Because there's never enough time to do it right the first time but there's always enough time to do it over
Here you'll find an old fart of a Baby Boomer who is trying to start her life over. She has been many things to many people in the past and is now once again trying to find herself here in the 21st century. Check out my thoughts, opinions and lessons learned. Add your own, if you dare!
Though MM and I had initially taken some rough measurements of available wall and floor space in my new digs, the drawings she had extracted using those measurements were rudimentary at best and incomplete/lacking in some important details at worst, though they did suffice to enable layout of the very minimal furniture (bed, chest of drawers, TV) that served me in the very beginning, immediately after move-in. They were also just correct enough to confirm that the chofa she helped me select could be configured to fit into the open living room space, pre-shelves and tables.
As much as I hate to confirm the accuracy of some historical stereotypes, in this case it turned out to be true that the guys took the same measurements as MM and I had previously, but with much more exactitude and foresight for placing my new furniture in an optimum configuration. Perhaps that is based on especially T’s experience as a hobby woodworker (witness the game/dining table he’d just built and installed for the kids) who repeated on this occasion an appropriate adage I’ve heard before. “Measure twice, cut once”, though in this case it was more like measure once, then enter the measurements into some software, then play with the layout and then place furniture once.
MM’s sketch – much better than anything I could do
See what can be done with the right equipment, software and skill set!
The net result was a very quick and efficient furniture shuffle on the second day of MM’s in-laws’ visit that yielded what might just be the best use of the space and furniture I currently possess. An extra bonus of this higher level and semi-hands-off design process netted me the use of one of my “new” tables and lamps at my bedside and one set of the “new” shelves as additional pseudo-drawer space, thus enabling me to complete the unpacking and organization of my clothes and freeing one of the four folding chairs I’d moved with me from use as a nightstand so it could now be employed in the use for which it was intended!
An earlier post The Road to Kalamazoo for Daughter #1 just briefly mentions in passing the fact that Mini-Me’s in-laws live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Also noted in the same paragraph is the fact that this had enabled a convenient arrangement for combined family get-togethers when MY family (idiot ex and me) lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (Not surprisingly, the fact that this friendly roundup is no longer feasible is just one of the many issues that still sticks in my craw post-divorce.) I could go on and on about how wonderful T and K are and have been since the moment I met them. I really wanted to grow a strong bond of friendship between the former us and the former and current them pre-divorce. I still want to do this though the previous us is now down to only me. This still slightly painful though continuously less difficult process is still ongoing and, in some ways, made easier through their observations and real-time experiences with my alcoholic serial monogamist idiot ex-husband to which they’ve been subjected since the kids’ wedding three years ago. They were even privy to the new and probably uncomfortable (as Mini-Me told me it was for her last Thanksgiving) experience of meeting my “replacement” aka (Wife) #4!
Next to the kitchen, and there’s no delicate way to make this point, the bathroom is the next most important room in the life of a foodaholic. Most of what goes in the mouth must come out at the other end of the body. IDK if alcohol is a laxative (I’m pondering the possible effect on what was grossly and way too easily expelled from the asshole of the idiot ex in his bathroom). Coffee used to have that benefit for me but, as I’ve noticed, for babies and old people (mostly the Devil Child and Mom and me), some of us have the opposite problem.
I have been taking fiber and stool softeners regularly since my first (right) hip replacement surgery, after I learned that a BM was required before I could be released from the hospital! This output is monitored by caregivers for both babies and old people. In my family this info was liberally shared, generally as a kvetch, a complaint and an excuse for otherwise inexcusable behavior. I didn’t move the toilet plunger I’d invested in for and hidden from Mom while I lived in her house. I thought I’d learned what worked in these situations (plugged toilets) from personal experience and observation of idiot-ex on those occasions when I couldn’t do it myself and had to wake him up! Mom had avoided upgrading hers by calling on her more than very helpful neighbor, “Saint Joe,” to accomplish this task which was always his pleasure (to be helpful, not gross!).
After searching high and low over an expanded list of brick-and-mortar sources (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s – another new favorite) I invested in what I thought would be an economical and efficient set of both bowl brush and plunger. In the “end”, though, both have turned out to be mostly useless. Hard water requires extra scrubbing to remove (or at least diminish since I clean only when I feel “moved”) toilet and bathtub rings, so I don’t use the brush from the set which also included what I thought was the ultra-deluxe kind of plunger, the one with the knob on the end. To this day, I don’t know if it’s me in my weakened and female state or the equipment, but the damn thing has never worked, as I just explained to my apartment maintenance guy. That right there is reason enough for me never to own my own home ever again!
So, when MM’s wonderful in-laws came to deliver the game/dining table that T had hand made for the dining room in the kids’ new home, I ended up surreptitiously and almost though not quite unconsciously recruiting them to help me settle in here. Here’s how it went.
