out of the same container I cooked in.

It's also a good idea to give yourself permission to buy takeout for the last week or so. I know it's fattening and expensive, but is it worth it to preserve your sanity? Yes, yes it is! You can always buy a packet of pre-washed salad (I got one yesterday--all organic and snooty--for four bucks) and throw some oil and vinegar on it if you find yourself ready to explode from too much grease.

Another good thing to do, that I should have done two months ago, is assess what you actually need to survive and be content day to day. I mean, what dishes and cookware do you absolutely need? Ditto spices and condiments. Most importantly--clothes and shoes and jewelry and toiletries! Get that excess packed up and into storage NOW so it's not haunting you later.

The closest I've ever gotten is to, about two weeks before moving, select X+2 (where X=number of work/going out in jeans-inappropriate public days left before move) outfits from my wardrobe, have them all laid out down to underwear, shoes,and accessories, and hang them in a closet. (Or in the case of my old apartment, from a random shelf-life extension of my bedroom wall.) And then take everything else (minus pajamas and a few junky outfits for moving) and put it in a suitcase and put it in my parents' house.

More later as I think of it. I'd love to know what other people do. Sort of like exchanging tips from other road trippers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Old To Do Lists

Goals for January 2009 (and last days of Dec 2008)

[There's a scrawl that says "MMMitts 18 st K2 P1 rib." It took me a while to realize this was a knitting pattern.]

* Establish and plan and strategy for Ballast Plants. Continue good work of November and December.
* Buy a new camera cable by Jan 20th. Or SD card reader.
* Make progress on computer situation - Back up at least ONE computer and d/l Linux CD.
* Get price quotes from Best Buy [This was to have one of my computers repaired.]
* Get caught up on e-mail and stay that way. At least 1 lunch per week, answer e-mails.
* Get better at turning in important docs.
* Start scanning stuff -- even outside NJ. Not limited to universities or even conventionally smart choices. [Hmm...]
* Foreign language stuff [I have no idea what that means]
* Event planning - maybe take some marketing classes? Statistics, Language
* Make sure to get outside a lot.
* Continue to organize and get rid of things
* File important papers. But also try to go paperless. Could start by dividing attic into sections.
* Pick up embroidery again as it's a good gift skill.
* Look into MS program. Could move to Somerville.
* Eventually get caught up with medical appointments. [Oops.]
* Be in PhD program by age of 29. Must start by Fall 2013 (year of ______'s wedding.) [That was pure speculation...______ is not even engaged.]
* Set goals...if XYZ by 9/1/09, then I will leave by 9/1/2010. [Hmm, I wonder what that was supposed to mean? I mean, I know that Sarah of December 2008 meant, if certain things happen by 9/1/09, then it's a sign to leave (whether that meant "leave Morristown" or "leave the East Coast," I do not know) by 9/1/10. But what the heck constituted as a sign?]

It is interesting to look back at this--to see how much I did accomplish, and how much my goals might have changed so that I don't care what I didn't accomplish, and also to see how, although there was an undercurrent of "Am I doing the right thing with my life? Am I miserable?", I was planning to stick around for awhile. I was planning to start taking night classes, possibly enroll in a MS program at Rutgers (hence moving to Somerville--it's about halfway between Rutgers and my job in Morristown), and systematically go through all my belongings and get rid of a lot of crap I don't need or want. Here it is with more notes and revisions--6/20/09. (Incidentally, this is the anniversary of Mary's and my return from our big road trip.)

