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About halfway through October I went up to Seattle to visit [ profile] shaterri and [ profile] quarrel for a long weekend, which involved visiting a few Seattle neighborhoods, walking around downtown, and visiting Vancouver and Granville Island. And—unsurprisingly, given that Shaterri is at least as much of a foodie as I am—various restaurants, from Poppy to Spur. I spent some time at Zig Zag Cafe, home of the quasi-famous (and terrific) bartender Murray, and tried Carpica Antica vermouth for the first time, and Victoria Gin, made—I think—up in Vancouver.

Shaterri talks up Seattle so regularly that one wonders if the Visitors’ Bureau is paying him (and if not, why not). But it’s an area that seems eminently worthy of accolades: many walkable neighborhoods, a great culture (by which I personally mean “coffee shops, brewpubs and restaurants”), and very, very green. Yes, it’s rainier and a little cooler than I’d personally prefer, but I suspect if I were offered a job in any major American city of my choice, that’d be the one I’d choose.

Of course, I’ve just started a job in the closest American city to me, San Francisco. This is the first time since I’ve been out here (seven years, as of next month) that I’ve worked in the city, and at least so far I’m really liking it. My commute is the longest that I’ve had time-wise, but ironically one of the easiest: I drive to the Millbrae Transit Station, which is usually about 20 minutes with traffic, then take BART into the city, about a 35-minute ride. Since Millbrae is the start of the BART line, I always have a seat in the morning; I usually start standing on the way home but get a seat before we’ve left downtown.

The office building I’m in is One Market Plaza; this puts me within a few blocks not only of the bay itself, but an amazing array of lunch choices. There’s a food court in the building itself and another one in Rincon Center, the next block over. And a row of restaurants and cafes along Steuart Street. And the Ferry Building sits right across the Embarcadero, with its array of permanent food stands and cafes, and a farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m used to taking long lunch breaks to go find interesting places to eat—but now I’m surrounded by them. (I see coworkers bringing their microwave lunches to work and I want to shake them and scream, “You are in one of the best food cities in the world and you are having goddamn Stouffer’s?”)

I’ve written before about my feelings of being tugged toward both urban life and—well, less rural than a particular kind of suburban life, the kind of place where you can see a lot of stars at night but you’re not isolated, where there are homes around but it’s not modern tract housing, and where urban life isn’t more than an hour or so away when you want to spend time experiencing it. (Shaterri’s place is actually pretty close to this ideal.) This job is the most exposure to true urban living that I’ve had—even though I go home to a very suburban community every night.

Yet I think I don’t really want to live in a big city. There are urban places that might tempt me: the Fremont area in Seattle, and I’ve mentioned the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland before. But San Francisco? Probably not. There’s not much greenspace in SF except in small pockets (and one huge one), it’s very expensive, and even in “nice” areas there’s litter in the streets. That last one is very striking comparing it to Seattle or Vancouver, but it’s not too hard to see even comparing it to other Bay Area cities.

But for now that’s not much of a concern; I don’t expect to move any time soon (I’m about to sign a lease here for another year). I don’t know if this contract will last the full six months—I’ve grown to assume that plans collapse on short notice—nor if I’ll be able to go permanent, but just going the full six months will help my finances considerably.

I’ve been considering trying to make a more concerted effort to write something in this journal at least weekly because, frankly, I need the mental exercise. This is a recurring promise I recurrently break, so no promises, but I’ll try.

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Geographically, the new apartment is in an odd limbo state between urban and suburban. It’s just a stone’s throw from being on San Francisco Bay itself, and is at the corner of a pleasant residential neighborhood. It’s also the equivalent of a block or two from Highway 92 and the San Mateo Bridge. So if you walk around the neighborhood, it feels quite suburban, and the closest shopping and restaurants are all chains and strip malls. But add the nearby highway to the streetlights by the entrance road (which the apartment happens to be right over), and it means two things: it never gets completely dark in my bedroom, and if the rest of the apartment is quiet, road noise is a noticeable background, even late at night. It reminds me of nothing so much as being in a hotel near an interstate.

Yet sleeping hasn’t proved to be a problem for me. I’m fairly adaptable—perhaps I like being in hotels near interstates?—and I’m able to keep my room at a nice enough temperature for sleeping. I’ll have to see how things change as summer approaches. The apartment catches a lot of sunlight through the back wall my bedroom’s on (with a southwest facing), but on average Foster City’s highs don’t get past the mid-70s, so perhaps it will balance out.