The elder Mights arrived at the home of the younger Mights (MM + EG + 2 of my 3 grandcats) late on Saturday. I’d followed their progress just a bit by checking on their expected arrival time so as not to arrive at MM’s place too early or at the same time. When I did make that short trek between her house and mine, the new larger table had just been set up and the older smaller table had already been carried down to the basement. Here is where the story starts to get deep!
By deep, I mean unfortunately into the subject of clogged toilets. More specifically, my clogged toilet, a condition which only seems to occur on weekends when the apartment maintenance crew is not available! Such was the case that particular Saturday afternoon. While chatting with the family, the tears started to well in my eyes as I realized how helpful they all were to each other, even from a distance. The fact that I am now basically on my own and more or less isolated from this immediate familial assistance, which was possibly the first and last thing I’d come to appreciate from my idiot ex, is really the largest issue for me these days. (I’d never expected to have to handle Mom’s estate or my living space pretty much by myself, but here I was and am!)
Being the simpatico types that they are, T and K wanted to know why I was teary. I explained to them my specific toilet plight within my general new woe-is-me I’m all by myself current living situation. Of course, T offered to immediately go from the kids’ house to my apartment and rectify the situation right then and there. To add to my shame and embarrassment over the clogged toilet, I confessed that I thought my plumbing skills were so poor that my inability to clear the clog with the new special (though cheap) plunger I’d bought in anticipation of being able to do it myself may have been faulty or, probably more correctly, my skills were lacking. I had intended to borrow the kids’ plunger on the chance that I may not have been at fault, but only my own faulty plunger!
I continued to “pooh-pooh” (pardon the pun) the offer to clear the clog for me, hoping I could do it myself later. The conversation then moved on to the method I’d used to furnish my place. Using the very rudimentary measurements MM and I had previously taken, along with her attempt at a manual layout of each room using those measurements, I had pictured the possibility of having something like a real dining room, or at least a semi-separated dining area, between the kitchen counter and the living area in the more or less great (at least it’s the largest) open single room in my apartment. Based on that, I’d turned down the kids’ offer to give me their old dining room table because it was too small to really dine at.
However, as the pre-dinner hour passed, wiser heads prevailed to the point where Tom and my son-in-law convinced me that they were sincere and able and would have the time to take the table and the plunger and accompany me to see if I could use the former and if they could fix the latter. I could and they did. And then they did even more than that!
My BFF introduced me to estate sales and to the website https://www.estatesales.net/. I went to check one out on a Thursday and almost immediately and very nearly literally stumbled upon my next living room furniture purchase. Delivery of this powered recliner required several trips over the rest of that weekend, because I almost always do things the hard and often expensive way. These are not always my fault, and in this case the impediments were a combo of events both in and out of my control.
I had to rent a U-Haul van for just a few hours and to recruit and schedule the muscle of MM and her spouse Evil Genius (EG) to heft and move it. All the while, she continued to complain to me that I should have been able to just borrow a truck from Lowe’s or Home Depot for free because she thought she remembered they had told her they would let “customers” do that, even for purchases not made there. I disabused her of this potentially faulty memory with some humor given that it proved how much she is truly a Mini-Me in so many ways that I won’t go into each of them here!
One of those personality facets we share is perhaps a bit too much frugality. I say this with great affection based on the fact that her house is furnished almost entirely with second-hand stuff she has purchased over the years and moved with her all over the country before finally landing in their house here in Michigan. Her first furniture was often found on Craig’s list but she has more recently moved her searches to Facebook marketplace. I have followed her there but before I move on, I just want to give myself one more pat on the back by concluding with the extended estate sale pickup bonus I got after I had to go back there to get the power cord we had left behind in my hurry to get the kids and the van back on the day we moved the chair.
Savvy sellers more often than not mark down items they want to get rid of so they don’t have to store or move them after the sale is done. This of course is known as a clearance sale in retail and very much applies to estate/garage/moving sales. As a result, I picked up three badly needed table lamps for free. I could have also left that day with a table and chairs if I had had a vehicle to move them in. This could have been an example of the maxim “haste makes waste” but I was spared that personal beat down by another happy happenstance I will describe later.
The power recliner in its temporary spot + one of the free lamps in an even more temporary spot
I later found a set of good quality (read real wood vs pressboard) bookcases on FB marketplace. In between I’d also found a cheap i.e. fake wood but really plastic set of living room tables via the same source that I could have easily loaded into my own car by my own self. In this instance, though, it was a good excuse for me to buy some donuts and pastries for the hollow-legged EG at one of his favorite local sources for such fattening goodies, the Sweet Valley Donut Shop. We met the seller of these items in the parking lot of one of their two Kalamazoo locations. Score one for us! Yum.
FB Marketplace ad read Three-piece table set, two end tables and one coffee table. Wood and metal. The tops were really plastic which made them easy care for me and still worth the price.
Anyway, back to the bookcase saga. I went back and forth with the seller several times on different issues and there were gaps between communications. The net result was that the process took at least twice as long as I’d expected, based on my only previous FB Marketplace experience with the tables, which now I guess may have been unusually quick and easy, but maybe not.
