For the most part, I am excited about moving. As I said in my last post, Seattle is the city of my heart, aside from finding and marrying my partner, I can't think of a much better thing that finding and moving to my heart city. But I am also a worrywart. A big one. Like I actually stayed awake one night worrying about what I would do about my prescriptions when I move because I go to this local independent pharmacy and I really didn't want to switch over to Walgreens even though obviously that would be the most convenient thing. I also worry about the big picture things--the stuff I will definitely be blogging about in greater depth--but I figure that getting it all down, big and small, will help me sleep better. And maybe other people who've moved will have tips. Or people who are in the process of moving or thinking about it will feel less silly about their worries after reading mine.
So, a list of my top thirteen (because it's my favorite number--I'm sure I could think of more) moving worries, big and small.
13. There is no AT&T U-verse in Seattle.
This is definitely the most trivial of my concerns, but I literally waited years to get U-verse in my current home. Comcast/Xfinity/whatever name they are using to reinvent themselves are the devil. I was stuck with them for years for internet service. It sucked and it was overpriced. When you do a lot of work from home this is a problem. I saved money by getting the Dish Network for TV, but then they dropped AMC and there were problems because we are big Mad Men and Walking Dead Fans. Fortunately U-verse was finally available. Now we have fast internet, no customer service problems (admittedly a shocker because having AT&T for cell phone service was just as bad as Comcast), and we're also getting all kinds of channels plus a DVR plus on-demand for an incredibly low price. I have gotten used to this. I almost cried when my research showed that not only is there no AT&T U-verse in Seattle, but aside from some extremely expensive and somewhat rare Verizon service, Comcast/Xfinity is my only option. Also, I am moving in the middle of the True Blood season. This is going to be problematic, though I guess its better than fall when there are multiple must-see shows going on. Oh Seattle, you are lucky I love you more than TV.
12. We have too much stuff.
I've lived in my house for 9 years. It is a three bedroom townhouse with a finished basement--way too much space for me, but dude, I have filled it. I love stuff. I'm a pack-rat and a sentimentalist. I know have to part with a large chunk of my stuff. We already decided to ditch a bunch of furniture (hand-me-downs from my in-laws that my husband is pretty sure are from the early 90s, if not the 80s) and my elliptical (*sniff* But logically I know we will probably have no place to put it), so that we can fit everything in one 16-foot moving container (and yes there will be a post soon about the container moving decision because it was a very stressful one), but I know I need to eliminate More Things. Part of me is excited about this. I want to be zen about it, less attached, start over in a new place with nothing but the necessities. But, um, as much as I WANT that personality, that's not my personality. This is going to be hard work.
11. Finding a new dentist and doctor
I finally have two that I like and my insurance covers them. It seems like it will be a pain in the ass to do this again. On the flipside, I hope that one of us will find a job with better insurance, so then, even though it's a pain in the ass, we'll pay out of the ass a little bit less for our new dentist and doctor.
10. Finding a new hairstylist.
Yeah, that's higher on the list than health care. Maybe that makes me shallow, but I see my stylist more than my doctor or dentist. She also knows my hair better than I do, always has better ideas than me about what to do with it, and I've been seeing her so long that I get this grandfathered cheap rate that I know I'll never find elsewhere. The last time I moved out of state, I dyed my hair with box dye, trimmed my split ends, but otherwise let it grow this this:
As I'm no longer a twenty year-old goth girl this is not an option.
9. Finding a new vet and in-home cat care when we travel.
See I love my cats more than my hair! My family has used the same vet since I was a teenager. My cat Sid was neutered by this guy on our kitchen table. He and his staff also saw Sid through a harrowing few years of illness that ended last November when Sid passed. I didn't actually start planning to move until Sid passed. I wasn't going to trust anyone else with his treatment. My two other cats are young and (mostly) healthy. (Lars is a puker. Not sure what is up with that.) However, I am quite picky about their care. It will be stressful to find them a new doctor. I hope there's, like, Yelp, for vets. I also hope we make some cat-loving friends quick because otherwise I am not sure how we will ever leave Seattle when we get there. I'm pretty dependent on the fact that one of my best friends lives two blocks from me and my mom lives in the next town over and the cats (even Lars who is a scaredy-cat in addition to a puker) like them both. One of them can always come the two times a day that the cats need to eat. I know there are services for this, but will Lars eat or will he hide and let Kaspar eat all his food? Sigh.
