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Tips for Moving Out Of State

Updated on May 17, 2009

#14 of 100 -- did I get that far? Yeah!

Wow, Lucky 13 was the last one and I still haven't run out of things to write about. Kewwwl! Of course, I'm breathing, so I still haven't run out of things to write about. This one's happening Now.
Wow, Lucky 13 was the last one and I still haven't run out of things to write about. Kewwwl! Of course, I'm breathing, so I still haven't run out of things to write about. This one's happening Now.

Interstate Moves Take Emergency Activity Levels

 Moving out of state is a bona fide crisis just like getting a divorce or getting married. It takes a lot of concentrated short term effort to do everything necessary to get yourself and your family safely and sanely across a long journey to someplace you may never have been before in your life and then get a new place to live, settle in and begin to reconstruct your entire social life from the ground up -- except for the one great advantage we have in 2009.

Unlike all the previous decades in which Americans randomly uprooted and moved great distances losing touch with family members and old friends and acquaintances, we've got the Internet in the 21st century and they have this tendency to find you even if you haven't seen them for thirty years. This is a good thing. Because all your active close friends and connections on the Internet will cushion the most emotionally devastating part of an interstate move. You're not alone in a strange place.

As soon as you turn on your computer, you're home back on your usual websites and forums and all the people you know will be right there with tips and advice and commiseration, supportive and friendly. You may find several of them are actually moving across state lines or to another country right at the same time.

If you're very active on the Internet and make it public that you're moving and where, you may already have some reasonably close friends who'd love to meet you in person who live in the place you're moving to. Odds are someone you know used to live there or has friends there. You may get some introductions. You'll be likelier to find out if your personal niche interests like dressing up in medieval costumes to bash other guys with wooden swords or baking competition quality berry pies or bird watching have active groups in the area. In fact, if you participate in those groups online, you may know a bunch of people in the local chapter where you're going all of whom are genuinely glad to meet you and see your tropical fish in person.

Your hobbies are what will keep you sane.

Seascape in Soft Pastels

Waves and Rocks, 8" x 10" in soft pastels on watercolor paper primed with Colourfix clear sanded primer, by Robert A. Sloan.
Waves and Rocks, 8" x 10" in soft pastels on watercolor paper primed with Colourfix clear sanded primer, by Robert A. Sloan.

Treat It As An Adventure

 This can make all the difference. If you're focused mostly on grieving the goodbyes and not being able to see your offline friends in person except maybe at very long intervals, it's going to hurt. It's also going to hurt letting go of a place that has happy memories. I'm going through that right now, because Lawrence, Kansas now has more happy memories than any other place I've lived in my life except San Francisco and New Orleans. I know I won't likely ever live here again or even come back on vacations.

But whenever I left a bad situation I wound up looking forward to any improvement the new place had over where I lived before. I could also let go of all the problems and irritations of the place I was at. I have nothing but happy memories of this house overall.

But at the same time, it would be really nice to have doors on my room instead of baby gates that are hard to open and shut, need to be kept shut in order to keep dogs and small children from coming in whenever they want to steal cat food or wake me up out of a sound sleep, or mess up my stuff. It would be great if it was up to me when said grandkids could see that I'm awake and actually be awake, rested and dressed with meds working before I smile at them and invite them in.

I won't be shutting them out, but they won't get to come pestering me at the first sign my eyes are open. Maybe I'll even get pajamas and wear them rather than sleeping in sweats because I never know when another person will see me fall out of bed and sludge toward the bathroom with bedhead. The adults have great consideration and knock at the side of the opening to see if I'm up yet. My five year old granddaughter is still learning that and my three year old grandson just rattles the gate or cleverly runs around to come in the other way if the one into the kitchen has been left open.

I'm not leaving those people. This is not the heartbreak of losing someone I love, the way moving after a divorce is.

But even then, during the miserable weeks before we moved apart, it sank in to me that I could finally eat my favorite foods without getting hassled, watch my favorite movies, listen to my favorite music and do whatever I wanted without a constantly critical miserable now-ex who hated everything I liked ragging on me for anything I liked. There is always an up side to a move. There is always something cool to look forward to.

