6.29.2006:   next
I'm on the plane coming home from ALA. There are three other librarian Councilors on this plane and we had a fun time comparing notes about the Council meetings while we waited at the airport. I'm having a hard time getting my head around the fact that I no longer have obligations to the American Library Association, and any further association with them on my part will be purely voluntary. Of course, everything in my life seems to be a metaphor for dissolution and renewal lately, and I'm happy to have a bunch of handy parables that let me think big ideas about the topic without all the tiny personal details that bog me down and make me sad.

When I'm not thinking about that, I think about escape. It's always been true that one of my favorite activities has been messing about in a new and unfamiliar place with a backpack and maybe a guide book or a list of phone numbers. It's also true that I've really fallen for my small town and the work I do there. It's possible that these two conflicting desires have some sort of an equilibrium point that I may be approaching. All I know is that it's odd to live in a place you love, but also to be as equally happy to leave it as to come home.

I've heard that one of the strongest motivators -- in a sort of rat-in-a-maze variety -- isn't sex, or food, it's anticipation; the "what's behind that door?" or "what happens next?" feeling. I think this easily explains the fascinating and addictive quality of the Internet. It's not the humor value of any particular ORLY owl, it's tuning in to see what they'll think of next. I sometimes feel that this is an edge I walk sometimes that propels me forward. What's next? What's next?
It's not that everything is better, but dwelling on things makes me crazy and there has been a lot going on this week that's not all in my own head.

First, from the mailbag:
I wrote a short play (partly inspired by your awesomeness) called "Kickass Librarian" which was selected for the Boston Theater Marathon and even got a positive note in the Boston Globe. So thank you for the inspiration

Second, New Orleans. Wow. The first thing you notice when you start landing at the airport is the tarps. Lots of tarps, over roofs everyplace. The downtown core is a little ragged, but you don't notice it until you start to leave the Convention Center and French Quarter area and go just a mile or two out. There, it's really ragged. Sporadic trash pickup, most businesses are closed, lots of storefronts are totally empty. There's a hubub of clean-up activity [and all the public transportation is free, allowing me this trip to noplace] but you can tell the city is really empty, and it's hard to tell how and when it's going to really come back.

I've been doing my typical spare-bed-surfing routine which means a lot of time walking around with my luggage and a lot of downtime to read, look out the window, or walk around. The Council meetings are a little bittersweet because I know they're my last, for a while anyhow. I watch with one eye and realize that if there's going to be a graduated dues structure it will happen after I leave. I see ALA commit to providing free wifi at conferences and have to think if I'll be going to another one. I enjoy the professional development and extreme socializing that surrounds the conferences. If someone asked "Would you pay $400 to be able to hang out and catch up with 20-30 of your friends and countless acquaintances for a few days?" I'd likely say yes. On the other hand, big city conferences are the anti-Vermont and I miss the river and the silence and the dark.

I had beignets and strong coffee with my good friends from Alabama this afternoon and hit the sun and socializing wall. I came back and lay in an chilled empty room and stared at the ceiling until I fell asleep. I'm sure there will be a time in the future where my free time and empty spaces may not feel inviting and gratifying, but that time isn't now, not yet.
6.23.2006:   fork, redux
Greg and I have decided to split up. It's the end of an era of sorts and I'm sorry if I didn't get a chance to tell you personally before you read this. He's moved out and is living in South Royalton and I'm staying in Bethel for now doing stuff I was doing before, more or less. The split was amicable and mostly mutual but no break-up is ever easy. We're keeping in touch, but mostly at a distance. Greg has written about it a little more on his page -- more detail than I would have included perhaps but it's not something I get to choose -- and I have written about some of the odd ramifications of a break-up in the age of social software over at librarian.net. The decision felt sudden and final, which is probably not a terrible combination. There is no good combination. I'm going to try hard not to write much about it here, not to be secretive or mysterious, but just because for me thinking or discussing these things is better done as a process over time; writing about feelings that are constantly changing is never something I've been good at.

I'm keeping busy, swimming a lot, getting lots of attention from family and friends, and leaving for a New Orleans trip tomorrow morning for a library conference. This will be my last ALA Council meeting and I'm feeling pretty much "It's about time!" Yesterday I got my old Toyota started and out of the carriage shed where it's been stagnating over the winter. I'll put a for sale sign in it when I get back. As much as I love the old car, it's not what it used to be and not what I need right now. Once I realized that my attachment to it was becoming much more sentimental and much less practically useful -- having an unreliable back-up car pretty much defeats the purpose of having a back-up, no? -- the choice I had to make was obvious.

Moving forward, especially in a sort of sudden way like this, always has elements of the scary, the exciting, the bittersweet and the totally wrong-feeling. I have rarely felt so at a loss for words as I do right now, which may mean that it's time to go for a walk and just have some unmediated experience that doesn't come through a screen or require writing or typing or driving or talking. I'm doing okay generally, sometimes great, sometimes lousy, and there's some other interesting stuff going on that I'll write more about when I'm not in straight reporting mode.

