Some Oregon Beauty

The Columbia River Gorge, as seen from Vista House

The Columbia River Gorge, as seen from Vista House

Weekdays aren’t so bad for me in terms of getting out and talking to people. I’ve been good about going to Collective Agency, a coworking space here in Portland, to work remotely. There’s always a group of people working there, happy to walk to lunch at the food truck pods nearby together. I like them a lot, and it’s interesting hearing what other people do for work that allows them to do it from wherever they like. It’s interesting hearing why they choose to do it where they do.

Most evenings I go to Coffee Time, which I said in a previous post is at NW 23rd and NW Johnson when it’s actually at NW 21st and NW Irving. The people working there recognize me already and are friendly. There are always tons of people inside and outside, so I can sit wherever I want to listen in on other people’s conversations and chess games. I don’t really talk to people there, but it’s nice to be around them.

Weekends have been harder; My first weekend here, I frantically ran errands and made my summer cold and cough worse from overexertion. The second weekend, I wrote in my TinyLetter about getting very emotionally invested in Bojack Horseman on Netflix and being unreasonably sad when there was no more of it for me to watch by the time Monday night rolled around.

This past Friday, I went to a couple of bars by myself, but felt strange in both. I stayed out at the second one a while, listening to music, but never talked to anyone. I went home and slept for nearly 10 hours in a baking-hot apartment that still doesn’t have the AC unit I ordered last week.

I wasted away Saturday. I keep doing this thing where I leave my apartment and wander aimlessly before giving up and going home again. Part of it has been the heat, but part of it has been a frustrating lack of direction. My brother was home when I called him around 8 my time that night, meaning it was after 11 in Ohio. It felt so good to talk to him, and he offered some advice on how to set up my furniture after I gave him a video tour. I admitted I’d been having trouble making myself go out and talk to strangers.

“There’s an ice cream place two blocks away, where there’s always a line out the door, like Jeni’s,” I told him. “People complain about the wait, but I’ve gone there three times since I got here. I’ve got the time to wait in line for ice cream.”

I woke up Sunday morning, late. It was 9, but I saw I already had a text from my dad saying a friend of his was in Portland on business with his son, who is my age. They might want to meet up, he said, so I decided to get ready for the day in case they called. While I was in the shower, Betsy texted — the  girl who is the daughter of a friend of my dad’s I mentioned. She wanted to know if I wanted to get brunch, and just like that, I had plans.

I met Betsy at a cafe in her neighborhood. After we ate and got caught up on the last 20-something years, she asked me if I’d been to Vista House yet. I told her I didn’t know what it was, and she asked me if I wanted to go. I did.

She drove us west on I-84, the way my dad and I had come in a couple weeks earlier. We took a winding back road to  a gorgeous structure on top of a peak, which overlooks the Columbia River Gorge and everything else around. It was breathtaking.

“I’m glad you asked,” I told her.

Vista House

Vista House

She wanted to see how bad the congestion was at Multnomah Falls, probably the most famous waterfall around, and a huge tourist attraction. I’d spent months double-tapping photos of the falls on a range of Instagram accounts, and I wanted to see it in person. On the way to the waterfall, we found another, one neither of us had seen and one I’d never heard of. Latourell Falls was easy to get to and you can get even closer to it than you can Multnomah. We stood at the base of a giant, beautiful waterfall and felt the spray from it hit our legs and our faces. It was already the first non-90-degree day in several, but right then, I finally felt comfortable.

“This might be even better than Multnomah,” Betsy admitted.

I’m glad she said that, because it turned out we couldn’t see Multnomah that day. Too many people had had the same idea, and there was nowhere to park. I’d never have guessed parking would be a concern at a natural landmark, but welcome to Oregon, I guess. We headed home, glad to have seen what we did.

I’ve been thinking about Latourell ever since.

Latourell Falls, from a distance

Latourell Falls, from a distance

I told Betsy in the car about how my dad had a friend in town, who I was supposed to meet up with later. I mentioned that he had yet another friend, with yet another daughter our age, who had just moved to Portland.

“It’s so strange,” I said, “I feel like Portland must be made up of all of these daughters of hippies who migrated here.”

She laughed.

“That seems fitting, actually,” she said.

I’m going to Astoria on the Oregon coast on Saturday with my Chicago-turned-Portland friends, Christina and Kiernan. Then I’m going hiking with Betsy on Sunday. It’s nice to have trips and conversations to look forward to.