My daughter is tempting me every time she comes up from farrier school with pictures of pretty foals and grown horses, wildflowers, mountains, the kind of terrain she knows I want to go outside and paint along with every other Sunday painter in the world. She's now come up for the last two weeks here to take charge of the move and get us down there with her. I was a bit shocked and upset when I first heard about the move because I loved this house and love living with them and it felt like I was having everything pulled out from under me.

"Dad, this is you. Come on. It's an adventure. Where's the old wanderlust?"

She spoke the magic words, reminded me of some of the other best times we've had in all our lives -- of a summer when I had everything I owned jammed into a rather small car along with her, a wandering guy who thankfully only had a backpack and a rather large dog who spent most of the trip in my lap driving through a hurricane to get to Pennsylvania three months ahead of a scheduled camping medieval event so that we wouldn't need to bother getting another apartment just to move out of it. We found a state campground with zero fees. We lived on rice and weeds, food we'd bought cheap in Louisiana on our way out supplemented with my daughter's excellent skill at finding edibles in any wilderness.

She grew up on the Earth's Children series by Jean Auel and is the living woman closest to Ayla's skills that I have ever met in my life. Herbalist, tightwad coordinator, good leader, food-finder, huntress, mom, horsewoman, animal specialist -- she does all that cool stuff and she's for real. I have never been as comfortable in my life as when I live with her. Three years of her increased interest in nutrition and healthy frugal living have restored a good deal of the strength and body energy lost to decades of living on junk food because I couldn't prepare my own meals.

And every trip I've ever taken with her has been fun as blazes. More often than not it involved packing up everything I own and getting rid of what couldn't be carried. It always involves putting the radio on or some tapes or CDs into the car music machine and headbanging down the road to good music while she sings in a voice far better than Ayla's, she could actually be a professional musician if she wanted and plays several instruments. She does music like I draw -- very very well from a lifetime of doing it.

Yes, she's a genius with a broad range of skills -- mostly because she never let herself not learn anything or believe she couldn't learn. She has very broad interests in life and is always studying something or poking into something new, and anything she gets that interested in like herbs or horses or animal care or food and healing is going to get a lot of cumulative study and testing. Most people think of learning as some unpleasant duty of childhood, one that ends when they finally specialize and get a job.

We never grew up, either of us, never stopped learning or getting excited about new things and learning about them so our lives have a different pace. She married a man who's the same way, my son in law is an anthropologist and has enriched all our lives with an anthropological view of everything from our physical culture to our habits and ceremonies. He's great. I love him. He is the best male relative any man could ever have and he's also good at something neither me or Kitten ever did much of -- fishing. So the next time we camp someplace for a month or two in a summer, we will add fresh fish to our diet. Both of them cook, so I'll be eating pretty darn well wherever we land.

We are the Addams Family -- weird and happy and loving and get along well with each other.

"Look on the bright side" is a bland little aphorism that just makes people feel bad for genuinely grieving real losses. My losses are real. I am not going to have Thursday night art sessions with Lisa again after I move, unless by sheer luck and circumstance she moves too and washes up real close again. I'm stronger than I was when I moved in here -- but the physical process of packing everything I own is going to be at least five times tougher than it would be for any abled person and that's if I have nothing but good days for the next two weeks.

All I can do is grit my teeth and do as much of it as I can in one day, a day at a time, and not do the sprint last-minute overexertion too soon since I'd better not be resting up from overexertion on the day we leave. I want to enjoy the trip, so I will pace myself. This will also keep me from losing as much of what matters to me.

I have moved out of state many times in my life. Moving in general was something I did three or four times a year throughout my adult life except for, previously, two different worst times in my life when I was trapped in bad situations I didn't have the resources to leave. I was stuck for almost two years in Minnesota in a climate I couldn't function in at all, because I wound up on the fourth floor of a building that had another set of stairs to get to the curb and literally could not move out under my own power -- it took Kitten and her husband packing my stuff and hauling me out of there. I barely made it down the steps one-way.

And I got stuck in a homeless shelter for three and a half years that ended in 2000 when after four months of being told "You have housing, you can move in this week" I finally did get an apartment after it got put off for another week every week for four months. I have lived with everything packed for four solid "hurry up and wait" months and that was literally the worst move I ever made, sitting on my thumbs without Internet access during the launch of Raven Dance, my first book. I honestly think I'd have sold a lot more of it if I'd been able to get online during that time.

