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!

1 day: This is it!

My final day in Pittsburgh. It’s a concept almost to weird to think about. I spent my last night in the apartment on a spread out sleeping bag with a rolled–up towel for a pillow.

Meeko was surprisingly snuggly and slept next to me most of the night. Snickers was stressed, so she spent her night hidden under a towel in her donut doggy bed. She’s moved around so often, and had so many different owners that every time someone starts bringing out the suitcases she thinks she’s being left behind. This morning she started chomping on some plants growing out of the bricks on our patio. Poor Snickers!

My 5 day Memorial weekend went by very quickly. I said goodbye to some places and wonderful friends. My boyfriend came in from California and we made big progress on packing up the house. Right now, we still have some errands to run before we start driving towards Charleston, West Virginia tonight. These include giving Meeko a bath (she stinks), doing my nails, dropping off the cable box, sweeping the floors, throwing out everything left in the kitchen, and putting the last suitcases into the car. Then we’ll eat some Whole Foods sushi and start driving.

Luckily Ashwin is a master “Tetris-er” as in stacking things to fit. I’m sure he will have no problem fitting us, two dogs, and my life in duffel bags into the car. At 5pm my time as an Admission counselor at Carnegie Mellon University will be over, but I am sure this decision will bring me a world of new adventures– maybe even a career too!

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.

8 days: Mixed feelings

Last night while driving back from the storage unit, wondering if not taking the doggies for a walk would make me a bad dog-Mom, it hit me– I’m going to miss Pittsburgh.

I’ll miss the view of downtown from the Fort Pitt Bridge at night, skyscraper lights reflecting off the Monongahela river disrupted only slightly by waves from the river cruises. I’ll miss walking through Shadyside, watching Meeko attack all the little prickly seeds things on the ground. The awesome city parks, and the gross man made “pond” in Schenley that Snickers always wants to go swim in. I like being able to walk onto my campus anytime I feel like it (especially when I’m not headed there for work).

I’m sure my feelings for Pittsburgh are heavily influenced by the greatness that is Carnegie Mellon. As my Mom is always reminding me, “This was your dream school, and now you are the one making decisions that make kids dreams come true!” My response is usually some sort of teenage eye roll “gosh Mom I knoooow.” But in many ways it’s true. Carnegie Mellon is a dream school for the true nerd, the person who loves learning and gets satisfaction out of working hard in their field. The atmosphere on campus is a wonderful mix of quirkiness, opera singing, bagpipes and SciFi references. I loved it so much that I didn’t want to leave, and now that I am, I worry that the real world just isn’t going to be quirky enough for me.

In those moments, I can always turn to the famous “Come to my Mellon” tumblr. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here Part of me wishes that my admissions talks could simply be opening up that site and asking if they found it funny or not. (Yes=admit) Good idea? Or best enrollment strategy ever?

So thank you Pittsburgh and CMU, it has been a wonderful 6 years! I can honestly say I’m not sure I would be the same person had I ended up at any other university or city. Hopefully the San Francisco alumni will keep the love alive!

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.

Puppy Timeline Part 1

There has always been a Sheltie in my life. When I was really little, we had Gallie, an oversized Sheltie with an overbite. When I fell down a ditch into a riverbed, she ran back to our house barking at my Mom until she followed Gallie to my rescue, Lassie-style. Turns out ‘Gallie’ was short for ‘Galleria,’ as in the mall. When I discovered this I felt genuinely bad for her.

Then there was Misty, aka Moose. I was in 6th grade and my biggest wish was finally coming true– my parents told my sister and I that we could each get our own dog. I had my heart set on another Sheltie, while my sister was debating between a Beagle or a Jack Russell based solely on the cuteness of their faces. My Mom, sister and I drove out to the first breeder we’d gotten in contact with. She bred show dogs, and had one puppy left from her latest litter of champions. I remember sitting on her couch, listening to the sounds of about ten Shelties barking at us from outside, when she placed a tiny Sable Sheltie into my lap. The breeder began to explain that she was the runt of the litter, and that she would probably stay pretty small. I looked down and the puppy had fallen asleep stretched out across my lap. I sensed this dog and I had something special, so I whispered to my Mom that we didn’t need to look anymore. Moose was my “soul Sheltie,” like a soul mate only fuzzier.

While I was still in college, Moose had sudden kidney failure and passed away at the young age of 10. My sister’s puppy pick, Snickers, was depressed for weeks. At meal times, she kept waiting for Moose to sneak up and steal her food. She looked for her in every room. When I graduated from college, I became the only family member that was in a position to take Snickers. I moved her down to Pittsburgh, happy to have a dog back in my life. But the idea of having another Sheltie was always in the back of my mind.

After several phone calls, emails, and begging, I finally found Meeko’s breeder at Merlyn Kennels. She had a litter of Sable puppies due at the end of October 2011. There were five total, three boys and two girls. We started visiting the puppies once a week in December, not knowing which of the two girls we would get.


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.