Getting There

A change of plans means that instead of driving from Augusta to North Carolina and then to Chicago, I’m just going straight to Chicago. I’m in Bowling Green, Kentucky right now. I’m quite happy to be staying in this Drury Inn which is really pretty cool. For $64.99 I have a pretty decent room with free DSL in the room. Plug in the connector and it just went. I really liked that. It’s actually why I stopped here, since they cannily have a giant sign hanging on the building. Given that I was tired and ready to crash for the night, if you are going to spend about that money anyway, might as well do it at the place with free internet, right?

Another half a day of driving, and I’m there for good. Good lord, I can’t wait.

Last Post from the House

I have to take back the cable box and the cable modem, so this is the last ever post I’ll make from the house in Atlanta. Just when I think I have a handle on all the details of this, another crops up and makes me change my plans. Oh well. Life in the big cities. This time tomorrow, I should be with my family in Augusta, as part of the “farewell tour” of the Southeast. Man will I be glad to have this process over!

Delirious

Lack of sleep, anxiety, the isolation of living by myself in an empty house are all driving me batty. For no good reason other than a workplace dare, I shaved my meager facial hair into a “fu manchu” mustache. Sadly, although it’s been a week since my last full shave, you can barely notice it. I was hoping for a Lemmy Kilmeister look, instead I have a “you’ve got something smudged on your face” look.

Now is the point in this final final move that was much like that 10 minutes before the moving truck got here – the point where things stop being important. Things I would have liked to do but didn’t get to are getting jettisoned. My plan was to get the house ready, pack up my stuff in my car, go to work and then just leave for good from work. I don’t think that’s going to happen, as I’m not sure there is enough time. I might have to come home for lunch, do whatever needs doing and possibly not go back to work if there is too much of that. I always underestimate how much work is involved in this kind of thing. Repeat to self “It’s almost over.”

Winding Down

I’m walking through my house, boxing up the little bit of stuff that didn’t go on the moving truck, cleaning up and generally getting the place ready to be unoccupied for a while. I am just so completely worn out! I don’t want to be doing any of it. The downside of it is that it sucks, the upside is that there is only at most one more day. Tomorrow evening I drive to Augusta to see my family, then I will spend the rest of the weekend with my wife and father-in-law in Goldsboro NC. From there, I drive to Evanston for good. What an exhausting finish to an exhausting couple of months! I can’t wait to be settled in the new place, with nowhere to go (and working from home indefinitely) and lots of time to get things how I want it. Packing is more stressful to me, because there is only so much time – when you have to leave, when the moving truck is pulling out the stuff must be packed. Unpacking can take as long as you can stand the box sitting there.

I’m getting detailed to death. This evening I realized that I never got the stuff from the safety deposit box and that I still have to turn in my cable modem and cable box. I have no idea where to go to do that. The details keep on coming.

Demography

Teresa Nielsen-Hayden has a post about web sites that locate good cities for you as well as some comments about the general perception of certain areas. She includes a reference to this neighborhood finder thingie. Just for grins, I ran my current neighborhood through it and got this as the demography:

Southside City: Solo Parents & Single Service Workers – 37.28%
Young Influentials: Upwardly Mobile Singles & Couples – 15.02%
Gray Collars: Aging Couples in Inner Suburbs – 11.96%

Putting in the new neighborhood gives this:

Money & Brains: Sophisticated Urban Fringe Couples – 21.79%
Bohemian Mix: Bohemian Singles & Couples – 20.16%
Young Literati: Upscale Urban Singles & Couples – 15.89%
Mid-City Mix: Urban Mix, Singles & Couples – 13.81%
Towns & Gowns: College Town Singles – 11.91%

That’s us – a “sophisticated urban fringe couple.” Does fringe modify the urban part, or the couple part?

Planes, Pains and Automobiles

In 3 hours, we start heading to O’Hare to get me back on a plane. This is the third time I’ve left Evanston/Chicago for Atlanta, and each time I less want to even go back. Hopefully, Northwest can get me back there on the same day as was originally scheduled, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. We did go exploring a little yesterday after a monster day of unpacking, and went out to Lincolnshire to eat at the Red Robin. We really developed a taste for these joints back in Portland, and we were delighted to be able to eat at one again. It’s kind of a haul out in to really suburban suburbs – it makes Evanston look positively urban – but it was worth it. There’s also a Trader Joe’s on the way, something else we have missed from our Portland days.