8. Sorting out the cancellation of all the utilities here and starting all the utilities there.
I've lived in the same house for nine years. I've kind of forgotten how that works. Also I'm on this budget plan for both electric and gas here and I'm guessing I might owe some lump sum at the end, which will be... unfortunate. Because of work, I need internet right away when I get to Seattle (well, and electricity too, I suppose) and since I'm already dreading Comcast/Xfinity, I am dreading what I'm sure will be a pain in the ass set-up. Also, will they, like, install my cable even though my TV won't have arrived yet?
7. Driving on the highway to and in Seattle.
It is approximately 2000 miles from Chicago to Seattle. We are driving. We even upgraded from my husband's tiny, sport Civic hatchback that he adored to a Honda Accord for the journey. I have no excuse not to drive this car like I did the Civic (it was stick, I conveniently never learned) and I do drive it... around town. Several years ago, I had A Traumatic Merging Incident wherein while merging from toll road to highway outside of Chicago, a semi truck just plowed into my car. Like I was stopped in traffic and it just kept going and I saw it happening, saw him smooshing my little car and I could do nothing. An anxiety developed after this incident. I managed to drive on the highway--just the short stretch of 290 between my house and my school downtown--for another year after that, but it caused me so much panic that after I graduated, I stopped. I haven't driven on a highway in 7 years except a couple of times by accident when what I thought--and Google told me--was just a street turned into a highway. The trucks freak me out. The super aggressive Chicago style of driving freaks me out. The latter, I'm telling myself will be less of a problem out west, but obviously there will be trucks and lots of them on the way there. But I can't let my husband drive the full 2000 miles. That would be shitty of me. And while I plan to rely mainly on public transportation when I get to Seattle like I do here, I know I will have to drive sometimes, and since I'm not nearly as familiar with the area, planning reliable non-highway routes is not going to be as easy.
This, I realize, is probably a special Stephanie sort-of moving problem, and I know it can only be resolved one way: putting my big girl pants on and just dealing with it. (Dear Husband, I promise to take over the driving when we get to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is my safe place. I have lived and driven there before...)
6. 2,000 mile drive + 2 cats =
Hell. I am guessing it equals hell. I am guessing that I will experience the cat equivalent of this because we definitely do have one simple cat (Lars), though I wouldn't call the other cat, Kaspar, a "helper" (more like a smart little bastard). From our limited travels to the vet, neither of them travel well. Sid, who moved with me to Madison, Wisconsin, and back a couple of times and regularly came home on weekend visits, was the one who didn't mind riding in the car. I have an evil plan to take the cats to say goodbye to the vet on the way out of town, so they will spend maybe an hour or so (that's probably a liberal estimate) feeling comforted because we're "on our way home" from the vet, but I know that soon they will realize that "home" is now 2,000 miles away from the place they are used to, and there will be yowling and puking and peeing and pooping. I have gotten some handy tips from my former roommate who moved from Chicago to San Francisco with her cat. ("Do not, I repeat, do NOT let them out of the carrier in the car for any reason," she told me, squashing what I thought was a brilliant idea of letting them out to use a disposable litter box at rest stops. They will hide under the seats and never come out, she told me, suggesting that I put litter in a shoe box top in their carriers instead and that they probably won't use it anyway because they'll be too scared.) We are planning to either book our hotels in advance or have a list of cat-friendly chains. We also might take our vet friend up on her offer of a just-in-case tranq prescription. But other tips are welcome.
