Category Archives: Moving

Soon to Come: New Space, New Life

I’m sorry I’ve been away, Minions, but life has been full-tilt of late.

Since the last time I wrote and now, I’ve gotten a lot more of my belongings packed, and took a three-day trip to find my new home. Which is to say, soon I’ll be living in a new and awesome space.

It’s not a bigger space, like I’d wanted, it’s almost exactly the same size as my present home, but it’s got water within 5 blocks of me on three sides, downtown’s less than 10 minutes away by walking, and Victoria’s famous Beacon Hill Park is five blocks, too. Shopping? Everything I need is 2 or 3 short blocks away.

The beach I'll find just five blocks from my home. Fantastic.

For convenience factor, my so-called “convenient” big-city life is a joke compared to what my situation will be once I’ve moved.

My soon-to-be new landlady makes me smile every time I think of her. So sweet, caring, and knows all her tenants by name, and details about their lives. Standing 5 feet tall, she’s short, squat, and full of love as her little arthritic terrier waddles behind her. She rushes to the door to help people in, talks to everyone. I love that.

In my new apartment, they’ve gutted and replaced literally EVERYTHING except the stove, but I’d be unsurprised if I turned up and she thought to throw in a new one of those too. The deck’s being replaced in the spring. The building is spotless, well-loved by tenants and owners, and I’m excited to be joining what looks like a pretty caring community-type apartment building.

I don’t know why people seem to think I’m so urban and hip. I’m really not. I love the water, I love people-watching, exploring, private time, quiet, and space to think. Just because I can chat with just about anyone doesn’t mean I want people around me all the time.

Somehow, some way, all my quiet space and nature-connecting evaporated on me in Vancouver. Without a car, it’s hard to access the awesome in this town, and the town doesn’t allow for the financial freedom of owning a car, so you know how that works. Where I live, which is about all I can afford and stay sane with in Vancouver, there’s the constant drone of traffic and planes landing at the international airport, there’re frequent sirens and horns honking. There are people and tons of traffic everywhere I go. Even my building has turned against me. There are my weird neighbours downstairs who slam everything because none of the kitchen cupboards close (mine don’t either) so they think SLAMMING will make it better.

I think, like me, Victoria is in a time of transition. I don’t want to be where it’s busy and crazy. I like the location I’ve chosen. It’s close enough to everything, and far from the homeless and the university students. It’s close to everything I need, both spiritually and in my day-to-day.

In my new life, there will be both inspiration and time a-plenty for writing, silence, photography, and just being.

And this, BC's Parliament Building, is just about 6 blocks the other way... and with more ocean to see. Shot by me, my first night in town.

My friends were all ganging up on me, saying I should live in another area, but after two full days of walking everywhere, and realizing the so-called convenience of Cook Street Village meant “convenient geography but without much convenience in the form of food and other necessities.” I realized they’re all talking out of their ass. They don’t know what’s “right” for me, not any more than I know why X is right for them.

Deep down, I know I need my new space. I think some higher power knew, too. I had planned to cancel my first apartment viewing but never did. After that appointment, I walked out and the place across the way shone for me. An unadvertised place, I walked up to and buzzed the manager. Sure, I could see it, she said.

I still saw everything I had booked, and more, and returned to my new home for a second viewing, and the “this place is right for me” vibe got stronger and stronger.

It seems spooky and awesome that it worked out so serendipitously for me. The gods are on my side in this move, it seems.

There are things about city life I’ll miss, and I know that before I even leave, but my soul needs it. I can’t be doing this rat-race of stupidity any more. It’s not who I am now. I get home angry more often than I’m relaxed. I don’t feel like walking around the neighbourhood or exploring. I just don’t give a shit now. That’s no way to feel about life.

When I walked down to the end of the street after viewing my spaces, and I came out at Dallas Road Beach, my heart swelled. Really. I could imagine myself wanting to walk there daily. When your heart reacts like that, if you don’t listen then you’re an idiot. I’m listening.

Back in my car-owning days, I would be at the ocean for no reason so often. But in Vancouver, being on the ocean means seeing evidence all around me of the fact that there’s 2.3 million people scattered out there. All those lives twinkling in the lights of the city night. I don’t want to be thinking about 2.3 million lives. I just want to think about mine.

