I saw this as I was out lunching near Harvard Square yesterday. A quick Google showed me that there’s a pretty interesting story behind this pretty interesting photo of what it turns out are the Danilov Monastery bells being repatriated to Russia.
And yeah obligatory talk about moving and recitation of where I’m going and where I’ve been. I’m in Somerville at Kate’s place. I came down to do some helper-monkey work cleaning out some rooms full of stuff here, see my Mom, see my fella and give Ola some alone-time at home to do whatever she feels like doing there. It’s hot here. Kate and I put an air conditioner in the guest room. It’s the first time I’ve ever put in a window-mounted air conditioner in my life. It was scary. Scary but successful. Now I’m hanging out until my librarian Skype conference call — I’m on the usability committee for an open source library catalog project going on in Vermont, good works — and then I’ve got a good book for the bus back.
I’m thinking about my things. Since I happily spend maybe a fifth of my life lately away from “home” (and one third of my life asleep no matter where I am) the idea of what things I need to be functional and happy has shifted dramatically. That said, I’m sentimental and like having boxes of old letters and keepsakes around me. So, thinking about moving in to a new place, where I can arrange all the stuff and where I have to carry all my things up a long flight of stairs (or get someone to do it for me) has been a reflective time. I enjoyed this book review at Kevin Kelly’s site of the book It’s All Too Much which takes a step beyond just helping you declutter and organize and actually talks about quality of life issues and maintaining them with fewer things. Kevin quotes the intro by Merlin Mann, humorist pundit to techie people roughly my age, which has the little points that I’m taking away.
The biggest change in attitude this book made in my life was to teach me not to generate false relevance by “organizing” stuff I don’t want or will never need. Organization is what you do to stuff that you need, want, or love – it’s not what you do to get useless stuff out of sight or to manufacture makebelieve meaning. For me, this is about the opposite of organizing; it means disinterring every sarcophagus of crap in my house and, item by item, evaluating whether it’s making my family’s life better today. And if some heirloom really is precious to me, can I find a better home for it than a shelf in the back of my garage?
The guideline I always heard for whether to keep or toss old clothes was whether you loved it, wore it or it looked awesome on you. If any of those things were true, keep it. I generally don’t have a lot of trouble with “make believe meaning” wrapped up in my things but I may have a bit of a fetish problem with books and possibly t-shirts. And there’s my coin collection which I enjoy but rarely play with. It’s heavy.
I enjoyed cleaning up Kate’s crazy full-of-junk room upstairs. It was two hours of my life that saved her multiple hours of worrying/thinking/stressing about not doing it. Time well spent. If I was considering a career change I’d dredge out people’s shamehole rooms for a living. You can wear whatever you want, listen to your favorite music and people are always incredibly grateful for something that doesn’t seem at all like work to me. Coming home to a place that doesn’t itself seem like a decluttering project in process (soon, soon) is my goal for the next three-ish weeks.
In between the last post and today’s post my soon-to-be new landlady let me know that the rent on the new place was going to go up because the high price of fuel (in a heat-included apartment) was skyrocketing. So I bit my nails for a few days until she gave me the new dollar amount which was still affordable. Also Ola came back and brought a new puppy with her — Shamus led a long happy life but had to be put down in May, I’m sorry if I didn’t get to tell you before this — so the house is even more chaotic than usual. Also I was in Los Angeles for a few days. Oh and there was a big terrible incident here that rocked the community and made everyone alternately trepidacious, outraged and very very sad. Plus there was a library angle and a social software angle which had me concerned professionally as well as personally.
But a terrible weekend in Vermont is better than a good weekend in Los Angeles and I’m happy to be back. The next few weeks are seeing me on a vacation to Portland Oregon, a quick trip to DC on important goverment business (sort of joking) and moving my scant possessions up the street. It will probably be the first time I’ve moved completely out of anyplace in many years — I have that hippie-ish problem of leaving boxes in basements all over the country, like Mark Twain and his bank accounts — and the first time I’ve lived in an apartment on my own. Exciting.
