Tag Archives: moving

A "Hello, How Are You?" Kind of Day

I feel like the change I’ve sought is finally starting to happen. The gears are shifting, things are falling nicely into place, money is sorting out, my body’s pain is settling down, and I’m even starting to feel like a “local” here.
It’s a big week for me, always is. Mother’s Day. It always approaches with a sense of dread. It’s different this year. I’ve upped and moved to a place I think my mom would’ve loved to live in. We came here on a “girl’s weekend” when I was in fourth grade, so, that’s odd for me in a way this week.
One of the first things I did here as a new resident was wind up having dinner with my two aunts, both visiting suddenly, who raised a glass of wine, toasted my mom, and said “Who would’ve thought we’d all meet here, now?”
That was back in March and I already feel a million miles away from who I was that week.
I’ve tried to keep my bitching to a minimum in all that time, but my body reacted horribly to the stress of moving, the sudden shift to a “walking” lifestyle, and working from home. Oh, and the small matter of riding my bike straight into a roadsign and getting whiplash. That was helpful. Suffice to say, in the coming weeks, there was a lot of pain, and a lot of worry.
But I kept my chin up and now, this week, finally, everything is settling down and I’m not so sore, and I’m more active, and it’s a good, good thing.
I’m glad I had that unexpected adversity, though. I think it needed to get worse before I would really appreciate it getting better.
Sometimes we can be very stupid humans that way. I know I can be a very stupid human. Sometimes, getting beat upside the head with lessons is the way to grow.
Sometimes, we forget how resilient we are. That too is a great thing to be reminded of.
I think all the little griefs and frustrations that sprung up in my first eight weeks here have served to remind me of why I needed this move in the first place.
I’m 10 weeks in, I have no life, I’ve only seen minimal parts of the city because I’ve been limited to days I feel good, and YET I don’t feel homesick for Vancouver.
Despite that, I have a trip home next month. I’m speaking at the 2012 Northern Voice Blogger’s Conference. I’ll be on a panel talking about how to write with authenticity. I’m speaking Saturday if you want to grab a ticket for the day, $40.
I’ll be in town for a few days, crashing at a couple different friends’ places. A foreigner in my hometown. A couchsurfer returns. That’ll be weird. And cool. Mostly weird.

Great blue heron fishing. Shot by me.

And I’ll probably cry on the ferry back to Victoria, and homesickness will likely hit me for the first time then. Because, honestly, Vancouver in the summer? Heaven on earth, man. That’s how ya do it. (But Victoria’s gonna be pretty killer too.)
The impending, inevitable bout of homesickness doesn’t matter in the long run, though, because I know this is the right place for me. It’s that gut-check level of intuition. I can’t explain it in words, how it feels, but I wake up and this place just feels right, for right now. And that’s all I need to know.
Monday, I got up, excited to see a big to-do on the beach road, but that was a bust, so, instead, I took a walk along the beach and spotted a great blue heron fishing. I stood there sinking into shoreline wet sand, snapping photos for an hour. It was fantastic. Then, I came home and worked.
Tuesday, I got up, worked for a couple hours, hopped on my bike for a great eggs Benedict breakfast in town, then cycled around to four different food shops (Chinatown and beyond) for all my favourite cooking stuff, and headed home for more work.
That’s two days in a row with the kind of balance I moved here looking for.
This is the first week where I’ve felt like I’ve had any of that going on. It’s something to aspire for. It’s where I’m headed. If I can have 2-3 workdays a week like that, it’ll be a great lifestyle over here, and I know it.
So, change. It’s like that snowball on the hill. Getting it going is ridiculously frustrating and labourious sometimes, but once you get the foundations, once you start moving it and pushing it, it slowly amasses more, and more, and then it has a momentum of its own. If you’re not from a colder region, here’s a video of making a snowman. All true.
And that’s what I’m imagining for my own change: The Snowball Grows. Now gravity is pitching in and my ball of change has begun to roll with a whole lot less of the grunt-work from yours truly.
It’s an exciting time.
Well, this wasn’t what I’d intended to write about but it’s a great snapshot of my headspace right now, I guess. I’d intended to tell you about my jade plant and how well it’s doing and how much it’s got me being pensive. But that’ll be for another day.
In the meantime, I’m doing well. Living life, working a lot, feeling better, getting my groove on, and thinking I’m getting closer to where I need to be.
That’s your update, kids. And, hey, it’s almost Friday! Happy weekend.



