I sorted through my collection of old letters and cards. Not to dwell on the past, but to follow the dictum of Socrates to examine one’s life. I tried to order them chronologically, first in a stack, but as that proved unwieldy I layed them out on the floor by year. The oldest was from the year 2000, so there is no record of my correspondences from the 1900s. Once the sorting was done, a pattern clearly emerged. There is not much from the early 2000s, then there is a big gap in the mid-2000s, when I was isolated and having mental health issues. Then around 2008 things pick up, as I stitched my social life back together and recovered from severe depression. The 2010s stack is nice and big.
Now it’s possible I simply lost older letters. Or maybe in my despondent period I was throwing them away. But the pattern jives with this thing I have where ever since the Global Financial Crisis and Great Recession my life has just been getting better and better. Not even Trumpty-Dumpty has slowed it down.
So thanks to all the friends and coworkers who have sent me invites and holiday greetings over the years. It’s nice to be able to look back at all the memories and milestones. It’s fun to see my employment history reflected in the names signed on holiday greeting cards. Oh – and one thing, people – when you are sending those holiday cards, please make sure the year is written on them so that we OCD people can put them in the right order later. 🙂
The final steps of my transplantation to Pennsylvania are being taken.
Week 6 – close on the house in North Carolina.
The transplantation process is almost entirely complete. I just need the driver’s license, vehicle registration and voter registration bit. And to get a library card. 🙂
This home was my castle for nearly ten years, the only real estate property I have ever owned. But it is a relief to be unburdened of it, since it wasn’t so useful hundreds of miles away. My relief was palpable to the notary who stamped the closing papers as I rushed to get them signed and overnighted yesterday.
Thanks, house, for taking care of me through my forties. I hope the new owner finds as much joy in you as I did.
Piles of boxes fill my apartment as I contemplate my astounding five week move from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. Here’s how to do it:
Week 1 – Phone interview from NC.
Week 2 – Drive up to PA. Look at apartment. Have on-site job interview. Get job offer. Drive back to NC.
Week 3 – Apply for apartment remotely. Get approved. Arrange for movers. Arrange to sell house to neighbors. Frantically pack.
Week 4 – Movers pick up possessions. Drive to PA. Unload car into apartment. Frustrated by movers not arriving. Snowstorm: job start is delayed. Continue arranging to sell NC house. Movers finally arrive at last minute.
Week 5 – Start job. Sign contract to sell house.
All of this was much facilitated by the ease of communication and process workflow that comes with the Internet era, and that the neighbors had their eye on my house. It also helped that so much of my house was packed already because of the Wrath of the Water Spirits. And, of course, that my BFF was waiting in PA to help with stocking the apartment with groceries and then with unpacking.
As the boxes have been opened and items sorted through, I wonder how I accumulated so much junk over the years. Why was I attached to it all enough to pay movers to transport it, instead of giving it away or selling it in NC? Probably because I was rushing and not planning or processing as wisely as I could have. A lesson for the next move. This old stuff has less value now; it feels like it belongs to a dead past. I want to pick at it like a scab, peel it away like dragon scales off of Eustace Scrubb as I emerge into my new life.
This is where I went to watch the solar eclipse, up in the mountains in North Carolina.
I didn’t take any pictures of the actual eclipse, just enjoyed it as it happened. I was in the path of totality, but not the center line, so it became dark like twilight, with sunset colors at every degree of the horizon.
Now I am back at my house in Cary, which has *almost* completed reconstruction since the water leak. Just a few little things left. And all my possessions are returned, but still in boxes. So feeling like I am at a crossroads. Going to give it a little thought, with this astrology article in mind.
This post is about a long vacation taken with my dear friend Aileen, which included a road trip to Chicago and then a four-day weekend in New York City. We did so many things in two weeks that I am calling it a “craycation” – the opposite of a staycation.
For the trip to Chicago, we rented an SUV, since we were transporting ourselves, three boys, and a large kaiju costume. Why, you ask? We were on our way to G-Fest, the world’s largest gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans! I have to thank Aileen for letting me share her kids, since I don’t have any biological children, but believe that it is fitting in my stage of life to assume some sort of fatherly responsibility for the next generation.
