mail call!


I have been working on a slow-motion project that I thought I could mention once I was finished, but now that it’s ground to a halt I will mention it now. I got a package of fifty US state postcards at the Tunbridge Post office for a few bucks. This was a month ago. I figured “Hey I know someone in every state, right?”

Wrong. I know someone in every state except North Dakota and West Virginia.

The project started out like gangbusters. I set a limit of five postcards a day at the outset. I sent postcards to family, friends, librarians and other random people I’d exchanged mail with in the past. Things started to slow down after the first 30. Once I was down to 15 I started trawling facebook looking for friends in regional networks. Once I was down to eight I took them to the Computers in Libraries conference and specifically sought out people from distant lands like Missouri and Mississippi. Then I asked Twitter when I was down to five.

Now I have two left. Does anyone know anyone in North Dakota and West Virginia? It’s embarassing for me because I stayed in Fargo at one of the most fun library conferences I ever went to: NDLA. I stayed with a librarian and her family who had the same last name as me and we watched a Daniel Johnston documentary. However, I’m not sure if she’s still working at the same library and I felt weird pitching a postcard into the void as if it was somehow cheating, so I’ll wait. And West Virginia, I’ve been there too. I was totally surprised it would become a sticking point.

So, at this point I’ve sent 48 postcards (plus a few extra for states where I got multiple requests). Including the cost of the postcards, that’s under $20 for a project that kept me busy and problem-solving for well over a month and hopefully cheered up a few folks in various states of the Winter that never ended. Hooray for the mail!

update: mailing the 49th and 50th postcards today, thanks everyone!


A good question, I think

My favorite part about holiday days isn’t so much how the town empties out (and its pretty empty here even on a work day) but how the whole world seems to quiet down. My internet world is quietly muttering about chocolate. My email inbox is empty. MetaFilter is subdued. The lack of buzzbuzzbuzz in the periphery gives me some freed up cycles to do a lot of weird maintenance things.

  • I upgraded WordPress on both my blogs. If you are reading this, it worked.
  • I added a few new stories to the Donald Barthelme page and contemplated a redesign but I don’t think I’m there yet.
  • jailbroke and customized a loaner iphone; no good for calls, good for everything else.
  • I’m bringing a ton of stuff into my apartment that I brought back from Topsham

Topsham is my “rise from the dead” story for today. I have friends moving in to caretake the place and it needs a lot of work. I’m approaching this work like a long distance runner, but it makes me bolt awake eyes wide open wondering “what next? What now?” Yesterday I went with a friend and brought home some books (OED and Encyclopedia Britannica, you are home now) and my tent and some photos and a big container of clothes. When I looked at the clothes there was this whole “Oh wow, I forgot all about that t-shirt!” experience. I’m generally pretty good at compartmentalizing; this brought back a big chunk of time I’d long since filed away, in good ways and bad. I looked at my Burning Man outfits, my tie-dyed socks (really?), my orange coveralls, and my shorts that were too big on me even then and now aren’t even options as clothing. There were a lot of Greg’s clothes too, things he left behind that I never even knew were still there. I’ve split the stuff into “to wash” and “to get rid of” piles and I’ll be looking at old photos today and hanging up my spurs that were a 30th birthday present from a friend I’ve lost track of.

A few people got in touch with me to say that they thought my last post might be a “hey I think I need to leave Vermont” post, which it wasn’t. I’ve been a little melancholy lately — family stuff, not too much personal stuff — and looking at other people’s plans makes me investigate my own more closely. This is the best time of year to go see Topsham. The snow has melted, the grass is greening up and not yet so tall that you can’t see the shape of the land. I feel like such a weird schoolgirl having a dysfunctional love affair with a piece of property. Every time I go up there, even as the house continues to silt in and deteriorate and the barn leans more and the taxes go up, I look at the 40 acres of field and hill and woods and things seem rich and full of possibility. It’s a tonic to an otherwise bumpy set of weeks.

another thousand dollar dinner

Guestroom, New Haven CT

I have been lucky enough to have eaten some really nice meals lately. I guess luck may not be the right word for it because I’m usually just as happy to eat hummus and pita. I don’t know if it’s my palate or just that I’m happier when people aren’t serving me food, but some of it is in the take it or leave it realm. I like but do not love fancy dinners and in these troubled times I have an awful lot of guilt spending [someone else’s] money on [what I think is] overpriced food. I got Mexican corn on a stick as a side dish — you know the stuff they sell on the street, slathered in butter and white cheese — at a restaurant called Bespoke and it cost six dollars. None of this is to begrudge the people who took me out to meals where I had great times talking to people, just sort of mulling over my general discomfort with fancy spendy things.

I was at Yale speaking this weekend, in case you’re wondering who in jehu’s name was taking me out for some fancy victualizing. I was on a panel talking about the ethics of Library 2.0 which was an interesting topic and got a lot of responses. We each had about ten minutes to speak so I prepared five slides and some loose notes. Other people, more academic types, had whole big powerpoint decks, excerpts from their books and whatnot. I enjoyed listening to them and talking to them at dinner, but felt my typical disconnect. I have a hard time figuring out whether this is just me feeling weird at some sort of brain-level, or if I really was the odd person out at this high level academicky thing. I ask people and they say I’m fine so that’s really all I can do.

I came back to snow that was mostly melted and a note from my bank saying that I could pick up the two mason jars that I’d dropped off a week ago. There was $167 worth of nickels, dimes, quarters and pennies, more than I’d thought. That and thirty bucks would have paid for the hotel room you see above. My big eternal question is how to redistribute some of this money so that rural technology funding becomes as much of a genuine option as conference hotel rooms and thousand dollar dinners as far as our priorities go. My concern — and I always have one or two — is that I may need to leave my rural wonderland in order to figure that out. My second concern is that once I find the place where I feel totally and completely comfortable, it will be the end to my agitation for better things for other people. Hard to say. I sleep well at night and that seems to be sufficient to smooth out the day’s ruffled feathers.