From my window, while I get a clear view of another building in the apartment complex, I also get a clear view across the peninsula west to the Santa Cruz mountains. As the sun rises over the eastern range, the light’s surprisingly beautiful, suffusing everything—trees, buildings, even pavement—with gold. It’s a nicer view than I imagined it would be.

My evenings feel like they’ve changed markedly, although I don’t know how much of this perception is true. We have no television set up yet and may not for the foreseeable future; I’m using that big monitor I bought a few months ago as a TV set, effectively. I still have a few shows I’m watching through iTunes* and I’m trying to catch up with neglected video podcasts and add a few more. Mostly, though, I’m just working serenely on the computer or reading, and the background music is often coming from the table radio I have, tuned to KCSM. I suspect once the living room gets a sofa and tables, I’ll migrate my reading out there, and probably do considerably more of it—I’m a firm believer in the Big Comfy Chair as the best reading vehicle when compared to a bed.

My sleeping schedule’s also changed a bit, ratcheting somewhat earlier. I leave later than [ profile] dracosphynx but given the peculiar parking arrangement, I need to be out at eight to move my car to let his out. This isn’t a bad thing. I come back up, have some coffee, get my act together, and usually get out before nine. I’ve been getting in a bit earlier, and I’ve been in bed by midnight every night this week. A slightly bitter part of me is attributing this to getting old, but I don’t think I was regularly up late when I lived in Brandon, either—only when I got myself hooked into a project of one sort or another. (I hope to get hooked into a couple projects again, finally, in 2008.)

This morning I got in earlier still, as part of an experiment: I drove three miles to the nearest Caltrain station and took the train in, hopping the free North Bay Employer Shuttle to get to the office. I gather this shuttle is really just for Intuit employees, but the closest stop is just a couple blocks away. Getting back may still be a minor adventure, but we’ll see. Unlike my time at Cisco, my employer isn’t paying for public transit, which makes the proposition less attractive—and there’s only one somewhat anemic deli within walking distance of the business park, so I’d be bringing my own food if I wanted anything else. (We have pizza brought in on Fridays, so I knew today would be fine.) I could buy a bike, I suppose, and ride to and from the stations. I’ll have to say, the experience was actually… pretty good.

I haven’t cooked much yet but I’ve cooked a little, doing a very simple pasta sauce last week and “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic” this week. (I made a smaller portion, and indeed, only used 30 cloves.) Tonight I may do another pasta improvisation; it’ll have cheese sauce, which make make it a bit of a challenge with my usually cheese-hating housemate [ profile] dracosphynx, but we’ll see.

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Apparently, either I had forgotten how to use my pasta pot, or the stove doesn’t get hot enough to boil water. Despite the apartment’s maintenance issues so far, I’m betting on the pot as the problem child—it’s a gas stove. Now I recall I never used the drainer insert on the pot because it required a lot of water, so I’ll try it without. Tonight I’ll probably try a repeat of Monday’s dinner, since I have sauce left over. Not exciting cooking yet, but baby steps.

The maintenance issues are being taken care of, with the major one—the shower—fixed. I still think the apartment as a whole has low water pressure (I’m going to ask another resident or two in my building if this is normal here or not). The living room is still weeks away from starting to take shape, I suspect, but the advantage of a huge computer monitor is that it’s like having an HDTV in the room. I’ll be getting what TV shows I keep watching through iTunes and BitTorrent for now.

I’m starting lists of all those things you need in practice: pot holders, a hook to hang the pot holders on, plastic food wrap, basic spices, on and on. I suspect a plastic cutting board at [ profile] tugrik’s was mine, but I decided to get a bamboo cutting board. (Just $20, so it wasn’t a big splurge.) I may get a new pot set to replace my inherited quasi-set of old thin aluminum and non-stick coating pots. New knives may be taken care of by a generous offer from Tug (also a devious plan to upgrade his knife set).

I’m also solving the little issues, like: what radio station to listen to in the morning. While I’m now out of range of the fascinatingly/irritatingly quirky KKUP, I’ve set my clock radio instead to KCSM, a jazz-only public radio station.

