Monday, August 31, 2009

Here we are, day four in Costa Rica. Although getting here was kind of grueling—Lapis’ crate wasn’t accepted by Continental Cargo, and I had to buy a new one from them; my deodorant crystal was flagged as “very suspicious” by security, entailing a long explanation of its purpose--how you first moisten the top (I spit on it), then rub the slimy silica on your pits; at the gate in LAX I somehow managed to throw a handful of half-chewed cinnamon bun across the room, barely missing the head of a fellow passenger; on the first flight, the woman in front of us passed out and barfed; on the second flight, that woman was sitting next to us; somewhere above Central America, we saw lightning in a stupendous white-pink-gold cloud formation about, oh, 500 yards away; at San Jose airport, getting four suitcases, three carry-on bags, a car seat, a playpen, a pillow, a squirming baby, and an exhausted five-year-old through customs and out the door entailed some major creative solutioning (playing choo-choo train with luggage carts is fun!). But there was mi esposo, thank the Great Nutella Pancake, waving to us from the sidewalk, and we exited out into the balmy Costa Rican night, swapped some “Oh my god, I’m so glad to see you’s” piled into the rental car, and drove to a nearby hotel where los perros exuberantly greeted us.

Joedy picked Lapis up after the rest of us had gone to sleep, and the next morning we re-piled into the car and drove the long, hot, beautiful six hours to Montezuma. The potholes were numerous and treacherous, and we almost missed the ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula, but seeing the jungle-covered mountains loom toward us as we approached the shore, and feeling the excitement of soon being together in what might be our new home, made all the rushing and sweating worthwhile.

Then we saw a monkey sitting by the side of the road, and we stopped to make friends with it (from the car), and then it came loping up to the car, and then we rolled up the windows and drove away, quickly (it chased the car).

The second part of the drive to Montezuma seemed to take forever, and as we swerved up and around the rolling green hills I found myself sinking into a gloomy mood, wondering about the logistics of people visiting us and the logistics of getting a child to a hospital if the need arose. As we rolled on, my side of the conversation became a little one-sided:

“So, how do you think ambulances get to these faraway towns in time to save little kids’ lives?”

“Are there any, um, hospitals around here?”

“God—it sure would be a bummer if someone got into an accident and couldn’t get the help they needed!”

Joedy, well familiar with my Obsession With Possible Impending Doom, tried to get my mind off the subject of little kids getting hurt by describing the house we’d be sleeping in that night and maybe longer. The house sounded nice--it was near Lula’s school, and the AC/no-screens-on-the-windows business didn’t seem problematic to me—-and as we got closer to Montezuma the gloomy mood lifted. And then, just as dusk was falling, we smelled smoke. And then we saw smoke coming out of the hood. And then we pulled over to the side of the bumpy dirt road and opened the hood. And saw some singed wires on top of the battery. And saw that the battery had shifted to one side.

A few mud-splattered cars drove by, their occupants staring at us—-me holding Malko, Lapis poking his white snout out the window, Joedy fiddling with the purple metal bar that normally held down the battery, Lula looking for monkeys in the trees overhead, Astrid and Diablo tasting the water of a big puddle nearby—-and then someone pulled up behind us. He was very thin, dressed all in orange, and he had a French accent, and after twenty minutes of poking around in the engine he picked a sturdy stick off the ground and put it on top of the battery and shut the hood, telling us our best bet was to drive slowly and try not to rattle the car. Then, citing the “melting chocolate ice cream” in his car, he said goodbye and drove away.

After driving (successfully) to Montezuma, which was indeed beautiful, artsy-ish, and charming, we went to the house Joedy had found. It was dark by then, and the dirt road was tough. We passed a few cars, but in the ten-minute drive it became even more clear that we were headed to a remote and isolated spot, and I started worrying about accidents, dirt roads, and ambulances again.

I’m going to fast-forward a little here, because this is getting long: after a terrible night, during which I thought I heard gunshots in the distance, encountered a huge freaky black bug and crab in the bathroom, imagined monkeys attacking Lula and Malko, got very cold under the thin sheet, put on three pairs of socks, two shirts, pants, two wool sweaters, and a wool scarf, became feverish with worry, became convinced I’d caught swine flu from the barfing lady on the plane, and moaned to Joedy that there was no way we were living in this dinky little house so far away from a large medical facility.

