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New Year, New Place!!

January 2, 2011

By the time I finish this post, it will likely be January 2nd going by the calendar, considering I am starting to write at 11:04 pm on the first. But who cares. Point is, I’ve started this entry on January 1st, 2011. Going to have to get used to writing 2011 on whatever paperwork I have to fill out. That usually takes a few days – adjusting to writing down a new year.

I am glad it is a new year! Yay!

Seriously. I am not sitting in my room right now, the room I occupied for over 11 years – years I mostly do NOT want to reminisce (wow, I spelled that right first try?) on (or is it about?) Do you reminisce about things or on them? They didn’t tell me that in college.

Anyway, apart from one series of events which I shall write about a little later, this new year perhaps would not feel all that significant to me, were I still in that room. In that duplex, in that neighborhood, in that city, in that state.

I have successfully moved! I live in a major – I should say THE major metropolitan area of Idaho – but I won’t tell you specifically what city or town. There are lots of them around here. Point is, a most surprising thing..

I AM LIVING IN IDAHO!!

Sometimes still QUITE hard to believe it ever happened, but I feel more settled in than I used to. When I go, “Oh wow! I am in Idaho!!” It’s a happy thing. A good surprise!

We moved on December 7th, but didn’t drive all the way here.

December 7th was a busy day for us! We still hadn’t finished packing when the movers showed up. We had some relatives helping us. (Special thanks to the relatives who paid for the moving service – $6,000!! – and for the help from relatives and friends of my parents who helped us pack and also get rid of stuff).

The moving truck left the same day we did, but we were not expecting it until Friday, or later. The reason is, these huge moving trucks, and I do mean huge, fill up with more than one house worth of stuff to move, and sometimes pick up commercial freight as well, so it takes longer to get to wherever it is people are moving to.

We had anticipated this. The truck actually didn’t arrive until Sunday, which was a bit of a surprise.

It was on Tuesday the 7th that we left. We drove approximately 6 hours. It was my aunt and grandma and myself in my aunt’s car for awhile, and my mom and dad in my mom’s car, then my mom and I switched vehicles, and I drove her car. I was glad to not drive the first part – on a busy freeway up through Sacramento, and then east on a different freeway heading toward Reno. There is a pass there which could have been very bad for us considering the time of year, but although there was snow on the sides of the road, there wasn’t any snow on the road, and it wasn’t snowing. The weather was clear. I could have handled that part of the drive – going up the pass into Nevada is easier than going down the pass into California – I drove that at night in 2009 – talk about white knuckles! Still, I sure didn’t mind being a passenger until we got near Reno.

We drove aways after that, and stopped at a small hotel in Winemuca, NV. Not sure if I am spelling that town correctly. Apologies to those of you who live in that town if I spelled the name wrong.. yeah like anyone from there is reading this blog..

Anyway.. the main street through Winemuca has a TON of hotels and motels along it. Amazing for such a small town. One of my relatives had found a pet-friendly hotel. It could not be seen from the main road, and did not have any flashing glittery lights, which was good. It was a pleasant hotel. I can’t quite remember the name of it … Town House Inn or something like that.

We had Suzie the cat with us on our drive. She’s overall a wonderful cat and we certainly were not going to leave her behind! We had taken her to a vet back in California, and the vet had prescribed a cat sedative – chicken flavored, which I had to put in the cat’s mouth with a small squirt syringe. This made her dopey, but not for the whole trip. Sometimes she did yowl. Cats do not travel well.

My aunt had gotten a cat carrier for free from a friend of hers, but we felt it was too small, so I traded it in for a bigger carrier that the wildlife center had, and put in 10 bucks in the donation box besides.

We let the cat out inside the hotel room.. which we were not technically supposed to do, the actually I should say motel… the motel wasn’t all that pet friendly. But Suzie had been in the carrier for hours so it was good to let her out.

In the morning we made the second leg of our journey, and I drove it all.

