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17 observations about my move to Chapel Hill, North Carolina

1) Indiana has The Flying Cupcake. Chapel Hill has The Flying Burrito. I’m glad my relocation hasn’t led to a lack of airborne edible objects in my vicinity.

2) There are three highways that all have the number 5 in their name around here and at one point they all merge into one before diverging again. This will not be confusing in the slightest bit, I’m sure.

3) “Are you a student?” No, I am not, but I might start saying I’m one if people keep asking me this. It seems to be the standard way to open a conversation here. (That, or to check that you’re not jailbait.) I suppose this is what I get for moving to a college town.

4) This place called Chapel Hill has lots of hills. Who’d have thunk it?! My little 4-cylinder Saturn is discovering gears it never knew it had when we lived in the post-glacial flatland of Indiana.

5) This city is very bike friendly. I’ve seen lots of bike lanes on the road and lots of cyclists actually using them. Makes me want to get out my bike and ride. Then I remember the hills.

6) The sales tax here is 7.75%. Ouch!

7) I went to update my Amazon Associates account with my new address information. (This is the program that allows me to earn a small commission on any Amazon.com purchases made through this site.) When I hit “Submit” I got a big red error message alerting me that citizens of North Carolina may not take part in the program. CRAP! Did some research and learned this happened last year over a tax dispute. Did some more research and found a legal way to circumvent the problem, but geez, get with the program North Carolina. Literally, get with the Amazon Associates program and work this out.

8) My neighbors’ unsecured wireless internet appears and disappears like Brigadoon. Is sorta annoying, but I’m thankful that I can get any Internet access at all since Time-Warner is making me wait over a week for installation. Somewhat tempted to knock on my other neighbors’ doors, get flirty, and ask for the passwords to their secured networks. So sad that I would think of whoring myself out for wifi.

9) The clerk at Best Buy asked me what my zip code was earlier this week, and I was like, Crap! What is my zip code?. Quickly remembered, but figure this hesitation will continue for awhile, particularly after I get my new phone number.

10) Am still getting used to new local news personalities, different focus on the weather map, and new grocery stores. There is no Kroger or Marsh near here. Now I have Harris-Teeter and Food Lion. We even have Kangaroos! Er, a Kangaroo Express, anyway.

Kangaroo Express

11) I would be the world’s crappiest mover. I am constantly banging furniture into walls and railings. Whoops! Hope you weren’t attached to that chunk of drywall!

12) Moving right before the 4th of July holiday weekend is awful timing. Everything closes down, your new smartphone is stuck in-transit at the Knoxville post office hub for days, and people light up loud explosives when you are the most exhausted you will be all year.

13) To turn on a gas stove, you must first turn the dial slightly counter-clockwise to the words that say “Light.” Wait a few seconds for the flame to light, and THEN turn down the flame to the adjusted height. Turning the dial directly to the number you want, like you did on an electric stove, will just make you look like a moron.

14) If you are listing your beloved Steelcase desks on Craig’s List because you’ve decided they’re too heavy to move, ask the respondent to your ad what they plan to do with them. If you don’t, you may come to learn they are hauling them to the recycling center to redeem scrap metal for pennies a pound. My poor, Steelcase desks! I’m so, so, sorry! Your death is on my hands. I hope you are reincarnated as something beautiful, and not just a water heater.


15) Chapel Hill is located in Orange County. That’s right, I’ve moved to The OC.

16) I was driving down the street when I saw a peculiar sign that said “Speed Table.” What’s that? I thought as my mind started to envision a spreadsheet with a table listing different speeds and—BUMP! Ah, that’s what a speed table is—it’s a big long speed bump.

17) When I was checking out apartments last month, I mentioned to the rental agent that I was from Indiana. “Oh, I used to live in Crawfordsville!” she told me.

“Wow, me too!” I responded, because I had indeed lived in Crawfordsville for two years as a kid. Crawfordsville is a tiny, little town—dare I say it, a podunk town. So it was odd to run into someone who lived there when I was all the way out in North Carolina.

Then, I set up a new bank account yesterday and told the agent I had just moved from Indiana. “Oh, I used to live in Indiana!” she said. “We lived near Crawfordsville, on Lake Holiday.”

