my year in cities and towns, 2019

guestroom in the meredith NH hotel I stayed at.Interesting to look at, bad for sleeping

Really serious about staying out of airplanes now. Two airplane trips this year. A low key summer not feeling terrific. Lots of time doing more local stuff and not regretting it at all.

Here is the short list of places. Four states. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

  • Westport MA* – here most of the summer, in many of the beds
  • Stow MA* – visiting my sister
  • Cambridge MD – a great quickie trip to a great conference
  • Meredith NH – another great location for a conference, less-great hotel
  • Grafton VT – weird old inn, intensive conference
  • Burlington VT – staying with friends for an overnight for a humanities conference
  • Tampa FL – really quirky AirBnB with lovely folks

Florida fixit

image of an odd painting heere a hors eis standing in profile holding a tiffany colored box in its mouth

I went to Florida a few weeks back which will be the last time I get on a plane this year unless something wacky happens. Thinking more about carbon footprint stuff even though I am doing solidly well in that regard because I have no kids. It was a good time, pictures are here.

I was well-hosted by the library school at USF. I gave a talk that I really enjoyed which was well-received. I felt good enough to walk around some which was nice, wear shorts and smell smells (it’s 17° here now). I’ll get paid eventually which is also my feeling about the CNN article I wrote in August, and the smaller article I wrote for Online Searcher after that. Freelance cash flow is a bit of a crapshoot.

I also stayed in a funky AirBnB suggested by my host which was great in a lot of respects, but especially because parts of it were maybe a little broken. I’m always at loose ends when I travel alone, and so it was fun to have some simple little puzzles to keep me occupied (think a dog trying to get kibble out of a kong). So while I was there I…

– got the TV back online and attached to Netflix
– also got the TV out of accessibility mode so it would stop reading every Netflix title to me
– cleaned the filter of the hot tub which was full of leaves
– figured out which scented candle was setting off my allergies
– stopped the toilet from running at night
– figured out how to make Alexa stop listening to me

Things I did not figure out included…

– how to make the glowing orb in the hallway stop pulsing in various colors
– how to plug in my phone near the bed without moving a very large mirror
– where the extra towels were

All in all I was nervous about the trip because it’s my nature and because I’m still not really feeling optimal. It went well and now I’m just back on my normal bullshit, going to a ton of meetings, helping people with computer stuff and trying to stay warm.

my year in cities and towns, 2018

three cats on a colorful bed with the #allwasok hashtag on it.

This picture is actually my sister’s bed, which I did not sleep in, because I was bad at taking photos this year. This was the year I said “No more travel!” after the summertime and mostly meant it. I did only three airplane trips this year and actually forgot to take a photo of the most exotic place I stayed, a sort of dorm room situation in Hawai’i. I wish I could say I enjoyed all this travel but it was sort of a down year for me and I didn’t rise to it. I took good pictures and I generally had that “Sitting in the backyard wrapped in a blanket” feeling to a lot of it. Sort of safe and comfortable but also sort of pining for home.

Here are all the places. Four states. Two provinces. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

  1. Boxboro MA* – here a lot doing various cleaning things. I do love this room.
  2. Westport MA* – here most of the summer and many of the holidays
  3. Toronto ON – wanted to stay at a friends but he was very sick and this trip was both enjoyable and a total bummer
  4. Montréal QC – my friends’ new house, super fun
  5. Brooklyn NY – the funniest looking bed with the best hosts
  6. Manoa HI – ups and downs here, I wish this excellent place was not right next to a bus stop
  7. Canandaigua NY – -this was a good trip but I should have stayed in a little motel
  8. Stow MA* – Kate got the guestroom up and running again! Always great to stay here
  9. Washington DC – a funny little hotel right by the train

my year in cities and towns, 2017

showing the foot of a wooden bed with a crane photo on the wall behind it.

Last year I spent a lot of time away from home but it wasn’t great for travel per se. I spent nearly two solid month’s at my mom’s place before and after she died. I can’t quite say that I enjoyed it, but being in one place, in that place, was useful for me. 2018 is going to be a year of less travel I think. I’ve got two airplane trips planned and I’m not planning to add any more.