First, I needed measurements. All four of them were the same width and depth 3’x1′. Each was a different height, max 5′. With these numbers in hand, I finally measured the spaces in my apartment where I thought I might put them. Then, based on the recliner estate sale experience, I had to go the extra step of measuring the interior cargo space of my car. The results of these exercises were generally good news. I had enough wall and floor space for all four bookcases and I could fit them in my car. The only bad news was that I would need to make two trips to move all of them because I only had enough room in the car for two at a time.
Since they were made of real wood, I also knew they would be heavy which meant I would need help to load and unload. I pre-arranged the supply of this assistance from Mini-Me, but had a lot of trouble, and way too much more back and forth with the seller, in trying to schedule this big moving day. MM often works from home which allows her to have a fairly flexible schedule thus enabling her to add in these small errands. Unfortunately, during this particular time period, she and her spouse were limited to one vehicle while hers was in the shop for repair after a fender bender. By this time, it had been there for way too long to suit their needs!
The only info I could give her up front was that the pickup location would be nearby and that the deed would have to be done before 3:30 in the afternoon. I was only able to ascertain the former by cyberstalking the named Marketplace seller after he’d advised that he was moving them from his workplace. After I repeatedly told him I would need help which would be most available in the afternoon during everyone else’s workweek, I was finally able to arrange to git ‘er done on the very last Friday afternoon he would have access to the office he was moving them from and that my daughter would be working from home.
The move was finally successfully made, in two trips as planned. They were so heavy that between the two of us we were only able to move them in fits and starts, and in some creative ways that my practiced moving daughter had learned by repeated use in her prior often solo moves. So, at last, there they sat, just inside the front door of my apartment, until I could figure out where I wanted to put them and how I would get them there. You’d think that the most difficult moves would be the longest i.e. from the office to the car and from the car to the door, but you’d be wrong!
As of mid-October, it seemed to me I had just about enough space to store and places to put everything I had and most of which I wanted to keep. The next required action was to figure out where I wanted to put what so everything would fit and at least be mainly unboxed. Up until that point, I had been using lack of space and place as an excuse to delay opening many more boxes. In the meantime, I had continued to indulge in some old practices and behaviors, though part of the requisite self-evaluation I have been forced/directed into by a recent turn of events includes making conscious choices about what I want to keep from my past and what new thoughts or behaviors I may want to introduce or at least to try on for size.
Where to start this new me/old me monologue? I guess I will start with the comfortably old but with the new twist of where and how and with whom. One of my go-to, usually solo activities, aptly and personally named by me, is a little thing I like to call “retail therapy (RT).”
Wikipedia opines the use of the term as “ironic and semifacetious,” and also comparable to comfort food, which is what I purchased most often recently in my pursuit of short term “relief from dysphoria” before I finally settled where I am now. Now my need to indulge in RT for any purpose, to deal with depression or stress, occurs much less frequently. That’s one thing about Mom (my historical and hysterical stress inducer) I definitely don’t miss and try not to emulate with my own now nearby adult daughters.
Food is my drug of choice (Excuses, Excuses)so I’d already started (re)filling the two most essential rooms in my three-room apartment first. After piecemealing kitchen purchases, I’d finally bit the bullet and settled on buying a set of real plates at my new favorite store, Meijer, and dining utensils at a store I mostly stay out of, Cost Plus. It almost physically hurt me to pay full price for a 12-piece setting for four of Corelle Geometrica pattern (no need for coffee cups or saucers anymore) and a 16-piece setting for four of dining utensils (no need for salad forks, either). The pain was only slightly mollified in that I think the latter was marked down to justify using it to supplement my minimalist starter set, purchased for $1.25/pair (fork, knife, teaspoon, tablespoon) from Dollar Tree. Is it odd that kitchen items I’d moved with me, including drawer organizers, have sentimental value?
I have continued my RT by acquiring and using “new” furniture. I have put that term in quotes because my shopping/retail therapy methodology has been extended, finally, to the use of 21st technology as it has been taught to me by my daughters. Like most millennials, and even a few advanced/daring/sane baby boomers, they prefer to make their purchases online. I feel like I have so far employed a fine mix of many of both the old and the new RT options available to me to find usable and easy to move furniture, aided and ably assisted by Mini-Me (MM).
She knows my taste more than she knows my needs. She also knows, and does not appreciate, my FOMO, though she does share, to some degree, my nearly extreme frugality. I spent several successive days while MM and her spouse were on vacation late last summer making limited forays into any and every brick-and-mortar local retail establishment that might carry what I hoped would be reasonably priced and sized furniture – a solo exercise that left this hobbled old lady exhausted and overwhelmed and worse, still unsatisfied with the results. I didn’t share all of these details with MM upon her return, though I still used them in my own mind as an excuse to continue to dither and therefore not commit to getting that critical first piece of furniture I needed: seating for the living room!
