June 2005 Archives

relocation blues

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Moving is hard. Even when it's temporary. Even when it's well-subsidized. Even when it's to someplace you want to go.

It's hard to feel at home in corporate housing. But there's no place to call home right now. Our house in Rochester has been emptied out, the house we'll be living in here will never be "our house" and is still occupied by its owners. I feel displaced, disconnected, discomforted.

I'm also feeling a bit isolated. My son is wonderful company, and we've enjoyed exploring the area--today we took the express bus into Seattle and wandered around the public market and library for a while. But I haven't had much adult company since we arrived, and I miss my friends back home. I'll be glad when my husband and older son arrive next week. I've probably used more minutes on my cell phone over the past five days than over the previous two months (happily, I have Cingular, which means I've got a ton of rollover minutes built up on my plan).

I'm sure that it will get better. I start work next week, and will have more adult contact. We'll start connecting with other families, and have some social interaction to help keep us all sane. But right now I still feel off-balance and out of place.

streets and trips with gps problems

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One of the reasons I bought the MS Streets & Trips with GPS for my tablet pc was to help me navigate around Seattle when we arrived. And it worked fine, for about a day.

Now when I start it up, it works for about 5 minutes, then dies. The software seems to be fine, but it claims that it's not receiving data from the COM port. When I run a device check, the GPS shows up and claims to be working. If I do a full reboot of the machine, it starts working again...for about 5 more minutes, tops. Then it stops again. If I unplug or replug the GPS receiver, the computer acknowledges it with a little sound, the way it usually does. So is it the GPS receiver itself? If so, since I've only had it for a few months, will MS replace it? How do I go about finding that out? Do I take it back to the MS store next week after I start work?

Can't find any information anywhere on how to isolate the problem. The documentation is next to worthless, and PC troubleshooting has so many different places to look--the application software, the drivers, the OS, the GPS manufacturer, the laptop manufacturer. Feh.

So much for the GPS helping me navigate Seattle. So much for me navigating Windows. Scoble, got any suggestions?

we found a house!

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Yesterday Alex and I went to take a look at a house we'd seen advertised on Craigslist. It had looked good online, but the dates weren't an exact match, and I wasn't sure if we could pull it off.

I was half sold before we got there, based on the photos and description, but was trying not to get my hopes up--in part because the dates weren't an exact match for our housing needs. Turns out there was no need to worry--the house is beautiful, the owners are a really nice couple going to Boston for a year (the husband received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard), and we were able to work something out in terms of the dates.

So, as of August 23rd we'll be living in Kenmore, WA, just north of Kirkland. (Looks like a 20-30 minute drive to work, which is totally manageable.) That means we'll have to extend our corporate housing stay for another month. Hopefully a 3-bedroom will become available--I suspect the close quarters here will start to be a problem after a couple of weeks. But even if we're "stuck" with the small apartment, we can't complain too much; it's like being put up in a hotel suite for a couple of months, with someone else paying the tab.

It's a huge relief to have the housing situation resolved. And the only downside is that the house is so beautiful that it will be hard to leave it in a year! (I've put photos up on Flickr, but they're only available to family and friends.)

leaving home and coming home

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Our new view!
Originally uploaded by mamamusings.
We left our Rochester home at lunchtime, and arrived in our Bellevue home at 8:30 local time...which was nearly midnight in Rochester.

The weather was perfect for flying, and we were on the left side of the plane--which meant Alex got a lovely view of Mt. Rainier coming in.

We picked up an SUV at the airport (thank you, Microsoft!), and I managed to find my way to the key pickup spot in Redmond, and then to the apartment in Bellevue (with a brief stop along the way for matching strawberry frappuccinos). We were exhausted by the time we got in, but when we opened the door we were greeted by this spectacular view. Wow.

On the down side, both of us seem to be having allergic reactions to the carpet cleaning chemicals they used here, the apartment is *really* small (no more than 1000sf, tops, with double beds in each of the two bedrooms, and a very tiny living room), and we seem not to have packed any of Alex's underwear or socks.

All things considered, those are pretty manageable problems. And hey...I found an open wifi network, so that makes everything look a little bit rosier.

And now, to bed.

down to the wire

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Just over 24 hours until Alex and I get on an airplane headed west.