5 hours may not seem like a long time, but it is if you are on a semi-treacherous 2 lane road the whole way, even if the road is not covered in snow. Practically the only traffic besides us on this rough road was 18 wheelers – lots of them, and they of course went slower than we wanted to.

All that would have been bad enough..

Without the cat yowling almost the WHOLE time!!!! The cat sedative didn’t work at all this time. She was silent for about 20 minutes. That was it.

I have a very low tolerance for noises I don’t like, so you can imagine how I felt during these 5 hours!

It was VERY nice to get to the hotel where my parents, aunt and grandma would stay.

I helped them load stuff into the motel room, and then we headed to our rental house.

This rental house is pretty cool. And it was great that it was vacant. It’s owned by my brother’s brother-in-law. The house is 2 stories, 1500 sq. feet, but feels bigger. I am sitting on the second floor – the partial second floor – it’s one of those houses with very high ceiling and the stairway leads up to a partial second floor, in this case consisting of 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a nice large landing where we have set up our desk and computer. My mom’s computer crashed over a week ago, so this is the communal computer – the mac that I had back in my room. I have waiting until parents and aunt are going to bed and not reading what I write. I haven’t written anything personal yet, but I just might later on.

My mom had neglected to contact the gas company out here in Idaho, so the temperature inside the house in the afternoon on December 8th was not much warmer inside than out.

The plan was for me to stay here, so as to save cost on another hotel room. It was ok to share the hotel room in Winimuca with my parents for just one night, but we figured more nights than that would not be fun, despite there being two beds in the rooms. And my dad and mom both sometimes snore.. so I wanted the house to myself, even without any furniture in it, or, as it turned out, heat.

Mom called the property manager, a somewhat dippy and unreliable young woman who I never did meet. She brought over some space heaters, which was nice. The responsibility of who it was who was supposed to call the gas.. I think it fell to my mom, but sometimes she talked as if it was the property manager who was at fault somewhat. I think the property manager had been to the house a few days before we moved. She should have noticed then that the heat wasn’t on.

So, I put 3 space heaters in a little bedroom, and slept on an inflatable mattress with bedding I brought from home.

That night, I went down to the Albertson’s grocery on the corner, and got some truly amazing fried chicken. Usually, I do not get stoked about fried chicken, but this stuff was great! Besides the chicken, I had a pack of dinner rolls and some spuds – fried potato wedges. I had one folding chair to sit on, and brought a space heater downstairs to the kitchen/eating area, and plugged in my 12 year old laptop (too old to get on the internet, but otherwise still quite useful) and watched a movie from redbox.

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.” It was ok. Another Michael Cera film. It had some good moments, but I am getting sick to death of gay characters. Hollywood is trying incredibly hard to get the gay lifestyle accepted, and they are winning. But still, damnit, it gets old. It’s distracting putting too much gay stuff in a film. And I don’t expect to see guys kissing in a movie rated PG-13.. call me old fashioned, but I am only semi-tolerant of homosexuality.

Otherwise.. well, the movie still wasn’t exactly awesome. But it certainly was odd, and I liked some parts of it, at least.

After my meal and movie watching, I headed up stairs, plugged in all three heaters, and tried to sleep.

I turned the heaters off before going to sleep though, for safety reasons.

The vet had told us to keep the cat in one room of the house for the week. I kept Suzie in my room for one night. She was pretty freaked out by the trip and being in a new place, and was too active overnight – climbing around on my mattress, making noise, pawing at the door, creating a ruckus. Not fun.

I was very very tired the next day. The gas man came at 2:30 and got the heat going. That was on Thursday, the 9th. I had hoped to have the place to myself for awhile more, but my parents got blow up mattresses and stayed here too, to save money – and my aunt and grandma were still in hotels.

The moving truck arrived on Sunday, and the guys unloaded a massive amount of stuff.. we sure did pack a LOT of boxes!

We have still not emptied many of these boxes, but are settled into the rental house. We plan on buying a home within the next couple months, so won’t be staying here too long, I am guessing.