Here are all the places. Seven states. Three provinces. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

  1. Niceville FL – a great way to kick off the year with some sunshine and friendly librarians
  2. Cambridge MA* – Deb’s place is always good for the soul
  3. Toronto ON – a weird AirBnB and a great visit
  4. Toronto ON – Gabe’s duplex was a better resting place
  5. Stow MA* – chilling post-Superbowl at Kate’s
  6. Westport MA* – planned to spend more time here than I actually did
  7. Montreal QC – a catsit and a trip that was supposed to be a vacation with Jim
  8. Crystal City VA – a fun library conference and a chance to see a lot of library friends
  9. Washington DC – MeFites put me up and showed me the town, so lovely
  10. Brooklyn NY* – wound up here twice, the couch is fine but the love is great
  11. Brooklyn NY – hamsters!
  12. Weir’s Beach NH – Fun Spot was one of the year’s highlights
  13. Cambridge MA – another catsit, another funny little bed
  14. Concord NH – I spent a lot of time sleeping not far from home
  15. Boxboro MA* – moved in and did not leave for a while
  16. Edmonton AB – a great conference center
  17. Edmonton AB – the swank apartment of an old family friend
  18. Baraboo WI – place was as weird as it seems but the conference was grand
  19. Saratoga Springs NY – Liked this Hilton, loved this conference

summering

It’s been very nice to have a summer that isn’t mostly spent managing my and other people’s grief (with exceptions for the untimely demises of Boo Radley and Fred November) or my and other people’s broken ankles. I feel like I went at this summer with an aggressive zeal that is really not my usual tack but has been working out okay. As I wrote earlier, I did a lot of hiking. Now I’m a little worn out by hiking and have been doing a bunch of socializing. At some point in the past five years I have been slowly shifting from being more extroverted (I get energized by being with people, I get ootchy when I am alone) to introverted (I lose energy by being with people, I recharge batteries by being alone). This is probably a side effect of having an internet job and a steady boyfriend but also of just getting older. Time speeds up, I have more things on my own that I want to do and the places that I want to do them are not on anyone else’s beaten path (see also: hiking). But in any case, there’s been a lot going on.

– My friends from college are now at the point where their kids are old enough to happily travel. My dad’s place is sort of the perfect destination resort for the under-12 set, so we had a great weekend having a cookout, playing kid-bocce and making the best use of the giant beanbag imaginable. Two photos of the crew are on Flickr (1,2). The bulletin board here is covered with kid drawings and the patio is covered with cryptic chalk scribbles (is that a bat? a spider? a spiderbat?).
– My friend from high school (has it been 28 years? wowie!) and her wife were up in Vermont for their annual lake trip and I got to hang out and play robots with their son, toss tennis balls with the pup and learn all about bread ears. Our quiet evening together was interrupted by a badly sprained wrist (not mine!) so I got to hang out with Mr. 9 while everyone else took a trip to the emergency room.
– My sister and I decided to play Grown Up Ladies and we bought a couch together to put at Dad’s place and I finally got to go to Jordan’s Furniture after a lifetime of hearing their radio and TV ads.
– I performed my first wedding, for Rich Fairbanks and Rachel Westbrook. It went totally well. When I was a little kid one of the first non-family non-parents-of-friends couples I knew was the couple that lived next door in our two-family house: Rich and Rachel. When Rachel told me she’d met a guy she liked and told me his name, I had a good feeling about it. I included a photo and the service on my Vermont JP blog. If anyone wants to get married in Vermont and needs an officiant, I’ve got two and a half more years before I need to run for re-election and I think now I know what I’m doing.

Upcoming excitement includes a trip to Nebraska (shut up!) to talk to librarians about technology and then some friends visiting from far away (North Carolina via Maine) and then the usual People Up For Labor Day. If you’re reading this and you’re in the South Coast area and you’d like to have a hot dog with me, drop me a note (email preferred) and I can send details. I hope to do one more update before the Virgo Month of Leisure, but if the past few months are any indicator, I may be a bit busy.