Lucky for me, she had heard that prices and availability were excellent at a local chain establishment I had not yet made my way to. We made that the last stop on my final living room furniture foray where we found two “chofas” that would work with my style and space. As usual, I had to extend the decision process and time by going back to the store to make my final choice. Even after that, I still ended up paying extra for an extended warranty that I may not need on top of the exorbitant delivery charge that I had expected. On the upside, if I move again and anything breaks in the process, they will fix or replace it!
Here’s the itinerary for the trip as I planned it before departure. I have friends who live in most of these places. They had already been warned, pretty far in advance, that I might be coming their way. The schedule was set up around their availability, to accommodate a short visit and/or to help me with the driving. I’d also asked their advice for places I might consider in their vicinities for retirement living if I discovered after a year that Kalamazoo was too cold for this California weather wimp to live year-round!
I got a late start on my very first very long solo leg. This was the break-in leg in which I’d hoped to acclimate myself to the nuances of my new vehicle. The drive was tedious enough to accommodate this, but my reflexes and reactions were too slow to do it safely! I also made it longer than it needed to be based on my outdated knowledge and sentimental desires to make one last drive on the “new” Orange County Toll Road and the “old” San Diego Freeway almost all the way to the Mexican border. Due to this Taurean’s stubbornness, I got bogged down in traffic that was heavier than I’d anticipated before joining the very less traveled Interstate 8. Over 500 miles and 8 hours, I traveled this very barren (after leaving the San Diego area) and very long stretch, stopping only once to fill up (first time for the vehicle since I’d owned it and first time for me on the trip!) before finally getting to where I was going!
I’d visited my oldest friend Brenda’s Tucson home once or twice before, back when I was (happily?) married. Even then, though, I’d started to complain about my now (idiot) ex to her and she’d also started to complain to me about her spouse at the same time! This visit was special, though, in more ways than one. I got to meet her kids and grandkids that I’d heard so much about and confirmed they had been well-raised, as I’d expected. I also got to spend some time with her recently retired spouse which confirmed that he may not be as bad as I’d expected, either! (We like to complain about our kids and our spouses, who of course look different to other people than they do to us, right?)
Brenda showed me her favorite walking trails, both in her neighborhood and in nearby Saguaro National Park. She’s lived in Tucson for so long that she could be a tour guide, if only they hadn’t been doing road work on and closed some of her favorite alternate routes! She also took me to AZ State U’s new vet school, nearly at the opposite corner of the now sprawling Tucson metro area from her home. Devil Child’s boyfriend, now fiancé, was planning to attend there, and they’d already rented an apartment in the area. (After their visit she’d told me it looked to her just like her native Orange County, where her memories were not the happiest! I’d also saved Mom’s old car in CA for DC to drive to AZ when she moved. Happily for all, that move didn’t happen because boyfriend now fiancé got last minute acceptance to MI State vet school!)
My other Tucson stop was a dinner date with a former coworker from very long ago. Jean was a cost analyst when I was a buyer at Rockwell International in Downey, CA. She and our mutual friend Erica (more about her later) were “there” when I got married and when I had my first child! Jean retired to Tucson, where her kids and grandkids (and maybe even great grandkids?) lived, and in the intervening 30 years the only time we’d seen each other was at Erica’s son’s bar mitzvah! In all the time I’d known (and known of) her, Jean was always the gorgeous and lively life of the party. She’d even acquired a new boyfriend at the same time as she’d acquired her house in Tucson. They’d met at the clubhouse bar in the retirement community where they both lived. Their houses were across the street from each other, so clearly that meeting was fate! Jean and Royce traveled the world together, until recently, when old age began to catch up with them in their 80’s. If I could live the rest of my post-retirement life as Jean did, I’d be more than satisfied!
Now that her spouse has (finally) retired, Brenda was and is eager to get away from him! (Retirement is definitely an adjustment for anyone, including those they live with.) She was more than happy to make the drive from Tucson to Albuquerque with me, and of course I was very glad for the company. There we met up with my friend Ann. Ann and I met when we were both students at UCLA GSM. (That’s the Graduate School of Management which is now AGSM after it was endowed by an Anderson.) Ann and one of my friends from USC were roommates at UCLA. (Ann and I are still buddies but neither of us hears anymore from the person who brought us together. How strange is that?) Ann moved to San Francisco after graduation. We all thought that was a strange choice given her raging arthritis, but it was great to visit her there.
Maybe 4-5 years ago (I don’t remember exactly), Ann moved back to her hometown of St. Louis. The hills of San Francisco and the stairs of her Victorian townhouse had finally become too steep for her joints to handle. Either before or after that move, and again I don’t remember the sequence of events, she and I had met up in Washington, D.C. where we visited some of the “newer” museums and the Secret City exhibit on display at the time at the National Building Museum. Getting someone to accompany me to the latter had been the main impetus for this trip. We had a great time, comparing the city to when we had each lived there at different times in our lives – me for a semester as an undergraduate, Ann as a fledgling reporter who’d just earned her degree in Journalism.
