Category Archives: Moving to Austin

Going Vegetarian

There is a major change in my life… a new city, a new house, and… a new way of eating. After years of teetering on the edge and going back and forth on the issue, I have finally decided to take the step toward a vegetarian lifestyle.
Let me first say that I did not come by this decision lightly. A few years ago, my husband and I tried vegetarian recipes and swore off most meat for several months. Somehow we drifted back to our old habits. I guess I was afraid of being labeled a “vegetarian” and never fully committed. But I have always been interested and intrigued.
Then I started reading about factory farms and the myth that the food we eat comes from small family farms. It doesn’t… just go to www.themeatrix.com for the truth and you’ll see. The details are too gruesome for me to repeat. It convinced Andy and me to begin buying organic dairy, eggs, and meat whenever we could. As you can imagine, all are expensive, and it’s hard to find organic meat in our local grocery store. But we did switch to organic dairy and eggs and have never gone back. Imagine, if you will, creamy skim milk that tastes so fresh you’ll swear it’s 2%. And eggs that fluff up beautifully in pancakes and breakfast tacos. We tried to go back to the regular stuff… and discovered a metallic taste that I hadn’t noticed before. Nope.. we were hooked.
The meat thing — that was something different. Generally, I tried to remove myself, and didn’t think about where it came from. We rarely ate beef, but we did enjoy chicken, pork, and fish. But then we drove to Austin. We drove past miles of cattle fields, and I started thinking about where the meat came from. I started thinking about pigs and chickens and dogs and cats and cows and blood and animal screams and myself. And suddenly I couldn’t think about it anymore. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt overweight. I felt like something had to change.
New Years’s Day seemed like a good day to start. I thought that by eliminating meat I could pay better attention to my diet and hopefully drop a few pounds. Maybe in the process I would stop getting food poisoning. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like a hypocrite. I told Andy what I wanted to do, and he said he was ready to go there with me. At first I said I would eat fish. But after a few days and a little research, I realized that being vegetarian meant eating NO animal flesh and that I could get all the nutrients I needed with plant foods. My inspiration? A wonderful book called “The New Becoming Vegetarian.” It’s written by two registered dieticians and does of great job of explaining how each food group contributes nutrients and how to make the transition. A healthy vegetarian diet takes planning, but it’s very rich in flavor. To be honest, I don’t really miss meat. Well, it will be hard to leave behind sushi. And barbeque. But to be honest, most of the meat I used to eat was too heavy for me and made me sick anyway.
I’ve been meat free for three weeks now. I have to admit, it’s hard. It’s hard telling old friends that you no longer want to wonderful foods that you used to enjoy… like lamb kabobs and grilled salmon. It’s hard handling the jokes about vegetarians. There are a lot of nonvegetarians who don’t understand why anyone would want to eat only plant foods. I still haven’t found the right time to tell my own parents. I don’t want them to think that this is just a phase I’m going through… or another fad. This is something I put a lot of thought into and it’s complicated. It intertwines a number of issues that are important for me, like my health, my compassion for animals, and my sensitivity to our environment.
Does that make me some kind of new-age hippie? Does that make me a freak? Will people understand? I hope so. And I hope I can perservere. This is just a first step, and I have a long road ahead.

Hold on at the fork in the road…

In less than 2 weeks the furniture will be loaded onto a truck and hauled hundreds of miles south. I’m alone here in Nashville, packing the house. It’s falling apart around me. I started packing months ago, but now it’s really coming down and the reality of moving is sinking in. I don’t think I really felt it before. But now that the rooms are stark, save for brown boxes, it really feels like I’m leaving. The feeling is bittersweet. Do you ever want two things at once, but know that only one can happen? I want to move to Austin so bad I can taste it. I want to be with my husband, play with my dogs, live in my new house, get to know my brother-in-law better, and settle into my new Austin life. But I also want to stay close to my friends in Nashville, experience the seasons, see the azaleas and red buds bloom each spring, visit Big South Fork on a whim, and be just 4 hours from my parents. It’s all slipping away, and the only sounds I can make are a whimper and a sigh. Doors open, doors close. At each fork in the road we have to make a choice, and Andy and I made ours. Choices are always tough, and they come with consequences. Sometimes those consequences are good, sometimes they aren’t so good. That’s life. But while I accept that, I also can’t help but reflect on the past 3 and a half years. I’m so glad we moved here. Sure, the job didn’t work out. A lot of things didn’t go as planned. But I learned a lot, and a lot of really great things DID happen… friendships, life lessons, companions… SIGH. It was good. I just wish I could hold on just a little while longer…

