Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going to the Fair

Today I went to the Tennessee State Fair. Having grown up in one of the most densely populated parts of the country, I though the prospect of a Real Live State Fair - complete with livestock! - was like something out of a young adult novel about some faraway place like Kansas or Idaho. (My mother claims she took us to some sort of state fair when we were children, but I have no actual memories of that happening.)

So today I went to the Fairgrounds and paid my $4 to park on the grass, and $8 to get in. $4 bought me an enormous slice of terrible pizza, and another $4 procured a bag of kettle corn (totally worth it) nearly as big as my torso. A few minutes later it turned out to be a good thing I was busy with the kettle corn, or I probably would've eaten my body weight in fudge.

I figured that was enough outlay, though, so I didn't spend any more money to see the world's smallest horse, or have my age or weight guessed with astonishing accuracy. I did walk through rows and rows of goats, pigs, mules, birds, and rabbits. I saw a troupe of small girls in matching pink and blue outfits preparing to perform their competitive jump-roping routine. I got called Little Red Riding Hood twice, and Miss Hollywood once, by people manning the various booths I was passing. I saw a box truck marked as belonging to a group of Christian weightlifters. I saw the fattest baby I've ever seen, but she was just in a stroller, not on display in a booth. (To be fair, it was really just her face that was so fat. I mean, seriously, she looked like she'd had the baby fat from her chubby little thighs and ass injected into her cheeks...and on top of that was perhaps storing a winter's worth of acorns in there.)

I wandered around for about an hour before the noise and people and lack of edible vegetable matter started to get to me, and I decided to head home via Whole Foods. But I feel as though I've had an authentic Tennessee experience. It is a relatively foreign place, after all, for a girl who's lived all her life in the Northeast.

Check out my photos of the fair here, and stay tuned for more complete updates on life in Nashville.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Move

The following episodes chronicle my move from Boston to Nashville in the middle of August, 2008. They were written at various stages, not in chronological order, so please forgive the tenses.

Episode 1 - Packing and Preparing

I've known for about four months that I'd be moving to Nashville this August. Early in the summer I started packing up clothes to take to Goodwill and posting crap on Craigslist that I knew I wouldn't want to take with me. I actually managed to do a really good job of starting early and planning ahead, for most things, and by the time I went out of town a week before moving day I had things pretty well under control.

I did, in fact, take a three day vacation less than a week before I was slated to move halfway across the country.... and I recommend it to anyone who's thinking of moving. Before I left I had gotten most of my stuff packed, and then I was able to walk away and not think about any of it for three glorious days in the Adirondacks. (The lake was beautiful, the mountains were beautiful, the company was perfect, the cupcakes were delicious. What more could you ask for?)

So I returned from my vacation with four full days to prepare, and on Friday I was to drive away with everything I still owned (i.e. that I hadn't sold over the internet) in the tiniest trailer rentable from U-Haul and the back of my glorious 1996 station wagon. Good plan, right?

The week was, of course, jam-packed with pre-leaving friend time. Perhaps I should've slept a little more, or spent a little longer on the moving part of things and less on the "OMG I won't see you for, like, three whole months!!" part of things, but "should" is a funny word, when you think about it. And if things had gone according to plan it all would've worked out just fine.

The plan began to run off its rails on Tuesday, I think it was, when my aforementioned glorious 1996 station wagon began acting funny. And by "acting funny" I mean "accelerating by itself, without me stepping on the gas." It felt sort of like a jet getting ready for takeoff. And then it stopped, so by the time I took it to my trusty (read "amazingly awesome and wonderful") mechanic there was no problem for him to diagnose. Right.

I retrieved the car from the mechanic and decided I'd just really really hope that nothing would go wrong again until I was in Tennessee. Alas, the jet engine started preparing for liftoff again as I was on my way to U-Haul to collect my little trailer. By the time I got home with the trailer it had gotten bad enough to incite rather a lot of screaming and swearing, and a phone call to my parents to say "HELP!! WHAT DO I DO?!?!??"