We've got our temporary housing assignment--we'll be at an apartment complex called "The Seasons" near Bellevue Square, in a 2-bedroom penthouse apartment with a view of the lake. (They were very apologetic about the fact that no 3-bedrooms were available, but what we're getting sounds lovely.)

Best way to reach me will continue to be via cell phone--I'll be keeping my Rochester cell number while in Seattle.

Weez and Sally helped me pack boxes yesterday, and Eric helped Gerald move the old washing machine out of the basement. Today is suitcase-packing and kids-room-cleaning day. Got the windshield fixed on my car yesterday, and sold it to a friend today, and she'll pick it up tomorrow--one less thing to worry about. Friends have picked through the unsold garage-sale goods and taken the best of the lot home with them. VOA will pick up what's left sometime next week. Alex is having his friends over this afternoon for a going-away swim party, after which he's going to a friend's birthday party--all in all, a good note for him to leave town on. And I'm doing pretty well. I feel as though I should be more stressed than I am--it probably helps that I know that whatever I don't get done in the next day Gerald will have a week to finish up.

Expect more blogging once we get to Seattle, and lots of Flickr photos as we explore our new home.

See you on the other side...

*&^%$ server

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I wrote my response to the book meme last night, and tried to post it with ecto. I got an error saying that the server had killed the connection, so I tried again. Same thing. Upgraded ecto. Still the same thing. Copied and pasted the entry into the web interface and tried again--nothing happened. So I tried again. And again. Finally I gave up and went to bed.

This morning I finally upgraded my MT from 3.15 to 3.17 (a serious pain in the ass because I don't have shell access on my new host, so each upgrade directory or file has to be copied in individually using the web interface). Tried again. Seemed like nothing happened, so I gave up.

A few minutes ago Gerald came downstairs and said "However many times you tried to post that entry last night...they all worked."

What?!?

I logged back in, and damned if he wasn't right. 16 copies of the stupid post. So I deleted all but the last one. Sorry if it flooded your aggregator with duplicate posts before I rebuilt. I have no idea what caused that hiccup, alas, so I can't promise it will never happen again. Next time, however, I won't try quite so many times to post an entry.

book meme break

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Packing is killing my creativity. So today's post is a meme response, courtesy of Weez.

Total number of books I've owned
Shit. Thousands. Impossible to count. I'm the daughter of two professors, I'm a librarian by training, and I'm a packrat. There are probably at least 1000 in the house right now, many of them boxed in the study waiting to be moved to the basement.

Last book I bought
Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life
I walked into Borders last week on a whim, and this book caught my eye. I thought I remembered Joi writing about this Japanese concept of imperfection as beauty some time ago (but I can't find any evidence of it now...). I picked it up and started leafing through it, and loved what I saw. I ended up buying two copies...one for myself, and one to give to my son Lane.

Last book I read
See above. Also Blink by Malcom Gladwell, A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, and Getting Things Done by David Allen. (Am I a trend-follower, or what?)

Five books that mean a lot to me
Hmmm. This is hard.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Juster
I loved this book as a kid because of the sense of escapism that it provided. I loved it again as an adult, when I found more nuance in it, and then used quotes from the book to open each of my dissertation chapters. For example, for my chapter discussing qualitative vs quantitative approaches to my research topic, I used this passage:

Words and numbers are of equal value, for, in the cloak of knowledge, one is warp and the other woof. It is no more important to count the sands than it is to name the stars. Therefore, let both kingdoms live in peace.

The Last Fine Time, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
This is an extraordinary book, beautifully written, chronicling life in a working-class Polish neighborhood and bar in Buffalo during the 50s and 60s. It is the only book I can ever remember rationing in order to savor it...I didn't want it to end, so I'd only allow myself a few pages each night so that I could make it last. It's the best book you've never read.

Illusions, by Richard Bach
From the sublime to the ridiculous, I suppose. While Klinkenborg's book is a beautiful masterpiece, Bach is a writer of pop-culture bubblegum spirituality. Nonetheless, I read Illusions at a time when I some of its ideas really affected me. I still have it (I'm a packrat librarian, remember?), though I haven't read it in a long, long time.

