Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Moving Out

Tubs of evidence (Rubbermaid Roughneck 14 gall...

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The week finally came – the week I move out of my mother’s place where I was able to stay through grad school and out to my own place. I’d anticipated this happening much earlier, but due to some medical expenses, it had to wait a little longer.

I found a great condo for rent in North Seattle. My commute will be less than a third of what it currently is, especially in the evening. I will be closer to where most of my friends live and may actually be able to have a social life.

Over the weekend, I moved the majority of my stuff to my new place. My uncle, mom, and I loaded up a 14 foot U-Haul truck at my storage unit/mom’s place. We drove it the 15 miles down I-5 and two friends met us to help unload. My friends often comment on my numerous plastic tubs that I use to move. Each year, I buy a few, so I’m now up to over thirty of them. They are super easy to carry and pack and they stack together when empty. It’s pretty funny when you see them packed all together in stacks of three or four.

Using a handtruck and a  small pushcart, we managed to move everything in fairly quickly. We basically dumped and left. I spent a couple hours after work each day this week starting to set my new place up. I plan on taking Toby down on Saturday so he can get used to the place.

While I hate the actual move, there is something fun about setting up everything just the way you want it. Over the past couple of years, I slowly replaced everything I’d gotten rid of when I moved across country, so now I’m opening all of those boxes. It’s like Christmas all over again.

So, I’ll leave you with a little Billy Joel and his Movin’ Out song…

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Home Sweet Home?

Castle Apartments, 2132 2nd Avenue, Belltown, ...

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to move out into my own apartment, and for the last two months I have been actively pursuing that goal.  It’s an emotionally draining process with both ups and downs. Unfortunately, it’s seemed to be mostly downs.

I started in earnest when I returned from the East Coast in late July. I didn’t expect to move in August, but it was good to start looking. My goal was September 1st, then giving me the Labor Day weekend to move in, get settled, and all before school started. Well, that didn’t happen, but it wasn’t my fault. I’d found this beautiful 1 bedroom apartment that takes dogs. It was open and bright and had a HUGE deck that my pup would love to hang out on. I put in my application and application fee, totally in love with the apartment. I got a phone call from the property manager the next day stating that he had rented the apartment to another woman who had seen it the day before me. He offered to mail back or shred my check as he had not cashed it yet. I was heartbroken – I had started to picture myself (and Toby) living in this great place.

It took me a couple of weeks to find another place that I would consider, and it came in the form of a basement apartment about four blocks from my work. It was a little steeply priced, but it included all utilities and I would make up the difference in what I’d save in gas. I contacted the woman and set up a showing. It was in a beautiful old neighborhood in north Seattle and I was really excited. It had its own fenced backyard space and the woman had her own dog, so she was happy to have Toby.  It was a very weird apartment. The kitchen was small but doable, however it had no oven. There was a gas stovetop, but nothing underneath except a cabinet. Okay, weird, but not a deal breaker. I don’t really bake all that much anyway. I continued on into a very small living room. I have a large couch, so this was a bit of a concern. The bedroom, though, was huge. However, there was no closet, so I’d have to get a wardrobe of some sort. The light was still pretty good for being so deep into the basement. The big problem, though, was the bathroom area. A curtain – soon to be replaced by plantation shutters, she said – was all that separated the bedroom from the upstairs access. The apartment’s bathroom was on the other side of those doors, as was her guest bath and the laundry room. She even said that if she had guests over, they’d be using the guest bath. This lack of privacy, especially for an apartment that was at the top of my price range, was not going to work.

I looked at a third place this week. The apartment itself was okay, but the owner was trying to sell it and I really didn’t like the uncertainty of that situation. Another condo came out on Craigslist this weekend, and although I’ve emailed twice and called twice, I cannot get a hold of the manager. She called me back, but we keep missing. Now there’s a new place, two blocks from the one I loved originally, and I’m hoping I can get in touch with someone there.

The whole process has been exhausting. I thought it would be easier to find an apartment here than in Manhattan, but it’s not turning out that way. Hopefully soon, though, I’ll find a place that Toby and I can call home.

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Moving to the Big City (or in a New York State of Mind)

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Like many of my blogging colleagues, I have moved many times in my life. I moved from the Seattle area to central PA when I was 16, which was quite a culture shock. It was the mid 90s and to go from the center of grunge culture to the Grange Fair was a bit jarring. But nothing prepared me for the experience of moving to New York City.

