Moving: An Uncomfortable Adventure

Prologue

January 2016, Los Angeles.  I’ve had two jobs for more than a year– two PR clients, plus a day gig as QA lead at an adtech company.  I’m tired but happy.  My fiancé, D., interviews at an awesome company in Seattle.  We don’t deliberate long.  Let’s do this!

The catch?  I have to help run a gaming convention in the middle of February, which leaves us with less than a month to move to another state.

I start by quitting the day gig, visiting my grandmother and getting everything I own out of her garage, sorting it and inviting the entire universe to my house for a giant book giveaway.  Very few people show up, which leads to an entire box of sex books being donated to Goodwill.  I was too embarrassed to walk in and get a receipt, so I left the box outside and donated the rest of the books the following day.

For the first time in 20 years (I’m 38), everything I own is under one roof.  It’s a weird feeling.

Important note: I’ve never had anything but respect for those brave souls who load up their cars and move far away.  I know we have it silver-spoon easy by comparison– the company is paying for movers, plus they’re flying us up to find an apartment.  I kept this log primarily so I could keep the people in my life up-to-date on our whereabouts and activities while they were happening, since we didn’t always have Internet, so if any of it reads as “poor me”, forgive me.  Things seem especially dire when you’re sick.  Oops!  Spoiler…

 


 

Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part One.
Silver Cloud Inn, Seattle, WA
17 February 2016

I got back from Orccon horribly sick, which is unheard of– I’m from hardy European stock and have had total immunity to the Con Plague for 20 years. At first I thought I was allergic to the down pillows and blankets at the LAX Hilton, where I’ve been bunkered for the past week, but when I got home it became clear that my sinuses are badly infected.

I spent my one day at home sorting and paring down my worldly goods. Many things were placed in many plastic bins, which I’ve learned are called “totes”. We’ll be back in LA for a couple of days after this home-finding trip, to supervise the packing and ship out our cars, but there won’t be much time. Our Final Flight (it sounds so fascist!) is the 25th. All of this happened so fast that my head is spinning.

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The view from the Silver Cloud Inn. Not pictured: mosquitoes.

We landed in Seattle around 3p and checked into the Silver Cloud Inn, which has a pretty view of Lake Union. I still have a high fever and can’t stop coughing, so D., mensch that he is, went out in the rain to get pizza (Pazzo’s! It was excellent) and Nyquil/Dayquil for me. He’s my rock.  (There’s no CVS here– just Bartell’s, which brags a lot about how much local stuff it carries and doesn’t have an awesome loyalty program that gives you tons of free stuff.)

Seattle is as pretty, soggy, fishy and cold as I remembered. I’ll appreciate it more when my chest doesn’t feel like a swamp. I missed the trees. We have a rental car, but I’m too sick to go anywhere.

Six apartments to view today. Hope one doesn’t have mice or walruses or something. Thank the gods the hotel has free hot breakfast!

 



Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Two

Olive St., Seattle, WA
18 February 2016.

We viewed apartments with creepy, dark noir hallways, scalloped glass windows, smelly elevators, weird amenities like saunas and sundecks and a very sad little fitness center plastered, inexplicably, with opera posters. We also saw a wonderful, airy place in Capitol Hill, with huge windows, new vinyl floors, a perfect floor plan and a very nice owner. We applied on the spot and got it. We’re on our way to sign the paperwork now. Shout-out to the Facebook group for transplants that recommended bringing a photocopy of the offer letter and our IDs!

Thank the gods! We’ll have a roof over our heads. It’s a nice roof, too, in a cute area, near good phở and a bank and a QFC (it’s Ralph’s with a weird logo). D’s commute will be easy. Capitol Hill has some cool history. Did you know there actually WAS a Sam Hill?

I’m sicker. Hearing is gone in the left ear, and my eyes are full of yellow goo. I have no appetite and barely slept; my eyes are badly infected.  We did what we came here to do, though. Flying back home tomorrow around noon. Dat breakfast, tho!

dat breakfast


Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Three
Chez Mei, Los Angeles, CA
20 February 2016

Made it home [for now] in one piece. Flying sick is the pits! Everyone gives you the evil eye.