The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, by Sherry Turkle
I first saw this book mentioned in The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog a Whole Earth Catalog book on communications (which I think was written by Howard Rheingold, but I can't find it online--I know it's in a box upstairs somewhere!) in 1990, and checked it out of the library. I fell in love with it, but it was already out of print. I ended up buying two copies at a used bookstore in Charlottesville, VA. It changed my view of the world of technology and made me want to study the way people used technology to make sense of themselves and their worlds. I'm delighted to see it's back in print, in a 20th anniversary edition. (I got a chance to meet Sherry Turkle at a PopTech conference a few years ago, and had her sign my book at the time. One of the highlights of my professional life thus far was being invited to a symposium last year in which she also participated.)

Sonnets from the Portuguese, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love this book? No need to count the ways. Is there any more eloquent depiction of romantic love?

Five people I'm sending this meme to
Clay Shirky, Seb Paquet, Caterina Fake, Foe Romeo, and Joi Ito.

fun things to do upon arrival in seattle

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Alex and I will arrive in Seattle the evening of June 23rd, and we'll have almost two weeks before I start work on the 5th. I'm looking for suggestions--what are the most fun things that he and I can do together during those weeks?

Top of the list right now is a visit to Pike Place Market, where he's really looking forward to watching the fish get tossed around, and eating fresh brioche at the french bakery. But I know there have to more things that will be fun for him, and I'd love to hear from people with kids (or grandkids, or friends) that age who can give us a good list. If there are web sites associated with your suggestions, feel free to link to them, so that Alex can do some exploring in advance.

Thanks!

i'm getting boring

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Nobody's said that to me, but I know it's true. Lately, my blog hasn't been much more than a "here's what I'm doing now" update. Useful to friends and family, but not particularly insightful.

Someone asked me at a presentation on Friday how much time I spend blogging, and the answer right now is less than an hour a week. It's no wonder I'm not turning out much of substance--I'm not putting much mental energy into the process.

Today I've been packing boxes. Yes, again. Yes, still. And I'm reminded of how much I hate this process of packing up. The frustration of having things look messier and more cluttered with every box I pack. It never makes sense. Shouldn't things look less cluttered as I pack them away? But there's a level of chaos that the packing process engenders that seems uncontrollable. I don't deal with that chaos well, so I end up cranky. And when mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy 'round here, alas.

I'm eleven days away from departure, and the gulf between here and there seems insurmountable today. Outside it feels like Alabama--90s and humid. The soaking rain from earlier today increased the humidity rather than reducing it, and the only saving grace is that our air conditioning still works.

Perhaps when life at home is less chaotic, life on my blog will gain some energy and creativity again. I hope so. In the meantime, I'll return to my sisyphean tasks, and will hope that at some point it will start to feel like we're making progress.

now you know my abc's...

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Via Alex Halavais, a quick little meme just right for a short break on a hot afternoon.

Alphabetize the songs in your current music rotation by title, then find the first song beginning with each letter of the alphabet--no artist doubles, though.

Here's mine.

A Day Without Rain, by Enya
Baba Yaga by Mussorgsky, performed by Rotterdam Philharmonic)
C'est Pour Ça, by Edith Piaf
D-Boi (Interlude) by Outkast
E Luxo So, by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz
Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa, by the Commitments
Galbi, by Abdi
Hack a 'Tit Moreau, by Canray Fontenot /Ardoin*Bois Sec
I Am, by Jonny Lang
Jackson, by Lucinda Williams
Kalamazoo to Timbuktoo, by The Chenille Sisters
L is for Lover, by Al Jarreau
Mack the Knife, by Bobby Darin
Naked to the Eye, by Mary Chapin Carpenter
O Morro Nao Tem Vez, by Antonio Carlos Jobim
PC's Jig, by Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor & Edgar Meyer
Quartet K.285 in D, Adagio, by James Galloway & the Tokyo String Quartet
Rag Mama Rag, by Little Feat
S'Wonderful, by Diana Krall
Tailor Made Baby, by Joe Williams
Unanswered Prayers, by Garth Brooks
V. Alcaniz (Festival), by Andrés Segovia
W.O.M.A.N., by Etta James
X-Tasy, by Missy Elliot
Ya Mama, by Fatboy Slim
Zodico Stomp, by Clifton Chenier

Funny how the french song titles bubble to the top of the lists, due to those contractions; I had to skip past several additional Edith Piaf songs after the first one to avoid doubles.

the serious packing begins

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For weeks now, people have been asking me how the packing was going. The truth of the matter is, it wasn't. It didn't make sense to me to drag the packing out over a several-month period. But now that I'm down to 2.5 weeks before my departure (3.5 weeks for Gerald), it's time to get serious.

