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Is it weird to feel like a loser for flying back to the east coast, so soon? … Probably is weird, seeing as how I’m not staying there, or anything. But, I dunno, I got so lonely for people and things I knew, a while back, that I still feel a little, you know, sheepish.

I’m not dressing up as much for this ALA as I have for previous ones. I intend to be recognized by my awesome monkey hat (which is my icon on Twitter and Facebook), so it seems silly to be dressed to the nines. I’ll wear denim skirts, most of the weekend. I figure nobody trusts an over-dressed systems librarian from Alaska, anyway. It’ll technically be my second ALA after employment, but since all I had was the verbal offer, last ALA, it’s very different. So, I’m looking forward to that. And since most of the networking activities are in the evenings, I can segment my days really nicely, leaving Dale to his own devices for most of the daylight hours and dragging him along to socials and the like at night. (I do sort of wish there were a little more open time on my birthday proper. I may declare it a week or two late, this year, to celebrate on my own terms. :))

My most excellent bird sitter is more or less trained. She is (reasonably, I think) afraid to let them out of the cage, so they’ll be cooped up for a week and a half. Since their wing feathers are growing back, and even I have trouble with them when they’re re-learning to fly, this is really for the best. To stave off boredom and anger, I got them some toys to destroy, so they should stay reasonably entertained. Even Francis has a new toy, despite being quite happy inside his cage all the time. He’s delightedly tearing it apart now. (Didn’t want to wait until I left to introduce them, in case they freak out at them. Every other toy terrifies the cockatiels, when I first put it in.) Anyway, she’s stopping by again tomorrow, to get them more used to her, which I think shows really awesome dedication. I’m super glad and grateful that she was willing to watch them!

Still not sure what I’m doing with the car. Since the plow sometimes comes through our parking lot, and also my bird sitter needs a place to park, using my own spot is no good. A coworker says she has a large driveway, and I can store it there. I’m definitely tempted to take her up on that! And a friend said he could give me a ride to the airport, though I have to check and see if that’s still true. (He also said he could give us a ride back from, but given how much stuff we’ll have with us, including a chinchilla, I think we’ll cab that part.)

But, yeah. I’m a little behind on packing, but not miserably so. I’m dreading the flight (Alaska’s one big down side is that you almost have to fly to get out), but looking forward to the trip as a whole. It’s weird that I’ll be, you know, legally married when I get back up here. But not nearly as weird as Dale, getting married and then moving to Alaska in a matter of 2 days…

Anyway, this blog should be pretty quiet for a couple of weeks. But I’ll (or maybe he’ll) post when we get back.

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I’ve got the car partially packed for my move tomorrow. Most of the kitchen stuff is still “put away,” in the current apartment, and needs to be packed up to be moved. But since I’m meeting my landlord at 8am (yeah, that’s 7 hours from now), I should have plenty of time to get everything from here to there and turn in the keys. If I had a vacuum, I would run it over the carpets, here, to be sure all the bird seeds are up, but I don’t.

Tomorrow night, unless my gaming group is getting together, I’m just unpacking and reassuring the birds. And, if I run far enough ahead of schedule, I might stop for groceries and cook. (This isn’t entirely likely. More likely: I’ll figure out how people without Internet order Chinese food, I’ll do so, and I’ll collapse in an exhausted heap, to watch Gilmore Girls. [Don’t judge!])

Saturday morning: more unpacking, and then, Saturday evening, there’s the zombie walk and movie!

On Sunday I really might try to go to the UU church; I meant to, last week, and just forgot. Or I might be tired and covered in zombie makeup, in which case I’ll probably just hang out and unpack.