It, in turn, reminded me today of B Street & Vine, a “wine café” in San Mateo that has live jazz four nights a week. Dave and [ profile] dracosphynx and I went there once for dinner a month ago, and I suspect I should start making an attempt to get there more often. This may be something else that happens this weekend, depending on weather and time; as of right now the weekend forecast is clear and sunny, although we’re shifting to winter weather patterns: highs below 60, lows below 40, and rain. I hope for rain, at least: last month was only a quarter of the average. By the end of January, perhaps we’ll have some living room seating and be able to sit around the fireplace, having coffee and hot chocolate and watching boxes. (A living room TV is a long way off, I think, but I should be able to get the stereo system running, at least…)

Oh. And Forbidden Island is now merely 27 miles away instead of 50. This may figure into future plans.

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Just about everything that needs to be moved over to the new place has been moved over. There are a couple things [ profile] tugrik has suggested I could take and a couple things of mine lurking around the living room — a second (!) DVD player of mine which was superseded in the audio rack, the AppleTV that I can’t actually use. There are things to throw out in my old room, and clothes that need to be rescued, although if I recall correctly most or all of them are going to be dropped off at Goodwill after rescue. This will be out by the weekend at the latest — sooner if I can manage it, although I’m inclined to take a night or two off from the constant driving.

My room is partially set up, but it’s full of boxes, and the living room is, well, full of many more boxes beyond that. I don’t think we’re going to be seriously looking at living room furniture until after the new year. I’ve slept at the new place two days and I’m still not adjusted to to it, but I’m hoping that will come with time. I have some room rearrangement to do already, I think.

Things are not as copacetic as I’d like; I put in a maintenance request for four problems this morning, the most serious of which is that the water pressure in my shower is so low that it can’t actually drive the shower. I’m tempted to head home a bit early and ping the office people about it and the other issues. Showering is, generally speaking, important to me.

Tonight, I may cook. I don’t know what, although I’m leaning toward something simple with pasta. I’m not entirely sure what cooking utensils I have, and I don’t even know where we’ll be able to eat; the only table that can be used as a dining room table is (surprise) covered with boxes. But I’d like to break in the kitchen with more than the inaugural cup of coffee this morning. (And more than the gin and tonic I expect to make tonight, with Hendrick’s and Fever Tree respectively. But that will, I certainly hope, be good.)

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I’m making final prep for what’s undoubtedly one of the slower, more sedate moves that I’ve made. What’s left to move is mostly furniture (bed, computer desk and chair, and a baker’s table that I’ll likely press into service as a bar), clothes, and kitchen utensils and gadgets that I purchased or unpacked here and haven’t figured out how to repack yet: martini glasses, margarita glasses, wine glasses (sensing a theme?) and some other odds and ends.

The plan is to borrow [ profile] bigtig’s minivan on Saturday and move the furniture, then run to the Pier 1 by the apartment to pick up my new dresser and move that, then, well, return the minivan and head back up the road with at least some of the clothes and odds-and-ends. Then push my bedroom into good enough condition to sleep there. I’ll be attempting to bring at least one friend with me to help with the moving during this process—it’s going to be a two-person job, at least, to unload the big furniture pieces, even though there’s not many of them; there may be many trips up and down the road between the apartment and Tugrik’s. (It’s 35 miles each way, which isn’t too bad in and of itself but gets tiring in repetition.) Sunday will be a return to Tugrik’s to clean the room, which I’m sure has dustbunnies the size of cats in it, and picking up still more odds and ends.

I suspect I’ll have a lot to do on Saturday morning, from still more laundry to computer moving/dismantling, but hopefully I’ll get a head start on that tonight. At least, disconnecting things and clearing off surfaces. Ironically, the boxes I’ll need to pack things are mostly at the new place, so I’ll need to bring a load back, as well as some packing peanuts to protect the glassware.

The holidays are a strange time of year to be moving; it makes me feel… selfish. Instead of thinking about gifts to buy others, I’m thinking about furnishings. Bookshelves for the living room. Shelves for my closet. Filling in missing kitchen utensils. (Buying a non-assful knife set.) Stocking “pantry” dry goods and spices. You’d think this would at least be an excellent opportunity to put together a wish list, but even that’s easier said than done: I won’t have a full idea of what I need until after I move. And flying back from Florida with the knife set might be problematic anyway.

In any case. Before I leave this morning, I’ll turn off the G5’s backup scheduler to the house NAS and start a final “manual” backup of it to an external hard drive. Then I’ll head back into the office, stopping by the Los Gatos Peet’s for coffee—it’ll be the last time I take this route, at least to work. (Memo to self: find Peet’s closest to new apartment.)

