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New Years Ball - falls at 8pm

Apparently, an entire decade ends tomorrow. Since I’ve spent 7 of the last 10 years in school, I’d rather not dwell too much on that. Since one of those years was this one, I’d rather not dwell too much on this year, either–besides, I did that a few posts ago. Finding a job I like in a cool place makes up for the time and money spent on my MLIS. … I think. :D

But, you know, 2010 looks promising, from here. I’m getting [legally] married to a wonderful person–and possibly also ceremonially married, though signs point to that not happening until 2011. We’ll spend our first year in Anchorage, Dale and my new friends will meet and become friends (I assume); and we’ll all keep making new friends, as well. He’ll hopefully find a job he loves, or else get a job he likes OK and go back to school, or–well, there are a lot of options right now. A few good friends are getting married, and we’ll get to visit them and also our families in the spring. We’ll do some traveling around Alaska–at least the drive down to Homer (hopefully with friends) and the train down to Seward, but I’d also like to see Mt. McKinley up close, visit Fairbanks, and finish the last of the Alaskan Highway. I’ll also get to meet a bunch of Alaskan librarians at the AkLA conference, which I’m pretty psyched about, and, that same weekend, Dale and I will get to experience our first Iditarod. (No, we’re not driving a sled. But we’ll watch them run through town, anyway!) I’m hoping that 2010 will also see us get back into geocaching, homebrewing, and (for me) guitar. I’m also hoping I really like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, both of which I hope to try before long. And I’m hoping that, once fall comes, people take us berry-picking, or we find a place for it, ourselves, and I learn to make jam. Oh! And I’m hoping we learn to fish and therefore get to eat lots of fresh salmon. And I hope to become a reasonably accomplished gardener, hopefully with Dale’s help–though that’s a multi-year project.

Looking further down the line, this being a decade-ending New Years and all, by the time the ’10s are over, both Dale’s and my student loans will all be paid back–hopefully long since!–and we’ll most likely still be driving our 10 year old Subaru around Anchorage (or Seattle or, well, I’d imagine somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, anyway, but that’s hard to predict, just with the knowledge I have now) and, I hope, parking it at our very own house at the end of the workday. I also hope we have a goat, two chickens, and a hypo-allergenic cat, but that’s maybe moving outside the realm of the likely.

And, bringing in the timeframe, a bit, tomorrow night, unless this cold totally owns me, it looks like I’m having a laid back evening of beer brewing with friends. Should be a nice time.

I admit, I thought the holidays would be really tough; I’ve spent Thanksgivings away from family, but never Christmases. However, to my surprise (and happiness), they really haven’t been that difficult. I got to spend Thanksgiving with a really nice family, and I’ve spent at least part of every day of the Christmas 4-day weekend with friends. I also Skyped with Connecticut family for almost 3 hours on Christmas morning, which made me really feel like a part of their holiday celebrations. (Then I took a nap. Then I went to my friends’ place for, though I don’t think anyone called it that, an “orphans’ Christmas dinner.” That is, those of us not going anywhere for Christmas got together.)

Actually, the problem I’m running into is that I need to spend more time at home, to clean and organize for Dale’s arrival. (I’ll see him in 19 days! And we’ll fly back here in 28. But there’s no apartment-cleaning time in between those dates, obviously, so I should get on that cleaning thing.) I was a good bird-mom and cleaned the bottoms of both the cockatiel and parakeet cages, today (then turned the air filter on high and took a long shower). A more thorough cleaning will be in order, eventually, but they seem happy to have at least that done. Or maybe they don’t care, but I feel better about it. I’m hoping to get a good deal more of the housework before me done, next weekend.

