I hung up the wishes over my bed. This morning I woke up agitated with thoughts about my future and put a posting on craigslist for a roommate. There are always stages in moving apart from a previous relationship, trying to describe yourself and your living situation when you've only been in it for a month or two is a bit of a challenge. I think this ad looks appealing though. I doubt anyone's looking in my area, but feel free to pass the ad around.

Last night Rick and Sarah and I went to the Randall Drive-in. It was Sarah's first drive-in experience. It had been pouring rain up until about six pm so there was a really low turn-out for Nacho Libre (silly, pretty good) and Click (the same). We brought chairs and citronella candles and warm clothes. It's hard to believe that there is any time in July in Vermont that you'd be wearing a wool hat but sitting outside getting covered in dew as the temps drop into the mid-sixties is one of those times. In fact it was so foggy in the field we were parked in that the last part of the movie seemed to be in soft focus. I'm sorry I didn't bring my camera, but that just gives me a good reason to go back.

A few more interesting links from my week I'm off to Barre today to check out Homecoming Days which means a day full of parades and duck races and all you can eat spaghetti with my friends Meredith and Adam. It's really fun to have friends who are so enthusiastic about small town goings-on. If I get back in time, maybe I can hit the Penny Sale.

It felt like a long weekend. For me many weekends are long weekends since I work when I want to most of the time. In any case, I finished that article I mentioned last week on Friday at 4 (I know I know). Friday at six-ish my sister Kate showed up and we did a mess of stuff.

  • Went over to Hannah's mom's place and had some excellent food. We were much happier than we looked in this picture.
  • Went to see Superman at our local drive-in. While the drive-in was mostly great -- we had some bug issues, and some window fogging issues -- the movie was mostly awful. We did not stay for Lake House, I just don't have the stomach for romances lately.
  • Went to Topsham. Topsham has been my albatross lately. I haven't been there since Greg and I went last year when it seemed okay. Since then I've gotten the roof fixed, the plumbing replaced and the barn stabilized. I think. I really just worked with contractors and sent them money and trusted that they had fixed the things they said they had. And I fretted, a lot, about this. So Kate offered to help me go up there and see if it was really that bad. And it wasn't. The house had mice but we cleaned them up. It was dusty but we swept. It was a little mildewy, but it wasn't wet. The lawn, such as it was, is now five feet of meadow. It's pretty impressive to see five feet of meadow. Maybe I'll go back next weekend. It sure is nice there. I brought home some stuff I hadn't seen in years: mud boots, stereo receiver, misc junk.
  • Checked out the new Mexican place in Randolph. It was solidly okay, not better, not worse.
  • Went over to Rick and Sarah's to check on the place, play video games, watch movies and hang out someplace a little quieter. Between the neighbor's pool, the neighbor's barking dog in a cage, the neighbor's radio playing constant NASCAR and Ola's housecleaning, I've felt a little frazzled.
  • Went out to another great breakfast at Patrick's Place in Randolph. I had peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast from which I am just now recovering.
  • Opened up the wishing pig.
  • Moved some of the extra computers up into the attic. Anyone need an iMac running OSX? Contact me. Greg took his computer when he left and I think he has one more here. All the other frankencomputers are mine to keep.

Kate got in her car and started the drive home (after we replaced a winshield wiper and cleaned out the back seat) and I'm on my way out to have some dinner with my friend Jim and his partner Sarah. Now that I know Topsham is at least mostly intact I've been sleeping even more like a baby than usual. I'm headed to DC the weekend after next to talk to archivists about blogs, anyone there who wants to hang out, please get in touch.
7.20.2006:   oh baby
Last night there was a baby skunk trapped on my porch and I have a half-assed blurry picture to prove it.

Yesterday I went to do my normal swimming routine. Changed in an empty locker room, went to my usual lane and started doing laps. After about five or ten minutes, I noticed that the pool had filled up with maybe 30-40 young cheerleaders in bikinis who were splashing around and giggling and doing splits off of the diving board. Apparently there is a cheerleading camp at the school I swim at. The pool water got pretty choppy and the water itself started to taste vaguely sweaty. The two male lifeguards just sat there staring as if they'd been hit with bricks. I finished up my laps, but the whole time I was thinking "Someone else's fantasy has clearly gotten crossed with mine." I'll let you know if mine gets delivered anytime soon.
7.18.2006:   Taking Care
Lots of friends and relative strangers have been asking after me in the past month. It's nice to feel supported, but it's pretty tough to answer the question "How are you?" since I don't really know myself. My best answer is "cautiously optimistic." I think the question people are really asking is "Are you taking care of yourself?" but without seeing someone face to face, it's hard to gauge that sort of thing, and people often misreport. With my friends who have cats, it's simple: if the litterbox is clean, they are probably doing okay. Scary litterbox = worried mind. So, this is the post where I tell you how I'm doing, in an oblique way by... um... showing you my litterbox?

I got my car fixed. My mechanic thinks that the guys in Brooklyn didn't see the brake line problems because they didn't want to see them. It's a nasty job, apparently and I can attest to this because I hung out with my mechanic as he banged and clanged underneath my car replacing brake lines only to find that he had created a fuel leak. Without all this extra work/time, I never would have known that his wife used to work in the law school library, or that he was something of a GIS specialist before deciding to open his own business.

I went to the dentist
. My big tooth problems are mostly a thing of the past. Once you know that it's stress that is causing you to grind your teeth, it's a manageable proposition to deal with it. I was just in for a cleaning, which went fine. I was told to come back in six months which I see as some sort of a victory.