Ann flew into Albuquerque and met Brenda and me at the hotel I’d booked for the two of us that became three after Brenda joined me on the drive. I like to try to put people together based on shared interests. I don’t usually have much success in this but these two bonded over their shared ailments which, at our advanced ages, is maybe more common than I’d like to think! The next morning, I put Brenda on a plane back to AZ then Ann and I made the drive into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to Los Alamos, NM. This second site of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park had been on my very short bucket list for a while. It was quite different than my prior happy place/home of Oak Ridge but fascinating nonetheless and well worth a potential return visit, maybe even as soon as this spring when I’ve already signed up for a writers workshop in nearby Taos.
The main reason I’d scheduled a New Mexico stop was to visit my aforementioned friend Erica who now lives in Albuquerque where she and her husband Ron have finally realized their joint vision and dream of owning their own business. Ron and Erica married when I was pregnant with the Devil Child, though our “familial connection” extends farther back than that as she had referred me to her own Long Beach, CA, ob/gyn when I’d discovered my unexpected pregnancy with Mini-Me, way back in 1989! These two have moved all over the country in pursuit of this dream, though our paths have not crossed as often as I would have liked over the years. My kids seem to barely remember the day we went with them and their kids to the Strawberry Festival in Garden Grove. (Since their kids are younger than mine/ours, I wouldn’t even ask if they remember, though I have photos of one of the very few times idiot ex actually participated in an outing of this sort.) The last time I’d seen them in their native/home habitat, including the home they lived in then, was at the bar mitzvah of their eldest, in Frisco, TX. Since that time (more years ago now than his age then), I missed the opportunity to see where they lived in Columbus, OH (I don’t think they ever bought a house there, that’s how much Erica didn’t like it), or the (pre) retirement home they’d designed and built in Austin, TX (though that town is still on my bucket list).
This time I “hit the jackpot!” I not only got to see both Ron and Erica but as an added bonus I got to see the business they bought and now operated (though just the outside of the building) and the new house they bought and finally moved into (after a few delays caused by pandemic-related supply shortages) in Albuquerque. All of these positive experiences provided further areas for exploration and consideration of a future winter home in “The Land of Enchantment.”
Following this “action packed” two-day stopover, Ann and I got back on the road headed east and deeper into near hillbilly country. As fellow progressive civil rights history aficionados, we had previously considered, obviously pre-pandemic, an extended trip to see and learn from the recently erected monuments and restored sites dedicated to this story. In lieu of that, Ann suggested a quick stopover along Interstate 40 to check out the in process of being resurrected Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had considered the suggestion but put another one to her that would better fit into the semi-rigid driving schedule I had set up for myself. After not a lot of discussion, especially after being on the flat and boring and seemingly interminable drive across as little of Texas as we could, we agreed to spend the night in Oklahoma City to visit the National Memorial dedicated to telling the story of the first major incident of domestic terrorism that happened there in 1995.
The final stopover I had planned was the longest. I spent four days in Ann’s St. Louis home where, over several visits with her and a few more with Mini-Me, who had also lived off and on in the area before finally settling into married life in MI, I had come to appreciate what the city and the area had to offer as a potential place to put down new retirement roots. With the benefit of foresight, and based on what I’d seen of the places Mom’s friends and relatives had occupied in their old ages and often single lives, I was already considering what type of housing I would want in the future. (I have already done quite a bit of research through which I have discovered, like most decisions that will be necessary in my future, this one is best delayed till the time I will really NEED to make one!) Ann has already given this some thought as well, so she was happy to join me in a tour of a nearby senior living facility. We were both favorably impressed with this particular one though, like most places these days that house seniors, we had to mask up because they had experienced some recent Covid infections.
After scoping out some of the nearby suburban retail options (including my usual Great Clips haircut plus the unique and local Dearberg’s grocery), as well as the trendy revitalized historical suburb (with Ann’s favorite farmer’s market plus an Amtrak station) in Kirkwood. While, based on my successive periods of concern caused by tornados and other malicious weather patterns, like snow in winter and stickiness in summer, that I’d suffered vicariously while MM lived there, I had already ruled out moving to St. Louis, these other happy and comfortable for me “finds” confirmed these all as parameters for my next, and probably nearly final, place of residence.
I moved that new bed and those new sheets, which I guess at the time I bought them might have been thought of as a real, if unconscious, starting point of my new life. That turned out to be almost all of the furniture I ended up taking with me. When I scheduled this move, gas prices were sky high and moving containers were scarce. After my usual extensive research, I was forced to accept my realtor’s recommendation based on her son’s recent similar experience. I ended up reserving two U-boxes from U-haul. I knew they were smaller, lighter and flimsier than most but I found out they were also sparser than most and did not have a lot of options for anchoring what was moving so it wouldn’t slide around inside.