To get to ocean where you see no one, you need a car, a hike down lots of stairs on a cliff, and a liking for naked people sunbathing. Oh, right, that’s not “no one” either.

My soul needs slow and simple. My soul needs exactly what I’ve found.

In 24 sleeps, 18 more office days, I’ll be moved, big-city-free, and thrilled about it.

[No pictures for you of my space until I’ve moved in, at the least.]

We Interrupt This Blog for a Freak-Out: Moving

It was a dark and snowy morning when writergirl hit a block halfway through her blog post and said fuck that shit, and started from scratch.

***

A week into Arcticapalooza 2012 here in Vancouver, and nothing about leaving the house is appealing. Tragically, the French press bottomed out on inky black gold some time ago and the caffeine fumes are dissipating fast.

With 39 sleeps remaining before I move to Victoria, and 13 before the official start of househunting, it’s true to say this blast of winter, all the madness in my moving-focused mind, and the clusterfucked cold commutes, it’s been a doozy of a week. Tonight, evening plans loom after work, and there’s to be a monsoon or dire deluge or something. I’ll get in well after midnight, and sleeping in will never feel so good as it will tomorrow.

Whew. One of those stopping-to-breathe moments. I’m doing that more. It’s helping. I need focus, and it’s hard to find in the middle of my whirlwindy days.

Yeah, WHATEVER. Fuck that. Screw you, guru!

And it’s not like I have enough going on but I now have an apartment-listings addiction. Speak to me, oh property managers and Craigslist. Show me your rental treasures.

I’m now compulsively checking ads, and freaking out. Omigod! This would be perfect. But what if it’s gone? But if it doesn’t go, what’s wrong with it? Maybe one exactly like it will come up. OMIGOD, look at that one! THIS WOULD BE PERFECT.

Which is usually about when I smack myself in the forehead and spazz out.

See, I’m a big believer that we’re a product of our environment. While unhappy in this apartment for a long time, I’d been forever hedging on moving, but now that I’m onboard with the idea, I wanna be gone like a one-night-stand at 4am.

SCHWING-ZING-SLAM. Outta here!

I want to be surrounded by my soon-to-be new world, but I’m aware my choice of home will have a great deal of influence on how my future unfolds. I want to pick well, but the choices I’ll have are completely out of my power. I have THREE days to pick. That’s it. I need the wind at my back, as the Irish say.

On the other hand, I was a big Monkees’ fan as a kid, and I’m a daydream believer, baby. It’ll all come together. And if it doesn’t, you’ll find me crying in my cereal one day. Whatever.

But I’m at that point where I need to decide if I want to live a little further out so I can get a dishwasher and insuite laundry, or would I rather be just a few blocks from natural beach where I can walk and frame my mind in a space I love but have a minimalist place and continue the life of handwashing my dishes? It’s a hard choice. What’s more important for the soul — more time to write, or prettier places to walk? Right now, I don’t know.

I generally find that I panic and worry, and try to shut that down as much as possible, because when I usually get to where I’m going, I somehow find myself making the right choices and getting where I need to be. It usually just… works out. So, under the chaos, I have faith.

That lack-of-having-control panic is one of the qualities about myself that I’m hoping moving to a slower, simpler pace of life will help me to switch off. There are a lot of things I love about myself, and I think they’ll find their way out more when I’m in a place that doesn’t always have me watching the clock or trying to tune things out. I wonder what life’s like when you’re trying to tune into it? That’d be another good switch to explore.

So this is where I am. Very cognizant that a way of life is coming to an end, certain it means I too will be changing from the inside out, and wondering what that all means for what my future holds. It’s pretty fucking awesome, really.

And weird. There are only TWO things I know about my life to come. I know what my furniture will look like, and I know I’m keeping my job. Everything else, I’ll know in about 16 days.

Meanwhile, I’ll be over here, obsessing and wondering about what’s the right direction to go in. And, deep down inside, enjoying the moment… because I know I know how infrequently they come, these times of complete uncertainty, when everything can change in a moment, and likely for the best.

Apartment Hunting Just Got Easy: Padmapper

Well, it’s all coming down. Another 10 days, and I can start looking in earnest for March 1st rentals in Victoria.

Holy choices-to-make, Batman!