Most of my interstate moves have been a lot more fun than that.

So when I say "look on the up side" I'm saying, do that literally in relation to what you really like and not to what other people say you should like. Pay attention to it and research those things that matter to you. Don't just warble about it. Get online and look for anything remotely cool to you that area has or is known for.

My current non-occupational passion is art, visual art. Painting and drawing in soft pastels, oil pastels (my website), colored pencils, watercolor, oil paints, acrylics, pen & watercolor, graphite, charcoal, okay, there are very few things that can make marks on flat things that I haven't tried and enjoyed and added to my studio or promised myself that I'd learn how to use someday. It's a big thing for me. Daily art has joined my routine of stress management and the social approval for my daily drawings really cheers me up.

When tying your shoes is a major achievement, being able to do something that real people out there n the world think is cool and applaud is a great morale builder.

I bought loafers and boots that pull on, then gave up on tying shoes at all in favor of drawing and painting -- the energy wasted in trying to make sneakers or oxfords stay tied and the number of times I threw my back bending over to do it wasn't worth the trouble when loafers also look fine. If you have any form of back trouble or difficulty bending over, you know what I mean. The shoe tying thing does not always mean you lack intelligence or don't know how to tie a knot.

The thing is, all the abled "normal" people I've ever known are weird too and have special needs and special knacks and things they're good at and things they enjoy (usually the same, nothing makes an activity so much fun as being good at it) and aren't normal at all once you get to know them. I'm a freak even among freaks but at the same time I've known so many people in my wandering life to know this -- no one is normal. It doesn't exist.

So it's important to remember who you are and then not just talk about looking at the up side, literally find out about it. Look at pictures of the new area. Google it. Find out which of your interests is locally available and maybe contact groups you would like to get involved in.

Sometimes that's a bust. Some affinity groups are old and not welcoming, they settled and whether it started out about medieval costume and rattan bashing or anything else, it's really now about hanging out with the friends you've known for thirty years and sharing in-jokes. Society for Creative Anachronism in Lawrence, KS is known as "the retirement community for Laurels and Dukes" and has lots of experienced old members sickeningly good at everything and tired of teaching newbies. They're not great at bringing in new members or making them feel welcome and some of the old members are annoying people who are nonetheless very appreciated by those who knew them that long and put up with their irritating habits out of familiarity -- or have very good memories of the times they saw their good side, to be real about it -- who will drive off new members in fifteen minutes once they get going.

We didn't really get into the SCA here. We gave it a good try, but it did not work out. I went to one event and it was in Kansas City three hours away -- not practical in a logistic sense and I'd already started to drift more toward drawing and painting than dressing up in garb and looking like a newbie next to someone who spent 30 years accumulating good authentic garb. Also the SCA is always divided between two types on a continuum -- authenticity nuts and those who just want to have fun.

When a group's old, the authenticity nuts have had 30 years of dressing up the just for fun folks and everyone looks like an authenticity nut, so you don't have other beginners in sweat pants and a simple tunic looking and feeling ratty in something that did actually take about the same work as their latest Elizabethan confection did on the old timer who's been doing Elizabethan for decades. It all adds up. SCA here wasn't a good place to move in.

Some other things were and we made friends here. I wish I'd made it to the local group that meets at Aimee's coffeehouse, but I was never physically up to going on the days during November when it met. Maybe the warmer climate in Arkansas will make that possible there with a new group of Wrimo participants. I could enjoy doing a Write-In. I did make it to the Mass St. Art Guild meeting and gallery opening and had three of my pieces in the show, met a beautiful poet who gave me her chapbook and an Origami flower bulit on a stick of incense in exchange for an oil pastels ACEO that I did for her on the spot and never scanned -- a good trade and I'm still happy with it.

So I got out of the house a bit here, but nowhere near as often as I did in New Orleans when I didn't have stairs between me and the front door. Or San Francisco when I was younger and the weather while muggy and vaguely chilly most of the time was also moist (good for me in ways I don't fully understand) and most of all, consistent so I didn't get weather changes knocking out all my body energy to leave me unable to get out of bed. That happens a lot here in Kansas. It's not as hard on me as not breathing at that altitude in Colorado was, or trying to endure Minnesota's bitter winters and ever-changing seasons... so any move toward the South and a "Moist Sub-Tropical" climate will improve my quality of life.

