[questions that are oftentimes asked of me]

This website has gone over five years without having a FAQ, you may ask "Why start now?" Well, I get a large amount of email, and I generally think of myself as a good correspondent. However, there are some questions I get over and over from people who don't necessarily want to be my pen pal. They are doing homework, or need a picture, or are peeved at something I wrote someplace and need to vent, this is to help them. Sometimes also, men write wanting to "get to know me better" and sometimes I'd rather reply with a URL than any information at all. Most of these are actual questions I've gotten from folks.

I like email, and postal mail, so don't let the presence of this document dissuade you from writing; think of it as giving you more leeway in what you write about. Thanks for reading this far, I'm sorry it's wordy, I tend to go on. 15feb04

jessamyn 101 | timely | personal | online | vermont | seattle | politics

Basic Stats
My full name is Jessamyn Charity West. I was born in 1968, my birthday is September 5th. I like birthday cards. I grew up and went to school in Massachusetts, and moved to Seattle in 1990. I lived in Romania for a year 94-95. I have a Masters in Librarianship [yes librarianship, weird huh?] from the University of Washington. Now I live in Central Vermont. My mom and dad & stepmom have websites and my sister has a blog. For other biographical information, much of it dated, you can see the Real Me pages. I maintain three websites regularly: jessamyn.com, jessamyn.info and librarian.net. I also maintain a few more websites irregularly: bendypig.com & alkifoundry.com. I no longer maintain takebackvermont.com, theroseclub.com or sameroomrecords.com. You can get in touch with me through this mail form, postal mail, or sometimes I'm on AIM with the handle iamthebestartist
Q. Do you have a job?
A. I work at the Randolph Technical Career Center as a community technology lady in Central Vermont and I also moderate the wesbite MetaFilter.com
Q. Do you have a boyfriend?
A. Yep. I'm in a long distance relationship that pleases me quite a bit.
Q. Are you going to Burning Man in 2003? 2004? Ever?
A. No. I thought I would be as interested in going when I lived on the East Coast as I was when I lived on the West Coast, but that is not the case.
Q. Are you related to Jessamyn West the author?
A. No, though we have the same name, and I do have a Jessamyn West page about her. I am related to Tom West from Soul of a New Machine and Peter Coyote the actor.
Q. Did you really used to be married? Were you married in Las Vegas?
A. Yes. I was married from 1994 to 1999. The story of why and how I got married written by my ex used to be online, but now it isn't. He has since remarried, and I have not.
Q. Are you and your husband still in touch? Do you know how to get in touch with him?
A. I have heard from him once or twice in the last year. He seems to be doing well. He used to have a website from when he lived in Azerbaijan. He is currently living and teaching in Seattle.
My Online World
Q. What places do you frequent online?
A. I work at MetaFilter and contribute to Wikipedia. You can find me on flickr and del.icio.us and a little bit on Vox.
Q. Would you do a link exchange with my website?
A. Generally, I don't do link exchanges. While I'll happily look at your site, I don't reciprocally link.
Q. How many hits a day do your websites get?
A. I don't keep super careful track, but librarian.net gets about 7000 visitors a day and jessamyn.com gets a bit less, but has more mini-sites that make it up.
Q. What do you use to write your web pages with?
A. I have an out-of-date colophon here which is badly out of date. I use a variety of tools from pico to Blogger.
Q. Who is your ISP? Do you like/recommend them?
A. My ISP is eskimo.com and I like them a great deal. I also have all my domain names registered with gandi.net who I have nothing but good things to say about. Jessamyn.info is hosted over at cornerhost.com who I am also quite fond of.
Q. My name is also Jessamyn, will you link me on your Jessamyn page?
A. I'd be glad to; please send me your website address. To discourage spammers from scouring email addresses, I do not link email addresses.
Q. I would like more information/stories/literary criticism concerning Donald Barthelme.
A. I troll the web fairly regularly looking for more online material about him, If it isn't linked on my site, it's probably not freely available. If you are writing a paper about one of his stories, I suggest going to your local library and looking through a periodical review database to try to find articles about specific stories he has written.
Q. How did you get permission to include all of those Barthelme stories?
A. I wrote to his brother Frederick and asked if I could reprint some of them. He gave me the okay. You can find his email address online and write to him yourself.
Q. You own that house & barn outright, how does that work?
A. Well, a friend of mine was selling it because he had met and married a Norwegian woman who was now pregnant and wanted to go home to Norway to have her baby. I got a bit of a deal on the house. I also got a loan from my dad, who chipped in about 40% of the purchase price. The rest was money I'd saved including some from my Grandmother intended for just this type of purchase. I started investing the money I made back in 1992 or so, which was a pretty good time to get into the mutual fund market.
Q. You live there by yourself?
A. Right now I'm living south of there in a town called Bethel. My landlady is joining the Peace Corps and I'm running the place for a few years.
Q. Can I come visit?
A. If I'm here, sure. Make sure you read the visit page to make sure you know what you're in for.
Q. Isn't inviting total strangers from the online world over to your house just asking for trouble?
A. I haven't found that to be the case so far, no. I have invited many strangers to my house and with very few exceptions, have met interesting and engaging people who I am still in touch with.
Q. Do you have high speed Internet out there?
A. In Topsham, no. In Bethel, yes, high speed and wireless.
Q. How do you afford to live in Seattle half the year?
A. Actually, I don't any more. This is the biggest update. I am now spending the money I was spending on Seattle rent on my half of a room in Bethel VT.
Q. I think I know you from someplace....?
A. You may, I've lived in Seattle for 12 years. I've worked in several libraries, Speakeasy, the Odd Fellows Hall, Left Bank Books and run a bar trivia night. I went to Acton-Boxboro high school, Hampshire College and the University of Washington. Drop me a line and we can compare notes.
Q. Why do you call yourself an anarchist?
A. I do it less and less lately mainly because I am tired of associations with people who are really violent or really knee-jerk reactionary. I think of myself more as anti-capitalist, though I agree with many of the anarchist tenets. Loosely, I believe people would be better off with less governmental interference, I'm against hierarchies, and I believe that humans have a responsibility to look after each other and take care of one another so that everyone's strengths and creativity are utilized and maximized. I also think everyone should be actively working towards this, not just paying lip service towards the idea of the good life. To this end, I think we should shop less and create more, complain less and do more, and argue less and talk more. I'm not good with slogans, feel free to drop me an email if you'd like a more in-depth explanation of all this.
Q. Don't you think that if you don't vote you have no right to complain?
A. No. I don't think civic responsibility begins and ends at the ballot box. And I don't believe that choosing between two big-business candidates will materially change the way the world works. Feeding the hungry will. Teaching people to read will. Agitating for change will. I vote on local issues, I just don't vote for representatives. I am also politically active year round, not just at voting times. I discuss issues with people and encourage them to do the same.
Q. So what's the answer to the world's problems?
A. I have no idea. For my personal life, I've started small. I try to tell the truth, to lead an ethical life and live low on the food chain, buying very little and trying to shop responsibly when I have to shop. I try to entertain myself easily, visit as many of my friends as possible, travel frequently and never ever say I'm bored. Talking about politics, particularly interpersonal politics and dynamics is very interesting to me. I think the more we are prepared to back up our beliefs, the more we reflect on them and inspect them for flaws.