Thursday, September 28, 2023

13 Years Ago Today, I Went Rootless


Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.
Opelousas holy tree. Louisiana. July 2015. Credit: Mzuriana.

13 years ago today, I went rootless. 

How did I get so lucky to be able to have done this? 

"Lucky" is a superficial summary of how I got here. Truth is, although luck has played a prominent role, so did course-changing events that were not so luckified, the top three of which were heartbreak, the slo-mo ripples of The Great Recession, and the prosaic fact that I was of an age when my daughter, Kit, was an adult and out of the nest. 

And aren't such seismic life events that which has catalyzed similar tracks?

Other variables that got me out the door and into the beyond: 

  1. Being debt-free, having paid off my student loans (took me ten years) and having purposefully kept my debt load low, such as paying off my credit card charges in full each month and living below my means;
  2. Having that dream of travel and adventure already embedded in my soul from adolescence; and
  3. Although I had experienced poverty (and I don't use that word glibly), I was not generationally poor (which makes a difference), and ... I had privilege due to a number of variables, not the least of which was that I had been born into and raised in a white, middle-class environment. 

All of which is to say: I don't take any of this for granted. 

Related posts, from oldest to newest

But what is in my future?

Saturday, September 2, 2023

10 Years Ago: Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home

Original post here

Since 2010, I've lived as a tourist-in-residence in nine places:

  1. Caucasus Georgia
  2. Alamogordo, New Mexico
  3. Lafayette, Louisiana
  4. Opelousas, Louisiana
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. Ferguson, Missouri
  7. Tucson, Arizona
  8. Birmingham, Alabama
  9. Mobile, Alabama

My furnishings are significantly more bare-boned than they were 10 years ago. The only piece of furniture I buy now, when relocating, is a folding chair for the table that serves as my office, dining table, and entertainment center. I made this decision in Mobile. At $24 or so, it was money well spent for a year's worth of use, and I felt fine about just giving it away when I left.

I use a backcamping chair as my "easy chair" for reading or looking out a window. 

My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.
My living room furniture since 2020. Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Mzuriana.

I sleep on the same airbed model that I used in the original post. Thus far, my current one has survived for three years. In Birmingham, I acquired a new electric mattress pad and a new electric throw to keep warm on cold winter nights. I bought a pretty quilt for my top cover at a thrift store in Birmingham. 

In Mobile, I bought a tallish folding camp table to serve as a side table by the camp chair. 

But below were my learnings from 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rootless Relocation: Lessons Learned About Furnishing Temporary Home

Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo
Most of the stuff I brought with me to Alamogordo

I'll be moving again at the end of this month and all my stuff has to fit in my car.

I've got to dispose of some things:
  • I accumulated while in New Mexico; 
  • I brought with me from Missouri that I no longer need; and
  • That I could still use, but have to unload because there are two large items from NM that I will take with me. 

Lessons learned

Now that the process of furnishing and un-furnishing my temporary home is almost complete, I've learned some things.


Although I think my nursing-home beds are cool, they're kind of a pain to sell. Remember that airbed I liked so much? It lasted me six months of almost-daily use and it only cost about $35. It takes standard-size sheets and it is almost as tall as a real bed. And it's comfortable. In my new place, I believe I'll buy another one. If it goes kablooey in six months, then I'll just replace it. Taking into account price, portability, and labor to hunt/find/discard a real bed, the air bed is the more economical choice.

For a guest bed, a local friend gave me this very cool, dark red, accordion-like chair that makes into a twin bed. Somehow I will fit this into my car and I'll use it in my new place for a living room chair and guest bed.

At the point I have two guests at once, I'll get a second air bed. Ta da.

Table and chairs

These are easy to find, cheap to buy, and easy to re-sell.  No problems here.


I liked having my tiny herb garden and flowers in three pots. These were easy to sell, and I will likely have another little container garden again if I've got outdoor space in my new home.

Bird feeder and shepherd's crook

I bought these here in Alamogordo. I won't do this again. Although I loved watching the visiting birds while I worked, birdseed is damned expensive. I've discovered that the after-market for bird feeders and shepherd's crooks is very poor, taking too long to sell them for an abysmal price. Also, feeding the birds is really all about my entertainment; it doesn't necessarily do any good for the birds. I might as well be feeding feral cats.

