And now I live in Boise

Everyone I’ve met has said, “you’ll love it here!” I’m only going on 5 days in my new home, and I can agree, I have a good feeling about this place.

After driving all night Friday, sleeping for two hours in a gas station parking lot with my head resting on Meeko’s bed, the dogs and I rolled up the driveway of our new home. I’m in the suburbs of Boise with a new roommate/landlord and his two german shepherd dogs. I unpacked the extremely stuffed Honda Fit (yes, my car still needs a name) and took a long nap on the floor in a pile of my bedding.

Within a few days I bought all the furniture I would need. In my many moves, I have finally learned my lesson- buy collapsable furniture! Now I have two metal shelving units that come completely apart, a foldable bench so the dogs can look out our window during the day, and two desks whose legs come off. If I had to move again in Boise, I could fit everything in two car trips easily.

Another good lesson for cheap moving: sell your old furniture on craigslist and then buy what you need from craigslist when you arrive. I can honestly say my Boise craigslist experience has been the most pleasant of any city. Everyone I met was extremely kind, helped me carry furniture without me even asking, and were happy to offer me local advice. Everyone also offered for me to keep their numbers and to call or email if I ever needed anything (or if I just wanted to hang out!) Yes, I actually made friends through craigslist.

Boise seems like this hidden gem of extremely nice (though admittedly, not very racially diverse) people. I wonder why more people wouldn’t want to live here. It’s almost like Brigadoon, fog and smoke included. There are occasional wildfires in the mountains. Walking around Boise State’s campus, I realized people passing by were smiling at me. Was there something on my face?? Were my shorts too short? Nope-they were just being friendly!

I’m still winding down from my first day of my teaching orientation. I can’t believe that I’m really here. Me, a graduate student, and a teacher in about a week. Meeting my fellow MFA cohort and the MA students as well made me realize we are all in the same boat. Everyone is a little nervous. Most of us are wondering if this is all a huge mistake. But, we all know by the end of the semester, all this worrying will seem so silly… the novice will become the expert!

In moving to Idaho and realizing how little I (and perhaps most of the world?) know about this area, I’m going to make a big effort to revamp my blog. I hope to capture not only my experiences teaching and being a student, but also what there is to do in Idaho and the Northwest. Thanks for reading!

Our new place!

After two weeks of unpacking, errands, and figuring out where the dogs should go pee, I am ready to start writing again!

By some miracle Ashwin found us a very nice place in the neighborhood of Nob Hill. There are six apartments in our building, and we are on the top floor. The ground floor has a small market, which is very convenient. I wave hello to one of the guys that works there every morning. He also touched up the paint in our apartment while we moved in.

I’d like to state for the record that there was no moving crew. It was just Ashwin and I, moving the rest of his things from his old apartment to our new one with a U-Haul. I’ve never been so happy to see a split box spring! When we emptied out the car it was a very strange feeling. I’d been living surrounded by my things for over a month and to seeing it spread out made me realize how full the car had really been! Between the various spices that had spilled and the vinegar spill back in North Carolina, the car was not smelling good at all once it had baked empty in the sun for a few days. Had I just gotten used to it??

So far Snickers’ least favourite thing about San Francisco is the hills. Specifically the one we live on. It is actually at 45 degrees. At first, I was having them go potty in the little dirt squares around the street trees on our hill, but Snickers was really having a tough time balancing while she peed. And then it would all just run down the hill. Now we go around the corner to a nice flat street, four times a day.

I am so glad that my trip is over as I am really anxious to get writing! It is hard to believe that August is here already–only four months until my first graduate school application is due.

Location: Home in San Francisco, CA

7 days: Shipping to Cali

I just finished shipping 3 large boxes to California. Total cost? $154. Not too bad, considering I got $500 worth of insurance for the two boxes that were filled with clothing. I figure, if either of those got lost, that money would be enough to get me a nice replacement wardrobe.

The third box I shipped as “Media Mail.” If you have not heard of this option before, seriously take advantage of it if you are ever moving. Media mails moves slow, and  you can only put “media” into the box, like books or DVDs. But, it is super cheap.