Boxville

Today is unpacking, rearranging, breaking down boxes, and to break things up a little, more unpacking. Slowly, this is place is changing for looking like a warehouse to our home. My office is still mostly untouched, with all bookshelves bare and the books themselves in stacks of boxes looking like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I do have the Linksys WAP set up, and now have the beginnings of our home network going. One bit of a problem – it appears that the Comcast cable modem network here is different than in Atlanta. I don’t believe that things are routable into the network, meaning that I can’t have a webserver or ssh into my network from outside. That kind of sucks, actually. Luckily, I now have the Rackshack box. Since I had already set it up to be my interim mail handler machine, I think I’ll just set up SpamAssassin on it and make it my permanent mail handling machine. I had always intended for the Rackshack box to be the stable and permanent version of stuff I experimented with on the home Linux box. Now I guess I have no option other than to do things that way.

NW gets worse

And then my 8:56 AM flight this morning, for which I diligently arrived at the airport at 7:40 AM, actually left at 11:30. The whole reason I took this NW flight with the connection was to be in Chicago Friday night. There was a Delta direct flight that left first thing Saturday morning. My wife thought I should take it, but I didn’t want to get there Saturday, I wanted Friday. By the time I got to O’Hare, I would have gotten there sooner on the direct flight. I don’t even want to use the return flight on NW. By the time this is over, I will never fly them again. I’ll go Amtrak before I fly Northwest.

NW Airlines

… stands for No Way will I be flying with you again. I had a 6 PM flight from Atlanta to Detroit, connecting to O’Hare. Because of storms, there was a backlog of planes taking off from Hartsfield so we sat on the taxiway for 55 minutes after we were supposed to leave. That 55 minutes is magically the same amount of time I had as a layover, so I thought it seemed highly unlikely that I’d actually make that connection. I knew this and I was prepared for it. When we got off the plane, it was 8:58 and my flight was supposed to leave at 9:00. If planes are late all over the country, though, it seemed possible that maybe my flight would leave late enough that I could make it. I ask the gate person where the flight to Chicago is, and she says “A seven five”. I look up and I’m standing under a sign that reads “A 7/5”. This confuses me and I say “Aren’t I already at ‘A seven five?'” pointing at the sign. Rather than saying “No I mean seventy-five”, she just tells me “It’s at the other end of the concourse.” I’m a little confused, and I look at the departure screen, seeing no reference to my flight. I don’t know for sure that she’s giving me good information, she’s being completely bitchy and snarky and generally non-helpful. She also fails to mention that there is a tram that runs the length of this concourse. I take off doing the OJ sprint — really the OJ race walk — down the length of this very long concourse. It must be close to a mile. Even with the slideways, it takes me over 10 minutes to get there. When I do, there is no one around at that gate. I now can’t tell if I was given a bad gate number and this gate was never in play or if the flight left on time and everyone, including all Northwest personnel are just gone. I ask the people at an adjacent counter, and they say the flight left on time. Which means that at the point I began this trek, it was already too late. Instead of hustling my fat ass up and down this concourse for 30 minutes, I could have been up at the ticket counter trying to get on another flight.

I’m now walking around the Detroit airport, which is laid out really funkily and I can’t tell where anything is and the signage sucks. I finally get up to the counter after asking multiple airport people how to get there, and I’m 10th in line of people who have been stranded. There is one, count her, one, Northwest ticket agent redirecting people. After a while another person opens a line, and I finally get up there. My only option – a flight that leaves at 8:56 AM, 11 1/2 hours from that point. There is nothing they can do, no connection flights that they can put me on. I’m trying to get 200 miles and you’d think I was trying to get to Tuva by the reactions I got. “At this time of night, sir, there just isn’t anything.” It’s fucking 9:30 PM! Maybe I’m spoiled by flying back and forth between Hartsfield and O’Hare, the numbers one and two most busy airports, but shouldn’t there be some signs of life even as late as 9 or 10 PM on one of the biggest travel days of the year?

They won’t put me on another airline, they won’t put me up for the night, and they won’t rent a car for me to drive from here. Now, I don’t blame them for the missed flight because the planes got to fly. I missed the connection, it happens, c’est la vie. Fine. Every interaction I have had since that with a Northwest employee has been like pulling teeth. People have failed to give me the information I needed, been generally not helpful, and basically made this an ordeal. Now I’m spending the night at the Doubletree by the airport at the reduced “Northwest has screwed you” rate, but still. I don’t want to be here. I really was considering just renting a car one way and getting it over, except that I’m just too tired for that. I’m not as big a road warrior as some, and this is the first time that I’ve been stranded overnight on a flight. I can say that Northwest is the airline of last resort for me from here on out. They have sucked beginning to end and I’m not home yet – they still have more ways they can suck. They are now my second choice on flights. First choice – every other airline.