“No way!” I said. “We lived in a rental house on Lake Holiday for a few months before moving into our house.”

So, I am now convinced that everyone in Chapel Hill is originally from Crawfordsville, Indiana. Prove me wrong. I dare you.

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Lucy • July 12, 2010 at 7:48 am

Turning the dial on a gas stove directly to the number you want, like you did on an electric stove, can fill up your apartment with gas and potentially blow up your building. Be careful with that thing!


Diana • July 12, 2010 at 8:02 am

Sounds like you’re adapting well to your new city, and having a great time in the process. Love hearing about your new place, new life.


Mel • July 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

You lucky girl! You have moved to the home of the one and only young adult literature writer Sarah Dessen. She used to work at the Flying Burrito! She often writes about her hometown in her blog http://writergrl.livejournal.com/

I’m jealous!

Enjoy :-)


Jean • July 12, 2010 at 10:47 am

Crawfordsville is the halfway point between Dayton, OH and Chatham, IL – although I usually end up stopping in Brownsburg b/c there really isn’t anything in Crawfordsville… :-) I will have to live vicariously through you & your new adventures in a new town/state.


Jaime • July 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

I lived in Durham for 2 years, and it took me almost that long to get 15/501 figured out. Now, if I go back, I still get lost.

Also, there are Krogers in the area! I used to shop at one. I just don’t know where they are in CH.


Trish • July 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

Look for the Flying Biscuit over in Raleigh when you get a chance. It’s famous here in ATL and supposed to be healthy eating at it’s best. Folks line out the door most weekends.


maxie • July 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I’d gladly take your 7.75% sales tax. Ours is 9.75–that’s NINE point 75! Does make it easier, though, to estimate your total–just add 10%.


Bridget • July 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

We have a Flying Burrito in Little Rock, AR. It is amazingly tasty. :)


Lisa • July 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Welcome to the Old North State! I live just down the road in Cary, but lived in Chapel Hill for grad school. The Triangle is a great place to call home. I’ve been here forever, so just holler if you have any questions . . .
And I’d love to get together sometime for a cup of coffee . . . or a glass of sweet tea, Southern-style!


Natalie • July 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Sales Tax in San Francisco is 9.500 %
7.75% would be a blessing! Consider yourself lucky!


Quanny • July 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Re: 6, may I be the first of your UK readers to say – ouch?! What?! Ours is 17.5%, rising to 20% on January 1st 2011. But, it is included in the sticker price, so you don’t have to do any mental arithmatic at the till.
Thank you for writing, I’ve really been enjoying your moving adventures, you make me want to up sticks too. Maybe if I ever get my brave on…


Jessica • July 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hello!! I just discovered your book at a used book store, and thought I would have a look at your blog. Here I find you’ve just moved to my home state! That’s great! I hope you like NC. I wish I knew enough about Chapel Hill to help you out if you need it, but I live about an hour or so from there in the Winston-Salem area. I would like to say thank you for sharing your story, it definitely got me through my three miles this morning!
Welcome to NC, enjoy your new home!!


Ernesto • July 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Jennette, I have been living in Raleigh for almost 7 years and had no idea Chapel Hill had a restaurant called the Flying Burrito LOL.

Big bummer on the NC affiliate sales tax!!! Booooooo (tried fighting that one with local law makers… guess who won)?

Welcome to NC!!! That’s awesome how close you are. Let me know if you need anything! ;-)


Kim • July 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Welcome to NC! There are no Krogers in CH, the closest are in Durham. The roads in NC are bizarre– they curve around and change names every 1/2 mile or so (perhaps an exaggeration); there are many road names that contain “Chapel” and “Durham” that can be confusing; I have lived here 3.5 years and still haven’t figured out 15-501; and right lanes suddenly turn into right-turn only lanes with no warning. However, It seems many roads eventually lead back to 40. Good luck transitioning!


Danielle • July 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I can’t top the U.K. commenter, but my new province in Canada just raised the sales tax from 13% to 15%. It’s added on at the cash.

And our income tax would probably give you a heart attack (but at least if you have that heart attack in Canada, you get to keep your house).

So maybe it works out in the end.


