22 days to move 500 miles

Around this time two months ago I had my first interview for a new position.

Around this time one month ago I was packing up to move.

And now? I’m 500 miles away from the place I called home for 11 years. Welcome to New Hampshire. Live free or die! (No pressure.)

In a matter of two months almost everything in my life changed and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t nerve-wracking.

63366David and I have been talking about packing up and leaving Virginia since we met. At times we would consider the possibilities of buying a house, settling in, and staying in Virginia for the next 5-10 years. It would mean staying in Virginia longer than we wanted but the stability and the familiarity were appealing.

As our professional lives evolved (see: multiple layoffs) and we hopped from one rental to another before moving in with family (see: broke) it became clear that staying in Virginia was just not an option.

A friend asked me before we left what I would miss about living in the area and I couldn’t say our friends and family. I didn’t have anything to stay. The traffic, the cost of living, the live-to-work mentality, the huge population, the suburban sprawl, these aren’t things I will miss. I didn’t have anything to say except the people. We have an amazing network of people we love and that’s what I knew I would (and do) miss.

Obviously, the longer we’re here the more we have the opportunity to compare this place to where we lived previously. I’ll be honest and say that there are things we realize about the city we’re renting in that make it clear we won’t be this city permanently but we’re also having fun getting to know the surrounding cities. And we’re happier here. It’s not perfect and I never expected it to be. But it fits.

moving-dayI think something shifted for me around my birthday last year. The excitement over the wedding was long gone, my name last name was back to what I wanted, I had changed jobs multiple times due to layoffs, and I celebrated my birthday by shaving my head to fund research for cures to childhood cancers.

There was so much tumult in my life and I spent the morning of my birthday trying to do something to help children struggling with much bigger things than I was. Then I rolled around DC with a shaved head. I kayaked and went out for pizza with my husband and our friend, and later went out for my favorite cuisine (Mexican – real or fake) with family. All day I just felt so simply good and refreshed.

I can’t even count how many times since my birthday I thought “This isn’t where I belong.” If you’ve never felt that feeling – and I don’t mean in a group of people but in your life or in your day – then it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s this feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you something needs to change.

I was ready to go.

So I did.

The interview process for my current job took place entirely via phone and Skype (and writing prompts via email) which was fantastically convenient. When the job offer came I accepted without hesitation. The job was right, I got along well with the team, the offer was great, and I knew I was accepting a job with an intentionally-recognized company. I was excited to move to New England. I was ready and I said “yes.” David and I drove up amidst a snow storm for a whirlwind weekend of apartment hunting in a city that doesn’t offer much in the way of dog-friendly housing. We applied for an apartment and found out we got the place on our drive back up.

newhampshire-stampThere was just over three weeks between the offer and the day we moved. It was barely any time at all although the stress of it made it feel like the move would never come. It’s been almost a month since our move and the time has flown by. We’ve settled in, unpacked most of the boxes, found local hangouts we like, and started trying to find new friends.

This move brought me and David ten steps closer to the life we want. We see each other more, we relax more, we experience more, and we explore more. We’re doing more with our lives and we’re happier here. We miss the hell out of our family and friends (your invitations to visit never expire!) but other than that, it’s pretty easy to see we made the right move.

I lived in Upstate New York for 16 years before my dad moved the family to Virginia. I was so angry with my parents for moving. I didn’t want to leave everything and everyone I knew.

And now, 11 years after that first move I actively chose to leave everything and almost everyone I know again. But this time I’m not angry.

I’m excited.

My tiny house dream is dead

tinyhouse2

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year convincing myself and my husband that a tiny house was a the right move for us. I’ve been all over the Facebooks posting tiny houses and swooning over their adorableness.

Because minimalism! Because money! Because convenience! I dreamed of us having our adorable tiny home on a trailer with only our necessities and our dog. We would find a couple acres of land, throw our tiny house on it, put up a fence to let the dog run around, and maybe even grow a garden.

