RIP, Google Reader!

Welp, it finally happened—Google Reader is officially dead. I’m still giving the side-eye to that business decision, but what do I know?

When I first heard that Reader would be killed, I was indignant and a bit worried—how would I import all my subscriptions? What would happen to my hundreds of tagged and starred posts?? But over the past few months, I’ve come to terms with the loss. Sure, I could’ve used Feedly or Bloglovin and imported all my favorites. But I procrastinated; all I did was pin a bunch of starred recipes to my Pinterest. I didn’t get through even a quarter of my starred stuff, though.

But you know what? I’m okay with that. My Reader was a mess; after subscribing to multiple VeganMoFo’s worth of blogs over the years, I had literally hundreds of subscriptions. I’d try to prune my subscriptions every so often, but what I really needed to do was start fresh. So really, the demise of Google Reader is both timely and a little bit welcome. I’m excited to start anew, to subscribe to only the blogs I really want to read, and to have a much more manageable list of unread items when I check my feed every day. I like fresh starts.

And today marks another fresh start, too. S and I are signing the lease on our rented condo tonight, and our pod is being delivered on Wednesday. We’ll spend the Fourth of July moving in, starting fresh in our new home in a new city. Yeah, I like fresh starts.

Eastward Bound

I moved to Madison with doubt in my heart. Three and a half years ago, in early December, I flew out to Madison to start my first full-time job as a technical writer at a software company. On my second day of work, Madison experienced a full-on blizzard. Welcome to Wisconsin, I thought.

The entire experience was nerve-wracking. I feared that I’d fail at my job, that my writing skills wouldn’t be up to par or that technical writing would be horribly boring, that my new roommate and I wouldn’t get along. I feared not making friends.

In short, I was pretty sure the whole thing was a huge mistake. But the swift decline of the grace period on my loans and my desire to spend no more than six months post-college living with my parents compelled me to take the job. This was back in 2009, in the height (depth?) of the recession. As an English major, I felt pretty damn lucky to get the job I did, with the salary it offered and the benefits I received.

And despite my negativity, it all worked out just fine.

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I soon discovered that my roommate and I were kindred spirits and that I was going to be successful at my job. I started to enjoy my new life. I began to appreciate Madison and its picturesque surrounding towns.

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The Verona public library

Over the years, things continued to surprise me and I surprised myself with how happy I felt. I discovered that mastering technical writing makes one a better all-around writer, and that working in the healthcare software industry gave me insight as the US began to think about how to reform our healthcare system.

And, oh yeah, I met S. And I adopted Moria.

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My life here is comfortable. I have lovely friends; a sweet pup; and the most loving, forgiving, and inspiring partner I could want. It’s a good life. And we’re getting ready to say goodbye to that life.

In a few short weeks, S and I are packing up and heading east. Because as much as I like the Midwest and my life here, the cold truth is that many of my friends and most of my family live on the East Coast. Visiting them is a chore that requires annoying, expensive, time-consuming flights or a very long drive. And I hate driving.

I’ve been feeling the call to move closer to home for a while now. But when my sweet little nephew Theodore was born last February, well, I knew it was time.

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Superbaby!

But I didn’t want to move just anywhere or take just any job. I wanted a job that would keep me engaged and that would not feel like a step down from what I do now. Thanks to my still-existent student loans, it also had to have a decent salary. So I waited. I refused to do the resume spam thing, where you apply to every potentially relevant job you see and hope for the best. Instead, I applied to exactly two jobs. One, I discovered, was for a position that wasn’t actually available.

The other? Well. It was kinda-sorta the position of my dreams. And I got it.

Starting next month, I’ll be working at a national nonprofit that focuses on animals. I’ll be using my writing, editing, and project management skills to advocate for animals. Pinch me, please.

At the very beginning of June, S and I will be moving out to Maryland. It’s the perfect place for us – it’s where he’s from, and it’s much closer to Rhode Island for me. I can take a quick, direct Southwest flight home or make the 7-hour drive when I’ve got time to spare. It’ll be so much easier.

We’re not sure where exactly we’ll end up. Maryland’s cost of living is much higher than that of Wisconsin, so we’ll be staying with S’s mom until we find an affordable place of our own that’s close to work for me and close to a metro stop so we can get into DC easily. S will be pursuing freelance writing and radio journalism, so he wants to be close to the city.

It’s really scary. Just like the last time I moved, I’m nervous. What if the job and I aren’t a good fit? What if S can’t find enough work to pay the bills? What if we can’t find an affordable, decent place to live?

But it’s a good kind of nervous. An exciting kind. I can’t wait to start this new chapter of our lives and to finally bring my professional and personal passions together.