A new place that has my room on the same level as the bathroom with the tub and the front door is going to be a whole lot easier for me to get out of the house and meet people offline more often. Also some online research and Kitten's anecdotes have shown me the area has a big thriving arts community with so many local plein air groups that they have set aside lookout points and places for people to get together with easels and coloring things to paint those gorgeous mountains. I could spend years just painting Arkansas from what I've seen in the photos. That's an activity that cuts across a whole lot of different social and cultural lines.

It's like bird watching in that -- and I may well be tripping over birders anyway as I get out with easel and someone to carry it.

Or learn to ride and rent a horse, because while I can't hike, sitting on an animal's back is letting the horse do all the hiking bit. If I can get strong enough to do that, a lot more nature oriented activity opens up to me than I could ever manage without it -- in a rural area the horse could prove more useful than the power chair.

So I have things to look forward to -- and the only way to make "look at the up side" work is to put conscious effort into finding out about the up side things and making sure they are there. SCA isn't the only costumed historical society in the area either. I may wind up doing the Mountain Man thing and sit out whittling with blokes in 17th or 19th or 18th century garb instead. I like that sort of stuff -- the crafts and arts were why I liked the SCA. And one good leather outfit would do me for years in that role! It'd look better the more I broke it in.


Pack The Fragile Nonessentials First

Orange glass paperweight from life in pen & watercolor from my watercolor journal, by Robert A. Sloan
Orange glass paperweight from life in pen & watercolor from my watercolor journal, by Robert A. Sloan

Organize While Packing

 I have to spend a lot of time sitting still in order to rest up enough for some short bursts of activity. Packing takes body energy, takes bending over which can throw my back if I don't stop the minute it starts to tighten and rest then until I'm up to doing it again. So my packing process has always involved more time planning than actually doing -- and this has led to my doing it in physically efficient, sensible ways that have let me pack everything I owned well, time and time again, several times a year through most of my adult life.

The things to get packed up first and most carefully are the breakables that don't get used all the time, the decorative items like a religious statue or a collection of several glass paperweights, flower vases, ceramic plaque gifts from friends they made in an art class, keepsakes that are delicate, tangible, valuable either personally or in a literal money sense. Those need to be wrapped lovingly in paper or cloth or bubblewrap saved from many art supply orders and tucked into boxes marked Fragile with your name on it and maybe a note as to what's in it.

That box can actually be unpacked last too, becausle those things aren't essential to being comfortable during the process of the move. This orange paperweight I drew is actually small enough it's in the second round of that stage -- Small Still LIfe Objects that stay with my art supplies and need to be kept nearby to set up still lifes. Those include any number of polished stones and crystals, a great lot of shells a friend in Minnesota gave me, a bag of marbles an eBay friend sent me and another bag I bought on eBay before I realized that my friend had sent me a surprise gift so that I could do marbles in colored pencils realism. It's the smallest glass paperweight and can get wrapped with the marbles and shells so it goes back with "Small still life objects" in those boxes -- which will get unwrapped the first time I have breathing room to sit down and do a still life.

I gave Kitten all my garb fabrics so any drapery for still lifes is currently unusably upstairs in her sewing room, but still organized in various plastic tubs and pretty easily moved from when I moved in. I organized that stuff a long time ago and many bits of SCA garb are intermingled with my clothes in the bottom of the tubs because I haven't had cause to dress up as a 9th century Icelandic trader for years. I was good at trading and have a lot of neat medieval art supplies too. Those are in a wooden box on my drafting table, still very organized.

I meant to reorganize them but that'll come after the move -- better to not go into anything that's already packed up in portable form. Same with the Griffin Alkyds and Mediums tub -- it can stay the Griffin Alkyd Mediums & Paints & Brushes tub and get a piece of masking tape with OILS -- Robert written on it. Everything already stored in something movable can be ignored as Already Packed.

