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12/31/10
Kati was kind enough to share this article with me: that there was snow on the outskirts of Phoenix yesterday. It's like going to Yankee Stadium - the bad weather follows me.

Found a beautiful "booksellers" table at Pier 1 Imports, and surprisingly affordable. It is now in a box in the back of my Escape.

And off to Aunt Barbara's to ring in the new year with her new HDTV!

later on 12/30/10
Well, Bed Bath and Beyond didn't have the table I was looking for, so I guess I'll get that from IKEA after all (because they will carry it up the stairs for me). I did find some good bargains at Wal-Mart, two very pretty area rugs, some shelving things for my closet, and some 50% off holiday stuff.

Headed to Lori's for beers with her and Julia, one last time in NJ.

12/30/10
According to weather.com, it will be 68 and sunny in Peoria, AZ, on the day I move in. Aaaaaahhhhhh. And checking the ten-day forecast for all of the cities I'm planning to drive through, it looks like a nice, sunny trip, getting warmer and warmer every day.

Today's plan - get my brows done for the last time in NJ. I love my racist Korean nail lady, she made it a point - twice! - to tell me to stay away from the "cheap Vietnamese" when I go. As if I would ever trust anyone not-Korean with my brows. And I want to stop at Bed Bath and Beyond to see if they have the more-affordable-than-IKEA dining table that I want. And then lugging the bookcases downstairs from the library to the living room, so they'll be ready to go on the truck.

Next new House episode, supposed to be on Jan 17th. Perfect, I'll have my TV hooked up by then.

12/29/10
I was having such a nice morning - went to the bookstore to get something to read for the roadtrip, to Macy's where I found two nice shirts, to Home Depot for painting supplies... and when I got home? They had plowed in our driveway again, so I spent another hour outside shoveling rock-solid ice out of the driveway so I could pull the car in. That was lovely.

Anyway, also went up to IKEA for one last look-around. I'm going to leave my bedframe and mattress in NJ (since they are 14 years old) and buy new ones from IKEA when I get to AZ. I picked out the frame I want, and did some mattress testing, so now my shopping list is even longer. I'm glad they deliver.

12/28/10
You'd think it would be easy to take public transportation to the city, but during a blizzard, you would be wrong. The train ran fine until we got to Newark. When we got to Newark Penn Station, we came to a halt. And sat there on the train for an hour, while they kept making announcements that said there was a signal problem and they had no idea what was happening or how long we would be stuck. After an hour, they said that all service to the city was suspended indefinitely. Got into the station, and they said there was no PATH or bus service, either. No bus service anywhere (so I couldn't even take the bus back to Matawan). And there were no taxis to be found.

So after milling around the station for another hour, they said there was PATH service from Hoboken to 33rd Street. But to get to Hoboken, you had to take the Newark Light Rail to the Broad Street station, then take another train to Hoboken, and then get the PATH. So... eventually, after 5 hours, I made it to Dad's. what a hassle.

But we had a lovely time, I stayed over because there were no trains back to NJ until this morning, and now I'm back in NJ, setting up Skype on the computers. Dad and I had fun last night looking at old family pictures (and I found a charmer of him and Uncle Joe dressed in fuzzy bunny outfits, ala A Christmas Story, which is now my facebook profile pic).

And it could have been worse - Tesse had a hell of a time getting home.

12/27/10
Two feet of snow, and we're done. Three hours to shovel out the driveway. All of my plans for the week (except for going to Dad's today) are cancelled, I'm not driving in this crap.

12/26/10
No snowy driving for me today! Will try again tomorrow to get to the city.

CBS News has a reporter in Hazlet (10 minutes away), and they reported 14 inches on the ground, and it's still coming. Not going anywhere.

12/25/10
I am officially done with work in NJ. It was thankfully an uneventful holiday at work, very low-stress. Now I'm doing my laundry, so I can pack the box that has my scrubs in it.

And now I hear that we're expecting 11-16 inches of SNOW between tomorrow and Monday. My plans for the week are now all over the place. I was planning to head to Dad's tomorrow to take him and Ann to dinner, and do gifts, but if I can't get to the city, we may push that back to Monday. Monday I was going to have dinner at Babbo with Miss, but she's stuck in Germany because of the weather, so I think dinner is off. My plan to get to Marie's Crisis Monday night is hopefully still on.

12/24/10
Although I haven't seen Eve and Kati and Eve's clones in over a year (excepting Bill's memorial service, which we don't count), they are and always will be my sisters. And while we won't be in driving distance (tho Kati lives in NH, hardly driving distance), we'll still be getting together just as frequently - Kate already said she's coming out to AZ when it's snowy and cold in NH, and I'm going to trek up there when it's 115 in the shade in AZ. Eve will have to do the traveling to one place or the other. It'll work out.