If you'd like, send postcards to: PO Box 81, Bethel Vermont 05032. I really love getting mail.
6.11.2006:   fork
This is the first time I've gone to California, since I really started going there in earnest in the late 90's, where I felt like my trajectory and my California friends' trajectories were different. This doesn't mean anything major. I adore my friends and was really happy to get to spend what felt like some quality time with them in the beautiful place that they live. It's just that as I've made some choices that make it, for example, hard to find a good dentist or time-consuming to get to an airport or a shoe store, I feel like they've made choices that make it, for example, hard to find parking or hard to see the stars at night. It's just trading one set of downsides for the other. They have fun things to do every night. I go to sleep somewhere almost entirely quiet and dark. They have friends who live in their neighborhoods. I know almost everyone who lives in my town. This is the first time that I've really felt like I made a choice to live somewhere not-San-Francisco. As a result, it was even more interesting to visit in some ways.

And so I left the beauty of the Bay Area and public transportation and late night taco stands to return to the beauty of no traffic and rolling green forested hills and a bird explosion in my backyard. I also feel like I got 8-9 hours of sleep last week. I can't remember the last time I've been able to spend a week doing THAT. My pictures are up in this set: SFO 2006. Here are some highlights: Other cool news that I guess doesn't go anyplace but here. My sister quit smoking, which is sort of amamzing. Go Kate! My Dad's wife, Cindy, started her own small business making sailor's valentines and has a website up, Westportshells.com. What's a sailor's valentine? She'll tell you. Meanwhile, I helped my Dad put up nearly 1000 pictures of his family from the 50s and 60's (digitized via digmypics) on Flickr. Lastly, I may never have mentioned that my Mom has a photo blog and a site for showing off her own pictures: ewestphotos.com. I think that brings you up to speed on my nuclear family. Greg is studying for the bar. He turned 30 and graduated within two weeks of each other, now he's just ping-ponging back and forth between superstudying and aggressive procrastination. Wish the guy luck?

I just finished reading The Piano Tuner which is one of those short novels that everyone who reads the New York Times also read. It's a fine book. The main character meets a woman who intrigues him and they have some time together in a new city. He tells her to "take me to your favorite place" or something similar and they're both a little breathless of the intimacy of this gesture, in 19th Century Burma. In any case, that line works great here in San Francisco with people I already knew. I got to eat a sandwich on a beach with my pal Gordon [and suffer painful sunburn because I'm too stupid to wear sunscreen in early June, heck I'm a New Englander!] and have some great Vietnamese food with my friend Judith and then go watch the sun set at some other rocky beachfront park.

Today is sitting inside and recovering from too much sun, doing laundry, and quality time with cats where "quality time" means reading near where they are sleeping. The other day I walked and walked around with my friend Peter, culminating in a steep hillclimb back up Potrero Hill where I had to ask myself whether $1.50 was too much to pay to avoid climbing four blocks seemingly straight up. I decided yes.

This evening I'm going out with library friends from the Prelinger Library and elsewhere to talk about Big Library Ideas and eat more good food. Usually I come to San Francisco planning ot eat a burrito a day, but this time I'm trying to save the mega-meals for eating with friends so I don't get that oogy feeeling that can accompany the burrito a day diet. So far so good. Roasted garlic leftover from the party for lunch, iced coffee in the afternoon, hungry for dinner.
6.04.2006:   go go sfo
[card catalog]

One of the side effects of using blogging software is that I don't say "Oh, it's the beginning of the month, I should archive and update the new page." just another interesting [to me] observation of how our choice of tools affects our behaviors.

I'm in California, after an easy [and cheap!] flight out here Friday night. Saturday I hung out with the cats a lot of the day and then headed in to the city with no particular place to go. I got on a bus with a bunch of chattering Google employee hipsters. I went, naturally, to the library where I ran into my friend Jane and this guy Alan who I had met when I was speaking at San Jose last year. Alan is starting a fast today, so he invited me over for dinner with some of his other friends "to eat the rest of my food." We went to the Rainbow Grocery where I introduced Alan to my cheesemonger pal Gordon.

I helped Alan do some cooking, met his friends and hung out until my East Coast internal clock was begging for mercy. Came home with even more food -- sort of nice because there's no handy corner store up here on Potrero Hill -- and went out to what I guess is the Dogpatch area with James and Shinjoung for brunch. Now I'm back and uploading my pictures, planning to get outside into the sun at this point. I think between my library stop and food today, I have filled up my social calendar for the week. I'm not sure if this is the good nes or the bad news. Seems good so far.
Jessamyn is in...
Bethel VT

last month | archive

17sep... novascotia
24sep... NH lib thing
15oct... NELA


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