Bonus points if you know where the kid's decapitated head was found in this Dead Milkmen's classic, Stuart, that this photo was inspired by. One of my favourite songs ever.

Presently recovering after bingeing on delicious spicy Thai peanut with chicken, and drinkin’ me some wine. It’s my first night alone in my place. I had four guests night one, two on night two and three, and one for the last night. Now? Alone. Oh, alone. ALONE! I should listen to Heart, but that’d be wrong, ‘cos I’m happy about space.
It’s been 5 days of living in Victoria, and I’ve yet to hear a siren around my home. There’s zero traffic. No loud neighbours. No crack/meth smoke wafting into my bathroom from someone else’s vents. I’ve heard one float plane take off from nearby shores, but that’s it.
The area? I’m in love. My brother has fallen in love too and hopes to move here within the year.
The move itself? Epic.
More on that later.
For now? Just reporting that I AM ALIVE and shall live to write again.
Stay tuned, minions. Lots to tell.
I even have Imperial Stormtrooper photos to share. OH, YEAH.
Meanwhile, there’s more where that wine came from, and, GASP, there’s even chocolate. Hmm… blogging, or chilling?
Tough fucking answer. I’m outtie.
PS: I have full-blown larygitis, SO NO PHONE CALL FOR YOU.

Going, Going…

Tonight I have a party thingie so people can come say goodbye to me.
Don’t I feel narcissistic. Holy cow.
I never throw parties for myself but I’m sure liking this “see everyone at once and LEAVE TOWN” deal. Do I get a horse and a cowboy hat? “Ah’ll be seein’ ya, pardners.”

Riding the ferry back from Victoria.

Clearly I was big on the Saturday afternoon westerns when I was a little girl.
The big day cometh. I’m thinking there likely won’t be a lot of posts once I hit moving day/week, but I’m really looking forward to getting some of my thoughts on moving down on pape– err, down on the screen before I go. Posterity and all.
So, this weekend I’ll find some time for a reflective post.
One third of my life has been spent in this apartment. Somehow I fell into the world’s biggest rut. Whew.
This is the week where I slam the brakes and literally every single thing in my life is changing, except for my day job — but that’s changing in context too, since I won’t be working in offices any more.
I’ll be having dinner Friday night to hash out the plan with my fab friend about how we’re gonna put together my new blog. Like I say, The Cunt shall live and I’ll still be writing this blog. I suspect it’ll be my edgier work more exclusively. Lifestyle writing will go on the new blog.
I can’t wait to get that up and running too. Different writing, all my own photography. A record of the ways my life is changing and the places I’m exploring. Very fun.
It’s great. It’s the era of social media. I’ve got people lined up to meet over on the island, connections introducing me.  I don’t know a soul in Victoria in person, but social media’s opening all the doors.
When I moved to the Yukon in ’94, it took me 3-4 months to make friends. I highly doubt that’ll be the case this time, but I’m not in a rush to get there. First, a month of No Planning, Just Being, which I’m calling my “rat-race detox.”
I can’t wait to flip the tables on my life balance. Work from home. Walk for enjoyment and exploring. Ride buses 2-3 times a month, instead of 2-4 times a day. Be antisocial for the day job, and embrace people after hours. Feel like stopping work and visiting the beach? Sure, I can take an hour or two for that soul-break.
I can confidently tell you now that I’ve been doing EVERYTHING wrong for years. I shouldn’t have still been living in Vancouver. This place started getting too big after 2003, when the Olympics construction began. By 2007, I was losing my joy. After 2010, I lost all my joy. It was just not for me anymore.
Every time I’ve ever vacationed as an adult, it’s been coastal region roadtrips, small towns, remote locations. And I never want to return to the city at the end of the week. Methinks I’m tired of the masses.
Vancouver is an incredible city. World-class. Beeyootiful. But it’s changing too quickly. That nature everyone’s moving here for is getting chewed up by developments. Now it’s one city bleeding into another city, sprawling out with 2.3 million people.
I was born here, man. I grew up with this nature. I remember the quiet, the pristine place/pace. I remember when we were this little hick town no one really knew about.
I never asked for the world to find out about us, and wasn’t thrilled when everyone started moving here. You can’t beat the setting, but the endless crowds of grumpy people and the difficulty of enjoying the nature when it takes me 1.5 hours to bus to some beaches in city limits, etc, have just really made me feel like I don’t even live in Vancouver anymore. I never enjoy the ocean, I’m too tired to get out.
So, that’s all changing.
Leaving town means I take back 60 hours of my month from busing next week.
60 hours! Time’s money — and it’s joy and it’s recharge and it’s awesome. I like Time.
In fact, it’s possible I spend as much as 70-75 hours per month in transit, actually.
I’d like to repurpose that time. I want to do an extra 20 hours of walking, 20 more hours a month working for my bosses, and 20 hours a month writing.
Now that’s some fucking life balance, baby.
So, tonight, the goodbye party ensues, and, I think, it all starts getting Really Real.
I’ll miss stuff. People. But I won’t miss the price I paid for it.
Change is a good thing. Bring on the change.