I have been living in central Pennsylvania for nine years when I decided to go to grad school at NYU. The choice was as much for the specific program as it was for the location. I knew I needed to get out of PA – I’ve always been more of a city girl and the country was getting to me. I arrived in the NYC metro area during the first week of September 2003, and I’ll admit, I was overwhelmed. It was the first time in my life that I got to choose where I lived. The moves prior to this one had been dictated by my family or necessity.

I spent the first few months there trying to figure out my way around. I actually lived in Jersey City, just across the Hudson from Manhattan.  I had to learn both the PATH train and the subways. I had to learn a new way of shopping – different stores for fruit and veggies, bread, meats. The grocery stores, for the most part, were totally different than I was used to. The aisles were barely wide enough for the mini shopping carts that they had.

The whole process of learning the city was exacerbated by the fact that I spent most of my time in Greenwich Village, a part of the city that is not on the grid system that New York is known for.  Where else does 3rd Street cross 10th Street? Anything above 14th Street was easy, but that’s not where I spent much time.

I moved into Manhattan when I was done with school.  I chose to live in the slightly more affordable Washington Heights (almost to Inwood.) I became very familiar with the A train, as well as the buses that went East and West across the Bronx (where I worked).  I learned to love public transportation and became very good at it.

I was told once that you need to live in NYC for ten years before you can really call yourself a New Yorker. I was only there for four years, but I feel I knew my way around better than a lot of people. For example, a couple of friends were in town for a Daly Chihuly exhibit at the NY Botanical Gardens. Being a volunteer at the Gardens, I got in for free and could bring up to four friends. We spent the day at the garden and then decided to go out for dinner and drinks that evening.  We headed down to the Times Square area – not my favorite, but there are a lot of options there.  We then found a great Scottish bar where the waiters were in kilts. After a few rounds, I was rather inebriated. We left the bar and were heading back to my place when my companions realized they didn’t know how to get home.  As not sober as I was, I was easily able to navigate us to the 42nd Street subway station, get us on the northbound A train, and got us off at the Dyckman Street station.

There are some days I really miss New York. I left almost four years ago, but I truly believe that there is no place like that city.

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Unexpected Difficulties

This move to Connecticut is my first major relocation. I’ve lived in the same area my whole life (apart from college) and have really taken for granted the basic knowledge of the area I learned growing up. I moved from suburbia to suburbia so it hasn’t been too jarring. Life is still highways to get where you’re going. Chains that are ever present in suburbia are here too. But not all chains.

Back home we have wonderful places called Wawa. Fantastic convenient stores usually with many gas pumps. It is a well known fact that Wawa has the cheapest gas in any area. I suddenly realized when needing my first refill that I had NO clue which gas stations were reliably cheap. When I went to get groceries, I was horribly disappointed in the selection and the produce at the nearest grocery store. Back home there was a reliable chain where you knew the produce was good and the prices were cheap or even the high end chain where it was more expensive but the quality was great. Here, I have to go by what co-workers and neighbors say and opinions vary greatly. I’ve finally settled on a store I like. I think.

The first week I went to work I turned on the TV for traffic and weather and realized I didn’t know which channel to turn to. At home, I tuned in to 6 ABC where they had traffic and weather updates every six or so minutes. My dilemma was quickly resolved when I noticed it was an hour later than I used to leave for work and there was only one local news show left available.

Speaking of traffic. Recently we’ve had some issues with flooding thanks to the combination of tons of melting snow and a lot of rain. I did my normal learned behavior of checking with the radio to find out what roads to avoid. This didn’t work for two reasons. First, they named a bunch of streets that were flooded. Charles Ave between 1st and 2nd Street. Ok good…where is that exactly? I went with the theory if I didn’t know the road it wasn’t one on my commute and to not do any exploring while random roads were flooded. The second problem was when the DJs got tired of listing the flooded streets. They reverted to the tactic that never threw me before, and I quote, “Basically if its a road that usually floods when we get really heavy rains it’s flooded now. You know which ones to avoid.” (No I don’t!) I never knew how entirely NOT helpful that is until now. If you know which roads tend to flood you don’t need the radio to tell you that once again, in this torrential rain, they have flooded. If you’re not from around here it’d be nice if at some point you mention which roads these tend to be. Again, I opted for no exploration  and to just go home and ponder what else is missing from my kitchen besides cooking spray and olive oil.