Nothing much to report about most of the time I’ve been here since I first moved in, except this past few days. I still have not seen the main areas of the largest city in this area. Haven’t been to the zoo or the raptor centers out here, or seen much of downtown. This, for awhile, drove me bonkers.

For over two weeks, I was mostly very tired, dealing with the shock of having actually moved up here. It was quite intimidating to go driving on streets I had never seen before.

Quite a psychological shock. I didn’t want to leave my room much at all for awhile, then just stayed in the house mostly. But eventually did venture out. On a less than safe night to travel, as I found out, to my surprise.

I think it was the 18th.. in the afternoon. I set out to drive around quite a bit – first heading outside of town on roads through desert hills covered in a light dusting of snow. It was raining a little, but not bad.

I realized that the terrain would not change mile after mile so turned back toward the city and drove and drove. Stopped at a fast food joint. By then it was raining pretty hard.

While I was eating, the rain turned to snow, then rain again. I kept driving.. time passed.

Then it REALLY started to snow! I had never driven in snow before, not ever!! And I was driving my mom’s Toyota Corrolla – which was not equipped with snow tires.

And it turned into almost blizzard conditions. And I’d never driven on these roads before, at all. I did have a GPS which my brother and sister-in-law gave us. (They live 2 hours away from here, and are the main reason we are living in Idaho. All of us here thought the town they live in is too small, so we didn’t move there.)

The GPS helped – I didn’t get lost, but could have died.

So much snow came down in so short a time!!

I slid and slid.. didn’t know I was supposed to pump the brakes. Almost slid through an intersection. But safely made it home – no accident, no injury, no heart attack, just severe anxiety. It hasn’t snowed since, and I am VERY grateful!!!

Let’s see, what else to say..

Joined a gym – need to burn off stress! Got a good deal on the membership, too – a multi-club pass for only 30 bucks and change per month. There are two locations I have so far gone to. The nicer one is farther away, but sometimes I don’t mind the drive.

Driving around out here…

Moving up to a new city during Christmas shopping season and trying to learn streets we have never been on.. not the best time to do so!! More traffic than I ever expected! There are LOTS of people living in the area! The traffic has calmed down some since Christmas, but is still busier than I expected.

The good thing about the traffic is that the drivers here do not drive like psychotics, unlike many drivers in California. People out here actually obey the speed limit, which is supposedly strictly enforced. So although there are much more cars on the roads than I had anticipated, I don’t feel as nervous driving in this area as I did in California.. so that’s something.

Ok..

I had typed up a lot of personal stuff about what happened between me and a certain woman I got to know in rather intimate ways just before I moved. TOTALLY UNEXPECTED!! She is a most amazing woman, but some things I shall keep private, and I did move, and don’t know if I shall ever see her again. So I’m not going to write about all that. I have gotten quite personal in previous entries, but I plan on not doing that anymore. As I said, some things in my life I shall keep private.

I am now going to write about December the 29th..

On the 29th, according to the weather forecast, much snow was expected. Instead, although it was of course cold (this is Idaho), it was beautiful and clear, and I finally set out to find an incredible music store.

I had read reviews of it weeks before I moved. Even before my amp died a few days before we moved. The amp I had been using with my bass.

On the 29th, I finally got the nerve to drive out on the freeway, which turned out to be not heavily traveled and was even pleasant to drive on, and got to the music store on the far side of another city out here.

Let me back track a little though.

What has been hardest psychologically for me so far since I have moved here has not been dealing with feelings related to being away from the amazing woman I left. What has been much much more difficult was managing my compulsions regarding musical instruments. Specifically, should I play bass, and what bass amp do I get?

I did my usual countless restless hours of researching.. what I always do when I am obsessing over some musical gear I am planning on buying. Went to Guitar Center out here (NOT the amazing music store I mentioned – just another Guitar Center. The service was good though, at least. They do try to pick helpful people to work at GC).