Living the hipster dream!

But then I visited some tiny houses this weekend and to use the phrasing the owners of the houses repeated many times, I’m just not drinking the Kool-Aid anymore.


 

Logistics. Apparently the tiny house dream isn’t as easy to make happen as all the cool bloggers would like me to believe. And when cool bloggers post about the cool tiny house they built, many of them don’t explain exactly where they will be placing said tiny house and what sort of government nightmare choosing a tiny house is.

There are places in the United States that allow the tiny houses on trailers to be considered accessory dwelling units (ADU if you’re up on the lingo) but that means it has to exist on a property with another house. A real house. With plumbing and specific square footage, and safety measures. So if we went that route we wouldn’t be downsizing on account of that whole extra house thing. And we could potentially rent out the house to other people but then that defeats the purpose of getting our own land void of other people because we hate other people. Additionally, these tiny houses are often grouped in with your typical trailer park trailer and there’s about a million regulations on where those can and cannot exist on account of how ugly they are.

And also poor people. Poor people are great and all when you’re helping them from the comfort of your home but most people don’t actually want to be near poor people. Because cooties. And poor.

Oh and if you were thinking you can just slap your tiny house down on a concrete foundation and call it a day, think again. That requires your house to fall into previously mentioned zoning laws and regulations. Laws that dictate square footage, plumbing, amenities, safety features, etc. Your tiny house just got untiny.

FWIW – I have no idea what zoning laws exist outside of the United States so maybe it’s more possible in the UK or North Korea or something.

Space. Okay so this one is obvious but I don’t think I could have really considered the limitations of this space better than I can right now. David and I live in a two bedroom, two bath apartment and we already feel limited by the size. We used to rent a house which probably helped to change the way we view space too. We love that we have less space to clean these days but hate that we also have much less space to entertain. We also have less space for the three more dogs I want.

And really, our relationship is better when we both have space. I identify mostly as an introvert while David is mostly an extrovert, but he has his moments where he just wants to come home and hide. We both need me time and we need me space. When we lived in a one bedroom apartment we were easily frustrated by the lack of personal space. Now, when we need me time I disappear into the bedroom and he disappears into the office. It works for us. On top of that, the office is David decorated. It has movie posters and toys galore. It’s much more David’s space than it is mine and our bedroom is much more our space than it is mine. I want my own space. When we buy a house some day I’m getting my own craft/fitness/dog snuggling room. It’s going to be awesome.

Materialism. I’ve been considered this idea of a minimalist lifestyle for a while now and it always sounds so appealing but you know what? Fuck it, I like stuff, and I’m done feeling bad about it. We don’t have much money so we don’t run around filling our house with chotchkies on a regular basis which is helping for now. Because of an upcoming move I started going through our house room by room and decluttering to get rid of things we never use or don’t need.

We don’t have a lot of stuff but we have more stuff than we can fit in a tiny house. And I’m okay with that. I have sentimental attachment to some things. I like my bookshelf. I have way too many clothes but I wear them all. I love shoes. David loves movie paraphernalia. Stuff is fun. I’m done focusing on how many things we have, and I’m done feeling guilty for having it all.


I came away from the tiny house tour knowing that this was not going to be the next step for us but I also could understand the benefits of examining the tiny house movement more. The houses we saw were built on a fenced-in alley lot in the middle of DC. They took unused, wasted space and made it something appealing and livable. They also mentioned that they recently hosted council members in an effort to see if this could offer some sort of solution for tackling the homeless population in the area. There’s potential to the idealism in tiny homes, but it’s no longer appealing to me as a thing I need to keep trying to convince my husband is the best choice for us.

victorianhouseSo the tiny house story isn’t our story. We’re moving in with family for a while and after that, when it’s time to find a home of our own, we’re going to find a nice home with plenty of space to put all of our stuff in. And I’m going to go back to dreaming about my perfect Victorian home. The beautiful one full of character, with personal rooms for each of us, a massive master suite, a guest room or two, possibly a future child’s room, a game room basement, plenty of entertaining space, a wrap around porch, and a fenced in yard for my four dogs. Oh and a pool. Definitely needs a pool.

