Where I’m Going (February Edition)

West Coast 2014 - courtesy of Tripline.net

Yesterday I moved out of my Chicago apartment. I don’t know if that’s sunk in for me yet. It still feels like a quick weekend visit back to my parents’, only all of my stuff is here, too.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that there’s still so much traveling on the docket. First up is a trip to the West Coast over the course of February. I did a similar month-long journey out west last year in February to visit friends and explore, and it just seemed right to do the same this year as part of my transition from city life and stability to farming and adventure.

I’ll mostly be traveling by train, though there’s one plane trip and a bus circuit thrown in the mix. I’ll be posting regularly while I’m on the journey, but here’s a rough itinerary of where I’ll be for the next month or so.

Feb. 4-6: Denver, CO
Feb. 7-13: Santa Rosa/San Francisco/Bay Area, CA
Feb. 14-19: Portland, OR
Feb. 20-22: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Feb. 24-27: Los Angeles, CA
Mar. 1-3?: Chicago, IL (getting my bicycle fitted, tweaked, and tested w/ Ezra @ Green Machine Cycles
Mar. 4-6?: Bicycle from Chicago to Indianapolis, with potential stops in Valparaiso and Lafayette

I’ll get to some more details of the farming part of this adventure later on. It’s still over a month away, and there’s so much to do before then. Expect a post in the near future, though, that will help to explain what this is all about.

Everything I Own

All My StuffAfter three months of working, planning, and stressing about it, I moved out of my Chicago apartment yesterday. I’d like to thank my dad for making the trip up from Indiana to help me move. Being an engineer, he has a much better understanding of how things can fit in a space than I do, and this came in handy when packing all my worldly possessions into a car.

The picture on the right is everything I currently own piled up on the floor of my parents’ house. It feels strange to move things back to my childhood home at the age of 27, especially since I haven’t lived here since the summer after my first year in college.

Although I’m only staying with them for a couple of days before I’m on the road, they have been gracious enough to host the things I won’t need now (but will want whenever I make my home somewhere). In the interest of simplicity in my own life and of not becoming a burden in theirs, I slowly chipped away at my possessions in the months leading up to the move.

Of course, I wanted to do this without just throwing a bunch of things in the trash. One of the main reasons I’m heading off on this adventure is to be a better steward of the planet, and throwing away what I’ve accumulated seemed irresponsible. Instead, I focused on selling, donating, lending, and, as a last resort, recycling as much as I could. In the interest of helping anyone else who wants to downsize, here are some things I did:

  • I digitized all my hundreds of CDs to high-quality mp3 files and stored them (along with all other important files) on an external hard drive and a cloud-based backup service (CrashPlan). I then sold the CDs to resale shops like Reckless Records in Chicago and SecondSpin.com. I took all of the CDs that didn’t sell to Best Buy to be recycled. I walked the 7-mile round trip to the nearest Chicago Best Buy around 10 times with a messenger bag full of CDs and stuffed the CDs into the appropriate depository at the front of the store. This brings me to:
  • Best Buy electronics recycling is where it’s at. In Illinois and Indiana (and probably many other states), Best Buy offers a free electronics recycling program. In addition to the aforementioned CDs, I recycled audio cables, an old desktop computer, a printer, a tuner, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. No questions asked other than if I would like a recycling receipt. Please don’t throw out your electronics when it’s so easy to recycle them.
  • There were a few things that I donated to a Goodwill-like service in Chicago called the Brown Elephant.
  • I lent (or foisted upon, perhaps) friends much of the art I’ve purchased or received over the years. I’m proud to say that my Drew Etienne collection will still grace someone’s home even while I’m away on a farm.
  • I loaned the music equipment that I intend (or hope) to use in the future to friends who will get more use out of it in the next few years than I will. I sold the gear I no longer wanted on Craigslist and eBay.

I probably still have too much stuff. I didn’t reduce my book collection much, since I want to have a small library when I end up somewhere more permanent. I kept all of my correspondence from the past 10 years. I still have about eight pairs of shoes. Still, it’s a start, and it’s good to know that all I own can essentially fit in a car — especially because I will soon be fitting everything I will need for the year onto a bicycle.

Priorities

I just saw a headline for an article that read, “Charity gets temporary win over health care.”

I’m so happy to live in a world where a charity is in a fight to prevent people from getting health care. It’s so comforting to know that our priorities are in order and that ideology continues to stand strong against the possibility of pragmatic good.

Postcard Stamps

Did Phoebe Hesketh send postcards? I think she did.I went to the post office just now to mail three postcards to friends. I was told the post office had no postcard stamps. That’s odd. I was then told that their computers are not capable of printing out a generic stamp for 33 cents. This was also strange to me, as I’ve received postcards from friends (see photo) where this was clearly possible. Maybe computers are more advanced in Portland, where they are made from redwood instead of birch. So, to my three friends for whom I have written postcards, there will be a small delay.

As with most of my opinions, there is an 88-year-old woman who agrees with me:

The Terrible Beauty of Efficiency

Phoebe Hesketh

Rivington Village post office
as I knew it sixty years ago
with its scratched wooden table, ink-well,
cross-nibbed pen and blotting-paper reflecting
bucolic signatures,
its packets of Woodbines
and jars of spiralling barley-sugar,
is all changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

There’s a counter smooth with efficiency
and a shining metal grille
guarding the new, smart postmistress
(since the old one was mugged) –
Oh, so smart you’d never hear her say
like the other,
after giving me the wrong stamp
(which I told her I’d licked),
‘Never mind,’ as she took it back,
‘It’ll dry!’