Moving day! Again!

December 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Honestly, sometimes it feels like all we ever do is move boxes from one place to another and live out of our suitcase. But not anymore! Today is the last time for quite a while. For the first time since July 2010, we are planning on residing in the same building for at least one full year. (You may recall that at each stage of our time in Seattle, we thought we’d only be in the current place for a few months — which prevented us from really settling in.)

Sunset over San Bruno Mountain on our last night in San Francisco. (Looking southwest.)

So here we are (finally!) in the lovely town of Foster City. We actually were able to get into the apartment one day early — on November 28 — which made our transition from the San Francisco apartment much less hurried.  We had almost 48 hours of overlap between the two places, so I could ferry items over in several trips while Blake was working. It was stressful, but nothing too terrible. And every time I walked down the path to our new building with a load of stuff, it was so nice to see the trees and the birds and the lagoon and the grass and the flowers and the sunshine. Rarely have I been so happy to move into a place.

On Tuesday the moving truck came, and for five hours the movers squeezed boxes and furniture from an 1,800-square-foot house into a  1,050-square-foot apartment. We knew it would be tight and we expected to have to get rid of a lot of stuff before it’ll really be pleasant in here, but the movers still made me nervous. As each new guy would come in for the first time with a handtruck full of boxes, he’d look around, widen his eyes, frown a little, and say “Do you have a garage? I don’t know if this will all fit in here.” We don’t have a garage, but I told them we expected it to be tight and we’d just deal with it. Then he’d give a look of concern and futility, look around some more, and say “okay…” And even though he was saying okay, his tone said “you’re the customer and I’m not going to argue, but no way is this going to work.” And these were professional movers. They put boxes in houses for a living. My confidence cracked a little.

The dining room. This shot was taken when the movers had unloaded about 30% of our stuff. (It's more crowded now.) But look, it's my ficus! Just seeing it makes me happy. (The paper lanterns in it were a gift from Bonny many years ago.)

But it all fit. We knew it would. It is tight, though. The guest bed is leaning up against the wall, and my white couch is still wrapped in plastic and up on its end in the second bedroom. We’re planning to get rid of some of my excess furniture, a fair amount of excess kitchen stuff (since Blake and I each had a full kitchen before we met), and a boatload of excess clothes. Okay, really the excess clothes mostly just belong to me. I think I might have ten pairs of shoes for each one Blake has. Maybe fifteen.

Everybody knows I have trouble getting rid of stuff. I love to look at some old piece of junk and think “Ooh, remember when I was [some age] and I went to [some place] and I had to buy that pair of shoes because my other pair broke? That was a nice trip.” And now that pair of shoes is scuffed up and dirty and kind of outdated and pinches my toe a little and I have five other pairs that I like better that are also black and cute and look nicer and are more comfortable. But it still makes me sad to contemplate throwing them away! Honestly, I think at least 40% of my clothes fit into that category. It’s going to to be rough.

Who doesn't love close-ups of dogs' faces? Nobody, that's who. Have some Nano.

But I’m determined. And having lived in Uwajimaya for a year is really helping. When I moved into Blake’s house I went through my clothes and got rid of a lot, but there were many items I just couldn’t part with. Like the yellow shirt I got in Rome when I went to Europe with Brad and Eric in college. It’s kind of stretched out and the arms are stained (bleached?) with deodorant. I never want to wear it. Yellow doesn’t really look very good on me. But there it hangs in the closet reminding me of college and Italy and Brad and Eric, and the idea of getting rid of it just tugs at my heartstrings. Those were good times!

But being in Uwajimaya for a year and not seeing my stuff for so long has reminded me of how little I care about some of it. I don’t know if I can part with my yellow Rome shirt yet, but as we’ve unpacked I’ve seen lots of clothes that I can kiss goodbye with a clear conscience.

There’s more to say, but I need to go run some errands and do some more unpacking. The rest will have to wait for a future post. But life is good! We’re finally settled in a place for a long time, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s nice here.

The view from our porch. It's so beautiful!

Foster City, California!

November 14, 2011 at 12:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So as some of you may recall from an earlier post, our new apartment is in Foster City. And it turns out that Foster City is really cool! When I found the apartment I had no idea what  a great place it was, but now I just keep finding out more and more spiffy things about it. We’re not moving in until the end of November, so I’ve got a good two weeks to keep being excited.