These little things just keep popping up that just come with the territory of moving somewhere new. Of course that’s part of the excitement that Nicole was talking about yesterday. I need to find a new go to Mexican restaurant. I need a new favorite pizza place. And the most important part, where to get a good hoagie. I don’t care if they call them grinders here (that was another bit of confusion) they’re hoagies.

For the time being, I know I can get a pretty good sandwich at Panera. If I really need to go someplace that feels familiar there’s always Target. It is suburbia after all.

PS – Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my Irish friends out there!

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Itchy feet

For my family, change was a way of life. I’m a Navy brat.  I was born in Alaska, and moved to Georgia before my second birthday.  I’d like to think that adjustment was difficult, but I don’t remember it, so it couldn’t have been too traumatic.  During Elementary School, it was hard always being the new kid.  Every time I had settled in and found a group of friends, we picked up and moved.  In the next ten years, we moved four more times, finally ending up in New Hampshire.   Then, we moved to four houses in the same town within four years.  Then, stayed in one place, in one house for fifteen years so far (my parents still live there).  Even though the moving was hard, the not moving proved to be an even bigger adjustment.

After college, I repeated the pattern: New Hampshire, Boston, New York, Boston….I haven’t stayed in one place too long.  When my feet start to itch, I pack up and move to a new city or a new apartment.

A new house only eases the urge to move slightly.  I’m not looking for a perfect place (though my most recent apartment gets the closest), I’m trying to assuage my boredom, my feeling that it’s just….time.

So I guess the adjustment for me isn’t to a new place, it’s to NOT being in a new place.  In a new place, I can explore; it feels like a great adventure.  In an old place, I feel like I’m missing out on someplace different.  Of course, as I’m beginning to discover, there are benefits to the familiar.

I’m just having a hard time adjusting to liking that, too.

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I’ve moved a lot, but adapting to a new city usually wasn’t been too hard. As a kid, moving inserted you into an instant social structure – school. In most cases I was making friends by the first week. My move across the country was the roughest – I was a little lonely in 8th grade (because 8th graders are terrible, horrible, anti-social creatures) but by the time I hit 9th grade I joined a crazy amount of clubs and had lots of friends by the end of the first few months.

College was easy – I went to school in the same town as I had been living in for high school. College wasn’t just high school part 2 though. Many of my friends went to different schools; those who didn’t, for the most part, I still ended up falling out of touch with. However, I was living with my sister and she introduced me to all of her friends and soon they became my own.

The post-college graduation transition wasn’t too bad either. While this was one of my larger moves, from PA to NJ, I moved in with my sister (one might say I’m a mooch) until I got a job and my own apartment. A friend from high school and college moved in with me and my boyfriend wasn’t too far away. The biggest difference with this was move was that I was in a much more urban area than I ever had been previously. Still, with my trusty sister to navigate the way and point me in the right direction to the train, it really wasn’t a hard adaptation. State College, PA had always been too small for my liking so I was happy to be in the thick of things, even if my apartment was infested with mice and felt like it might fall over when a large truck drove by outside.

My final move was from Jersey City, NJ to where I live now in Edison, NJ. This brought me back to the ‘burbs, which necessitated me getting a car not terribly long after moving.  I’m fortunate in that I live within walking distance to the train I need for work, but a car was necessary for getting to a grocery store and such.

*yawn* I’m sorry. I think I’m boring myself writing this. I’ve had a lot of moves, but through the kindness of family and friends, I’ve never really had any major adjustment period or difficult transition. Or maybe I was just too clueless to notice. Whatever the case, it worked for me!

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My Life in Boxes

I’m hoping I’ll have a good work life balance. I haven’t started my new job yet but I’m feeling pretty good after the interview. The owners seem to understand that you work hard when work needs to be done and take time for yourself when needed. For the first time in 3 years I won’t be required to work almost every weekend in the Spring. Just one or two if there is work to catch up on. I’ll come back to this post topic once I’m into the swing of my new job. This week I’d like to go back to the moving topic more specifically the packing aspect.

Before I started packing I swore I didn’t have a lot of stuff. Some things here and there but not much. That perspective changes as things are put in boxes and put together in a corner in the garage. A large amount of my “stuff” has been sitting in storage since I moved out of my apartment almost 4 years ago. So I had quite a few surprises while going through boxes.

