Thursday, February 24, 2011

Looking Back at 2010

Now Playing -  
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You by The Ink Spots

Life - 

A year in the northeast.

Roughly a year ago, we left our world in the West behind and flew out to Maine. Neither of us had ever been here before, in all honestly, I can't say Id ever really even given the state much thought. But we were ripe for a change and my company was actively seeking experienced managers to head up the expansion in the area.
Lobster Roll - The Ultimate Maine Food
So we jumped in. This isn't something we usually do too rashly, we'd been planning a potential move for months, having put in for a move to the northwest a few months prior, scuttled by some staffing changes with my company. We hit a few snags before the move, primarily stemming from me shattering my arm and wrecking our Honda Element. But we stuck to our decision and left on a jet plane.

3,000 miles later, we landed in a state surprisingly similar to Idaho. Cold, bitterly so, with a stiff wind and little snow. Pretty much Idaho in January, though there wasn't the 3 inches of ice on the roads. We rented a car and set out to find a place to live and to explore out new home. After a few days in the sublimely funky Inn At St. Johns, we rented a room at the trashy, slummy Northeastern Motel in Windham, ME. The Internet didn't work, the water had a sign that suggested boiling and left the shower stained an unusual smurf blue, and the owner was a nosy, rude freakazoid. We spent a lot of time watching home and garden TV and swearing at our Internet connection. But it wasn't all bad. We drove around every week, learning more about our state. We found some great pizza and some of the best corned beef hash on God's green earth. I worked in the district office, making some valuable connections while my arm healed. Finally, we found a new house, renting a small mobile home on 1.75 acres in Topsham, ME. I bounced around in a few different stores before settling somewhat permanently in the Forest Avenue store, where I set about training my generally awesome and quirky employees.
Our Humble Abode
We flew back out to Idaho, ate some good Mexican food at last (Maine does not have any- at all) gathered up our pets and a few possessions. We built a bed platform with storage underneath in our newly purchased Honda Element (My third), stuffed it full and drove back across the country, sleeping in the car the whole way. We learned that North Dakota has good people, toll highways are the worst thing to happen to travel and that our dogs are pretty decent traveling companions. Also, a laptop and a few tv shows, plugged into the audio of the car makes for a pretty awesome little home theater on the go.
Old Orchard Beach
Back out here we travelled a lot on our weekends, we saw lighthouses, the ocean, expensive old houses, countless graveyards and ate more seafood than I've ever had in my life. Eventually things settle a bit. Linz got a job working the night audit shift at The Captain Daniel Stone Inn in Brunswick, a new, nice looking if somewhat poorly run hotel, and we set about trying to plan for our futures.
One of the hundreds of gorgeous cemeteries in the east.
For years now, we've wanted to buy and run a little motel in the Pacific Northwest. We've tried all sorts of stunts to accomplish this, from begging for money, to converting a house into a BandB, to almost leasing one from a gentleman in Washington. Nothing panned out, so now we have to do it the old fashioned way, by getting rid of our debt and saving up some money. Then we need a lucky break. That's one reason we're out here. Back in Idaho, it had become too comfortable, surrounded by our friends and family, by our thousands of books and DVDs, our good restaurants and above all, our routine.

We are living light out here, eating out rarely, freezing meals on the cheap, shopping for work clothes at goodwill, all in an attempt to pay off our debt. It's a daunting amount. Including our house, which we still own in Idaho, our car and Lindsay's school loans, we owe over $210,000.00 However, most of that is low interest “Good Debt” but coming out here we still had over $17,000.00 in dental bills, credit cards and a loan we took out for a vacation and to remodel our house. Over the last year, working aggressively, we've cut that 17k to less than six, with plans to kill the rest by July. This is very exciting.