Distance Loves Company

A word of advice for couples: if you can avoid long distance relationships, do. It’s not that they can’t be survived. A relationship can even be stronger after dealing with the long-distance frustration. But it’s hard. Really hard. Andy and I are dealing with our second long-distance relationship. The first one lasted three years and ended just before we got married. At the time, we had the luxury of taking turns to drive and see each other every other weekend. We were only 3 hours apart. This time, we’re three states apart and more than 500 miles. Fortunately, we have cell phones and unlimited PCS to PCS minutes this time. And with the holidays, time off to fly to see each other. Still, combine the stress of moving with that of the holidays, plus the strain of missing the one you love, and hearts tend to weigh heavy. I thought it would be easy. Only a few weeks and bam! It would be over. As it turns out, it will be a bit longer than we planned. In fact, it sometimes seems as if it will never end.
So I offer one more piece of advice for couples: hang tight, but if you have to be apart, talk as much as you can and let the other person vent, vent, vent. I promise you, they’re not mad at you. They’re mad at the situation and the stress, and it’s better to get out all those emotions. Pent up feelings can cripple you. Take it from someone who knows, and who’s been through this a few times herself.

Renter's Hell

Forgive me, but I’m going to rant for a little while… about how RUDE people are when they are looking for a place to rent. A little background… our lease is not up until July, and Andy and I agreed to help our landlord find a new tenant, so that we would be able to end our lease without any further obligations. That’s what happened when we moved in… the people before us were breaking their lease… but we didn’t sublet. We signed our own lease.
Well, I’m now in renters’ hell. I have people calling, getting the address, driving by, and cancelling. Okay, so the place is not as manicured as it could be… BUT IT’S A RENTAL!!!! What do they expect?! I’m just a renter, whose husband is 500 miles away, and can’t lift the lawnmower over the fence. ACK!! I had one woman call on behalf of a client (it seemed promising at first) who proceeded to lecture about what I needed to do to make the place more appealing. (Her husband had driven by with a video camera a day before the scheduled appointment) Well, for one thing, lady, you saw the tarp because I was cleaning and didn’t expect you today!!! There’s no “For Rent” sign out front!! Then she told me her client would sublet from me… Ummm… NOOOOOOOO. I’m going to be 500 miles away when the new renter moves in. There will be no subletting. Because I want nothing more to do with the house. Once the truck is loaded and I’m on the road, the house is history in my mind. She even tried to influence me by implying that I was desperate and should do whatever she says, otherwise I would be locked into the lease forever. Well so be it. I want to be with Andy now more than anything, but if I have to stay, I have to stay. As my mom reassured me… just be patient, and the right renter will come along. There is a reason for everything, and maybe Andy and I just need a little more time to find our first house. I’ve got friends putting the word out, and other prospective renters calling and setting appointments. So in the words of one of my best friends and boss… fuck ’em.

When life hands you lemons… throw them back

A character on the Simpsons once said, “When life hands you lemons, throw them right back.”
Hence the reason you’ve got to go with the flow during a big move and learn “on the job” so to speak. Here’s what I’ve learned about moving, so far.