I am a sentimental person. I have many things that have sentimental value to me. I discovered going through boxes that some items have permanent sentimental value and some have an expiration date. There was more than one box that I opened and simply went “Why in the world did I ever keep this.” I’m sure there was a great sentimental reason to keep an item 4 years ago but in growing up and experiencing new things over the past few years the sentimentality seems to have transitioned. Other things are heirlooms to me. Their sentimentality will never expire.

I’ve found watching Clean House on the Style network also helps. They show what can happen when everything has sentimental value and it really makes you look at what you have. Every time I watch an episode I have an overwhelming desire to go through my clothes and other things and get rid of my excess. I’ve filled well over 7 boxes to go to goodwill. When I was younger I’d accept any household hand me down family members wanted to give me. Going through boxes I was surprised to see how much cookware I had. I’ve also come to terms with my mug addiction. I had well over 33 mugs. I had more mugs than years I’ve been on the planet. I can now acknowledge that’s excessive. I’ve filled 4 large trash bags with clothes to go to goodwill and I’m not done yet.

I’ve nearly finished my packing and soon all my belongings will be in the corner of the garage. The whole grueling experience of going through all my stuff has been very cathartic. It’s true what they say. You do feel lighter after getting rid of a lot of this excess. I have one week to get the last of it packed away and ready to go. It’s been a strange sort of feeling. I will miss some of my old life here in Pennsylvania but I’m starting to get excited about the new adventure I’m starting in Connecticut.

Next week.  Pondering my last 2 days before the big move north.

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Ready or Not. Here I Go.

We’ll jump right into it. I GOT A JOB!! I accepted a position of Inventory Manager at a wholesale nursery up in Connecticut a little over a week ago. The way it happened is still so crazy. I randomly met the owner at a trade show while discussing my unemployment with a mutual acquaintance. It really is crazy the way things work out.

I was able to squeeze in the interview a week or so ago before the last blizzard hit up there. I think I posted about it a couple weeks ago (Yeah I did). The day after I wrote that post they e-mailed me an offer. My salary is what I was asking and they’re throwing in a little bit to help with my move. That last bit sent me over the moon. They also understood I need time to relocate so we agreed to set a start date once I figured out when I was moving. We discussed what accessories they might get for me so I could do my job as efficiently as possible. I really felt like I’d found my way to the greener grass on the other side of the fence.

I did some minor apartment hunting before I headed back home for my mom’s retirement party (Yes in the middle of all this my mom retired from the place she’s worked for 31 years. More on that some other week). There was little success on our mini apartment hunt. Most places saying, “It’s weird. Normally we have a bunch of 1 bedroom apartments available but nothing’s open for months.” Of course, that’s because it’s me. I know good positive attitude.

I tried to make it up last week for more hunting but mother nature decided Connecticut need to play with big ice storms for a couple days. I searched what I could from home and found a window of clear weather to go up for an apartment hunting trip. I wasn’t too excited about my options until I stumbled on a random site that featured places for sale and rent. I found a 1 bedroom apartment in a nice area that seemed nice in the pictures that could be a good option. I ended up having just two places to look at when I made my way north.

The first place I went to had multiple one bedrooms to look at. The first smelled funny. Maybe like dirty kitty littter? I couldn’t place it but my chest was tight for a solid five minutes after leaving. The second apartment was ok. Not overly exciting. I thought maybe I can sign a short lease and try again in the summer when the weather is more cooperative.

Then I went to the random apartment I’d stumbled on online. I had made the appointment to see it that morning. It was cute. Out away from the hustle and bustle. The apartment is the converted second floor of an old house from the 1830’s there’s character and plenty of space. The storage space is limited but there is plenty of room for supplementary storage. It felt right and didn’t smell like old kitty litter. My mom, who went with me (her first post retirement activity), declared it perfect for me.

I move in a little over two weeks. It seems so surreal. I’m nervous one minute and excited the next. I’ll start my job in under a month and be on my way down my new path. Now I just need to pack. I’ve got bubble wrap and boxes. I’m all set.


Pack It Up, Pack It In

Moving Cupcakes

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Okay, now I have Jump Around stuck in my head and I hope you do too.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have done plenty of moving in my lifetime.  Some have been miserable experiences (okay, most of them) and some have been rather successful.  I have discovered, however, that the most important part of the process is packing.  It’s the first thing you do and the last thing you figure out if you did well.  How many times have you thought you packed something well, only to find pieces of it at the bottom of a box? So, I’ve decided to share some of my tips that I have learned in my adventures (some the hard way.)