Latourell, up close and personal

Latourell, up close and personal

Why Living Alone is the Best

I mentioned last week that one of the joys I’ve now experienced in living alone is picking out my own stuff. It’s been a week now, and I have some other things to add to the list of why living alone is awesome. Maybe I won’t want this forever, but for now, this is the very best thing for me.

  • Netflix decisions are mine alone: Do I want to watch all of season one of Bojack Horseman while ostensibly unpacking? Why yes I do. And you only know that I did that because I just told you. No one is here to judge, or to dare suggest we watch something else for a while. Or go outside.
  • Face mask with abandon: I can put on my gross dead sea mud mask and forget about it and, when I remember it’s there an hour later, it’s cool because no one else has seen it. It’s just me and I am into having smaller pores.
  • Working out: I haven’t been able to do my Jillian Michaels DVDs for years for three reasons: One, they are insanely hard; Two, no matter how comfortable I was with whoever I was living with, I never felt okay with anyone seeing me do these ridiculous moves; three, there’s a lot of jumping involved and downstairs neighbors really hate jumping. Now I live above a garage. NO EXCUSES.
  • Mess is mine: What’s that, Vance Joy? Who left all these gross Trader Joe’s salad containers out on the counter? Me. It is always me.
  • Groceries: I am the only one eating what’s in the fridge, and no one is tempting me with junk food. If I buy another carton of dark chocolate peanut butter cups and eat them in two days that is entirely my own fault.
  • Kitty: I can and will get a cat and no one will be inconvenienced by said cat but me, and I will love him/her unconditionally.

I’m sure there will be more to add to the list as they come up. But for now, I’m off to go conquer the art of not feeling weird eating alone in restaurants. Bye!

Welcome to Portland

blue-kitchen

I didn’t even paint that wall that shade of blue.

I live in Portland now! It is mostly lovely, despite the fact that I moved in at the start of a heat wave and I have been sick for nearly a week. Major props to my dad, for putting up with a very grumpy passenger (and driver) for 2,000+ miles. We had a great trip together full of stops we dragged the other to unwillingly, but also stops we agreed were awesome (the Badlands) or overrated (Mount Rushmore – come at me).

There’s a lot to say about our road trip, and I am working on that essay this week for a different site. But for now I am just happy to be here and mostly settled. I live in Northwest Portland, in the alphabet district, and near NW 23rd, a fun shopping and restaurants thoroughfair. I am a mere three blocks from a Trader Joe’s, where I have been twice, mostly to buy orange juice and popsicles since absolutely no food sounds or feels good right now. When I was there the first time, I heard a boy – maybe 9 or 10 – ­­absolutely screaming at his mom for her to buy him sushi for lunch and I thought, I am not on planet Earth anymore. A lot of the packaging of items I am used to buying there is different here than in Chicago, too – there’s less of it. I’ve been careful to bring my reusable bag for fear of side eye, although I can say tons of people still use the paper ones provided. That’s good for me, because what else am I going to collect my recycling in?

I am already noticing lots of Chicago and Portland differences, in simple stuff like walking down the street. I got used to ignoring people in Chicago after being broken of what Christina used to generously call my “Ohio Nice.” Here, people make eye contact and smile, so I’ll have to train myself all over again.

Cars defer to cyclists and pedestrians in a way that my dad could not help but notice. I’d experienced that back in October during my first visit, when I toured the whole week by bike. At one point when my dad was driving my car, a woman and her young son started to cross the street. When in Rome, my dad must have thought, and halted the car to a sudden stop partially in the crosswalk. He waved his hand in what he meant as a kind, “after you!” gesture, but, since done out of practice, may have been mistaken as an annoyed “wtf” motion. They timidly crossed, and I was proud of my dad.

After he left, I explored a little on my own, when I felt up for it. I went to Coffee Time, at Johnson and NW 23rd, and the owner was friendly right off the bat. I told her I’d just moved, and she gave me a couple restaurant recommendations. She had gorgeous blonde dreadlocks which I admired with a swell of envy. I wanted dreads so bad when I was in college but did you know that if you decide you don’t want them anymore you have to shave your head?

I saw her again today, and she remembered me. I’m not sure she’ll recognize me next time without my glasses and my too-sick-to-bother top knot of hair.