In winter news, I’m still sleepy all the time, and I’ve noticed I’m unusually quick to get grumpy. It’s not depression, but it’s not normal, either. I’ll up the vitamin D and use a full-spectrum light (instead of a blue light), to see if I can improve that at all. I’m actually sitting in front of one, now, while I write this, in hopes of staying awake through the movie I’m going to see tonight. Also, some coworkers talked me into renting cross-country skis, so hopefully I’ll try that out this week. I know my body wants exercise, because I feel much better just from an outdoor walk across [part of] campus. It’ll be nice to have Dale up here to go geocaching on a whim and walk some of the trails with me; it’s not going to help that much with the wildlife, honestly, but it still feels safer to have another person with me when I go out.

It’s still really pretty up here–why, yes, we did have a white Christmas, why do you ask? :)–despite some above 32 degree temperatures. Some of the roads are pretty much clear, while others have thick enough snow/slush to cause trouble. The plows have been through, at least on most streets and parking lots, making some impressive mountains of snow; I’ll try to get pictures that show the scale of it.

Anyway, I’d been stressing about the holidays, and, like so much of what I stress about, there was no need. I missed people, definitely–still do–but I wasn’t left to feel lonely. It was all OK. Good, even.

Today we get something like 10 seconds more light than we did yesterday (so says a coworker on Facebook, anyway :)). Civil twilight, start to end, both yesterday and today, was/is 9:12-4:44. Tomorrow it’s 9:13-4:45 (not much extra time, but, oddly, it’s later). Christmas Eve and Christmas, 9:13-4:46. New Year’s Day, 9:13-4:54. Dale’s first day in Anchorage, 8:48-5:36. So, yeah, we’re getting there. Though I’m told the “real cold” kicks in between now and February? At least, my complaints that I can’t see if the Aurora Borealis is occurring, due to cloud cover, are met with laughter and “wait until it’s too cold for clouds.”

Here’s the view from my office–blurry, sorry–at 4:10pm, yesterday.

And I’d promised some snow pictures, which I now realize have been on my camera, not posted. Sorry about that. These are all tree pictures, except for one that takes in the whole parking lot. Before it snowed, the trees were covered in hoarfrost and … more hoarfrost? I don’t know if there’s a term for the frost layer left behind by freezing fog (which, I’ve been informed, is different than ice fog), but there was a lot of that on all of the trees, already, before the snow started. I think it helped the snow stick better.

I also took a couple of pictures of the trees today, for reference, so you can see how pretty they stay even after the bulk of the snow blows off. (And I will try to remember to get pictures of the mountains, now that a lot of the snow has blown off of them, as well. They were all white, but no longer!)

I’ve been drinking some excellent mead, decorating my cute mini-tree, and listening to Christmas carols–and my parakeet, very adorably, singing with them. And while I was tooling around on the Internet, I read some blog post that got me thinking about year-in-review posts. I haven’t done one since I was a LiveJournaler–so maybe last year, but more likely, it’s been since the year before. Anyway, I thought I’d give it a try, since my year’s been pretty straightforward, in terms of things happening and personal growth.

I’m still hoping Dale will post something about his move and his thoughts and such, though I suspect it might not take this form. Maybe he’ll do it when he gets to CT and the holidays are behind him. :)

So, let’s look at January 1, 2009. I was about to start my second, of three, semesters of library school. I was worried about job prospects, I was tired, I was sick a lot (with no insurance), but I was hopeful that it would all work out, as far as librarianship went. On New Years Eve Dale and I hosted an “alternate” party, with Rock Band, board games, and only moderate drinking (well, for most attendees–a few were hilariously inebriated, but nobody was dysfunctional), but we still went to brunch on New Years Day with a huge group of people, including a few I cared (still care) dearly about and a few whose relationships with me would best be described as “mutual detestation.” (WordPress/Firefox seems to think that’s a word, so I’ll go with it.) The bulk of the people there were somewhere in between–vaguely positive, vaguely negative, and neutral. It was a poor choice for a January 1 activity, when my superstitious upbringing tells me “the way you spend the first day of the year is the way you spend the year as a whole.” I guess it sort of held true, in this case, but who doesn’t spend some time with people they love and some time with people they strongly dislike, in any given year?