I'm trying to actually sort through our belongings and do a lot of purging in the process--we didn't do that when we moved up here from Alabama, and as a result our basement was full of boxes of junk for years. So this time I'm filling trash bags with things that really aren't usable anymore, and stuffing boxes with garage-salable items. (Garage sale planned for the 16th-18th of June; in Rochester, it's typical for sales to go Thursday through Saturday rather than Friday through Sunday...)

Friday I spent a lot of time sorting out things from the kids' rooms that could be tossed or sold. Yesterday was music sorting day. I cleared out space on my hard drive, and have been ripping all our CDs so that we can store them rather than shipping them. Turns out we have more than I realized, and I'd digitized fewer than I thought already, so it's taking a while. I'm almost done, though. This afternoon I'll return to the kids' rooms to figure out what needs to be boxed up for storage or shipping. (Winter clothes to ship, books to store, etc.)

We've made yet another change in our travel plans. Alex and I are still going to fly out on the 23rd, and Gerald will still be driving out at the end of the month. But Lane will stay another week here with my mom, because he'd like to celebrate the 4th of July here with his friends, and will then do a solo flight to Seattle.

The fact that our tenants want the house furnished does help enormously. We've got plenty of box storage space in the basement now, and lots of moving boxes from the last time around (plus an offer of more from a friend who recently moved). So I'm really not all that stressed about the process. If I run out of time to sort and cull, we'll toss what's left in boxes and stick them in the basement. If the garage sale turns out to be unsuccessful, we'll call Volunteers of America and have them cart the excess away.

And in a month it will be over, and we'll be settling into Seattle.

my husband rocks (12th anniversary edition)

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Back in February, I posted about my amazing husband, who had bought me a PS2 for an early Valentine's Day present.

Well, he's at it again.

Friday is our 12th anniversary, but I have a conflicting obligation that night. We were trying to figure out what to do about it, when he reminded me that while our actual anniversary is June 3rd, our wedding announcements say June 2nd. (It's a long story.) So we've decided to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow.

The plan is to head out to Seneca Lake after the boys leave for school, rent a pontoon boat, and spend the day lounging in the sun on the lake. The only problem? How to listen to music. We no longer have a working boombox, most of our music is digitized, and headphones are so not romantic for a day on the lake.

Tonight he came back from running errands with an early anniversary gift--Altec Lansing InMotion speakers for me to use with my iPod. Such a lovely thought...but, unfortunately, my 1st generation (5GB) iPod won't work with them, since it doesn't have a dock connector. After I explained that, he looked disappointed, and said he'd take the speakers back tomorrow. But a few minutes later he walked back into the room holding another box...a pink iPod mini!!! Can I just say that it is, without a doubt, the absolute cutest electronic device I've ever owned? So as I type this entry, I'm copying music onto my new toy.

Yes, he rocks. Hard. Twelve years, two kids, lots of downs to go with the ups...but we're still here, still in love, and our marriage is stronger than it's ever been.

I was trying to explain to someone recently the difference between the intoxication of infatuation, and the happiness of a long-time love. It's hard to explain, really. Infatuation has energy and excitement. It's a high. It's like the first drop on the roller coaster--exhilarating and terrifying all at once. Long-term love is sweet and slow and solid and secure. It's knowing that someone knows you--knows all about you, knows what you like, knows how you think. Infatuation takes your breath away; love takes your fears away.

I'm a lucky woman--not because my husband buys me PS2s and iPods, but because he knows me well enough to know those are exactly the right gifts. Because after twelve years of marriage I still laugh at his jokes, respond to his touch, and look forward to a day with him on a lake.

new obsession

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I have a long-standing tradition of acquiring and becoming obsessive about a new video game during vacations and holidays. This summer is no different--except for the fact that this obsession is actually healthy!

We bought DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for Lane for his birthday, and it's turned out that I'm the one who's playing it nonstop. Calories burned today: 550 650 900! More fun than a treadmill, that's for sure.

As usual, obsessive game playing will take precedence over blogging, so don't expect to see too much of my here. (Plus there's that pesky packing problem to deal with, too, seeing as how we're leaving in a mere 3 weeks...)

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