Skip to content

On the road again

This post is late. I wanted to write it back at the beginning of this whole moving debacle experience, but there wasn’t time.

Short version: I’m moving to Pittsburgh again! Yay! Dale (my Mr.) and I will be there by August 10th. He’s got a cool job, and I’m not looking hard for a job, because I like consulting. Also, our friends are THE BEST!

And now for the longer version.


As you may know, I lived in Alaska for five years. I made some awesome friends and had a great job, and all was well, except that six months of winter—with ice on all the sidewalks and parking lots, because people don’t shovel or plow down to pavement—is too much for me, especially post-arthritis. Nothing I injured ever seemed to heal, so I couldn’t risk being out on the ice. And I don’t make a great shut-in. (And, honestly, even before that, the cycle of too much darkness/too much light was hard on both Dale and me. We thought we’d get better at it over time, but we did not.)

Last August, I moved (back) to Charlottesville, VA, for a job that, uh, didn’t work out (which deserves its own post, but … not yet, I’m still too angry). Because I needed a car and because our pet birds aren’t suited for jet planes, I drove. Side note: you’d be amazed how much stuff I can fit into a Subaru and still have full visibility out the side windows and the rearview mirror!

Fast forward nine miserable months, and Dale joined me in VA. But at that point we were both unemployed and both fed up with Charlottesville (where his job offers kept evaporating at the last minute, mysteriously) and with a pretty bad rental situation. We aimed for Pittsburgh, although there were a few digressions where we talked to people in other places. And I’m pleased to say that he’s accepted a position with a really cool company in Pittsburgh, so that’s where we’re headed!

Like Charlottesville was for me, Pittsburgh is an “again” for both of us. We met there. He went to undergrad there, and I went to grad school there (both times). We loved the place and had a great set of friends in the area. Honestly, we might not ever have left, except that new library school graduates have a lot of competition for jobs, there, where they don’t in Anchorage. 😉 So we’re both really happy to be going back.

Job stuff

Although I’m not looking hard for an employer, I am willing to talk to anybody who’s already got a diverse team and who is looking for a blend of library, leadership, and technical skills (and responsibilities), preferably in the 20-30 hour/week range. For a really perfect job, I could go back to 40 hours/week, but that would require giving up a recurring contract that I like a lot, as well as missing out on a few other things that are important to me.

Honestly, I’m too excited about getting my consulting business off the ground to actively look for an employer; I’m a great boss, so working for myself appeals to me. 😉 I plan to make websites for people (artists, small businesses) and do social media planning and training with them. I think teaching artists how to make Etsy sites would be fun—I already have two potential customers, for that, so it seems like there’s a market. 😃 (Yes, I know it’s easy. It’s also intimidating to people who don’t do tech all the time.)

And I owe a certain library association a proposal for a class on web fundamentals, so I’ll put that together and (assuming they like it) run that under this business’s umbrella, as well. I like teaching, so I may find more ways that can factor into my business.

I may eventually grow to the point where I want to do contracting with libraries (not just library associations), because I know I can do some good, there; but I want to start simple and get my contracting workflow in order, first.

And I guess I should say, my recurring contract isn’t web work; it’s library work. But it’s interesting and often challenging, and it pays better than my initial web rate. Eventually, my web work will pay better, but that’s a while off, yet.

Logistics of the move

This whole thing has so many moving parts.

Anchorage and the Honda

We own a house in Anchorage. Getting that under contract has been stressful and weird, but it is under contract, with people who want to make it into a day care (💜) and who are willing to rent it until they can close on it. There was a lot of negotiating around getting things fixed, but we came to an amicable agreement. So that’s good, because our mortgage is covered, and we will eventually no longer own the house, and it will be well-loved.

That house was full of stuff. Dale spent months (and I flew back to help him for two weeks, earlier this year) dealing with all of that—a lot of yard sale, Craigslist, and giving-away-to-friends, plus no small amount of putting-into-boxes. I’ve promised never to move somewhere and leave him behind, ever again. All of that stuff is was in a storage unit (until this morning), waiting to go on a truck, probably into a boat, maybe onto a train or another truck, on its way to be dropped off in Pittsburgh. Now the shipping company has it. We’ll see it again in 4-6 weeks. (That all sounds simpler than the way it went down. We called for a quote early last week, and they said they had a spot for us early this week. They were slow to get back to us, so our stuff didn’t get loaded up until today, when we’d hoped to be driving out of Anchorage by yesterday.)