There is a website I sometimes visit that is for chatting and nonsense and every so often there is a status update thread where people tell you about what or how they are doing in bulleted list format. If you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that I love the lists. I also find that somewhat arbitrary constraints are sometimes good to get you motivated when you’re staring at a blank piece of paper [or text entry box]. And, as always, by “you” I mean “me” You can tell more about people by what they choose to include or not include usually than by whatever the actual facts are on their list. That said, here is mine because it’s about time and because I have news.
- Ola is coming back in the first week of July. Like for real. Her youngest son is getting married in the end of July and there will be a lot of people tromping in and out of here during that month, I suspect. I am looking forward to seeing her, it’s been a while. I mentioned to her that I had only killed a few of her houseplants, so I am optimistic about the whole transition.
- That said, I’m in love with living alone so I’m moving to Randolph (one town over) where I’ve found this great mother-in-law apartment. I have a handshake agreement to move in August first. More details on that as they emerge. I can always use help moving, but truth be told, I don’t have much stuff. What I could use is someone to help me build a platform bed of some sort.
- I’d like to say that I’ll be closer to work but the big news is that RTCC decided to stop funding the drop-in time [and library outreach] that I was doing so I’m not working in Randolph anymore except for the occasional lifeguarding and library fill-in stuff. More details on that over at librarian.net. I feel pretty bad about it. Not personally because I’ll be fine and I have enough work and I was feeling a little underappreciated and underpaid there. No, I feel bad about it because I felt like I was doing great things and making a difference and I’m annoyed that for whatever reason — and I know, money issues are real, especially in this neck of the woods — the program wasn’t sutainable. Drat. I have more than enough work and other activities to keep me interested and involved, but I’ll be looking for more things to plug me in to the community. Chances are high I’ll pick up more regular librarian work but nothing is certain yet.
So, those are the plates that I’m spinning in the air at this juncture. Mostly good.
So, I know you’ve heard it before, but Ola’s coming back to Bethel. At some point. I got an email from her saying she was leaving Botswana tomorrow and I’m sure she’ll show up here eventually. So. I am having my friend Jill over to help me clean the house. I am moving stuff around, consolidating mainly. And I am thinking if there might be some place else I would like to live. I’m pretty sure I can stay here if I want to, but the sweet free rent deal would vanish. I am curious if I could find another one.
I like it here a lot. I like Ola a lot. However I also like living alone a lot. Living with Ola isn’t just not living alone, it is like the opposite of living alone. While she is great company, our sleep schedules are about 90 degrees off. She’s disorganized (she says it, I’m not calling her names) and I’m… not. I like it quiet or quiet-ish, she frequently has the TV or the radio or both going. She likes strongly smelling stuff in the bathroom, it makes me sneezy. So, unlike last time I thought she was coming back where I was a bit more handwavey and OMG about it, now I’m more reflective. I also have a more regular job — my MetaFilter work has me as an official W-2 employee as of 2008 — so I’m less worried about money. This is a good opportunity to ask myself what I’d like to be doing for the next few years, in case what I AM doing isn’t quite it. I have a few interesting options and some more prosaic ones. As always, I’ll keep you posted.
This past weekend I was in San Francisco. Sometimes I swear I go on long trips just so I can take a red eye flight home and have that amazing experience of going to sleep dead tired at 7 pm and sleeping til 9 am the next day. There’s nothing like it, to me. The trip was fun, I wrote a bit about the meeting I was at over at librarian.net. I saw some librarian friends, saw my friends’ new baby, went to a MetaFilter meetup, went to a good friend’s birthday party, slept (well!) in a Murphy bed, went birdwatching and didn’t drive my car for nearly five days.
I miss the West Coast in a general sense, and it’s odd to me that I miss San Fran more than I miss Seattle. I felt like I had time to get sick of Seattle and watch many of my friends move away. Now in San Fran my friends are all moving closer to one another so that I can walk to a whole bunch of their houses without too much trouble. It was neat to do and I’ll have to do it again really soon. As I told James and Shinjoung, having a free rent option figures high on my list of “desirable qualities” in a place to live. Not like I’d move straight to Atlanta for free rent, but if a place I otherwise like — especially the way-too-spendy West Coast — had some weird live-in caretaking opportunity present itself, you can bet I’d be listening.