missroserose: (Cocktail)
Until moving here, I'd never quite understood how anyone could devote their life to gluttony. Food can be good, sure, but I ate more for utilitarian and social purposes, and truly life-changing culinary experiences were both hard to find and expensive (and thus far between).

I think I understand a little better now. There is, quite literally, more amazing food here in Chicago than I could experience in a lifetime of eating out three meals a day. And there's more being invented every day. I'm fairly certain I've gained five pounds since we got here, and I'm certain I've barely scratched the surface.

Chicago, you have bested me. I shall continue to partake, and enjoy, but you will be the first place I've lived since reaching adulthood where my knowledge will never be truly comprehensive. I toast you - your variety, your ingenuity, your diversity. May it never cease.

So does anybody want to be gym buddies...?
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Changing coasts is an odd experience. In some ways, it's almost like stepping into an alternate universe - one very close to your native one, but where there are all these small differences that keep you on your toes. Mostly it's quirks of product branding: instead of Best Foods, your mayonnaise says Hellman's. Instead of Oroweat, you have Brownberry bread. Dreyer's is now Edy's. Butter sticks are long and skinny instead of short and fat. That kind of thing. Nothing obtrusive, but just enough that you wonder if there are larger differences that you haven't noticed yet.

Tangentially related, I've been thinking a lot lately about this article on the "eleven nations" that this author asserts make up the United States - defining "nations" as "large regions that share similar core values and attitudes, often stemming from the cultural outlook of the original settlers". My knee-jerk reaction is to say it's an oversimplification, and it may well be, but having lived in five of the different regions that he defines (four of them for four years or longer), I must admit my anecdata does match with his observations. Anchorage and Fairbanks (Far West) do have a very strong streak of resentment towards corporate interests and outside colonization (somewhat entertainingly, since the majority of the caucasian population has been there less than a century). Juneau (Left Coast) is far more like the rest of the West Coast, which is absolutely an interesting mixture of "Go west young man" self-determinism and hippy-dippy "let's all take care of each other" socialism. The First Nations are proud of their growing cultural and financial independence from mainstream America (and rightly so, given how thoroughly we tried to extinguish their culture through forced assimilation). Southern Arizona (El Norte) has a very strongly independent/self-reliant attitude - in conservative areas, this manifests as Tea Party-style anti-government sentiment, whereas in the liberal areas, you see it in the chafing at the Phoenix-run government/attitudes (culminating for a while in the "secede and form a separate state" movement). And one of the first things Brian and I observed upon moving to Chicago (Yankeedom) was how awesome it was that people here understand the economic concept of "a rising tide lifts all boats" - specifically, how investment in top-down infrastructure projects like public transit improve the economic prospects of people across the board. So maybe there's more to the guy's theories than I originally thought.

Settling in: the end is in sight! Down to the last few boxes of books/curios. Not 100% sure where it's all going to go, and we still need to hang art/hook up the home theater/finalize furniture arrangements, but we're nearly done. More than a month after arrival. Hurrah.

Been researching the options for learning aerial gymnastics. There are two groups in town with training facilities, it appears; one's ten minutes away by transit, the other nearly an hour. Judging by their respective websites, one also appears to have a much more comprehensive curriculum, including conditioning and flexibility/contortion (suitable for someone who likes to learn ALL the things!), and an actual course schedule, whereas the other appears to be a much more casual/drop-in setup. Two guesses which one's the closer. And which I'm more interested in. :P Still, the nearby one also has on staff a Juneau native with whom I share some mutual acquaintances, so I might check them out to start. I can always start going to the farther-away one later.

This weekend Brian and I went out to Graceland Cemetery (another must-visit for Dresden Files fans) and had a walk. We got there only an hour before closing, so we definitely weren't seeing the whole place (it's HUGE), but we had heard from a couple of places that fall was the best time to see it. It's a beautiful space, with all sorts of lovely statuary and gently winding roads that encourage contemplation. For which autumn weather, with that slight crisp in the air, is pretty much the perfect atmosphere, even aside from the beauty of the changing trees. And then we came home and had a fire and I made French onion soup - including, for the first time in my life, taking the time to properly caramelize onions. They were delicious.
missroserose: (Masquerade)
Chicago move, day...38? Ish? Man, time goes by quick. Especially when you lose a week to illness.

The settling-in continues apace, albeit with a certain frenetic urgency thanks to the impending arrival of guests. I finally have the bones of my reading nook set up - there's a little alcove off the living room that's been earmarked for it but filled with boxes until now. (At least they were mostly boxes of books?) But it's got a chair, a lamp, and a nice tall half-full bookcase in it now. Just in time for me to decide I'm taking up piano and move everything out of it to make it my keyboard nook. (Not sure if this will actually happen. But I've been thinking I should learn piano for a while, and it seems the likeliest spot. Though once we get the boxes cleared out of the living room and the couch pushed over a bit, there may be space by the Juliet balcony too.) Today will likely be unpacking more book boxes, and probably hauling the empty ones down to the storage space. Soon I'll need to put up a Craigslist ad for someone to come and take them away.