Oh and a note about this image. I came back from a walk with Jim to find this little set of drawers and five wine glasses on my steps. I thought it was maybe from Rachel but it turns out it was from my landlady Ronni who has been deaccessioning some things. She tossed in this wonderful gigantic dictionary, remembering just where she got it on the Lower East Side some 40-50 years ago. I’m not sure where I’ll put it, but I just love the way it looks.

finally

There are a lot of fake springs but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the real one now. Trees are all popping out their leaves. Neighbors are all rooting around in their yards. Birds have fled the birdfeeders for Real Live Bugs out in the world someplace. I got out the newspaper and spray cleaner and scrubbed their suet smears off the window so I can see them better when they get back.

I went on my first on-an-airplane trip since last June sometime. After all my talk about desiring to travel less I realized that the best way to not travel is to not travel and said no to a bunch of things. Or no thanks, because that’s me. The downside of course is that I like giving talks, telling people what I think, meeting other librarians, and going new places. The downside is that I find travel sort of tiring, I like my home, and one little wrench in the works (a late flight leading to a late arrival leading to a delayed parking lot pickup) can mean I’m driving home from New Hampshire at 1:30 am thinking “Was this trip really necessary?” like one of those old cartoons.

But it worked out really well. I gave a keynote speech to a group of librarians from the North East Kansas Library System about copyright and the work I’ve been doing at Open Library. I got to stay in Lawrence at a nice AirBnB place and meetup with MetaFilter folks. Then I hung out for a few extra days in Manhattan and saw colleagues and friends and ate tamales. This image is from a hike I took out on the Konza Prairie with my friend Donna. I went to Kansas four times in 2007-2008 and had a weird kind of amnesia about some of it. So coming back felt familiar and new all at the same time. It’s sort of a weird thing to say but if I had to go get a library job in a state that was not Vermont, Kansas would be one of the top three places I would look. They have a cool state library system, a lot of librarians doing really interesting things (David Lee King does amazing things at Topeka Shawnee Public Library and Donna is getting great stuff done at KState) and a population that seems to be really into their libraries, though I suppose most populations are.

I came back to exactly zero snow on the ground (less than when I left), a bunch of postcards from people all over (mainly MetaFilter, for dealing with some difficult weeks) and friends who had been scheming things to do while I had been away. Jim came up this weekend and we attempted a straight up a (small) mountain hike and mostly did it. Now on the lookout for new mountains to climb, new things to see. Thanks to Kansas librarians and other friends for making my trip so great.

some before and some after

I have some friends who came down to Westport for a while and did one of those work vacation things. They spent some time here recreating and noodling around and taking advantage of the nice location and the decent weather. And then they spent some time helping me around the place. I was hoping for just a little gardening and weeding but they found the power washer and went to town on the patio along with helping out with a lot of other terrific things. I am still galumphing around in this boot (may be a few more weeks, otherwise I am feeling great) and it’s tough to describe what a wonderful thing it was to just have the place get all spruced up around me while I concentrated on working and getting sleep and eating well and getting better. I’m a pretty stubbornly independent person; having people around getting things done with no input from me and having folks to chitchat with over dinner and snacks was incredibly pleasant in a way I’m not really used to.

The week before this, Jim and I headed to Indiana on a fly-by trip to get the remainder of my Seattle stuff that has been in various basements since I moved from there “for good” around 2003. I still have a few misc. pieces of furniture in a few places (anyone know where my metal table got to?) but for now the bulk of my things are in places that are mine. Last step is to get the Topsham stuff which is temporarily in a friend’s shed into either my apartment or some nice yard sale or FREE pile somewhere. The trip was fun and short and filled with little nifty parts and I’d forgotten sort of how much I enjoy road trips, and Waffle House.

Which is good because this next week is going to be a Real Road Trip where I do the thing I used to love doing and drive someone else’s car across the country. In this case a friend of mine got a job in Los Angeles and has a Mini in Brooklyn and I have a free week more or less and there you go. I’m taking the first real week off of work that I’ve had in years (mostly my own fault) and this will be my first cross-country trip I’ve taken with a smart phone, as far as I can remember. And for longtime readers you will remember that I used to do this sort of thing a lot.

So I’m assembling some maps and NOT getting tour books from AAA and realizing that I don’t have to plan almost any of this and can still find good places to see and eat and sleep. Driving out, flying back. Hoping to be almost out of this boot by the time I’m back in MA/VT.

Seriously, look at this patio!