Making Sense of the Madness

Hello, minions!
For some reason, there are more of you reading me than there have been in three or so years, and I’m feeling the pressure to post at least a couple times a week as a result, despite the fact that I’m swimming the seas of crazy in these moving days.
God forbid you not get your Vitamin Steff, even if it’s a cheap placebo, like this.
There are 21 days before my life gets the brakes slammed on and I go from the rat race to the slow pace of life on the other side of the Georgia Strait. (For non-locals, that’s the body of water separating Vancouver city from Vancouver Island. Who names an island and a city that’s NOT on the island the SAME? Oh, right. The fucking British.)

My voyage home from the island last weekend, the Strait's incredible ACTIVE PASS, & the interplay of fog & sun.

Today, and for a few days now, I’m sick. I’m a mouth-breather who’s used half the Amazon to blow my nose since Saturday. I’m this close to buying shares in NyQuil, man, and dreaming of Prozac.
I have the remainder of my home to pack, my dad’s in the hospital, I have people I need to say goodbye to, a blog to nourish, and a job to work. If I’m not batshit crazy in 22 days, I might get over my sorta-atheism and be a believer. (But, you know, not likely.)

Oh, My. What a Load of Semantics!

I was thinking on the weekend that I realize now that there’s a difference between being UNHAPPY and being DEPRESSED.
After a long time of thinking I’d been battling depression, I’ve finally realized I was just unhappy and disliked where my life had wound up. I’m looking forward to seeing what finding my sense of self and rediscovering things I love — like strolling beaches, reading under trees in parks — and generally getting my life in balance does to change that.
In the meantime, my mind’s racing a million miles a minute with worries about my dad, who continues to be sick in the hospital, about whether all my furniture will fit in my new apartment, whether I’ll hate that I have less natural light in my new home, and all sorts of little things that are out of my power right now.
It’s times like these that being a thinker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
But then I take a breath, I remind myself what it felt like last Thursday to walk down the street to an amazing little stretch of shoreline, what the slower pace did for my mind despite the pressure I had to find a place, and I feel like it’s all going to be all right… in, like, seven weeks or something.
Still, I’m excited. Deep down, I know I need this.

T(w)o Blogs or Not T(w)o Blogs

Have I told you I’ll be starting a new blog?
I’ll be starting a new blog! Yeah!
Yes, this one will continue. I may even return to writing occasionally about sex and relationships again. Oddly, I’m getting emails from people, and they’re sort of disturbing in their neediness — like no one else is talking frankly about sex. And, hell, I’m not even doing it anymore.
I got tired of being perceived as a sex-blogger, but then my Twitter handle never lets me live that down, and I guess I could’ve changed it but on some level I suppose I want that identity. I’m not sure. It’s something I’ll be looking at and probably writing about once I’m on the other side, and that’ll be happening here.
For instance, today Canadian courts are deciding if HIV status should be legally required to be disclosed before sexual relations, and unlike a lot of people who are sex-positive writers, I say FUCK YEAH. And that’s something I should write about. Maybe if I weren’t sick and could string ideas together, I would. Maybe later.
But my new blog will be where I record my moving adventures, and where I write about the transitioning from an unwanted big city life to a smaller pace in a little city, and what it does for me. It’ll be where my photos of my explorations are shared, my observations, my visits to local businesses, and more will be found.
It does have a name but I need to buy the URLs later this week. It won’t be live until March sometime, I guess.