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I’m in an odd headspace right now, feeling teary-eyed without feeling sad—although it’s not a happy feeling, either. Have you heard clinical depression being described as feeling sad without knowing why? The best I can describe this is feeling melancholy without (quite) knowing why.

I’m back at [ profile] tugrik’s for the night; I don’t expect I’ll really be finished moving for another two weeks. Today I moved over the third carload of boxes from the garage here, boxes that I never unpacked after the move from Florida. There’s an old rule of thumb about packing I’d heard, that if you’d never unpacked something you didn’t really need it, but my case was a little unusual. In September of 2002, I was busy getting rid of as much non-bedroom furniture as I could manage to, and packing up all the non-furniture contents of my life: electronics and books and CDs and dishes and cookware and on and on. I gave away boxes and boxes of books, more than a few stereo components and other gadgets. I kept what I thought I’d need… eventually.

A lot of it, I haven’t seen since. This weekend, though, I’ve been unpacking.

My old dish set, an “apartment-warming” gift when I first moved out to my own place. All the old flatware I inherited from my grandmother (plastic handles, a little discolored with age, but still serviceable). Books. Comics. Magazines. Tons of old fanzines. My stereo system—arguably obsolete these days, and of course, untested for all this time. Baking dishes, cooking utensils I remembered from years of use…

Understand, a lot of this stuff objectively just isn’t that good. My old kitchen knife set is, honestly, pretty much crap; I have a “lazy susan” utensil holder that came from the same place the crappy knives did, the now-defunct Lechter’s Housewares. But it’s all the stuff that made my old apartment’s kitchen my kitchen. What made it my living room. My home.

Since I’ve been out here I’ve bought a CD rack and unpacked (nearly) all my CDs, and even added a few to it. The bookshelf I bought out here is filled mostly with things I bought out here; I’ll probably need two (or three) more units like it to get the rest of my books shelved. I could stand to get a closet organizer, too, or just to build some makeshift shelves in the closet to store stuff.

I digress, yet that’s the whole thing of it, isn’t it? Back in 2002, I wrote,

In one of those cheerful emotional paradoxes, I really am looking forward to moving—but I don’t want to leave the place I’m in now. Despite the logic against it, I really would like to take my living room with me.

And that’s what’s causing my feelings tonight. See, I have the same emotional paradox—I want to move, yet I don’t want to leave the place I’m in now. But what I’m unpacking? What’s in those boxes?

Continuity. These boxes have little pieces of home in them that, up until this weekend, I didn’t know I was missing.

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(Started around 9:15 a.m.)

I’ve stopped at a Krispy Kreme near the office to have coffee and a donut (just one) and chew on writing for a little bit. It’s already late so I don’t have a lot of time to chew, but I haven’t been able to get into the right headspace for even simple journaling recently.

Being here, in a fairly quiet, antiseptic-looking place dominated by faux-retro steel and pastel, brings back memories from about fifteen years ago, when I used to go to a Dunkin’ Donuts with Bart, a friend who was my story guinea pig: I’d give him first drafts of stories and he’d, well, react. It wasn’t a critique so much as the literary equivalent of a test screening. At any rate, while I suppose this place violates a lot of ideas of “comfortable writing space” that most people would have, I like it: a fairly open table to take over, very little ambient noise—I’m the only customer in the seating area, even though they have seating for 40—and, of course, coffee. Not gourmet, but solid enough. No wifi, but in some ways that’s a benefit. (Technically, since it’s in Mountain View, there’s Google’s free wifi service, but in my experience having Google free wifi is like having no wifi at all.)

So. Catching up: I’m moving.

As I’ve written recently, this isn’t out of the blue, but the speed is unexpected. The friend I’m going to share the apartment with has a tendency to move rather fast, and we went from looking at apartments to having a signed lease within a week.

I’ve been having some panic over the last week or so over the move—mild panics, not panic attacks, just a holy crap I’m not at all ready yet feeling. And I’m not. I have the sort of perverse advantage that I never completely unpacked what living room and kitchen stuff I moved out here with. Of course, I can’t remember what most of that stuff is at this point. I have a cheap kitchen knife set somewhere, and a stereo that’s now quite behind the times but should hopefully be solid enough to keep working. Did I bring speaker cables and speaker stands with me? How about towels—did I unpack those and mix them in with the household’s? And so on, endlessly.