Books -- to a nonreader, i have A Lot Of Books. Maybe several hundred. To any heavy reader who's lived in a house most of their life, I have a pathetically small stack of books and have lost most of my favorites over the years but managed to retain about 95% of my expensive-to-replace reference books on art, dinosaurs, nature, various other topics including a few that were freebies on very off topics.

Those get packed to a very high priority but they're also something I get into almost every day. My "to be read" stack gets packed last because the books I'm reading now are the ones I'll want to finish en route or when I get there. So Carlson's Landscape Guide which I'm currently studying, goes into either my travel bag or the very last thing to go into the last books box so I can find it easily.

I am using smallish boxes for books to make it easier for my family to carry them. I know either Kitten or Karl can lift more than I can, but I've seen many abled roommates and friends, even strong ones, struggle with too-large boxes full of books. Books weigh like concrete blocks. So if you've got help packing, try to keep books in smaller boxes or stuff half the box with lightweight padding like towels so the box's weight stays within what the people who are helping you can lift easily. The strong ones will show off carrying multiple boxes and overload themselves, but that's better than watching someone who cares stagger and hurt their back carrying something you packed badly.

I pack them so I could lift them and that helps a lot since everyone's stronger than me.

Pack books so the weakest person in the moving party can carry the box. Heck, pack everything so the weakest person in the moving party can carry the box. The furniture is enough of a back strain on the strongest.

I have lost track of many of my personal linens -- bedsheets, towels and that sort of thing. For years and years I liked to make sure that I did have some, they weren't ruined and were in colors I liked instead of random trash from thrift stores. Anyone who goes out as little as I do needs any cheering up at home he can get, and having not ratty towels that aren't in some stupid gray-pink or lavender girly color but some rich deep gothic black or red is a reminder that I'm adult and not living to other people's tastes. Same thing with sheets that aren't trash and don't have cigarette holes in them. I don't smoke in bed and so every decade or so, I buy sheets that are dark red or black or dark green and remind myself I think that sort of thing is cool.

Except that I put that off in favor of art supplies and half of what I'm using is junk from thrift stores, so it'll wait. I know it's a luxury but the sheets and things I use now are improvised because my nice looking old ones are not waterbed sheets. They just tuck in any which way. My bed is no longer some sumptuous scream of luxury against the brute misery of homelessness because I've actually had spending money for three years running and sunk most of it into restoring the art studio I had in the nineties... and going way way beyond what I had in the nineties to most of everything I wanted when I was living on art in the nineties.

Even more, into cool things that didn't exist in the 1990s and hadn't been invented.


Tools matter! Give them priority!

My Acer netbook, pen & watercolor, from my watercolor journal. Robert A. Sloan
My Acer netbook, pen & watercolor, from my watercolor journal. Robert A. Sloan

My Biggest Moving Mistake -- Not This Time!

 Way back when I left New Orleans for the last time, I hauled along an enormous wooden trunk that was entirely full of various bits of fabric, half of it scrounged for recycling, and sundry other junk that was gathered free out of the streets because it was projects I was doing at the time and a big collection that I put a lot of time and work into.

I gave away or abandoned several thousand dollars in art supplies and tools and stripped that to the minimum because I was burned out on doing art. I'd done it for a living and broken my heart on not being able to make a living (because I could not work enough days to earn enough to live on and was too sick to sell anything to anyone because I didn't look happy) and during the last year, could not afford to keep any of my art because I needed the money too much. I learned better.

It took the entire back payment of my Social Security to begin replacing that lost studio and then I put three more years of feeding Dick Blick the lion's share of my spending money to be caught up and into getting new art supplies that either didn't exist back then or were better than what they replaced. I still haven't replaced my Derwent Watercolor Pencils set of 72 and I'll never again have the tin with the trout on the cover -- the trout tin is something I dearly miss even though I have other watercolor pencils in a 72 color range. I wanted to copy that dang trout on the end of the fisherman's line flipping into the foreground and if I ever do, it'll be from memory.

I didn't use them much because they were too expensive and too good to use and because colored pencils art didn't bring enough money to pay for the time spent doing it. Now I do it because I love it and don't sell it unless it's an ACEO. It's very good for trade with artists who do wonderful things with oils and other slow difficult mediums though, and some colored pencil art prints have managed to pay out for the time spent doing the art.