Here’s what I know. I know roughly where I want to live. And while I’m working from home, I want to be less than 15 minutes’ walk to my local gym, which I’ve chosen downtown. A similar walk to great parks, shops, and the beach would also work. So, that narrows things down.

But finding apartments exactly where I want them, well, that’s the challenge. I’ve been researching the shit out of apartment management companies, neighbourhoods, different listing sources, and it really makes the head spin.

Dude, all the squinting to read neighbourhoods and trying to imagine where places are when I barely know the main street names, it’s killing me!

Now, with Google Street View, it makes plugging an apartment’s address in really worth your while, since you can do a 360-view look at the places around it.

That’s all a hell of a lot of work, though, even for a smart and determined cookie like myself.

So, enter Padmapper.com.

Sure, it’s not NEW, but it’s new to me and probably to anyone who hasn’t rented a new place in the last few years.

A reader turned me onto it yesterday, and, oh, lord, do I love this. You can set lots of parameters, and it’s in your interest to be more thorough. What kind of parameters?

  • Price
  • Location
  • Set radius for a walking distance to X-location (work / gym / school, etc)
  • Bedroom/bathroom count
  • Pet-friendliness
  • Terms of lease/rent

Blah, blah, blah.  Use it all! More means less crap to search through for your shiny new home.

There’s a few apartment-listing sources it combs through, and you select the maximum age of the listing, and it’ll search, say, rent.com, craigslist.org, and more.

You plug your deets in, and boom-shaka-laka, your Google map fills with markers for every single available apartment, and you can click each marker and a pop-up dialogue shows you a photo of the place, where the source listing is, and all the basic details. You can “save to favourites” and all the standard modes of sharing via email and such apply.

And think about the awesomeness that Google Street View offers you — the chance to take a look at what the neighbourhood looks like around your home. Well, Padmapper.com also has the ability to click the “Walkscore” button, and if you’ve never tried Walkscore,* it gives you an idea of what’s in walking distance of your home and how convenient it is.

The only shortfall in Padmapper is that it doesn’t currently integrate with the Bedbug Registry, and if you’ve had any close calls, you’ll appreciate how much you’d like to know who’s had problems and how often.

As I’ll be working from home, I’m really keen to find the best location and a good hardwood floor space with balconies, maybe even a second bedroom for my office, if I can find the right mix at the right budget.

Looking for a place to live has always been a real challenge. With a tool like this, it seems the playing field’s getting a little more level for the savvy home-renter looking for the ideal place to cool their heels.

With a few minutes’ digging, I can find more viable listings for rentals that fit the budget, space, and location needs I have than I could find in hours, before.

And, let’s face it, in a 30-days-notice kind of world, you really do need a more efficient means of finding great places. Padmapper might just be a rental agency’s worst nightmare, because finding a new apartment just got a whole lot less intimidating.

*WALKSCORE: My present home is dubiously high on there, and they’re wrong, since most of the so-called restaurants are sushi joints and I don’t eat it, and the shops kind of suck, so don’t get too invested in Walkscore without knowing the hood well, just use it because you can.

 

All Boxed In

My apartment is a wide chasm between growing seas of boxes.

Each end of my apartment has a mounting assortment of boxes or things I’m to purge.

In those boxes is everything from my Christmas crap through to college books I loved. It’s all there. Boxed and boxed and boxed. I hear the Weeds theme on a loop in my head.

“Little boxes…”

Oh, readers: I am not a patient woman. Lord, how I try.

But I am not. I fake patient. Kinda. I’m a good actor. You know, in high school drama, I did one hell of a mean Norma Rae monologue. Oh, yeah, me and Sally Fields, together at last.

But I am not patient. My life right now is torture, I tell you! SO MUCH WAITING. GAH! GAH! GAH!

Back when I made the big decision to move to the Yukon in ’94, you know how that went down? Let me tell you.

On a Tuesday, I mailed my resumes off at 3 in the afternoon whilst chowing down on a honeywheat and plain cream cheese bagel at Benny’s on Broadway, and at 9:15 that Friday I was awakened by a manager of a photo shop in Whitehorse, Yukon, telling me it might be a sign that his assistant manager put my resume on his desk five seconds before his photo lab manager walked in with her resignation. Two weeks later, I was living there and managing a photo lab.