I've finally gotten all our IKEA purchases put together, and on the whole, I've been fairly pleased with them - they've been very well-engineered, with easy-to-follow directions and all the holes lining up and parts fitting correctly (unlike some other flat-pack furniture sellers I could name). The only exception, somewhat ironically, has been those HEMNES bookcases I angsted about buying. Somewhat to my surprise, the grey-brown color actually looks far less blah in person - it has sort of a purpley tone to it, and we've been decorating with an eye for purple accents. (The one in our bedroom looks especially nice, as our new bed set is a similar tone of purple, just darker.) Unfortunately, they've just not been as well-constructed as the other pieces we bought - I built two of them, so I'm fairly sure it's not just a fluke. One had significant issues with the screw locks on the fixed middle shelf not lining up properly; both had an issue with the second backing piece being slightly too large for the space you slot it into. Neither was an end-of-the-world problem (though I splintered one of the anchor holes trying to fix the screw lock thing on the first one - nothing heavy on that shelf!), but compared to how absolutely stellar all the other IKEA furniture we bought was, it was a surprising couple of oversights. Ah well. Maybe I'll email them about it and see if they'll send me another coupon. (I received a $25-off-your-$250-or-more-purchase coupon in the mail, which was awesome...literally three hours after returning from spending over $700 with them, which was not. And of course the fine print specifically forbade applying it to previous purchases. Ah well.)

Meantime, I'm looking around at things to occupy my time once the house is unpacked and set up. From the 13th through the 19th, we're having guests, but after that I'm going to have rather a lot of spare time. After hearing a friend talk about it with enthusiasm, I'm thinking I might try learning aerials - silks, trapeze, high-wire, that kind of thing. It seems like the sort of thing that would slot well with someone used to yoga and gymnastics rather than running or lifting, and I've always enjoyed the theatricality of it. I was a little concerned that the fact that I'm no longer in my twenties might be an issue, but according to the Aloft Loft, most of their students are in their thirties and many of their professional performers didn't start taking lessons until that age. (I wonder if it generally takes people that long to get over their fear of heights.) While it would be neat if I could learn it well enough to perform, even just the conditioning/balance/postural aspects all sound beneficial. And it's definitely not something I could have done in Arizona or Alaska. (Of course, their "taster classes" this month land smack in the middle of guest-time. Bah. I guess there's no reason I couldn't just dive right in and take a trapeze class, though...)

I'm also thinking about seeing if I can volunteer at the Old Town School of Folk Music; they have a program in place where you can earn credits to use towards concerts or classes. Most of the volunteer opportunities are things like ushering or concession-selling at concerts, but it says they occasionally need help with data entry and the like; maybe I can talk my way into an office-type gig with an eye towards eventually getting a paid position. We'll see.

The weather's been just lovely - crisp and cool, with a nice balance of windy/rainy and sunny days. There's even still some leaves on the trees; I'm hoping they'll last another week so my mother can see them when she visits. I must say, I could get used to this whole idea of autumn as an actual season, rather than "that two-week stretch between the leaves turning colors and the snow falling" like it is in Alaska...
missroserose: (After the Storm)
I don't think there are words for how much better I feel today. Still the occasional bit of coughing here and there, but none of the ridiculous lack of energy that's characterized this entire past week. I'm still loading up on the Emergen-C and fluids, but I'm hopeful that this is the end of it. Which is good, because I'm sure you all were tired of listening to me whine. As I was texting to a friend earlier - "If only complaining on LJ were positively correlated with a faster recovery!"

We decided to celebrate my feeling better by continuing our auditioning of local coffeeshops. Our favorite so far has been Metropolis Coffee, which in addition to its awesome logo and community-oriented atmosphere (there's big signs everywhere asking you to share your table with people when it's crowded) roasts some pretty darn good coffee. But they're a good mile and a half away; easily reached on the train, but a bit far to stumble down to for breakfast of a morning. They've opened up a closer branch over in Andersonville that we haven't been to yet; it's a little over a half-mile away, so it might be a better candidate. Today's contestant, however, was a pretty strong contender; a place called the Kitchen Sink Cafe, which makes their coffee using Metropolis beans and also sells breakfast items, sandwiches, and the like. Brian's breakfast burrito and mocha were pretty excellent; my experience was more muted (both the yogurt and latte I ordered were a bit sweeter than I like), but generally positive nonetheless. Plus the seating area has a giant skylight and an even more giant backlit stained-glass window that I assume was salvaged from a local church. And it's all of two blocks away, which may end up being the deciding factor. We shall see.

Afterward, I was still feeling remarkably energetic, so we finally made our long-delayed new-home hajj to Costco.

We...may have gone a little nuts.

In our defense, and as always happens during a Costco trip, there were so many awesome things that were such an excellent bargain. Especially excellent finds this time: a big thick fuzzy throw blanket (you can never have too many blankets in wintertime, right?) in such a rich shade of purple that Brian's nicknamed it the Pimp Cape, a 12-pack of our favorite ginger beer (that usually requires a special trip to World Market) for $6 less than the WM price, ten whole vanilla beans for $12 (I've never seen vanilla beans for less than $15 for two!), a 1.75 L bottle of Kirkland-brand spiced rum (that turned out to be quite flavorful and good!) for $15, a Blue Moon 24-bottle variety pack, and a pair of wool dress slacks for me that turned out to fit so well (and be so warm - I could totally see walking around outside in the winter in them) that I'm probably going to go back for another pair later this week. We got all the ingredients for our amazingly rich egg nog (which will likely be tomorrow's project, as we want it to have time to sit for the requisite 30 days before it makes its debut at Brian's work Christmas party on December 4th). Plus all our usual grocery-type items. But probably my favorite item was a pair of leather gloves. Designer, so even with the ridiculous Costco markdown they were still frankly expensive (just not as obscenely expensive as they would've been at the original retail price), but they're exactly what I wanted - cashmere lined, long so they don't leave my wrists bare, windproof, elegant and well-made *and* practical. And that rabbit fur cuff is so soft. I just want to sit and pet it for hours. But then Tripp would get jealous.

