Today we talk about numbers, since it is a freaky numerical date occurence today.
First off is email. Actually, this started with web sites because my dad believes, somehow, that his web site gets 2500 hits a week. This is clearly wrong. My most popular site gets a bit more than this, but it has content updated daily and a host of readers who work in front of computers all day long. My Dad, on the other hand, believes he invented the computer, yet cannot really tell me where these numbers come from.
So, I've grown nutty on counting lately -- do you count stairs as you climb them? I do -- and decided to see how much email I get in a day. This involved letting it build up in my inbox which nearly killed me, but today was work-at-the-bookstore day, so I was able to pull it off. Today seemed to be average with regards to email: 6 junk mail messages, 5 notes from regular correspondents, 5 planning missives from the guys I was planning to go see David Eggers with tonight, 4 memos from work, 2 bulletins from my ISP, 2 bounce-backs, one reference question, an invite to join a mailing list [over 2 messages], 4 pings from the folks at lisnews.com, 4 fan mails, and five unclassifiables. This seems like an average day, mailwise. I feel a little like my friend Pete who was telling me about his recent exploits with females and said he had been with three women in the last year. I said "really?" just for something to say, and he said "Is that too many? ....or too few?"
Those of you who feel that discussing money is tacky, please skip to the day before yesterday now.
In other numerical news. I finally got my damned W-2 from the Odd Fellows -- hand written! -- and can now do my taxes. I have added up my four W-2s, my four 1099s, my two 1099-DIVs and my one 1099-INT for a grand total of $13,057.82. Total withholding so far: $401.32. I am going to have to pay through the nose. For those of you with regular jobs, here's the skinny. Since I am at least partially self-employed -- and not Amish -- I get to pay my own social security as well as all my other taxes. Don't even bother trying to rob my house, it's all full of patched up jeans, home made carrot juice and lots and lots of book-laden bookshelves.
Mmmmphhhmmmph. One of the things I had forgotten about staying up all night, is that it throws the next day into an interestingly surreal state in which you feel like you are dreaming yet are also fully conscious. While I have many dreams like this, it is rare that I get to experience this feeling while awake.
I got home at 10 this morning and promptly went to sleep after opening the hall for the Loyal Order of the Golden North. I woke up at 3 and gave the new caretaker a guided tour of my job. It is offical -- I leave the Odd Fellows Hall on April first. I am looking for help moving -- I promise I will not make anyone carry all my encyclopediae.
There will be one more party before I leave on the 25th of March. You might recognize the format..... It will be called Odd Stork so as not to get me into contract disputes with some of the original band members. An announcement will go out in the next week or so.
I am working the night shift at work today, just on a lark. Watch me work
I made carrot juice this morning with five pound of carrots. For me, just being surrounded with this much orange is appealing, then when you add ginger, the carrot juice itself becomes appealing.
I'm not sure why, but February hasn't really put the zap on me like it usually does, but I seem exempt from the usual winter blahs. I tried to go kite flying today but between a lack of wind and all the duct tape I used to repair my bat kite, the experience was a dismal failure, lighter-than-air-wise. Though nothing is really a failure when it gets you mucking about on the beach, sez me.
When I was volunteering for the AIDS Ride last year, there were these big bowls of creamy goop that covered the tables at every pit stop. Riders would dip tongue depressors into these bowls, bring up some of the glop into their hands, and then shove their palms lewdly down the front of their bike shorts. It took me a while to get it: Butt Balm. The reason I mention this today is because I went for my first over-ten-minute bike ride in about five years today, and boy is my ass tired!
My friend Ben finally convinced me to fix my friend's bike that is in the basement and go ride around. This involved learning a whole bunch of new stuff about gears -- last time I rode regularly, my bike had only ten of these -- and terrain -- Ben thought riding in the deep gravel by the railroad tracks might be fun -- and physiology -- my aforementioned ass problem. All in all it was enjoyable and I was less sucky at it than I thought I'd be. Healthwise and politics-wise, I think riding a bike around a lot is a good thing.
I think this frenzy of social activity is all part of my Are You Game discussion earlier this month. Some folks have treated it like a bit of a gauntlet; determined to be game and have me game in return. I think I'm up to it.
Anita has some pictures of the weblogger get together yesterday. I am in one of them a little bit. Notable quote: "I'd be worried that I dominated the conversation too much, but that wouldn't be possible with Jessamyn there."
Don't know what's weirder, the fact that this web site looks like one I would design myself [if I had the mad design skillz she does], or the fact that I went to college with this selfsame other web saavy Jessamin.