1) It’s hard choosing a moving company, so go with your gut and do everything you can to protect yourself! I’ve read opinions on every moving company out there at epinions.com. Let me just say… the reactions were mixed at BEST. Not one moving company got a great rating. Everyone had the same complaints: not on time, took too long to load, scratched belongings, theft… just to name a few. I guess we could move it ourselves… but we’ve done that so many times, and we have so much furniture… it just doesn’t seem worth it, at least not for an interstate move. So I’ve decided to put my feelers out there and see what full-service moving companies can offer.

2) Buy insurance. My renters’ insurance doesn’t cover our stuff once it goes on a moving truck… so Andy and I will need coverage, just in case the truck never makes it to Austin. The government requires companies to provide $.60 per pound of coverage, but with 10,000 lbs, $6,000 would hardly be enough to cover our stuff in case of a major catastrophe. You know me… I tend to be cautious. Full-service movers will offer added coverage for an additional price, and it’s usually pretty reasonable. You have to ask for the service from self service movers, like PODS or ABF, but they usually contract through a third-party. As for UHAUL and RYDER… I have no idea.

3) Make sure you know everything about the moving company you’re about to hire! There are three categories of moving companies (in my opinion): self-service, full-service, and the internet/phone guys. The internet/phone guys get your name when you go out on the internet and ask a service like monstermoving.com to help you get bids. Some of the requests go to well-known companies… others are not well-know: the internet/phone ones. You should know that the way they operate is a little fishy. At least, I was suspicious when one called me one afternoon. Here’s how it worked… a guy called me from a call center somewhere (after getting my information online), and told me he wanted to give me an estimate on my move. He asked me to tell him what I am moving, room by room. He told me the cost would be lower because he was estimating over the phone, and that saves overhead. He said he would estimate the weight of my belongings on the high side and gave me an approximate weight and price. I would be required to pay a substantial down payment. I would find out the real price after the truck is weighed: the driver would call me and tell me exactly how much it would be while enroute to the new house in Austin. Now, I want to know who would be moving my stuff. The internet/phone dude said it would be one of their reputable “independent” contractors, and that everyone they use is good. But he couldn’t give me specifics. He also told me about some tarriff that would protect me, because apparently there was a Dateline special that uncovered how some companies were holding people’s stuff hostage until they paid their bill… which was substantially higher than the estimate. But the internet/phone guy assured me they weren’t like that.
Okay, there are a couple things wrong with this scenario. First of all, most reputable moving companies do NOT require a down payment. So don’t do it! The only reason the internet/phone guy wanted one was to secure my business with the company. Then, the company was going to take my move and put it out online for unknown movers to bid on.
Another thing… you should also know exactly what the price is BEFORE the truck is loaded. I’ve had two in-home FREE estimates so far, and they both gave me a GUARANTEED price. That means it won’t change, because they’ve already estimated the weight based on what they’ve SEEN in the house.
Besides… why should I have to tell someone what’s in the house over the phone? There’s a lot there to spout off. I could forget something… and I realized I did after I talked to the internet/phone guy… a gigantic steel shelving system we use in the kitchen as a pantry.
Oh, and guess what… they’re not any cheaper. The other two in-home estimates I received were both within $100 of the phone dude’s quote… and they won’t charge me more if the weight ends up being a little more than they estimated. (Unless I buy some big pieces of furniture between now and the move).
The internet/phone thing isn’t such a great deal after all, huh? It’s tempting to do everything over the internet these days, and in a lot of ways, the internet is wonderful… like for ordering boxes and getting opinions on van lines. But when it comes down to it, the internet and the phone can’t take the place of a good ole’ fashioned face-to-face meeting. And while it took time out of my day to meet with the moving company agents at the house, they were helpful and answered all of my questions. It’s a good thing to be able to look into the eyes of someone who wants to sell you a service that will cost thousands of dollars. Just keep that in mind the next time you move.

Reality Sinks In… How to keep it from biting.