Needless to say, our tally at the end was a fairly eye-watering number, but I'd had enough to cover the bulk of it set aside already (stocking a new house is never cheap), and just figured I'd pull a bit of cash out of savings for the rest. We packed our ill-gotten gains into the car and headed home, where I checked the mail...and discovered a cheque for our deposit refund from Bisbee Realty, for almost exactly the amount that we'd just spent. (This is more of a windfall than it sounds, as said realty is somewhat infamous among Bisbee denizens for never ever giving back your deposit, ever. And given that I hadn't had time to do more than the bare minimum of cleaning, I assumed they would use that as an excuse to keep the entire thing, so I hadn't budgeted for the extra income.) So, hurrah. It'll be nice to have that money in savings.

Even though I still feel pretty good, I'm not going to push things by going out dancing, even though there's a supposed-to-be-fantastic gay bar nearby. And I'm limiting myself to one drink for the next few days (after a week of not drinking at all, I might add), which is slightly frustrating, as this is the perfect sort of fall evening for a glass of wine by the fire, but I want to save it to have with the stew Brian's got cooking on the stove. But between the new fuzzy blanket, the fire in the fireplace (Did I mention we have a fireplace? We have a fireplace! And the sort of weather that makes fires super-cozy!), the wonderful smells from the kitchen, and some Dead Can Dance on the stereo, I'm feeling pretty well served, and far less likely to relapse again, to boot.

Here's to autumn - may we all have warm fires, cozy blankets, and good wine, and delicious stews to see us through the winter, and loving and patient friends/spouses to take care of us when we're ill. <3

oh my god this stew is phenomenal

Still sick

Oct. 31st, 2013 09:22 pm
missroserose: (Hello Grumpy)
I've often thought that low-grade cold bugs are one of the worst ways to be sick. Don't get me wrong, the relative lack of symptoms is nice - I can take the occasional coughing fit and generalized feeling of run-down-ness if it means I can breathe and swallow properly. But that very same lack of symptoms makes it feel less like an out-and-out illness and more just a failing of character, as it were. You know you could get a start on that pile of housework that's waiting for you, if you really needed to, but it's so much cosier wrapped up in a blanket. You know you could get to the grocery store, but it just seems like such a long walk. And even though you might know objectively that this lethargy is a sign that your body's using all its energy fighting off invaders, and thus you should help it by continuing to rest, our culture has such a strongly engrained sense of "you work unless you absolutely can't" that it's hard not to judge yourself simply lazy. (Unless you're in the sort of financial situation where you can't afford to miss the work. Then you just suck it up and go in, and hope to God you don't end up with pneumonia.)

It's probably not surprising I'm ill right now; there's the "going from a rural area to a crowded urban environment" thing, the "going from a hot dry environment to a chilly humid environment" bit, and the good old-fashioned "stressed out from moving across the country and everything that entails", any one of which will make someone likelier to contract infectious diseases. And I'm lucky enough that I'm not in the aforementioned financial situation, and can take as much time (and tea with honey, and Emergen-C, and NyQuil) as I need to get better.

But I'm still finding it no end of frustrating that, on this most recent leg, I'm only getting better incrementally. Sure, the bulk of the moving is over with, but there's just so much that needs doing. We need to get to the DMV to get the car registered. I need to take my guitar in for an adjustment. I want to get the last bookcase put together and my reading nook arranged and the books unpacked and the art hung on the walls and the boxes put in storage. I'd like to start looking for work, or at least some volunteer opportunities. I have things I want to mail to people, and groceries that need buying, and I need to find a new hairstylist and a place to go work out. And yet I feel like I'm barely treading water - by the time I do the most basic stuff to keep the house clean and myself fed, I'm so tired I just want to take a nap. And every time I start to get better, I get to cross one or two things off my list and think maybe, just maybe, this is the start of the upswing...and then I get ill again, and more crap keeps piling up.

So this is me whining. It's not fair. Pout. Pout.

Also please let me be up for a Costco trip this weekend. If only to get out of the house.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Spent...let's say two of the past seven days feeling useless and depressed and frustrated (lack of job, lack of social circle, lack of bravery in pursuing music stuff, all that jazz). Decided that was for the birds. So today I did what any self-respecting middle-class American would do when faced with a house full of boxes and only half-full of furniture: I went to IKEA.

I've been angsting over bookcases for the past three weeks. Ever since we left Juneau and sold our awesome double-size oak bookcases, we've been making do with crappy particle-board Walmart ones, which invariably have shelves that sag under the weight of our somewhat massive book collection; this move, we swore we weren't going to get any more that didn't have solid-wood shelves. Easier said than done - the only option we were able to find that wasn't hundreds of dollars apiece (or didn't require Craigslist searching and finding a truck to haul) were the HEMNES series at IKEA. Nice size, nice design, inexpensive, okay, sounds great! ...except they only come in three colors. Black, brown-grey, and white. Black was Not Ideal - we have a gigantic black TV in here already, and with the black granite countertops/fireplace and dark brown/beige sofa it was just going to make our living room way too dark. The white looks very preschool, which leaves the brown-grey, which...blah. Not my favorite color. But after a bunch of frustrating time spent looking up other options, some of which might have worked but had ridiculous shipping charges attached, some of which seemed well-made but just not as nice...I can deal with the brown-grey, if it means my bookshelves aren't going to sag. And at least it's a nice neutral color.

I'm possibly most excited about finally having a proper bed, with a headboard and a footboard and everything! True, it's just a MALM, but it's more than we had before - our entire life together, Brian and I have slept on a boxspring/mattress on a metal frame. (Someday, we will have a sleigh bed, but that day is not yet here - those things are expensive.) Between that, our cherry-veneer dresser/nightstand/mirror, and a bright-red EXPEDIT, our room's going to be a little mismatched, but we'll see how it looks. Brian thinks it'll be charmingly bohemian. I'm reserving judgment, but if I just can't take it I can always exercise my spousal veto.