Some days you just feel like all your skin fits just right. I had a nice day. Mucked about in the morning, headed to the Speakeasy to meet the Seattle Bloggers: Rebecca, Anita, Nina, Lisa, Dan, Clark, Jim, Jesse, and Eric. [you'll notice this is the same order as Julia's list, this is no coincidence]. I had just been there the night before for the staff party where I watched our admin lady frolic half-naked on a trapeze, among other things. Today I sat around and drank coffee and played with toys and talked about a zillion and one things with people I'd mostly never met before. A pure pleasure which I should do more often.
Speaking of...are you female? Do you like craft-y stuff or have an unfinished project mouldering around in your house? If so, I am having a get-together next weekend at my place. Come on out!
Tonight, I went and hung around with the Circus Contraption folks and talked to them about the ups and downs of owning a whole lot of land. They are contemplating getting a space somewhere where they can live, work, and do their circus. I had lots of advice. Do not miss them in the Fringe Festival this year.
I grew tired of everyone looking at me like a martian when I told them I rode the bus and didn't watch TV so I moved to Vermont -- it was green and beautiful and empty and restful. Then I grew tired of having to drive 20 miles to see a movie, or talk to anyone about books, and I came back to Seattle -- it is energetic and happening and full and thriving. But I don't like all the cell phones or the aforementioned martian problem, so I'll head back East in sometime in May.
Lather, rinse repeat. I like being a girl on the go.
I think the whole ecommerce-targeted hack last week was ever-so-slightly amusing. My recent ecommerce foray went like this: I bid on and obtained a ticket via Priceline.com. The final price was about 20% above my bid, but that's to be expected somewhat. What wasn't expected was that the price they quoted me on their web page was $20 less than the price in the email they sent me.
When I called to complain, I got a service rep -- I am now even more sympathetic to these people since I've been working tech support -- who assured me the email price was the right price. Was I happy now? I said no, I was concerned about the buggy web site and truth in advertising, etc. The rep said that the site had been buggy for a few weeks and that I should just [and I quote] "ignore it". I asked to talk to the manager and was assured that I was talking to the manager, ook. So, I resorted to paper. I wrote a letter to their HQ in CT and included all sorts of helpfully highlighted printouts from my email and the web site. Total cost to me, 32 cents and some paper. Cindy from Priceline called this morning and apologized -- though she did not concede that they should fix their website -- and offered to send me $25. This has been a real windfall coupla days. Anyone who can find me this week, the beer is on me.
I had my first actual bartending experience at the Valentine's Day party last night. I thought I was just going to serve beer but there was an actual bar, actual liquor, and requests for mixed drinks. The favorite of the evening was some dreadful concoction of Midori, vodka and some "energy drink" called Red Bull which apparently lets you drink beer all night without getting stupid. I was not convinced. I had a tip jar and easily made four times the amount I make doing tech support and had roughly three times as much fun, though I sliced my finger open trying to open my first wine bottle ever, which amused all [drunken, not necessarily non-stupid] onlookers. I came home with a pocket full of soggy valentines, one of which just said ROLLOVER.
Today I went back to the scrap dealer to pick up my printing press. It weighs roughly 500 pounds and I got to drive down Aurora with it roped into the back of my pickup truck. Once we got to Margaret's, we couldn't back the truck up to the porch like we thought we'd be able to and were in a real dilemma: how could three people carry this massive thing ten feet to the porch? Answer: they couldn't, they needed to invite their burly friends over after work and offer them pizza to help. I had to work so I missed all the drama but apparently my press is now on Margaret's back porch. Hopefully it will fit through the doorway...
Forgot to mention this from last week. If you have been envying my tales of rural living, there is a way for you to get a piece of the action. There's a place for sale down the street from me in Groton, VT. Small weird house, 60 acres, $30,000. No typo. 30K. You have to put in your own well. Come be my neighbor.
Any last minute valentines can be dropped off at the Roq La Rue gallery in Belltown where I will be beer wenching tonight. Come revel in the irony of my lonely t-shirt.
I'm back in Seattle-town & sleepy. Here are five short stories with non-corresponding pictures. A few more pictures of my VT trip -- and expanded versions of these pix -- are in the VT picture archive
I went to sleep with tie-dyed socks and when I woke up I had tie-dyed feet. My roof is done!
I paid the roofers today. They had to get a bank account so I could wire them the money I owe them. I deducted some money from the total because one of the roofers is moving into my house until May. Then I traded my extra refrigerator to another one of the roofers for a good lawnmower.
Since I have people moving in, I am setting the place up. I was just going to live here cabin-style for a few days -- don't mess with the unplugged fridge or the pilot light on the water heater -- but I saw reason. I decided this after I had already eaten breakfast at the Green Mountain Diner. I had oatmeal, coffee, cinnamon toast and a huge glass of juice. When I paid with a five dollar bill, that included the tip... As I was reading the paper, I noticed my own name in it. Apparently the library has a column and they were thanking all the volunteers who were helping with the online catalog. They spelled my name wrong, but I could tell they were talking about me.
