Friday, March 9, 2012

Stuff is a five letter word.

Stuff. I've got a lot of it. After 6 years in my house, I've got all sorts of kitchen stuff, linens, pictures, books, furniture, craft supplies, clothes, shoes... stuff. I do not wish to take it all with me. In fact, I see this move as an opportunity to lighten my load. There's a grand tradition of folks who have gotten rid of all of their wordly possessions and hit the road with only the essentials in their pack. While I'm not about to get rid of absoultely everything I own, I would very much like to pair down to possessions that can fit into my car and no more than that.

A friend called me up this afternoon to tell me about one of those "lightning deals" on Amazon today- a light lamp- you know, one of those S.A.D. lamps for the winter- was marked way down. Well, I said thanks, but no thanks for two reasons. For one, I've now switched to frugal, money-saving mode. No more unneccessary spending! Also, I have decided not to accumulate any more stuff between now and the move. If I get to Alaska, and I find I need a light lamp, I'll get one then.

It's scary to think of getting rid of stuff that's been with me for years and years. I'm not a huge packrat, but I have held onto many knick knacks from different times of my life. I have old report cards from elementary school, lots of Burning Man swag (stickers, pendants, etc), old t-shirts, and all sorts of other items that have no value other than sentimental value. I'm going to have to say goodbye to most of it! Someone once told me about a technique to keep your clutter under control. If you haven't used, looked at or worn something in more than two years, take a picture of it and throw it away or sell it. My plan is to slowly go through my nostalgia items, photograph and discard them. Then, I can always have the memories without the burden of transporting and storing them. I'm sure there are some extra special items that I won't throw away, but I know there's lots that just has to go. It's going to be quite an exercize- scrutinizing everything that I possess and determining whether or not it will come with me.

Bug Carnage, 2008

The secret is out... to some.

The secret is out... to some. It's been about 10 days since I made the decision to move to Juneau, and I told my parents last weekend. After the initial conversation (which was a tad awkward because of the shock factor), I didn't hear from the for a couple of days. They needed to process everything. Without getting into the specifics of what my dad and I talked about in a lengthy e-mail exchange and over dinner last night, I will say that leaving my parents is definitely going to be the more challenging part of my east coast exodus. I got a pretty emotional response from my dad at first- which was a little tough to take in because he's not usually an outwardly emotional fellow. But true to form, he quickly moved on to all sorts of practical questions. How am I going to pay for health insurance, what I am going to do for work, will I be able to save enough money, etc. All of the fun bits.

The circle of people who know about my plans is growing, and I'm going to try to keep is as under wraps at my job as possible. That could be a problem because of good ol' Facebook. While I'm not going to post anything about my plans any time soon, I worry that someone who does know will say something "out loud", and I'm friends with tons of students, staff and faculty from the college I work at. The good news is that if people do find out sooner than I hope for, I think everything here will remain cool. I have an amazing boss who loves and adores me- and the respect goes two ways. I'm not worried about anyone making things difficult for me here because I am so well respected and liked by the whole community. 

So far, my immediate family and some extended family know- so do the people I live with, my closest friends and a couple of my most trusted confidants at work. I don't really love keeping secrets so I'm sure the numbers will grow in the coming weeks.

Temsco Helicopters, 2010

Friday, March 2, 2012


I ran into a good friend tonight, and we decided to grab a drink together. We walked in to the first place we saw that looked good- over by the Prudential Center. We sat at the bar, and struck up a conversation with the bartender. She ended up comping our drinks- it was wicked nice of her to do that! A few minutes later, based on a conversation I was having with my friend, he got me to ask the bartender a hypothetical question: Would she rather A) Work for a year or B) Collect $250,000 for a year, but not be allowed to work? She would take the money, of course! She said, you can fill your time with all sorts of interesting things other than work. She then said she would like to travel!... And she'd move to Alaska... specifically Juneau.

Our jaws dropped.

Essentially, if this woman could do ANYTHING she wanted, she would move to Juneau, Alaska... simply because she thinks it looks like an interesting place. She doesn't even know anyone there. She showed us her phone and how one of the cities she has set up in her weather app is Juneau. "Look, it's 34 degrees and snowing in Juneau!". I am taking this as another sign that I am making the right decision. I'm not the only one around town who, if given the chance, would pick up and move there.

At dog camp on the Juneau Ice Field, July 2010

Telling the 'Rents

As of right now, I have not told my parents. I'm waiting to see them in person... preferably in a crowded place... I kid. I think my parents, who live nearby, will be sad that I'm moving, but they'll support me. Both of my younger sisters have moved away- although they live driveble distances away (Pennsylvania and New York City). When the second of my two sisters moved away last summer, my parents looked at me and said, "...and then there was one."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Beginning.

Eight months seems like a long time to wait. I'm impetuous. When I make a big decision, I don't like to wait long to put my plans into action. What's that phrase? You only live once? Shoot... I think this is going to feel like two separate lives for me, but what's stopping me? I'm going to move to Alaska.

I've spent most of life close to home- Massachusetts. I've been a Boston city girl for the last 7 years after growing up in surburbia and a 6 year haul in Houston, Texas for college. I'm 31, have no children or partner. I have a job at a small music college which I enjoy very much, but it doesn't pay a whole heck of a lot and there's no real room for advancement here. I've been feeling like I'm not doing very much with my life lately. I need an adventure!

I've been to Alaska many times- thanks to having family in Juneau. I was less than a year old the first time I went (so I obviously don't remember that trip), we took another family trip in the mid-1980s, and then I went for 3 weeks in 1994 before I started high school. In recent years, I've been back twice (2008 and 2010), and I have plans there again this summer. I've been all over southeast Alaska: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Kake and Haines. I've also been to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and Fairbanks, and Denali National Park (my favorite spot yet). This summer I'll be back in Denali for a few days, and then I'm spending a week doing volunteer work on Prince William Sound.

I have an aunt and uncle in Juneau, and they've been trying to convince me to move there for years. They see something in me that screams ALASKA!!, I guess! I toyed with the idea of moving there a couple of years ago. I started the application process for a program, Alaska Transition to Teaching- you earn your Alaska teaching certificate while teaching in rural communities, but I couldn't go through with it then. I might revisit that idea next year. For the time being though, the plan is to move in with my aunt and uncle, find some work and save money for a while. They've been calling their house "The Hostel" because other cousins and young family members have stayed there while figuring out their next life move. I'm glad to know I'm not the first one to do this.

Me with Wilbur at Sue and Larry's house in 2010
So the plan, for now, is that I'll attend my sister's wedding in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in October- arriving with the car packed and ready to go, and then leaving on the cross-country trip afterwards. I'd like to go sooner, but it wouldn't make sense to fly back to the east coast so soon after leaving. Plane fare is expensive to and from Juneau. I love long road trips and it will be fun to figure out what route I'll take. There is one large complicating factor, though. I will have my cat with me. Sigh.