Long story short (there was a lot of unhappiness and NOT PANICKING and frantic phoning) - I ended up calling a lovely moving company who were able to schedule me on only 24 hours' notice. They picked up my stuff Friday morning, and I was left with just myself and a handful of things to truck home in my death-mobile, I mean station wagon.

And, of course, through those last three days were the goodbyes. Not really goodbyes, I guess: more like "talk to you online"s and "see you at Thanksgiving"s. They still weren't fun, not even a little bit. But since I couldn't pack all of my friends into the car and take them with me...beers were drunk, dinners were eaten, and leave was taken. I was, it seemed, on my way.

Episode 2 - Seven Hours from Boston

The drive from Boston to northern New Jersey normally takes about four and a half hours. Now that I was sans trailer, that was about the time I expected to take for phase one of the actual moving part of this whole escapade. I should, however, have anticipated Friday-afternoon-in-August traffic. I couldn't really anticipate the monsoons.

The good news is that having the entire contents of Lake Champlain dumped over my car seemed to keep it from acting up for most of the trip. It got a bit cranky about taking three hours to get to I84 at the Connecticut border (which normally takes an hour), and was threatening to take out the sedans in front of me in the last bit of that interminable crawling - leaping ahead every time I took my foot off the brake. But as I crossed into state two of my nine state (total) trip, the rain apparently cooled off the grumpy bits enough that they were willing to behave. (The rain also chased me off the road and into a rest area until it slowed down enough that I no longer felt that I really ought to have been in an ark.)

The Camry and I did successfully make it to NJ, and I even managed to not fall over upon exiting the house. My parents seemed slightly concerned about my well being, but after feeding me they decided I had revived sufficiently and could be put to bed. After sleeping, well, almost not at all and then taking 75% longer than normal for the trip, being put to bed was like a gift. It was a brief respite before the next episode was to begin.

Episode 3 - Maybe This Drive is Longer Than I Though

According to Google Maps, the drive from NJ to TN is approximately 12 hours. Of course, Google Maps doesn't have to stop and pee. Or get a sandwich from Subway and clean the windshield. And so, eleven hours in, my father and I are stopped at a Super 8 just outside Knoxville.

We thought that stopping before Knoxville would be good because 1. it's already been a long day, and 2. starting about 90 miles back there have been all sorts of signs about I40 being closed downtown. We figured this way we could plan our alternate route and not have to default to the detour that may or may not be terrible and/or backed up with horrible traffic.

So here we are with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the television.... and I think I'd like to go home now, please.

Episode 4 - Welcome to the Central Time Zone

There's a sign along I-40 between Knoxville and Nashville informing travelers that they've crossed into the next time zone. I'm not sure exactly what it says because I was too busy telling my mother, over the phone, that my father and I were crossing the time zone line. I was pretty excited.

The whole last day of driving was a bit of a roller coaster both literally and figuratively. We were past the proper mountains, but it turns out that Tennessee is all rolling hills, and of course as we approached our destination there came ever more frequent interjections from my side of the car, along the lines of "OMG I live in Tennessee now" and "what have I done??"

The scenery was quite pretty, and if I managed to adequately capture any of it with my random shots through the car windows I'll post them here.

Eventually we started to see signs of greater population density, and then we got a glimpse of the buildings of downtown Nashville before the beltway swept us off around the city to our final destination. My new home. In Tennessee. Where I live now.

Exactly where I live now happens to be an awesome one bedroom apartment in the upstairs of an adorable house. (My two new friends even, upon pulling into the driveway, began exclaiming how totally cute it is. They happen to be very male friends who wouldn't normally go on about the cuteness of something such as a house.) I am slowly collecting furniture and trying to make it feel like home, but mostly I'm waiting for the movers to arrive with my stuff. (I'm also waiting for the coolest company in Nashville to bring me things from far-off Ikea.)

