Aug 24 2011
As a few offhand comments made in earlier posts (and no small amount of bitching on Twitter) alluded to, Lyssa and I have largely finished the task of relocating to a house in a small-ish neighborhood a stone's throw from downtown Washington, DC. We're not quite in the Sprawl anymore but you can definitely see signs of its encroachment if you walk a few blocks.
We'd lived for nearly six years in our apartment, a two-and-a-half bedroom deal that started to get pretty crowded a few years in (largely due to the fifteen bookcases split between Lyssa and I, but the sectional couch probably had something to do with it). There were other reasons for our move as well - I work in central Maryland these days and the toll the commute was taking on my body was considerable. Traffic on the DC Beltway being what it is, I was spending three or four hours a day on the road, which wasn't leaving a whole lot of time for other stuff, and I was pushing myself way too hard way too often (as evidenced by all of the sinus infections I've had in the past year). I'd also developed a persistent cough that never really responded to treatment. To put it another way, when you have allergies and you spend a week in the middle of the Appalacian Woods, and your medication-resistent cough goes away, you know something's wrong. So, Lyssa and I began the process of finding new digs - bigger, better, with faster net.access, and a lot closer to work.
We found a lovely two-story, three bedroom, three bathroom townhouse in a quiet neighborhood that, after a few tours and some research we liked more each time. More's the point, it's cabled for FiOS, but that's not really going to be an option until the fallout of the Verizon strike settles. The house already had been wired with a LAN but it took some head scratching and asking a couple of questions of our landlord before everything started making sense - Lyssa works from home and I do so from time to time, so connectivity isn't a luxury for us, it's a basic requirement. The kitchen is larger than our old one (possibly twice the size), and there is a real washer/dryer combo in the basement (no more $3.50us per load laundry days!) Also, my daily commute is now something like an hour in total (okay, maybe 80 minutes if traffic is particularly bad on the Beltway during the afternoon).
The move went as well (or as badly, depending upon your point of view) as it could have. When you start boxing up all of your stuff, in a way you're yanking out your sense of stability and security. Then comes finding someplace to stack all of the boxes... the first day we'd packed nearly forty boxes (all books) and in so doing we lost a lot of floor space. By the end of it our apartment was a claustrophobic Tetris-like nightmare of boxes, furniture, random stuff that doesn't fit nearly in boxes and, let's call it what it is, wreckage. A few rolls of industrial-strength plastic wrap, of the sort used to secure stuff to wooden shipping pallets came to our rescue a number of times. When it comes to keeping drawers from falling out, wrapping walking sticks into a bundle that won't inadvertantly cause damage, securing laundry in baskets, or standing in for missing or ruined lids of file boxes, accept no substitutes. However, when you have two people stuck in close quarters who practically know what each other are thinking and feeling and are tearing their home apart tempers are wont to flare, angry words are exchanged, and each makes the other a little more upset each time. Plus, when a deadline looms and you both have to sacrifice more and more sleep after work to get everything done...
It turns into a Lifetime made-for-television movie.
Suffice it to say that Lyssa and I are doing just fine, but we said a lot of things to one another in anger that we really didnt't mean. For a while we were both running on only three hours of sleep a night - not enough to get any rest, or even enter REM sleep. I still don't know how we made it through last Saturday, the day of the move. We hired Two Guys and a Truck to do the actual work of loading, hauling, and unloading stuff for us, and it was easily the best $1300us we'd ever spent. Bright and (way, way too) early on Saturday morning three movers with a 26 foot truck pulled into the driveway of our apartment complex and made scarily short work of our stuff, from the boxes of books to the sectional furniture to just about everything else we were taking with us. The movers carried stacks of three boxes at a time with the ease that I ordinarily associate with carrying a paperback book around. We called in a few favors from local friends who helped us pack and move the fragile stuff (all the computers, the home entertainment center, the good china, and sundry other stuff) and by sunset on Saturday Lyssa and I were relocated in all but name.
I had some help shuffling bookcases around the house because Lyssa was going for a theme based upon the color of the varnish on the wood, but once that was done I set to cutting open boxes and unpacking stuff. We'd already settled on whose rooms were whose and what they were for (Lyssa has the gameroom, I have an office off to one side, and the bedrooms are upstairs), and I was anxious to get my books organized and shelved. In seriousness, that was secondary to being able to collapse the cardboard boxes and stack them in the basement (yes, we have a real basement that I'm coverting into a gym-cum-data center) to free up floor space, and I needed to start building the house LAN as quickly as possible. By Saturday morning our apartment had begun to resemble a cheap knockoff of a maze in an animal behavior lab and I really, really wanted some elbow room. And a book to read in between wolfing down Chinese takeout (I hadn't eaten since 0700 that morning) and alternating water and Gatorade (did I mention that late August in DC is hotter than a soldering iron?)
We're almost done getting everything set up. The home entertainment center is assembled but hasn't really been tested yet because we still can't find all of the remote controls. I have most of the network set up in a rack downstairs but don't have reliable net.access to test it with yet (plus, Lyssa works during the day and I'm not anxious to mess up her workday with one of my experiments without ample time to fix things in case something goes sideways). We all have a few boxes that we have yet to determine the contents and eventual destinations of, and somehow I managed to lose three crates of clothes hangers during the move so we were able to unpack and put away only a fraction of our clothes (though one did turn up in the kitchen, of all places). Still, this is a really nice house and we're rather enjoying taking our time getting everything just the way we like it.