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Did we mention we went to the state fair? Well, we did! Check out that 900 pound pumpkin!

There were also goats at a petting zoo! And chickens! And a reptile show and the Bird Man of Las Vegas!! And a million different kinds of food. … All very exciting and totally worth the $10 admission.

We didn’t go see Kenny Rogers, though.

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I drove into Alaska and Anchorage on September 11, 2009. I was exhausted, and the birds were completely distraught, one with an injured face and the other with an injured wing. I listened to the AM radio (my iPod having been lost in Canada somewhere) on the way in, and they were talking about a Mardi Gras festival happening downtown, which I decided I was too tired to attend. Even if I hadn’t, I was stuck doing paperwork with the Weidner lady (we all remember how THAT went–or maybe you don’t, but I sure do–in a word, “poorly”). I had vowed to go this year, but then I found out about an Intro to Orienteering class, followed by an intro to contra dancing get-together, and I figured I could use the exercise better than I could use the cajun food. So, on the Mardi Gras thing, as I’m saying to a great number of things right now, “Maybe next year.”

Anyway, the prize I mentioned in the post title is for being First Visitor to Come See Us in Alaska, and the winner is my dad! Yay! Round of applause! (“First Visitor to Stay With Us” is still up for grabs, though–he stayed in a hotel. ;)) He snuck in just under the year mark! We’ll post pictures from his visit in the near future. I forgot to ask if I could repost his YouTube video, which is a slideshow of the pictures he took. (Spoiler: his camera’s cooler than ours.) The highlight of the trip–besides just getting to visit, in general–was a 5-hour wildlife cruise out of Seward. We saw an otter, some Dall’s porpoises, cormorants, puffins(!!), a coastal mountain goat, a black bear, a (freaky-looking) jellyfish, and Stellar’s sea lions (which were hilarious). No whales were out that day, but black bear and mountain goat sightings are really uncommon, so I think we won, on balance. Not only that, but it was the prettiest day we’ve had in WEEKS. We even got a little bit sunburned! A big bull moose also wandered across the road as we drove through campus, and I made a crumble out of some wild blueberries Dale had picked (off the side of a mountain!), so it seems like Dad got the full Alaska experience.

Dad correctly pointed out that I haven’t blogged much this summer. Dale’s posted pictures a couple of times, but we haven’t posted much commentary about them. Sorry about that. We’ve been busy doing summer things. I suspect, as autumn continues (and you should have no doubt: it’s here already, in Anchorage), we’ll find ourselves indoors and at a computer more often. I may go back to spring and summer events, to write about them and give you a better idea of what a first year in Alaska is like. Or I may just move on and blog about whatever’s happening at the time. We have a couple of cool things planned for the winter: we’re volunteering for a political candidate; we may throw a Halloween party; we’re going up to Fairbanks to visit Chena Hot Springs and watch the Northern Lights for our sixth dating anniversary, in February; I’m visiting Juneau, also in February, for the Alaska Library Association conference; and … actually, that’s it. We’ll get up to more stuff, though, I’m sure. I have a couple of projects, which may or may not get blog time.

Here are a couple of not-quite-exhaustive lists, for people who are into that kind of thing…

Things we successfully did, over the year (with an emphasis on summer): going on the wildlife/glacier cruise; visiting the Sea Life Center and getting an awesome photo of a puffin, with a mat decorated by Mr. Puffin Himself; visiting Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle; visiting the Renaissance Faire; giving a talk at Drinking Liberally (that was all Dale) and convincing them that Approval Voting is the best thing ever; seeing the ceremonial start of the Iditarod; attending a geocaching event or two; seeing a glacier up close; and going to the Star Wars exhibit at the Anchorage Museum.

Things we meant to do this year (mostly this summer) but never got around to: visiting Homer; visiting the Zoo, the Musk Ox Farm, and the Reindeer Farm; visiting Mat-Su glacier; attending the Highland Games; seeing the real start of the Iditarod; going flightseeing over Denali; going on the 11-hour Denali bus trip; taking part in the Pride Parade and Coronation; doing lots of geocaching; getting a drink at Silver Gulch (the farthest north brewery in North America); seeing the northern lights; getting back into homebrewing; hiking Flat Top; going to Unitarian church; visiting Cordova (and the sea bird festival!); visiting Valdez; going salmon fishing; eating moose; and finishing the Alaskan Highway (OK, that was mostly me). There’s more on this list that we’d like to do, but a lot of this was in our vague year-long plan and didn’t happen.

