I'm sad. No...really.

This past weekend, Kurt and I hosted a small gathering to say goodbye...to ourselves. When our move became a reality, we immediately made plans to have a backyard BBQ to celebrate and say goodbye, but when we started to count off the weekends left before we board the plane, we realized that there was really only one that we could work with. The rest are booked and busy and there just is not going to be enough of us to go around. Still, even with the ridiculously short notice, quite a few of our favorites were able to come and drink, BBQ sausage, laugh and break chairs with us, which was great. What was not great was the huge black cloud that settled over the sun at about the time that the first guests arrived, and dumped its contents on our house (and BBQ) shortly after that. Good thing our house is so empty that it echoes...we just set up lawn chairs in what used to be the dining room and sat on coolers. We do not skimp on the swank.

However, there is a certain perception that has been brought to my attention through the use of innuendos disguised as jokes and offhanded remarks which I would like to address. And since I'm not actually pointing this at any person in particular - it's more of a get-this-off-my-chest kind of post - I don't think it qualifies as the ever-pathetic "Airing of Dirty Laundra via Blog". Though, I have to admit that I do feel an overwhelming desire to overuse the exclamation point while typing.

I have always gotten a lot of thinly-veiled flack about my desire to leave Ottawa at some point. Besides those who just simply don't understand why anyone would ever want to live anywhere else, there seems to be an illusion that we are not going because it's a great opportunity and for the whole adventure aspect, but because I want to get the hell out of here and Kurt is my VIP card.

Bitch, please.

I love Ottawa. And I love the life I have built in Ottawa during my 5 years here. Moving to Ottawa was the best decision I could have made, and I've never once regretted it. But while I do love it and enjoy so many aspects of it, I am painfully aware of what it is lacking for me. If I had ever been desperate to leave, I would have.

Perhaps a creative comparison is necessary:

Living in Victoria is like sitting around a beach fire with hoards of university students vying for one decent job, a yogi, a yuppie, a couple of former Ontarians, a fairly serious contingent of the elderly, and a selectively homeless person (they will go home when their Beach Drive-dwelling parents lift their 11:30 p.m. curfew)*. Accessories include a SmartCar, matching nylon track suits, a large dog, a reusable Starbucks coffee mug, and a joint. Organic and locally grown, of course.

Living in Ottawa is like an evening at an Irish pub, flanked by hoards of the shamelessly-name-dropping-wannabe-upwardly-mobile, an aspiring politico, a mad scientist, a farmer, a couple of Quebecois and a homeless person. Accessories include a speeding ticket, a BlackBerry, a Jos. Louis, a designer purse, and a coffee from Timmy's. Double double.

Each of these descriptions will appeal to different people for different reasons. For me, I'll take the first, but I'm not going to lie and say that there is nothing appealing about the second. I fell right into it and have enjoyed it thoroughly (minus the Jos. Louis, since I do not enjoy a processed cake product...much to Kurt's dismay). Unfortunately, Victoria is not an option for us because we quite simply can't afford to live there without taking a fairly serious hit to our current lifestyle. We know what we love and what we can't live without, and these things are important enough to us to shove Victoria off the table. Or at least down to the other end of the table. For now, anyways.

No matter where we live, one or both of us will be away from our family and closest friends, but we have to at least try to be fair. At least our new adventure puts us in equal territory. As in, the only person I will have there is him, and the only person he will have there is me. This will either be awesome, or a complete trainwreck, but it is like the Switzerland in the logistical and geographical challenge that is our relationship. I'm mostly looking forward to seeing how we do completely on our own, without either of our families and with none of our friends around. It's going to be good for us to stand on our own for awhile, live our own lives, and see if we can survive moving from a 1700 square foot 3-bedroom (3 bathroom) townhouse to a one bedroom (one bathroom...) apartment. He just may have to give in and become my new America's Next Top Model friend, in the absence of C-Mo and my B.C. ANTM Contingent. Given the 500 square feet (if we're lucky) that we'll be living in, he'll have no choice but to enjoy a little Tyra with me. At least I have him hooked on the Hills already.

* For the record, I did work briefly with StreetLink and am very aware that there are homeless people in Victoria who are actually homeless and do not have a Beach Drive mansion to go home to when the big frost arrives, or when their allowance runs out. I am just making a point.

Restaurants that I will miss.

Because our new country is ridiculously expensive, we realize that our weekly dates will have to temporarily become a pleasant memory as we attempt to save our pennies and dine on such luxuries as canned soup. We're mostly fine with this. We have come to terms with it. Still, we're trying to fit in (without going overboard) all of those places around Ottawa that we always said we would try and never got around to (or remembered) when it came down to the actual date.