Speaking of my name, I got some email today from a relative of my namesake -- Jessamyn West's nephew, Ron West. He had this to say: "...in my opinion, she would have thought you were great. She was truly a unique, amazing woman." which is about the nicest thing I've heard all month.
As I type this, there is a roofer on my back porch shoveling off the two feet of snow that has accumulated since I was last here, "just to be nice". I started shoveling a path yesterday but gave up after I was about halfway to my car, preferring to bound through the drifts, which I don't get to do every day. Nothing like a little digging in the snow to bring you into intimate awareness of every individual muscle in your back.
The roofers have been here since before I got here on Monday. They will be finished by tomorrow at the latest. Yesterday they were working in near whiteout conditions, today it is a bit nicer and almost above freezing. They have build a little clubhouse in back in the snow which they have filled with plastic chairs and a bonfire. They take turns warming up. There is a boombox with samba music playing that filters into my house along with the tap tap tap of their hammers.
When I was out here this fall, I would lie in bed in the morning hoping that the [former, criminal, fired] roofers had shown up and were preparing to start work. I was always disappointed. These guys -- though just as toothless as my previous roofers -- are a world apart. They brought me a cheeseburger when they found out I didn't have any food in the house. They talk about the barn as if it were a ship "she's a sturdy old girl..." The lead guy is also my neighbor living, ironically enough, in a trailer he rents from the Criminal Roofers.
The jury is still out as to whether this roof install is going to go my way or not. On the one hand, my prospective tenant found a better gig, my roofers did not start yesterday like they said they would, my neighbor has been borrowing my wood, and it is fiercely cold out here. On the upside, I got a direct flight at the last minute instead of going through Houston, well-rested flight attendants gave me extra peanuts, I saw the Northern Lights from the plane [the big green shooty kind, amazing], and am now safely eating Pop Rocks at Mom's. Time will tell and it won't be long now...
I bought a printing press today. Next week my friend Margaret is going to fetch mine, along with the printing press that she bought, and put them in her office. When I get back, we will learn to print. Anybody got some spare moveable type? Margaret's office is right near downtown Seattle and we will be able to print stuff [incendiary propaganda? Odd Stock invites? matchbook covers? secret messages in invisible ink? our confessions?] while overlooking the Olympics and Puget Sound. I can already see myself in one of those aprons, covered from head to toe with ink.
Did you know crab legs have hair on them? At least I think what I have is a crab leg. I went walking by the waterfront today, picking up flotsam and examining the strange workout signs. It's tough to remember that you should go outside when it's sunny out. I took some pictures so I can remember that. I would also like to mention that recreational drug use can be a good way to pass the time in Seattle until the sun comes out for good. Game? Game.
On Sunday, I will be heading to Vermont where it is sunny, incredibly cold, and there is two feet of snow over what was formerly my driveway. I am hoping to get my roof put on and perhaps meet my new caretaker. My feeling on this is somewhat akin to that Barthelme story where the kids meet the new gerbil. Please say a prayer for me, or wish me whatever kind of good luck is appropriate in your culture.
I went on an airline ticket buying binge yesterday and also bought -- besides my return ticket from VT -- a round trip ticket to Austin TX to go to the SXSW festival. I'm really mostly going to hang out with my friend Aaron -- the one who dropped out of college to join the circus -- but since there's a festival and a lot of my email buddies will be there, I figured I could combine pleasure with ... well ... pleasure. Anyone who's reading this and also going, send me a line.
Amazon.com may have laid off 150 people, but they sent me a certified letter telling me they had changed their fax number... I called them and informed them that I hadn't actually worked for them in nearly six months, and when I quit, I quit for a reason.
A friend asked me to come hang out in Peru with him in the next few months. Another friend invited me to come crew with the Cirque de Flambe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival late this summer. I'm seriously considering both invitations, even though I already have potential travel plans for nearly every month til August in the hopper.
I was trying explain to someone the other day why I was continuing to hang out with someone who was, by all accounts, a cause of a lot of peskiness for me. I explained to her that it was because he was game. Game as in Are You Game? Game as in I've Got A Nutty Idea Want To Try It Out With Me game. I have a spazzy set of dissimilar interests many of which require -- or can be accentuated by -- participation. Things like Odd Stock, cross country trips, late night perambulations on the beach and my nutty now-annual New Years party. You can be twitchy or freakish or anti-social or only come out at night for all I care, but if you're game, we can hang out.
If I hadn't been game to other people's crazy ideas I never would have known what it was like to grab hold of an electric fence, or live in Romania, or drive across Kansas in one night in the middle of December. The more I plan out my future and the more it seems to diverge from the futures of those around me, the more I appreciate spending time goofing off with people who are game.