I'm back in the pool. Not that I was out for any reason of my own, but there have been personnel shake-ups at the pool leading to hit-or-miss staffing, meaning you'd get up there and at least sometimes no one would be there and there would be a note flapping in the breeze "pool closed, no lifeguard." Irritating after a 25 minute drive. Mostly now resolved. I've swum over a mile since Sunday.

I'm going to Hawai'i. Close readers may know that this is the last state in the U.S. that I have yet to visit. I was invited there for a library conference in November. I'm also going to Australia in March. I was going to go with Greg, but now I'm going with Kate, my sister and travelling companion extrordinaire. Now that she's quit smoking, a 12 hour plane ride is no big deal! I've got enough going on here that I'm not threatening to stay there, but it will be really nice to be there again.

Otherwise, it's the same old keeping busy, trying not to spend too much time just sitting and typing, and scheming with Ola about what the next few years in this house are going to be like. Not bad. Clean litter.
The pool was closed for days and I thought my life had suddenly and coincidentally gotten much worse, until I went today and swam over half a mile and came home with a rosy outlook. Sometimes the solutions to your problems are obvious. I have been doing a lot of writing (typing really) on a book chapter that is long overdue and will be finished before I go to sleep tonight even if by "tonight" I mean sometime Monday morning. Here are a few things I've read lately that were interesting to me.

My author bio
Unlike most bios which I make as short as humanly possibly, this one had a low-end word limit of 100 words. It's hard for me to drag out 100 words about myself in this setting even though I'll happily prattle on and on about myself here. Anyhow, this is what I wound up with.

"Jessamyn West is a community technology educator in central Vermont, where she works with public librarians and seniors, helping them use technology to solve problems. her first technology education position was in 1994, training journalists in Bucharest, Romania how to use pine and gopher. She started her website www.jessamyn.com in 1995; she is also the editor of the weblog librarian.net, where she examines the intersection of libraries, technology, and politics. She is a moderator of the online community metafilter.com. She can teach anyone how to use a computer, and still types letters to friends on an Underwood-Olivetti Lettera 22. She will send you a letter if you send her a postcard." [note: postcard deal still good, let me know if you'd like a reply: po box 81 bethel vt 05032]

Firebirds Rising
My friend Sharyn is a very good editor and has edited this anthology. I liked this story by Kelly Link, specifically because it reminds me of Barthelme's story The Zombies.

"Everyone knows that there are wizard bones under the marsh mud and that the fish and the birds that live in the marsh are strange creatures. They have got magic in them. Children dare each other to go in to the marsh and catch fish. Sometimes when a brave child catches a fish in the murky, muddy marsh pools, the fish will call the child by name and beg to be released. And if you don't let that fish go, it will tell you, gasping for air, when and how you will die. And if you cook the fish and eat it, you will dream wizard dreams. But if you let your fish go, it will tell you a secret.
This is what the people of Perfil say about the wizards of Perfil."

About Indie
Just a comment from a MetaFilter thread about a unflattering review of Sufjan Stevens that helped sort of coalesce some ideas I'd been having about why so much of the indie rock leaves me not just flat but actually annoyed.

"Jonathan Lethem wrote this great essay ... about artists he grew up reading, watching, listening to. Among the many he talks about, Philip K. Dick, Bob Dylan, (and a few others I can't remember) were the ones he would always eventually return to, the ones who always remained after he was disappointed with the others. It had to do with a lack of posturing and a need to ask questions. It wasn't that the artists wanted to *tell you* something, it was that they wanted to *know*, and they were always going to try and figure it out, through their art, and you could join up and watch, participate, whatever. And that was the most fulfilling - because it wasn't pandering, it wasn't telling you what to feel or trying to manipulate you."
7.13.2006:   speaking of home
I got back from Brooklyn and have been mostly enjoying being in Bethel for more than a day or two in a row. My car still has a mystery ailment, but it's being attended to. The rains are unyielding and yesterday we saw a family of skunks walk through the backyard.

The big news here is this: Ola, my landlady who I live with, decided not to sell the house. Instead, she's going to go to the Peace Corps in the South Pacific, assuming they accept her application which is preliminarily accepted, and then she's going to rent the house out. How this affects me is that I get to stay, live with a law student, manage the place and NOT MOVE. This is sort of big news. Back in November when Ola told me she was selling the house, when Greg was still living here, we went through a lot of talking about moving immediately, doing something different, something, but we stayed, then I stayed.

I hate to be all "things happen for a REASON" which just seems like so much after-the-fact rationalization, but staying here strikes me as the right thing to do and I'm glad circumstances aligned to let me do that.
7.06.2006:   independence

I've been hanging out in Brooklyn for a lot of this week. My apologies if I didn't get in touch with you, I didn't get in touch with anyone except my friends who were getting married [the occasion for this trip] and my friends who had a baby on the 28th, the excuse for staying longer. My friends who had a baby also had friends who were out of town (yes, in the Hamptons) leaving their house empty and free for all the baby well-wishers to camp out in, leaving the parents a little more free to sit around in their underwear for more of the day. This suited me perfectly and I also got to meet my friend's Mom.

As another result, I've also spent an incredible amount of time alone, though I'm not sure if you're ever alone when you've got the Internet and books about bees to keep you company. I got out to see the fireworks, and to deliver some sidewalk chalk to the new big sister and play hopscotch, and to take my car to a mechanic to see why it seemed to be having brake fluid issues (uncertain, but it only cost me $25 to have someone look it over and assure me that there was nothing obvious wrong with my car). I got caught in a massive rainstorm. I wrote a few postcards. I listened to that thing my voice does when I haven't been talking to people in a long time, when I've been relatively relaxed and well-rested. There's an absence of something, bite, edge, attack, I don't know. It seems like it's a good way to start a long drive, a long drive home.

Jessamyn is in...
Bethel VT

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