However, the panic and nervousness is being joined by excitement, too. I’ll have more space; I can use this as an excuse to replace some old furniture (and I’ve already started on that); I’ll be in a new place to explore more thoroughly than I’ve been able to so far, and I’ll also be much closer to Bay Are public transit stations and so a whole new set of things to do—without driving—might open up. The place I’m moving to is a pseudo-town named Foster City, just outside San Mateo. I may well try to corral [ profile] duncanroo into giving me a tour, or at least advice on where he goes, since I believe he’s lived in San Mateo for years.

I’ll write more about the move as it happens, I’m sure; I’m expecting for me, at least, it’s going to go on throughout this month and probably a bit into December, presuming my (current) housemates tolerate it. I hope to be completely moved in

Somewhat coincidentally, my physical this year was scheduled for just after my birthday. I got what I’d call a clean bill of health with an asterisk, and the asterisk is what doctors could just about have preprinted on cards to pass out for patients: better diet, more exercise. My cholesterol’s a little high, my blood glucose also a little high (but not diabetic). Yes, I am aware of the irony of writing about this at a frikkin’ Krispy Kreme, but like I said, I’m only having one donut. I’ve actually been better about my diet the last few months, although I need to make sure I don’t slip back into old habits—which are, basically, too much soda and too much reliance on fast food, both a curse of the modern age.

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When I first moved out to California, I made tongue-in-cheek references to my “VDAP,” a vaguely-defined action plan. It went something like this:

  1. Take up [ profile] tugrik on his offer of crash space.
  2. Get a great job that would shower with me money.
  3. Find a place to live like where I’d been back in Tampa.

Wouldn’t you know it, though, step two turned out to be non-trivial. And as it turns out, step three isn’t so easy, either; my old apartment out there now rents for about $800 a month, about half what a comparable apartment most places in the SF Bay area would run. (Before locals object: 800 square foot one-bedroom place with A/C, walk-in closets, full-sized washer and dryer, dishwasher, kitchen with pantry and breakfast bar, in a complex with a good fitness center and swimming pool, built within the last 10-15 years. Sure you can get one comparable for under $1500?)

So the upshot is that I’ve stayed put.

And this isn’t a bad thing. My housemates (in addition to [ profile] tugrik, they include [ profile] revar, [ profile] bigtig, [ profile] susandeer, and five cats) have pretty much been great, it’s a nice enough house that’s just filled with cool stuff thanks to Tugrik’s gadget fetishes, and the shared rent is phenomenally low — far below market rate for the area. So I’ve liked where I’m living, and I couldn’t have afforded to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area if I’d been most anywhere else.

But you know, it’s been five years.

My current job, despite being “independent contracting,” is about as permanent as a normal position would be. My debt is, as of a week ago, completely gone. My credit isn’t excellent but it’s good. And since I don’t think the tumble that’s started in the housing market is going to get better soon, rent is likely to climb even faster as people get squeezed out of homes or decide not to run the mortgage gauntlet just yet. And, I’ve recently learned that the principals of the little company I’m at would like to move the office to San Mateo next year. My commute is already a little grating; it would get, well, more grating at that point.

I’ve looked around at all sorts of crazy places; apartment hunting has been an idle hobby more than an actual plan. I’d somewhat settled on the idea that if I did move, I’d likely end up either in the East Bay or possibly in Belmont for cost reasons: Belmont’s a town on the peninsula filled with older apartment complexes, and the East Bay is, well, cheaper. Some places in the East Bay are a lot nicer than friends in the South Bay seem to imagine; Alameda is a cool area, as is the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland (yes, really), and some of the places on the “680 corridor” are really pretty. Pretty enough and cheap enough to justify an 80-minute commute between Mountain View or San Mateo and San Ramon or Alameda, though? Hmm.

So the upshot is that I’ve still stayed put. I don’t like the idea of moving, really; it’s a hassle and a half, and I’ll have to buy furniture, and blah blah blah. You can fill in all the potential complaints yourself. It’s sort of comfortable to have this as a hobby. I can collect lots of apartment complex brochures without doing anything more than frustrating leasing agents.

However, now there’s an opportunity contingent on someone else’s opportunity; a friend may end up getting a job around the Redwood City area, and if I am willing to move into a “just one housemate” situation, the possibility of a 2BR/2BA place on the peninsula opens up. A nice place. Nice enough that, frankly, my rent and utilities would still double — even by San Mateo area standards, some of these apartments aren’t cheap — but near (or even in) downtown and with top-notch amenities. Throw in the usual caveats about apartments showing better than they are in practice, I know. But even so.

