28apr05: still OTR
Called ex-work today to ensure they'd gotten my huge
check for health insurance premiums this month and, when I learned they had, settled down to enjoy the rest of my family vacation. I got to my sister's on Monday pulling my new little orange roll-y bag behind me. I left my sister's place today and headed to my Dad's. When I went on my last trip for NJLA, I dragged a huge Samsonite hard-shell suitcase with me just to make sure that I finally hassled myself into getting some reasonable luggage for what is going to be a busy travelling Spring and maybe Summer. I'd been putting off the roll-y bag purchase, even though I had an IOU for a Christmas present and some good advice from other travelling friends. I finally dragged long-suffering Greg to TJ Maxx to make a final purchasing decision, and the orange roll-y bag was there to greet me. It holds all my stuff. It's easy to carry. It was cheap. It's not ugly, or at least it's not black and ugly. I feel like a bit of a tool rolling one of these around, but at least I'm not a tool with an aching back trying to keep dress-up clothes in a knapsack.
Yesterday Kate and I were looking for something to do in Boston. I typed "boston calendar" into Google and came up with my friend Andrea's Free Stuff to do in Boston
page. Kate and I went to the Peabody Museum of Archaology and Ethnology
. We saw the exhibit of photographs of Indian delegations to Washington
from the end of the 1800's and then snuck over to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to take a peek at the amazing glass flower exhibit
right before closing time. We got soaking wet in the deluge but it was fun to get to learn some stuff on a rainy day in a neat museum.
The talk I gave at Simmons on Monday went well. It, or the notes for it, is online here: Choice: Empowerment Through Information Technology [seriously]
24apr05: OTR = on the road
Sorry to bore you with the dollar amounts of my month last time. I get a little money-centered when the paychecks stop coming in. When I left my job, everyone asked me "what are you going to do next?" For a long time, I had no real answer, at least not in job terms. I said I'd do some travelling, catch up with friends, read some books, spend time with my family, all that stuff. These answers didn't seem to make people satisfied, and I realized the question was actually "What are you going to do for money?" and I felt like I had to tell people I had money in the bank -- not normally something I'd talk about -- to explain why I wasn't jonesing to get back to work. The board rubber-stamp approves me Wednesday, and I still need to interview with the local Tech Corps
gang, get fingerprinted and take my favorite pledge/oath
, for the second time. It was good having something solid to tell people, I think they liked to hear it. It's always been a confusion for me that the things that make me happiest [being out of work, rain, sleeping in, travelling, sitting still and listening] seem to be things that give others the fidgets. Not all others, but some ... many ... most?
It reminded me of back when I used to be a temp worker in Seattle. This was when it was hard to not
get hired in Seattle, and people would ask me "Why do you temp?" in that curious-envious-patronizing way. I'd say that I liked to travel, or that I didn't need to work more than two weeks out of every month so why bother....? This didn't always go over well so I started to get used to my fallback "I keep a day job so I can support my prostitution habit" I've got that giddy I-don't-have-a-job feeling right now, excuse my flippancy.
All I wanted to say here is that I'm leaving town for a few days, possibly up to a week, I'm not sure [The uncertainty? It makes me happy. I hear others dislike this kind of thing.]. I'll be in Boston, then maybe Westport MA, then manye Amherst MA. It's a kindness I do Greg, leaving town when he's having finals, so that he has time to spazz out over just one thing and not worry about whether he's being communicative, surly, friendly or anything. I'll be back in a while, and thanks to the joy of RSS, you'll know when!
22apr05: the work of non-work
Anyone who has known me for a while knows that staying busy is not one of my problems. This busy week of non-work has been filled with phone calls, paperwork and some insight into the social safety net. I qualify for unemployment
for, I believe, the first time ever. The amount I qualify for is approximately 80% of my take home pay which will, of course, be lower after taxes and whatnot. I qualify for health insurance through the state since my AmeriCorps job
[starting 5/1/05 with any luck] pays so little. Health insurance through the state
costs $65/month max. Health insurance through COBRA
costs $417/month. However, it may be the case that if I take unemployment benefits and accurately report my AmeriCorps earnings, I would eke into the income range where I couldn't get state health insurance and yet, by most peoples' accounts, couldn't afford COBRA. It's a $1200/mo. sweet spot that I threaten to fall into. Greg and I had an awkward discussion about getting married for health insurance benefits -- he's covered through school -- but it goes counter to both of our feelings about marriage, and health insurance. If we lived in any state besides Vermont [and maybe Mass. and hey, now there's Connecticut
!] we could be domestic partners for benefits' sake. I'm not complaining, it's just a "be careful what you wish for" scenario.