Everything is all signed off. They’ll come for our cars Monday; then we have to supervise the packing and loading for two days, and then we fly up to Seattle for good and live out of our suitcases in our new place until possibly as late as March 10. This is not what a person with a soul-crushing, incapacitating sinus infection wants to do, but everything’s already in motion, so I’d better recover quickly. I assure you that you have never seen a neti pot used with so much feeling.

A dozen awful, dumb details are keeping me awake. Hopefully I’ll be able to get up tomorrow and look at some of them objectively.


Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Four
Chez Mei, Los Angeles, CA
21 February 2016

Oh, bed! Bedbedbedbedbed. I’ll take my bed over any expensive ecru hotel smoosh-cocoon any day of the week. That’s good, because I’ve been in mine for 24 hours. I’m a tiny hair better today but still can’t do bloody anything. Nowhere near ship shape, but thanks to everyone letting me rest (THANK YOU) I can hear again. My eyes and skin are a horrifying, angry combination of red and white. I’m doing my best to wash and sleep it away.

My lack of appetite probably stems from my inability to smell anything. While I wish I could say I sent D. out for a bucket of kale so I’ll be Heidi Klum at the end of this, he’s out grabbing Benito’s, because you guys weren’t kidding– they don’t have Benito’s in Seattle.

He’s also doing what I was doing last week– paring down. It’s ridiculous, how much STUFF we humans accumulate. And yet we ALL still try for that stark, slick, minimalist we-own-only-a-few-things-but-they’re-all-$4,000-and-red-and-square look. I’ve never been the decorating type, but I’m hoping to at least find big bookshelves that can fit my whole library up there, to use the smaller space more efficiently.

TL:DR: We both love Seattle, and I’m looking forward to the move, but I need to get better first. Going back to sleep now.



Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Five

Chez Mei, Los Angeles, CA
22 February 2016

D. is the kindest, most patient and awesome problem-solver on this green Earth… he managed to get me in to see a doctor, in the middle of all this! The drugs are a little heavy, but hopefully they’ll work and my lifeless corpse won’t need to be rolled into a carpet and packed with the pots and pans by the moving company after all. They start packing us up tomorrow. I’m almost ready.

PSA: corporate moving companies can’t transport paints or polishes! There goes half of my checked bag.

The car-shipping company came and took our cars. They will be delivered well in advance of the contents of our apartment. The DMV is apparently two separate entities in Washington– driver and vehicle licensing offices– and we can’t take any steps in that direction until we establish residency, which means registering to vote in person. I respect the state for it, to be honest, but that’s going to be a very long day.

Military families frequently move to whole other countries at a moment’s notice; refugees have a long and heartbreaking road to walk, and my heart goes out to everyone ever affected by displacement of any kind. I’m so grateful that the Company is helping us and I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’m being carried in a litter that is being showered with rose petals, even if I can’t smell them.

A word to the wise is sufficient: if you want to stay ready for anything, you don’t need to go full George Clooney in “Up in the Air”, but by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, get rid of stuff you don’t need before you *have* to, folks! Angelenos, if you see homeless people wearing old E3 swag, you’ll know what’s up.



Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Six

Travelodge LAX, Los Angeles
24 February 2016

My mother, a well-known evangelist of cleanliness and general all-around Big Damn Hero, came by last night, brought us water, showed me how to use some fancypants cleaning artillery and said goodbye. My gratitude is immeasurable. Thanks, Mumsy!

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Day two of packing and loading: the movers are nice guys from Vegas; they’ll be the ones driving the truck up to Seattle by way of Oakland. They finished around 6p, and then D. and I cleaned for four hours or so. My hands are shredded. We learned that we are an 8,000-pound household, which just seems insane. Note to self: continue shedding excess stuff until it doesn’t take two miracle men two entire days to pack yo shit.