* Establish and plan and strategy for Ballast Plants. Continue good work of November and December. Yeah, I don't know what's going to happen with that.
* Buy a new camera cable by Jan 20th. Or SD card reader. Installing Ubuntu Linux on my computer magically made the SD card reader drive work. Huh.
* Make progress on computer situation - Back up at least ONE computer and d/l Linux CD. It's amazing how many goals were accomplished by installing Ubuntu on my computer.
* Get price quotes from Best Buy [This was to have one of my computers repaired.] That computer, which is a Windows machine, is still broken. The jack in the back to which the power cord goes is broken, so in order to use the computer, it has to run on a battery charged with an external charger.
* Get caught up on e-mail and stay that way. At least 1 lunch per week, answer e-mails. Siiiiigggghhhhh.
* Get better at turning in important docs. I am pretty sure that haven't been too many important documents to turn in since this was written. I'm getting better at things like this--paying bills on time and all that. I use Google Calendar and set reminders. I guess I'll try programming Thunderbird and whatever stuff Linux came with.
* Start scanning stuff -- even outside NJ. Not limited to universities or even conventionally smart choices. [Hmm...] Well! I REALLY did that one!
* Foreign language stuff [I have no idea what that means] ?????????????
* Event planning - maybe take some marketing classes? Statistics, Language Maybe I'll do this. I don't know.
* Make sure to get outside a lot.
* Continue to organize and get rid of things Not crossed out because this is ongoing. Though I did donate six grocery bags of clothing to charity and just gave two more bags away.
* File important papers. But also try to go paperless. Could start by dividing attic into sections. Well, I started this. I'm going to just file my old pay stubs and utilities bills and all that stuff I probably will never need, but might, and later--someday when I am back in NJ like at Christmastime perhaps--I will scan it all as PDFs and then get rid of all the papers in the fireplace.
* Pick up embroidery again as it's a good gift skill. Hey hey! I didn't realize, when I took advantage of Sublime Stitching's Recession Sale, that I was accomplishing something on my To Do List!
* Look into MS program. Could move to Somerville. Guess not.
* Eventually get caught up with medical appointments. [Oops.] I don't want to. I feel better now than I ever felt in the years when I regularly attended medical appointments. I got off all my prescription drugs (all two of them...) and just take Alleve and Claritin-D when I need it. I don't get migraines more than once a year, and I think they were exacerbated by one of the prescriptions I was on. I changed my diet a lot and that's probably why I feel better. So maybe it wouldn't hurt to go to the doctor and possibly feel even MORE better. It's not like the doctor can force me to take drugs or will tell me that my dietary decisions were wrong.
* Be in PhD program by age of 29. Must start by Fall 2013 (year of ______'s wedding.) [That was pure speculation...______ is not even engaged.] We'll see.
* Set goals...if XYZ by 9/1/09, then I will leave by 9/1/2010. [Hmm, I wonder what that was supposed to mean? I mean, I know that Sarah of December 2008 meant, if certain things happen by 9/1/09, then it's a sign to leave (whether that meant "leave Morristown" or "leave the East Coast," I do not know) by 9/1/10. But what the heck constituted as a sign?] Instead, XYZ happened by 1/9/09 and I decided to leave by 7/1/09.

Furniture Moving Day

In 45 minutes, my father will be here to take away my bedroom furniture (except for the bed.) Later, he'll return with my uncle and a truck, and they will take everything else. Dining room table, couch, desk, coffee table. I'll have a bed, a reading lamp, and a record player. (Like my last days in New Brunswick.) Oh, and boxes of crap in the attic that still need to either get sorted, or get thrown into plastic containers and put in storage to be ignored for awhile. I am leaning towards the latter, as much as I hate it--as much as I was trying to tell myself that THIS was IT. The time I finally went through everything I owned and got rid of that 90% I can probably live without and not even realize is gone.

Yesterday, a new tenant signed a lease beginning July 1.

It's making me think of my first days here, waking up in that room for the first time, alone in the room but not alone in the house. I fell asleep crying and fighting. I woke up and cried some more, but he never saw me cry. I walked into the living room, crying softly as he slept on my couch. I moved into the kitchen to make coffee, which woke him up. As soon as he was awake, I was too embarrassed to continue crying--having no idea that I was crying, he said something, I said something, we argued some more. Then something funny happened outside and we laughed. And then we went back to sulking.

In one of my high school History classes, the teacher said something that stuck with me--I can't remember the exact wording, though I do remember the topic. We were talking about the Progressive party during the nineteenth century, and their reaction to many things, including a bad economy. They were really pushing for the U.S. to switch from a gold standard to silver (so there would be more money.) They couldn't see, said my teacher, that this would be a disaster. But it wasn't their fault, he explained. They weren't stupid. Things just aren't always clear while they're happening. You can't see all the variables. Things become clearer when they are history.