Seriously, inside of three weeks I had the IDEA of moving to the Yukon and then wound up BEING there. Packed, drove, got the job. Whizz-bang, done.

Less than three weeks to move to a place of fabled wilderness where “silence bludgeons you dumb” and all. I’m taking three MONTHS to move to Victoria? I’m gonna lose my fucking nut here! I AM.  GAH! GAH!

[breathing]

Om.

Whew.

Sigh.

Okay. All right. Look. I decide “Here’s what I want to do,” well, the one thing not to do? GET IN MY WAY.

But here I am, all gimpy-girl, she of mega-long-ass-fucking back injury. Well, here’s a good idea: PACK A LOT OF HEAVY BOXES AND SQUAT REPEATEDLY. MAYBE THROW IN DOZENS OF STAIRS CLIMBED 3-FLIGHTS AT A TIME, REPEATEDLY, FOR WEEKS.

I hear that’s AWESOME for backs.

So, yeah, I thought “Doing that with a month’s notice? Not awesome.” PACE THYSELF, SWEETIE.

And there was a little thing called Christmas. Four weeks to enjoy the holidays? Sure. Good plan.

But now I’m all pissed I’m not moving February 1st, but that secretive logical not-completely-dumb-ass part of my brain goes “THANK GOD FOR EIGHT WEEKS.”

Still, I’m off like a shot in the dark and whatever other speedy-ass-Gonzales allusions you wanna dig up. I got me some 10+ boxes packed, plans made, systems conjured. I am all over this like Oprah on a ham, honey.

You know what’s totally demented?

I like the half-empty shelves. That’s working for me. I’m constantly surrounded by my things, things made by my father, and things I inherited from my mother. It’s a little weird when you’re trying to find yourself after long periods of upheaval.

Back in my would-be-sex-blogging days, I once did this very short and to-the-point sex tip. If you’re a woman, and you have trouble reaching orgasm, and there is a photo of your family ANYWHERE IN YOUR ROOM, then get it the hell outta there.

It sounds weird, but there’s this low-level awareness we have when we’ve got familiar faces around us in picture form, no matter what it is we’re doing, and if it’s of parents who chastise us, people who belittle us, and so forth, then that’s problematic.

As much as it’s nice having family stuff at home to ground us, sometimes it can lead to mental places we maybe should take a break from. I’m sort of tired of having family photos around.

Everywhere I look are books and other things gifted from friends and lovers, and things inherited or received from family. That book on my left isn’t just a grammar book, it’s a book an ex gifted on our first date like they were flowers — but it’s not a symbol of all that I enjoyed in that relationship, but instead of all I lost when it ended. Or so it would seem upon first recall.

At least I'll have to take my head out of the sand when I unpack. Until then: New surroundings! AND SANDY.

And that’s just one of dozens, even hundreds of things. Everything has a connection to some tangible memory.

To think there’s no mental baggage that comes from glancing around my home is foolishness.

In a world where we’re hyper-stimulated by visuals everywhere, having a home filled with stuff doesn’t help that come-down period we’re supposed to have when we’re in our so-called sanctuary.

Decluttering would be nice but I’m not sure how much I can whittle down. As I’m going through and packing, some stuff is getting turfed, but is it enough?

I’m hoping that the quicker I can start packing it up, the more emotional distance I might have when it comes to deciding whether or not it returns to my home upon my unpacking.

I’ve been here for 12 years. It’s among the most lived-in rental apartments you’d ever have set foot in. So totally “owned” by me. A new place will be a big change on the emotional scale.

When I realized this week that I’ve spent almost exactly one third of my life in this apartment, I was a little freaked out. No wonder this move is a big deal. How’d I wind up here for so long?

I got stuck.

So, now, with all these boxes around, it’s a reminder that change is afoot. It’s also a reminder to be in the moment and enjoy each passing day, because life will soon be a 180 of what it is now. No commute, working in my pajamas. More time to breathe.

I want to embrace the break-neck stupid that’s about to come down in the form of manic rushing, packing, organizing. I want to have a moment in some 10 or 12 weeks where I can stop, reflect on this period, and really accept that a monumental change of pace has arrived.

58 more sleeps.