The thing is, now I’m actively nervous. If the stars line up just so (as of yet, they have not), I’d have to make a decision about moving soon. Before the end of the month. (Just in time for the holidays because you know that’s always when you want major life upheaval.) Do I really want to move? I’ve been assuming if I did move, I’d move into a place of my own (as much as an apartment can be “yours”); do I want to change that assumption?

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I’m working from the field today, and at the moment the field happens to be Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden in Alameda. Yes, I’m back here, although earlier today I was in Walnut Creek, which is where I actually did most of the work that I’ve gotten done so far, working before and after lunch at the Pyramid Ale House. I’ve closed two tickets out of five I need to work on, with another two being pretty trivial and the remaining one being… well, less trivial.

When I was reading The Four-Hour Work Week a couple months ago, one of the “worksheet” exercises there was just listing things you’d like to do and be: to be a good (or better) cook, to write a film, to drive the entire Pacific Coast Highway. At the time I did that, I checked Sur La Table’s web site to see if they had any upcoming cooking classes, specifically something useful for a beginner like “Essential Knife Skills.” They didn’t have that one then. I checked again, on a whim, on Tuesday, and they had that specific class that evening. After a bit of waffling, I signed up then and left work a little early to get to the class. Was it worthwhile? Probably. It was fun, and while I’m not sure I was told anything that I hadn’t read somewhere, there’s a difference between reading and having hands-on instruction. There’s a few other classes there I’m going to be interested in pursuing, I suspect. I don’t have any professional chef aspirations, but I do want to kick my own ass into doing more in the kitchen than I have been. On Wednesday, I did cook—just a simple pasta primavera type dish, but it worked. I have a vague intent of using some leftover cooked pasta for pan-fried noodles, although given that it’s past six-thirty on Friday as I write this and I’m fifty miles from home, I don’t know if that’ll be tonight. We’ll see.

I did get to drop into a couple apartments on Alameda today, and I persist in having an attraction to Shoreline Drive there, the road that runs along San Francisco Bay. The apartments, as usual, really aren’t cheap, although given that they may be facing the bay, or at worst just a block away, they’re surprisingly affordable. (Again, by area standards—in most other areas, they’d be blanche-worthy.) These are in part because they’re, well, old: most of them are 1960s-era, don’t have air conditioning, don’t have laundry connections, may not even (gasp) have dishwashers. They’re mostly all independently-managed, so maintenance, office hours, and so on could be highly variable. Many of the buildings have character, but one man’s character is another man’s dilapidation, and I’d certainly have to think about where on that side of the line I fall for a given unit.

All of this is moot while I’m still in debt and without the resources I’d need to not only pay a deposit on a new place but buy furniture, since I’m without most of the basics beyond bedroom stuff now. Even so, my debt’s lower now than it’s been in years, and I expect to knock another big chunk out soon. (I’m realizing just now I’m failing to account for the still outstanding car A/C repair, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.) As fall approaches, I’ll have to take stock of where things are in my life in terms of savings and job security.

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At lunch today I met, by happenstance, coworkers from the job I tried to take last year, the one that was supposed to involve technical writing and web development and project analysis and mostly really involved being a kind of office admin, which is not my strong suit. (As I think I observed then, the obvious glee the guy I was replacing had in “retiring” — basically quitting to go back to school at 50 — should have told me more than I let it.) It sounds like they did get someone to try for that position, who was “there for a few months” and then let go when his position lost his funding. In other words, there’s a pretty good chance that even if I’d stayed there, I’d have lost the job anyway — instead of ending up at a place that actually does want me to be a web developer and technical writer.

Funny how things work that way on occasion.

As I write this, nobody’s home and I’m considering dinner. I’ve lately been feeling faintly paranoid about my “habit” of eating before the housemates are ready to, but I rarely eat breakfast, which means I usually leave to get lunch at 11:00–11:30. So I’m ready for dinner at 7:00 and really damn hungry by 8:00. I don’t want to be antisocial, but the tradition here of looking at one another around 9:30 and saying, “We should think about food before things close” isn’t something I can always manage. (And since I need to be in bed by midnight, eating at 10:00 tends to be something I pay for.)