We've had a birch-veneer desk from them for a while, and were just using dining-room chairs to sit at it. However, since we're no longer in possession of a dining room (and I sent the table and chairs back to my mother), I tried every single dining-style chair they had on the floor and found the most comfortable one to go with the desk. (Brian specifically requested one, since he doesn't like swivel chairs for some reason.) The photo's a bit awkward, but there's a slight curve to the back that makes it surprisingly comfortable. Plus, it came in birch veneer too, so something will match.

Somehow, I managed to fit all of this (plus new dishes, plus two chair cushions, plus some wooden coat hangers) onto a single flatbed cart, get it rung up and then take it over to the delivery area. (Which probably says far more about IKEA's genius design of flatpacks/carts/layout than it does about me, though I'm rather proud of the Tetrising I did to get that all to fit on one cart.) $59 for home delivery, same day - cheaper than it would've been to rent a truck, and I didn't have to drive an unfamiliar vehicle in the city or on the expressway, either. (Aside: is it a thing in the Midwest where the more cars are on the highway, the faster everyone goes? On the way there, traffic was fairly light, and I was going faster than most at 60. On the way back, it was moderate-to-heavy, and going 65 I was getting passed left, right, and sideways. On a supposed 55 MPH expressway. o.O)

I'd heard some nightmare stories about IKEA delivery, but I guess I lucked out - the guys who delivered my pieces were punctual, friendly, efficient, and strong - I don't think I could have hauled the particle-board EXPEDIT up the stairs myself. So now the house is full of furniture in potentia.

Meanwhile, I've been busy making split-pea soup and trying not to come down with a cough. I think I'm losing ground on the latter, but the soup smells good enough I can probably deal. And I've got enough furniture to build/unpacking to do to keep me busy at least another couple days. After that...I think it's high time I polished my resume and started looking for places to volunteer/work.

Here's to not feeling depressed and useless.
missroserose: (Raawr!)
Chicago, I realize when we talked about moving in together, you mentioned that "higher rates of infectious disease" were a likely possibility. And believe me, I understand - more people, more public contact, and especially a colder climate were all factors. I weighed the risks, and I took what prophylactic measures I could before taking the plunge - I even got a flu shot for the first time in years.

But seriously? You couldn't wait to give me your first cold until it was - I don't know - actually cold outside? Sniffling and coughing and sneezing when it's 75 degrees out just feels wrong, somehow.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
It's turning out to be nearly as much of an adventure settling in to this place as it was getting here. One of the many awesome things about our house in Bisbee was the truly ridiculous amount of storage it had; closets everywhere, two separate built-in chests of drawers, a pantry, etc. Accommodations here are...a little scantier (though we do have a giant walk-in closet that's probably going to house the dresser and some formerly-drawer storage). Most frustrating is the bathrooms; the previous ones both had medicine cabinets, and the master bath had one of the aforementioned built-in chests of drawers. Here we have...nothing! No drawers, no cabinets, flat mirrors, no counter space. Feh. I have a strong suspicion that this place has seen a string of bachelors as tenants.

Today, therefore, was an IKEA trip. As it turns out, the bed and traditional-style bookshelves will both need to wait until we can borrow or rent a truck, but we picked up some bathroom shelving that should serve for my hair things and whatnot, a modular shelving unit that should hold some books and such in our bedroom, and a sofa table that we're hoping will serve for a TV stand. Along with all sorts of nice little touches like candle holders and bathmats and some nice new bowls and plates. Because it's IKEA, and if you don't end up with a bunch of little items in your cart then you're probably not human. (I'm only half-joking there; those stores are almost scarily effective examples of market psychology being used in behavioral engineering.) Now for the fun part - interpretive construction! At least, trying to follow IKEA instructions often feels like an interpretive dance shaped toward eventual construction of your pieces.

We didn't make it to the Field Museum yesterday, but we did get down to Brian's new office to check it out ahead of his starting Friday. I'm pleased to report that it appears thoroughly awesome. The culture there is extremely laid-back and friendly; Brian's cubicle comes with a stock of company-branded foam darts, and the office has - I shit you not - a lounge with a hardwood pool table and fully stocked wet bar, along with an open invitation for spouses to join Friday-after-work cocktail hour. I have a feeling I may be getting to know the folks there rather better than at some of Brian's previous workplaces. :D

As to my own work, I've begun practicing again. Fortunately I don't seem to have lost too much muscle memory over the past week; and while my calluses are gone, I still have fairly tough skin on my fingertips. Chicago is a notoriously busking-unfriendly town, so it's looking like coffeeshop gigs are going to be a good goal to work towards. We went by our new favorite guitar store (the Chicago Music Exchange) so I could try an acoustic amp or two. I'm eyeing the Vox AGA30, as it's a nice portable size (I could haul it and my guitar along on the train without too much trouble) and not too expensive, but Brian (who's done sound work before) isn't sure it'd be loud enough for a good-size coffeeshop, especially with all the ambient noise. But at the moment it's all theoretical anyway - I've got an email for a local place that's looking for performers, but I'd like to have a song or two up on YouTube so I could send them the link first.

The kitties are all settling in well enough. Ian put together their cat tree last night and that's had a soothing effect on Leo The Neurotic Cat's psyche especially. (Between the new environs, the fairly loud central air, the occasional sirens, and some carpenters that've been installing a new deck on the building next door, the poor guy's been rather frazzled. Even when we just had the parts for the tree stacked up in the corner he was spending a goodly amount of time hiding in one of the houses. Fortunately he's doing better today.) Dexter is rather miffed that he's been on a wet-food-only diet, though as the vet predicted, it's doing good things for his coat. (And it's not like he can't stand to lose a pound or two.) Tripp spent the first few days sleeping an awful lot (not unlike his humans...), but as Brian put it when his petting hand was pounced upon this morning, "I can tell you're feeling better because now you're all crazy again."