The volume of space

As my apartment empties, I appreciate again the volume of space, the lack of stuff. I was very circumspect about the visual bulk I added to my apartment here, so there's not a whole lot I can do to better that in my new place. The beds are one, and if I have a breakfast counter, I won't need a table.

I'm not much of an in-home entertainer, so I don't worry about guest seating - that's what caf├ęs are for.

Relocation cost

This is what it cost me to relocate from Missouri to New Mexico last year. The total was ~ $2070, of which $950 was for the first and last month's rent. So now that I've consumed those two months as the cost of living, the net relocation cost $1120.

I don't know yet how much I'll recoup in the resale of stuff before I go. I'll factor that in when I calculate my next relocation costs.

There'll be some economy of scale, as I will bring the vacuum cleaner I bought in Alamogordo with me, along with the accordion chair-bed, and a desk lamp. Plus the printer and scanner.

(In regard to doing things differently for the actual moving process, I think my process was as tight a ship as it could have been.)

On buying new versus second-hand

I thought I'd buy more things second-hand in Alamogordo than I did. And certainly there is no dearth of second-hand stores in Alamogordo. However, I hate to shop, and I found it to be not-fun to schlep from one second-hand shop to another in search of what I needed. The opportunity costs in time, gas, and things I could have been doing that were more fun became too high for some items. 

My preference is still to buy second-hand, so maybe before I go to Lafayette, I'll try to identify the largest and best second-hand place for household goods in that area.

On apartment choices

This is a little outside the focus on furnishing a place, but:

Upstairs or downstairs. Boy, am I glad I listened to the apartment manager when he steered me to a ground-floor apartment instead of the second-floor place I said I preferred. Ch-ching. He told me it would cost less to cool my place in the summer if I were on the ground floor. And this has proven to be the case, as my upstairs neighbors and I have compared our energy bills.

This will be doubly true in Louisiana, where it's got the double whammy of heat and humidity. (On the other hand, I've got a hankering for a place in the midst of the city, so in that case, I'd prefer something above street level. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Amount of space. At 832 square feet, I have more space than I need. I've had visitors, but most of my time here, I haven't. A dedicated space for guests, i.e. a 2nd bedroom (or the den I have here), isn't essential.


Friday, September 1, 2023

2023 Word of the Year: FEAR: Freedom and Imprisonment


Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana.
Do not walk on lunar surface. Exhibit at shopping mall. Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 2023. Photo credit: Mzuriana**

Fear has freed me.

Fear has shackled me.

A favorite saying: We don't change until our backs are against the wall AND the wall is on fire. 

One night, when my daughter was very young, I experienced a fear that I might die from an eating binge that night, leaving my child without a mother. The fear pushed me into an arduous path to remission from an eating disorder, which took years to attain. 

A smoker for much of my life, as I entered middle age, I knew that if I contracted an illness associated with smoking that I would despise myself. Plus, I was afraid I would contract such an illness. This fear of self-hate and the fear of illness pushed me to quit smoking. For me, I was fortunate to do well under Chantix. Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to quit. The nicotine patches didn't do it. Welbutrin, prescribed off-label, didn't do it (not to mention I had a serious allergic reaction to same). The desire to quit, by itself, didn't do it.

I knew (know) that if I later ended up with an illness associated with smoking, notwithstanding my having quit, that at least I wouldn't hate myself. 

Fear is similar to pain in that it can alert us to the need to pay attention, to evaluate, to take action (or to not take action, as may appropriate). 

Some fears suggest that I conduct scenario planning for possible futures. 

You know, like the zombie apocalypse.

**Don't know why this photo felt appropriate to this post. I'll go with this: Robert Heinlein's best book: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And Heinlein's admonition to the students in Tunnel in the Sky: Beware the stobor. .... Because there will always be stobor, although we won't know what they might look like or at what point they will pop up. Be alert.


The 2023 word of the year thus far

  1. January: FEAR: Looking Into the Abyss Without Falling In
  2. February: FEAR: Fuck Everything And Run
  3. March: FEAR: Forgetting Everything's All Right
  4. April: FEAR: Take More Risks
  5. May: FEAR: Feelings Expressed Allow Relief
  6. June: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Rise
  7. July: FEAR: Frustration, Ego, Anxiety, Resentment
  8. August: FEAR: Face Everything And ... Recover