Last night I set up my apartment for my “Food Party” with my co-workers/friends (there’s really no difference!). I hope that the mood will be fun and not too sad. I also hope that what food and cleaning supplies I have left over will work perfectly with what was on their grocery lists for the week! Meeko was gracious enough to help me with setting up a “dollar table” and putting signs everywhere. By helping, I mean she pranced around, barked at stray tupperwares and attacked mirrors wondering who that strange dog was.

To help us feel motivated, I played Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 CD. (Yes, I know, a CD sounds ancient, but I had an old CD player in the basement and found the CD in my room.) The first song was Robot Rock. If you’re not familiar, this song, and their style in general is heavily electronic. Meeko’s reaction to the song was hilarious and I really wish I’d had my phone near me so I could take a video of it. She was tilting her head to the side with the beat, poking her nose at the speakers with an expression that can only be described as “What IS that???” I of course encouraged her to get her rave on.

I may try to re-create Meeko’s reaction to Daft Punk and her love of mirrors, but for now I will be finishing up preparing my house for the party and my final week in Pittsburgh!

Not my channel, but you can listen to the song here.

15 days: Big progress

In the past few days, my kitchen has been packed up, Meeko got spayed, and I’ve only un-voluntarily lost a few articles of clothing.

My Mom came down for the weekend to help me in my packing process. Through all the moves my family did, she was always our fearless packing leader. I have no doubt that all of my individually wrapped plates and bowls will make it through my future moves without a scratch. We also tackled a metal shelving unit, which ended with the unit sideways on the ground, my Mom pulling back on a shelf while I swung away with a rubber mallet trying to loosen the shelf from the poles. We agreed this counted as our workout for the day.

In Meeko news, when the vet tech brought her out after her surgery, she had on her mopey face for about 3 seconds. Then she saw my Mom and immediately perked up and ran right to her. Jeesh Meeko, it’s not like I was worried about you or anything! She walked most of they way home, but I carried her up all our stairs. Snickers was waiting at the door, feeling left out of course. She sniffed Meeko’s stitches and seemed to know that something was different.

The instructions on the Vet’s take home sheet say to keep Meeko quiet for 10-14 days. She’s eaten a pair of socks, a foot off of my grey tights, and has recently decided that she’s not going to sleep in her crate anymore. She let me know this by making a nice pattern of puncture holes in the mesh of her crate. So helpful! We compromised and tried letting her sleep “out” in my bedroom last night– no accidents this morning! We’ll see how tonight goes.

7 official work days left!

27 days left in Pittsburgh: Dismantling my office

The current mood in my workplace is best described as a collective sigh of relief–April is over and we made it out alive.

As I sit in my chair, wrapped in my favourite Carnegie Mellon blanket because it’s actually cold on my side of our building, I am realizing how much stuff there is in my office. To be clear, I have my own little room with a desk, shelf, two other chairs and a door. This is my space, and I can decorate it and use it as I see fit. I’ve been in this exact office room for almost my entire two years in Admissions, and somehow, I’ve accumulated a lot of things!

My bulletin board is exploding. The space on the actual board is mostly filled up, with Thank You letters from interviewees balancing along the top. Sticky notes multiply in this room. I write notes to remind myself of other notes.

I’ll take home all the pictures and cards soon, but what about my lovely plants? Or my enormous Carnegie Mellon Diploma? Seriously, why is it so big? Actually, I like how giant it is, I want people to see it from space. Google-map my diploma, that’s how big it is.

Spinning in my swivel chair, I wonder about duties assigned to me, and how my successor (whoever she or he is) will do. Hopefully they will be able to decipher my notes and many excel sheets. One thing is for sure; they should definitely continue to use the magnetic door as a secondary note board because that was pure genius.

I should make a note of that.

29 days left in Pittsburgh: I’m tired

I spent most of today making a decision about tomorrow: Should I take a vacation day with my job or not?

From previous mathematical calculations, I knew that any given work day is worth approximately $90. As in, that’s about how much I earn at my job. To be fair, I am salaried, so every Saturday and Sunday I’m making about that much when I am not working (sometimes…). In the grand scheme of life and groceries, 90 bucks is not that much anymore.

The next item to consider was whether I deserved a day off. I am using vacation days throughout the month of May, so every week after this one I would not be working a full 5 day week. Vacation days can be tricky. You get to sleep in, then you start thinking about all of the things you could get done during the day. What a joy to not have to wait until 5:30 to run errands or walk the doggies! The next thing you know you look at the clock and it’s already noon, lunch time already and not a single “to do” has been done.