Morning came, and then we noticed the wasps. There was just one at first, a long dark truncated thing cruising around the bedroom, pinging off the walls and getting much too close for comfort, and then we saw another and another. And then Lula started screaming. And then Joedy and I looked at each other and started throwing dog food bowls, dirty clothes, toiletries, and USB cords into the suitcases and dragging the suitcases out to the car.

The woman who’d agreed to rent us the house heard the commotion and came over, explaining that “wasps are our friends” and that if we want to live in Costa Rica we’d better accept ALL such biting, stinging, and non-obviously-cute critters. We asked her what would happen if one of the wasps stung Malko, and she put the brakes on the we-are-one-with-the-Earth speech long enough for us to pay her for the night’s stay, throw the animals in the car, and back out onto the dirt road.

Driving away, Joedy and I breathed a big sigh of relief. The remoteness, the isolation, the very rustic quality of the house, and above all the fact that all the roads in the surrounding area are dirt roads hadn’t felt good to either of us. We decided we need to find a house that’s more comfortable (with hot water, AC, completely enclosed walls, and a toilet you can put toilet paper in) in a town that has paved roads and a medical facility close by. Before choosing Montezuma, we’d thought a lot about Samara, a town a few hours up the coast. It’s more developed, with highway access, two language schools, and public and private elementary schools, and apparently rent’s a little cheaper there. The school we’d found for Lula in Montezuma only has four kids in it, and the building is as rustic as the house we stayed in; it’s a little sad she won’t be going there (we’d all gotten our hopes up about her new teacher and friends), but it looks like things will be better if we settle somewhere more comfortable and find her another school.

Yesterday we checked into a hotel in Montezuma to regroup, find another rental car, and relax a little after the recent turbulence and before today’s drive to Samara. Although our moving-to-Costa-Rica funds are dribbling away a little too quickly, and staying in another hotel seems wasteful from that perspective, yesterday was a nice day. I managed to speak some sentences in pseudo-Spanish, explaining to a lady selling bags of frozen fruit juice that Diablo is a snow dog and Astrid is a water dog, and we saw a bunch of monkeys climbing through the trees near our room. Lula is having a blast and Malko is doing fine, almost crawling and using his big meaty paws to grab at everything.

Joedy and I have had quite a few moments of wondering if bringing the family to Costa Rica was a good idea. It’s certainly been a little scary already, and questions about safety will never be far from our minds, but we’re going to try to make living here work. We’re all here, after all, and hearing Lula describe the monkeys she saw, walking among plants that look like works of art, and meeting people whose kindness is evident in the way they exclaim “que lindo!” about Malko and reach out to hold him has so far made the adventure exciting, interesting, and very much worth it.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Holy Macaroni, this is it! The final countdown to departure!

I have to finish packing this afternoon but I think it's under control. Very sad because I can't bring my power drill. I LOVE my freaking drill!! Sad, sad, sad.

Um--wow. Seriously disjointed thinking going on. Malko's with me at yet another coffee shop. Lula's at Adlen's for one last playtime. I'm going to miss all our buddies here so much. Yikes!

Um--should get going. Need to buy diapers. Need to send Laurence winter garb.

Tonight, eating warm spinach salad with goat cheese at the Brewhouse and then heading in white rented SUV to LAX, spending night in motel, heading out around 5 am to drop Lapis at Continental Cargo. Then our flight is at 9:45. Egads! Need to drill more ventilation holes in Lapis's carrier so he can breathe (just kidding, but kind of not).

Everything's fine. But I should pack. So this might be my last post from the US of A for a while! Wow, that's weird.

See you all in Costa Rica!!!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At the coffee shop again with my two small comrades, one of whom got four shots this morning and is feeling under the weather, i.e. cranky, clingy, and needy, which makes dragging her around running errands all the more draining for both of us. But I have to say she was very brave this morning--she barely complained about the four needles that stuck her in the arm--and she has overall been a trouper, helping me out with Malko and yelling to me when she hears my phone.

Today I sold the Volvo, and I am so FRUITCAKING HAPPY! What a relief! We are vehicle-free, and--oh boy--we got NO MONEY for either of the cars! Hmm...maybe not so good. But both buyers are supposed to make payments, so it should be ok. We hope. I have to say I'm kind of glad I had to deal with the cars--even though they were a hassle, I proved to myself that I was perfectly capable of selling them. The mystery of those forms and smogging-or-not-smogging has fizzled, and I can officially say I'm an old hat at selling cars! Or something like that.