Back on the Plane Gang Pt 2

I get on another plane today, heading back to O’Hare. I know for some people this isn’t that dramatic, flying every week but for me I’ve done more flying in the last few months than I do in most 2 year periods. I have an angry screed I wrote in the O’Hare last week, full of anger at how I have gotten the “special search” on 5 consecutive flights. I changed my mind about posting it here, but if they single me otu today (making it #6) then I will post it.

I will be happy to see my wife and dog, spend a little more time in the new house, go to the neighborhood Labor Day cookout, and such. I’ll be packing the Linksys box with me, so I can set up the network in the new joint and hook up the wireless. It’ll be nice to get my e-mail, weblog reposting, my FeedOnFeeds setup and all that stuff back to normal. It’s been kind of in a transitional state ever since I packed up the home network to put it on the truck. If I had only thought to take the Linksys with me last week, it would have only been down a few days but I ain’t that smart. Nothing seems better to me right now than getting things back to normal (really, better than the normal of recent months.) Oh, what a dream.

Back on the Plane Gang

In an hour we leave for O’Hare for me to fly back to Atlanta. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave my family, I don’t want to leave Evanston, I don’t want to be in Atlanta any more. I’m there to tie up loose ends and to get myself out of there as soon as humanly possible. I’d rather be up here, riding my bike around town, walking my dog through the new neighborhood and getting to know this place. My incentives now are to bust my ass and to get myself done at work, get everything wrapped up and to get myself in a car heading north once again.

Mama I’m moving out (and in)

I’m now in Evanston with our stuff. After a hellacious drive yesterday, I got here around 11 AM CDT. I left atlanta at 4:30 PM EDT, and got as far as Lafayette, IN before I gave out. The good thing about that is that I only had a little over 2 hours to get the rest of the way after I started driving this morning. The movers are here now, and slowly this place is transforming from an empty shell to something that resembles our home. In this house, the whole downstairs is my domain and there is plenty of room to have my office, all my books, my toys and my comics. I love it! I’m going to set the desk up so that I can look out this great bank of windows onto the backyard. For the first time in 6 years, I have a space where basically all my comic books can be roughly accessible at the same time. There’s a little nook off of my office where I can stack them 3 high, so at most I have to move 2 boxes to get to anything. That’s a giant leap up from having them in a 4X4X5 foot storage space where I owned them but required an hours effort to get to anything.

The above was pasted in from my laptop. It’s now several hours later. The movers are long gone, all our stuff is actually in the house but in that freshly off the truck complete disarray. I treated myself to a little time wandering in downtown Evanston tonight to unwind. I ate a big Polish dog for dinner, the kind of thing I think of as a Chicago dish. I tried to get online via the pay wifi at a cybercafe but it never did work right. Instead I just had a latte, watched a little of the Cubs game and left. I happened by a record store that was open, and I bought myself a present, the movie soundrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’m listening to it now, man are those songs good. With any luck I can find sheets and go to bed soon. I’m happy in that exhausted but satisfied way.

Move half over

Of the two halves of a move, the first half is by far the worst. All the preparation, packing, worrying is front loaded. After your stuff goes on the truck, a calm settles in. That’s where we are now. Because there is no other stuff on the truck, our drivers are heading straight to Evanston. They were willing to be there first thing on Thursday, but I asked them to stall till lunchtime Thursday to give me a little more time to get myself up there. Tomorrow I hop in a car with the dog, and point the car north by northwest. Since our cable is supposed to be hooked up Saturday morning (and cable modem as well), conceivably I could be back to normal by the weekend. Incroyable! Breath is not being held, though.

All in all, once the movers got here everything got better. There were only two of them, but they still managed to knock out the whole deal between 9:30 and 4:30. They didn’t pack much – we had already done 85% of the stuff – but they did the crucial things like dishes and highly breakables. The driver is a dead ringer for a bearded Tony Soprano! I wish I had a digital camera so I could post a picture of this guy – Gandolfini to the core. They were solid Illinois boys, no nonsense and heading back home so they have every incentive to book it on up. I liked them a lot. 48 hours from now, I should be in a house in Evanston with all my stuff.

10 Hours to Go

The movers get here in 10 hours, and we are at the point where our willingness to cut bait on things gets greater and greater. Our porch is full of the boxes from the storage space, and we decided that rather than try to get the love seat into the house, we’ll unload it into the driveway tomorrow morning and let the movers get it from there. I still have to go get the comic books (18 long boxes!) from the storage tomorrow morning. I’m trying to sort half-filled boxes of crap into all full boxes of less overall crapiness. More stuff is being thrown away, more books left behind. I still feel like an idiot packrat.

