Things I’ve Learned Moving Across The Country – Jackie Mullen, Tuesday Thoughts

Jackie Face

I wanted to write a reflective piece on the transition of going from theatre professional and New Yorker to West Coast graduate student for this blog. Unfortunately, that’s not something I feel like I’ve experienced yet. Not only has my school not started (department orientation is tomorrow), but I haven’t reached the point where I can thoughtfully reflect- I am still very much in the flailing state of move in.

But I can share with you my experience doing that. So here goes,

Things I’ve Learned Moving Across the Country:

  1. Everything you assumed is a lie.

I’ve moved states before, and I thought this would be pretty similar. Virginia to New York City was a culture shock, but it was very adaptable. New York City itself is such an amazing new cultural experience, you expect everything to be different.  But the first thing I noticed about Southern California was that it looked like Mars from the plane.  And it still feels a lot like that. But atleast you can buy liquor in grocery stores at 2 AM on a Sunday!

  1. Everything takes way more time than you think it will and costs way more than you think it does.

Moving checklists never end. Moving to NYC was moving/lite for me – furnished sublet, no transportation necessary, work a few blocks away most days. I highly recommend that for any one moving to the city for the first time. Getting a new apartment, along with moving, and bringing only suitcases takes way more time than I planned- a week certainly wasn’t enough. For everything, you guesstimate how long each task will take. Then add two hours. Walmart? 3 hours. Bed Bath and Beyond? 3 hours. Purchasing a car? God help you, it took me 4 ½. I’m so thankful I had my mom here, and great roommates to share the burden with – I’m sure moving truly alone is much harder.

  1. Driving is ROUGH.

Driving is different in every state. In California, many people have told me now that the highways are “the 5” or “the 55”, never ‘I’, never Route, never anything else.

A litany of grievances: The freeways lose lanes, and you can’t call them anything. The traffic is just as bad as everyone says it is.  You pay all your tolls online. The radio stations play Mexican government propaganda commercials. I went to the DMV today and was turned away, apparently the systems were down, state wide. No licenses for anyone today!

At least there’s a nice view…
  1. You learn so much about your priorities.

For me, moving into an apartment went like this:

  1. Cat Food and Supplies
  2. A Bed
  3. A Car
  4. Stage Management Supplies
  5. Books
  6. Futon and Desk
  7. Food & Alcohol

Things that are still on the list:

  1. Chairs
  2. A Microwave
  3. Curtains
  4. More than one lamp

Three out of three people say that cats really dislike the whole moving thing, and my roommates and I decided to do everything we could to make it as painless as possible for them first. I’ve learned that things that matter to you are the ones you drag across the country, and everything else is replaceable. The things I thought were necessary to a house (like having chairs) really aren’t necessary. And I’ve learned that there are bizarre little things I can’t live without – the most immediate purchases I made were for a candle, drawing sharpies, and extra cat supplies.


  1. You learn what’s important to you, who’s important to you, and who you’re important to, very fast. And you miss them like crazy. 

With Critical Point, we have been trying a new model of rehearsal that you can read about in last week’s blog, holding creative rehearsals online. Having the opportunity to hear everyone’s voice each week and contribute is something I appreciate a lot. Maintaining my connection with CPT and the work we do has been important to me, and I’ve tried to make sure to make time to keep up in some way every day.  Sometimes ridiculously – Skype meetings aren’t as fun while driving.  All I can say is I recommend balance – and I hope I can figure that out.

Lastly – the people who love you will reach out and check in, no matter how far they are. They’re the ones who you automatically calculate the time difference for every time you look at a clock, and who you wish were with you to laugh at all the Kafka-esque bureaucratic nightmares and go to the beach with on a “cold” day. And you still feel close to them, even though you’re thousands of miles and three hours away.

One thought on “Things I’ve Learned Moving Across The Country – Jackie Mullen, Tuesday Thoughts

  1. Well done Jackie! This has been one of my most enjoyable readings of late. Keep writing, you are s natural. I look forward to more of your writing work. One big the best CPT works I’ve read!

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