Back in CA, I was a loyal customer of GC because the other two music stores mostly had really bad service, but here in Idaho, I wanted to find an independent music store with CHARACTER. So after going to GC a couple weeks ago, still wasn’t sure what to do, and agonized over choosing an amp to put on the credit card.

To make matters financially worse, a few weeks back, I broke my glasses. I had awoken to find my cat sitting near my head, right next to me on the air mattress, not curled up by my feet, but sitting up and looking at me. That creeped me out. I had a large and heavy flashlight on an office chair I was using a night stand, and in my surprise I knocked it off the nightstand, – and it came crashing down on my glasses.

These were the most comfortable pair I’d owned. I’d bought the frames years ago, and since then just had the lenses replaced. Damn..

So went to Pearle Vision, spent $75 for an eye exam, and dropped another $300 for glasses – all on the card.. I was planning on getting an eye exam within a few months anyway.. overdue for one, but was planning on getting the bass amp first, and just getting lenses put in the old frames, not a full pair of glasses. Getting a full pair ended up costing me only $100 more than just a new set of lenses, though, and these new glasses look really good, dare I say even better than the others, and after having these glasses adjusted.. they are reasonably comfortable too. As my ladyfriend back in CA wrote – maybe it was time for me to update my look.

But that did stress me out. I’d already put more money than I’d ever intended on this card in the past 6 months.. with the new glasses, my bill reached over a grand. And I still planned to buy an amp.

I finally made it down to the music store I had been longing for weeks and weeks to visit.. and it turned out to be every bit as awesome as I’d hoped. I had checked it out on google maps streetview while back in CA, so I knew it would be small compared to Guitar Center, but that was fine.

Smaller yes, but SOO much more awesome! TONS of gear!! Hardly enough room to walk!! Almost more like a museum than a store.. dusty, yes, quirky, yes.. independent store with CHARACTER. I’ve never seen so many old amplifiers and classic guitars – brands of amps I’d not even heard of, equipment I could not recognize, classic guitars from yesteryear, and even some odd Japanese imports from the ’60’s and ’70’s.

Bass amps, though? Not so much. I tried out a few. Didn’t particularly like any of them. 2 were actually keyboard amps – which can work for bass. The one that had expired on me back in CA was a keyboard amp. It was made back in the ’80’s, and it had gotten old. I ended up selling it as is to a guy for 10 bucks. Perhaps I should have had it moved up here. The guy who runs the amazing music store out here is an accomplished technician and luthier (guitar builder). Oh well.

The one bass amp he had that had the right price and the right level of power – actually a bit more power than I wanted – it was a brand of amp – Crate – that I haven’t liked much at all since the early ’90’s. I bought a Crate practice amp for electric guitar, which was overall pretty good – back in 1993, or was it ’92, but never did like Crate bass amps. The others I didn’t like either.

I was trying them out with my bass, which I had brought in to have looked at. It was acting up a little. Turns out the jackplate just needed to be tightened, and the guy fixed it for free. Took him less than 5 minutes.

As you might guess, I stayed in that store for hours! I talked with the proprietor, and a customer who turned out to be a regular. Both guys were about 50, I am guessing.

I got along with both of them rather well. I know enough about bands from many genres and eras, and enough about gear to enjoy conversation in music shops, even though I am not, at this point in time, an accomplished musician.

The customer could tell I was frustrated while testing out the amps, and could also likely tell I had bought the bass recently and didn’t know how to play it well. He asked if I was “keen” about playing the bass. I like that word. I said no, not really, kind of iffy. I had intermittently put my bass down, and tried out various other instruments in the store, including some very very basic, cheap mandolins, which just happened to sound tons better than the mandolins made by famous makers which I found earlier at GC.

One of the mandolins was used, and only $99.00!! I was stunned to find these little instruments, and so pleased! I tried out some of the newer ones, and the used one, although cheapest, had the best tone!