Somewhat entertainingly, we've been here four days and still haven't gone grocery shopping (other than the earlier-referenced trip for salad supplies for dinner the other day). The last time we moved across the country, we had to go shopping almost immediately, as the only non-fast-food options were mediocre chains. This time, between being so tired from travelling and being so busy putting our house together and being so eager to try all the amazing food (at least two pho places within a block of our house! Ann Sather just a couple of streets over! Better Mexican food than we had the entire time we were in Arizona!), we haven't even gotten around to cooking in our fabulous new kitchen yet. But it's only a matter of time, I'm sure.
missroserose: (Partnership)
We have no Internet until Thursday, so I'm tapping this out on my phone. Apologies to anyone I've not responded to; I'll have a better connection soon.

We made it! And without any major mishaps, either, despite the fun of maneuvering a 16' Penske truck through crowded city streets. (I took the bus at one point today and came away with nothing but respect for the city's drivers; I can only imagine the constant stress and hassle of piloting a vehicle that size in a city this complex and congested. Mass props, CTA.) The most Type III fun part was unloading the truck; strange how loading it (from a single-floor house with five+ people working together) was so much less work than unloading it (with three people into a second-floor unit). I don't think any of us have properly functioning legs today, especially where stairs are involved.

Today's mostly been unpacking (Brian managed to get nearly the whole kitchen done) and errands (the aforementioned truck-wrangling - fortunately a cross-country trip had been enough to give Ian a very good idea of the truck's handling characteristics, and we returned it without any problems and only a few circuits of the lot trying to figure out where we were turning in). The cats have been fairly unimpressed with the whole deal, but are slowly settling in. Utilities are now in our name. Internet is set to be connected Thursday. We need a bed of some description - we ordered a new mattress, which Amazon graciously delivered to us the day we moved in (hurrah for the free trial of Amazon Prime!), but right now it's just on the floor. We may see if any of Brian's local online connections have a truck so we can go to IKEA, or we might just deal with it for a bit. We'll see.

Mostly, I'm just grateful that we all got here in one piece. I think it's still sinking in that this is our actual, permanent home now. Not that it's anything to complain about - the unit is quite nice, on a very pretty street in a nice neighborhood with plenty of stores (I walked to the grocery store to get stuff for dinner! For the first time in my life!) and restaurants (There's a Subway just down the street! And all sorts of awesome local places!) right nearby. Just...I've wanted to live in a city for so long, and I'm so used to showing up in one for a week or so and then leaving, I think it's going to take awhile to convince myself that I'm here for good.

Tomorrow we're going to check out the Field Museum, and also the newly-opened branch of the awesome coffee shop we found when we were here last. They had a sign up saying they were looking for musicians at the other location; maybe I'll ask and see if they're looking at this one too. That'd be convenient, as it's all of a half-mile away. Speaking of which, I'd best get back to practicing. I think I've managed to get the guitar out...twice? During this whole project? Bad Rose. No treats until you've got proper calluses again.
missroserose: (Kick Back & Read)
Sleep-pet cats-shower-breakfast-pet cats-nap-nap-pet cats-lunch-swim-hot tub-swim-hot tub-pet cats-read-nap-dinner-pet cats-write letter-blog-pet cats-read-sleep.

Glorious.
missroserose: (Kick Back & Read)
Oh thank god we're almost done with the driving.

Actually, today wasn't bad at all. It definitely felt less stressful than yesterday, despite the fact that the drive was only an hour shorter. Some of that might have been the fact that we weren't losing an hour to time-zone changes - even though it's just a psychological effect, there was a definite impact. Also we got a somewhat earlier start today and therefore weren't driving far into the night like last night. And then there's the "this is the last full day of driving" part to look forward to.

The landscape was much more pleasant. Missouri has lots of farmland, but also lots of trees and rolling hills (and no feedlots that we saw). I was a little nonplussed when I started seeing all the signs for Mark Twain Historic Sites (I didn't think he lived in Missouri, but perhaps I'm wrong?), until we broke through the trees and onto the bridge over the Mississippi River. Holy crow. I mean, I'm from Alaska, I'm no stranger to large bodies of water (or larger-than-life geographical features in general), but...damn. I may have to come back down this way for a long weekend sometime so I can properly appreciate it, rather than just sneaking glances over the side of the bridge.

No major curveballs today, thankfully. We did discover that rural gas stations often don't sell premium gas, but that wasn't a big problem as there were plenty of truck stops that did. At one point Leo's carrier fell off the blanket and tipped slightly sideways, enough to alarm him even through a full dose of sedative, but a bit of repacking (along with propping-up help from my new favorite hoodie) got him righted again and he settled back down. Other than that, things were pretty uneventful, and we got to Lincoln just fine.

Much to my surprise, the cats have been adapting to the various hotel rooms with almost no trouble at all. When we took Dexter and Leo from Juneau to Sierra Vista by plane, they kept us up almost that whole night, yowling and rattling cupboard doors and generally making their displeasure known. I'm not sure if it's the presence of drugs or the lack of issues specific to plane travel (maybe cats really hate pressure changes?), but while they certainly haven't been happy about being stuck in their carriers for hours on end, they've generally settled right in once we let them out. (Tripp is actually snuggling up with Brian and purring like mad right now - it's pretty adorable.) Which isn't to say that I'm not glad they're getting a break, too. They've been such troopers - Bast knows they deserve it.

Tripp the Trooper deigns to bestow snuggles upon his loyal manservant.