Now that it’s been almost a year (at least for me), I suspect people are going to start asking us if we plan to stay. The best answer I can give now is, “Well, we don’t plan to leave.” Which is true. Neither of us really feels ready to swear on a stack of holy books that “I love Alaska enough that I promise I will never ever leave,” having only been through one winter and one summer–and, in Dale’s case, not even a full winter. But neither do we feel like going anywhere just yet. It’s at least as good as Pittsburgh was in most respects: we’re happy; we have great friends; we have an apartment that works well for us; we can afford to live here on the salaries we make; we have stuff to keep us busy. It’s better in a couple of respects: the summer, even when it’s “a crappy summer,” is soooo much better; the winter is less depressingly grey; the public transit is more reliable in its timing; the people are possibly the tiniest bit friendlier, on average; parking is not as bad, for most things; there’s a theater pub (the exception to the parking rule); we have room for a garden in our back yard. It’s short a couple of things: we miss our east coast friends and the ability to visit family over a long weekend, rather than a long week; 5 months of winter is a lot; a few things are a little hard to get, up here; I miss fireflies and thunderstorms (but do I miss them enough to endure 90 degree weather again? maybe not). On balance, though, it seems to us that Anchorage compares pretty favorably with everywhere else we’ve lived. There’s a lot that’s wonderful about this state, and as I said above, we still have a lot of it left to see. The prevailing political wind is frustrating, to say the least, but we’ve found a few little enclaves of like-minded people to socialize with and to keep us sane… and that was the case in PA and VA, as well.

So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s been a good year. We’re looking forward to at least two more good years before we feel compelled to make a decision about staying in Anchorage or looking elsewhere. (In an academic job, you give as much notice as you can; I’d want to give a year. And there’s no way I’m putting together even a practice tenure file–due in the fourth year–only to move the following year. If we stay four years, we’re staying at least six. :)) But, for now, the probability that we’ll choose to stay seems high. Ask us again in six months, though, after our second winter. ;)

I just finished the first book of the Healthy Book Club (uh, we may come up with a catchier name), The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I definitely recommend it! It got me thinking about eating locally and sustainably–and how hard that might be to do in Anchorage.

So, I figured I would share what I found with an evening’s Googling.

  • Here’s a list of places to get raw milk in Alaska. I wasn’t really looking for raw milk, but for grass-fed beef. http://www.realmilk.com/where1.html#ak – I kind of wish there were more information available on Lunachick Mountain Farm, such as the cost of a goat share (to get unpasteurized milk) or those “wickedly fresh chicken eggs.” They do, however, keep a blog, to which I’ve subscribed.
  • I have a request in to All I Saw Farm, to see if I can get on their egg delivery route. http://AllISawFarm.com/
  • Spring Creek Farm has CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscriptions available, in addition to pigs that have been raised ethically. They also offer classes: http://www.springcreekfarmak.org/
  • We bought a box from Glacier Valley this summer. They’re nice because you don’t have to buy a whole subscription, and you can say “I don’t like onions, but I like carrots,” or something similar, and they’ll try to fill in with more of what you like. (I wonder if they would leave out lettuces. I hate salads. All the lettuces are PRECISELY why I don’t subscribe to a CSA already.) In the off-season, they bring in organic produce from other small farms, Outside of Alaska: http://www.glaciervalleycsa.com/
  • Here’s something a bit like Craigslist (hence the name, I guess), with all kinds of fresh meat, produce, and eggs from all over Alaska. Not a lot right near Anchorage, but it gives me hope: http://alaskaslist.com/1/posts/14_Farm_Garden/83_Fresh_Products/
  • Information on “chemical-free gardening,” including composting (not ONLY applicable to Alaska, but she lives in the Mat-Su valley, so I assume it is at LEAST applicable here): http://www.goodearthgardenschool.com/index.htm
  • Permaculture. I don’t have a feel for these guys, yet (though I’m frustrated that they make you wait for someone to manually approve your account AFTER you have already verified your email address). They could be a great resource for learning to eat locally and live more sustainably in Alaska… if they’re willing to put up with people who want to start with baby steps and gradually improve, rather than going whole-hog into it from day 1: http://akpermaculture.wordpress.com/

Our farmers markets only go May through October. There are some indications that grass-fed beef and local eggs are available at those, which is great. But I’m not sure if local locavores do a bunch of canning or what to get them through the winter.