Well I was certainly given that chance, and it was a test of my endurance and my tolerance. It’s a challenge for me to be in a family because I have been alone for almost all of my adult life. Part of the logic of renting a full-sized SUV was knowing we would all be in close quarters for a week and could use the extra space. When the kids asked about its fuel efficiency I said, “It gets ‘Murica miles per gallon!”
We drove to Chicago via Pittsburgh and Cleveland, stopping at no fewer than four different museums on the way. The first was Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh, because I like history – so get you some history, boys!
In Cleveland we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is a lot of fun, and if you could make only one of these stops I would recommend this one. As we got closer to Chicago, Aileen discovered this place in a brochure at a rest area, and it became our bonus museum.
Once we got to G-Fest, Gavin joined us by plane. Then it was three+ days of monster fun, including movies, art, action figures, our second annual victory in the Kaiju Assault tournament, and of course the costume contest.
The return to PA was accomplished in an epic 13-hour drive in one day, made easier by the audio book of Watership Down. But there wasn’t much time for rest for Aileen and I, as we next drove to New York City to attend a Broadway teachers’ conference. This was for her work, and I was attending for companionship, learning, and to see some shows!
There were workshops, including learning dance moves from one of the dance captains from Hamilton, and other kinds of educational workshops which were new to me, although old hat for Aileen. There were talks and chances to learn about what life is like for professionals in the Broadway world.
And then there were shows, the two best of which were Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away. Oh, and let’s not forget a stop off at Madame Tussauds. 🙂
And just like that two weeks are over and this exhausted bear has to get back to the grind. Five museums, two conferences, seven stage shows and three movies later the bank account feels starved.
I am so grateful to Aileen for letting me into her family, for giving me the opportunity to tell Dad jokes while driving a gas-guzzling SUV down the hot and crowded highways of post-modern America, and experience a family vacation with all its tensions and dramas and excitement and joy. I’ve been alone most of my life, and I feel like I’ve missed out on much of what life has to offer, a fate for which I am fully responsible, since it all came out of choices I have made.
But I look around, and see how lucky we are to be alive right now. Our generation is at its peak in life, and we are making our mark in entertainment and in business and in politics, and it’s messy and it’s scary, but that’s just how my generation grew up to be, so we’ll just have to go down the road and see where it takes us. As my career continues to ascend, new possibilities open up for a life the feels like it has only just begun.
This is why I vacation like I’m running out of time, ’cause there’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait.
The ongoing saga of my encounter with the water spirits continues. My house is asbestos and water-free, but not tenable. While the insurance company takes its sweet time approving the repairs, I am domiciled in a residence hotel, in a cozy little one bedroom suite with a kitchenette. It’s turning out to be a life I could get used to.
Breakfast is free every morning, and each day someone comes and washes the dishes and makes the bed. So with a smaller space and maid service, I am freed from the drudgery of chores.
My bestie has come to visit, and we have made a number of excursions to places near the hotel. Our first was to a Cinebistro to see Wonder Woman. This venue is a sort of luxury movie theater, with good drinks and food served, and, astonishingly, no ads showing while you sit in your reclining seat waiting for the movie to start. A nearby taco place turned out to be similarly upscale.
The real treat was discovering that while at the hotel we have a pass to a Lifetime Fitness that is within walking distance. This is a gigantic fitness center with multiple pools and a huge floor full of fancy exercise equipment with touchscreen controls. With monthly fees four times the amount, it puts the dive fitness center where I am a member to shame.
The hotel is not too far from my all but abandoned house, where apparently an upper-middle class commercial mecca has existed of which I was unaware. It’s newer development than my neighborhood, and on the leading edge of a consumer trend toward higher quality services and experiences over commodities.
So now it feels like I have been cast from home and marooned on the shores of affluenza. With the insurance covering the hotel bill, I’m not sure if the water spirits were punishing me by trashing my house, or offering me a free spa vacation.
I know this is all going to come across as bragging, but it is where this bear’s life is at. Curiously, my personal trajectory has been on the up ever since the financial crisis. I am in a natural place, I suppose, for a lucky man at the peak of life.