So much has happened in these two weeks since I've posted. I assure you it's not for lack of content. I have a stack of author interviews scheduled and pending all the way through October. My TBR pile is a mile long. I have books ready to be reviewed, I have stories to tell, I have pictures I've taken. But life has happened in a big way.
I moved to Virginia last Friday. I am living a mere half hour from where I went to college, but it feels so different. I'm living in a small city instead of a close-knit, historical town. My apartment is lined by trees with two ponds and plenty of walking paths. In the span of fifteen minutes I can drive to any restaurant that I can think of, a host of supermarkets, and a mall. In the same span of time, I can reach multiple parks with miles and miles of walking trails that lead to the water. Really, I have the best of both worlds.
Moving in, however, was an experience to say the least. I planned to move in a week after my lease started to arrive closer to when my work begins. My parents and brother were going to help me lug my nearly nonexistent furniture (and far too many books) into my second floor apartment in the most humid part of the year here. Seriously, there's enough moisture in the air that I feel like I'm swimming instead of walking. However, life had other plans. My dad has a rare, incurable, genetic kidney disease. It is so rare, in fact, that only he and my brother have it. Dad produces kidney stones almost constantly, and as a result, travel can sometimes be interesting. There's nothing quite like passing a kidney stone at the first out-of-state rest stop we pass to start a vacation.
Dad usually has major surgery every few months to clean out his kidneys to ensure that no stones are stuck or blocking. In following his routine schedule, he should have had surgery in May or June. Because of the COVID restrictions and rescheduling and backlogs, he has been unable to schedule an appointment for weeks. A little over a week before we were supposed to leave, Dad's X-Ray came back with bad news. His stones were too large and positioned too poorly for him to travel. He was finally scheduled for surgery, and my plans changed that day. I ended up packing up and leaving a week earlier than I had planned to ensure that Mom could be back home with Dad in case his stones moved too much before his surgery. Because of his early-onset Parkinson's, Mom is Dad's voice when he is overcome by pain and his brain becomes foggy in the ER. On just a regular night, Dad may have trouble breathing, speaking, or remembering details. If his kidneys are blocked, you can imagine the importance of Mom being there as his voice.
To address my new move-in date, I called my apartment complex to change the day and time I would pick up my key...only to be told that I was given the wrong mailing address. Cue the panic as I called all of my utilities and bank to ensure that I would actually have lights, internet, and my credit card at my apartment when I moved in. Crisis averted. What else could go wrong, I thought. Ha, those are such famous last words.
Mom and I left at 4AM on the dot, and according to her planning, we should have arrived at the apartment in a mere 7 hours with a break for food and bathrooms and gas included. What Mom's research did not include, however, was the relentless, vision-restricting rain. To merely call it rain is an understatement. It was a torrential downpour that spanned cities and states and gave up a record-long time of 10 hours of driving! This was my very first time driving through major cities by myself and my first time driving more than a couple of hours alone. Public transportation for Christmas Break is sounding better and better.
Okay, now what else could go wrong? The traffic gods punished us, but surely the move would go smoothly? The moment that I stepped into the apartment, I was hit with a wave of old cigarette stench. Yuck. Mom's research as always was a godsend and we discovered that washing the walls with vinegar helped. It also turns out that vinegar helped to kill the small invasion of ants that claimed my living room as their own. What wonders can't vinegar perform?
Finally, everything will go according to plan. Sure, moving my few pieces of furniture was a sweaty challenge, and we quickly discovered that upper body strength is not something I possess much of (in the words of my brother, I have noodle arms), but everything seemed to be back on track. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Just kidding! But we did have a tropical storm that knocked out both my power and Wifi. The power came back within a few hours (yay for not having to replace groceries), but my Wifi was gone for two days (despite the company's many promises it would only take a few more hours, a few more hours, a few more hours).
When I'm not video chatting my deployed boyfriend or my family, catching up on my reading, or preparing interviews, I'm cooking. I love to cook for others, so I'm spending this time by myself to perfect some favorite dishes of mine and to explore new ones. This week I meal-prepped my variation of Olena Osipov's Tex Mex Chicken and Zucchini. I substituted ground turkey for chicken (on sale for just $1.99 at Kroger) and used Frontier Co-Op's chili powder with cumin, garlic, and oregano (from Whole Foods) for flavoring. This meal prep has been a lifesaver during my busy week. Add some sour cream and green onions on top, and I feel like a polished adult!
Tomorrow I'm excited to make zoodles with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and a homemade veggie tomato sauce. I'll be sharing more nutritious affordable, and easy meals as I expand my recipe collection. If you have any suggestions, please send me an email!