27 July 2006

parachuting eggs.

Someone asked me last night if I was getting really excited about leaving. I gave her the long answer, with my signature long-winded wordiness, but the short answer is no. It's like I keep waiting for something to actually happen to prove I'm actually going, something solid and concrete to come together. This one specific confirmed detail would be a godsend, would give me something to cling to, but has yet to materialize. I don't have that feeling yet, that I'm actually going to go do this. Mostly it just feels like I've been really lazy, and haven't cleaned my apartment in a long time.

I was hoping today would be the day something would happen. My dive physical was scheduled for 10:50am with Doc Hutton. I arrived, and handed off the little form that needs to be filled out, only to find that neither Doc Hutton, nor any other doctor in that particular clinic, was familiar enough with the physical contraindictions to the more specialized (mixed gas, saturation) diving I'll be doing in the program, and couldn't sign off on the form. After Doc Hutton's, I was shuffled around to several other clinics in the St. Louis Park Park-Nicollet facility, only to have each of them scratch their heads in wonder at what I was asking of them.

I've had the tests done before, when I started at the aquarium. I know there are doctors who know how to perform the exam, and can determine whether I'm fit for diving. The glitch is that these doctors work in Occupational Medicine, where the tests are requested by companies, not individuals. When the tests were requested of the Occupational Medicine Clinic by Doc Hutton's nurse by phone, I was refused. That I was an individual requesting these tests for going back to school was, apparently, confusing for them. Impatience got the best of me, and I went to the Occupational Medicine Clinic to talk to one of the nurses myself.

The form disappeared with a nurse for a while, and she came back with good news, that indeed, one of the doctors could perform the exam. I made the appointment, but was still skeptical. I went to the car and after a brief heat- and frustration-induced crying jag, called Judy, my sole contact at the MDT office thus far. I like Judy. She's very helpful. She must recognize my name by now, as I've called several times, and because there can't be more than a handful of women planning to attend. I felt better after talking to Judy.

I decided not to go back to work. Instead, I went to talk to Josh at Smith Diving, who has been extremely helpful in helping me find gear. Today I walked out with a wetsuit, and very soon my BCD will arrive.

I maybe feel a bit differently, despite the day's confusion. I have my wetsuit, after all, and that's a step toward getting to SBA. Maybe my attitude's wrong. I keep waiting for things to fall into place, erroneously thinking that things have simply fallen into place with my other trips. Not so. There were plenty of mishaps, and missteps, and confusion, and alterations along those roads as well. And I've never felt the decision I'm making at the time was the right one. All the decisions have been challenging and scary. Mostly I know the decision is right. I'd just prefer it to feel a bit differently.

24 July 2006

50 ways [not to do anything that needs to be done].

Procrastination has reached epic proportions. Right now, as I speak, I am blatantly procrastinating. And not even in a good way, like when you go to the gym for an extra long time and do a land class and then the weights too, and even ride your bike to get there. Nope, this is the sad, pathetic kind of procrastination, the kind where I sit around thinking up people I can call, and spend an extra long time on the computer reading other people's blogs, and changing stuff around, after watching a bad Bollywood movie and eating BBQ Baked Lays on the couch.

Sad, pathetic, Monday night me.


Sometimes I can't help but wonder if I've made the right decision to leave. This weekend I doubted.

I've begun to prepare in earnest for my departure. There's really no time to spare, after all. My schedule is packed with activities: tomorrow yoga and happy hour @ memory lanes, Wed. dive program and b-day bash, gone all weekend with my bitcthes (not a typo) @ SJU. I leave work next Wednesday and go directly into 5 days of camping with varying groups of beloved individuals. That leaves about a week of time for packing and decluttering. Considering I've got an apartment of stuff to either: donate, pack in my vehicle, or pilfer away in random basements, time is not on my side.

While simultaneously packing and celebrating, I must also prepare for my arrival both at school and in Santa Barbara itself. On the verge of freakout last Friday morning, I started responding to housing postings on Craigs list. Several sounded good and I crafted lovely emails to send, and left delightful messages, in an attempt to convince potential roommates (housing in SBA is trop cher to live on one's own) what a fitting addition to their household I'd make. Unfortunately, I didn't get any responses. Being the best impatient and needy me I can be, the lack of response was uber frustrating and mildly depressing. By the time I was leaving Saturday morning for a family gathering, I'd heard back from only one person, who wouldn't rent to someone without having met them in advance (and reasonably so).

Saturday afternoon was spent chasing my wee niece around, carrying her up and down a lakeside hill, chatting intermittently with my family, gorging on delicious summertime bbq food and bevs, staring out across a sunny Wisconsin lake. Sometime that evening, the doubts started setting in. They included thoughts on leaving my niece Emily, arguably my most favorite person in the whole world, only 2 1/2, that she'll forget me, and will be shy when I come for visits, and she'll never learn to say "aunty Ang". Those snowballed into thoughts on logistics: can't register for classes, can't find housing, don't know anyone in Santa Barbara. More on finances, and not being able to manage all my belongings, and the state of my vehicle. The general sentiment became that none of it was ever going to work out, and it had been a foolish endeavor to even begin considering. This morning, I'd all but convinced myself to still move, but to leave off the going to school part, and just live there for a year, gain residency, work some nonsense job...