  • Invest in good containers. My preference is the Rubbermaid Roughneck 18 gallon bins. These durable, easy to carry bins can hold quite a bit of stuff. Each year, I buy a few. At this point, I have well over twenty of these containers. They stack together well and protect your belongings inside.  One recommendation: put the heavy stuff at the bottom and pack lighter stuff toward the top.  It is very easy to overpack these, so take care to balance each one.
  • Books are the only thing that work in cardboard boxes.  I worked in a bookstore for two years and our receiving manager gave me about 10 decent sized book boxes.  These were perfect for packing up my library – sturdy enough to hold my books, but not too big that I couldn’t carry them.  Ask around at local book stores – we regularly gave ours away to patrons who asked.  It was that or recycling them.
  • Soft stuff like bed linens and pillows go great in plastic trash bags.  Tie them shut and then toss on the top of everything else once the truck is loaded.
  • Wardrobe boxes are great for moving clothing on hangers, but they are also really useful for moving odd sized objects – ironing boards, brooms, golf/beach umbrellas, and other weird shaped objects that aren’t box-able.
  • If you can afford it, hire professional movers, but make sure you budget about 10-15% more than they quote you.  When I moved across country, they gave me an estimate based on some information I gave them. It was a little low (I kinda thought it would be) and I ended up paying about $400 more than the estimate.  Also, make sure you tip the movers who pick up your stuff – they are the ones that will make sure your stuff gets where it needs to go safely.
  • If you are doing it by yourself, make sure you have a monkey.  This is a person who is not afraid to climb across furniture and haul boxes up to the small little spots. Inevitably, unless you want to make multiple trips, you will probably need every inch you can get.  I was always the monkey – I’m small and strong and was able to fit into spaces most people couldn’t while hauling heavy boxes.  A tip though – if you are moving in the heat of August, remember that the rough of the moving truck is metal and it is inadvisable to place the palm of your hand on the underside of that rough. I did so once and had a slightly burnt palm to show for it.
  • Beer, soda, pizza, and/or ice cream is the least you can offer your non-professional crew. Actually, I even bought my professional crew a couple of sodas when they were unloading my truck on one of the hottest days of the summer. They were quite appreciative.

Well, that’s all I’ve got.  Within the next two months, I will be undertaking this process yet again. We’ll see how well I did with my packing three years ago when I open up those Rubbermaid containers and other boxes!

Word to your moms….

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The best decision I’ve ever made

I move a lot.  In the past ten years I’ve moved nine times.  No, seriously, I’ve just counted and I’m as astonished as you are.  These weren’t just cross-town moves.  Seven of nine moves took me to another state or cross country. 

Every time, it’s the same  fever dream of anxiety, heavy lifting and yelling.  In most of these moves (save one) my family has been the backbone of the moving effort (which explains the yelling).  Friends help out, lending me their arms and backs in exchange for beer and pizza.  But every time, I feel like it’s an unending torture and I hate it. 

Also, for some reason known only to meteorologists, I always move on either the hottest, or the coldest, day of the year. 

I have acquired something of a moving expertise, however.  I’ve inherited my father’s calibrated eye so I can easily determine whether something will fit in a small space.  I’m a great packer, and I usually emerge on the other end of the move with all of my belongings intact.  And I’m a pretty good weeder-out of things I no longer need.  (A separate and very funny story has two of my best friends in a deathrace for the give-away box of books and dvds from one of my more recent moves)

But, I finally got fed up with all the bullshit hassle that a move entails.  So, for my most recent move, cross-town from Somerville to Brighton, I broke down and hired movers. 

Let me tell you, that was the BEST $300 I ever spent. 

In typical fashion, the day of my move saw a 20 degree increase in temperatures.  I had asked my dad and my sister to help with the final push and they showed up early, before the moving team arrived.  My dad looked at me and said, “What do you need me to do?”

I wish I had a picture of the look on his face when I handed him the keys to my new place and said, “Can you go over and be there to let the movers in? Thanks.” Shock and awe and absolutely zero lifting.  He was bowled over.  He hastened out the door before I could change my mind.

The moving team arrived and they took 25 minutes to load the truck and were underway while my sister and I finished cleaning and throwing out the remaining detritus.  About another 25 minutes later, we were all in the new place, the movers were finishing up and I signed the bill and sent them on their way. 

It was all over by 11 am and worth every penny.

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