To Be Here, Or Not To Be? Can’t It Be Both?

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Lots More of This

Originally uploaded by sogrady

It’s no secret – to the few that are interested, anyhow – that I was back East for longer than was anticipated this summer. Quite a bit longer, actually. As in mid-May through mid-November, up from June through September the previous year.

What’s interesting is that those few that know me well are apparently assuming that this is the new reality, rather than a World Series inspired exception. In spite of repeated denials and claims to the contrary from yours truly. The really surprising thing, to me anyhow, is that I’m beginning to think they’re right. As is so often the case, my friends know me better than I do.

True, I’m a few decades early to be settling into a Snowbird life style, but the fact is that I enjoy it. Immensely. It’s disruptive, it’s somewhat costly, and it means two flights a year with a very angry and occasionally vicious animal, but it’s worth it. And then some.

Such a peripatetic existence isn’t for everyone, I’m sure. The combination of professional and personal circumstances that permit it, for one thing, are rare. I do realize just how lucky I am in that capacity, trust me. But even should those particular stars align, how many would choose to voluntarily leave the comforts of home behind for six months at a shot? Driving halfway across the country to do it. Few, as far as I can tell. Even fewer eligible females. When asked where I live these days, I’ve given up trying to explain, because it usually just elicits either a blank stare or nervous laughter. “You do what?”

Thanks to Emerson, I’m ever more acutely aware of the value of time, and am thus predictably loathe to waste it. Most especially if it’s solely for the purposes of conforming to convention. Translated, that means I try to do what I want to do when I want to do it, at least to the extent that I’m able given my current responsibilities. And at the present time, what I want to do is divide my time amongst particular geographies in a decidedly non-traditional fashion. If that generates certain problems, and it does, so be it. When even your friends support you going, it might be a sign that you should. Or that your friends don’t like you.

This minor epiphany, however, is but the merest of baby steps towards the ultimate end goal of being truly nomadic. This past summer was quite an education in how not to live away from home, and the list of lessons learned is a long one.

For example, I desperately need a mail forwarding solution that involves in no way the United States Postal Service. From what I’ve been able to forensically reconstruct from the available evidence, the USPS decided in their infinite wisdom sometime between July and August that I no longer lived in Denver, and began returning all of my mail as undeliverable. This would perhaps be more understandable if I hadn’t set up with the USPS mail forwarding to my Maine post office box in advance, and if the same USPS hadn’t themselves forwarded a handful of items to my PO box over the course of those same months.

In case you were wondering, it is indeed fun calling everyone from your credit card companies to clients to inform them that they do, in fact, have the right address. Good times.

On a slightly grander scale, there is also the question of what to do with my apartment. It’s possible, with the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer – and right across the street – that I could realize six or more months of rent in the space of a few weeks by letting out my loft to someone desperate for space. But even failing that, it would be foolish to continue leaving the apartment fallow for the duration of my absence. Which of course means moving all but the furnishings expected in a furnished apartment into my storage unit, oh joy. Now, perhaps, you understand my recent, massive divestiture of goods on craigslist and eBay, and to the Children’s Hospital and Goodwill. I’m not going Buddhist so much as I hate moving.

Other areas that graded out as a Needs Improvement from this summer? Keeping in touch. The transition to and from. And, regrettably, fishing. Shut up, Glynn.

When I’ve got the whole thing figured out, I’ll be sure to let you all know. Suggestions from those wiser, more experienced, or both, are as always appreciated. But in the meantime, I’m going to try and get the best of both worlds, six or so months at a time. While I can.


  1. Check out http://www.bongous.com as they provide mail forwarding services within the US as well as internationally.

  2. Stephen – “buy a truck” (with a cap (or cover)

    Believe it or not, that is all the space you need as long as you are not moving furniture with your nomadic life. I currently live in at least two places. With the exception of basic furniture, I now manage to everything I need (not necessarily everything I have) to go 10 days or more. And I’ve found, it you have enough for 10 days, you have enough for much much longer.

    You tend to shrink stuff to fit – iPod + iPod radio is the “entertainment system”; the occasional movie on the computer, etc.

    The tough part will be the spouse, partner, significant other who will be in sync with your travels.
    BTW: I travel with a dog so that adds all the associated dog stuff too.

  3. Stephen– look at paytrust as a partial solution to your mail woes. They digitize your bills and either email them to you or autopay them.

    It’s not a complete solution, but the bills are the items most painful to overlook. They’ve worked well for me when I travel.

  4. re: mail.
    I don’t know about commercial solutions but an ex-pat friend of mine uses me as her permanent US address. She’s gotten off mail as much as possible. When stuff comes into the house for her, I chuck most of it, let her know about anything that seems urgent/important, and throw anything in between in a box for periodic pickup/batch ship. It’s a bit of work for someone but really not much.

    I agree that regular mail forwarding leaves much to be desired. My dad splits his time between two locations and he’s had problems as well.

  5. Stephen, wait until you get married, then the rules will change for nomadic lifestyles.

  6. Re “how many would choose to voluntarily leave the comforts of home behind,” I would suggest this post serves as a useful reminder that those who find the “comforts of corporate home” only inside the firewall do themselves, and us, a favor every time they venture outside the corporate firewall.

    And they don’t have to disrupt the lives of their cat — or dog, or parakeet — when they do so.

    The Real World is to be found outside the corporate firewall, not within it.


  7. I forgot to add the key point:

    Your customers, clients, and partners live outside your corporate firewall, not within it.

    Moreover, they don’t give a damn what you do inside the firewall.

    For it is only what you do outside the firewall — be it in the form of products, services, or contributions to open-source projects –that really matters.


  8. If your mail really is a big headache, you could switch to a convenient Colorado-based private mailbox (PMB) at a ‘UPS Store’ or the like.

    Then in the Summer, you can instruct them to USPS/UPS a care-package of mail to you every (other) week in Maine. They’ll even remove the costly magazines and catalogs.

    Worked like a charm for me when I lived/worked out of Dublin last Summer

  9. I have used Bongo International http://www.bongous.com in the past and currently. I have a subscription so that I can send my friend stuff in Australia. It works really well for packages. They handle mail too, but I don’t think it is as much. I do know they will junk your “junk mail” upon request.

  10. […] some excellent suggestions – thank you – for potential solutions to my mail forwarding needs. In the lead at this point is Earth Class Mail, nee Remote Control Mail. If any of you have […]

  11. […] After my friends told me I was fooling myself, I broke down and decided to divide my time more evenly between Denver and Maine. With folks asking, I commented on so-called “hybrid source.” […]

  12. Not sure if this helps you now but i have used a co called Shipito. They are one of few companies that actually use USPS service. I got some great deals, cheap cheap rates..look them up to see if you get lucky!

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