First impressions

We arrived in Ann Arbor Thursday night after a minimally stressful 10 hours in the car. Everyone seems to be settling in well, though Mina is still pretty skittish and frequently takes refuge in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. We’ve spent the last two days getting acclimated to our new digs (sans furniture, which will arrive mid next week) and figuring out how to get around. Some first impressions while Shane puts a second coat of paint on the NAVY BLUE CEILING in one of the bedrooms:

  1. It’s very dark here at night! We’re used to well-lit – or at least kind of lit – city streets, so driving around at night in what is arguably a suburban neighborhood can be tricky, especially if it’s raining.
  2. The farmers’ market is great, cheaper than any of the ones in DC (even when I was getting a sweet discount), and full of life on a Saturday morning.  It reminded me of going to the market in Urbana and seeing at least a handful of friends every weekend – except without the friends part.  I kept wanting to buy things and then realizing that I had nothing with which to prepare them.
  3. I’ve realized over the last two days the extent to which I take my kitchen for granted.  I went to make pasta for lunch yesterday, except that I had nothing in which to boil the pasta, and no can opener with which to open the tuna.  I made the former work, but not the latter.
  4. Running in a suburban neighborhood is different than running in a city that is on a grid and/or that has excellent rails-to-trails trails available.  My 3.5K run today included a park “trail”, a stop by a “tomato free-for-all” garden, and a bout of thankfulness for noticing street names.  Tomorrow I’ll stick to clearer routes and will not think about running by the river.
  5. Hard wood floors are much noisier than carpet. Prior to our apt in Alex, we were die-hard hard wood fans, but both the comfort and sound insulation of that apt spoiled us. Shane is downstairs rinsing out the paint tray, which I know because I saw him go down there, but also because I can hear him clanging around right below me.  We will be investing in rugs soon.
  6. On a similar note, I didn’t notice how quiet our apt complex in Alex was – even though we were right off the GW Parkway – until we moved into an apt on a semi-busy residential street.  I think it’s partially that we haven’t been able to sleep with our windows open in a looong time.  Did I mention it’s been in the 70s with lows in the 50s?
  7. Oh hello, Midwest seasonal allergies.  I’d forgotten about you guys.  It’s always seemed like a cruel joke to me that my favorite season – fall – also gives me the worst sneezes.

Almost Go Time

We leave for Michigan in four days. I can’t believe it’s already time. My last day of work was Friday, and tomorrow is Shane’s last day.  The movers are coming on Tuesday to pack up our apartment, and then our stuff leaves on Wednesday. Our going away party is Wednesday night at the Galaxy Hut, where we’ll be DJing – and then Thursday morning we’ll load up the car and the cats and be on our way.

At some point I imagine we’ll stop to reflect on our time here – but right now we’re both in a bit of a daze.

The good thing about this move – as opposed to other moves – is that it’s been relatively low stress up until this point.  We’ve had relaxed evenings of dinner and conversation – an afternoon lying on shaggy carpets with babies and friends – a long, lazy overnight at the lake with friends and good beer and sunshine.  This is the way to go out.

Midwest Tour, part 4

Day 6: Rockford, IL > Ann Arbor, MI
States: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan

We had to get on the road first thing in the morning in order to get to Ann Arbor in time for a 4:30pm apartment showing, which meant limited lingering over brunch with the extended family, much to my disappointment.  It was nice to get to see everyone – hopefully next time we won’t be so rushed.  After a quick stop for hugs at Jenn and Bill’s, we were on the road a little after 11 and motored on around Chicago, dipping down into Indiana before hitting Michigan’s glorious 70 mph highways, rolling into Ann Arbor just in time.

Apartment #1 was a 2 bedroom with a basement located in a tree-filled neighborhood about 1.5 miles from Kerrytown and the U of M campus.  The landlord’s dad gave us a tour, mentioning along the way that the current tenant worked at the library.  On our way out, we noticed a stack of articles about institutional repositories on his coffee table.  What are the chances, right?  We had some time to kill before apartment #2, so we made our first trip to Zingerman’s.

Zingerman’s!  Sigh.  The stuff of dreams.  Walking around Kerrytown felt like going home to Champaign – neighborhood-scale streets, friendly people, good food.  We immediately found a co-op and I literally leapt for joy – or would have, if I hadn’t felt totally brain-dead from the driving and the hangover.  With two days ahead of us, though, we decided to save some exploring for later, and went to check out apartment #2, which was closer to the fun stuff but also much smaller and weirdly laid out.  Satisfied with our house-hunting, we checked into our hotel, signed the lease, and headed off for dinner.

I really can’t describe to you how happy we were that evening.  The weather was perfect.  We had a new apartment, and along with it a huge weight off.  We wandered around the downtown area, settling on Blue Tractor for a totally adequate dinner, then heading back to our hotel to pass the hell on out.