Despite feeling terrible, I made voyages to both Target and IKEA to start my new apartment. There is such a joy in picking out your own things. I’ve done that before, but never for an entire place – just for my room, or a bathroom. Now, I can pick things I want and put them wherever I feel like. I bought one of those ridiculous white gauze canopies you hang over your bed because I always want one. They are wildly impractical, but I don’t care.

“I hung up a curtain rod,” I texted Stefanie. “I’m gonna make it after all.”

My stuff got here via Amtrak without a hitch, and at a lower cost than expected. The guy who helped me get my stuff brushed me off when I asked where I should go to pay my storage fee. Amtrak is amazing, and if you ever need to move your stuff across the country, I recommend it fully. All my boxes were accounted for and in great shape. The same can’t be said for one of my USPS boxes which, unless I am much mistaken, is now full of shattered drinking glasses. It was packed really securely, too.

Dad was still here, as was his visiting Salem, Oregon cousin Jenny, when I found a desk I liked at a yard sale. The man selling it offered to let us borrow his push cart if I bought it, so I did. Dad pushed that desk six blocks, mostly uphill, and moved it into my apartment. I steered from the front, and Jenny supervised – Dad did the hard part. Parents always get stuck with the hard parts, don’t they?

One other thing we did when Jenny was here was go to Powell’s. Dad wanted to see if any of his book were on the shelves there, but Jenny beat him to it. She went to the front information desk and made a big deal over him, just like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

“He’s a famous author,” she drawled, as Dad ran away in humiliation. “Once we find him, he’ll be happy to sign any and all copies of his books you have for sale.”

It turned out they did have his most recent book, and Jenny got the manager to slap “Autographed” stickers on all the copies he begrudgingly signed. It was hilarious and I regret nothing. It served him right for Friday morning when, 200 miles from Portland, he let me believe he was serious about doubling back to Walla Walla, where he’d accidentally left his hat.

We have such fun, he and I.

I am glad he drove across the country with me. I am glad I am here, and I am even glad I am sick now and not the week before I left Chicago. Here, I at least don’t yet know what I’m missing.

Dwindling Baggage

This is what will be going in my car (giraffe not included)

This is what will be going in my car (giraffe not included)

It’s July! I hope you had a great Fourth of July weekend. I know I did, since it was full of time with friends, eating and drinking too much, and checking things off my to-do-before-moving list. That list is getting mercifully shorter, and a big item got checked off today: My nine Home Depot boxes are on a train headed to Portland right now, thanks to Alex and Becky. They packed up the boxes in their much-bigger vehicle and I followed them in my car to Union Station.

There, Amtrak weighed my boxes which, as I wrote before, had to come in under 500 pounds total. Mine collectively weighed 229 pounds, confirming my suspicion that I have zero concept of weight. I had at least weighed what I believed to be the heaviest one of them, by standing on Christina’s scale while holding it. It didn’t weigh even 45 pounds, and I knew almost all the others were lighter. I just didn’t realize how MUCH lighter. Provided I’d had another willing friend with a vehicle, I could have moved a LOT more stuff than I did.

The process of getting the nine boxes to the belly of Union Station was strange, but it wasn’t the logistical nightmare I’d been picturing. I worried I’d be wandering aimlessly around Union Station’s lovely atrium, staggering under the weight a single box in my arms. We went nowhere near the atrium — I’d called the week before and was told there is a loading dock. Once you clear a security check, complete with bomb-sniffing dog and armed cop, you’re directed to exactly where you need to go, where Amtrak employees help you carry your stuff. It was a lot more organized than I had expected, although the second I was assured my boxes were good to go, a million new worries immediately formed for me to chew on instead.

“I’ve just given myself a 12-day stomach ache,” I told Becky, watching the men load my belongings onto a large hand truck.

Now I can spend every moment between today and July 18 worrying that my stuff has not arrived/is in shambles/is lost and gone forever.

But hey, at least it was cheap. The total cost was $138.10, and then I opted for the $15 insurance add-on. If it doesn’t work out, maybe the insurance will allow me to replace whatever is lost or damaged.

Seven flat-rate shipping boxes (mostly books)

Seven flat-rate shipping boxes (mostly books)

On Tuesday before roller derby practice, I will be mailing my USPS boxes to myself from the post office by work. It kills me now, realizing I could have included those boxes in my Amtrak shipment, but maybe the cost would have been comparable since those boxes in particular are so heavy on their own. Once those seven USPS boxes are out of the way, all I’ll have left is what’s going in/on top of my car and what I’ll be leaving for a Salvation Army pick-up appointment.