I played on it a bit, even though I don’t even know one chord on the mandolin. My fellow customer asked me where and how I’d learned to play the mandolin, and I replied that I hadn’t. He was surprised, and said, well there you go.. in other words… you like the mandolin and obviously do well on it, why play bass? And he kept saying..look at those fingers! I have very long, very skinny fingers. Length is great, even for bass, but skinny.. not so good for bass, better to have thick fingers, I think. My fingers.. better suited for piano, guitar, whistle… and especially for the rather narrow frets to be found on the fretboard…

… of a mandolin.

Some years ago, I went through a mandolin-online-shopping-and-researching phase, but never bought one. And the usual imports made by Fender and Epiphone that GC and other music store sold, were made in China and just never sounded or felt right.

These mandolins were not ornate at all, and were of a slightly different style – with an O-hole like a guitar instead of F-holes like most mandolins, and they had flatter, but more comfortable bodies.

The store owner told me he had bought them as kits and put them together. The used one had been bought with a guy who had left it in his car too long in below freezing weather and a crack in the back had occurred, and had been patched expertly by the store owner. He fixed the fretboard as well, and put it up for sale as used.

The parts for the kit likely were made in China, I’d be surprised if they weren’t – but could not find out online. Good wood though – spruce top, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard. Good stuff. Amazing tone!

So, I finally got my mandolin!

And gig bag, strap, and video to go with it.

As anticipated, I still get tensed up and frustrated practicing an instrument, but truly believe, that besides my whistles, this will be my best instrument (unless you count my voice as an instrument, which I am trying to develop). I believe I will do tons better on mandolin than I ever have on guitar, and better on bass as well.

I put mandolin and gear on the card. Of course. And put the bass up for sale on craigslist. Peavey basses just aren’t generally considered cool, though, even ones made in America. I might end up keeping the bass.. Yes, I bought that and related gear on credit too, but might not get much money for it.

Not sure what to do about it. I know it’s likely that to get super-great on an instrument, it’s best to practice just one. But I am too restless, and the mandolin is so small my arms feel a little cramped. So this evening, I practiced the mandolin, then the bass (still no bass amp, but even if I keep the bass, the amp can wait – I will not put it on the card.. I warped my brain trying to find the right bass online, and could not make up my mind – one of the many reasons I bought the mandolin instead of a bass amp), then whistle, then back to mandolin, then working with a DVD I’m not sure is very helpful or not – a singing DVD – first one has mostly just lots of odd vocal exercises and too much talking.. part of a 4 DVD set which was insanely expensive, and I hope not seriously foolish to buy. These disks might turn out to be very helpful, I hope. Then mandolin again, then stopped. I was quite tensed up and agitated, like usual when I practice anything, so did a few yoga poses, then started in on this blog, which I will now pretty much wrap up, edit somewhat, publish, then go downstairs to eat, take my sedative, wait ’til the food settles in, then sleep. It’s already after 1 am (Idaho time – well.. Southern Idaho time..which is in the Mountain time zone. Northern Idaho, where the higher mountains are, is in Pacific time.. odd. My blog is still on California time.. should fix that.. anyway..)

So here I am in Idaho.

New Year’s Eve was nice, met with old friends of the family – a married couple my parent’s age, but I’ll write about that on another night.

My longest post yet, as of now. I’m going to cut it down a little bit, but it will still likely be very long. I haven’t written in over a month, and MUCH has happened, and it’s a New Year.

My resolutions… to work on my physical and mental health, to be kind to myself, to improve my singing voice, whistle playing, and learn mandolin. And become a calmer happier person, learn my way around here, meet great people, and thoroughly enjoy myself. I’ve already got to working on some of these resolutions.. I did not work out today, this New Year’s day which has just, according to the calendar, passed, because I worked out hard the previous two days and needed to rest, but I did practice 3 instruments and work on my singing. A start!

Alright then… safe journey here to Idaho, settled into a nice two story house in a quiet neighborhood in a safe area with immense amounts of potential for having a wonderful life.. and a mandolin and other instruments and instructional materials to work with.. wonderful!

Happy New Year to you and may this year be blessed for all of us.

Goodnight!!

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