momintown Jan 26, 2007
Hey my Mom is in town! She's asleep right now and even though I grew up in a hideously cold house, I have turned the thermostat up a few degrees just so it's maybe not quite so icy here. We had one of the neighbors over, a guy I met through Ola named Chris, and I made some soup/salad/bread meal and he regaled us with stories about leaving the family farm in Massachusetts and running away to New York City in the 40's where he eventually became a window dresser at Macy's and went to Parsons and lived in the Village. Chris can sometime be a bit of a monologuist, but if I'm in the right mood -- as I was tonight -- I find him fascinating and hilarious. He also made a pecan pie and I can listen to anyone talk about anything with enough good pie in front of me.

Mostly I'm just happy to have my Mom back, happy and game for anything in her fun sort of way. The last year was annoying for me, but it was hellish for her with a cancer diagnosis and surgeries and a lot of "hurry up and wait" crap. However, she seems to have come through it with a slightly adjusted attitude, a mildly more positive outlook, some nutty stories about radiation treatment that crack me up (as they are supposed to) and in mostly good health.

I kick off the 2007 travel year possibly as early as next week, but definitely in a few weeks from now where I go to Manhattan, Kansas to talk to some librarians about Library 2.0 stuff and then to AUSTRALIA with my SISTER for TWO WEEKS. Yes I'm excited. At the same time, Ola will be heading to Kiribati which means that we'll be closer together when I'm in Australia, geographically speaking, then we are now. I hope she sends me a postcard.

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janauary crazy Jan 19, 2007
What a crazy week! The week ending today started last Friday when the 2007 MIT Mystery Hunt began, at noon. From that point until about 2 am Sunday morning, I was puzzling. I posted some details on Vox but the specific are this: we came in second, I helped a little, it was terrificaly fun, I want to be a better puzzler. I haven't stayed up all night in a long long time, though the fact that I routinely stay up until 3 or 4 am was a big help to the team, I think. So, Friday and Saturday were the same day, for me.

Sunday I drove home late. As soon as I got home I realized I had left my laptop cable at Kate's house. Fortunately I always have a spare.... laptop. Kate mailed me the cord, but having almost a week of stuff happening on a backup laptop is like some sort of lost time thing. I was out of it all week.

Monday I swam and spoke to a reporter from USA Today about my "breaking up in the age of social software" post. She is writing a story that she was hoping to get into the Valentine's Day issue (they say there is no such thing as bad publicity) but it may be written some other time. I think she was a little dismayed that my breakup was not a series of minor and major disasters and stalker-like bad behavior, what can I say?

Tuesday I got into a small accident on my way to work. I am fine, the car is fine, no one else was involved, just me and some ice. Stan came over to look at it once I drove it to work and said it looked okay. I had the car checked out today and it will need a new headlight and a new grille (grilles on Hondas are teeny). My mechanic scraped and pried off the broken parts, stitched up the cracked bumper with a series of zip ties, said I was very lucky and told me to come back for the headlight next week. I am currently driving an illegal (i.e. one-headlighted) car. Somehow this makes me feel like more of a Vermonter. Forrest and Kelly took me out to dinner to celebrate my soft landing, they are crazygreat.

Wednesday I got interviewed and photographed by two nice guys from the Valley News. Channing, the photographer, has a blog and a website. Alex Hanson, the reporter, doesn't (or it's a secret). I talked about blogging and the digital divide and Vermont and Romania and had a really fun time. I still feel weird being all "blah blah me and my interesting stories" even when it's the express purpose of the conversation, but the last eight months or so has been all about being around people who haven't heard them all before. I find everyone else fascinating too, interviews are a hard time to explain that.

Thursday was a normal work day which meant helping people with their computers and PowerPoint slides and scanners and typing tutors and whathaveyou. I got a lot of bills paid and spent some time on the phone with Kate buying a lot of plane tickets. Our trip to Australia starts in five weeks and will include Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and a road trip! So great. Last time I asked people if they wanted postcards. This time I will not because postcards seemed to take forever to select and write and were somewhat spendy to mail. So this time, remind me, and I'll send you a "Howdy from Australia __your name here__" photo which will probably be more fun anyhow, for both of us. This is the most money I have ever spent on travel, ever. My travel is mostly going to be reimbursed since this is a work trip for me. Mom and Dad and Cindy pitched in for Kate's travel which was very nice of them.