Jackie • July 12, 2010 at 11:20 pm

There is a Kroger. If you go to the shopping plaza on the other side of 15/501 from the one where there is a Best Buy/Walmart/Old Navy (New Hope Commons) you will find a shopping plaza with a Kroger, Kohl’s, Home Depot, Panera Bread, DSW, Bed, Bath and Beyond and more. They are also opening a Five Guys there in the near future. It is surprising how much stuff here is hidden behind the trees down here. You drive around and all you see is trees and it’s hard to figure out what surprises lurk behind the trees. None of those stores I mentioned are visible from the highway.


Angela • July 13, 2010 at 12:54 am

i LOVE when people ask me if i’m a student, consider it a compliment :) and don’t worry, we have kangas over here…they aren’t that cute.


Rachel D • July 13, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Kangaroo is a local chain started in Sanford, not far from CH. And there are a lot of great places to eat in CH (many that serve burritos) make sure to check out Carolina Brewery for really good local food and beer!


Miz • July 14, 2010 at 5:27 am


and i knew sarah when I lived there.
not sure she’d remember me but I could make an intro?


Merry • July 14, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Sales tax? Only wimps pay sales tax!
Next you’ll be telling me you have to pump your own gas.

(See what you missed by not moving to Oregon?)


SIMONE • July 14, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hi! I want to move somewhere else…away from Brooklyn. All my family is from North Carolina but I’ve never been there personally. Totally unrelated– My mom saw the video of your weight loss and instantly started laughing because of the song! She was like “thats amazing and thats a great song!”? Keep up the good work honey!!!


Arienna • July 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

Hey, welcome to NC! I’m a fellow transplant from Michigan and if it’s not too creepy, I’d love to buy you a drink sometime. Your blog was a constant inspiration to me and I’ve happily referred it to my friends who’re struggling to lose weight.

There are Kroger’s here but they’re much fewer than up north and pricier. If you scout around, there’s usually an “upscale” Harris Teeter that’ll have a surprisingly awesome good for you food section and, if you’re feeling lazy, premade lunch boxes! Even sushi – woot!

And get used to meeting everyone from your home town. :) Apparently when the economy died up north, we all came here!


Sheila O • July 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

You have a Harris-Teeters?! I’m jealous. Enjoy your new adventure. I’ve moved many, many times and always loved exploring a new place. Now I’m retired and no more moving. Lucky for me Florida is a big state, so I can still explore.


Quix • July 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Hey, lovely that you are being mistaken a student! That’s a pretty nice compliment. :)

…and hills are good for ya. That’s what I keep telling myself when I go bike because there is just no missing them unless I ride in very small circles, heh.


Kat • July 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

I’m from Australia and we don’t have a store called Kangaroo Express! Can someone tell me what they sell? If it’s fast Kangaroo meat I’ll be sad.

Feeling strangly territorial about our native wildlife all of a sudden.


PastaQueen • July 19, 2010 at 10:28 am

@Kat – No worries! It’s just a gas station with a little convenience store.


Katina Rice • July 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Hey there! I went to UNC-Chapel Hill and I love Chapel Hill! You will be a recyling fanatic after awhile! Love your post about slow blogs! Content is the real important factor!


Denise • July 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I used to live in Florida, where the sales tax was 6%. It was helpful in calculating the tip of a good waitress, because all you had to do was triple the tax.

Now I live in Oregon and always leave five dollars because I can’t be bothered to do any math. Ever.


shelley • July 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Welcome to NC! I graduated from UNC and live in Raleigh now. The Triangle is a great place to live. Lots of good places to hang out in Chapel Hill like Lucy’s and Top O…but maybe those are just student hangout places?


Mom Taxi Julie • July 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I haven’t moved in 18 years. I’d probably be screwing everything up!! You are so brave moving so far away from home. How weird to keep bumping into people that are from the same area where you are from. I guess you can be kind of glad they didn’t take your desk to the dumps. :/


Ana • August 3, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Loved reading this list, since I’m relocating to Chapel Hill next week (from CA). If you ever decide to do a meet-up or are up for getting a drink with another newcomer, let me know!


Lisa • August 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I spent 25 years in the triangle area – Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh. I miss it every day. Some great places to eat. Get involved in some of the local triangle activity — look for RTP listings. We always said on a slow night we could go to Chapel Hill and watch people because it was NEVER boring there.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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