I don’t think I burnt a good luck candle or ate cabbage or kept back a dime, that day. Things came out remarkably well, given that. Although the financial stability of the lucky dime would be welcome. :D

Anyway, the bulk of the year was eaten up by library school and the work I did to supplement library school. I was stressed out and sick a lot. Dale put up with a lot from me–the man’s a saint. I eventually found myself with a number of phone interviews for jobs–not nearly as many interviews as applications sent–and two in-person interviews, one of which, as you know, ended in a great job in a new place, hence this blog’s existence. So I guess the middle of the year can be described as “eaten up by finishing library school and preparing to move.” That brings us up to September.

Before I left, I proposed to Dale. We’d been talking about marriage for a while, mostly weighing its pros and cons, from a practical standpoint, as well as the moral/ethical side of going through a legal marriage when so many of our friends and family couldn’t. (Frankly, our finances and life decisions have been tied together for years. It’s not like marriage is going to be a big change in our relationship. He’s moving to freaking Alaska for me–what more commitment could one ask for?) But, by the end of September, we were pretty much agreed that a legal marriage could be ethical and would be wise, with us so far from family. So, actually, quick future note: we’re planning to get legally married in Connecticut in January. The ceremonial part will follow–most likely in October 2011, given the two weddings and a conference we’re already trying to attend in 2010. I guess it’ll be funny for folks up here, as, right now, I refer to Dale as “my boyfriend” or “my fiance” or “my significant other,” or, much more often, “Dale,” with no explanation, which is not very helpful–but by the time he gets here, I guess the word is “husband” (though I’ll still keep just calling him “Dale” most of the time and being unhelpful). Funny.

Anyway, I wander. So, we’ve been living separate lives for about a third of this year, though, at the same time, we’ve agreed to join lives more legally. I won’t lie: living apart has been tough. I’ve stopped wanting to go to movies or out to places where people are dancing, because those things make me miss him more. But I guess it’s built character. I know it’s helped me fully realize that living the rest of my life without him is an awful, awful prospect. It’s definitely given me the freedom to make friends, without having Dale to rely on and be antisocial with. :) (I joke. But it’s always easier to talk to the person you know than to reach out to new people.) That last point will make his transition to life up here both easier and harder–I’m part of a social circle, and I have a few other friends scattered around, and that gives him some default people to hang out with. But it’s not like he knows them or shares my comfort level with them–or them with him–so I guess that may be harder for him (and them), in some ways. I continue to hope that it’ll all work out, though. He’s way more likable than I am, so if these people put up with me, they should have no problem with him.

I guess the last third of the year has been mostly social readjustment. I mean, there’s the whole learning-to-be-a-librarian thing, which I probably shouldn’t downplay, but that’s been going fairly well, if more slowly than I had expected/hoped. I’ve got a grasp on how to do the bulk of my job, and I’m getting more adjusted to the workplace “politics” (a strong word for what they really are). Nothing surprising there, really.

But I’ve made some really excellent friends, here, and I think that’s worth calling out. I mean, my gamer friends and coworker friends have, for lack of better terminology, adopted me. I’m just this kind of hapless geek from the east coast, and they took me in and invited me to their social gatherings and treated me like I’ve been here forever (at least until I try to talk local politics, in the case of the gamers :D). I’ve had promises to teach me to fish, to make jelly, to get to various places in Alaska–it’s been great. And I feel really grateful to have found such great people, who are so welcoming. If I’d moved from here to the east coast, I’d still be struggling, at least on average. (I’m thinking, especially, when I say “on average,” of my buddy Dean, who taught Dale and me to homebrew, when he barely knew us. He sort of took us in right away, despite living in Northern Virginia, a place that isn’t known for friendly people. He’d love the hell out of some of my gamer friends, for serious, and they him. And, to be fair, there are lots of people on the east coast who were really good to Dale and me. I’m not trying to diminish them at all; I think of them a lot, and I love them dearly. I always just figured we’d found the best, maybe 10 or so, people in the DC area, when I was there. And I lucked into a lot of good friends [and a few terrible ones] in Pittsburgh, when I got there the first time, thanks mostly to my officemate, Ben. So maybe it has nothing to do with where I am, but I’m just lucky about finding the right people. I didn’t expect to fit into life here so easily, honestly. I go through life just waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I’m what pessimists call “a realist.” I worried that this might be the place, finally, where I wouldn’t fit in, wouldn’t find good friends, and wouldn’t be happy. But it isn’t. I’m happy. I won’t say “I fit in,” in a general sense, because it’s too early to know, but I feel like I’ve found a good niche or two, and things are good.)