We had our first* earthquake yesterday–5.0 (up to 5.25, depending where you look), about 50 miles from our house. It shook the whole building, noticeably. But by the time we figured out what had happened, it was over!

A screen-capture of the USGS map, taken a few minutes later

The birds and chinchilla took it very well. They’re troopers.

*OK, others have happened, but they’ve all been smaller. We’ve failed to notice them.

Dale and I took part of a week and drove up to Fairbanks, then up to the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 33 minutes–the farthest south point where the sun does not set on the summer solstice), with a brief stop in Denali National Park on the way home. But this post isn’t about that trip, because we haven’t sorted through those pictures. This post is about the second half of that week, up through today. :)

We ended up home earlier than we’d planned to, when we took the time off work, so we decided to put the time to good use: we painted the other bedroom (which is where the birds and the TV live), bought and hung shelves, unpacked nearly all the rest of the boxes (mostly books and games) onto those shelves, and planted our garden in the back yard. We’re still short a few kitchen things, including a shelf to put the cookbooks on, and we need to get some kind of table for our plants (and possibly a printer) in the living room, but this apartment is feeling more and more like home!

I might take pictures for a “virtual tour” of our place, since not everyone’s going to be able to visit right away, but for now, here are pictures of our patio, the shelves in the spare room, and our garden!

Only half of the garden is ours. (It was freshly watered in the photos, so you can probably tell which half. Our landlords planted in their half the day before.)

This is a list of all of the things Alaska has that we didn’t have, in previous places I’ve lived. It’s a sister post to things I miss from places I’ve lived before. I’m leaving off obvious things like “my job,” for which I moved here, or “my friends,” who are awesome. And Dale’s list might differ from mine.

  • Beautiful mountains in 3 directions (though the mountains I grew up with were beautiful, and I love them, they didn’t demand attention in the same way)
  • Affordable housing within walking distance of work
  • Nearly 24 hours of light during the summer
  • Arguably the world’s best mead
  • A whole city of beer and coffee lovers–and enough microbreweries and coffee shops to suit them. The little coffee stands continue to make me happy.
  • No state taxes, no sales tax, and, starting in 2011, getting a PFD (flip side of that: things do cost more … for example, the value menu at fast food places is $1.50 instead of $1, and it’s a $6 footlong, not $5, at Subway–but state taxes were always more painful than federal, for some reason, especially with all the moving we did)
  • Moose (which are ridiculous!), magpies, ravens, and bald eagles
  • The Bird Treatment and Learning Center
  • Anchorage Market & Festival, Alaska Mill & Feed, Summit Spice & Tea
  • Tap Root Cafe (it’s a MySpace page with auto-playing music :/), Middle Way Cafe, Lucky Wishbone (not a website kinda place)
  • (it’s hardly fair, since VA had the same thing, with a similarly awful website, but we never once went there) Bear Tooth Theater Pub
  • (it’s not universal, but is a bit more common here) Space for gardening in my yard
  • Exciting enough fish that I actually want to learn to catch them!
  • A whole network of trails through the city (sort of a down side: you have to watch for wildlife, because they’re kind of dangerous)

I haven’t been to the Seward, Fairbanks, Homer, or any of the other drivable parts of the state (unless you count Tok … but what’s in Tok?), so more things will end up on this list. The Sealife Center seems like an obvious one. Possibly the AK Railroad. As soon as I see it, I’m sure the Aurora Borealis will be on the list. Along with puffins and otters! The zoo, reindeer farm, musk ox farm, and other touristy places I haven’t yet visited are also real possibilities. Maybe I’ll revisit this list after summer. :)

I guess my point, in making these dual lists, is to point out that I definitely do miss some things, but there are a lot of things I’d miss if I left here, too. And I want to give readers from the Lower 48 some idea of some of the stuff here (and vice versa, if I have any readers from AK). Different places are, you know, different.

This is a list of things I miss about places I’ve lived in the past, now that I’m in Alaska. (Seems appropriate to post it on this snowy day in April.) It’s a sister post to things AK has that those places didn’t. I’m leaving out obvious things like friends and family that I knew I’d miss. Also, Dale’s list might differ from mine.