I'm probably most pleased with this place of the various hotels we've tried. For one thing, it's the only one that has actual conditioner (as opposed to "conditioning shampoo") in the rooms, and for another, the furniture/paint is newest and the bed's probably the most comfortable. Also the front desk girl is super-nice, and (perhaps most importantly) the room doesn't smell like dog pee covered up with cheap air freshener. (I mentioned this to the front desk staff at the last place, and they apologized, but said that they were full up last night and wouldn't have had another room to give us, so I guess it's good that I was too tired to raise a fuss.) But then, my perceptions might also be colored slightly by the fact that WE DON'T HAVE TO DRIVE AT ALL TOMORROW. And then it's all of a three-hour drive to our new place on Monday. Thank God.
missroserose: (Hello Grumpy)
Oh good goddamn. And I thought Phoenix to Bisbee was too much goddamn driving.

Today, dear reader, we drove through northern New Mexico (quite pretty!), the northwest corner of Texas, the panhandle of Oklahoma (OOOOOOOOklahoma!), and (most of the way) through Kansas. From about Texas all the way through Kansas, there was a whole lot of nothing between towns - the most interesting parts were a beef farm (I was corrected on Facebook by a Midwest native that they're called "feed lots"), some grain fields (prettier and far less smelly), a few pretty horses, and (midway through Kansas) an opossum crossing the road. Although we did most of the Kansas leg at night, I have a feeling we probably didn't miss much.

Google Maps had estimated the day's trip at just over nine hours - although, oddly, Apple Maps estimated it at closer to eleven. We ended up splitting the difference, coming in at about ten hours of driving, counting (very short) breaks. Google Maps probably was pretty close to accurate, as I imagine we probably took an hour's worth of breaks (fifteen minutes in a couple places, twenty or so for lunch, and a quick ten-minute bathroom break). The estimate for tomorrow is eight hours, which will probably become nine or so with breaks, but it's the last big long day of driving - we'll be hanging out at a Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln (three hours outside of Chicago) for a day or two until the current tenant vacates and we can move in. And they have a pool and a hot tub! I'll have to buy a swimsuit, as mine is currently in the depths of the Penske truck, but I strongly suspect a large portion of my time will be spent there.

We seem to have found the optimal sedative dose for each of the cats today - Leo the Aspiring Straitjacket Wearer gets a full dose, while Tripp and Dexter seem to do fine on the half-doses the vet recommended starting with. Additionally, when we grind up the pill and mix it with tuna broth, it seems to go down easier (with Leo and Tripp at least) and hit their system a bit faster, too. All three gave only token resistance going into their carriers, anyway, and were quiet almost the entirety of the trip - enough that we were a bit worried about them a couple of times. (Further evidence my husband is awesome: if he's concerned enough about the cats, he thinks nothing of pulling over to the side of the road - on an interstate! - and double-checking to make sure they're still breathing and okay.)

Today's curveball was a thunderstorm over Kansas. Conditioned to Arizona storms, I had sort of assumed it would be fierce and over quickly. Instead, it went on for a good hundred miles, although we were lucky enough to be mostly on the edge of it rather than in the middle. (Ian got caught in the middle of it with the truck and is consequently staying the night in Pratt, an hour and a half west of here, since he didn't want to push on until 1 AM.) There was some pretty spectacular lightning, though, and it was nice in that it washed all the bugs off the windshield.

Really, for all that the driving's been tedious, we can't complain too much about this trip. The truck both fit in our driveway and was exactly the right size for all the stuff we wanted to bring. We had friends to help us with the packing and loading. The cats have been generally well-behaved and haven't had adverse reactions to the sedatives. Plains states aside, there's been some pretty scenery. We have a good friend we trust driving the truck with all our stuff in it, and helping us with the cats. Nobody's broken down or had a flat. And if our motel room today smells rather strongly of cheap air freshener, well, it's clean and inexpensive and they didn't charge twice the room rate for the cats like the first place I called wanted to.

And now, more sleep! Really looking forward to that hot tub tomorrow night...
missroserose: (After the Storm)
Things are better. We ended up stopping in Albuquerque; originally we'd planned to keep going until Amarillo, but that was going to be another four hours of driving. We probably could have managed it if we were fresh, but given that none of us slept well last night and the first part of the day was a frenzy of last-minute packing/cleaning/loading, and therefore everyone was starting to nod over the steering wheel outside Albuquerque, we decided not to push things.

I need to take this moment to extend a very public and hearty thank-you to our friend Robin, her boyfriend Bob, and our friend Michelle for all of their help packing and loading the truck. (Additionally, Michelle was able to take a bunch of our extra furniture, which both saved us the hassle of Craigslisting it and gave her a somewhat nicer household. Win-win!) Also on the roster of thanks is Ian, who not only came to help with packing and loading but is driving the moving truck. And, of course, my husband Brian. All of these folks have been incredibly mature and self-motivated, but with Brian especially, during stressful times like this, it means so much to know that I can trust him to get shit done and not feel like I have to look over his shoulder all the time. (Perhaps the fact that I marvel at this says bad things about my expectations of folks' maturity; I prefer to think of it merely as my impeccable taste in friends.)

All in all, so far this hasn't been anywhere near the disaster it could've been. The biggest curveball has been with the cats; we'd originally intended to fly them up ahead of time and either board them or have them stay with me at a hotel. However, no airline will take pets if the forecasted temperature for the day is over 85 degrees F, since they often sit out on the tarmac a while; given that it's still 90+ in Tucson this time of year, that meant flying them was out and we'd be driving the car with three carriers in the back. I was admittedly panicky about this point; one of our cats goes nuts when you lock him in the carrier, and another goes nuts if you even try to put him in the carrier, so we knew there were going to have to be drugs (and the associated hassles/nervousness) involved. But my mother (bless her soul) said something that put it all into perspective: "Well, it can't be much worse than driving with your two-year-old daughter in the car seat who's just puked all over herself thanks to the windy mountain roads." This startled a laugh from me, as I actually vaguely remember that trip (and definitely remember subsequent trips where my parents were careful to have soda on hand and drive slowly). So today, when I started to freak out about the cats in the back, I just reminded myself that people have to do this kind of thing every day with their own kids - I've got it easy by comparison.