So, yeah, not an unlucky year, as they go! I got myself a job, made the drive safely, got settled in, and met great people. There was trouble with living spaces and with other logistics, which all seemed so important at the time. But it wasn’t. It’s been a good last third of a year, by all measures. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve gained perspective. And in early 2010, I’ll [more formally] gain some wonderful family, and Dale and I can start to make Alaska our home.

Good stuff, all around.

Now, I want you to have a happy solstice, happy Hanukkah, happy Christmas, happy Kwanzaa, happy Yule, happy day off work, and/or, of course, happy new year! I hope you all have as great a holiday season as I am, whatever you celebrate! If you’re traveling, do it safely. Give people hugs–you don’t know when they’ll move across a continent from you, or whether they moved across a continent to get to where you are. And everybody needs hugs. And get presents for your pets, or your friends’ pets. Pets need holidays too.

Be happy.


I know I wrote, a little while ago, about realizing I didn’t want to go out and meet new people anymore; I knew it was temporary and ascribed it mostly to winter, I think correctly. And I should point out, I never got fully anti-social, as I still enjoyed my gamer friends and coworker friends, but I wasn’t exactly living up to my own advice to get out of the house and meet a lot of social groups and make as many friends as possible, either. I mean, I walk that line between introversion and extroversion, even on a good day, so it’s always an effort. But it was an effort I wanted to put in when I got here and suddenly realized I no longer wanted to put in, at some point this winter. And this was not, I feel, entirely healthy.

Anyway, I bring it up mostly to point out that it’s starting to fade. I went to an Anchorage Tweetup–that is, a pre-arranged meetup of a bunch of people from Twitter–last night. MC ended up going with me, which was nice, because I had that extra impetus not to wimp out and someone to talk to when I got shy. But people were super fun–I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. And I’m also going to a geocaching event on Monday night–with bonfires! I’m pretty psyched about it, actually, even though I have yet to find a geocache in Alaska. But this success is a good reminder–my existing friends are all awesome, but it’s good to have friends for all of your hobbies. While these folks will game and brew beer and talk crafts and computers with me, they may not dig the geocaching, for instance, or having book talks. So I’m kind of glad to be getting out of that funk. (And I’m also glad that’s as far as that funk extended. “I don’t want to go meet brand new people” is hardly a stretch from normal-me.)

The whole weekend’s been good, so far! After sleeping in a bit to recover from the tweetup (and the constant exhaustion I’m feeling, probably due to so little daylight?), I met up with the gamer friends today, as per usual. We kvetched for a while, then headed out to the Celestial Meads open house. I feel like I should point out, everything at Celestial is good; some Raizon d’ Etre may even have made its way home with me. ;) Next stop was Taproot, the hippie cafe, where a local singer and her fiddler and guitar player were performing. That was fun, until the place got too crowded–I note the storefront beside them is empty and sincerely hope they’ll acquire it and expand! It really might have stayed fun, but I took the opportunity to head out with the bulk of the friends I came with, who were off to kvetch some more. And, bonus, I found out most of them are around on Christmas Day, which means we can hang out together. So I’m doing a geocaching solstice thing Monday, a pagan solstice thing on Wednesday or Thursday, “cyber Christmas” with Connecticut family and a Christmas get-together with friends on Friday, and then gaming or partying or something on Saturday. Awesome sauce!