5. Our stuff will break in transit.
Before I had more than one cat, when I moved, all of my most precious items--namely stereo, records, and guitar--went in the car and everything else in the U-Haul. Now I have two cats and far too many precious things (like lots of framed art in addition to the much larger collection of records, the way nicer record player, and the more expensive guitar). Plus we'll have to transport the essential (clothes, dishes, air mattress) that will keep us living sort of like humans while we wait the week it will take our stuff to catch up with us. So all of that stuff, that precious, precious stuff, will have to go in the container. I will have already eliminated a bunch of precious, precious stuff in order to fit everything else in the container, so the idea of a single glass getting broken is traumatic. And it will probably happen even though my husband worked at UPS for several years so I know he will pack things as securely as possible. *deep breaths* *be zen*
4. Losing my local support network
When I moved to Madison at 17, I sobbed the second my mom and my best friend left. I wanted out of my hometown so badly that I hadn't realized until the last minute how much I would miss them. I don't spend nearly every waking second with my best friend anymore--in fact, we see each other maybe once a month because of our jobs--but I'll probably still cry over her, and I will definitely DEFINITELY cry over my mom and my sixteen year-old niece. I'm insanely close to both of them and of course there are a bunch of other friends and family members, some who I see weekly, some who I only see a few times a year, but I will miss the ease of those visits. However, I have quite a few long distance friends who I am just as close with as my local friends thanks to long phone calls, Skype, email, and Facebook. I comfort myself thinking about that and also the new local support network I will gain. One of my best friends from high school lives in Seattle and one of my best writing buds is in Portland. I have some other writing friends in Seattle, who I hope to get to know
3. We will not find a place to live.
This is something I will post about in depth in the future because it's been one of the hardest things to tackle from across the country. When I moved to Wisconsin, I just went up for a weekend and found an apartment. Of course after owning my own house for 9 years, my standards are higher and it's also been a long time since I went through this process. We're planning to spend a week in Seattle at the beginning of June, one month before our move date (as suggested by wise friends who have done this sort of thing before), to find a place. Being from Chicago, all of the neighborhoods in Seattle seem nice, even the ones people in Seattle might not think so highly of. Our only real limitation is that we need to be near a good bus line or the light rail because we only have one car (and I prefer public transportation to driving). We also hope to rent a house, part of a house, townhouse, duplex, etc instead of an apartment if we can, just since that is what we are used to. We have good credit and a lot of savings, so I'm hoping that that and our willingness to pay a few months of rent up front will not make my next concern a deal-breaker for landlords.
2. We don't have jobs yet.
Yeah, this is the thing that makes me most uncomfortable because I know that when you are in your 30s as opposed to your 20s this is not generally how people do things. You get a job and then you move. However, my husband and I have odd circumstances. He is a mechanic. That is not the kind of job where a company generally hires people from afar a long time ahead of time. He'll be looking for jobs when we go in June, but it will still be unlikely that someone will want to wait a month or so for him to start. On the plus side, he's a mechanic and he's a good and he's a hard worker, once we are there I am fully confident that he will find a job quickly. I do actually have some work that I am bringing with me. I'm teaching an online class for Mediabistro that starts in late July (and if you want to learn about writing YA, sign up for it!) and I write for Rookie, an online magazine, who I can continue to work for from anywhere. But I need additional work, another teaching job or two, or something full time. I'd like to line that up before we go, but who knows. I am reaching out to everyone in my network, though (despite the whole networking thing being very frightening to this introverted writer type) and I have to say that people within the writing community--the kidlit community especially, are so kind and helpful. Even though this is one of my biggest fears, I am truly hopeful that with their support, I can make something awesome happen.
Hopeful as I am, deep down in the pit of my stomach, causing the ulcer from my teenage years to act up again, the fear of failure burns. It scratches at the back of my brain, too, keeping me from sleeping at night. I don't deal with failure well. I never have. And I did fail when I was a younger. I failed to hold my own in Madison and had to come home when I was 21. I know that I'm more mature and resourceful now. I know I have a partner who is just as determined to live this dream as I am, and that more than anything gives me the strength to face this fear. I will not fail. I cannot. I must get to my heart city and thrive.