I talked to Joedy this morning and he was back in Montezuma, having left Claude's place yesterday. He's seen a few more houses, I think, and will tomorrow too. He was in much better spirits today--less worried--and that made me feel less worried too. On the whole things seem more positive today, probably because the cars are off our hands and there are only a few pre-departure tasks left. Last night I had dinner with some good friends--Nadine, Selena, Nicole, Linda, Adam, and Dana--and it was so much fun. We had a couple drinks before eating and it was great just hanging out together. We were at Carlito's, where Joedy and I had our wedding dinner, and that made it extra-special. I'm lucky to have such good friends, and I'm really going to miss them...

Malko just woke up and it's time to drop the VW bus off at the shop, where Tim, its rightful owner, will pick it up to drive it back to Utah. Goodbye, bus!

Tonight we'll have pizza at the Rose Garden with a few of Lula's friends, and then tomorrow it's off to LA to spend the night at a motel near the airport. Then, Friday morning, we'll be off into the wild blue Costa Rican yonder.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ok, it's getting crazy here. I'm at the coffee shop with Lula and Malko, having dragged them around getting this and that done, and they're both fizzling out now so I can't write much.

I feel really stressed about leaving Friday. I know everything will be ok, probably, but I can't help worrying something's going to go wrong.

Joedy decided to keep looking at houses because he thinks we'll need screens on the windows and AC, and the house he thought we might take doesn't have them. He's concerned about the heat, and I'm glad he is, because it's details like that that could make things easier/more difficult.

I still have to hand the VW bus over to the shop and then get the guy who says he wants to buy the Volvo to come to Santa Barbara AND BUY THE FUCKING VOLVO!!!!

Sorry--I had to vent there a little. Trying to get stuff done with Lula and Malko--even though they're relatively easy kids--is so difficult. Just getting out the door is a huge ordeal.

The other day I didn't hear from Joedy for a whole day and I felt like throwing up, I was so anxious. I haven't reached that level of worry in a long time. I was so glad to hear his voice when he finally called from Claude's house (he'd been on the road for seven hours) and to hear that he was just as worried about things as I am.

Nuria left for Berkeley yesterday and it hit me that soon I'm going to be very far away from the people I love. Of course, I've been very far away from most of the people I love for a very long time now, but the fact that we'll be in Central America makes it seem all the more...severe. Anyhoo...

Annie just called and told me not to stress about the bugs and heat and the fact that we might just have one faucet in our new house. Yes--exactly. It's an adventure!

Oh god, the adventure is making me want to throw up again...


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just a quick update because I'm at a coffee shop with Lula and Malko (there's no internet at Robert's house) and Lula's begging me to pay attention to her.

Joedy and the dogs made it to Montezuma Wednesday without any trouble. Joedy said the town has a distinctive artsy/bohemian feel, just as we'd read, and that it seems pretty dang cool. There's a playground surrounded by trees near the "town center" (I think it's pretty tiny) and the beach is sort of like a protected cove, which means less big waves and less/no--oh god--crocodiles.

Joedy decided to ask everyone and anyone if they have a house for rent, and it's paid off--he's already seen four, I think. Yesterday afternoon he went to Lula's Montessori to meet the director, but the school was closed for the day. As he was getting back in the car a woman came down the road on a bike with two dogs behind her; she asked if he needed help and explained that she's the movement teacher at the school, and it turned out that she has a house for rent on her property nearby. Joedy followed her there and he said the place looks great: it's a two-bedroom house with all the Western amenities, including phone and internet, on a big lot of open land. Rent is $700/month plus utilities and $60/month for internet. The woman (I forget her name) is a professional movement instructor/dancer and artist (she has a dance studio on the property where she takes the Montessori kids to roll around on big exercise balls) and apparently she'd prefer that her tenants be artists.

Joedy's looking at another house today but I think we'll end up renting this one. Oh. My. God. I cannot believe it! We just might already have a place to live!

Yesterday was not a great day. Dealing with Lula and Malko full time while trying to smog/register/sell two old cars is akin to...stuffing cranberries up my nose and inhaling them into my brain, where they rattle around, get smooshed, and drip out my ears. In other words, it's annoying! But I just talked to Joedy and we came to some decisions about the cars that make me feel way less stressed.