All of what was lacking in the configuration and structure of the U-box turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. After packing the first one really tightly, I made the snap decision to just not bring what I couldn’t fit in there. Turned out to be a really good thing I didn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to fit most of what I left behind in the 700 square feet in which I now live! This was clearly, in 20/20 hindsight, just another indication that I would now truly be starting over.
The second part of what I moved with me included the more fragile stuff and the more immediately necessary stuff. To make this part of the move easier (or so I expected), I decided to buy myself a new car. This was the first such purchase I’d made completely on my own in 40 or so years. Based on copious research in the Torrance Main Public library reference section which was the only place, way back then, where I could get my hands on the then print only issues of Consumer Reports, I settled on a Mazda GLC. At that time, so very early (at least from my helplessly pre-feminist, virginal and naïve perspective) in my working adult life, I was so proud of myself for making that decision all on my own, and paying all cash for it, too. The easiest part of that purchase was selecting a unique color.
I used a similar process this time, though now I was overwhelmed by the extremely wide range of vehicle sizes, styles and features available. This overload of data was described in excruciating detail on way too many websites, including at some dealers in Medford, OR, where I test drove some with the similar to me vertically challenged sister of my BFF. She is still deciding but I didn’t have time to wait or waste. It was probably fortunate then, given the supply chain crunch caused by COVID, I could limit myself to used vehicles only. My realtor and one of my oldest friends, along with many of the online reviews, extolled the virtues of Subaru SUVs, but even with that advice, I still just HAD to test drive a few more SUVs at the Torrance Carmax. This time, I had to decide between a two-seat or three-seat config. I knew I’d need cargo room and thought maybe someday I might need a third seat until I was convinced that today’s third seats are only comfortable for REALLY VERTICALLY CHALLENGED folks, like (grand)kids. When this selection was made, again in the interest of time, I finally just decided to buy the model that had the most weather and safety-related bells and whistles. That’s how I ended up with a 2019 Subaru Forester Touring Model. The last dealership I went to, just before loading up, had the one with the most unusual color and least amount of miles, so that’s the one I bought!
I had a lot of time to prepare for this move, so by the time it finally happened I’d already forgotten about some of the things that I’d packed a while ago.
There were a lot of things from Mom and Dad’s youth where I recognized their visages, thoughts, or milestones. There were a few things from even farther back in their family histories, where I recognized much less. There was also a lot of memorabilia, including many, many photos, from all the trips they took, mostly with their friends, after they were retired but still healthy enough to get around. I recognize many of the faces and a few of the places. I brought some of my parents’ old books and antiquated records (albums and singles), many of which I still personally consider to be classics. If and when I ever get to read or reread or listen to some of the works of Michener and Stone, and of Rogers and Hammerstein, among others, I imagine when I have done with them, they might go to a library or antique store or into someone else’s personal collection. Best and optimum use for pre-disposal or pre-dispersal purposes would be to share with and/or pass along to some of the younger, and hopefully/possibly related to me, generations. Mini-me has already followed in her mom’s and her grandpa’s footsteps as an aficionado of musical theater, though she has also taken up, with her spouse, her idiot father’s appreciation of sci-fi.
On top of all that, I still have all my photo albums, going back to middle school, that I assembled when I was single. I’m also moving once again my college year books, which are much heavier than high school, that my idiot ex put in the POD. These will go with single copies (out of the multiples that Mom still had) of memorabilia and programs from my days in Girl Scouts, Torrance Area Youth Band and USC Trojan Marching Band (the greatest marching band in the history of the universe!). These all recall the (mainly happy) times I hope I can share with a granddaughter, at least. A lot of them still make me smile. I brought back to my children all the photo albums I made in their childhoods, and all the extraneous photos and memorabilia I never got around to adding to them. Maybe it will make them smile, too, if we ever get to sit down together to reminisce about their births and birthday parties and holidays and trips and Girl Scouts, too.
Finally, I brought the new queen bed I’d bought when it became pretty clear that I would be staying with Mom in the house with her for a while, and maybe for the rest of my life, though of course that’s now how it turned out. It’s one of the newer ones with an extra thick mattress that required deep-pocketed bottom sheet corners and even then they don’t stay fitted as tight as I’d like. It’s like the one my idiot ex and I bought to sleep on (together – which was unusual and uncomfortable) when we bought our first house in Tennessee together. He sent the king size sheets I’d used for that one in the POD after I’d already bought myself a fresh new set. The old sheets were too big but had become an oversized cocoon for me, that I could tuck in nice and tight, keeping me warm and safe, bounded and protected, at night. He slept most of the daylight hours away on his old nasty leaking waterbed in his deep, dark and desolate mancave of a bedroom in the basement with two fans blowing directly on him.
Finally, already boxed up, in addition to my own precious books, are some sorts of antiques: a DVD player and discs of old beloved movies and some school events and last but not least though probably oldest, some family home movies and videotapes. I had already moved some to Tennessee with plans to get them digitized. They came back to Mom’s house again when I did and now are making the trek to our mutual new home, with younger family, in Michigan.