They’s Always Something

It is 12:30 PM. The packing crew was supposed to be here “between 8 and 10 AM.” This ain’t good. They are about 90 minutes from getting cancelled altogether. On Saturday, I was convinced I had made a horrible mistake not having them pack everything. Now, I think we could have done it ourselves.

More Moving

The terror and near panic I felt about the move yesterday have faded, to be replaced by the baseline feeling that I usually have about most things – that I’m in slightly over my head. Now the strangest things are occupying my thoughts. The Linux box in my office is at the center of my e-mail world. It fetches mails from all my accounts, I ssh to it to read it when I am remote, etc. The thought of unplugging it and putting it on a truck Tuesday has thrown me in a tizzy. What shall I do? Do I set up an account on my RackShack box and then change my DynDNS to point to that? All my spam fighting stuff in on that box – do I have to face the world with the spam back? This is one of the lesser concerns of the day, but it is eating at me.

As much as I want this move, I made a huge tactical mistake in setting it up for us to do some of the packing. It could be so different – I could be focusing on stupid things like the computers if we weren’t having to box things up. The amount of money we’re saving this way, I now would gladly spend to have it be different. However, when the movers show up first thing on Monday AM, there is no way to change what was set in motion on Friday. Chalk this up to my ongoing ability to achieve very difficult things and yet fuck up simple things.

Moving Blues

Another Saturday morning in the storage space, another 50 pounds of stuff pitched. I really wish I could throw away half of my possessions. I’m trying to toughen up, but it is so difficult. I set a box next to the the boxes I’m packing books into. This is the box that gets run to the library or to the Salvation Army. I wish I had the strength to put more in it. There are maybe 50 books are so that I’ve had the will to chunk so far. Realistically, I couldn’t read the books I already own in the next 10 years so why do I keep lugging them from place to place, costing me $0.40 or $0.60 a pound every time? Ye gads, this stuff is hard to do and takes a toll on a soul.

Dr. Slusher

Got the call a few minutes ago, my wife passed her thesis defense! I am officially the husband of Doctor Slusher now. I love it! Pop the champagne for her, it is a day of joyous celebration.

Mad

While D is madly working on her thesis defense talk (tomorrow is the day!) I’m sitting nearby and providing moral support, mostly by being in the room for company but silent to let her work. I’m trying to catch up on my FeedOnFeeds stuff and blog the interesting stuff. I ran across this bit from Chad Orzel’s Uncertain Principles about how he just stays mad. I feel the same way. I got really pissed off at work today, I get pissed off while driving. So much seems so infuriating. Some of it is the times, and the very real feeling I get that Things Are Just Wrong In This Place. That goes for Atlanta the city, the US as a place, at my job, in my neighborhood, inside my skin. That’s part of why I think I’m looking so forward to the move to Chicagoland – it’s partly the goodness of the place, and partly because it’s Not Here. The thought of starting over is often the biggest drag and scariest part of a move. This time it is what I long for. I’m begging to start over. Like Art Alexakis sings in Everclear’s “Summerland”:

Let’s just drive your car
We could drive all day
Let’s just get the hell away from here
For I am sick again
Just plain sick to death
Of the sound of my own voice
We could leave behind another wasted year
Get some cheap red wine and just go flying
We could do the things,
All the things you wanted to
No one cares about us anyway
I think I lost my smile
I think you lost yours too
We have lost the power to make each other laugh
Let’s just leave this place
And go to Summerland
Just a name on the map
Sounds like heaven to me
We could find a town
Be just how we want to be
No one here really cares about us anyway

Yes, my friends, this is exactly how I feel. I also feel like these lyrics from Amy Ray’s “Black Heart Today”:

i got a black heart today
no amount of kindness can turn it the other way
even the dogs are tired of me
howling at the trees
take this meanness out of me
i got a black heart today

These people have my number.

Another Bad Day

This day has just sucked. The thesis preparations continue, and they Are Not Fun but they are almost over. I can’t do anything directly to help, so I’ve been proofreading, cooking, doing laundry and trying to keep obstacles away so that the thesis can be finished. Work kind of sucked, and I was on the verge of losing my temper at a co-worker who seems hard of listening. We have a problem, I have explained what it is and why it is a problem multiple times in the last few days and we seem to have the same conversation every day. And then, something happened to the hosted box that I am too embarassed to admit publicly, but it was my fault, it sucked, and I’ve been cleaning up after it off and on since early this afternoon. This is a day to be glad it has finished and then burn this page from the day calendar. I’ll forget it ever happened if you will.