I Feel Like Listening to Sam Cooke

It’s safe to say that my life in Victoria will be about reconfiguring my world from ground up. A lot of change will come. I’ll be keeping an open mind on things to try — everything from yoga and Tai Chi to adventuring.
I almost left Vancouver 12 years ago. The jury’s out on whether staying was a smart choice, but I lean toward “no” on that one.
I get why people love this city, and I’ll always love it too. It’s my home. But I never asked for the world to move here. I never wanted to be one in a million– or one in 2.3 million. It’s not about ethnicities or cultures, it’s about crowds and capacities.
There was a day last fall when I was working on a documentary TV show (I’m a TV captioner) and it was in the Scottish Highlands and an artist was commenting, “I love the city but after 2 days, I’m done and I want to come back to my quiet and my country.” My heart went through the floor because I could imagine it, and I imagined loving it.
I enjoyed the dead of winter when I knew no one during my one year in the Yukon. I also enjoyed the summer when I had a litany of awesome friends and endless good times. A line from Robert Service hit home for me up there, “…the silence that bludgeons you dumb.”
I like that kind of silence, always will. And, despite considering the rest of Canada for my move, I just couldn’t leave this area — not yet.

The Final Countdown

Today, as planes drone overhead, queuing for the airport landings, and horns blare out on the street as some ignorant ass tries to make an illegal left off the highway, and rain threatens to fall, it’s a silence my soul longs for… and one I know is three weeks away.
I don’t know who I’ll be, how I’ll seem, or what my life will really entail six months from now, but I like the visions I get of what it might be.
And sometimes I think that’s all we can hope for in life — that we like the direction we think we’re headed in, and we like who we are when the morning breaks.
It’s safe to say I’m excited, under all my fatigue.
For now, it’s time to refill the coffee cup, edit this, then put one foot in front of another, remember to breathe, and remind myself I’ll live through this. Change is a-comin’.

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.
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.

Of Plants, Aliens, And Relocation

I feel like ET.
I was getting pretty down on things in November, and at the same time my jade plant was dying. My jade was clipped and grown off my mother’s monstrous plant that had to be given to a commercial business ‘cos it was so damned big — about 7-8 feet radius the last time I saw it.
But this guy was more than 4 feet wide. It lost nearly half its bulk, all shrivelling up and falling off, rotting from the inside out. I had to sweep every couple of days, it was losing so much. I was crushed!
Turns out I was giving it too much water. Like the rest of my life, it was me overthinking and being overattentive that was the problem. Not anything, you know, REAL. Just excessive attention. Another place where I need to chill.
I stopped watering it. I let it breathe and do its thing. That’s it.
Seven weeks later, and the self-destruct sequence of “GAH! Stop fussing over me!” has finally been aborted by the plant. Now it’s got new growth, including new branches, all over the place. Looks fantastic.
It’s just like in ET, where our little alien buddy’s health is directly linked to the flowers in the closet. They start dying, ET’s dying. They come back, so does ET. Just as my life’s getting fun and promising and healthy again, so too is my jade tree’s.
So, I thought it was a good time to give it a pep talk. “Okay. It’s time to bulk up and get tough! We’re moving soon. But, remember? You’ve ridden the ferry twice. Once when you were on your mommy’s branches, and once when you were a baby. Look how well that turned out! So, just brace yourself, and soon you can let your roots settle in a groovy new place.”
I don’t know who got more out of it, me or the plant.

And About That Move

It’s funny. Someone (on Twitter) asked if I was just gonna move and come right back. Well, no. When I decide something like this, it’s pretty done. When I moved to the Yukon, I moved there for a year. I probably would’ve stayed even longer, but I did the old dumb thing and moved back for a fella. Lucky, too, because it turns out I only had a couple more years with Mom.
But, no. I don’t see this being anything less than a couple of years. I’m giving notice, moving everything, investing in working from home, got a raise so things are looking good for my company, and life’s generally snazzy. It’s not like I’m moving to Mars.
So, yeah, March 1st, I’m off like a prom dress and it’s to Victoria I go. I’m stoked. Work’s 100% onboard, which is a fantastic thing to know. Family and friends don’t question the dedication with which I’ve made my decision. Go time!
And of course I’ll be starting a “life in Victoria” blog.
Let me know if you have any creative names. I’m stumped still.