I never really felt at home here, and I still can't figure out all of the reasons why. But I understand now why I was so sad when I first moved in. I knew deep down it wasn't because I fought with a boy. I knew he couldn't be my boyfriend. That wasn't what I wanted. I did want a connection to my old life, and I might have seen him as an avenue to that. But that wasn't all. That was a small part of it.

Still, it was a pretty crappy way to begin a new life in a new home.

A large part of it was a feeling that I wasn't progressing professionally, by postponing graduate school. Even though I know graduate school isn't the answer to everything; it was feeling that I didn't have the choice. I don't want to get into the professional stuff right now.

Anyway, these past ten months of feeling less than settled have certainly been accompanied by adventures--and as they become history and as the events fall into place, the picture becoming clearer, I will write more.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Last Hurrah

Yesterday was my last day at work and it was kind of perfect. After seemingly incessant rain and despite a negative forecast, the sun came out. We had clouds and showers on and off during the day, but it was nice enough that one could actually walk around outside. I decided to walk around the grounds and clip flowers for one last What's In Bloom display. I hadn't actually been doing them for awhile, but I wanted to do one yesterday. I left something behind.
Also, the people who were there yesterday were very nice; it was so far beyond what I expected would happen. Someone brought in bagels and donuts, someone bought ice cream, someone made me a really nice card, someone gave me a book, I'm probably leaving something out, and everyone gave me well wishes.
(Well, almost everyone.)
Everyone who matters.
I was really, really surprised and moved and all that. I am still surprised!
Despite all this, I felt very unsentimental about leaving. Usually, I hate transitions and I always feel that I am leaving something behind. I become miserably attached to ridiculous things--the story I always tell is that, when I was little and my family would stay in hotels on vacation, I would walk around the hotel room on the last day saying goodbye (usually in my head) to everything. This included the bathroom light switch.
I didn't go through my desk an extra time to see if I'd left any papers behind, or any memento I wanted. I said goodbye to all of the things unceremoniously. The gardens were beautiful, just as I would want to remember them, but I know that I can go back and see them anytime. I kind of think I will--go back and walk around before I move, just as a guest. Why should I stay away?
Actually, I did feel sad walking through the gardens. I kept thinking about the tours I'd given, walking past plants and automatically remembering my tour spiel. I liked being a part of those gardens and not just a visitor.
Anyway, the gardens will always be there, for me and for everyone--for the public. The things and routines I will not miss. The people I will, but I don't feel like I am lost to them forever. Thanks to these Internets, among other things.

Afterwards--and this is what I really planned on writing about when I opened the Blogger window, but topics always get away from me--I came home, showed a guy my apartment, and got ready for my Last Hurrah party. I didn't call it that, I called it "people coming over," but it became my Last Hurrah. A lot of people were here, all the pizza got eaten, everyone had a great time, some of the hard liquor was decimated (not enough) and it was kind of perfect.
My Last Hurrah in New Brunswick was attended by three people. (Though I did spend the week going out with different people every night.) My send-off from New Jersey, completely, seems to be different. It almost makes me want to stay.

(Almost.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A year ago at this time, I was making my first contact with the Pacific Ocean.

This Friday, June 12th, is my last day at work and also one year since I arrived in Portland, OR, for the first time.

Tuesday Adventures

I can't believe I haven't written since the end of May!

This is my last week at my job and even it is not without adventure. I did several silly things on Tuesday.

The first misadventure is short. On Monday night, there was a crazy thunderstorm. Booming thunder that woke everyone up; pouring rain. On Monday afternoon, I apparently left the windows cracked in my car. I discovered this on Tuesday morning. They were just barely, invisibly cracked, so that when I got in my car and saw wet seats, I was utterly perplexed. And damp for most of the morning.

Later that day, I left work taking three hours of my copious remaining sick time because I was actually not feeling so hot. I had cramps. Because I can never just SIT DOWN and DO NOTHING I decided I should bake cookies. I had mixed most of the dough ingredients on Monday night, but I was short one egg and half a cup of chocolate chips (if I wanted to make two batches.) So, I drove down to the A&P--within walking distance, but I wasn't feeling well and it was threatening to rain. This excursion should have taken under five minutes.