We got Chinese takeout from our favorite local place, Chef Ming’s, for the last time.  We didn’t have a table to eat it on, and our apartment was full of boxes and movers, so we dined in an empty closet on a clothes hamper.

Fine dining.

Our lovely neighbor Dominique (I’ll miss her) ever-so-sweetly took D. through the maelstrom that is afternoon Culver City traffic to turn in our keys, and after cleaning, we closed the door for the last time (weird feeling– much has transpired in our five years there) and our guardian angels C0rphan and Joanne kindly took us to the LAX Travelodge and helped us get our suitcases up the stairs. Thank you so much, guys!

This Travelodge is curiously lovely; no elevators, but very pretty, good soap, and– lo and behold!– a Denny’s, where I inhaled an entire Super Bird, able for the first time in two weeks to taste food.

Wheeeee! We’re homeless. Our flight arrives in Seattle at 15:00 tomorrow. So grateful for everyone in my life right now.  Excited to walk into our new home and visit the people-licensing office tomorrow. Also, holy mother of fuck, I’m exhausted.


Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Seven
Seattle, WA
February 27, 2016

We’ve landed!  Sorry so short– typing this on my phone. The air mattress, towels, blankets, cars, electric kettle and 2-pack of Jacob’s Kronung Instant Coffee from Germany (priorities!) arrived on time, but our Internet did not.

I’m still very, very sick, but we managed to get our driver’s licenses, register our cars and obtain our precious parking permits at the Municipal Tower downtown, which was beautiful.  I see I have a lot of client work piled up (sorry!); will hopefully be back online sometime Monday.

We stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a wonderful lamp for the bedroom and some stuff for the bathroom, which is black and white– shower curtain (I’ve never had a curtain-shower before! exciting!), wastebasket, hand towel. I didn’t have my flyer with me, and there was one sitting next to the cashier, but she didn’t offer to use it.  For some reason this made me cry after we left.  So much money!  Back in LA, they would totally give me a flyer… the Freeze is real.

I’m struggling to learn how to handle garbage correctly, here. It’s very complicated.

We don’t usually get to eat out very often, but we’re pretending to be on vacation and eating lots of amazing food, trying to heal me up. Our household goods arrive Tuesday. We’re kind of dreading it– this has been nice.



Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Eight

Seattle, WA
February 29, 2016
bedbedbedbed

Still no Internet or household stuff. We maneuvered our cars to take up the parking spots next to our building so the movers will have somewhere to park the truck. My back hurts from not sitting in chairs for a week and my legs hurt (equally, oddly– Lefty’s been shockingly well behaved, for a refurbished leg in a cold, hilly place) from the hills. I really miss chairs and my couch.

We visited our local library branch; it’s nice. I did a little client work and we had pho again (Pho Cyclo Cafe is so good!).

Gods willing, the movers should be here tomorrow and our Internet will arrive soon. In the meantime, we moved the air mattress into the living room, which now feels like a very fancy hotel. I’m still sick as Hell and was craving familiarity, so D. humored me and let me order a Dominos pan pizza for dinner. I’m reading the third Witcher book, Blood of Elves— it’s excellent. That’s my night. Living dangerously!


Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Nine
Seattle, WA
March 2, 2016

The movers arrived with our furniture and household goods, we finally have Internet and I’m too sick and exhausted to take advantage of either!

plotz

After using the Queen air mattress for a week, our Full bed feels small. We put the bed in D.’s room this time, since I’ve been working from home so much and need to take calls at my desk pretty often. (I have a laptop and cell phone, but I’m old-fashioned and not living in an Apple commercial yet– working at a desk puts me in the zone. I did agree to no landline this time, and to the electric kettle. Progress!)

The apartment is no longer full of creepy echoes, and furniture warms the place up a mite. Everything smells like cardboard and seems to have arrived in one piece, although I haven’t the faintest idea where bloody anything is. I unpacked as much of the “easy” stuff as I could manage yesterday, wearing my sick self out in the process.