Of course, it being a dread Monday, and me, in the car, driving to dread job... I was reminded why I want to do this in the first place.

Fickle, impatient, monkey mind.

(And upon checking email this morning, found a promising response from Linda, part-time student of Oriental Medicine and Forest Ranger, roommate of Cheryl, who manages a dance studio.)

21 July 2006

9 to 5.

I have just week and a half left at the museum, and one or two days left at the aquarium. I worked a dive program there this week, and had a moment of real sadness about leaving. I've been there over a year, and it's taken some time to find a niche. I was hired to work with the dive programs, but there was some uncertainty about what I'd do beyond that. Eventually it all came together, and it's proven to be a calming diversion to my full-time position. Diving (dive programs, and cleaning/ observation dives) and related activities (like food prep if I was going into the reef exhibit to feed the eels) became my only responsibilities and it's been lovely.

In the shark tank this week, I took some time to look around, to realize what an amazing opportunity it's been to work there. When all the divers had exited, Alex let me scrounge around on the bottom for shark teeth. I came up with four! The only other time I've found teeth was when someone else, someone on the outside of the tank, looking in through several inches of acrylic, pointed it out to me. Well, maybe there was one other time, but I've certainly never found four in one dive!

I don't feel any remorse about leaving my other job, on the other hand. In fact, I've moved up my date of departure by 2 days. It should be a wonderful place to work and a great position, but it's not. The primary reason for this, of course, is because I'm not meant for sitting on me arse 8 hours a day, at a desk, in front of a computer, engaged in activities and planning and conversations that aren't important or meaningful to me. I've felt this way before, and left previous positions in this same huffy and urgent manner.

I also had a job I loved once: working as a divemaster in Thailand, diving beautiful islands with new friends from everywhere everyday. Luckily, it's not what I'm leaving behind, but rather what I'm going toward that's propelling me.

17 July 2006

the last big thing.

I've reached the one-month mark. I've actually bypassed the one-month mark. The one-month mark was Saturday, a day that found me knee-deep in mini-pirates, a day too busy to recognize I'd reached the one-month mark. Here are updates:

1. I'm leaving in a month.
2. I don't know where I'll live.
3. I'm not registered for classes.

So, actually this is more of an anti-update.

It's proven to be much more challenging to remotely plan returning to school than I'd imagined. Apparently, there are things that one need be physically present for, such as registering for classes. Maybe it has something to do with the school itself, rather than higher ed's overall ability to accomodate the needs of the out-of-state, incoming student, but nonetheless, I've had moments of frustration and confusion. I'm sure it will all work itself out in the loveliest and most agreeable manner, after a month's time and 2000 miles have passed.

Another benchmark on Saturday, we had an event at the museum, and it was my last major responsibility before leaving. I still have some preparations to make for my departure, info to gather for my successor, but mostly I'm done. Mentally/ emotionally, I'm completely done (but that's been the case for the past six months ;) ). More time now to get my apartment sorted, spend some time looking for gear, enjoy happy hours with friends, and flee the city as quickly as possible any available weekend.

12 July 2006


After wordsmithing for the better part of 2 weeks, I finally sent out the mass email to friends and family, explaining my intentions to move. The very first response I received was from Cousin Kate, who shared such wonderful news:

I have been to Santa Barbara on another tour and really all I remember is that the weather was gorgeous and everyone rode bikes everywhere. On the college campus there were bike lanes alongside all the walking paths.
Another tic in the *for SBA column.

Not everyone knows my bike. It's a more recent acquisition, and really one of the simple pleasures in my life. I found it on Craigslist, a guy in north Mpls. was selling it, and it was a bit like buying a bike from a friend's dad. The listing said it was a mid-70's Schwinn, and it had a picture. I suppose I was drawn to the color (orange) and that it was a girl's bike and a 10-speed (I've been wandering around for the past 10 years on a men's mountain bike, somewhat converted for road use. Very uncomfortable.), and that the model name was *Le Tour III (read: Le Tour Trois, and not Le Tour three, as I've learned so many are wont to say).

I drove out to see it. I rode it around the block a few times. I felt pretty sweet in the saddle. I offered him $50 and he accepted. He helped me squeeze it into the back seat of my car, and we've been living happily together ever since. There have been a few glitches, but more than anything, I think it was a very solid investment. Because 10-speeds rule.