The “in bed by midnight” thing is something else I wonder about myself now, though. I used to be able to keep college student hours, but looking back, by the time I was at Intermedia I really didn’t. I was in bed by, well, midnight. That only meant six and a half hours of sleep. Being around people who are apparently perfectly comfortable staying up ’til two or three in the morning and still getting up about the same time I do makes me feel much older than it probably should. I suspect I actually am the oldest in the house, but not by that much.

Well. Now it’s past eight, so I think I’m going to load the walker into the station wagon and drive real slow to a buffet, with my left turn signal on the whole way…

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It’s been several weeks since I’ve updated my journal, so this entry will be something of a hodgepodge. And, since it's a bit long... click through to read of work, living arrangements, and plane trips. )

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My contract has been renewed for the next quarter. That means I’ll have worked eleven months here, making it the longest job that I’ve had since moving out to the Bay Area, the most stable, and generally the most kind to my budget. The tech writing contract last year paid more, strictly speaking, but didn’t handle taxes or provide benefits. I’m still hurting from my two 1099 tax term years; my savings is a quarter of what I’d like it to be (and probably a third of what I need it to be) before my next period of lack of work and my credit card debt is, well, in the inverse state of my savings.

At the end of this next quarter, if I let the automated payment plans I have run without extra additions, I’ll have at least doubled my savings and chipped away some—not nearly enough, but some—of the credit card debt. If I can pump in some extra, of course, all the better.

My boss would, I gather, like to be able to keep me indefinitely, but there’s a company limit on keeping contractors: twelve months. If I’m lucky they’ll find reason to renew my contract for the quarter after this and let it squeak past, pushing me out to 14 months, but at that point they’ll likely have to either make me permanent or let me go. So.

Part of me is wondering if I should be abstractly planning to move (which I wrote about earlier), and that part of me is the one that keeps idly collecting information on both locations and individual apartments around the Bay Area, within moderately reasonable commuting distance of the corporate campus. Everyone needs a hobby, and mine appears to be visiting apartment complexes.

But, part of me wonders if I should be abstractly planning to move out of the Bay Area if the contract ends and nothing else shows up pretty immediately. As much as I love this part of the country, it’s just so expensive; in Portland it wouldn’t be difficult to find a place of my own whose rent and utilities came to about my share of the house costs now. (And Portland isn’t the cheapest place to be in that neck of the woods, although it’s far from the most expensive.) While I love the Bay Area, I think it’s more a love for the west coast. I’m attracted to both the northwest and the southwest for different reasons; from a practical standpoint, northwest is the better direction to go.

Of course, moving to some new city without a job and without the good grace of friends like [ profile] tugrik is pretty risky, unless you move somewhere that’s really cheap—which of course is likely a sign that there aren’t any good jobs to be had. (Damn you, market forces!) This is why I wish I had sufficient chutzpah to go into business for myself, but so far, I haven’t been able to summon sufficient drive to pursue that—I need to be in a place where I’m going to be able to find work that pays the bills and leaves me enough left over for coffee.

So, for now, this all remains abstract. I’m just keeping in the back of my mind that it may become more concrete in a hurry in, say, 4-6 months.

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One of the things that made me a bit restless last week was—as strange as it may sound—realizing that I have no good place to read. See, there’s not a lot of light in my room and it’s too cluttered to really feel comfortable most of the time, but I can only really read in the living room if there’s nothing else going on there. Back in Tampa I really only used my bedroom for sleeping. This realization gave me a peculiar, but surprisingly strong, bout of homesickness for a while.

Well, I’m not sure what I can do to address the “how to make my bedroom into the best living space possible” issue; as much as I’d like to declutter it, there’s just not that much space available, even to fill up with shelving and storage widgets. This weekend, though, I want to see if I can think more seriously about other furniture arrangement in there and if there might be some storage widgets I could find that would make sense.

But, I finally took steps to address the lighting part of that. I used to have a torchiere from Ikea, which like all torchieres I’ve ever owned, broke a few months after purchase in inexplicable fashion. (There’s not that much there to break! How come it keeps happening?) So, I bought another torchiere. A cheap one. Not a halogen one, though—this one takes incandescents, and I “splurged” on a long-life natural light bulb.

I can actually see to read there now, at least!

I also bought a new “modern” box fan for warmer nights, and—something else that falls into the “I should have replaced this long ago” category—a new body pillow. I slept with one for years, but mine didn’t make the trip out here.


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February 2018

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