Driving through New Mexico was surprisingly scenic - lots of mountains and fields. Driving through Hatch was especially entertaining, as they're a small town known for exactly one thing (Hatch chile peppers) and are riding that one thing all the way into the sunset. I think we must've passed twelve different chile stands, four different restaurants advertising Hatch chile salsa, and a "Picante Plaza" strip mall.

The cats were somewhat noisier and more active during the first half of the trip than the second; I'm not sure if the sedative effects took a while to kick in, or they decided it wasn't worth the bother to keep protesting, or both. Still, they got through the day with no major casualties; Leo bloodied his nose during one of his more active bouts, and tugged part of the blanket we had up against the back of their carriers inside and shredded the duvet covering. (Fortunately, duvets aren't hard to replace.) They were definitely getting noisier as we hit Albuquerque, which helped with the decision to stop here; they were definitely curious about the room when we let them out but settled in surprisingly quickly. (The familiar-smelling duvet/blanket seems to have helped with that.) And for all the hassles of driving with them, it's awfully nice to stay in a hotel room that *does* have our cats here to walk on us as we sleep. Odd, how you miss that...

Also odd, I don't think it's quite sunk in that we've left Bisbee permanently. My thoughts keep wandering back to our house there when I think of "home" - even though, when we left it, it was completely cleaned out. I guess being in that in-transition period doesn't help, since we're technically homeless until the 30th or the 1st. :)

Feeling much more sanguine about my prospects for sleep tonight - we've proven we can do this! Just two more days (and a short three-hour drive once the current tenant vacates) and we'll be in our new home! I was actually realizing that I've never done a cross-country road trip before, and while "with cats and a household packed into a moving truck" isn't necessarily the way I would have picked, it's interesting seeing the differences between it and flying. Everyone cross your fingers for an uneventful trip!
missroserose: (Raawr!)
After three days of crazy packing/loading/cleaning, I managed to fall into bed at 10:30 PM last night...only to jerk awake at 1:00 AM due to my body dumping a shot of adrenaline into my system. Followed by half an hour of tossing and turning before finally calming down enough to doze...and then the whole cycle repeated itself.

All. Night.

It's morning now, and I think I got maybe four hours of sleep, all told. But I have to get up early anyway - bunch of last minute cleaning and loading to do, and then the walkthrough's at 10:00 AM, and then we're off! For ten hours of driving. Augh. I normally can't sleep when I'm not prone, but I might just be tired enough to take a blanket and pillow and try curling up in the seat anyway.

But for now, cleaning. And more adrenaline! At least I'm not missing the coffee maker this morning?
missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
I wish I were still hungry. Not because the pizza is good (though it is), but because I don't want to go back to packing. In fact, I'm not sure there are words for how much I want to say "fuckit" and have another Blue-Moon-with-orange and kick back for the rest of the night.

But we're out of here Thursday morning at 10:00.

This must be what "adult situations" refers to - these kinds of decisions. (I know I've used some adult language once or twice today.)

Back to packing...
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Getting here turned out to be...interesting. Literally just as we were leaving Tucson (the flight attendants had done the safety check and we were about to taxi to the runway) a huge thunderstorm came and squatted right over Chicago; after an hour with no change they de-boarded everyone and had us all wait at the gate. Fortunately, as we had no connections to make and nowhere to be until 2:00 the next day, it wasn't a super-stressful thing; my biggest worry was getting in super-late and forcing our Airbnb host to wait up for us. (She did end up having to, as between flight delay, baggage claim, and the mile-long line for cabs we didn't even make it here until nearly 2 AM, but she was very gracious about it.) It wasn't so awful; one of our friends was also delayed heading to San Francisco in the same batch of gates, so we got to have a drink and he gushed about how much we were going to love Chicago. As the delay stretched on, I ended up doing an impromptu concert of sorts for several of the wriggly/tired/grouchy/impatient toddlers and their families; it got me many a grateful glance from the parents. Hurrah for having a travel guitar and knowing lots of old hippie music.

Yesterday was the walking-all-over-town-to-showings day, although we actually only got to two; I ended up canceling the one with the dude who was trying to sell his condo, and another guy texted me to let me know that he'd rented out his place (but since it was the one we were most iffy about, we weren't too fuzzed). We ended up looking at a place in Edgewater that was good-if-not-great; it had a nice kitchen and was on a nice street in a nice neighborhood, but it didn't quite have that "oh wow this is perfect" feeling. (Though we discovered a fabulous local coffee place just around the corner from it - Brian liked their logo so much he bought one of their travel mugs.) I gave the guy our paperwork just in case (he and his partner were nice dudes, and we certainly wouldn't have minded renting from them!), and then we headed to the long-awaited Andersonville condo.

It isn't quite perfect - the decor is very early-aughts yuppie, with white walls and stainless appliances and not a whole lot of personality. (A colored accent wall or two would help a lot, I think.) Also the side windows in the bedrooms have literally no view - brick wall, ahoy! Still, the kitchen is amazing as advertised, and while the front room's a touch on the small side (I'm going to have to see about shipping our wonderful oak and granite table back to Mum, as there's quite literally no room for it), the master bedroom is huge for a condo, and has a lovely large back deck off of it. The view from the front, while nothing amazing, is pleasant enough, and it's on a lovely tree-lined street all of a block and a half from Clark Street (Andersonville's main commercial thoroughfare - we already found a pub there with the most amazing food and a craft beer list about three miles long).

