To Add To A Pool


Maria's in Bridgeport

Maria’s in Bridgeport

I threw myself five going away parties in two weeks, and I highly recommend it. I created a single Facebook event for all five, and invited basically everyone I know. At the start of each one I showed up by myself, unsure who, if anyone, would come meet me, and every time, people did. I never knew who would turn up so it was basically a series of delights, all lined up one after another. All in all, I saw around 40 people, including a surprise out-of-town guest, and ate a lot of good bar food. Thanks to everyone who came to see me off.

I was telling someone at my final party at Maria’s in Bridgeport that I don’t feel the anxiety I felt when I left Columbus, over long-distance friendships. When I moved to Chicago, I felt like I was starting over from scratch. Now it feels more like, instead, I’m about to add to an already bad ass pool of friends. I’ve always been pretty good at keeping in touch, but it’s easier now than it’s ever been.

I have friends I only ever interact with via text, or email, or gchat, or Facebook, or Instagram, and that’s fine. As long as your platform isn’t the actual phone, I can keep track of you — and I’ll even make special phone exceptions for some. No one is ever far away as long as there’s Skype for coffee break catching up, or Snapchat for inside jokes. Now I can even keep tabs with Fitbit — this past weekend I did a step challenge with Stef and Jaimi and we messaged each other within the app the whole time. It was nice. This weekend I’ll be doing one with my best friend from my Ohio hometown, since there’s no reason we can’t do these from different cities.

I didn’t really make many July plans, and got my going-away tour wrapped up before then. I’m just not really sure what my state of mind will be in those last 12 days. I’m doing everything I can to be as prepared as humanly possibly for my move, and the last big hurdle will be this Sunday. The Beans are helping me drive my 10 moving boxes down to Union Station that afternoon, where I will wave goodbye to half my clothes and all my kitchenwares and hope they’re reunited with me in Portland two weeks later. This is the time where I need to remind myself that stuff is just stuff, and the things with real sentimental value will be with me and Dad in the car. Plus, the Amtrak shipping experiences I’ve read about have been positive, so here goes.

One thing I did plan for July is Mamby on the Beach, a two-day EDM concert happening July 11 and 12. Despite the fact that I leave Chicago very, very early the morning of the 13th, I sprung for a weekend pass with Liz so I can finally see Passion Pit (among others). Beyond that, it’s going to be a really busy week and a half in my office as I prepare to leave and wrap up a bunch of projects. This Friday, Stef and I just blocked out the entire day to hang out together and do whatever we want. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a long weekend.

I can’t wait to be in Portland, and I am excited to get settled in. I hope some folks will come visit, and it would be nice to have at least one planned visit to look forward to. But at least I’ve got two Ohio trips, and at least one Chicago/work one, happening in this latter half of 2015.

Transferring to the Rose City Wreckers

Logo for the Rose City Wreckers

(image via)

The moving countdown is at 19 days, and while I am sad and nostalgic for a lot of things, one thing I am seriously concerned about is the fact that I only have two more roller derby practices before I leave. My last practice is in Lombard on July 7, less than a week before my dad and I drive off. Once I knew our set dates, I visited the Rose City Wreckers page to see when their next orientation is. My heart sank when I saw I’ll be just missing one, being held July 11. The next one isn’t until Saturday, September 5. Given that I get to town July 17, I’ll have some time to kill.

There’s plenty of open skate times in the evenings at Oaks Park, the roller rink in Portland where the Wreckers (and the Rose City Rollers) skate. That means I can at least skate on my own and practice what I’ve learned since December. It’s just less fun alone, and one of my big motivators for transferring to Rose City is to meet folks at practice. The Wreckers hold practice three nights a week. Now, I could never, ever agree to that kind of time commitment here in Chicago — but starting out in Portland, it will be a godsend. Too bad I have to bide my time for a few weeks. I’ve just resigned myself to using that gap wisely and cross training as best as I can before orientation. To aid this, I bought a Groupon for a six week membership at a women-only gym in NE Portland, a 15-minute bike ride away from where I’ll be living. Those six weeks between my move and orientation had better be filled with me working out like crazy, having nothing better to do with my time in a city where I don’t know anyone yet.