We've also started up a few additional schemes to make money. We're both writing novels, which we plan to release ourselves as ebooks this year. I've written a post-apocalyptic crime novel, I'm almost finished with my zombie book and have a children's story in progress. Lindsay's written almost 3 historical Romance novels and started planning an elaborate fantasy series. To that end, we've created our writerly identities and started doing the social networking thing that is required of authors these days. It's a bit of a chore, but an interesting challenge as well. I've also started a company called Deeply Dapper, through which I sell art, sculptures, home décor and design book covers. It's a work in progress, but it's made a few hundred so far.
Portland, Oregon
It hasn't all been sunshine and lollipops. We love some aspects of Maine, but there are a lot of things we've come to dislike too. The people are very hit and miss, with some being extremely sweet and friendly and some being rude to the point of parody. Everyone drives like crazy people here, not just aggressively, but dangerously. Winter seems to be neverending. Not just the copious amounts of snow, but the extremely short days, coupled by my long commutes has made me craving a simple walk with the dogs in the sun more than ever before. We're both quite homesick, or more appropriately, Westsick. We miss Oregon and Washington, their funky sensibilities and long beaches. Maine has a bit of that, but it's overshadowed by pretension and something undefinable that rubs us the wrong way.

I lost my grandmother recently and watching it all happen from afar, wishing we were there was especially difficult, and the idea that it wont be the last time while we're out here, with friends getting married and family getting older stings.

To be shallow, we also really miss our stuff. Our small library overflowing with books, the big TV and room full of DVDs, my private garage full of art and sculptures, Lindsay's craft room.

So we plan on moving back eventually. If we could afford to, frankly, we would move back in a couple of weeks, when the roads thaw and it's warm enough to sleep in the car. More realistically, we need to pay off our credit card and save up at least $8,000.00. We came up with that because it would be enough for the cost to get home, to Washington, rent a uhaul and find a place to live. Of course, that's also assuming I can get a transfer out there with my job, or by some miracle we manage to make a living off of our writing. So we're out here for a while. If I were to be promoted to store manager, something that is a vague possibility, we would be able to afford the move faster, but I would then need to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to the position and a transfer when the time came would be harder, so the promotion would be bittersweet.
Autumn is amazing out here.
So how has our first year been out here in Maine? More good than bad. A surprising dearth of good food, an abundance of nasty people and the Atlantic is nowhere near as welcoming to us as the Pacific. But we've loved exploring. The Autumns are amazing, the cemeteries ancient and beautiful and we have been able to make progress on our debt like never before.

So we'll keep on trucking. Blogging, writing, sculpting, reviewing and eventually, if lady luck stays with us, we'll move to the West, open a motel and write our novels for a living.
On the inside of my wedding ring, I have this phrase -

“Dreams Create The Future”

And every day, we work to make those dreams as real as we can.

The ROUS FAMILY -     


Steve at Random said...

I like the way you set and achieve goals. There's an old saying, "Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard." While you're keeping your eye on your ultimate goal, you are also taking lots of steps to achieve your dream. Keep it up.

randymeiss said...

Brilliant, I'm so glad reporter Steve suggested this. I start salivating every time I see that lobster roll picture. I want to drive out to Maine just to eat one of those beauties. What a great way to sum it all up with the phrase from your wedding ring. "Dreams create the future." What a great way to live! It is my fervant wish, one day, may your dreams come true. I look forward to your blogs along the way.

Anonymous said...

I love those pics. I want to visit Maine and Oregon one day.

The best of luck to you publishing your books.

Kris said...

Thanks Steve - You've been a huge support for us throughout this, you have know idea how great We love ya. And your inexplicable yet constant rallying for that state you live in....

Kris said...

Randy - We'll keep dreaming and blogging, even after our current dreams have been met, I promise!

Kris said...

Thanks, Medeia!

We like Maine, it does have it's high points and we LOVE Oregon!

I've never been to Florida, but we have a friend that lives there and she loves it. It seems to healthy and tropical for me. haha!

Steve at Random said...

I may not have mentioned lately that North Dakota (which means eternal winter in most languages) also has motels, lobsters, drug stores, and beaches. I don't think we have any light houses...but we hundred oil rigs drilling and lots of oils wells burning the natural gas that's escaping so it's not like we don't have plenty of nights lights to go around. So hey, forget about the harsh winters of Maine and come live in North Dakota. It's not for the timid. But if you can live here, you can live anywhere. (Whoops, I guess that's New York, New York). And summer -- while short -- will be extra hot this year. So you can straight from heating season to air conditioning season.