Ottawa has a pretty awesome selection of great places to eat. Since we are the anti-"meat, potatoes and rice" people (because living that way is 100% boring), we have always made a point of trying a new place, a new food, a new recipe...whatever. Since we won't have the pocket change necessary to sample all that the island has to offer right off the bat, we've been even more aware of some of the awesome places that we'll be leaving behind. In no particular order, here are the places that I'll be pining over whilst enjoying my Campbells' Cream of Tomato goodness (at $4 a can, no doubt):

Haveli in the Market. The most amazing Indian food ever.

Chahaya Malaysia on Montreal Road. A mix between Indian and Thai. I heart Malaysian food.

Singapore in the West End for sesame chicken, shrimp curry and spring rolls.

Suisha Gardens on Queen or Takara on Dalhousie for sushi.

Pho Truc Lien on St. Joseph...for pho. Special shout-out to Pho Bo Ga 2 & 3 on Somerset, though a mental image of a certain winged creature will never leave me.

Groovy's Roti Hut on MacArthur.

Carmello's on Cooper for pasta...the one time per year I actually want to order pasta.

Flippers on Bank - our new favorite seafood restaurant, discovered last Friday.

Green Papaya for the best Thai food around.

Moxie's/Milestones' bellinis. I will miss you, bellini.

A'roma Meze on Nepean for Greek tapas.

Of course, there are a lot of things about Ottawa that we will miss besides the restaurants. Like our friends and our house, for example. But the restaurants will be missed.

Selling Machine.

I really love our house. Over the past two years, we have shopped, saved and purchased furniture and items to fill it and make it our home. Obviously, we weren't thinking that two years down the road, we'd be selling virtually everything we own and while I know it's just stuff, it's actually really difficult to do. It's amazing how you can form an emotional attachment to a lamp.

I don't want to talk about the lamp.

Last night, our treadmill left us. Tonight, our bedroom set, part of our living room set, and my Law & Order: Special Victims Unit DVD collection will walk out the door. As great as it is to be paying off debt and putting aside money with the proceeds of these sales, it's hard to watch this stuff leave and have our house looking as though we either just moved in or just have no furniture, when just a few months ago, we purchased the last piece and considered it officially "done". Sad. The fabulous brown room only had a 6 month run.

On the other hand, it's kind of nice to be unloading things, one by one. It's freeing, in a way, to own less stuff and we're starting to realize just how much we DON'T actually need. For instance, we have 3 TVs in the house, but only use 2. We could probably get away with one. We'll remember that for our next house. We should probably never own plants. We buy a lot of books. We have way too much food in our cupboards to always be buying groceries. I should get rid of clothing I don't wear once each year. I sent 7 bags of clothes to goodwill and have two gigantic bins of clothes, shoes and purses for consignment. This closet space would have been nice to have. Why did I keep textbooks from every university class I ever took? I haven't yet had any reason to refer to even one of them. And why do we own 6 sets of glasses for the kitchen? And two blenders? Anyways, I guess we've figured out that we can live with a lot less than what we have, and I think we'll be making a point to do with less going forward. What is the point of having a bunch of stuff you don't need, want, or even remember?
I will be eternally grateful to online classifieds for helping us unload our stuff. I can't even imagine the days when I would have had to place ads in the paper. The two sites I've been using have been awesome, incredibly easy and very quick. I posted the bedroom set two mornings ago and received 40 e-mails about it within 12 hours. Obviously, it's a pretty good deal. Still, you can't beat their reach. However, they do bring out all kinds of idiots too, so my inbox has been a pretty big source of irritation for me since this whole process began. I'm not sure who's more annoying - the people who felt the need to e-mail me telling me that they can buy a BRAND NEW (emphasis not added) treadmill at Walmart for $400, so why was I asking so much for ours (because clearly, all treadmills are created equal), or the people who write you a sob story about how they are newly separated/single parent/recently experienced the death of a loved one, and would it be possible for us to part with our item for free AND can we deliver it to them? God Bless. WTF? Luckily, there are a lot of great, honest, informed people out there too, and I'm happy with the homes our stuff has found so far.

Because we didn't want to give up everything, we told ourselves that we could each pick a small piece of furniture to keep (to be stored at some unsuspecting friend's house). I picked the brown ottoman that I almost got into a physical altercation for at HomeSense last December, and Kurt picked his wooden CD cabinet. I'm not sure what kind of house we'll build around an ottoman and a CD cabinet, but I'm looking forward to rebuilding a home with all new stuff too. Who doesn't like new stuff?

By the time we move, I'm hoping that our "best of" stuff that we're keeping will fit in a bunch of Rubbermaid bins and that the rest will all be back in our wallets. I only have three weeks to make this a reality, but we're doing well so far, so I'm pretty confident that we'll be fine. So far, I've had the most fun going through all the pockets in my massive purse collection. Every time I get a new purse, I take the important stuff out of the old one, transfer it to the new one, and continue on, forgetting about all of the other, less important stuff in the previous purse...until now. Good times. Other notable finds have been Kurt's old photos, enough hair elastics to last me the rest of my long-hair life, and probably enough loose change to offset the cost of Kurt's plane ticket. Excellent.
We have one hell of a garage sale coming down the pipes...