So in the next few weeks, pardon me if I’m a little quiet. I’m just busy packing and planning and wrapping up my time at my current job… and possibly hitting up all my favorite Madison eateries one last time. ;)

Moving Update and a Delicious Dessert

Hallelujah!

It appears that whining on one’s blog about moving can coerce The Universe into solving one’s moving problem. Or something like that.

S and I just discovered that the folks who lived in our new apartment before us actually moved out at the end of May, not the end of June like we assumed. So… we can move in early and avoid homelessness and a super short, super stressful moving period!

Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!

Our new apartment complex will kindly let us move in whenever we want and pro-rate our rent for those extra days. It costs less than $35 per day, and that’s a no-brainer to me – $33.50 is a pittance compared to the cost of my sanity. S and I are going to do our heavy liftin’ on Friday night and finish up on Saturday morning, giving us a whole day and a half to settle in and get things organized. Hallelujah.

I was so excited about this change in plans that I celebrated with this delicious morsel:

A to-go container holds a palm-sized peanut butter cake topped with a layer of peanut buttery frosting and chocolate ganache and sprinkled with peanuts.

Peanutty!

Okay, that’s a lie. I actually devoured this guy last Sunday. It’s a rich, decadent Peanut Butter Puck from the Chicago Diner; S brought it back for me after he spent the weekend in Chi-town with his mama. He also gave me a lovely necklace that I’m looking for an excuse to wear. Ain’t he the greatest?

What good news have you gotten this week?

Pantry Decimation Challenge 2012: Commence!

In my opinion, moving is one of the most stressful situations we mature adults have to deal with (y’know, aside from things like illness and losing your job and, um, important stuff). First you need to shove everything you own into countless boxes, then you have to load all of those boxes into a truck or your car or lots of people’s cars, and then you have to remove all of those boxes that you JUST LOADED and put them in your new place. There’s lots of heavy lifting and strained arms and realizations of your sad state of strength. And when your finally get all those boxes into your new place, you’re exhausted and sweaty and sore and irritated and all you want to do is kick your feet up, mix yourself up a big-girl drink, and watch a stupid, mindless movie. BUT YOU CAN’T, because everything you own is IN THE DAMN BOXES, and you have to unpack them all first! It’s the worst. I hate it. It stresses me out.

…in case you’re abnormally slow to infer things, I’m moving.

I briefly mentioned my moving plans a few weeks ago, but now it’s a month away and I’m entering into moving!panic mode. See, I’ve moved before, but this is the first time I’m moving when I own real furniture, like a couch and a bed and crap like that. I’m only moving one town over, but it might as well be a state over – the amount of work involved is pretty much the same.

View into a small storage space, which is filled with boxes haphazardly thrown everywhere.

…at least I’ve got ample boxes for packing! Clearly I’ve been putting my storage space to good use. :-\

It doesn’t help that I will essentially be homeless for 24 hours during the move. I need to be out of my current place by noon on a Saturday, but I can’t move into my new place until noon Sunday. Our new place, I should say – S and I are becoming grown-ups and moving in together. Hooray! Not hooray that he’s in the exact same situation and will also be homeless for a day. Alas. At least we will be homeless together.

Two suitcases and three boxes, along with a small dog.

Yes, I have already started packing. Winter clothes and books are ready to go!

I think we’ve got our homeless plans mostly figured out (yay for friends), but I don’t have a good solution for storing our perishable foodstuffs during that homeless period, which means that I must use up all my frozen and refrigerated goods before we move. And that is why I am designating June as my official Pantry Decimation Month! I will attempt to use up as much food as possible, to reduce having to cart around boxes of 8,474 types of rice and also to avoid wasting refrigerated goods that I’d have to get rid of.

This weekend I kicked off my challenge by burning through some frozen veggies with Happy Herbivore’s Biscuit Pot Pie. I used frozen broccoli, frozen peas, and – most notably – some frozen green beans that are probably two years old. I am very wary of freezer burn (I have very finely tuned senses when it comes to that particular smell/taste), but by rinsing the beans in water to remove their thin coat of ice crystals, I somehow managed to avoid it. The pot pie was not as good as the last time I made it (when we used a bag of mixed frozen veggies), but it was still yummy. It was not, however, very pretty, so you don’t get a picture. Instead, how about a tally of my pantry decimation thus far?

PANTRY DECIMATION TALLY:

  • Frozen peas: Used half a bag.
  • Frozen green beans: Used half a bag.
  • Frozen broccoli: Used half a bag.
  • Frozen blueberries: Used a quarter of a bag (not in the pot pie, duh).
  • Frozen raspberries: Finished a bag (same comment)!

What’re your pantry-busting tips? How do you feel about moving?