This weekend was perfect weather, and I got to do a lot of things I wanted to do. I went to a cookout in Bridgeport to see friends and was surprised when I found myself choking up. When you start crying while hugging your friend’s mom, whom you’ve only met twice, you might just be entering a tough time. Chicagoans be warned. I was obnoxiously happy for about 90 percent of this three-day weekend, and hit with surprise pangs of sadness or realization for the other 10. This percentage wasn’t helped by how I felt when I found my mom’s glasses tucked away in a box — I’d completely forgotten I even had them, and the forgetting made me sad.

I almost can’t believe I won’t live here anymore a week from tomorrow.

I tried not to make many July plans, like I wrote earlier, but the next few days are filling up all the same. Outside of that I’m just letting myself do whatever I feel like in any given moment and not letting myself feel bad about my choices. For my last derby practice Tuesday, Becca volunteered to meet me in Lombard and get video of me skating, something I’ve wanted this whole time. I’ve been wondering about my form for the last seven months, and also I am very vain.

I said a lot of goodbyes this weekend and so many more are forthcoming. I hate that part. I can’t let myself believe anymore that I’ll see most people again in the next seven days. It was easier to think that when it was two weeks, or two months.

It makes me glad I got my farewell parties out of the way before it really was time to say goodbye.

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.

Purging:

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).

A Portland To-Do List

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 5.57.01 PM

I have spent the last year and a half waiting on a lot of things. I waited to see if I would get a new job and be able to afford my old apartment without my ex-boyfriend. I waited to see if I was going to be able to keep the cat I had been fostering for several months. I waited to see if I would seriously connect with another person so I could stop asking myself if that would ever happen to me again. The answers came as, yes to the job! No to the apartment, no to the cat. No to connection (for now).

I think, when I get to Portland, I’m going to live by myself, after all — It’s what I was eventually going to work toward anyway, so now I’ve just decided to skip a step. I thought about living in a group house in Portland; it would be cheaper, and I’d meet people. I’d do if for a few months and then move to a place by myself, or to a place with ONE roommate instead of three or four. But as much as I liked this plan, part of it made me still feel like I would be waiting. I don’t want to wait to see if I find a cool roommate or a cheap one bedroom, and move to Portland knowing I’ll move again in a few months.

Keeping my work life separate from my home life will be a challenge, because the two will share a space approximately 230 square feet in size. But ever since Stefanie sent me a link to a converted hotel apartment building, I’ve been picturing myself living in it. I don’t own stuff anymore; this small space won’t look as empty as the giant one-bedroom apartment Kevin and I spent time and money filling up. All this place will need is a bed, a desk, and a chair — life over here, work over there. I think I can separate the two spaces with some creative feng shui (and some of these IKEA shelves). My friend Becca is great at stuff like that and had some great suggestions.

I want to rely on myself for a change, and sign a lease on my own for the first time in my life. I’ve never walked into a housing situation alone — I’ve just ended up that way a couple of times. I like living by myself. I just didn’t like living in a too-big, empty, ex-boyfriend-haunted apartment. No one would.

I’ve been scared for a while because I have dated a few dudes in the last 18 months, but they haven’t felt the same to me. I worried for a long time that it was because I had lost the ability to feel anything for anyone; those guys were great, yet I remained unmoved. But now I think it just means I’ve gotten better at knowing when something isn’t right. So for now, I am borrowing hope from the future. There’s a dude out there, and  — let’s be real — probably a few of them. I’m going to meet him/them eventually, and it’s going to be pretty awesome.

So here’s a list of things to do after I hit town, in order of priority:

  • Sign lease for quirky, converted hotel studio apartment
  • Adopt elderly Portland cat
  • Transfer to Portland roller derby outfit
  • Find buddies to hang with
  • Meet cute, bearded Portland dudes who are into cats/ladies who like cats

The more clearly I picture myself there, the more impatient I feel for it to be my reality. That is, when I am not thinking about how I need to cram as much hang-out time as I can with every single Chicago person I know and love. It’s a big ol’ bucket of conflicting emotions these days, but I am so, so happy.

I can’t wait/I need more time.