Shocking but true facts about Bermuda.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there with regards to Bermuda. While most of it can be blamed on the fact that Bermuda IS somewhat of an anomaly, I also think that many of these misconceptions can be blamed on the lyrics to the Beach Boy's "Kokomo".

Exhibit A:

Off the Florida Keys,
There's a place called Kokomo.
That's where you wanna go,
To get away from it all.

Bodies in the sand,
Tropical drink melting in your hand.
We'll be falling in love
To the rhythm of a steel drum band,
Down in Kokomo.

Now, here is where everyone goes wrong...

Aruba, Jamaica
Ooooooh, I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama,
Come on pretty mama.
Key Largo, Montego,
Baby why don't we go...

Oooh, I wanna take you down to Kokomo.
We'll get there fast,
And then we'll take it slow.
That's where we wanna go...
Way down to Kokomo.

OK. Catchy tune, but perhaps they should have consulted an atlas. The song implies that they are casually island hopping through the tropical Caribbean, "getting there fast", while Bermuda is actually located 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina, just a 2.5 hour flight from New York City, thus throwing a much longer flight into the mix...which really takes away from the laid-back, spontaneous trip they were going for.

I, for one was quite shocked to find out just how far north Bermuda actually is. It is situated nicely in the path of the Gulf Stream, which moderates it's climate, making it temperate all year round. There is no rainy season, though winter is damp. The summers are hot. The average annual temperature is 76 degrees. Throughout the year, the temperature can fluctuate from 55 degrees (12 degrees celcius) in January to 85 (29 celcius) in August...plus a rampant humidex. The humidity is so high that you have to keep closets heated so that your clothes don't turn green, refrigerate pretty much all of your food so that it doesn't go soggy or clumpy, and keep electronics like laptops and cameras stored with silica gel to keep the moisture in the air from rusting out the internal parts.

It's like a combination of 'Survivor' and 'Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous'.

I was also quite shocked to find out how freakin' tiny it is. This map is definitely NOT to scale. Bermuda is 21 square miles, 22 miles end-to-end, which is roughly the same size as Manhattan. This is problematic because if Kurt and I get into a fight and I send him packing (for the afternoon...just for the drama of it all), no matter how far he walks, I will still be able to see him. OK, maybe not. But 21 miles is small.

Bermuda is a self-governing British Dependancy. The Queen's Birthday is a national holiday. They love their tea.

The speed limit is 35 km/hr...everywhere. Most people get around on scooters.

There are 65,000 Bermudians...including mine. Other notables living on the island include Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Ross Perot. Sweeeet.

My commute to work may or may not involve a ferry. I'm hoping that it will.

We're going to pay double our current monthly mortgage costs in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. At least.

Bermuda's GDP per capita income in 2004 was $69,000 USD - the highest in the world. This is thanks, in large part, to offshore business such as insurance and financial services. Bermuda's insurance industry is third in the world, behind New York and London.

Chicken is cheap.

But...milk costs 8.99/gallon.

But...I don't drink milk, so who cares?

There are hundreds of shipwrecks around the island, which is also surrounded by coral reefs. I will definitely be looking into taking my scuba diving license.

The sand is pink. Why? From the coral reefs that surround the island breaking down naturally and mixing with the rocks.

Bermudians won't swim between October and May 24th. Anyone on the beach at Christmas is almost guaranteed to be a Canadian. Nice!

All of these fun facts have come from books and advice we've received from people who have spent time there. I can't wait to experience these things first hand (well, I could do without signing those rent cheques, actually) and to have our own fun facts to share. From what my Bermuda wall calendar suggests, it's an incredibly beautiful place. Can't wait to sink my toes into that pink sand....

But I NEED it.

Yesterday, Kurt and I spent our afternoon sifting through the boxes we've been harbouring in our storage room. Our house came equipped with a fair sized storage area, and we've packed it full of our "really important" boxes full of things, as we have claimed for the past 2.5 years, were crucial to our very existence.

Well. Let me tell you a little something about the things we have kept in that room.

99.95% of it was crap. Useless, pointless crap.

When I moved to Ottawa in 2002, I mailed 13 boxes out ahead of me via Canada Post. This cost a couple hundred bucks but hey...it's stuff I needed. Leaving it behind was simply not an option. Obviously, I could not have lived without my tribal sarong (makes a good curtain), empty perfume boxes (as in, the boxes moved to Ottawa, but the perfume did not), or my 2001 Britney Spears calendar. (Again, I moved to Ottawa in August of 2002). Funny enough, many of those original 13 boxes remained unpacked, moved from my downtown apartment to my ghetto apartment and then to our house, and largely ignored until yesterday.