  • Cherry blossoms; crocuses; general spring flowers, or even grass, in April (it flurries, sometimes, during graduation here, for real)
  • Being able to use free night-time calling on my mobile (everyone lives east of me, now)
  • Being able to drive to the next state over (in less than a day!)
  • Being able to order online without worrying that 1) they won’t ship to me (I’m looking at you, Amazon’s Home & Garden section) or 2) it’ll cost $50 for them to ship it to me.
  • Lizards, possibly robins (I’m still hoping we get robins, but somehow I don’t think we do)
  • (Pittsburgh) The National Aviary
  • Gas under $3
  • Red Lobster (specifically, their cheddar biscuits and crab alfredo – my dad once sent me a recipe book that had the cheese biscuit recipe in it, and it’s not a bad approximation; no luck on the crab alfredo, though I might look for clones online)
  • (Pittsburgh) Alexander’s gorgonzola basil sauce (again, I have a recipe to work with, though it’s basil-free), The Square Cafe, Quiet Storm Coffee, Rita’s water ice, Mad Mex … Even Kiva Han, despite their poor climate control.
  • Chipotle (we have Qdoba, and I’ve more or less forgotten that I like Chipotle better, but still)
  • (Pittsburgh) Phantom of the Attic (comic and game shop–felt friendlier than Bosco’s)
  • (VA) Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s (Pittsburgh had 2/3, but we never really went to them–always too busy or too broke) … oh, and (DC) Eastern Market!
  • (VA) The Skyline Drive – weird thing to miss, given how little time I spent on it in my adulthood, but it was nice that it was there, you know? … not that we lack for beautiful drives, here, but the speed limits are higher, on crappier road surface (not necessarily AK’s fault–frost heaves are hard to fix)
  • (DC) The National Zoo, the Smithsonian, and the Baltimore Aquarium

This list is going to seem longer than the other, and, to be fair, it is. There’s a lot to miss. I spent [well] over 20 years on the east coast, and despite its climate [miserable winters AND summers] and air quality, I especially loved Pittsburgh. And, yeah, I missed some of the VA things while I lived in PA and vice versa. It’s different, being a full day’s flight away from it rather than a 4.5-hour drive, though, hence my listing it all together.

And that day of flying really is more frustrating than I had anticipated. Just the flights to and from the east coast eat up two full vacation days, each trip. Even a flight to or from California is a large portion of a day. And I just didn’t have any concept of that, really, before I got up here. I mean, my interview flights took for freaking ever, but it didn’t occur to me that we’re still pretty far from much of the west coast, too. It’s hard to get across just how remote it is, despite being a city and shipping hub. (It seems like every Mac purchased in America comes through here.) One rock slide could make ground transportation from the Lower 48 impossible, at least temporarily, and that’s sort of freaky.

On the bright side, nearly every dollar Dale and I spend counts toward air miles, so, although it’s still expensive to get anywhere out of state, we do get some breaks.

And by “this blog should be pretty quiet for a couple of weeks,” I clearly meant “neither Dale nor Coral will be posting for a whole freaking month. And when Coral does manage to pull together a post, it will be through the haze of cold medicine and late-stage-plague dizziness.” Luckily, it seems from my Facebook and Twitter streams as though you’ve all managed to carry on with your lives, even without constant updates on our Alaskan adventures. :) It also seems like moving to Alaska was a good way to avoid multiple feet of snow. Wow.

Anyway, as you can see, the trip to Boston and Connecticut and back was successful! Ella the chinchilla was a little fuzzy trooper about the plane trip. She seemed annoyed, more than anything, and since we were, too, we can hardly blame her. Alaska Airlines has little pieces of paper that they give you, to let you know your animal is on board, which is nice; that said, everyone we came into contact with, from gate agents to flight attendants to security people, thought the policy allowing rabbits, cats, dogs, and birds into the cabin (and explicitly excluding similar, quieter, less allergenic animals like chinchillas) was idiotic. We were encouraged, multiple times, to complain. And I think we will. At any rate, Ella’s cage came in checked luggage, which ended up being cheaper than any of the other options we’d considered–more obvious, perhaps, too–so we set it up before collapsing into bed, the night we got into town. She was totally calm until she realized that was her cage we were setting up, and then she started struggling to get out of the travel cage and into her home. Within a day or two she was 100% back to normal. Now, she plays every night in the hallway and bathroom, and she’s happy.