Someone said that the disaster of a move between states is like having your house burn down.

That move was in terms of losing stuff that I used every day and enjoyed. I was in grief over losing my independence and in serious problems dealing with being disabled and unable to prove it, didn't know what was wrong and half the time believed it when people said it was mental illness because I have never in my life experienced emotional pain without crippling physical agony.

The symptoms look the same to the outside -- I can't move, don't want to do anything, cry all the time, grieve and I'm sad. However, the big difference came with what treated it. Wellbutrin from a friendly psychiatrist who gave me samples did absolutely nothing to touch the pain. Funny, taking acetaminophen took the edge off it and sleeping it off worked -- that does wonders for chronic fatigue. So if pain pills regardless of the type of pain pill used do help at least somewhat and prescription pain medication as for a toothache also produces a miraculous change of mood and psyche to acting like a normal person who's not in pain, stabilize all the "psychological" problems, your pain is in your body and you need a pain clinic.

They didn't even have pain cilnics most of my life and there sure wasn't one available to me in New Orleans on subsistence income at the time with no insurance.

So I had lousy judgment and ditched everything that I owned that was remotely expensive to replace but kept everything I could've replaced with equally interesting scrounged stuff to recycle anywhere I lived, pillows made from salvaged cushions on dead couches versus hundred dollar colored pencils sets, and had no grasp of where replacement costs came into it.

This time I'm prioritizing on Irreplaceable > Horribly Expensive But Replaceable > Annoying But Replaceable > Easily Replaceable.

Fiction, say, Stephen King paperbacks, is pretty replaceable. Sometimes not even with the same title but one I like more. However, my Harry Potter set and some other favorites are constant rereads so they get packaged separately in case I have to ditch something. Cheap fiction that I got used like any of the Dean Koontz ones I did'nt really like as much as his others, can be replaced with new titles and probably be more enjoyment. Or with lost Dean Koontz titles I enjoyed more and want to reread again.

I'm going to get Kitten to drive me to the used bookstore and just reduce the bulk of fiction while boxing up all my reference books by topic. I've got good containment for a lot of my art supplies, most of it fairly portable because I kept thinking of ways to keep it organized while moving often for all the years of dragging it around.

My good new taboret and drafting table are going into our new home. My waterbed is going into my new home. My squashy armchairs are coming with, both of them -- but if anything gets ditched those are more replaceable from a local thrift store, either of them, much more replaceable than the equivalent bulk of North Light Books that I bought between 2004 and now or the rather shorter shelf of references that survived my refugee years.

When I left New York, I had some money and some sense. I got a lot of plastic storage tubs and most are in general use around the house as storage -- but that helped me get everything I owned from the subsidized apartment where I could not pay utilities because I wasn't mentally ill and the hospital stopped paying them when I proved to be only physically ill, into Kitten's apartment in New Orleans. This saved a lot of those books I still have from being ruined in the floods, both in New York and in New Orleans.

Those are worth the money. I sank about $100 into tubs and they are seriously better than cardboard boxes free from the grocery -- they can be used until you have actual dressers and closet space and so on, and they keep what's in them dry and clean. They're tacky and ugly and cheap but they are much better for anything that moisture could damage than anything else you could get to move it in.

Big wooden trunks are beautiful, they're period when you're trying to make your camp look splendid to other SCA people and they take too much strength to carry when full for anyone without a fork lift. I will not replace my Army trunk for this move. There's a reason soft sided luggage is a good idea, padded if it contains anything fragile like a laptop. There's also good reason for cheap soft sided luggage with wheels. It is easier to load and can be pushed by someone who's sick -- or just normal and exhausted from making fifty trips to the truck. It can go up a ramp easier.

Plastic trash sacks are good enough for any clothes, bedding and so on that don't need dry cleaning, at least whatever's left after all the things that need padding have been packed wrapped in sweaters and tee shirts. Your clothes are good padding. Sorting them out comes with the rest of the unpacking.

Think about your new location and seriously consider letting go of climate-related clothing unless you know you will move back to the land of ice and snow someday. Get rid of everything that either doesn't fit or doesn't look good. Seriously. This is a good time to ditch anything you own that you don't like.

