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Archive for July, 2010

Flat

Somewhere in Illinois

Somewhere in Illinois

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Tornado country?

Hartford, CT

Hartford, CT

Near Hartford, CT

Near NYC

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Not in Kansas…yet

It took me a day and a half longer than I planned to pack up the rest of my belongings and load the car. I’d seriously overestimated what would fit. But seven big, heavy boxes worth of stuff to be shipped later, I finally hit the road on Wednesday. Aside from wondering whether the cats would fray my already move-frazzled nerves by meowing the whole time, the only part of this long, solitary roadtrip that caused me any real anxiety was the idea of being swept away by a tornado in Kansas. So there was something darkly humorous about the tornado warnings in western Mass and Connecticut that interrupted the serene music serenading me from the radio as I rolled out of town.

In the midst of everyone’s wishes for a safe journey, the warnings reminded me that none of us is ever really “safe” in the way we crave or imagine ourselves to be. The out-of-the-ordinaryness of this adventure brings into focus all the horrible things that could befall a solitary woman and two cats traveling 3,000 miles in an 18-year-old car. But really, life is as full of horrible possibilities as it is of wonderful ones. And happiness comes – as the smiling Buddha on my dashboard reminds me – from being fully present and awake for all of it.

No actual tornado encounters tested my equanimity that first day of my journey. But then again, I’m not in Kansas yet!

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The POD is on its way

I didn’t want to spend the money on a moving company that loads and unloads everything for you (one such company quoted me $14,000 based on my inventory of stuff for a two-bedroom apartment!), so I decided to get a storage pod from PODS and pack it myself. In the end, my friend A.H., who is also moving to California, decided to share the pod. The whole thing worked out well, but it was a LOT of work.

The pod was scheduled to be picked up between 7:30 and 10:30 am yesterday. After staying up all night finishing packing and sorting out what would go in the pod and what I would take in my car, I was out there at 5:30 am loading the stuff that remained outside after it got too dark to work on Thursday night. A.H. joined me at 6:30, and by 7:30 we still weren’t finished. How do we have SO MUCH STUFF?!

Jason from PODS arrived promptly at 7:30 and helped us for almost an hour before we closed the door and locked it up. Every usable inch of that 16′ x 8′ x 8′ thing was crammed with stuff, and a few things had to be left behind to be shipped or abandoned. But the pod is on its way. Woo hoo! Now, if I can only fit everything I need to in my car……

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Tag sale!

The tag sale I had last weekend was a huge success. I managed to get rid of nearly everything I didn’t want to move to California. OK, so some of it didn’t go until I gave up and left it in the driveway with a sign reading “Everything is FREE,” but whatever saves me a trip to the dump is a good thing!

This is only about half of what I got rid of:

Tag sale - half way through

Tag sale - half way through

And now:

Tag sale - after

Tag sale - after

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My spot

I made my decision to move to California on a blustery January evening in New York City. I’d just gotten back to the Northeast after two wonderful weeks in Costa Rica on my first-ever tropical vacation. To my surprise, I had delighted in the heat and humidity. Not much to complain about when working up a sweat wandering around the jungle can be followed by snorkeling in bathwater-warm seas or lolling in the hammock. It did occur to me at the time that actually working in that kind of heat would be pretty miserable – and I’m certainly getting a taste of that this week as I try to pack up and move my belongings as the mercury passes 100 degrees. But back in January, as I braced myself against the wind whipping through one of the skyscraper canyons in the city, I resolved, “No more of this! There are people in the world who actually live in warm climates year round, and I could be one of them. And I will be, within five years. I’m going to develop a plan.” And now, here I am packing up my belongings in sweltering weather to move to someplace warmer that’s actually cooler at the moment. Funny. But, boy, am I looking forward to getting out of this humidity and finding a place where I can thrive year round.

A friend told me about www.findyourspot.com after I’d committed to move to California, and I was intrigued. I’d already been to Ventura County for a week for my job interviews and some exploration of the area. I stayed in Ojai, and fell head-over-heels in love. I mean LOVE. Like I could see myself living there for the rest of my life. Just picture it: a little house with perpetually blooming gardens, down the street from a funky used bookstore, in a completely walkable town of less than 9,000 that still manages to sustain its own natural food store and independent movie theater and good restaurants. The town center is surrounded by avocado and orange groves, in a little mountain valley that glows a magical pink at dusk and nestles up to millions of acres of National Forest with some serious mountains for hiking. And it’s only 30 minutes from the ocean. Pretty much paradise, if you ask me. Unfortunately, it’s too long a commute (over an hour) to my new job. So I’ll live in Ventura, which is 30 minutes away. Close enough for now.

Though Ojai had me at hello, I was still curious to see whether SoCal is really the place for me. So I took the quiz on www.findyourspot.com just to be sure. I took it three times. With different answers. Some interesting towns came up repeatedly, mostly in the South (hmmm), Hawaii (I wish, and I did look for jobs there), and, yup, California. Silver City, NM came up a couple times, which is interesting because a dear friend lived there for a few years. But most interesting? Ojai, California. Every single time. I suppose the jury is still out until I actually live there (or near there) for a while and see how I like it. But so far, I’m pretty impressed with the divinatory powers of www.findyourspot.com. And I’m pretty sure I found my spot.

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When I think of the part of California to which I’m moving, I think of two things….

mountains

Wildflowers and mountain at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Wildflowers at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Hiking in the Topatopa Mountains above Ojai

Hiking in the Topatopa Mountains above Ojai

Near the summit of the Gridley Trail

Near the summit of the Gridley Trail

and the ocean

Ventura Beach

Ventura Beach

Having them within minutes of each other is pretty cool!

Carpinteria State Beach

Carpinteria State Beach

Channel Islands on the horizon, from the summit of the Gridley Trail

Channel Islands on the horizon, from the summit of the Gridley Trail

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