Now it’s almost 3am. I should go to bed, but I’m having a hot herbal tea, both for hydration (mead and cold air will get you) and for sleeping help. So, while I finish, I’ll upload those moose pictures I promised. :)

As far as the last of the moving process, Dale should blog it (and maybe he will), but there’s happenings there. He’s now formally unemployed. (So, the search for computer programmer jobs in Anchorage begins in earnest.) He’ll head up to his parents’ place later this week–hopefully after some of that snow clears, on the east coast–and hang out there. I’m so super psyched about seeing him again and showing him around up here and introducing him to everybody! The birds will be happy to see him, too. :)

We have Alaskan license plates on George, now. I feel all self-reliant for getting the self-tapping screws in the right place and managing to drive them in with a Gerber tool, since we didn’t have a front plate in PA. Woot! I’d still like to come up with a vanity plate word/phrase, so that I can get the prettier plates with the Big Dipper and caribou, but that’s for the future.

Our tickets are purchased for the flights to and from Boston (sans Ella’s $100, which they charge on the day of), so Dale and Ella will get here on the 23rd of January. We might go home and nap and then go hang out with people, assuming either of us is conscious enough to drive. He can start meeting folks right away! And someone brought up the idea of having a welcome dinner for him, which I think might be fun.

In other news, we’ve almost paid off the credit cards from all of this moving stuff–by the time Dale gets his last paycheck, we’ll be at zero on that. His rent was almost the same as my student loan payment will be, so I think our finances will balance, even if it takes him a while to find work. We’ll have to stay in the 1-bedroom (or move to a 2-br within the same too-noisy-for-the-birds building) and go without some of the furniture and kitchen things we might like to have, but it’ll all be OK.

Oh, and I have a couple of friends who aren’t going anywhere for Christmas, so I think the three of us will hang out on the day itself, after I’ve done my Skyping with Connecticut family and calling Virginia family. Plus, there’ll be a friendsy shindig on the 26th, as well, with either wassail or East India Company Official Punch (I might have that name wrong) and all sorts of leftover Christmas treats. Fun times!

So, lots of good stuff coming up. And now I’ve got to put in some time making things, so I can send them out as presents. :)

I knew the weather here would be different than the weather anywhere I’ve lived before, but I had no idea I’d actually find out about entirely new [to me] weather phenomena. Last night, we had ice fog, which I didn’t even know was a thing. I guess I suspected it, when they were calling for fog earlier in the day, and I said to somebody (wish I remembered who), “Isn’t it too cold for fog?” But, yeah, as the Wikipedia article I linked suggests, you get little sparkles in the air, like very fine snow that floats instead of falling. It’s pretty! And I think it’s making the trees really pretty, too–though that might just be plain old hoarfrost (“plain old” as in “I’ve seen it once or twice before”). But pretty though it was, it was also nasty to drive in. It looks like it’s sticking around, so the evening commute might be similar to last night’s.

Winter up here makes me wonder whether there really are cultures with multiple words for “snow.” The one word is just not sufficiently descriptive… Which isn’t to say it’s been insanely snowy–right now, it’s not even particularly deep, though we have some buildup in berms along the roads–but it just seems like this huge part of life, much more so than for anywhere I’ve lived. I was talking to Dale’s mom, and she was all hopeful that they might get snow, which surprised me for a second; it’s easy to forget that not everywhere is like where you are at any given time, I guess.

While there’s not really deep snow, and most of the roads are worn down mostly to pavement, the parking lots, at least at work and at home, are all ice. As dorky as I feel, I put on spikies to get from home to work and back–I take them off when I’m parking at commercial establishments, because many of those parking lots are better. Also, I’d rather that not everybody in town find out I’m clumsy enough to need spikies… This would be a terrible place to live for somebody with mobility problems (beyond simple clumsiness), I think.