Day 7: Ann Arbor, MI
States: Michigan

We’d expected to have to do a bit more househunting, so with a lease signed and sealed, we found ourselves with a full day free in Ann Arbor.  We started off with breakfast at Zingerman’s – polenta for me, and the Kentucky King Platter for Shane.  The rest of the morning was dedicated to lazy walking around, exploring little shops in Kerrytown, and sitting in a park and feeling sleepy.  We had a late lunch at Red Hawk on campus, then went back to the hotel for a nap.  I ❤ vacation naps.

After a bit of driving around, we decided to park ourselves at a coffeeshop in order to enjoy the beautiful weather and our books – then ended up at Ashley’s for dinner and, as it happened, trivia.  Shane went to Ashley’s for dinner when he was in Ann Arbor for his job interview, and was so enamored with their drafts list that he insisted we go back.  This turned out to be a fortuitous choice!  We had our books sitting on the table, and a girl came up to ask Shane if he was, in fact, reading Infinite Jest.  She said that she was part of a book club participating in Infinite Summer, and invited him to join them for their discussion in the future.  Fun and random, right?  Well, as the evening progressed, we inadvertently eavesdropped on her conversation and learned that not only is she a nice person who invites strangers to a book club – she also works at the U of M library in a department that Shane will be working with!  Upon discovering that, we exchanged contact information and exclaimed about the coincidence!  That made two totally random encounters with library people – or library people’s stuff – in two days, which to me feels like a pretty good sign that we’re moving to the right place.  In addition, thanks to my otherwise totally useless knowledge of The Doors, we came in 2nd in trivia, winning a $10 gift certificate to Ashley’s that we look forward to using once we arrive.

Back at the hotel, we were in for an interesting night.  We turned in around 11, hoping for a good night’s sleep before a long day of travel.  We were definitely not in luck.  From 11-1, we were treated to unending noise from our upstairs and other nearby neighbors.  It wasn’t a lot of noise – just enough to keep us both awake.  Shane tried to call the front desk – no answer.  I finally got dressed and went to talk to the management, only to discover that they closed up shop at 11.  Perfect timing!  I guess that’s what you get when you’re paying $50 or less for a hotel.  I went upstairs to knock on the hotel room door, and instead ran into three cops dusting for fingerprints on a busted vending machine.  I have no idea what they were really doing there – but whatever it was, it quieted down our neighbors, and we finally got some sleep out of the evening.

Day 8: Ann Arbor, MI > Alexandria, VA
States: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

The final day of our trip was also the longest day of travel – for Shane at least.  Having used up all of my earned vacation time for this trip, I had made arrangements to work the late shift on the day of our return.  Not knowing how much time we’d need in Ann Arbor, though, we’d talked it over and I’d booked a one-way flight home from Detroit.  After breakfast at Zingerman’s (trip #4, including a stop for a beverage and Caroline’s coffee), we drove to the Detroit airport.  I wheedled my way onto an earlier flight, putting me back in sweaty-sweaty DC at 3pm – just enough time to cab home, take a shower, feed the cats, and turn around and head back into DC for work at 6pm.  If anything noteworthy happened on Shane’s long looong loooooong drive home, I’m not aware of it, as by the time I got home at 9:30pm, he had been home with enough time to unload the car and bottle his beer.  I owe him one – a big one – for that trip.

So, all told, we logged 1837 miles in 8 days, acquired several cases of beer, saw a lot of family and friends, found a new home, and made it back in one piece.  We were patient and kind to each other, despite forgetting both camera and iPod chargers.  There were no major incidents of any kind.  A successful trip!


So sometimes you make plans.  And sometimes you unmake them.  And sometimes someone else unmakes them for you.  This post is about the last of those options.

As you all know by now, Shane and I are moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Shane has accepted the job of Digital Preservation Librarian at the University of Michigan.  We don’t have a moving date or new address set yet (and I don’t have a job!), but we plan to firm up those details in the next two weeks, and to complete our move in late August.

As many of you have already commented, moving to a new state and starting new job(s) will make having a wedding in Virginia a bit difficult.  We had initially planned to go ahead with the previously announced plans – until an ACT OF GOD made us see the light.  Sometimes I’m prone to hyperbole, but this is not one of those times.

The park district office where we had booked our wedding site had a flood the day after I turned in the application and deposit.  The whole building didn’t flood – just part of it.  Which happened to be the part where our paperwork was at the time – not where it should have been, but where it was.  All of our paperwork was lost – the check for the deposit, the application for the reservation – all of it.

With that paperwork gone, our most significant financial investment in the event was eliminated, making it exceptionally practical to cancel.  After confirming that our guests had not been charged for hotel reservations, we decided to go ahead and pull the plug.

So in short: we’re not getting married in October in Virginia.  We are still getting married, but for the time being, we’re setting aside those plans in order to focus on our other major transitions.  We probably won’t start planning until we settle in A2 (as the kids call it), which means it may not be this fall.  We’ll definitely keep you posted, though!

Facebook Official

If it’s Facebook Official, then I guess it’s Outpost 505 Official as well. Shane’s accepted a great job at the University of Michigan, and we’ll be moving to Ann Arbor sometime around the end of the summer. That’s all we know at this point, but stay tuned for more news!