Today I got the good news from the mechanic, saw Rick and Sarah at the Equal Grounds cafe in South Royalton did some more swimming with Kelly (up to 3.7 miles for the week, 10.5 for the year, oh my god I am becoming that "let me tell you about my gym" person. I apologize in advance). Then Kelly and I did errands which is one of those dopey things I like to do. I came home and made some killer risotto, completely trashed the kitchen, and am trying to figure out whether tonight is a better night for cleaning the place up, or.... not. My guess is I'll go with "not."

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yay, second place! Jan 15, 2007
I'm still a little woozy from the weekend. I feel like maybe I'm getting just a little bit old to pull an all-nighter, but when someone signed me up for the 2-10 am "puzzle devil" shift, how could I say no? I'm practically nocturnal here anyhow, so it was not much of a stretch.

So, we came in second by about 90 minutes. Once I learned that another team had won the Mystery Hunt, I decided to try to go home and get caught up on sleep. Little did I know that my team was hot on the trail of the solution and called it in almost before I was back to Kate's place.

The good news about being second is that you get to participate in the hunt the next year. The poor winners -- a team named Doctor Awkward -- have to BUILD the hunt next year which I think will be a lot of work, albeit fun work. In the meantime, I have some time to bone up on puzzling and see if I can hone my skills enough to be a benefit to the team in ways that aren't just organizational next year. Here are some links.
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puzzling in january Jan 11, 2007

I'm off to the MIT Mystery Hunt (more at Wikipedia) this weekend. This will be the first time I've participated locally and the first time in a while that I've participated at all. No ALA conference in January and no boyfriend on school vacation equals time for puzzling and the first trip out of town for me in 2007! This will mean more than two days away from my precious pool, but I stored up some swim miles so I should be fine. Only 114 miles to go. Watch me become slowly insufferable about this as the year goes on, watch me. I made a packing list for the hunt. For the first time in a long while my packing list does not include "notes for talk" or "dress pants" and for this I am grateful.

This is not to say that there won't be travel and work and dress pants in the future. Next month I'm going to Manhattan, Kansas to talk to librarians about Library 2.0 and maybe go to a teeny MetaFilter meetup. At the end of February Kate and I are going to Australia where I'm going to give a talk in Perth and a talk in Adelaide. If we're lucky we'll get a mini road trip in before we come back a few weeks later. Meanwhile I am watching my things not pack themselves while I am typing, so I should attend to that. Wish me and team Codex Ixtlilxochitl luck!

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Check me out.
  • I made a little video of the crazy rushing river by my house.
  • I went on a walk during the crazy weather that claims to be spring or even summer but is really WINTER, I swear it.
  • I went bowling, cosmically, with a bunch of friends up in Barre. Not once but twice, I got a strike when the head pin was some sort of weird glowing color and won myself a soda. You can see my newish haircut in that photo.
  • I got some great stuff at the local thrft store.
  • I swam two miles in two days at the pool. You'll have to trust me on this one. I am 2.41% of the way to my goal and my butt hurts.
  • Next weekend I'm heading to Cambridge for the MIT Mystery Hunt. This will be the first time I've been actually in town instead of working remotely.

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Wesabe is probably out because you need to upload your bank statements and you can't add money entries on your own. I don't have an issue with uploading the statements. The only thing you can do for cash withdrawals is split the money up using tags, so you withdraw $100 and add tags for $20 dinner, $12 beer, whatever. My money world doesn't really work like this -- I'll take out $200 at the beginning of the month and spend it over a few weeks, I rarely write checks or use the credit card except for work stuff -- so I may try something like foonance which is just a basic register with tagging. I just need a fancy spreadsheet, or maybe just a fancy piece of paper. It's the end of the second day of this year and my expenses are still zero. My income these two days is also zero.