I really do plan to go to Girdwood, though I’m not even really set on what I’m doing there. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to try to get to Seward or Homer, or just wait until spring; there’s still a fair bit to do in Anchorage, including the zoo, the Imaginarium, hiking the Coastal Trail and Green Belt, looking into these high-up cranberries (I forgot what they’re called :)), general exploring, and using that cool bird-watching map I picked up. Plus all the errands I have left, such as giving the bank my address, getting an Alaska ID, dealing with the insurance company and car registration and all of that good stuff, getting Internet set up in my apartment (I’ve realized that’s a utility like any other), and maybe finding a little bit of furniture. I’ll get a futon or fancy bean bag for the short term, but now that I have space I can invite people to (a 1-br, rather than a studio), I want to get a table and chairs for games.

Winter to-do list: learn about container gardening in Alaska (in preparation for spring), learn (at least in theory) about fishing and cleaning fish, learn to shoot, learn to sew (with a machine, for quilting and clothing repairs), and learn a little more about canning jams and jellies. That last one will be taken care of in the fall, if I find some of those cranberries to pick. I’m pretty excited about that, honestly, so I hope it works out!

Apparently, Fargo hotels make you choose between pet-friendliness or internet-access…ness. ┬áBut other than that, all is well.

Tomorrow: Canada!

On the home front, I found the floor of the bedroom, and have turned up a number of items that had been presumed-lost durring the last month’s frantic packing. So I’ll be getting friendly with the post office in a couple weeks. But first, to straighten up the rest of this disaster area enough for a new roommate to put their stuff down.

Finally… WordPress and Opera’s spell check don’t seem to get along, so I absolve myself of responsibility for any misspellings.

It’s weird to be so close to leaving. Seriously, it seems like I should have weeks left! (Looking at the apartment, that is certainly what one would assume.) But my Pittsburgh going-away dinner is over (I’ll miss people!); the birds had their vet appointment (clean bills of health); I got my Canadian insurance card; the car is outfitted for the trip; the bulk of the most important things are packed; and Dale and I are going back to my hometown for a day to visit my family before returning to Pittsburgh to pack madly, fill the car with my belongings, and head out. It’s just about time.

I still haven’t got word on that apartment. I haven’t reserved any motel rooms–or even chosen them for all of my stops, yet. (Part of me wants to have it all set up, and part of me really wants to mostly wing it, because I may find that I can do better than 6 hours a day of driving.) There’s a lot left to do. And I’m just going to have to be Zen enough to realize it won’t all be done in precisely the timeframe I had in mind.

ellaIt’s come to my attention that I have pretty much exactly one week to finish packing (or at least sorting–Dale assures me he can pack things as well as I can, provided I’ve pulled out the “want to keep!” things from the “sell” things). If you know anybody who needs a couch, an awesome indigo microsuede-covered beanbag, a very inexpensive table and chairs, or a coffee table, send them my way. If Subaru gets in gear with this car thing, we may even be able to deliver.

My to-do list for the next week (besides finishing packing):

  • Print and fax apartment application. Or demand check back and prepare to wing it. Whichever.
  • Print up a bunch of other stuff.
  • Get Canadian insurance card from Geico (and print it).
  • Upgrade AAA coverage.
  • Take the birds to the vet.
  • Pick up a case of cup ‘o noodles and an electric kettle.
  • Finish finding motel rooms along the route, while finalizing mileages. Make backup plans.
  • Get a bird cage small enough I can carry–two, if they’re ideal for travel. (This should be done before the vet trip.)
  • Finish up two time-sensitive knitting projects before I go.
  • Two friend dinners, a coffee date, another meeting, and, of course, the trip down to VA.
  • Drop off my SCALA notebook.
  • Don’t forget my passport.
  • Have a date with Dale. We let our 4-and-a-halfth anniversary go by in the rush, and I won’t see him until almost our 5th.

Speaking of… After I made sure I could get the time off in order to properly chair my committee during ALA Midwinter (in Boston, which isn’t so very far from Dale’s parents’ place), we got to talking, and Dale’s just going to fly back with me from there. It makes more sense than his trying to fly at the end of the Christmas rush, and, that way, Ella has two parents to keep an eye on her during the trip. And I don’t have to freak out about getting them from the airport while I try to move between apartments, at New Year’s. Plus, my birthday’s that weekend, so an exciting librarian conference and a joyous reunion with Dale and a visit with Dale’s family seems like a perfect present!