You may have got it cheap or your tastes changed. You may have gotten it as a gift and even forgotten who gave it to you but never liked it. This is a good reason to let go of it and reduce your clothes and furnishings to the stuff you love and the stuff it would cost a lot to replace.

The drafting table I have now is absolutely perfect. It's larger, 28" x 40" with two covered sectional side trays for this, that and the other little thing like kneaded erasers and stray pencils. It has two small drawer units slung under it and those hold my marbles and still life objects as well as the small things I use all the time and my tobacco supplies. The top has a cherry finish by my choice. My old one was white pine, less sturdy, smaller and had only one side tray that had no cover and rapidly became the overfilled dust collector of getting anything that went into it filthy as soon as it touched it.

My old taboret in Chicago was white plastic and had trays that swung around to get at them and needed about a foot and a half of space on all sides to get at what was in its way too shallow drawers. It cost more than the nice wooden one I have now, which is oak and has heavier casters that work on carpet and doesn't tip over when full. It's sturdy enough to have my printer on top and looks like nice furniture.

Sometimes getting rid of things turned out to my benefit -- and with that drafting table and taboret, they definitely did even if it took a long time to replace them. I paid retail for the white plastic one and the pine drafting table anyway because I was working a regular job and had a lot of money and was too tired to be sensible about anything from trying to keep up with the abled. I cringe at the amount of money I wasted while I had that job. I ate out way too much and was always getting flashy junk that was trendy and looked good but fell apart as soon as it was in heavy use.

I didn't discover mail order prices till I was in New Orleans for a year and got fliers from Blick and a couple of other suppliers that routinely had prices about half retail for every cool thing I couldn't afford in Chicago on ten times the annual income. I learned.

I know that things I could get online are going to be easier to replace just by my personal logistics -- like cheap books for one thing.

So I've re-prioritized and organizezd according to what it's going to cost to replace it and whether I use it all the time. The art stuff and reference books are a substantial investment -- the stuff on my bed is mostly there for comfort and would be a relatively minor inconvenience to replace (and upgrade) as long as I make sure I'm not broke when I land.

Most of my art supplies are fragile. Colored pencils and soft pastels are the worst, because getting banged around or rattled will break the leads of colored pencils so that while they're being sharpened months later, the point falls out again and again and again. Then when I thought I had a full length pencil that color to fill a big area, I wind up finding out I have a two inch stub that's only usable if I take a pocket knife to sharpen it or use the broken tips with a tweezers. Bad bad idea.

If you use colored pencils, invest in elastic-band cases. The cheap and effective ones are from and are easel cases with nylon covers and sturdy padding, they can hold up to 120 pencils depending on the size you get. Prismacolors especially need that treatment. Prismacolor tins are nasty. The good ones are Global Classic leather cases with elastic bands in, or if you hate leather, Tran Deluxe nylon versions of the same that zipper into folding "books" of pencils. The easel ones are a little easier to get into, the leather ones more compact for travel.

A good sized portfolio is a very good idea for mat boards and big sheets of watercolor paper or any kind of expensive art paper that comes in big sheets. That's saved more than one big painting too. If not, then keep the big cardboard boxes Blick sends them in to stash your posters and large paintings flat. Save bubble wrap from art supply orders -- it costs a lot but is great for packing dishes or vases or anything fragile before you pack up the last of your clothing. The boxes are sturdy too if you run out of plastic tubs.

An interstate move can be a great adventure or a miserable disruption of everything in your life. The difference is to look at your life with open eyes, look at your possessions and ties and make good decisions based on how you really live -- not on how other peolpe think you live or on how everyone always does it. If you move as often as most Americans do -- every few years -- then having the packing stuff and containers on hand to organize the things that matter to you can make the difference in whether the good stuff comes with -- or you sit there in a pile of easily replaced junk wondering if you'll ever be able to replace those Derwents or something else that matters.

And yes, I know most people have more in the way of photos and albums and memorabilia. I gave up on keeping those a long time and many moves ago, but if they'd mattered to me and I was into taking pictures (which I wasn't, I never had more than a handful that people with cameras would press on me) I'd pack that stuff like the fragile irreplaceables they are -- and try to make sure ALL the photos and keepsake type things and albums were in the same box to unpack last.