You know what? Make that five dogs.

And don’t forget the friendly ghost in the attic.

 

 

Warrior Dash: A once in a lifetime experience

warriordash2No seriously. Once.

We’re not ever doing that again.

David and I have always wanted to run a mud run. It’s something that seemed like oodles of fun and our friends that have run them can’t stop raving about it. I’ve even volunteered for a mud run before (the goal was to get the free race – that I never got – but that’s another mess for another story time). At some point we made an agreement that on our anniversary each year we would try to seek out new experiences so we thought this would be a great inaugural experience.

We chose Warrior Dash because it’s fairly well known as one of the “easy” mud runs. Other mud run organizations like Spartan Race make a point at their races to insult Warrior Dash and how easy it is in comparison. Warrior Dash doesn’t time their races, making it pretty clear that the focus is about the fun and the experience, not the competition. With no desire to jump in ice baths or run through electric wires, we thought this would be fun.

We thought wrong.

Here, in list format, are all of the problems we had with the Warrior Dash we participated in. Some are related to the race organizers. Some are my own gripes. All are reasons we won’t be going back.

No signs pointing to the racer area. Party central (where all of the booths are) was about a mile from the parking lot, winding around some other buildings and sectioned off fields. There were no signs pointing us in the right direction and there were people walking in every possible direction around the parking lot. Eventually we just decided to follow some other unmuddied couple in hopes they were going the right direction.

No signs indicating where start line was. This one still blows my mind. The start line was small and was under some metal scaffolding with a Warrior Dash helmet on it. This same exact set up was at the finish line, near the stage, and at two other places in the same racer area. Nothing said “Start.” No arrows. No help anywhere.

Paying for parking. We had to pay $10 to park in a field. This fee? Maybe it’s to encourage carpooling but really it’s just more dollars in the bank for Warrior Dash.

No photographers. Do you follow Warrior Dash on Facebook? Or Twitter? Have you seen all of the photos of people having tons of fun running and climbing and jumping over fire? Yea, we won’t be in any of those. There wasn’t a single photographer when we ran and the hired photographer company even has the photos posted with waves stopping at 3PM. Apparently the 5+ later waves just weren’t worth the trouble and didn’t matter.

The mud. Okay, I know, this is a stupid thing to complain about because I signed up for a mud run. But that’s just it, I signed up for a mud RUN. We mud walked. And mud waded. And mud dragged each other through the course. At least half of the course was covered in mud more than a foot deep. For many parts of the course I was just wading through muddy water that was up to my knees or my hips. Running wasn’t even an option. Every now and then someone would try to run, would take one step, slip and fall. There were no shoes with powerful enough grip, no strong enough running technique. You physically could not run. Nearly everyone used the trees along the outskirts of the course to pull themselves along. It was pathetic. When I imagine mud run I imagine a trail run with obstacles that require me to get dirty. I don’t imagine I’ll spend an hour walking in mud and sometimes jumping on wooden obstacles.

Minimal supervision on the wooded part of the course. Speaking of slipping and falling, the wooded course supervision was paltry. I saw one singular volunteer in the woods where it was the deepest, muddiest, and least safe. And that guy was wearing a backpack wandering around the woods not even looking at the course so he was probably just looking for his beer or something and not there to watch the course. With how unsafe that terrain was there should have been people watching.

Missing obstacles. The Warrior Dash website says this location has 12 obstacles. Some of the obstacles listed on the website weren’t even at the race. Or maybe they were and they broke earlier in the day…

Broken Obstacles. Many of the obstacles are made of wood. I assume they’re made in the week leading up to the race, on site. I skipped many of these obstacles because wooden beams on the bottom were split, falling off, or gone all together. I went on one that had some broken beams and refused to get on another one.

