small but useful victories

So hey I’m back from New York. I managed to take an entire trip away from home to two other states without getting in my car. That is, I walked to and from the public transportation that took me to and from various places. I had never done this before, mainly because it’s completely impractical, but also because I’d never had a good reason. The whole deal worked like this [enumerated for nerdliness, as well as a how-was-my-weekend report]

– Walked into town and took the Amtrak train to New York City. There are two trains I can take into NYC and this one is the closer-to-my-house one but also the longer-travel one [eight vs. five hours]. It was not bad. Side bonus: the other two people at the train stop with me were also at the conference I was at and will, I am certain, be my new friends. I had to buy my ticket from the conductor; if you live in Vermont, there is no way to buy a ticket in advance if you do not want it mailed to you. ($58)
– Took the subway from the train station out to dinner with my friends, then to ice cream, then back to where I was staying with my other friends. Subwayed around NYC. Took a bus once. The bus is a pain, requiring exact change and an awful lot of it. [no bills] ($20)
– Got the BoltBus from NYC to Boston. Cheap. Simple. Wifi. Outlets. ($20)
– Got a few rides: from the bus station, to Jim’s place, to my sister’s place, to the subway. (free, as in favors)
– Took the subway to the bus station in Boston. ($1.70)
– Took the bus from Boston to Hanover. ($25)
– Screwed around for a few hours. Was interviewed by some guy at the New Yorker. Got rained on. Took the cute three-times-a-day “short bus” from Hanover to Randolph. Walked home. ($3.50)

All in all not bad. The short bus only leaves three times a day at not that convenient (to me) times, but it worked and was siple. I’d never tried it before because the one that is outgoing leaves at some ungodly hour of the morning, but taking it back home didn’t involve getting up too terribly early. Yay for long bumbada bumbada trips. The entire time I was traveling, I was reading Paul Theroux’s book Dark Star which is about traveling from Cairo to Cape Town in Africa which made every dirty subway car seem like the Taj Mahal by comparison.

google sent me an ill fitting t-shirt

summer river

But who cares, it’s summertime! Haven’t heard back from my editor but I’m sure things are fine. Was laying low because of the heat wave but managed to go to the local 4th of July parade, do some mucking about in the local woods, saw friends near and far, watched a soccer game and got a new-to-me car. It is ALSO a green Subaru AWD wagon but there are several important differences between it and the current machine. The new car has 100K fewer miles. Is a Forrester not a Legacy. And also has: cup holder, power windows, a cigarette lighter (without the lighter part, but with the power part) and air conditioning. Every time I drove between here and MA and was sweaty and forever cranking down the windows at the tool booths and watching my phone battery drain to zero I’d think “There has to be a better way” and yet was waiting for an opportunity to drop into my lap.

And, on the 2nd of July, it did. A woman who lives up the road, whose husband had passed away a few years ago, decided to get rid of the car she never drove. And, instead of doing my general heel-dragging, I got right on it. Called. Made a test drive appointment. Said “I’ll take it.” Took it. It’s nice.

This also means that there is a rusty sweaty old Subaru with roll-up windows for sale, cheap [think three figures]. Comes with a free Google Maps t-shirt.

oh yeah, about that book


It’s finished! Well by finished I mean I sent it off to the editor and expect to not hear about it for a while. So, from the time my [soon to be] editor wrote to me saying “I’m an acquisitions editor … and I’m looking for someone to write a book on technology and rural libraries. Are you interested in exploring the possibilities?” and the day I emailed the manuscript back to her, a little over a year went by. But really, if you look at the picture, I did most of the actual writing/typing in the past few months. And fractionally, I did an awful lot of it in the last ten days.

This last spurt is not because the book wasn’t basically done, it was, but because there were a whole bunch of other “Oooh, I should really make sure I mention that” ideas that came up when I was sleeping or eating or doing one of the other very short list of things that I’ve done in the past week. This short list did not include much in the way of getting out of my pajamas, showering, exercising, or what I’ve come to call “deferred maintenance” around the place. I did manage to feed the birds, feed me, answer the phone and do a few short stints at an actual library (which would send me home with an “I’ve got to make sure I mention THAT” bee in my bonnet, lather, rinse, repeat).

Anyone following along with Twitter would have been able to follow along with my word-count-as-zip-code which, when combined with a neat looker-upper like this one by Ben Fry gave me a loosely east-to-west trajectory which was a better general way to feel that the project was actually progressing. By the time I turned in my 98506 (Olympia Washington!) word draft, I was not hating it, which is more than I can say about my college thesis.

The book is due to come out in January 2011. It’s for sale on Amazon and it is totally okay with me if you do not buy it. Really. The thing about writing books is that in almost all cases, it’s really not something you do because you’re going to make any money. If I thought I would have been able to keep to a writing schedule through my own independent motivation, I would have maybe self-published if cash were important. I probably have the reputation and self-promotional chops to actually sell the thing on my own. But I never would have written it.

Having a real publisher and a real human editor is the only way this project really got done. And so my 15% or whatever it is that I take home when someone purchases my book basically rounds to zero when I think about how much time I put into it. And with my critique of capitalism generally, and how this revenue split works out, I know my younger self would basically be telling my current self that I’d be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. I’m okay with that. I think people will buy it and read it, and a good chunk of them will like it okay. And with any luck at all they can take some of my advice to heart (whether through agreeing or disagreeing really, just be thinking about it) and use it to help the people who really are getting the short end of the stick in our brave new information age. That’s what I would like, besides a good shower and a nice reunion with the outside world.