The clones are getting big! I hate to be the person that says, "oh, you're getting so big," but they really are. Still adorable. And ticklish.

And Mom and I opened all of our holiday gifts today - in honor of having to work tomorrow. I am thankful for all the gift cards, since I can now shop 'til I drop in Phoenix. Much appreciated.

12/23/10
Survived the v-e-t, all the cats are healthy and vaccinated. Pippin needs to lose about ten pounds (who doesn't, honestly). I have to stop back in on Monday or Tuesday to pick up the copies of their vaccination records.

We also rearranged the pile of boxes by weight and fragility, to make the loading of the truck easier.

Last day working with my partner-nurse, who rules. I'm going to miss working with her. Tonight we had one death (right before we left), one admission (who rolled in right before we left, also), and one super-annoying family member, who I successfully avoided for most of the night. We also had our last holiday party for the evening shift, and I think I gained ten pounds just looking at all the food.

One more shift (on Christmas), and then I can do laundry and pack the box that has all my scrubs.

12/22/10
Less crazy at work tonight, especially once I realized it was the last night I will ever have to work with the incompetent supervisor. My coworkers came together and threw a really sweet going-away party tonight, and tomorrow is our building-wide 3-11 party. Everyone brings food and we just have a good time taking a break from work. My partner-nurse and I also got gifts for the director of nursing, our supervisors, our CNA's and each other, so we did all the gift-swapping tonight, too. Two more shifts at work to go...

I an finally all done with my holiday shopping. Two more things to wrap, that's it.

12/21/10
The full moon totally hit us at work tonight, it was a zoo. Thankfully, it's over.

Pippin is sleeping in her dog-sized cat carrier. She really loves it. Mimi will willingly let me put her into the carrier, but she doesn't want to stay there for long. Mimi's made nearly as many moves as I have in the past 14 years, so maybe she knows what she's in for. And maybe Pippin is just a fat, lazy lunk of a cat.

12/20/10
Went to Petco to get herbal "calm the heck down" drops for the kitties, and also some collars with engraved name-and-phone-number tags, just in case. They're going to love the little bells. Taking all three cats to the V-E-T on Thursday, to get caught up on shots and get a copy of their vaccination records. The lady on the phone sounded distressed that Sheeba was staying in NJ all alone, I reassured her that Mom would likely find a feline or bird-like companion for her soon.

Full moon AND total eclipse of same tonight. Should be a crazy night at work. Five more work days to go.

12/19/10
It's amazing how many colors of paint there are. I went to Home Depot to start looking at colors, since I'm allowed to paint the apartment (and since I plan to stay there at least two years, I need to paint). In the end, I decided not to go with "Storm Clouds," or "Rolling Thunder," or "Friday Night Thunderstorm at Yankee Stadium," no matter how enticing those sound.

What did I pick? These are the ones I like, all by Behr: 740E-3 (a blue-gray, for the living/dining room and entry hall, it's all one big space), 160E-3 (a rose color, lighter than my bedroom is now, for the den/library), 290E-3 (a nice neutral taupe, thank you HGTV, for the bedroom), and 450F-4 (a soft olive, for the kitchen and bathroom). And none of them are named after the weather.

After putting both Mimi and Pippin together in the big cat carrier for an hour, to see how they'd do and if there's enough room for them to lie down, it looks like I'm taking two cat carriers after all. Pippin is just too fat to share. So I put one in each carrier, with a catnip-scented towel and some tuna, and there was much less yowling that way. Maybe I should get some kitty Xanax from the vet just in case. Or some earplugs for me.

12/17/10
Six more shifts of work. Seventeen more days in NJ. I am running out of things to pack. Went to BJ's and the grocery store, and filled up two boxes of non-perishable kitchen staples (so that the big strong movers can carry them up to the third floor).

12/15/10
Even with the frigid temps, we had so much fun at the taping! The only bad thing was waiting in line outside for them to check everyone's ID's etc, but once we were in - I haven't laughed so hard in ages. We really enjoyed it. Colbert does a meet-and-greet Q-and-A (out of character) before the taping, and it was a blast. And he revealed that his favorite Sondheim show is also Sunday in the Park With George.

In the small world moment, Jay's friend Noah ran into someone he knew - who worked for The Colbert Report! So after the show, after berating Noah for not telling him that he was coming, his friend gave each of us a gift bag with a long-sleeved tee and winter cap (ha, won't need that for long) with the show logo on it. Very cool!

I got home in time to see it on TV, but I didn't catch us during the pan-across-the-audience bit. Maybe if I freeze-frame it. And I have to say, their editors did a terrific job, you could hardly tell that there were parts on the cutting room floor, as it were. The taping took about 45 minutes, and they cut it down to what, 23 for airing? Great job.