On Friday we leave super early in the morning to catch our flight (Lapis will fly solo on Continental), and then, holy jesus, we'll be in ole' Costa Rica. I hardly dare think about it because I don't want anything to go wrong. But things have gone pretty smoothly thus far, should be ok.

It's just past noon now and I should check out the house online (the woman has a website for her business) and then pay attention to my little kids, who are being so patient and sweet.

Since there's no internet at the house I'll have to come to a coffee shop to write again, so I might not be able to post updates as often as I'd like, but I'll try!

Happy Saturday, everyone!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just a quick update on the Grand Green Adventure:

Joedy and the dogs made it to Costa Rica, the latter WITHOUT poop smeared all over them. YAY! Continental Cargo rocks!

Joedy rented a car and is staying in a hotel outside of San Jose again tonight because the dogs' flight was delayed so he picked them up this afternoon. He didn't want to drive to Montezuma at night, so he's leaving tomorrow morning.

He said it's about 85 degrees and very rainy.

It's great to know the three of them are there safe and sound. It's starting to feel more and more real, this whole thing.

Lula, Malko, Lapis, and I are comfortably ensconced at Robert's house until we leave next Friday. It's nice to be in this house and in Santa Barbara.

I have to sell the two cars and take care of some other things but the pre-departure activity is definitely winding down. Phewee!!!

I'm super tired and am going to sign off here...more details next time.

The Lemon Tree

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Sunday night, just after midnight, and we're at the Lemon Tree Inn in Santa Barbara, having arrived about five hours ago after a relatively painless day moving. All in all, today went great, the best parts being that Lapis walked up to the house when we called him right before we left Ventura, Joedy's brother James and James's girlfriend Lisa adopted Sapporo, and we got the VW bus fixed and drove it back here. When we got to SB the sun was out and there was plenty of time left for drunken canonnballs in the heated saltwater pool, and some of our good friends met us here to relax and hang out.

I just spent 45 minutes driving around trying to find "healthy cheeseburgers" and another 45 minutes organizing the hotel room. I'm stuck in moving mode, straightening and neatening and whatnot, and it's overall a good thing, but when I started lining up the kleenexes in the basket by the sink in a nice neat row I knew it was time to stop. Joedy, Lula, and Malko are sleeping in the two queen-size beds and bassinet (it's a little snug for Joedy, but by not breathing too much he's making it work), and it's nice--very quiet. Actually, it's extremely quiet, so much so that I had to think about why for a second. I think it's because I'm used to hearing the freeway, which we could hear (it wasn't too loud, but it was always there) in Ventura.

It's strange to think of Ventura--our Ventura chapter--as being in the past, now. I have to say there's a big part of me that feels sad when I think about it like that, because we made some good friends there. Lula became very good friends with our neighbor Liam, his sister Camille, and their brother Eithan, and Joedy and I with their parents, Karinne and Dane, and not seeing Lula with at least one of the kids will be weird for a while. Tonight it was nice because not only were they all here, but a Santa Barbara friend of Lula's, Kai (and his dad, Tad) (who's super bad), were here, and another SB friend of hers from her old preschool (and her dad, Paul, who Joedy used to share a building with) was here. She got (almost--a few were missing) the best of both of her California worlds. When I asked her, in the car on the way to SB, if she was happy, she said yes, and I have to say I was really happy about that.

Driving into Santa Barbara was nice--there weren't many people on the road and the clouds thinned just over town, the fog hanging in grey and silver layers around the trees. It looked like an Oz country, it was so fairytale beautiful, and when we got into town the sun was all the way out and everything was drenched in late-afternoon green and golden light. When I walked out onto the patio of our Lemon Tree room and saw the bright turquoise pool I COULD NOT wait to jump in the water and yell "WOO-HOO!"

Which is what I did, and now, by crumb, I'm going to succumb to the delicious Lemon Tree night.


Friday, August 14, 2009

It's 9:14 p.m. and earlier I heard myself refer to Costa Rican Customs as "custom embargo whatever," so it's pretty clear that my brain is fatigued, perhaps even asleep as we speak.

I just wanted to report to my Gang of Gregarious Groupies that all is fine, aye--I didn't commit hari-kari as a result of the sadness that sunk in yesterday. In fact, today was great--actually an enjoyable day, which is saying a lot given that we're moving out tomorrow.