In other news of personal growth, I've been eating all sorts of crazy food
lately. I think Jeffrey Steingarten
is sort of precious with his talk about "food phobias
" since preference still plays a large part in what I eat. In fact preference plays a large part in many things that I do. That said, I've always been of the "well just taste
it" school and I recently had some good asparagus. In endeavoring to eat less meat, I brought home some tofu: silken for smoothies, extra firm for veggie burgers. It did not suck. I have stated before that eating tofu is like chewing on ones own hangnails. I'd like to retract that statement, at least partially. I've been trying to cook more veggie stuff. I'll usually start with those Fantastic Food
pre-fab food kits. Before long I've realized "hey this is just spices and chick pea flour!" and then I learn to make it myself.
I'll be in Boston next week for a few days, speaking at Simmons
on Monday night [6:30, free, open to the public], maybe seeing a lecture by the head of Wikipedia on Tuesday. Speaking of the wiki world, you may have noticed the list of links off to the left here. I now have my own entry
over at Wikipedia, the result of someone trying to write an entry for Jessamyn West
the writer and finding me more often via Google. A very lively discussion ensued
about my Wikipedia-worthiness, and since there was no consensus to delete, the article stayed. I didn't want to mention it earlier for fear of grandstanding. I've also been involved in small other ways, adding a few images and factual information to some of the Vermont town pages. I also built my own teeny user page
. If you've always been Wiki-curious, there are a lot of ways to help
18apr05: really gone
Today was my exit interview at my job where I supposedly really got to tell them what for. I was actually in a pretty good mood after a week's work/vacation and doing fun stuff
with my Mom so I sort of punted and focused on specific scheduling and technology issues and didn't talk as much about the systemic issues of morale and competency that I think also plague that library. How do you tell a library that you think they suffer from ennui?
In any case, the rest of my trip was great. Met a pal
I'd formerly only known online and found out he's nice in person too. Helped a friend I see far too rarely do something important
, got some alone time with just me and my car and some pesky pop radio to sing out loud to. Came back, went to bed, and my Mom showed up the next morning to mess about making an edible book
with me. The next day, we drove to Albany
and showed it off. You can see her pictures and my pictures here
Greg's easing into finals hysteria at about the same time as I am really freeing up some time so I've got to act quickly and find some things to do lest I turn into the all-purpose housemarm for a while. I'm giving a talk at Simmons' Library School on Monday evening the 25th, open to the public if anyone in Boston is interested. More from me when I'm a little more caught up on sleep. Tomorrow will be the first day in nine that I've had a totally open no-job-no-guests schedule.
14apr05: on hotels
I don't stay in hotels often enough to really understand them. This lack of understanding is exacerbated by exchanges like this one that I had late last night. I got a knock on my door somewhere between 8 and 10 pm.
me, opening door: "Yes?"
guy: "Oh hi, we had you scheduled as checking out today, I'm just checking to see if the room is vacant."
me: "Today as in this evening? No, I have a reservation through tomorrow."
guy: "Oh okay I'll make a note of that" [scribbles on clipboard]
me: "I'm sure I told them that when I got here. Are you removing my Do Not Disturb Sign?"
guy "I'm the night manager, I can do that. We thought there was no one in this room."
me: "Okay but I am here, can you put it back? You know the cleaning crew came through yesterday even though I had the sign up as well."
night manager: "Yeah sometimes they do that [lowers voice] they don't speak English very well..."
me: "But it says do not disturb on this tag in eight languages."
night manager: "So it does. You have a good night now!"
13apr05: national library week, on the road
It's rare that a series of speaking engagements in multiple states feels like a vacation, but that's the way the past few days have been. I met an amazing group of people down at Marlboro
, got to talk to students and librarians and some other folks who came for the talk. I stayed in beautiful houses with sumptuous guestrooms [pix on flickr in a few days] and met a lot of nice people. Then I went from worrying about getting stuck in deep mud on the back roads of Vermont to worrying about getting killed by insane New York drivers on the Garden State Parkway of New Jersey.
This evening I am at a hotel on the Jersey Shore messing with pictures, availing myself of free wifi and Windmill Burgers
. I went for a walk on the beach with my pal Carol
, and sat at a book-signing table with the gentleman who wrote The Irish in New Jersey
. We, of course, talked about Australia where both of us were in December. All the nice librarians I met over the past day and a half in New Jersey have headed home. My talk today went great and I had a lot of chances to say hi to people I've only known from online. If you're interested in what I was speaking about during National Library Week 2005, you can read both of my talks online. I'll have more to say once I've messed with my pictures, for now I'm just happy to be done and on the way back home, pleased and pleasantly suprised that things went so well.
At Marlboro: Librarian Eye for the Tech Buy: thinking about technology and libraries and Vermont all at once
At NJLA: Ten Tech Tools for Librarians: making technology work for your library not vice versa
11apr05: paper chain work
I brought in cookies for myself on my last day and made a paper chain out of my old schedules. It all worked out fine. I'll still come in to Rutland every month or so and do some book delivery stuff on a volunteer basis, otherwise I'm done. I made a deal with myself to stick it out no matter what for at least a year, and I made it all the way to the end of the 20 month contract. I'm proud of me. There are lots of complicated emotions wrapped up in leaving a job. I've rarely left a job because it was over. Usually I've quit, or moved. I don't think I've ever gotten fired, but that may just have been because I moved on before the inevitable could happen. I know I seem like sort of a spoiled whiner when I say this, but giving up 26 hours a week to someone else's control exhausted me and was something I just never got used to. I don't know how people with full time jobs do it, I really have no idea. I loved the work I did, got along well with most of my co-workers, and felt I made a difference in people's lives. What more could someone want?
And yet, the wild animal part of me hated, just hated, having limits on what I wore, when I could and couldn't do things, and what I said to people or wrote in print. Ceding parts of my own autonomy to people I didn't know well enough to trust -- though I grew to trust many of them over time -- was incredibly hard. I'm sure this in turn made me a difficult employee. I have no doubt that I'm not always a ray of sunshine to work with. I worry sometimes that this may make a future in libraries, which are notoriously conflict-avoidant, impractical. The ad for this new job said "part-time, temporary, flexible"
doing the same stuff that I loved at the recent job: teaching people how to use technology for what they need it to do for them. We'll see if that's a better fit, or if there's just something about me and the world of work that is always going to be a bit of a square peg/round hole situation.
You can't trust the weather out here, but you can trust the bird-indicators. I saw my first robin this week -- even though I had seen one in North Carolina a few weeks ago -- and this morning we looked out at the birdfeeder tree to notice that our friend the goldfinch
is now officially sporting his Summer colors
. Good luck on the mating thing, Mr, Bird, you seem to be a bit early this year!
The continuation of my Librarian Spring Tour
is this coming week. I get to spend National Library Week with librarians in Vermont and New Jersey and finish up with a small road trip with my Mom
to check out some edible books
. Last night we went to the offical renaming of my [just about] official next place of employment. Formerly called the Randolph Area Vocational Center it's now known as the Randolph Technical Career Center
. You can still learn trades like diesel maintenance
but they also have a tricked out graphic design center
and an awful lot of computers. I'll be using some of those computers to teach basic skills computing to people in the community over the next eight months or so. We went to the open house last night and learned that my soon-to-be boss has a law degree, sort of figures. There was some excellent food made by the students in the culinary arts program and the highlight of the evening was a raffle where they gave away a Corvette, a kayak, a cord of wood, and an ATV. More on the job when I have the signed paperwork in-hand, but can't you see that this might be a place for me?
I have been so busy reading about the Schiavo case and the death of the Pope that I hadn't even noticed that there is a large Ten Commandments statue in the city park in Rutland. Huh.
We had guests
all weekend and so have been busy eating food, watching basketball, and showing off our carefree rural existence. This is a little hard if you're listening to National Weather Service alerts
on your car radio telling you what roads are and are not flooded. The river is high and lovely. The ground is grey and soggy. I heard the neighbors out with their lawnmower today, somehow. I had forgotten how quiet
the Winter could be.
Other fun web tricks this week:
- Google Maps has satellite photos, here are some places I have lived, you may notice a lot of green and not a lot of houses.
- The Starbucks Delocator tells me there are no Starbucks, or any other coffee shop, near me.
- I am a guest editor over at Ourmedia this week. Anyone who has creative content they want to share, or who wants to look at what others are sharing, take a peek.
- I have been closely eyeing and enjoying the Wikipedia Votes for Deletion pages this week. Close readers may discern why.
Lastly, I may try to bring this site up using WordPress sometime this month. After my smashing success with librarian.net
, I've grown to believe that I may be able to enjoy a life free of hand-typing HTML and creating my own RSS feeds, maybe. This is just an advance warning to say that if something goes kablooey, well, I probably know about it.