12/14/10
Errands day - called the electric company in AZ to get the bill in my name, called the cable/phone/internet people to get that set up, too. It'll be hooked up on the 10th, so I guess I can go two days without TV. Tho I think the clubhouse at the apartment complex has wireless access, so I'll live. I figure I'll be out of the apartment all day Sunday the 9th anyway, shopping. Took the car in, got my hair cut, bought catfood, litter, and tiny pop-cap cans of tuna for the roadtrip, and now I'm just thawing out my feet before I have to go meet Jay.

later on 12/13/10
I am in love with Jay! He called to ask if I was off tomorrow (which I am!) and did I want to go with him to the taping of The Colbert Report - special guest Stephen Sondheim! Yes yes yes! Since my car will be getting its 15,000 mile checkup tomorrow, I'll just take the train in. Can't wait! And it's Jay's birthday tomorrow, too, so it'll be a blast.

This almost makes up for the snow flurries.

12/13/10
Nice uneventful weekend at work, until something started leaking in the kitchen. I think I pulled a muscle by mopping up the water.

Saw Peter for all of ten minutes before he headed to the city, but it was long enough to ogle his Kindle, sharpening my resolve to buy one once I get settled in AZ.

Nine more work days.

later on 12/10/10
They didn't have the slipcovers in stock, so I'll have to get them in Tempe. The smorgasbord was delicious, tho. And they had a little band (including an accordion player) playing holiday tunes, which was really nice.

12/10/10
It's my last vacation day before going back to work tomorrow. And then I have just eleven more work days. It's going to fly by.

Today's plan is: go to the bank, get nails done, go to the mall (for the elusive roasting rack that I can't find, a camera for Mom's computer, and a new map), make fabulous chicken salad so I have lunches for work this weekend, and go to IKEA for their holiday smorgasbord (many different herring) and see if they have the gray slipcovers in stock that I want for the loveseat.

12/9/10
Uneventful flight home, except for the part where I stepped out of the airport in Newark and froze my tootsies off. Bleh.

Peter's flying out on Sunday, for a week. Surprise!

12/8/10
Last day in Phoenix - and yes, another beautiful day in the Valley of the Sun. I did, however, spend most of it indoors. I started out at the Desert Botanical Garden, which was beautiful and full of cacti. They do a cool thing where they light it all up at night for the holidays, next year I'll have to check it out.

Then I went to the movies to catch up on the two sequels I'd wanted to see - the latest Harry Potter and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I was unimpressed to the point of boredom with the first, and absolutely loved the second. It made for a good day, overall. No traffic on the way to the airport, no line at security, and now I'm just waiting for the flight to start boarding.

It's 20 degrees in NJ. I'm so tempted to just have my things shipped out and stay here.

12/7/10
The IKEA here is much like the IKEA at home, except there are palm trees lining the parking lot, it isn't next to the airport, and they sell mini cacti in the plant department. I made a list of all the stuff I want to buy (and I think I will hold off on buying a daybed for the den until I see how the bookcases fit in there etc, I may just get an Aerobed for guests). I also asked about the delivery costs for IKEA, it'd cost $89 to deliver my purchases (including up to the third floor), which isn't bad at all.

Lunch at Local Breeze downtown, where Michelle and Sean took me and mom back in June. Their roast beef sandwich topped with crunchy onions, and served with sweet potato fries? To die for. Half of it is now in my hotel fridge for a midnight snack later on.

I also poked around the Costco (HUGE, and has a beer aisle) and the Arrowhead Towne Center mall (also huge) before going back to the hotel for their free "light meal," which tonight was rice and beans and tortillas. Yum.

I was surprised to see that most of the touring cast of Hair was in the Broadway cast - pleasantly surprised. It's weird to see things at ASU Gammage because that theatre is so huge, but I have no complaints.

later on 12/6/10
So - because it is a small world - Michelle's mother-in-law (Sean's mom) is someone I used to work with at my old job! She worked for our corporate office, and I didn't realize it sooner because her last name is different from Sean's. Too, too funny! We had a blast at dinner.

And Michelle pointed out that despite my careful proofreading, my change-of-address cards say "street" instead of "avenue," which makes a big difference out here. So, if you have one of my cards already, change it to "avenue," and when I get home, I'll be correcting the rest of them before I mail them out with my holiday cards. Whoops!

12/6/10
I signed my lease! And toured the property (gorgeous) and an empty apartment with the same layout as mine - beautiful, but as they'd say on House Hunters, it's a little smaller than it looks in the pictures. Of course, it's empty, and once my stuff is in, it'll look much better! The woman at the place showed me where everything is, answered my 400 questions ("Can I paint?" "Yes." "Is there any hardware for curtains in place?" "No." "Where do I park the UHaul?" "How do I open the gates after dark?" "Where do I put my garbage?" "Can I hang windchimes on the patio?") and I signed all the papers. My cats' names are on the "pet lease."