At 12:37 pm this afternoon, a Sunday, the reality of our move to Austin finally sank in. Andy was gone. He had, after already turning around once to get his passport and SS card, driven off on his 2 day trip to Austin. He starts his new job in two days. I’m very excited for him, and I’m happy we’re going back to Austin. However, the actual move itself has turned into one big emotion for me. I find myself walking around in a daze, overwhelmed by everything I have to do to move our household to another city. Packing, moving estimates, appointments with prospective movers, and then there are the things that Andy has to do while in Austin that I just worry about. That’s what I do… I worry. I’ve come to accept it. I admit it readily, laugh about it, and then usually the worry subsides. Thank goodness… because if it didn’t, it would probably incapacitate me. It’s hard enough dealing with the mixed emotions I’m feeling already. You see, I miss Austin… a lot. I’ve missed it ever since I left, almost 6 years ago. I thought I would get over it, but I haven’t. That’s one reason why Andy and I are going back… we miss it. But, I’ve lived in Nashville for more than 3 years now, and I’ve really become settled… so it’s hard leaving my friends behind. You’d think I would be over that by now… I’ve moved many times before. Let me count… there was Pennsylvania to Virginia, to Missouri, then to Texas, then to Louisiana (even though I went to college in Texas), then to Sherman, then to Houston, then to Nashville. Whew… it’s easier to move from a city you hate, or a place that you didn’t get to know for long. But here, I have some great friends. They’ve become a great support network for me. They invite me over, call me, offer support. It’s wonderful. It reminds me of my last few months in Missouri. I was in high school and my friends tried to make it the best few months they could for me. The only problem with it? You miss your friends even more, and the actual move is much harder. But, then again… we didn’t have email back then. or cell phones. I know everything will work out. It always does in the end. In the meantime, I’ll focus on the here and now, and try not to be overwhelmed. I’ll do my best to make the house seem more lively… even though Andy is gone. I’ll spilt up the massive tasks into manageable chunks. And I’ll take advantage of those free Sprint PCS to PCS minutes I have, and call Andy, my folks, and my brother often… because those are the people who will always be there. Friends tend to come and go… but it’s family that is always there for you. My family has saved me before… and it will save me again. You don’t get through a major change in life like moving without that kind of constant in your life. You just don’t. So, if you ever move… keep your family close. That, my friends, is how you keep the insanity of moving from biting you in the ass.

Life in an Uproar

As much as I try to keep going about life as usual, it’s almost impossible now that the move to Austin is officially on. Our house has been thrown into an uproar, with boxes and clutter everywhere. I have to admit… some of it’s my fault. There probably wouldn’t be so much clutter if I cleaned the house as regularly as it needs. Cleaning is not my favorite chore. I love a clean house, but detest the actual cleaning process because it usually takes me days. Oh, yeah. This move is going to be fun.
Andy and I started by taking an inventory of our stuff and estimating the number of boxes we will need. Okay, let me just say that we have a lot of crap. We were liberal in our box estimates and added 20% to that. At the time, it seemed like a large estimate. When the boxes arrived I thought, “Yeah, this will be enough.” Ummm… I’m starting to have second thoughts. We still haven’t finished packing the downstairs garage room, and we’ve already used 10 boxes. Andy’s been throwing out a lot of his old papers… but we’ve already filled up the recycle bin. I guess that’s what happens when you settle into a place for 2 years. You collect crap. And books. Hundreds and hundreds of books. Andy tried to get me to give my books away because I don’t “read” them anymore. I like my books. I love having a library of my own. I may read them again one day. Or read some of them for the first time. I have a lot of books I haven’t read. Hence the reason I’m not allowed to buy books right now. I have too many to read as it is.
So, we’re cleaning out closets and rooms… looking for stuff we haven’t used in years. Because if you haven’t used it or worn it… will you? Probably not. There are five big garbage bags of clothes and hangers waiting to be picked up by a local charity, plus some kitchen items we don’t want. It seems like a lot, but it still isn’t enough to put a dent in the load of crap we’re moving. My only hope is that we will end up with a place that’s big enough to store all of this stuff so that we don’t forget we have it and buy more crap. Ahh, the cycle continues. Sigh….