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!
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.

Moving Day One: 59 Sleeps to Go

It’s a little weird dans Chez Steff this evening. Christmas is in boxes. Dust outlines litter the bookshelves where formerly-laid-objects have been hijacked and packed.
Total disarray. Promising disarray, but chaos no less.
I have decided to pack as much as I can, as early as I can. The thinking? Make myself live as minimally as possible for the next 7 weeks until the move. When I move, it’ll be the first time in 6 weeks I’ve seen a lot of this stuff. Maybe my thinking will be more removed and objective on what actually comes back into my home.
I’d like to be the “Less is More” type in every way except in space. Ideally: I get a place that’s 1,000 square feet or so. That’d be 50% more than now. I’ve seen a couple listings I’d kill your grandmother to get.
I’d love a spacious home, and would be willing to live a little more off the beaten path for the right place. I have some really nice stuff. To me, anyhow. I don’t want to pare down much more than I have. I like my mix of cool and retro, quaint and quirky. I think I’m rocking it, and I want to keep it. If it’s junk, it’s going. If it’s not, here’s hoping I get at least 750 square feeet.
Otherwise, I’m paring.
Well, anyhow.
The reality’s kicking in. I’ve got boxes now. In this old armoire of mine, I’ve crammed 4 boxes. Soon, I’d like there to be 12 in there.
Bits and pieces of my life, boom, there it is. Bits and pieces of dead peoples’ lives too. And live ones, besides me. Lotsa bitsa lives.
That’s what the bookshelves are for me. Repositories of life. Mementoes. Books, of course. Things others have made for me, photos of loved ones, weird little things that meant something to me and to no one else. Like that one solitary blue marble.
The story behind the one itty-bitty blue marble that’s sat conspicuously on the bookshelf since 2006?
I cycled Southwest Marine Drive after a blowout with a boyfriend. Things were getting weird and I would soon be nearly off my nut with estrogen poisoning and a bad experiment with “period supression.” I wrote in my journal that I was “losing my marbles” and was going for a bike ride in the hopes of clearing my head after said fight.
I rode toward UBC, stopped at a late summer fruit stand on the roadside, and while I was buying my Okanagan cherries, glanced down to see the marble beside my foot.
It seemed like a “sign” that I might lose my marbles but I’m also likely to pick some up along the way, and I should just chill and enjoy the ride ‘cos it all sorts out in the end.
After that came intermittent moments of chill and crazy, but at least I occasionally found my marble. Today it’s in my change bin.
Those kinds of things are fun. I keep mementoes from stuff like that.
Now these things will be increasingly hiding in boxes until I’ve flipped the script on my life. Then, they’ll come out and there’ll be an all-new context.
I start looking at the bare shelves and packed boxes, and I get a panic attack twinge. “Oh, shit. I’m actually doing this. Whoa.” And then I settle down.
Because, most of the time, I’m all antsy and LET’S FUCKING DO THIS! NOW! NOW! Move it, people!
It’s like I wanna put a freeze on today’s Craigslist, stiff my landlord, and move tomorrow. When I decide what I want, I want it now. But the world doesn’t work that way.
Besides, I’m a smart introspective grownup. I’ll get more out of this if it takes a couple months and I throw myself into the mix.
I don’t know. It’s a weird headspace. I’m thrilled I’ve got a good head start on moving. I’ll have all my tech to put together this weekend. No more packing then. Toys!
But it’ll be good to process it all a bit, too.
Moving is sort of embracing the future but also confronting the past. There’s a crossover time when it’s forward-and-backward thinking.
I love that kind of stuff. I live for it. But it’s not like I move often. Who knows then next I’ll have this in-between time? I’m milking it.
But right now I’m sneezing up a storm, thanks to kicking up long-dormant dust and firing up allergies. So much for the romanticism.