Since the people renting our house have control of our house, we’re staying with friends in Anchorage. Our friends are THE BEST! They’ve been super nice and super patient about the fact that our date for leaving town keeps being moved back. More on that next paragraph.

We have a car in Anchorage, too. Its total worth is less than the cost to ship a car, but it does probably have another 100k miles left in its life, so we decided to drive it across the continent (see image above and map link below). It turns out that the Honda dealer in Anchorage completely hosed us on some service stuff over the last year, so we’re waiting with bated breath to find out whether or not Midas has the right parts to fix our brakes so that it’s safe to drive. (Honda didn’t.) It was an 11 day drive (doing 600+ miles the last day, so really 12) the first time and a 14 day drive the second time for me, alone; I had the birds, so I couldn’t do fun tourist stuff, but I was also the only driver, so I had limited hours on the road per day. I figure that all balances out, so, to get there by August 5, we need to leave by Saturday.

If they don’t have the part, we will sell the car to a used car place and fly back. It would be a bummer for Dale not to get to do the drive, and I really like that car (especially the fancy radio he put into it for me as a birthday present); but it would be a much bigger bummer to die from brake failure on some mountain or highway somewhere along the way.

Charlottesville and the Subaru

Our lease in Charlottesville ends at the end of August, and since the landlord has both of our keys and still has our security deposit and has already thanked us for the good condition we left the place in, I have concluded that we are clear, there. I closed our utility accounts and washed my hands of it. Maybe we’ll get part of the deposit back if he can rent it to someone else before the end of August.

We had lots of stuff in Charlottesville, too, including a bed and a huge couch. (It’s eight feet long. It didn’t look that big in the showroom. Super comfy, though!) All of that got packed into a UHaul and driven to Pittsburgh. We were supposed to caravan up to Pittsburgh, with Dale driving the truck (with a chinchilla in the passenger seat) and me driving our Subaru (with birds in the passenger seat), but I couldn’t sleep the night before we left and wasn’t safe to drive. So the Subaru is in our friend’s driveway in Charlottesville (our friends are THE BEST!), full of stuff; and our drive from Alaska looks a little different, ending with the Subaru and Honda caravanning up to Pittsburgh from Charlottesville, assuming the Honda is OK.

If we can’t drive the Honda across the continent, we’ll fly to National (using airline miles, which is something we can’t do into or out of Pittsburgh, grr, Alaska Airlines), train to Charlottesville, repack the car to make space, and just drive the Subaru up to Pittsburgh. It’ll be fiiiine.

Pittsburgh and the pets

We had looked at apartments in Pittsburgh while Dale was interviewing and found one that’s pretty great, with a really nice landlady (who likes birds 😃). It’s in Pittsburgh, so of course it has architectural quirks. 😁 But it has a washer and dryer of its own and a dishwasher (the latter being necessary to keep Dale’s and my marriage intact) and enough space for us, our pets, and a home office. It’s in a super walkable/fairly cool neighborhood, on a couple of good bus lines, which is nice. And it has parking! So that’s fantastic.

It isn’t available until at least August 2, maybe as late as the 5th. So the stuff from Charlottesville is in a storage unit in Pittsburgh. Our friends are THE BEST, so we had lots of help unloading the truck.

Also because our friends are THE BEST, our chinchilla is staying with one set of friends, and our birds are staying with another. (That’s why we’re still trying to get back by the 5th, even though Dale doesn’t start until the 10th. We feel bad leaving our pets with our friends any longer than necessary. … And also we have some settling to do before starting a whole new life, y’know?)

The drive, mapped

We’ve had to cut some corners (like our trip to Omaha 😦), but here’s our current planned trip. If you’re along the way and want us to stop and say hi, let us know! 😃

Published inAKtoPAon a personal note

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *