I’m still sort of experimenting on what works here and what doesn’t. Uploading photos–such as the one above, of the ORCA Media studios–took about twelve tries to get right and I’m still not totally sure I like what I had to do to fix it [chmodding 777 for those of you who are curious, please ignore this for those who are not]. But anyhow, here’s a photo of what the space looked like when I was on public access television last week. A fellow teacher, Mike Abadi, does a public access show about blogs. Which is a smart idea around here because we’re still in digital divide-land. So I got to talk about my book and the digital divide and corporate ownership of the internet and all those things I like so much. You can see the full video on YouTube in case you’re not in the teeny public access coverage area (and I wouldn’t be able to tell you if you were honestly, being one of those no-tv-having goobers) of the station. Interestingly, I got to see a coverage map for the entire state and Topsham, where I used to live, has NO public access channel. I’m surprised that’s allowed but I guess they have no cable. Surprising. I am thinking it might be fun to have a public access show.

This weekend was a big weekend of cooking and walking around in the winter-but-not-snowy-winter. Jim and I finally checked out the bowling alley in town and it’s pretty nice. After a mercifully boring trip to the dentist (I have finally found the perfect non-chatty non-radio-listening dentist of my dreams) I am hunkering down, trying to get some sun and getting ready for the Christmas Bird Count which is this weekend. If you want to count birds in your area and help the National Audubon Society track bird populations, check out how to get involved.

thanks for your patience

I’m back sucking at trivia again. But I’ve done a lot since I last left a note here.

First and foremost, I’m on a new webhost. This is after… maybe fifteen years at eskimo? The timeouts were too frequent, the support too slow. I understand the reasons but it was no longer worth paying money for, so here I am. The site lives in a friend’s closet in North Carolina, up the road from where lives at UNC. I think it will be happy there. Now that these things aren’t auto-posted to facebook, I’ll have to think about whether I’ll import them there or not in some other fashion. I get a lot of comments, people are clearly reading stuff, I’m not really afraid of facebook in any real way. But I’m also winter-lazy, so I may put it off. I had a list, called the Things You Are Putting Off list, aka the Albatross list, that had a lot of crap on it that I’d been putting of. Estate stuff, other paperwork, selling the place in Topsham, and switching web hosts. Most are done, house is still sort of for sale, I’m feeling less dread which is a good way to go into the shortest days of the year. Speaking of, here is a story in two pictures.

As you know, I work part time at a public school. I am also more Jewish than anyone else who works there. Every year the public school does a holiday display and we get into some light-hearted ribbing about how their idea of diversity is putting up a coloring book cutout of a menorah in the holiday stocking-and-tree display. I guess I could make a bigger deal out of it, but I’m not mad, just sort of “C’mon guys, try harder” about it. So two years ago when the menorah was stolen, one of the shop teachers actually made another one (very cool) which for whatever reason the principal forgot to make sure was part of the display this year. So I nudged him. And here we go. I could live somewhere else, but I really like it here, the pervasive Christmasness around wintertime is just part of being part of a more homogenous (and religious) community than I might otherwise like. There are many other benefits. I’m thankful for both my larger and smaller communities at times like this. Next update on the blog: Solstice Bonfire. Stay tuned.

Related: if you see anything weird happening here that shouldn’t be, please drop me an email. Still troubleshooting.



I can’t spell Hanukkah which is probably okay because I don’t really celebrate it. However as the Most Jewish member of the high school I work at, I felt it was my duty to make sure there was some sort of menorah around holidaytime. If you’ll recall, there was one last year but it got stolen. Well it turns out it wasn’t even stolen but rather mangled by an angry kid who was stuck in the principal’s office. It was never replaced. “Where do you get a menorah anyhow?” the lady in the office asked me. I had to admit I wasn’t sure. I did go around telling people the story of Hanukkah [somewhat cribbed from Wikipedia] and answered a few FAQs [no there’s no Hanukkah bush, no it’s not really a major holiday, no there’s no Christmas tree involved, yes I still like cookies].

Yesterday I went to the school to pick up my car after its oil change — just another wonderful perk of working at a voctech school — and I found a little clip art menorah which I put on my classroom door. I don’t really have a classroom per se. That is, I don’t teach a class at the school. However, I’m there enough and there’s a free classroom so one of the rooms has come to be known as “Jessamyn’s Room” There’s a door decorating contest at the school where each class decorates their door in a holiday theme. This is the predictable presents, trees, red and green whatnot. Each classroom also adopts a family, a family from town having trouble making ends meet who gives the school a list of things they could use. From my position the lists are terribly poignant. No one’s asking for gameboys, they’re all asking for things like warm socks and a pair of women’s jeans, size 32. The kids all chip in to not just get the things on the list, but stocking stuffer stuff also. They then assemble and wrap it all and put it under the school tree which is out in the hallway and the families come pick up the presents right before the school shuts down for the holidays.

I used to have a pretty GRARGRAR opinion of the oppressiveness of Christmastime. Too much religion in my Wintertime. Too much shopping in my long dark nights. Too many well-meaning people not considering that other people might have different culutral traditions, or different choices, or different types of families. I’m still not totally pleased with the whole creche on the town commons thing, but I moved and I hear they don’t do that anymore since someone stole the baby jesus. Being more of a fixture at the school where they actually take pains to make sure the holidays are about sharing what you have with the people in your community, where it matters to people that everyone has enough, has really allowed me the room to enjoy the stressful Thanksgiving to New Years streak in a way that hasn’t worked as well in the past. Last night, when it was dark outside and I was leaving the school, I colored in one candle on the clip-art menorah.

how to make an introvert

40-something women

This is a picture of me and my good friend Sharyn at my Mom’s house over holidaytimes. I just got back from a week away which is pretty much the longest I’ve been anywhere in the past few years except Australia. I’m not really an introvert as people who know me pretty much know. I get energized by hanging out with people, I like to talk, I have a lot of friends and acquaintances. That said, I also live alone and have a lot of routines and subroutines that involve long periods of silence, stillness or solitude. Everyone’s routines get disrupted when they travel, see family and/or get outside their little home oasis and mine are not an exception.

I was happy to see my sister and her (about to be sold, omg) house. I liked getting to spend sort of lazy hang-out and walk around time with my Mom and the house I grew up in. I enjoyed spending some holidaytime with my boyfriend and his family and their full house of people who have known each other forever. I got to bring my friend Sharyn into the wilds of Boxboro and introduce her to my family and friends and spend more than a day with her for the first time in our decade+ long friendship. I had a cat or dog on hand at all times. I nearly poisoned myself with amazing food and lack of exercise. I stayed up late and slept in like I was a teenager.

Yesterday I drove home after driving in to Boston to drop Sharyn off at the train. I got lost and wound up meandering all over hellandgone to figure out how to get no 93 (yes I KNOW it’s right there, no I couldn’t find it). At some point I figured it out and started pointing the car approximately northwards, but the whole bumbadabumbada no-particular-place-to-go meandering around was something that is part of my daily life up here and was no part of my if-this-is-Sunday-this-must-be-brunch last week of time.

I haven’t spoken to another person since I said “thanks” to the lady who sold me a cookie on my way home last night. The phone hasn’t rung, as it usually doesn’t. I’ve got dinner plans but a wide open calendar today with one To Do item “get stuff out of car.” I think I’m up to it.

penultimate 2007

I figure I have another day before I make a big list of stuff from 2007. Books and beds mostly. It’s been a banner year for beds and only so-so for books. I always worry when I haven’t been reading much that maybe I’m Done Reading Books and from now on all I’ll be doing is scanning stuff from the Internet and leafing through magazines. So far this has not been the case, though reading was down last year even though air travel was up. I think this may be because movie downloading was also up and as you know my Watch More TV/Movies resolution in 2007 went pretty well.

In fact, it went so well that I’ve been chosen to be a Nielsen Family for February 2008. This, even though I 1) am not a family and 2) told them on the phone that I never watch any TV. Apparently as long as you have a TV, you can be a Nielsen Family. Anyone who has pet shows that they would like me to promote in February, please let me know. In exchange I will give you copies of all the great movies I have been watching, though many of them are DVD screeners or subtitled in German.

I got back from a week down in Massachusetts today. I spent time with my sister, mom, stepmom, and dad in roughly that order and had a good though exhausting time. That’s four people, but seven cats and a dog! Since we’re not real xmas celebrators and everyone in the family is, to put it politely, quirky, figuring out how to honor non-existent family traditions and forge new ones is always a little challenging. I had a great time eating candy with my Mom and sister, cleaning my Dad’s basement with him, having dinner with my stepmom and taking photos of my sister’s loom and her using it. I rode a lot of buses and subways and got a lot of rides to various places.

As always when I get home I’m amazed at how quiet and dark the place is. Sound great? Well the house next door — a sort of copy of this one that the parents who lived in this house built for their children next door, less fancy, similar footprint — is for sale. 210K gets you an 1894 Victorian with three bedrooms and a mother-in-law apt in the back. If you’ve been contemplating a back to the country move, think of Bethel!

happy whatever

rabbit rabbit

As predicted, the Solstice in Vermont was a cloudy day that I spent running around with gritted teeth, working. However, at least one little library will have wifi for Xmas because of my efforts. Then I got some time off. Working at a high school means high school holidays are my holidays so no more classes or drop-in times til the new year. I took the bus down to Kate’s place and we’ve been hunkered down with cats and holiday food watching the snow all melt.

The photo is from a trip to Ikea that we took on Sunday to see if we could get and assemble a guestroom bed. My job when I come down here is Chief Motivator for Slightly Difficult Seeming Tasks, so I said “Hey let’s go now, how hard could it be?” and surprisingly, I was right. So we stumbled around a not very full Ikea two days before Xmas, got a bed that was totally decent and super cheap, and put it together in about an hour, even though we couldn’t and still can’t find the drill. Kate had to work on Monday and I walked into Davis Square in the bright sunshine and got four sweaters for about $20 because the thrift stores here have clothes I can actually see myself wearing. Thrift stores up my way just mean I’m wearing something my neighbor is likely to recognize.

Last night we hd Chinese food and wrapped a few things and had to check through our email archives to figure out what we did over Xmas 2005. Of course, searching my Flickr archives would have netted results a lot more quickly. Today we’re heading over to my Mom’s for bagels and lox and tomorrow I’m heading down to my Dad’s to fulfill his one Christmas wish: a clean basement. Back at the end of the week to go to my friends’ NYE party which is open to pretty much anyone. Anyone needing a NYE plan in the Northeast, feel free to email me for details. I hope this day finds you doing what you want to do.


sunset, abu dhabi

My photos of Dubai are now completely uploaded and in a photoset on Flickr that you can see here: Dubai 2007. The cactuscam was a success and allowed me to see the christmas cactus flowering until something happened and it went dark on Decembe 11th. Here is the last photo from the day I got back. As I recall from the last time I went left the country in mid-December, coming back to a US that has gotten its Christmas on while I was away is always a little jarring. Christmastime in Dubai was interesting because Dubai is a Muslim country and so it is crystal clear that the trees and ornaments and lights designate a secular, shopping holiday. It’s a little more murky here.

However, I like Winter. And yesterday I woke up to a box of fancy english muffins on my doorstep. In two days from now the days are going to start getting longer. If that isn’t a bang-up reason for a celebration I don’t know what is.