Before I lay out, in excruciating detail, the nuts and bolts of my personal escape from L.A. I wish to lay out, for the edification and enjoyment of mainly my younger (post Baby Boom) readers, a synopsis of the film’s plot while also highlighting some of the more outlandish precepts employed in the story. For my own nostalgic reasons, I’m including some garishly true and somehow appropriate facts about where in the area’s underbelly some scenes were shot. Though based on satire, some of them have some unfortunate kernels of truth to this day.
In 2000, a massive earthquake strikes the city of Los Angeles, cutting it off from the mainland as the San Fernando Valley floods. Declaring that God is punishing Los Angeles for its sins, a theocratic presidential candidate wins election to a lifetime term of office. He orders the United States capital relocated from Washington, D.C. to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and enacts a series of strict morality laws. Violators are given a choice between loss of U.S. citizenship and permanent deportation to the new Los Angeles Island, or repentance and death by electrocution. Escape from the island is made impossible due to a containment wall erected along the mainland shore and a heavy federal police presence monitoring the area.
Several scenes were shot in Carson, including the Sunset Boulevard and freeway sequences.
The Sunset Boulevard scene was filmed in a landfill, where production staff constructed over one hundred and twenty structures to create a shanty town.
In order to create the impression of a crowded post-apocalyptic freeway, two hundred and fifty broken cars were sourced from a junkyard in Ventura.
Happy Kingdom was supposed to be Disneyland, but Disney didn’t give them permission.
The character of the President was Kurt Russell’s idea. He based him on televangelist Pat Robertson.
Garishly true and somehow appropriate facts
I am very familiar with the city of Carson because it is part of the area where I grew up which includes Mom’s house. It is NOT within 20 miles of Sunset Boulevard, though it does include parts of more than one freeway.
No one who lives anywhere near Sunset Boulevard would ever allow a landfill along that famous and winding path, though it does traverse a few canyons which would otherwise be an ideal location for a landfill.
A crowded post-apocalyptic freeway is much more realistic than the fantasy interchange I remember seeing in La La Land. As I recall, that one used only pristine and very colorful vehicles to showcase the dancers swirling around them. I suspect they were digitally added, and probably not superimposed over any real cars, and certainly not any of that would have come as a result of trucking them for a two-hour drive in moderate traffic from Ventura.
Happy Kingdom was supposed to be Disneyland, but Disney didn’t give them permission. I don’t know if anyone named Disney would have let the filmmakers use it, but clearly the corporate suits who owned it at the time didn’t think it would be good for that place’s image.”
Kurt Russell, who plays the main character, Snake Pliskin, in this 20th century film, has moved on to portraying Santa Claus in this century. Russell’s inspiration, Pat Robertson is an all too real televangelist, still alive and kicking at the age of 92. You may still be able to see him, in the wrinkled flesh, on TV in an episode of the still airing The 700 Club. If you’re so inclined, you could also check out his failed 1988 presidential campaign.
Escaping from what followed me to L.A.
I had already gone through Mom’s stuff before her passing more than once, gleaning and disposing of a little more each time. I’d also done something similar with the stuff my idiot ex had sent me in a POD, including some of his high school yearbooks and church stuff. I had no problem putting those in the recycle bin, along with mine, but I kept the stuff he still had from his first wife and the daughter he had given up for adoption.
I imagine he had been drunkenly crying when he packed this stuff up so didn’t really know, because he probably couldn’t see or focus, what he’d put in there. He also sent me mismatched kitchen stuff, which he could have matched with what he had in his own kitchenette. I’d combined and organized some of that with the plethora of similar stuff Mom had. Neither one of us used most of it anymore so what doesn’t have sentimental value is being left behind.
What are your October plans and goals? This is the question my friend Paula, who was the first blogger I knew IRL, posed in this post. She started that post by recapping her September. I know other bloggers, and just a bunch of other people in general, have expressed a view that many people seem to share – that Autumn feels like a beginning.
I know, because of who I am (a Jewish mother), that the school year and the Jewish calendar year both start in the fall. So, maybe I’m also in the camp that thinks of this season, of pumpkins and other plenty, as the start of the year, or at least as the start of something! This fall, I am finally, I think, near the end of the very long and painful and draining and difficult journey to where I can really think about and plan and look forward to starting over again with some hope and relief and relaxation and optimism for the future.
I am currently “feathering my (new) nest” as I am starting to furnish my apartment so it’s a convenient place for me to live. The convenience I’m talking about here is having space and place to unpack and really see what I think I will use of the stuff I brought here with me. So far, those “keepers” seem to have been just right for that purpose.
From a glance at my calendar over the last half of 2022, I can see, again in this fall season (and even as far back as late summer), that a more fulfilling and busy time has started for me. One thing I know for sure is that everything I’ve had to deal with, all the tumult over at least the last 5 years and probably all the other upheavals over the last 10, seem not to have changed what I desire in my life for the rest of it!