Alright, I reasoned with myself. If you’re going to take the day off tomorrow you have to get stuff done. By stuff, I am referring to my impending list of moving projects. Things like picking out which file folders I need to take with me (birth certificate, tax stuff, creative writing that I did in undergrad) and breaking down some heavy duty plastic shelving units in my basement. In other words, boring.

So, tomorrow, instead of being at work I will be taking one car-load of my stuff to the storage unit. It’s a 45 minute drive and my car gets approximately 16 mpg. It’s okay Ethel, I still feel mutual respect for you.

Coincidentally, Ethel was also the name of my class hamster in sixth grade. She was dark brown and nobody wanted to bring her home to take care of her over the summer. I volunteered, assuming this would gain me instant popularity and many friends. It did not.

30 days left in Pittsburgh: Almost May

Today I walked around like a zombie. My mind is so focused on May and everything I have left to do that it has been difficult to force myself to function. So much of my Big Plan has been delegated to the month of May, it’s become it’s own entity. I still have a lot of furniture to sell on craigslist, an entire kitchen to dismantle, and of course figuring out if everything I’m planning to pack in the car will actually fit!

Moving has been a regular fixture in my life. I’ve lived in Dallas, East Lansing, Detroit, Tokyo, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. The cycle of weeding out, packing up, transporting, and unpacking has come so frequently that I often start to feel anxious if I’m NOT planning on moving somewhere. This combined with my need for efficiency and fear of not making a correct choice have created this monster of a month: May. And it starts tomorrow.

To be fair, I have already moved many boxes and six bookshelves to a storage unit out by the Pittsburgh airport. The items in storage are essentially things that I valued too much to give away, but were not worth the risk and expense of moving across the country for a short term stay. This leaves my current house in an odd state of holding both the things that I value the most and absolutely MUST take with me to California (shoe collection, doggies, toothbrush) and things that are easily replaced and therefore must be sold to come up with more moving money. And the kitchen, but that’s another story.

One of the things I’m trying to sell is a wooden dresser. There’s nothing particularly special about it; It’s a solid oak dresser with four drawers. It was once housed in my Grandparents’ cottage in Clear Lake, Indiana. (Coincidentally where the band Creedence Clearwater Revival got it’s name from.) When they passed away, my Mom ended up with the dresser, which made it’s way to my high school closet. It has held socks, undies, sweatshirts and a variety of coloured stockings over the years. It’s something that I’ve had for a while, a staple in my bedroom setup. Nothing is wrong with it, and even better, I like it.

The process of moving really forces you to look at your stuff in a different way. Is the dresser worth paying $10-$20 a month to sit in a storage unit for a year? Is it worth renting a truck so I can move it to another state? No. The reality is, I could probably find something similar at the Salvation Army. And just like that, the history of that dresser, and moving it around to all my different places in Pittsburgh all comes down to a simple Craigslist ad: Dresser for sale, $55, must go by the end of the month.

As a sidenote, my awesome hairdresser just called and she’s opened up her own salon starting tomorrow. I guess May is bringing changes for a lot of people! As a final act of rebellion, I will be getting a non-natural colour put on some of my hair. Exact shade: to be determined.

33 days left in Pittsburgh

There are officially 32 days left until I leave Pittsburgh. It’s strange how much this city has become home to me. It’s now in second place for “Longest amount of time living in one general geographical area”. First place is still Western New York, though I would argue that Amherst, East Amherst and Lockport(-ish) are all so different that it shouldn’t really count.

I came to Pittsburgh as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in the Fall of 2010. Now I have 32 days left in my life as Assistant Director of Admissions at CMU, living in a row-home and shopping at Giant Eagle.

As my first entry, this is my official declaration to the world that I am going for it. After two years of living a fairly average and socially acceptable life (for a humanities major anyways) I realized that not only was I unhappy, but the one thing that took up most of my time (my job) was preventing me from doing anything about it. After being rejected from all nine MFA graduate school programs that I applied to, I knew I needed to take drastic action.

In 32 days, I will finish selling off my furniture, pack up what’s left into my car* and drive across the country from Pittsburgh to San Francisco where I will be living with my boyfriend and working exclusively on writing stories for my applications. I hope you will join me and see how it all works out!

Also, my name is Jackie Sizemore.