Anyway, I put my camera in the “take this home!” pile. So hopefully I’ll get you some pictures of the pretty trees. I do have one of the fog, from my office, which I’ll share later in the post. And I may go driving around, trying to find the municipal snow dump sites–apparently these things get HUGE. So much so that, in late summer, there will still be snow at some of them.

The other thing that happened is that I left my defroster on “3” (out of 4) as I was driving in to work. I don’t usually do that–once the ice is gone, I flip it to blow on hands and feet, but I forgot today, to my detriment. The windshield crack is now going epic. Check it out:

In other news:

We’re getting close to solstice. More light will be nice, in a month and a half. :D I’ve been dreadfully sleepy, the past couple of weeks, and I’ve been using the light box for almost an hour, total, over the course of the day–once in the morning, once in the afternoon. I’ve also left it on for the birds while I’ve been getting ready to go, the last couple of mornings, which they seem to like.

I’m decorating for Christmas (with the help of Dale’s mom, dad, and sister, who are awesome and sent me a bunch of decorations)! I don’t have all of the presents picked out or purchased, yet, so that’s part of my plan for this weekend. I need to be up early enough on Saturday to get to Natural Pantry and some other places before heading out to game with friends.

And I’m now getting really antsy about Dale getting up here. If nothing else I’m ready to have someone to talk to in the evenings, without having to go places, which I’m too tired to do, by the time I get home–not that the birds don’t look forward to me getting home, but they aren’t the best conversationalists. I’m really looking forward to showing him around town and to having somebody (who won’t mind how slow and clumsy I am on icy paths) to explore the Campbell Creek Trail with me on weekends and to having a second bird-parent around. And I want to introduce him to my friends, who I think will then be our friends–I see no reason he won’t fit right in. And I know he wants to start his distance D&D game, which I still think of as “an experiment,” though he seems pretty certain it’ll work out well. And, yeah, it would be nice to know how the whole job thing’s going to go for him–I haven’t looked at Monster or Dice or anywhere else in a while, though I imagine he’ll start … well, hopefully immediately, but certainly as soon as Christmas is over.

As for the cockatiels, they went about a month with no problems, but had another night fright this weekend. I blame the noisy building. Both of them had feather-related injuries, which the vet took care of, and it seems like Phoebe bruised her tailbone (if birds even have those), or something–whenever anything touched her tail, whether it was Grace stepping on it or Phoebe herself brushing it against the side of the cage, she would cry. Both birds now seem to be on the mend. Francis just keeps on keeping on–no problems there, other than the seeds he’s thrown into my laptop keyboard.

I am so dreadfully sleepy.

It’s not even twenty days until the solstice, and at 3pm, it’s still fairly light out.

It’ll be getting dark within the next hour, hour and a half–and 5pm will seem like night. It’ll get light again a little after 9am.

I thought I was adjusting well, until I realized that, yeah, I’ve been tired all the time for the past couple of weeks. It might be the amount of light. I don’t know.

It’s also not that cold. It’s gotten above freezing, several days this week.

Anyway, the solstice is coming up. December 21, Anchorage – Civil twilight: 9:12am. Sunrise: 10:14am. Sunset: 3:41pm. End civil twilight: 4:44pm. (And on the 22nd, it’s all the same, except that sunrise and sunset *both* happen one minute later. For comparison, Pittsburgh – Civil twilight: 7:09am. Sunrise: 7:40am. Sunset: 4:57pm. End civil twilight: 5:27pm.) I think I may arrange to go home early that day, so that I can leave a candle lit through the entire night–I’ve always liked that tradition (or religious observation, depending), and it seems more important, up here, somehow.

It’ll be brighter out, again, by the time Dale gets here, than it is now. It may still seem a little weird for him, but not nearly as weird as it might if he were coming for Christmas.

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December 2009