We put it an application pretty much immediately. The guy told us he had a few others in as well, but when I pulled out our credit reports, two separate letters of reference, and Brian's job offer, he looked a little overwhelmed. When he asked me what I did and I gave him an impromptu rendition of the first bit of "All That Jazz", he looked a lot overwhelmed. I was a little worried I might have overdone it; he struck me very much as a twenty-years-older version of the guys I used to intimidate the hell out of in high school. But I guess it worked, since after a slightly nail-biting wait I got a text from him that he and his wife had decided to rent to us! (I suspect he might have left the song-and-dance bit out of the story when he told it to his wife. Or maybe not, who knows.)

I'm very pleased; as I said, the place isn't quite "want to live here forever" perfect, but it's a good rent price for the area and has a fireplace and a tandem parking spot (hurrah! We can offer our friends parking when they come over!) and that fantastic kitchen. So I think it'll do quite well for a few years until we either move again or decide to stay in Chicago and buy a condo of our own. And in the meantime, we have the rest of our trip free to explore and enjoy without worrying about apartment-hunting! Hurrah!
missroserose: (After the Storm)
It's been an...interesting week. As is often the case in large cities, the rental market in Chicago (or at least the more desirable parts of Chicago) is hopping, with places renting in a matter of days or sometimes even hours. Needless to say, this has made finding a place from a distance a bit tricky, as most of the folks I've contacted saying "Hey, can we see this place over Labor Day weekend when we're in town?" have responded with some variant on "Talk to me when you get here and I'll tell you if it's still available."

After much wrangling, hair-pulling, and bragging about how Brian and I are fantastic tenants, I'd managed to arrange a few showings, one at a place I was fairly sure wasn't going to work out (the owner is trying to sell the place and wants a 60-day notice-to-vacate clause in the lease, but the place is gorgeous enough to be worth looking at anyway), one at a place that may or may not work depending on a number of factors, and one at a place up in Edgewater (a bit far north, but supposedly a quiet neighborly sort of area with a nice mix of ethnicities) that I was at least moderately hopeful about. But there was this one place I was really bummed about - a condo right on the border between Andersonville/Uptown (Uptown's known for being a bit sketchy in places, but this spot was a few streets up from the notorious part). I couldn't even say why, but when I saw the pictures (all four of them - there weren't even any shots of any part of the place aside from the kitchen and the patio), it was like it clicked - this was the one we wanted. So I immediately called and emailed the landlord to ask for a showing.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, I got back the by-now-expected "Sorry, I've already had two applications, but I'll let you know if they fall through." And I found myself hoping they would, despite the fact that I didn't know if (as Brian put it) "the rest of the place is covered in poop." Sure, the kitchen looked really great - it had a built-in wine rack! - and it was a great combination of features with everything we could reasonably want in our price range, but it wasn't like there weren't other options nearly as good. So I tried to let it go, and mostly managed, despite dreaming that night that we'd met the folks who were living there and were trying to be friends but couldn't because I was too jealous of their condo.

And then this afternoon I get an email: "Well, I wasn't expecting this, but both my applications fell through. Are you still interested?"

I'm fairly certain the sound I made was only audible to the cats.

I'm trying not to get my hopes too far up, just in case the landlord flakes out and rents it out from under us, or (as Brian fears) the rest of the place is painted poop-brown - or worse, painted in actual poop. But, unsuperstitious as I am, it's hard not to take the other applications falling through as a sign. If nothing else, it's a sign the owner's looking for a good tenant (rather than just trying to rent it as quickly as possible), and we pretty well have that locked down. (I'm amassing a folder with our credit reports and references and Brian's job offer letter to take with us, as proof.) I just really, really hope the rest of the place (or, worse, the landlord) doesn't turn out to be a letdown, somehow.

T minus 1.5 days until we leave for the reconnaissance trip, and I'm finally excited about it (as opposed to terrified that we won't be able to find anything). Hopefully we'll like Chicago as much as literally all our friends think we will. Expect pictures of us at The Bean on Facebook!
missroserose: (Partnership)
They're not quite 100%, but I have enough strength and dexterity in my left fingers to properly play again. And my middle finger, which was stiff enough to be problematic on some chords, seems to be back in business. There's more than a little practicing and rebuilding endurance ahead, especially with the three-hour gig coming up in a couple of weeks, but I don't care - I can finally play again!

Also we're moving to Chicago.
missroserose: (Masquerade)
It's been a good year-plus since I was seriously homesick for Juneau. I can only think of one time when I truly and honestly wondered whether we'd made the right decision to move, and that was in the depths of the six-month adjustment period, when we were stuck in Sierra Vista with no real friends, mountains of debt, no job for me, and Brian's employer's perjurous qualities becoming increasingly clear.

And really, I don't think I'd trade the sun and our great house with the great view (and great rental payment) for the constant rain and dark and cold and isolation. But for some reason, reading several Juneau friends' comments about the first snow and winter, and seeing pictures of one of them baking with her adorable now-toddler son (who was barely an infant when we left), I'm feeling the sting of time lost particularly poignantly this morning.
missroserose: (Masquerade)
It's been a good year-plus since I was seriously homesick for Juneau. I can only think of one time when I truly and honestly wondered whether we'd made the right decision to move, and that was in the depths of the six-month adjustment period, when we were stuck in Sierra Vista with no real friends, mountains of debt, no job for me, and Brian's employer's perjurous qualities becoming increasingly clear.

And really, I don't think I'd trade the sun and our great house with the great view (and great rental payment) for the constant rain and dark and cold and isolation. But for some reason, reading several Juneau friends' comments about the first snow and winter, and seeing pictures of one of them baking with her adorable now-toddler son (who was barely an infant when we left), I'm feeling the sting of time lost particularly poignantly this morning.

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