Bless Trusty Reader Reuster, who noticed I'd not posted for a good 4 weeks. Well, that's because I was moving from WI over to PA for Trusty Hubby's new job. I've done several cross country moves in my adult life, and I officially despise, loathe, detest, abhor, hate, dislike, and otherwise bear negative sentiments towards moving.
First, it meant packing EVERYTHING up. After living in a home for 10 years, you acquire amazing amounts of stuff and/or junk, depending on whether it's located in the kitchen or the garage. We donated about 15 boxes and bags of items to the Salvation Army and Goodwill, hauled away about 3 vanloads of junk, threw away about 20 bags of trash (not all at once), and somehow still managed to have 473 items and boxes to load on the moving van. Now, Trusty Hubby is trying to pare that number down to something closer to 450 items. We are definitely packrats.
Second, it meant driving 12 hours one way to our new home. Alone. This, you say, was nutty. Well, my boss wouldn't let me out of work a week early (I had given a month's notice instead of the standard 2 weeks) to go out with my family. That's just the kind of company it is. I made a socially unacceptable rude gesture as I left the office the last time. Mind you, it was behind my back, because one should never burn career bridges. You never know when you'll have to cross back over them again, and running back while it's on fire is Never A Good Thing. Happily, I had my iPod, and I rocked across 5 states singing to Evanescence, Globus, Epica, Skillet (woot Panheads!), and Kamelot.
Third, it means having to change all sorts of things, and I'm just not very good with change. Once I figure out the most efficient way to do something, I don't typically alter the method unless something new comes along that makes it even more efficient. In addition, despite my generally rampant extroversion and the fact that my job requires me to talk to a couple dozen complete and utter strangers daily, it is not easy for me to develop the kind of deep friendships that one develops only after a very long time. The fact that I was moving several hundred miles away from my closest family did not help.
Anyway, I overcame many moving hurdles by, you guessed it, being completely and utterly Geeky. Using technology and utilizing blatantly geeky skills can overcome Cross Country Moving Challeges, such as the ones below.
1. Finding a good school district. I quickly discovered in my initial searches that schools do NOT like releasing any information that looks in any way remotely negative. So, things like test scores and how well they've met state academic benchmarks are either not listed, or if they are required to be listed, are buried in such categories as 'administrative assistant sick day policies' or 'janitorial supplies'. You'll find the tab for 'test scores' helpfully located between 'paper towel dispensers' and 'toilet paper'. I'm nothing if not persistent, however, and found some 3rd party school rankings (which you still have to take with a heavy dose of salt), Google Maps pictures of the school, and finally, the listing of the school music programs. If you find a school district with an orchestra, you have just learned two things. First, you have a school district that feels it has sufficient funding to put money into a program that goes beyond the bare-bones basics. Second, you have a sufficient quantity of involved parents who care about music education and have the money to pay for the rental of a stringed instrument. The corollary is that if parents care about music education, they usually care about the rest of their kids' education. The more involved the parents, the better the schools. This is not always the case, but it is generally true. The fact that I wanted my kids to continue playing in orchestra, of course, contributed to this. Anyway, finding out if a school system has an orchestra program is not too hard, since that is indeed listed on school websites. This rapidly narrowed down my choice of school districts. A few emails to high school orchestra teachers later, and I had it narrowed down to two districts, both of which I deemed Good Places in Which to Live.
2. Finding good doctors. Skip to number 3 if you're squeamish. Despite being a doctor myself, I hate finding new doctors or dentists. If you move to a new town and don't know anyone, it's extremely difficult to find the good ones. It does not help that we women fear getting naked and into a compromising position for a strange person we see once a year for that annual gyn thing. Yes, I know that they've 'seen it all', but they haven't seen _mine_. The only time I didn't care about this was when I was birthing my kids. At that point, I would have invited the Secretary-General of the UN in for a lookey-loo if it meant the babies would come out 2 seconds faster. My solution--get names from the local pharmacists and nurses and then go search them out on the net. We docs might interact with other docs occasionally. Nurses, staff, and pharmacists see them all the time, and having been a hospital staffer and student nurse before doing the doctor thing, I can tell you it is very easy to figure out who is good or not after working with them a few weeks. I also check docs out online by doing a google search on their names, and then a Medscape search on any articles they've written. It also gives me something to talk about when I go see them "Oh, hey, I saw your wrote an article on cat-allergen testing in mice when you were at Johns-Hopkins. How'd that work out?" I learned that an orthopedic doctor I saw at Great Lakes Naval Base was a huge Volvo fan by doing an internet search one time. These are Important Things.
3. Find new grocery stores. I loved having a grocery store 4 blocks from home back in WI. More importantly, I loved having a store in town that had enriched Rice Dream in the juice-box size, which is great for lunches when you have a kiddo with both a dairy and a soy allergy. It is no easy task to find this, let me tell you. Fortunately, Google search saved the day again, and I've located a few stores in the area that have this. I also, happily, can order it online if need be, not only from the Rice Dream site itself, but also Amazon. I love Amazon. You can find just about anything there. Heck, you can even grocery shop there.
4. Having to set up the a. kitchen and b. computer. The computer took less time. The only problem was that the cable guy couldn't come out for an entire week after I arrived, so I nearly went into internet withdrawal. I actually contemplated leeching off of someone's secured network until I remembered that ethics thing. I also remembered that my phone could serve as a wi-fi hotspot. Plug in, turn on, hit a few settings, and voila, internet success! I'll be paying through the nose next month for data charges, I'm sure.
5. Finding new radio stations. One of the things I hated about leaving Columbus, OH in 1995 was giving up Sunny 95. The DJs there were a lot of fun, and there was no such thing as internet radio then--we had dial-up then, for heaven's sake. Now, I LOVE WISN and WGN, and Tammy Lee just rocks as an announcer. The fact that she is a sister-in-law has nothing whatsoever to do with that opinion. She makes me double over laughing, and she is just as funny at family holiday dinners as she is on the air. With radio stations now streaming on the net, along with the new iHeartRadio, I don't have to leave them behind. They're as close as my computer. I was delighted to listen to WBBM on Sunday when the Chicago Bears game wasn't available on TV. I can listen to Dean Richards, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, Steve Cochran (who is going to WIND shortly), and Tammy Lee anywhere in the world!
No doubt there will be many more Geek Moments as our family adjusts to life in a new state.