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I opened my last entry, back on June 17, with “it’s been almost a month since I’ve updated my LiveJournal.” Well, now it’s been, uh, more than a month.

I went to [livejournal.com profile] tugrik’s big shop shindig (to borrow [livejournal.com profile] jakebe’s word) on Saturday and had a great time. I’ve driven all over hell the last couple of days, so it seems, between here in Foster City, [livejournal.com profile] jadedfox’s place in Alameda and Tugrik’s shop down in San Jose; while I was tempted to drive somewhere yesterday (when I wrote this) just to find a quiet place to hang out, I was also tempted to, well, just stay in one place. The sedentary impulse won out.

Beyond that, things really haven’t changed much, which is why I haven’t been motivated to write here. (As others have observed, one consequence of using Twitter is that it tends to subsume “What am I doing?” journal posts. I don’t consider this a bad thing, but I don’t necessarily consider it a good thing, either; it’s just a thing thing.) I’m still working on the contract, enjoying it in some respects, in others telling myself it’s a Good Learning Experience™. As I wrote back on the 17th, the big downside is money, and it continues to be so; I now have an as-yet-untallied expense for body work on my car, after managing to expertly crunch the side panel against a concrete post. It’s minor as far as such things go—no frame damage, as far as I can tell—but not sufficiently minor to be ignored indefinitely.

So. I feel like I’m back in a cycle that I’ve revisited pretty much every two years: underemployment, dwindling finances, wondering whether I should move to a cheaper metro area. Realistically, there are only three other metro areas that I’d consider, because I’m not interested in moving to a place where I wouldn’t have some kind of friend network already in place: Tampa, Orlando, and Seattle. All three of those places have roughly the same cost of living, which is easily 50% less than the cost of living in the SF Bay Area. This is something that can’t be dismissed too easily.

On the flip side, none have a climate that enthuses me. Seattle has rain year-round, snow in winters and averages 6 out of 10 cloudy days, which is pretty staggering for somebody who’s pretty much only lived in Florida and Northern California. And in Florida, summer daily highs are over 90 and highs over 80 are common for over six months. This is, in a very literal sense, Really Not Cool. While 70% humidity in SF and Seattle is quite pleasant, add 25 degrees to the ambient temperature and it’s just about unlivable. (Yeah, I know most of my friends in Florida would disagree, but y’know, most of my friends in Seattle would probably disagree that it’s “too” rainy there: you just internalize the climate where you live as The Way It Is.)

Despite the worries I have about moving to Seattle to discover that I actually do have Seasonal Affective Disorder—if anywhere could bring it out, it’d be there—and despite having several friends I really cherish in and around Tampa Bay and Orlando, I’d lean toward Seattle if all other things were equal. I’m pretty sure I prefer the West Coast to the East at this point in terms of not just climate but geography and culture. I like having hills and mountains; while I’m not keen on having to shovel snow, I’d like to be able to visit it fairly easily. And while Disney World’s restaurants turned me into a foodie—well, the ones I’d lay that blame on serve West Coast food: the California Grill, very consciously inspired by Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters; the Flying Fish Cafe, whose founding chef actually moved out here about the same time I did; Artist Point, at one time my favorite restaurant ever—and with a Pacific Northwest theme. I still haven’t spent as much time in Seattle as I’d like to, but I’ve loved most of what I’ve seen there.

But all other things aren’t equal; in six years, my mom will be in her seventies, and with no partner and no other children, I’m it for her family. Living separated by several thousand miles isn’t likely to be sustainable, and the chances of getting her to move are probably minimal. And right now I’m “underemployed” and my savings are sharply lower than they were a year ago—too low to support a move to a place where I didn’t have someone willing to essentially let me camp out in a room indefinitely for free while I scrambled to find work. You know, like, say, mom would. So the chances are pretty high that I’m going to end up in Tampa or Orlando sooner or later—the questions are just whether it’s going to be “sooner” or “later,” and whether I’m going to go somewhere else first. I’d prefer not to move soon, but that’s likely to be determined less by desire than by circumstance.

And, so: the recurring two-year cycle of wondering whether I’m going to be moving, and if so, where. And what will happen when I get there.

Date: 2009-08-03 16:07 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] was1.livejournal.com
Having gone through unemployment twice in the last few years and seeing my parents get older, I can really appreciate your situation. The uncertainty and trying to figure things out can be the worst part. I wish you the best for the future and hope things work out well for you.

Date: 2009-08-03 16:25 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyperegrine.livejournal.com
Everyone does have A/C (and swimming pools) here, but yeah, summers are brutal, no question.