I’m moving; Anchorage is shaking. (Y’all OK? Magnitude 5 is kind of a lot, right? … Earthquakes are going to be a new thing for me.)

I set up a goodbye dinner for Pittsburgh peeps–if you’re in Pittsburgh and not on Facebook (or if you are, but somehow I missed you), and you want to go, holler. I’ll forward the invite.

I am really frighteningly behind on going through stuff and packing, but here’s hoping it starts going faster.

We do have a new car, or will once it gets to the dealer. I think it’s the color Dale hates (“Sage Green Metallic”), which is very sad. But we’re approved for a loan at an acceptable rate, and given how much more acceptable that rate is than the rate on Grover, I think it’s the right choice. I’ll post pictures when I have them.

This post is not so much about the trip as about the transition. It’s more get-to-know-me than get-to-know-what-I’m-doing, if that makes sense.

We spent this past weekend in the DC area, saying goodbye to my dad and a fair number of our friends who live down there. (We didn’t see everybody, which is too bad, but people in the DC area have very, very hectic lives; there is not going to be a weekend when they’re all free.) As always happens when I visit, I recalled all the more vividly how very much I love my friends down there–and I do, because they are all really spectacular people–and how very much I do not love the area itself. (I think MD/DC/VA has the potential to be a great place to live, but there are too many people–many of them just there until they can get a job somewhere else, which, yes, I’d be a hypocrite to condemn–with too few transportation options. We found that both the transience of the population and the difficulty getting around made it hard to form or maintain a community, down there, both in the city and in the suburbs.)

My dad seemed really sad to say goodbye, and I was sad to say goodbye to him. He knows I’ll come back and visit, which made it easier, and he travels a lot, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll come up and see me. Our friends seemed less sad and more worried about the drive. I agree that it is a long drive to do alone (alone in that birds have limited conversation skills and can’t really take over driving when you’re tired), but I’ll be blogging my experiences and doing my level best to check in every day. (I think the thing to do, if I haven’t posted in a couple of days and you are concerned, is to email Dale; he’ll be the one I call, in places with phone but no Internet. Or, you know, maybe he’ll post for me when I can’t…)

Although I’m now really glad I did it, I almost felt like going to DC to say goodbye was a bad idea. I am terrible at goodbyes. I hate them. Even watching goodbyes between complete strangers makes me cry; I’m just like that. The way I figure it, we drift in and out of one another’s lives, whether we are geographically near or not, and setting up a time specifically to say “I will see you at some point in the future, but it will be a while,” seems wrong to me. Renewing the memory of how much I care about and miss these people–not that I forget when they are out of sight, but it’s different–before driving across the continent, away from them, was not the smartest of ideas, perhaps. It will make it all the harder to drive that first mile. … On the other hand, if you do not put in some time to strengthen relationships when you can, what good is having them? (And how will I get them to come visit me in Anchorage if I don’t go visit them before I leave? :))

I also kind of think it was a necessary stage in the transition process. And it was important that I do it and leave myself some time to internalize that that was goodbye-for-now, with that set of loved ones. Honestly, pushing the visit with my mom’s family to the last weekend before I leave is a far worse idea–I’m going to have a grand total of one day to process and internalize that, before I get on the road.