I want to learn more about a whole lot of esoteric and intellectual subjects from people who have spent a lot of time with them. Philosophy, politics, religion, history, generally areas of study where we look back to help us move forward – mainly as a society but also as individuals. I just finished OLLI classes on Putin’s Russia, the history of Iran and its relations with the U.S, the philosophy of Einstein and other big thinkers and a philosophical view of the Manhattan Project. I found it hearteningly coincidental that key figures in the latter two just happened to be scientists (like many of the most interesting people I met in Oak Ridge). In the upcoming weeks I will be learning about banned books, stories behind hit songs (mainly from my youth or even before then) and the Flint, Michigan, Sit-down Strike of 1936-37. Fascinating stuff!
I have also pursued some more down-to-earth learning opportunities. Many of these have come to me through the local senior center. I learned more than I probably wanted to know, being a processed-food addicted baby boomer, from the recovering-from-cancer-and-Jewish nutritionist who taught the class. An added bonus were the $10 produce vouchers we got to spend at the small local farmer’s market. I was surprised that the instructor, who eats more fresh food than I do, had never tried an Asian melon. She appreciated the sight and taste of the melon I bought at the farmer’s market while I appreciated her suggestions for alternate ways to enjoy bananas. Most of those alternative bananas are available at Trader Joe’s. I do not frequent TJ’s nor did I frequent farmer’s markets before this class. I am now working through way too many – but delicious – locally grown apples and pears and radishes and snack size peppers from my last market visit. Too bad their celery and TJ’s processed and vacuum sealed bananas were so disappointing!
The last farmer’s market for the year is in October, but I have already moved on to aspects of my spirit I have wanted to develop for as long as my nest has been empty (of my kids). My daughters may or may not consider what I finally produce someday from my writing and genealogy passions and pursuits, though I’d like to think they will, and maybe even get some benefit from this work I am looking forward to finally get to. Even if they don’t, I know I want to do this for my own benefit and relief and expression. Just this last week I went to presentations by two authors where I was able to ask them questions about their process, mainly about how they find their projects and are able to get them done. This already helped to me to target a few subjects out of all of those that have been floating around in my mind for quite a long time.
I took some stabs at a few of them in my so-old-they-are-now-shamefully-hidden blog posts and in the few vignettes I wrote for the 3 or 4 or 5 memoir writing classes I took in which I mainly only wrote notes of what the teacher said. I even signed up for a Hay House FREE 4-Day Book Writing Challenge that starts online tomorrow, and I have already taken a dive into the Aspiring Author’s Tool Kit (5 Free Resources to Kick-Start Your Writing) that came with it and discovered, to my surprise and delight, they support what I learned from the author sessions I attended last week. I’m hoping to have a similar experience tomorrow night when I attend for the first time a meeting of the writers’ group that is sponsored by the local library.
I spent a day last week with a new friend I met online through some other websites. Laurie also has a personal blog and a business page promoting a writing group she used to run, and she has been generous with her time and gas as my personal guide around Grand Rapids. As I learned more about Laurie’s writing and the technique she teaches, she recommended It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond (Artist’s Way) as a good reference for starting a memoir as what I consider myself to be – just your average baby boomer who is now past the midpoint of an infamous (as in not famous or profound) life. I read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity in yet another writing class quite a while ago and was impressed enough to keep it on my shelf for future reference.
The next step I will take in “feathering my nest” this month will support the genealogy work I have jumped a little further into since my move. Next week, when I get some labor to assist, I will be picking up some bookshelves. Even if I don’t keep them for my next move, or if they end up not fitting with additional furniture I will buy for my new place, they are desperately needed to facilitate organization of the earlier mentioned important stuff I moved with me. These must haves of course include a lot of books. They also include a lot of photo albums and loose photos and other papers and memorabilia from my past and from family members’ pasts, known to me or not.
I joined the Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society over the summer. They held the first meeting of their year at the end of September. I attended that one remotely as well as the first in a series of Skills Sessions they are offering. I already view the latter as a good way to kickstart and streamline (i.e. finally move on and at the same time narrow) what I want to do with all this stuff. I expect to be at the October meeting in person, again at the local library, when the manager of its Creation Station, will, I hope, demonstrate how to digitize some of my older family photos AND old home movies.
Finally, even before I moved into my apartment, while I was still living in my daughter’s basement, I signed up for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) 2022 Conference. The whole thing was done virtually and the presentations I registered for can still be seen through the end of October. I’ve done several already and expect to get through them all at least once by then. I know my family’s roots in America were only planted, even at their earliest, in late 19th century New York, and I’ve already learned “sources and methods” (a currently en vogue term thanks to Trump’s ignorance of the rules for maintaining some degree of classified information security) to help me search for the European origins of those roots as well as where they may have spread after being planted.
I will also be spending a few days this month in Nashville with my sister who will take me to Vanderbilt Orthopaedics for a consultation to see if, how, when, where and by whom my left hip will be replaced.
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