Should have.

Well, when I walked into the A&P I was bemused. This A&P is referred to as the "ghetto" A&P, and when I last went there--in September--it truly was. Boy, what I have been missing out on! It's now a nice, normal supermarket, selling all the snob groceries I like...and it's right by my apartment. I digress. The other nice part about this A&P is that is sells liquor, right in the store instead of in some kind of annex store.

The beer aisle shares space with the dairy aisle.
I had to walk past the beer to get to the eggs.
Beer was on sale.

So, I picked up a dozen snob organic eggs and a six-pack of ON SALE Leinenkugel. I am so glad I had an opaque canvas bag in which to stow that Leinenkugel.

Then I circled back and walked across the store, reading signs, trying to figure out in which aisle I would find chocolate chips. This store is compact so baking supplies and candy share an aisle. (Sort of like beer and eggs!) I was scanning the bags of candy to see if any of them were actually bags of chocolate chips when I saw HER.

SHE is the director (or manager, I don't know exactly) of another department of the organization for which I work (until Friday.) She and my supervisor sometimes disagree on things, and sometimes I had to be the shot-at-from-both-sides messenger who would communicate these disagreements. She had her back to me and was talking to another woman. I could see that the chocolate chips were just past them. I didn't want her to see me...in the middle of the day...at the store...buying beer. I stood in the neighboring aisle, pacing with indecision, and finally decided to check out right away and come back for chocolate chips later. I got on a short checkout line.

I was next in line and was almost--almost there! But then the customer in front of me, a shaky, ancient old man, put his last item on the register--a package of eggs--and learned that one egg had jumped ship and lie splattered on the A&P floor.
Pitying him, the cashier left to get him a new egg carton. He warned me to be careful I didn't step in any egg. The cashier took a long time to get that new egg carton. (Maybe she got distracted by beer, too.) This gave HER time to finish her candy aisle conversation. SHE was smiling and bouncy and practically danced her way into the checkout line right behind me. I tried to look straight ahead--like I was distracted and not rude and maybe some stranger and not Sarah--but my damn hair gave me away. That's what happens when you have recognizable hair.
"HI SARAH!"
I turned slowly. "Hi, (name.)"
"When's your last day!?"
"Friday..."
"Oh wow, that's--" I did not hear what followed, because my brain was too busy running.
WhatshouldIdo omg shouldIbuytheseeggs ohno the beer! the beer! Thank God for opaque canvas shopping bags! I guess I can get chocolate chips now...I'll put back the beer...
"Oh..." I said, spacily. "I forgot chocolate chips!"
"Oh don't worry! Go get them! I'll hold your spot in the line!"
Darn!
"I need...other stuff too. LOTS of other stuff. Chocolate chips AND other stuff!" Now, this spaciness wasn't completely an act. I wasn't feeling well, remember? So my brain was wacky and the first thing that came to mind came out of my mouth. "I need the chocolate chips for my dad!"
Translation: I am buying chocolate chips to make cookies for my dad's birthday, which is Sunday.
This co-worker looked at me like I was insane. Or trying to get away from her AND insane.
I dashed away, got chocolate chips, and briskly walked to the egg/beer aisle to return my Leinenkugel from whence it came. So I could just check out with my respectable groceries and leave.
But then I saw the sign.
SALE! THIS WEEK ONLY! SAVE $1.00!
(A dollar!)
I was not leaving that grocery store without that beer.
I hid behind a stack of twelve packs. Peeking around them, I saw that SHE was past the register, bagging groceries. I waited a few more minutes, and then briskly walked back to the checkout line.
I pulled the six-pack out of my canvas bag and triumphantly plunked it on the conveyor belt. I reached into the bag for the eggs and the--oh crap! I had, in my spaciness, brought the beer to the register, but left the rest of my groceries in the beer aisle!
I excused myself as I pushed past the people behind me on the line and raced to the beer aisle, trying not to laugh out loud. I grabbed my groceries and returned to the same checkout line for the third time.