I see it kind of like the moving process. I mean, it is the moving process, but I’m thinking house-to-house more than state-to-state, for the purposes of comparison. I have to get out of the mode of one living space and into the mode of the other, and over the years–moving once or twice every year for most of the last 12 years has helped me kind of develop a method–I’ve learned that there are certain things that have to happen before I can really make the shift. The first and most important stage of the transition is that the art has to come down off the walls; that’s when I really commit, in my head and heart, to a place no longer being “home.” The new place becomes my home when the art goes up, there. (I say “the art,” but there isn’t really that much on our walls, anymore. I used to have a lot of posters in college–and even after–but I’ve moved on to nicer framed pieces, largely, and there are just fewer of those, still.) Next, the fragile things have to be wrapped in paper or bubble wrap. And the books have to be packed. (After that, admittedly, it’s all ad hoc bedlam, ending, eventually, in throwing random stuff into wherever it’ll fit.) There’s a method (mostly :)). And while I haven’t yet determined what the method of moving across a continent is, for me, I think making time for goodbyes is probably a lot like the art coming down off the walls. I’m not sure what corresponds to the wrapping of fragile things and packing of books–maybe that’s the actual packing up of the physical things and putting them into the car, or into boxes for shipping–but I’ll finesse the metaphor as I go. I do think searching for apartments and meetups and knitting groups and zombie walks (no, really, there’s a zombie walk on September 19) is sort of like pondering where the art should go in the new place, and attending those will be like hanging the art–settling in, hopefully making friends, realizing this is now my home.

This post got long so I’ll wrap up quickly, but I noticed, on the art-hanging front, that a fair number of my future coworkers have looked at this blog and have offered [very good!] advice. It warms my heart and serves as a good reminder that, as much as there are very real sad parts to it, this is, overarchingly, an incredibly happy transition–I wouldn’t be making it if it weren’t–and I am really looking forward to making Anchorage my home and to joining the library community there. These transitional steps–the toughness of saying goodbye, the decisions of what to pack and what to sell/give away, the long drive–are helping me to get to a really good place, in multiple senses.

I’m way behind on packing and even further behind on selling things. (Dale called it. I should have believed him.) Seriously, if you know anyone in Pittsburgh who needs furniture, send them our way! If we have any doodads you want, ask. F’real.

This weekend will be spent visiting my dad and DC-area friends, next was going to be our yard sale–but man will I have to get a lot done to make that happen!–and the following is my last weekend on the East Coast, spent with my mom’s side of the family. We’ll probably come back to Pittsburgh that Saturday night, in part for the break from driving, in part to pack the car, and in part to say our 4-month goodbyes. That’s already going to be a tough day–no need to make it tougher by adding a 4+ hour drive.

The Subaru dealer is talking with the bank. My new job doesn’t seem show up on my credit (which isn’t unreasonable), and I refuse to pay 8% interest, so I may well be driving Grover up there. We’ll see.

The vet never called me back. I’ll try to get a hold of her tomorrow. I mean, I think she’s going to say “ship the birds,” but I’d like to hear it before I consider the decision completely made.

I was thinking of switching our phone plan before I went up there, but I think, now, I’m not. We may lose our numbers, this way, but say what you want about Verizon: they do have better coverage through some of the wilder parts of the trip! … I don’t recall whether or not I mentioned this, here, but the main wireless carriers in Anchorage are AT&T and Alaska Communications Systems. Verizon has coverage, but it’s all “extended network.”

(The first is Verizon’s map, and the second is AT&T’s. You’ll note the big hole in both, over the Alcan–for AT&T, that hole covers all of Canada–so please do not freak out if I don’t pick up the phone. It’s safe to assume I will not be Twittering, Facebooking, emailing, blogging, or generally making a lot of Internet noise every single day. While I’d like to blog each day of the trip, that may not be realistic, on a real-time basis–things may be written up on one day and posted on another. I promised Dale I’d do what I could to check in with him every 24 hours, but even that’s not 100% certain.)

Bright side: I’m totally getting an iPhone. :) I promise not to become one of those iPhone people.

Also, I think I’m going to look into Couch Surfing a couple of nights, if I don’t have the birds with me. Only with verified, validated, recommended people, and Dale will have a complete list of where and with whom I’ll be staying. It’s no less safe than a hostel, I figure, and it’s at least as good a way to meet cool people and also save serious funds along the way. Anchorage has a Couch Surfing community, which is pretty neat. Still, I’m hoping I can get a 4-month lease (I found a place, just have to do the paperwork before someone else does) and save myself the trouble of finding crash space for the first few nights I’m there.