And then I drove around, poked through the grocery stores - the Asian supermarket, Lee Lee, is HUGE and much nicer than the Hong Kong supermarket I go to at home. And believe it or not, I couldn't find the Goya seasoning for the paella at either of the regular grocery stores, but Lee Lee had an entire Goya aisle. They also sell large containers of MSG, just in case you were missing it from your diet. But the regular grocery stores do all have liquor aisles in them. Don't have that in NJ. Went to the local Barnes and Noble (big, with the cafe right in the middle of the store) and a garden-supply store (so I can buy my bougainvillea plant once I move).

Drove through Glendale, too, to look in some antique stores. I found a place that sells beautiful lampshades, I'll have to go back once I have lamps.

Oh, and I found an Entemann's outlet out here, drove right past it. Yum.

Lunch at Macayo's (crispy chicken and salad-stuff burrito), and going out to dinner tonight with my friend Michelle and her husband and in-laws.

12/5/10
I don't remember booking a two-bedroom suite, but here it is! I am not complaining. I can sleep in a different bed every night if I want.

Incredibly uneventful flight (two movies: Salt and Eat Pray Love), no complimentary meal (!), and no turbulence at all. Discovered my rental car has XM Radio. The hotel claims to be in "central Phoenix," but it feels out of the way to me. But whatever, it's near enough to the highway, so I can get anywhere I need to.

I drove over to where my new apartment is, but it was dark, so I didn't see much of the grounds. It is, however, within biking distance of the Mariners/Padres spring training facility. And Bell Road, which is a few blocks north, has every store and restaurant you could think of. I went for Mexican food, and now I'm just vegged out on the couch, stuffed to the gills.

Oh, and it's 75 degrees out.

later on 12/4/10
OK, I can totally see why The Scottsboro Boys is closing. I didn't love it, but I can appreciate what they were trying to do.

Biggest plus of the evening (besides seeing Michael and Tesse) was playing with Tesse's new Amazon Kindle! It is indeed as awesome as I thought it would be. I must get one. So, so neat. And after the show, we went to O'Lunney's for a pint (of Diet Coke, I was the driver) and bacon cheeseburgers, and then I dropped Michael off on the UWS and Tesse in Inwood, and then drove home over the bridge.

I will not miss holiday crowds of tourists. Nor full parking lots. Nor waiting an hour to get from the Lincoln Tunnel toll plaza to cross midtown. I will not miss these things.

12/4/10
Lori and I went to the former-employer holiday party last night (I was her guest) - it was great to see all of my former coworkers. A little weird to have the administrator (who didn't do anything to keep me at the job) greet me with a huge hug and a loud, "Oh, we miss you! We really miss you!" when I walked in. But what can you do. The food was good, the bar was appreciated, and the music was decent. But the biggest thing was really to see my friends from work.

The current job's holiday party is next Tuesday, from 2-4pm, in the dining room. I guess that means no open bar.

Off to Highland Park to drop off the shaker desk for Eric and Masha, and then to the bike store to get a bike rack for the Escape, and eventually to the city to meet Michael and Tesse for The Scottsboro Boys, want to see it before it closes.

And sometime today, I need to pack for Arizona! Flying at noon tomorrow.

12/3/10
Well, my bedroom closet now has a door on it again. Had to take the (empty) bookcase out to make room for the door, so the room gets emptier and emptier every day.

Cleaned out the clothes closet some more and made another trip to Goodwill.

12/2/10
Happy birthday, Eve! Can't wait to see you after my vacation/your finals.

I'm going to have to start taking reservations at my new digs (the "Hotel Catherine del West"?) - so many people want to come and visit!

So my neighbor's house that burned down, it's slowly coming down. The construction guys have had their dumpsters there for a week or two now, taking the junk out from inside the house. And I can tell you from sad experience that they start work at exactly 8am. Anyway, today they took the roof off, and are starting to take down the roof rafters.

later on 12/1/10
Happy Hanukah!

12/1/10
Windy and rainy. Please, weather gods, don't let it snow until January 4th. That'd be awesome.

I'm checking out routes for my cross-country drive. I plan to do about 8-9 hours a day (or 500 miles, whichever comes first). The first potential route goes through PA, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and then into Arizona. The other route would take me more south, through Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, then Texas-New Mexico-Arizona. I guess it'll depend on the weather, tho it's all highway driving, so it probably won't matter either way. I love to roadtrip, can't wait. May have to get some kitty-Xanax from the vet - altho Mimi did fine when we went up to Massachusetts a few years ago, and Pippin is so fat and lazy and blissed-out all the time that she probably won't even notice she's in a moving vehicle.

I think my cold is gone. Glad it was this week, and not next week.

-catherine

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