I'm on the bike as much as is humanly, physiologically, and professionally possible. I ride to work, I ride to the gym, I ride for relaxation. It's become such a part of my life that bike commuting was one of the first things I researched about SBA, and something I'll consider when deciding what area to live in. I stumbled upon a great website, Santa Barbara Car Free and received my first map of the SBA area, complete with bike routes and bike-riding tips. My kinda place.

all four seasons.

It's about 100 degrees in my apartment tonight. I took a nap earlier, the fan trained directly on me, and still awoke overheated and sweating. These are days I'm happy to be enveloped in temperature-controlled goodness during the day (whereas at other times of the year it makes me cold and grumpy).

I last relayed to you the general weather conditions in Santa Barbara (aka SBA, its airport code), and received my first comment for this particular blog, that summer year-round poses its own frustrations. I have to acknowledge that I do have some apprehension about moving to a geographical area that is homogenous weatherwise. I've done it before, you see. Well, sort of.

There was one year, or the span of something like 18 months, where I saw only temperate weather. It began in the Minnesota spring of 2002, continued into the Thai summer of 2002-3 (timewise, Thai summer = Minnesota winter), and concluded with the Minnesota autumn of 2003. It was strange. It was also a while ago, and I don't remember exactly how it affected me. I think by the end of Minnesota summer 2003 I was a bit tired of sunshine and heat. Perhaps I'll feel the same after a stretch of time in SBA. I can't say for certain.

I've grown to genuinely love the period from the end of summer into the fall. The temps begin to drop, and the nights become pleasantly cool. Flipflops are still ok to wear, and can be paired with lightweight sweaters and jeans. It's still warm enough to ride a bike, though the mornings are crisp. The beautiful light, the lengthening shadows, the turning of the leaves. I love all these things. BUT! They lead into something that I can't abide: WINTER!! Even summer in Minnesota some days is over-the-top ridiculous, with the temps and the humidity. It's the extremes that overwhelm me.

So, maybe summer year-round won't be so bad, so long as I can visit in autumn, and spring, and maybe even in the winter...

09 July 2006

Santa Barbara, a primer. (weather)

I've never been to Santa Barbara. Not once. The only time I was ever in California (not counting layovers at LAX on trips to Asia) was for a long weekend to San Francisco/ Napa with Michaela and Lisa and Chris. I thought, briefly, about moving to San Francisco, but decided a few months later that Thailand on the Andaman Sea was a better fit.

I've been doing some research on the city though, because it was the program that solidified the decision, and the town was a nice benefit, but I don't know much about the town.

Some info from santabarbara.com:

Santa Barbara Climate Conditions

* Over 300 days of sunshine a year.
* Humidity: Ranges from 40-60% and varies according to season.
* Altitude: Sea level to 620 feet

The coastal climate of Santa Barbara is always a enjoyable surprise to the first-time visitor. This is particularly true during the winter months – roughly from October through March. Around the turn of the century, many prominent Eastern families came to visit and, unable to resist the lure of the pleasant climate, established their winter residences here.

Santa Barbara is a “get out in the sunshine and fresh air” place, with all the activities that implies.

The average annual rainfall is only 15 inches – about the same as many desert resort communities experience. Unlike those resorts, however, there are no sandy windstorms or blistering hot days. Absent, too, are the cold, fierce winter ocean storms that plague many California coast resorts.

What allows Santa Barbara to escape inclement weather, is its unique geographic location. For roughly 40 miles on either side of Santa Barbara, the California coastline runs almost due East/West. This alignment moderates the ocean currents that flow past Santa Barbara’s front door. Towering mountains, very close to the sea, shelter the coastal strip from inland heat and cold. The Channel Islands, 20 to 30 miles off shore, break the force of ocean storms and quiets the surf.

The result is a comfortable year-round average temperature of 64 degrees, with an average maximum of 74 and an average minimum of 56 degrees.

All this means there is no “off-season” in Santa Barbara.. Warm sunshine, beautiful scenery, invigorating, clear, fresh air and congenial people await you year-round.

It actually sounds a bit ridiculous, and extraordinary, and hard to believe, that if such a place really exists, why would anyone live in places where there's winter, and crazy humidity (but also with beautiful autumn, and spring!) and no ocean or mountains...

07 July 2006

it begins.

Welcome to the blog, and thanks for visiting. Though I’ve done a good bit of traveling, I’m not the greatest at chronicling my experiences, and I hope to change that as I begin anew in Santa Barbara, California.

It’s just over a month until I leave. At the end of this week, I have 4 weeks left at my day job at museum, and 3 more at my part-time job at the aquarium. This week was probably the last dive program I’ll ever attend to at the aquarium. I’ll still dive the exhibits before I go, for cleaning dives and not with paying customers. I think only 2 people I know ever saw me diving at the aquarium: Martin, a German researcher who worked at the museum last fall, and Bree, randomly visiting with her family one night.

Both jobs have been amazing, each in their own way. But I'm very, very excited to move on.