I set myself up on the couch, in front of a PVR'd movie ("You've Got Mail"...thank you, Women's Television Network), two empty garbage bags, and got to work. By the end of the day, I had filled 7 garbage bags of clothing for goodwill, three huge bins of clothing for consignment, and 4 garbage bags of garbage/recycling/shredding. It was finally time to say goodbye to lipsticks with no caps, half-empty bottles of cold medication from my first miserable Ottawa winter, Captain Morgan's swag from various unmentionable university bar nights, half-burnt tealights...I never knew I was such a hoarder. I really don't know how I will live without this stuff.

Kurt's boxes were no better. Amongst every single bank statement and Rogers offer that he has received since the mid-90's, we came across every single birthday, Christmas and thank-you card he has recieved...in his entire life (he is 33...do the math). As well as letters from bored high school girlfriends working at summer camp (I got the distinct impression that Kurt did not write back), photos of Kurt with an afro-mullet (definitely in the "keep" pile), and his smurf house. Avec smurfs. One of them has a kayak.

After 5 hours amongst our messy pasts, we finally called it a night and left the basement...somehow knowing eachother just a little bit better. Tonight we head back down for Round 2...and since I know that somewhere, Kurt has a ziploc bag full of his foot-long chopped off braided ponytail (with beads), I'm a little bit scared.

Atlantic Bound.

We have big news.

And no, before you steal a not-so-subtle glance at my naked left ring finger, we are not engaged.

And no, we are not bestowing upon the world any glorious offspring.

Instead, we have rented our house, are in the process of selling and/or packing everything we own and we're moving to a tiny chunk of rock in the middle of the Atlantic.

Holy crap. Seriously? Even as I type this, I can't quite believe it.

The whole story happened pretty quickly...from an innocent job search back in June to booking our one-way plane tickets last week for our flights on September 24th. Actually, that's pretty much the whole story, minus a few details.

It was a random Sunday afternoon and I was wasting some time before we headed out for coffee (actually, I made that part up, but since there is not much else to do on the weekends, it is probably pretty accurate) and I came across a job posting for a position offshore. I remember calling up the stairs to ask Kurt if he thought it was worth my time to apply for and watching his face light up like a cat being offered sushi-grade tuna. Ding, ding, ding. I applied for the job, which turned out to be an ad for a staffing agency who put me through a few skills tests and preliminary interviews before putting me forward to firms. A couple of them nipped and then one bit with an offer at the beginning of July. Kurt is actually a citizen, which means he can get off the plane and go anywhere he wants, apply for any job, wear pink shorts, drive a scooter, buy us a pink house with his spare millions...whatever. I, on the other hand, was somewhat undesireable until I found an employer who would sponsor my work permit application. Kurt being a citizen has made the whole process about 4000% easier for us. Thank you, useful bloodlines.

Once we found out that yes, this was actually, really, going to happen and stopped thinking about it in "wouldn't that be fun if..." terms, we realized that we had to get our shit together...and fast. My job starts on October 1. Most people would take at least 6 months to plan and execute a move like this and we were doing it in only 2 and a half. Ouch. We moved ahead and found a property manager to keep an eye on things and find us good tenants, which she did in record time. We're still in the process of selling our stuff, which is hard. We only just finished furnishing our house and now we're turning around and selling all of our practically brand-new stuff. Watching the gorgeous dining room set drive away in the back of a Ford Ranger was heart-wrenching, especially when the truck went over the curb and all of the chairs lurched to the side. I nearly vomited on the lawn.

The saddest part for me, without a doubt, is the fact that because of rampant flea reasons, Harley can't come with us. Instead, he is enjoying the many luxuries that come with being a feline in my parent's house in Victoria. Leaving him behind was really difficult, but I know he's enjoying a privileged life full of daily grooming, treats and lots of attention, so that makes me feel a lot better. Life is sad without my little buddy and I miss him terribly every time I walk in the front door and he's not standing on the stairs to meet me. Which is every time, now. Sniff.

But sad parts aside, this is an overwhelmingly exciting time for us. We have been needing a change for awhile now and even though moving even further away from my family and friends was originally NOT the plan, this plan is a much better one to give ourselves a great headstart and put ourselves into a position to go anywhere, really. We're going to get a chance to save some money, and Kurt is going to get a chance to kickstart a whole new career - one that actually excites him and has great opportunities.

In short, we have a lot to do but we can't wait to get on that plane and start our new adventure. Sounds cheesy, but it really is the adventure of a lifetime. If we don't do this now, we will never do it. So...we're going.

I've started this blog to keep everyone up-to-date on what we're up to while we're away, share pictures, etc. I will be posting over the course of Operation: Leave as well...mostly as a way to procrastinate packing. Enjoy!