Speaking of spreadsheets, Kelly pointed me towards the United States Masters Swimming Virtual Swim Series. You can pick a route you'd like to take, like the length of Lake Champlain (pdf), for example, and download a spreadsheet with all the formulas filled in. All you do is type in what you've swum and it will tell you how much more you have to meet your goal. They even give you a little map of the lake with five mile increments that you can color in! Swimming 120 miles in 2007 would be 50% more than last year, so I don't know if I'm up to it, but it sure is fun to have a dorky arts and crafts project to go along with it. I have 99.29% left after swimming today.

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My New Year's Resolution in 1997 was "to keep better track of what the heck was going on in my life 1) so I could remember myself and 2) so I would have something to tell the jillions of people that ask me what's been going on lately." That's when and why I started this blog. I've updated it pretty faithfully for the last ten years. I decided to take a month off in August/September 2001 for the Virgo Month of Leisure, opting instead to blog by postcard. That turned out to be a really weird month.

This blog has seen me get divorced, buy a house, throw a bunch of parties, get by with cheap or free rent, become a librarian, get blogger-famous, date hippies, protest the WTO, land in the hospital, go to Burning Man, fall for a future law student, travel the US, move to Vermont, start new blogs, make new friends, add thousands of photos to Flickr, make the papers, and send and receive hundreds of postcards. It's finding me now in a big house, on the side of an icy road in Vermont, drinking coffee, wearing a wool hat and a wool sweater wondering what the next ten years will be like.

The last six to nine months have been particularly up and down. While the end of my long-term relationship was a big deal in this sort of "I had a PLAN and now I don't, wtf?!" way, being in a deteriorating relationship for a few months prior to that was what was more damaging and harder to get over. My Mom's lung cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment a few months later (doc says all clear for now, I can almost not type that for fear of jinxing it) was one of the more personally difficult things I've gone through as an adult, partly because I didn't write much about it here or talk to many people about it. I don't really have a "smiles everyone" approach to adversity, but I find public hand-wringing distasteful personally, so I don't do it much here. It's something I need to do a little work on.

My professional life has done nothing but continue to be awesome which has been a nice solid bedrock underneath all the rest of this. Getting shoved into a familiar-yet-new living situation (same house, same place, just me) has been constantly fascinating to me. I feel very lucky to enjoy the inner workings of my own head, because I spend a lot of time in there. This work and travel year brought me new friendships and closer friendships with a lot of my existing friends. My travel schedule helped that to happen. Out of the 50+ places I stayed last year about a third of them were with people who I'd never stayed with before, a third were hotels and a third were family and existing friends. I feel like I have the plane/hotel thing down now, I did not feel that way at the beginning of the year. I've enjoyed having the last month or so to just be home and reconnect with my routine.

This was also the first year I had any sort of a fitness routine, which I mentioned in the last post. Feeling in control of my health and weight has been a huge deal, I hadn't realized how much it would be when I started. Keeping track of it has also been useful, since the organization part comes naturally and the results are obvious: I swam a ton, I lost some weight, I have been happier, I am musclier. A side effect of this has been an increase in general confidence which is a mixed blessing. I've always felt pretty confident but now, in my own me-driven, me-centered universe, that can border on arrogance and/or aggression. I get competitive with myself and need to keep it in check to not be competitive with other people when it's not appropriate. On the "to do" list.

Another weird side-effect of making new plans is that since I'm not planning to move, leave my job and buy a house (G's and my nominal post-law school plan) I find myself suddenly sort of ... rich, relatively speaking. I had been saving money for a possible down payment which is now mine to do something with. Kate and I are travelling to Australia in early March which will suck up some of this, but not terribly much. I'm now in a situation where I've met all my short term financial goals and need to start thinking more sensibly about long-term ones. I'm going to start using Wesabe in 2007 to track my pennies, but I need to put in place a larger plan to deal with my dollars.

Other than that, my ongoing resolutions to stay well-fed, well-slept, and around things that smell good seem well within my reach. I hope this new year brings you peace and joy. I'm optimistic that mine might.

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Jessamyn is in...
Bethel VT

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

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