Everything that was in our storage lockup, coat closet and second bathroom will have to find a place. Toughest challenge for me, by far: the kitchen is much smaller! Will have to think outside the box. There’s no room for my second, formal set of dishes, and do we really need more than 100 cups?

Note to everyone in Los Angeles who made fun of my heavy secondhand slightly-too-big Harley biker jacket: if you ever have to make a store run when it’s thirtyish degrees and pouring, you are welcome to borrow my jacket! It’s just the thing, here.

Note to self: drink coffee faster! Things go cold quickly.


Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Ten
Seattle, WA
March 4, 2016

mallI was feeling well enough to walk around yesterday, and the thought of another day of unpacking boxes made me want to jump into the Sound, so we went on a date. We took the 47 downtown, finally saw Deadpool (which was AWESOME), bought a lamp for the living room and had the best Thai in town at Mae Phim (so good! missed you, Rob!).

Ever since we first viewed this apartment, there’s been this nagging feeling of “what’s the catch?”. It’s only about 2K (hush, Texas residents, people who had help buying houses and people whose careers did not implode a few years ago) and it’s a huge, nicely remodeled corner unit on Capitol Hill. It even has heaters built into the walls, and while that limits furniture placement, we haven’t frozen to death in our sleep, so there’s that.

Answer: small kitchen and old electricity. While trying to set up our television, half the apartment’s power went out, but none of the breakers were tripped. (On the upside, the landlord’s getting it fixed ASAP. He’s a good egg.)

Groceries will be more expensive; I can’t really stock up on things while they’re on sale, because there’s nowhere to store them. I’m not sure if my dining room set will fit in the dining room. Even after the giant purge I did in LA, the second set of dishes is just the beginning– I’m having to get rid of many, many things I no longer have space for. We had to ditch the microwave and toaster oven.  I put my electric mixer in the donation box, then changed my mind and retrieved it, then put it back in and grabbed it back at the last minute, in the donation center parking lot.

Don’t judge. It’s easy to tell another person “just put them in storage!”, but we don’t HAVE “storage”– there is no lockup, no coat closet, and our rooms are already crammed so full of things we actually need that I feel claustrophobic, and the aesthetics of my room are unforgivable. On the other hand, all these people on Facebook who advised us to get rid of everything we owned and get new stuff: are you people millionaires?! Sheesh!

In other news, to my delight, I do believe I almost have the complete works of Michael Moorcock now. I put them on the top shelf, which is eye level for him.

moorcock.jpg
Blood and souls for Moorcock!

Uncomfortable Adventure Log, Part Eleven
Seattle, WA
March 10, 2016

Electricity is back and my PC is up. This week: kitchen experiments and red tape.

Fun fact: our domestic partnership is not valid in Washington! A few thousand same-sex couples’ domestic partnerships were automatically converted to marriage when the bill was passed, and heterosexual domestic partnerships were invalidated, UNLESS one of the partners was over 62 years of age. The last bit is confusing, but otherwise, that’s fair.

I had to apply for state healthcare, at least for now, so I haven’t been able to see a doctor despite the lingering cough and weakness. If I owe you work, I apologize– I’m trying to get caught up. Call me if you need to– I can speak now. There’s an incredible storm going on outside (it kind of looks like the incredible storm from yesterday crossed with the incredible storm from the day before), so I’m just trying to stay warm and dry and not die.

Switched car insurance companies, registered to vote, changed a few last addresses, ordered a coat rack. Washington’s primary is earlier than California’s! I’m pleased as punch.

Things I did this week that I’d never have bothered doing back in LA:
– made paneer (cheese) from scratch
– ground my own cinnamon (microplane works, although it takes forever)
– tried a totally unfamiliar Moroccan recipe from an old Bon Appetit magazine
– roasted a ton of tomatoes in spices for a crazy-spicy pasta sauce

tomato porn

As soon as my voice goes back to normal I’ll start looking for my new third client. Little by little, the apartment is starting to look and feel like home. I dare say it’s almost comfortable. This must be the happy ending of our Uncomfortable Adventure. Thanks for reading!