Best laid plans, right?

I just hope the women in Portland are half as supportive, kind, and amazing as the ones I’ve been criminally spoiled by at Derby Lite.

I already know of a couple skaters in Portland, thanks to the internet, and the fact that both of them have written books centered around the world of roller derby. When I’m not working out and making myself leave my apartment, I’ll be working on my own book. For the last few months, I’ve been working on an outline for a memoir about skating and learning how to play derby. This plan may mean I’m writing less about the sport here for this site — but if you’re interested in being a volunteer chapter reader, I’ll love you forever.

I have a spreadsheet of things I need (not want, need) to do before I leave, and it makes me nervous, but mostly I am thrilled and exhilarated and anxious to get to Portland. I have a ton of things to be thankful for right now, and I keep reminding myself of those. I hate saying goodbye to people, but it’s also not as hard this time as it was when I left Columbus. I feel more connected to people now than I did then, and I worry less about our abilities to keep in touch with each other. It’ll just mean more Skype coffee dates and a little more time zone math than I currently have to think about.

Chicago to Portland: The Logistics Of Moving Across the Country

Map showing the Amtrak Empire Builder route from Chicago to Portland.

I’ll be envious of my stuff’s train ride (image via).

Once you decide to move across the country, the next thing you need to decide is what all is coming along with you. It pretty much comes down to one big question: Will you get a U-Haul, or won’t you? Of course, there are a lot of options in between, and so I went with a combination of plans:

  • Purging stuff (do not underestimate this one!) (~65%)
  • Mailing flat-rate USPS shipping boxes (~10%)
  • Using Amtrak shipping (~15%)
  • Packing the rest in my Cavalier with me and my dad (remaining ~10%)

Did you know you can use Amtrak to ship up to 500 pounds of your stuff from Chicago to Portland for less than $300? The catch is getting an array of boxes to Union Station, but we’ll get to that.


I’d done purges before, but the one I did this spring was a doozy. I held a yard sale in April (pissing off my building’s stick-in-the-mud condo association, even though I had the permit the city of Chicago requires). I got rid of most of my smaller furniture there — end tables, ottomans — and lots of clothing. I sold some larger, individual pieces on Craigslist, like my desk and my bed frame. I gave people back the stuff of theirs I’d borrowed (mostly — I still have some of your books, friends). Christina and John volunteered to give my couch a home. I made a Salvation Army pick-up appointment for the very last of the large furniture items, and some random bags of donations. The Salvation Army dudes took the bags, but refused to take the furniture because it was not in good enough condition to be displayed in a showroom. I thought fast and bribed them to take the items to my condo’s alley (further pissing off said condo association).

USPS Shipping:

But before that, one of the first things I did to prepare for my move to Christina’s back in April was to go through the books and other heavy (but small) stuff that survived the initial purge and pack them up in USPS flat-rate shipping boxes. The large ones are 12″ x 12″ x 5.6″ and cost $17.50 to ship, no matter what they weigh. That means, you can mail yourself a bunch of heavy stuff in 10 boxes for $175. That said, I might put these on my Amtrak shipment, depending on the total weight of the stuff I own NOT currently in USPS boxes.

Amtrak Shipping:

Now, back to Amtrak: 500 pounds is the maximum amount of weight they’ll allow for one shipment. I’m hoping to come in under that, but if I don’t, I’ll just mail some of those heavy-ass USPS boxes to my new apartment the week before I leave Chicago. The full 500 pounds would cost a person $274. That’s a steal, but as I mentioned, it means getting up to 500 pounds of boxes to Union Station in downtown Chicago. I either need a real good friend with a car to tag along with me in mine, or I need to shell out $128 + tip to use Dolly, which bills itself as “the Uber of moving.” I am fine with hiring a Dolly, but my big concern is, what happens if Amtrak refuses to take something? Will that Dolly fee double if they have to go back to my house with some boxes?