Me: What would you think if Watts moved to Florida?
Ellie: That'd be awesome! Because I like Watts. Watts is one of my grownup friends. So Watts, you can meet Reddy (the betta fish) when you come to Florida.

Date: 2009-08-03 16:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toob.livejournal.com
Every now and then I think, y'know, yeah, I could really move to Seattle. And then I remember I'd be incapable of getting a job.

Date: 2009-08-03 17:04 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chipotle.livejournal.com
That is always an issue. I think I probably could get a job there, of course -- as could you -- but the question in practice is "how quickly could a job be obtained and how much pain would be involved in doing so." :)

Date: 2009-08-03 17:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toob.livejournal.com
I claim I could not by dint of not having any transferrable job skills. I'm assuming I could get a retail job of some description, but not anything that would pay the bills.

Date: 2009-08-03 18:41 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shaterri.livejournal.com
Out of curiosity, what job skills do you have that you think are well-suited to finding a job in the Bay Area but ill-suited for finding jobs in Seattle? I'm not sure I've ever seen two places with more similar job markets.

Date: 2009-08-03 18:50 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toob.livejournal.com
Oh, you misunderstand me. I don't think I could get a job in the Bay Area, either. Basically, I can't leave my job ever.

Date: 2009-08-03 16:49 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] haikujaguar.livejournal.com
I don't know what Florida friends you're talking about, that like this kind of weather. I don't know any of them. o_O

Date: 2009-08-03 17:10 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chipotle.livejournal.com
I have a couple of friends who moved to St. Pete from Washington, DC, a few years ago and are completely convinced Tampa Bay is paradise, and at least haven't voiced any complaints about the weather to me yet. (This despite that one of them, my ex-roommate David Branson, of course lived in Tampa for years before moving to DC and was far from enamored of Florida then.) It may be that they feel the good parts of living there balance out the climate complaints, much in the same way my Seattle friends feel that the good parts of living there balance out the 200 days of drizzle. Having visited Seattle, I suspect I'd be more inclined to make that case for Seattle than for Tampa, honestly, but I'm also aware that I'm saying that without having lived in Seattle for a year. :)

Date: 2009-08-03 17:14 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] haikujaguar.livejournal.com
I'd probably make the case for Seattle myself. Though I suppose if there's a place where mold grows faster than here, it must be there. o_o

Date: 2009-08-03 17:57 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyperegrine.livejournal.com
Honestly, I hate the summers, but I don't know if I would like winter any better if I were living further north. I think three months out of the year are usually difficult regardless. :-)

Date: 2009-08-03 18:01 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] haikujaguar.livejournal.com
I wouldn't like a six-month winter, either. I think what bothers me most about the climate here is how little it changes. We get sun and rain, and then we get rain and sun, and for most of the year the temperatures and humidity ranges stay very much the same.

I think any season would be bearable if I knew it would be over in a few months. When the 90 degree weather shows up in April, I think of the long stretch between now and November or December when it will start finally cooling off with a great sense of exhaustion and desolation.

Date: 2009-08-03 18:07 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyperegrine.livejournal.com
That makes sense. The heat does take a lot of energy out of me too. I guess I'm an optimist...I tend to think that it'll be a lot cooler by October, or won't really get hot hot until May, and this is probably wishful subjectivity more than objective truth. :-)

Date: 2009-08-04 10:44 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mordrul.livejournal.com
I think you want to live in Iowa. :nod:

Date: 2009-08-04 05:48 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shaterri.livejournal.com
I definitely do understand the hazards of living here -- the latitude in and of itself, that thousand north/south miles from here to San Jose, makes for drastically earlier nights in the winter, and with the extra layer of gray a winter storm can bring it's not unusual for it to be dark at 4 in the dead of December. I was going to say that it's not that much more wet here than San Jose, but then I looked it up and... well, yeah. Of course, San Jose is ostensibly desert, so YMMV, but they're legitimate concerns.

If you do ever want to come up to Seattle for an extended weekend or what-have-you, please let me know; we'd be happy to host you while you're here, and I'd do what I could to give you a better sense for the city.

I very much understand the issue of family ties; oddly enough, I am in some ways dealing with just the opposite problem — I'm not at odds with my family but I like to keep them slightly at arm's length, and I'm coming to the slow realization that they may well be moving here within the next half-decade or so — I'd say the chancers are probably 50-50 now. I can imagine, barely, moving back East to try and help them if the need arose, but without what local social network I have, I worry that I'd all but collapse emotionally. Knowing a good swath of people in either north or central Florida is a major boon, and definitely something not to underestimate for the long run.

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