Downstairs from my awesome apartment are two even awesomer ladies, Priscilla and Lila. I love Priscilla and Lila. From the first time I talked to Priscilla I knew I liked her, and she's even cooler in person. Lila is Priscilla's mother, and you know what they say about the apple and the tree. I totally lucked out with this apartment and these landladies/neighbors/friends. I think once my stuff gets here I'll have to bake them some cookies as a small token of my gratitude for the welcome they've given me. (Though I bet they can bake circles around me.)

I will definitely post a few photos of The Apartment once I get them uploaded to the computer and figure out which ones I want to show the world. I'm hoping to post lots of photos in the coming weeks and months so y'all can see for yourselves what this Nashville business is all about.

Of course, the best way to see it is in person, and by the time you get here my air mattress might finally be inflated......

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

So Much Moving

Lately it seems that I spend all my waking moments moving - going from room to room with boxes full of crap and bags full of trash, driving from place to place canceling gym memberships and buying trailer hitches, or just wandering around the house trying to get some sense of what's left to be done. Occasionally (like just now) I stop moving long enough to realize what it is I'm doing.

As sentient adult (and not a nomadic one), I am willingly choosing to stuff everything I own into small cardboard boxes, fit all of those cardboard boxes into a 4'x8' trailer, drive 1000+ miles (with gas now slightly under $4/gallon), carry all those little boxes up a bunch of stairs into a completely empty apartment, and start over. 1000+ miles from everyone and everything I know.

I don't know the town I'm moving to - I spent 2.5 days there a few months ago. That doesn't count. I also don't know any people there - I've met a few in passing, and have had virtual conversations with a couple, but that also doesn't really count. I can't afford the trailer I'm renting or the new appliances I'll need to buy when I get there. I won't even have a bed to sleep on when I first arrive (unless you consider a waxed canvas air mattress, aged approximately 50 years, a 'bed'). And yet, somehow, pretty much everyone who knows me really well seems to agree that this is exactly the right thing for me to be doing.

I happen to think that I have no idea what I'm doing, but apparently I'm doing it anyway. Too bad all those people who think this is a good idea aren't doing it with me. My message to all those people: now might be a good time to upgrade your phone plan. The unlimited one might be a good idea.

Now to get everything packed, finish all the errands, stave off panic, say some (probably tearful and definitely difficult) goodbyes, and .... move.

Monday, August 4, 2008

...from Somewhere Behind that Pile of Boxes.....

A few observations on moving:

- Trying to pack everything you own into little boxes that you'll have to carry up and down multiple flights of stairs and fit into a small vehicular-type container gives you a whole new perspective on the value of the things you own.

- Everything costs twice as much as you thought it would.

- Every moment you spend with the people you care about (who aren't coming with you) passes four times as fast as it would otherwise.

- Nobody wants to help you carry everything you own up or down any flights of stairs...but someone will, and for that you will be willing to offer eternal gratitude, sexual favors, and your firstborn child.

- Are you familiar with the concept of 'limbo'? (not the thing people do at parties with a broomstick)

- ...but really, how can one person possibly own so much completely useless crap?

- Sitting in total silence, doing absolutely nothing but sharing someone's company, can be the best thing in the world.

- If you change your mind and come back, all you've really lost is a little time and a lot of money.....

Friday, August 1, 2008

An Open Letter (4)

To My Newly Ex- Coworkers,

Thank you for the lunch, and the cake, and the card - they were nice - and for the cash. The cash was really nice.

Thank you for understanding that I'm generally ravenous and need to eat lunch by 11am.

Thank you for not turning me in when you pop up over the cube wall and see that I'm blatantly reading the entire archives of

Thank you for foreseeing the happiness that would accompany my departure from this place, and not holding it against me. (I know you're jealous, and I think you should probably quit too.)

I know you all meant well.
I won't miss you.
But know - you'll totally be in The Movie.