Let’s just get right down to the cool things about it. First of all, here’s what it looks like:

What Foster City looks like from space! Or maybe a plane.

Cool, huh? Coincidentally, the last time I flew into San Jose (at which point I knew nothing about the area), I noted Foster City from the air and thought it looked really cool. “Gee,” I said to myself, “I bet that place is neat. It looks so cool but it’s probably a kajillion dollars to live there.” (As it turns out, it is a kajillion dollars by anywhere-else standards, but by Silicon Valley standards it’s pretty reasonable.)

As you can probably infer from the photo, Foster City is a planned city. It was built by a guy (whose last name was Foster) in the 1960s. It has a planned-city feel to it, too — the roads are gently curving and have beautiful medians and lovely views of the bay and the lagoon. And there’s water everywhere — the city is 19.8 square miles and only 3.8 of them are land! Our little apartment complex has a man-made lagoon snaking through it with willow trees and fountains and cute bridges. It’s adorable.

And the town seems really… nice. As you drive through it it just feels clean and orderly. There are no plastic bags blowing against chain-link fences. There are no unsightly bags of trash or appliances sitting on a porch or tacky-looking houses or businesses or cars. There are no crazy people causing disturbances or pooping in the street. But at the same time, the town feels very real and homey and non-fake. The houses are all different (and have an average cost of $800K!) and interesting and nice and you don’t feel like you’re in a white-washed fake Pleasantville. It’s neat.

I'm going to feed the ducks all the time. I love feeding ducks!

Before we signed the papers at the apartment complex, I asked the leasing agent if they ever had car break-ins. This is a question I ask routinely when evaluating apartment complexes, and the answer is virtually always some variant of “Well, every place has break-ins sometimes — especially if you leave stuff in your car.” (In fact, given that the answers are almost always the same, I don’t know why I keep asking.) But instead she said “Oh, I don’t think so. I’ve been here for a year or so and there haven’t been any while I’ve been here. In fact, in Foster City there’s sort of a running joke that the cops here are really bored. There’s hardly any crime, so they have nothing to do all day long except drive around. Just make sure you come to a complete stop at stop signs!”

That sounded pretty good, and once I thought about it I could see that crime wasn’t a problem: every balcony had chairs and tables and wind chimes and other pretty things. Anybody could have walked off with the stuff if they’d been so inclined, but it clearly wasn’t a problem here. Later I looked at the Wikipedia page and discovered that Foster City is one of the safest places in the country — with a murder rate of one per decade.

The walking trail that surrounds all of Foster City

As if Foster City weren’t great enough already, it also has a bunch of lovely features: a walking/biking trail that surrounds the whole town (shown above next to our complex’s parking lot), an abundance of parks and other recreational areas, a public amphitheater with oodles of free summertime events and a beautiful lagoon where you can rent canoes and kayaks and boats and the like. Oh yeah, and the city takes care of keeping the mosquito population under control. If they’re going to take our tax dollars anyway, that is at least a benefit I will enjoy! And Foster City is within a comfortable distance of San Bruno, so Blake can take his motorcycle in our charming (and frequent) sunny weather.

And finally, our apartment itself looks really great. It was built in the 80s, I believe, but they’re being totally refurbished. The new kitchen looks beautiful and there’s laminate wood flooring everywhere except the bedrooms. Our little patio has enough space for the dogs to do their business — no more waiting for them to poop in the tea garden on cold nights! — and it looks out on a private mini-lagoon. The whole complex is surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers and it’s just… lovely.

As a funny side note, many of Blake’s youthful and single coworkers eschew Foster City because it’s too suburb-y. It’s full of families and yuppies and people who don’t go out to bars and wear hipster glasses. They all live in San Francisco and drink expensive coffees and listen to music so cool that we’ve probably never heard of it. And they don’t live in Foster City and they don’t want to. =) Which is fine with us — we’ve done the city thing, and it was really fun. But we’re ready to live in a place where it’s quiet at night and the streets are clean and you can park for free and there are Cheesecake Factories and malls and nobody plays a vuvuzela on the sidewalk at 1 a.m. We like suburbia.

Anyway, we’re very excited.

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