Last night Joedy realized that if we move the cleaning time (the time when the house cleaners come) to Sunday morning, we'd have a whole day longer to get our stuff the FRUITCAKE!!! out of here. Yay, caramba! Joedy (and the house cleaners) rocks!! All day yesterday and the day before it I was in this freaked out hyper-energetic mode. I was stressed about the amount of time we had to get out of the house and get all the stuff done, and as a result some people were very honest about the way certain boxes were packed (or not packed) by other people. Other people became defensive, and there were lots of ups and downs, but some people were overall impressed by the readiness with which other people admitted that they had packed (or not packed) boxes crappily. Once it was determined that they had another whole day, some people relaxed--a lot. In fact, some people didn't stop relaxing until 4:30 this afternoon, when it became clear that other people were becoming resentful.

Joedy managed to sell a large part of our remaining furniture today, and a truck from the thrift store picked up the leftovers. Lula's room is empty (we put her mattress in our room tonight), and she'll have one last sleepover with her friends Liam and Camille tomorrow. The living room has three big suitcases along one wall, and the kitchen is almost half full of boxes. Tomorrow morning we'll get a U-Haul and put all the stuff we're shipping in storage, and in the afternoon we'll bring Sapporo to her new home.

Today when I thought about Costa Rica I felt a little bit firework-y. It might have been thanks to all the relaxing I'd been doing, but suddenly the idea of moving there seemed fun again. Sitting on the couch tonight with Lula and Malko, Joedy facing us on the coffee table, I felt as happy as I've ever been. Moving to Costa Rica, today, was fun.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moving to another country is good if your life is lacking household drama. Suddenly, there's a lot more yelling: you find yourself yelling about everything from toast, to toothpaste, to dog food. During the pause you take between barking out commands over the noise of the vacuum cleaner, you realize your ears hurt. Why? Because you've been yelling for the past four days.

Yesterday, I found myself in the bathroom rubbing baking soda on my teeth with a washcloth. Today I discovered that Gorilla Tape can be used to remove body hair. The house is getting empty and each room echoes now, but there are still lots of "unresolved issues" and things stacked on them. I felt overwhelmed yesterday by the piles of clothes, the boxes, and the pieces of furniture without a home, and spent an inordinate amount of time looking at and trying to whiten my teeth. Today after spending a long time with Sapporo and thinking about never seeing her again, I ate two bowls of cereal with powdered chocolate poured on top. I couldn't find a bowl, so I ate it in a coffee cup, with a soup spoon.

It was the first time I hung out with Sapporo for so long since we decided to give her away, and definitely the longest in the last few days. I've noticed myself ignoring her when I go outside--not looking at her hutch, not saying her name the way I usually do. I realized I was doing it because I didn't want to think about leaving her, and when I finally did hang out with her today I started getting all teary. I'm consoling myself by thinking that at the rabbit adoption place she'll get to be with other rabbits, and she's never been able to do that, not since she was really little anyway. I think that will be nice for her, and I really like the rabbit shelter she's going to. I go getting all teary again. Sapporo has been the best (and longest-living!) rabbit I've ever had, and there have been a few. Granted, she's had better living conditions than some (she didn't have to sleep in a dorm room closet), and that might have affected her disposition favorably, but I think she's just an unusually smart and loving bunny., yeah--teary again!

We need to be out of the house by Sunday, when the landlords will do the walk-through, so really we just have three more days. I try to think those words without, like, hyperventilating, because, well, we still have to sell the Toyota, buy rocks for the garden, replace the screen door, replace the blind, pull all the nails and screws out, patch up the holes, paint where we've chipped the paint, buy pet crates, clean the fridge, get rid of the furniture, pack all the stuff that isn't packed yet, take the VW bus to the garage, dismantle our bed, clean the house, bring Sapporo to the shelter, put stuff in storage, take Lapis to the vet, send his papers to the office in Sacramento, and buy cough syrup for Lula's cough. (I went to the store to do that after writing this, bought some cookies and ice cream too, had a one-person sugar party during which half the pint of ice cream was inhaled, and then sat down to write some more).