Amtrak doesn’t require you make an appointment to drop off your stuff, but I have no idea where in Union Station you’re supposed to carry it all. I’m setting aside Sunday, July 5 as a tentative Amtrak drop-off date. I don’t leave Chicago until the 13th, so that means I’ve got some wiggle room in case Amtrak can’t take something I need shipped. It will also mean my stuff will beat me to Portland — lucky for me, Amtrak will hold onto boxes for $3 per box, per day.

Packing the Car:

If Amtrak and/or the USPS boxes’ travel plans work out by Friday, July 5, that will mean I’ll have that last week to play some Cavalier Tetris. However, if my shipping plans go well, it also means I won’t have much to put in the car. (We’ll see how true or untrue this ends up being.) In any event, I’ll be buying this giant duffle bag I can strap to the top of my car — it’s got a capacity of 15 cubic feet, and is 44″ in length x 36″in width, and between 14-19″ in height. In there, I’ll be putting all my framed artwork and posters, plus cramming in whatever clothes I’ll keep with me for at least two weeks (July 6-July 20). Inside the car itself, I’ll keep my Kitchenaid stand mixer, record player and records, and my skates — all particularly precious cargo, trust me. Hopefully all this stuff fits, with enough room for my dad to be able to roll both front seats back. He’s a tall dude and I’m a short lady who doesn’t think about that stuff.

And finally, friends Matt and Carie were sympathetic to my cause and offered to give me their old car’s bike rack. I need to pick it up and test it out, so I know Scout will be secure as we head across several states. (I couldn’t part with my lovely bike.)

So, there you have it — best laid plans, right? Good thing Dad reminded me he’ll need room for HIS suitcase, or else every inch inside the car would have already been accounted for.

Five Years Before Now

In recent years, I’d written before here that I would never move out of state again, because it was really hard to do once. To that I am forced to say, never say never – and that I’m nothing if not an eternal optimist.

I did worry, once the idea of moving to Portland crept into my mind, that maybe I will just always repeat a pattern of making a drastic move five years and starting over, having made a mess of wherever I’d been. But I don’t think that’s what happening here. First of all, I didn’t make a mess of my life in Chicago; I built up a network of loving, wonderful friends – most of whom are incredible women I admire. I worked for a fun company with international name recognition and learned what I like and don’t like doing in my job. I made co-workers into best friends and then, after some time, took my career in the direction I’d been waiting for. I got my life on track in Chicago, in some big ways. And I’m taking some of those ways with me to Portland, or at least what I learned from them.

I never really made a mess of Columbus either, even if it felt like it at the time. I just felt lost, working at a job I hated and no longer wanting to be with my college boyfriend. I was drifting, and I had the sense to make a change for the better. In some ways, this is that — new and improved.

But then again, there are lots of things that are different between this move and my move to Chicago five years ago. When I moved here, I did it without a job and without a home. I’m glad I did it, but I’m even happier to not to do it again. As of this week, I have an apartment lined up in Portland and my company has officially announced that they’re letting me keep my job remotely.

The biggest change from five years ago until now is myself. In 2010, I was self-loathing and on the verge of a depression that hit me hard a few months later. Even though I’ve been through a lot since I got here, I am a lot happier with who I am, and about 100 times more comfortable with myself. I value my time and am clearer on what I want and need in a way I wasn’t then.

If you’re not happy, change something. If you doubt who you are, change the story you tell yourself about yourself.

I want to make the most of my last five weeks here. I’ve been collecting two-second video clips of my last 100 days of living here, and editing it as I go. It’s not even two-thirds done, but I get nervous with every clip I add. One more day gone, I think, and hurry off to count the ones that are left. I look forward to sharing it next month, with everyone here who has meant so much to me in Chicago (and Ohio).