Guys calling me cheater. This isn’t Warrior Dash’s issue but it made me really angry. David and I reached a tipping point in the first mile of the race where we were super over the whole situation. When there were large areas of mud, occasionally we would walk on the outside of the red tape designating the course limits. We did this in an effort to finish quicker, to get around the more dangerous hills or deep water, and we never ventured far off track. During one part two guys called us cheaters. Newsflash morons, you can’t cheat if it’s not a competition. The race isn’t timed. We weren’t in the competitive wave. And nobody cares. Get off your high horse and go to actual competitive events if you want to be an ass about it all. Besides, we were walking. If we really wanted to “cheat” we probably would have put some damn hustle in our step.

Crawling and more crawling. I counted at least three obstacles that required crawling on hands and knees. Have you ever dug your knee into gravel and mud? It’s just as much fun as it sounds.

Goliath volunteers not paying attention. I was two seconds from getting onto a broken slide because the volunteers at the top were too busy talking to each other to realize I was getting on an unmarked broken slide. As I mid-hop on the slide, I was sternly told not to use the two slides on the left because they were broken. Not labeled as such, with water still running down the slide. I got out and took another slide and wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t caught me last minute.

Fire jump obstacle volunteers not paying attention. At the start line we were told that the volunteers at the fire obstacle would give us very clear and specific instructions when we got to the obstacle to insure our safety. This didn’t happen. David and I ran through the fire and on with our race. The entire time the volunteers had their backs to the fire and were watching a helicopter land in the distance. I could have literally stood inside of the fire and they would not have noticed until I screamed for help on account of the whole being on fire thing.

No water at the showers. There was a pool and then a shower station built with hoses and PVC pipe. When we were done with the race there was no water to be had. How does that even happen? You’ve been running this race for how long now and you can’t calculate how much water you need?

Muddy water at the showers when they were finally refilled. On our way out about 40 minutes later a water truck was just arrived. The truck pulled up, plugged in, and about 4 of the dozens of showers started spraying water. Muddy water. It was super gross and people were still bathing in it. I still can’t figure out why.

Party was shut down before people were off the course. When we got our free beer we were told we had 15 minutes to drink it. On our way out we heard them tell everyone the party was shutting down. There were still people all over the course and I have to wonder if they still got the beer. I wonder how upset they were to get to the finish line to find the food, beer, and vendor booths shut down.

Removing the exit signs. When we were leaving the “parking lot” the volunteers were all taking the exit signs down. The parking lot was only about half empty if that so everyone left was going to just need to figure it out themselves and hopefully not run into each other. I get that you guys want to go party your Saturday night away, but would it kill you to wait until the parking lot was legitimately near empty to start removing signs telling them the direction to go to safely get out?

Cost too much money for what we got. I’m glad part of my race fee went to St. Jude although I have no idea how much. Outside of that, this was a whole lot of money for a poorly run race. Maybe it was awesome when they opened at 8AM but that doesn’t warrant giving up on anyone that came later in the day and providing a crappy experience for anyone in later waves. It cost over $160 for the two of us to run in a race that showed no indications of being a race that’s happened many, many times over. The organization and presentation were piss poor.

We have a cute picture thanks to a nice guy in the parking lot and that’s it. We smiled because we were happy to be heading home to shower but we were both pretty disappointed in the entire experience. It didn’t ruin our weekend – we spent the next day out in beautiful Charlottesville having brunch at a brewery – but it definitely wasn’t worth the effort or the money.

As I mentioned before, we have plenty of friends who’ve had great experiences with mud runs, Warrior Dash included. More power to ‘em and I’m glad that they had great experiences but it’s just not for us.  It wasn’t our cup of tea.

Suffice it to say we won’t be running in this or any other mud run ever again.

Now the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC Race) on the other hand? That one definitely caught my eye…