Saturday, October 15, 2011

Packing House

Like me, this box turtle is toting all his earthly belongings.
I wouldn't describe myself as a habitually organized person, but the act of organizing things - well, that's different. I love sorting and synthesizing, making sense out of chaos.

Going through all I've accumulated in the 15 or so years I have lived in this house is a lot of work. But by the time I'm done - by the time C. and I pull out next Saturday morning, driving a moving truck and my car - everything I own will have been assessed, sorted, boxed, and packed.

Traveling with all my belongings, all at once, and sealing it all up in a truck for 3-4 days -  most of it going into a storage unit after that - already it feels like quite a different experience than moving across town with a couple of carloads and a friend or two who has a pickup.

There's a certain sense of freedom from packing this way.

I think it comes from having been so thorough and deliberate about it. My nearly 1000 books are in 25 numbered banker boxes; I have lists of what's in the plastic bins of kitchen things. I used tape to mark out an 5x10' rectangle on the garage floor; everything that goes in the storage unit has to fit in that space. The things that go to the house, with me, they go outside the tape, but have to fit in my half of the garage.

I think it's all going to work.

I'll be living with a married couple who split their time between Oregon and India. Putting all my things into storage and moving into a small house with people I don't really know may feel a little crowded and awkward, I know - there's a tradeoff between autonomy and companionship. I trust we'll become friends. Who knows, maybe life-long friends!

A week or so before Christmas R. and L. take off for the winter and don't return until April. So then I can have the place to myself, and they can rest easy knowing that someone is holding down the fort.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Counting the Cost: Leaving My Library

The fabulous Highlands Ranch Library.
You've heard of food deserts, right? Looks like I'm moving into a book desert. The library system in what will be my new neighborhood, well, it's not a system at all. Volunteers started the thing in 2005. You have to pay to join. Just $15 a year, but still. It's an ugly little building open about 20 hours a week, with 15,000 books. No county-wide sharing, either.

I can't tell, but seriously doubt they have wifi or comfortable chairs. So, alas: looks like it won't be my home away from home, my best place to work, as the main Highlands Ranch Library has been.

I'll miss you, Douglas County! (Don't tell, but I may hold onto my card and check out electronic copies to read on my computer or listen on my iPod.)

I can legitimately get a card for the Eugene public library system for $120 a year. C's family owns some property in city limits. He thinks he can renew his card - expired! - and let me use it. That would be free.

Even their libraries are not nearly as nice as ours here in Douglas County, though. No fireplaces or glorious views; nobody coming to play the harp on a Sunday afternoon (!) Guess I'll need to investigate coffee shops that are friendly to laptop hobos.

A little over a year ago I went to visit Eugene for the first time in decades. Among other things I went to poke around my old haunts near the university. There I ran into another problem that practically brought me to tears, one I never had to face as a college student without a car. Yes, parking. Parking anywhere near campus - especially if you don't want to pay for it - is very, very difficult. Even more so for someone like me who has trouble with street parking (due to my utter absence of depth perception).

OK, I shouldn't whine. I'm going to survive this loss!

But I think these differences reflects a couple aspects of regional culture that are not the same between my home here on the edge of the Midwestern prairies and my old/new home in the Pacific Northwest.

One thing is that here we have plenty of space, space for anything. When my dad and stepmom came to visit they found it almost offensive: everything is spread out. Seemed wasteful to them. I understand why.

Second, I'd have to say Coloradans are more hospitable and generous than Northwesterners. They have some of the individualism that marks culture across the West, but there's a higher level of trust, and at least in the suburbs a considerably lower level of crime. Unemployment is much higher in Eugene, and nobody seems to have as much money. I'm moving from a richer area to a poorer one.

Wonder what other ways these dynamics will affect what my life is like there?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Cookie Factor

I recently attended a conference at a hotel that had quite high rates on its rooms, but with the selling point that there were free, warm, chocolate-chip cookies at the front desk.


The airline on which I traveled to get to that conference tends to nickel-and-dime its patrons at every turn, but comfort them with free, warm, chocolate-chip cookies at the end of each flight.

(Num num num...)

Likewise, at the place where I get my car's oil changed, they are always trying to up-sell customers ambiguous additional services - but also provide free, warm, chocolate-chip cookies.

Do you sense a plot?

Do such enticements work on you? Why or why not? 'Fess up, chocoholics!