My thoughts on Costa Rica have been mixed lately. No, that's not true--they've been nonexistent. Like my thoughts about Sapporo, I've been pushing thoughts about Costa Rica out of my mind, because I just don't want to face the fears and worries I have about moving there. When I'm lying in bed, I sift through them, trying to talk myself into a quieter state, and basically they all come to the same thing: Lula and Malko getting hurt. To say that I'm apprehensive is true, but it's on a much larger scale than I've ever known, and despite tugs of excitement here and there and signs that things are going smoothly and even well, I'm finding it easiest to deal with Costa Rica by not thinking about it. I'm pretty sure everything will be fine, and I don't regret the decision to take this huge step, but I think it's healthy to go into a new situation with as little expectation as possible. There could be monkeys and butterflies cuddling up in bed with us every morning in our new home--if so, great. Right now I'm focusing on making sense of the domestic chaos and resting my vocal chords. The six suitcases lying open in the living room are demanding my attention, and that's where my thoughts are going: to the suitcases, and to Sapporo.

P.S. We ended up giving Sapporo to Joedy's brother James and his girlfriend Lisa, and she's been spoiled beyond belief ever since...


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just when we thought we had the whole pets thing down, Dallas, Texas, went and threw a wrench in our cogs. A nut in our bolts. A bolt in our nuts. Whatever. Anyway--yay, Dallas! You hot, burning, sweltering city, you! Way to go! Way to make under the collar. Overheated. Intemperate. It's a looooooong story, so I'll spare my readers the fevered furry details; suffice to say that we bought our plane tickets thinking the pets could travel with us, but now they can't, because it will be too hot in Dallas during the layover. Basically, the airline doesn't want them to cook in cargo. So...they can't fly with us after all. So...we need to find another way to get them to Costa Rica.

Having spent 8650 hours on the phone the other day trying to figure out how to bring a rabbit to Costa Rica (the only way, apparently, is by sedating it heavily and wearing it as a hat on the plane) I let Joedy call around about getting the dogs and Lapis there. Throughout the afternoon we wondered: should we send them by boat? Leave them in California until it's cooler and they don't run the risk of turning into bisque in their carriers? Call NASA and see if any domestic animals are needed for a quick jaunt to a distant planet, with a return destination of San Jose, Costa Rica? I briefly thought of eating them, thereby getting them there at least in some form, but in the end that just didn't seem logical, especially after all the money we'd have spent at the vet and the groomer's before the trip.

Besides the not-quite-a-fiasco-but-almost pet fiasco, things are going pretty well. As noted above we have our tickets (Joedy will fly out on the 18th to--hopefully--find a house, and Lula, Malko, and I will meet him on the 28th) and we had a pretty successful yard sale this past weekend. We'll have another one this coming weekend, and if no one buys the rest of our crap I might resort to paying them to take it. It's strange: I thought getting possession-less would be somewhat traumatic, or at least interesting-feeling, but except for a little regret and nostalgia here and there it hasn't really affected me. Maybe it will when we move into our new furnished rental and discover it's not furnished after all!

After the yard sale Saturday we had a going-away party at one of our favorite local spots--the Padaro Grill in Summerland. It's a restaurant by the beach with picnic tables and roomy wooden armchairs, a big sandbox, and the perfect view, in the evening, of the sun sinking into the Pacific. Whenever we'd go there, in the last five years or so, Joedy and I would comment on what a great place it would be for a party. We had Lula's birthday there last year, and it seemed natural to choose it for a gathering of friends to "say goodbye." I put that in quotes because, driving home at the end of the evening, high on all the hugs and love we exchanged with our friends, Joedy and I felt that it had been more of a "hello party" than anything else. As a couple we've been quiet, socially, the past few years--downright hermits compared to the party animals we used to be--but it feels like the pendulum might be swinging back in the other direction. Costa Rica is a popular place now, so it's likely we'll have visitors there, but despite that I think things are shifting in a way that will make us more open to friends altogether. When we met, Joedy was the social butterfly and I was shy, then I became the social butterfly and he retreated. Saturday afternoon, hanging out with people we've come to know and love during our 13-year Santa Barbara life, hearing them say "see you soon," I realized that our going-away party marked not an end, but a beginning, and not sadness, but happiness: rather than saying goodbye, it felt like we were saying hello.

Going through all our desk files and stacks of photos, weeding out the old and useless and getting a picture, from all those pictures, of our life until now, I've been struck by how much we're starting anew, Joedy and I. Physically, it's clear, we're doing something big and different--we're leaving the place we've lived for the past 13 years--and I know there'll be many, many other changes manifesting on many other levels. Last night I dreamed a tidal wave was about to crash over my head and sweep me away. In the dream it was scary, but I think I was ready for it.