Then treat myself to some new albums for the organizing -- guesstimate how much unsorted memoriabilia and photos there are, get very good new albums and books and make the unpacking a project in itself of going through them. If the move's in a hurry like this one -- only two weeks before leaving -- I'd plan that activity for after landing and after the stuff used every day is in place in its proper room.

For me right now, living as I do with them, I'm leaving all my kitchen stuff and things from living alone with Kitten to pack in the kitchen, accepting I might have to replace that stuff if I ever live alone again. It's in joint use anyway. But if I were heading up the move I'd do what she's doing and mark every box with what room it goes in -- which is why "Robert" goes on every one of my boxes. They have tons of SFF books and some art books and things too. Just marking the box "Dark Tower Series" without putting "Robert" on the box could put mine in their bedroom for a reread for a good nine months before someone noticed my name on a flyleaf of one volume.

It is worth the time to label everything and to get a good grease pencil or Sharpie or permanent marker for same. Don't use watersoluble markers. That's the one box that'll wind up on top if it rains while it's coming off the truck and wind up in the garage moldering instead of being unpacked and dried out fast with towels.

Tools are expensive and valuable. Often more so than materials. Losing some lumber is often nowhere near as bad as leaving behind power tools or other tools. Chances are you may need the tools right away as you find out some minor repair is needed immediately in the new place. Get the best tools you can afford, and maybe you'll wind up scrounging an old pallet from the back of a grocery, sand down the wood, build your own table or something -- it helps to think handy and of doing things for yourself. Anything you build or make for yourself will come out customized to your real convenience and needs.

Factory clothes are made for the average French person rather than whoever you are, unless like Kitten you have strong French ancestry and are that size, so if you or someone in your household can sew, you'll dress better and do better either making them or altering stuff from a thrift store rather than paying retail for something that doesn't fit. Clothes in a pinch are cheap and easy to get in thrift stores because it's the first thing anyone gets rid of when they gain a little weight or fashion changes or they just didn't like it.

This is also why your favorite shirt should be packed with care because you won't find one like it even if you do go to the trendy fancy stores -- it's no longer made and the brand might no longer exist and you'll never find one that fits like the one that you wore that much and stretched to your own particular shape.

A move across state lines is a time to take inventory on your life. Get rid of anything that doesn't make you happy and pack carefully anything that does. The time and effort you put into packing carefully will save you enormous time, grief and energy on the other end because the more organized it is, the less trouble you have unpacking and settling in.

I need to get my wall art down soon and get that packed up. Framed art will probably get stacked with moving blankets off my bed accordion folded between layers of it into a stack though, so I'd better be ready to also pull off a blanket or two from the bed to do that when I create that stack. Unframed art can all come down and go in the portfolios though, that'll help take a load of worry off my mind fast. I should also reorganize what's in the three portfolios so that the new cheap recycled green one is filled with something sensible like bits of mat board and the sturdier smallest one gets wall art.

I've got a lot to do and planning is continuous -- but this will make it possible for me to get there without losing what matters to me.

I can't wait till this is over and I'm opening the boxes settling in. It's not long though - two weeks of disruption isn't bad at all.


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    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      This is an amazing collection of facts, feelings, observations....amazing! I can relate on so many, moving, the particular areas ( Kansas), your daughter's strength, memories, the end of relationships. This hub is so full of emotion, experience, wisdom, self awareness and discovery. Traveling light and often! Changing 'careers,' meeting new people (sometimes 'closed groups who have known one another so long and aren't good at welcoming newbies), leaving old friends...the list goes on. Traveling with few possessions, being at the mercy of life, itself...WOW! have you ever (and continue) to live! Life is an experience..! I have been through many careers, some relationships, many 'homes,' interests...I often refer to my life as 'having lived many lives.' My main and one enduring and love is animals and their care. That is a constant. Reading, writing (as a catharsis), art (pen and ink, pencil) are my loves...interior decorating, cooking, gardening. The weather...and here in SE Kansas it is awe inspiring..last night we experienced the most tremendous thunder/lightning your writing and your bare honesty! You have a wonderful relationship with your daughter (I loved Ayla's strength and abilities, as well) and that is the best gift a father could give his daughter. And that you refer to her as Kitten...more positive things I appreciate! Excellent Hub!


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