As for humans, Dale and I are legally married, though we haven’t filed any name-change paperwork. (I think maybe we’ll go by the DMV and Social Security Administration tomorrow. I’m hoping they don’t give him trouble about hyphenating. Alaska Health and Social Services makes no gender distinction in their name-change-after-marriage information, and I plan to hold DMV and Social Security to that.) We’ve posted pictures of the mini-ceremony, with our fantastic Justice of the Peace, here. There’s a video posted on Facebook. (I can’t email it, because it’s too big a file. 85MB, compressed. And iMovie won’t edit .MPG files. And I feel weird having the whole video out on the unsecured Internet, for some reason. So, um, if you don’t have Facebook and want to see the video… we’ll figure something out, OK? Probably snail mail.) Anyway, as you can see from the photos, we had a few witnesses from his family–though not everyone who would have wanted to be there, in part because the living room was already full, in part because we disallowed anyone traveling, and mostly because this wasn’t ever supposed to be a big thing (the ceremony was less than 5 minutes!). Although Dale’s mom got him a corsage and me a bouquet of daisies (which was incredibly sweet and kind of makes me tear up to think about), it really was a short, informal thing. We only have as many lovely photos as we do because we have a talented sister[-in-law] and brother-in-law who were willing to take them. We’re going to do a more formal/ceremonial/celebratory thing in October or November of 2011. (Not much more formal. Much bigger and more celebratory, though.) We’re working on choosing a date and location (east coast), so we can send out very early Save the Date messages. (We may do a second, smaller party for our Alaskan friends, unless they’d like to come to the east coast and meet our east coast friends and family, which would be awesome. But expensive.)

Back to the nominal point of the blog–the move to Alaska–we spent our first few days [back] in Anchorage exploring. I drove Dale down to Girdwood and to the Alyeska resort–the drive down the inlet was my first view of the area just outside Anchorage and seemed like a good place to start him off, too. Sadly, the clouds started coming in, so we decided to drive back into town, rather than heading down to Portage. I will see that glacier, though! Anyway, he’s going to post soon with all of the pictures he took during that trip. And I think a couple of pictures of the birds misbehaving. (Aww, so much screen time for Ella, and I didn’t mention the birds! They did fine. We had a fabulous bird-sitter, who took good care of them. They seemed to have a little bit of cabin fever–she wisely did not let them out of their cage–but they got over that soon enough and quickly adjusted to having a full flock in the apartment. They’ve been ever so poorly behaved since Dale’s been around. :))

We also got Dale a heavier coat, which seems to be doing its job admirably. And he met–and seems to get along well with–most of the friends I’ve made up here. (That sentence made it sound like he doesn’t get along with them all, but I think he does; he just hasn’t yet met them all. :)) So, that’s nice. We’ve been to Taproot twice, Middle Way not at all, Glacier not yet, Moose’s Tooth once, Bear Tooth not yet, and friends’ houses now and then. He doesn’t love Summit Spice & Tea or the Quilt Tree like I do, but I can’t fault him for that. His impression of Bosco’s seems to be similar to my own.

Actually, I assume Dale will talk about what he thinks about Anchorage in his post. “Holy crap, mountains!” gets said a lot. :) I don’t know if he’ll talk about the job search or not, other than to acknowledge there is one.

Oh, hey, there’s an apartment search, too. It’s been disappointing, so far–our current place won’t do, between the stompy upstairs neighbor and the smallness of a 1-bedroom, but 2-bedrooms are slow to open up in our building, especially third floor ones. Outside of our building, we saw one awesome and one mediocre apartment–actually, the mediocre one was awesome inside, but it was in a really inconvenient part of town. And the awesome one got snapped up by someone else. There’s one really perfect one opening up soon–they are apparently having an open house on Saturday–and we’re hopeful about that, despite the apparently huge amount of interest people are showing in it. But we may just have to keep toughing it out until something better opens up in our building or the semester ends (ah, college towns). Part of me hopes we can finish out our current lease in a better apartment within our building–uncovered parking, creaky building, loud heaters, and awful coin-op washers and dryers aside–because it’s hella expensive to buy your way out of a Weidner lease. Keep that in mind if you’re ever moving into Anchorage, for sure. Also, our landlady is pretty nice, and the maintenance guy, despite being overworked, is also really nice and very effective. So, you know, that whole thing is up in the air.

Aside from the living situation and this plague, though, I have to say things are pretty excellent. Keep your fingers crossed–and ears open, if you live in Anchorage–about job stuff for Dale, but I’m pretty hopeful, there.

Is it weird to feel like a loser for flying back to the east coast, so soon? … Probably is weird, seeing as how I’m not staying there, or anything. But, I dunno, I got so lonely for people and things I knew, a while back, that I still feel a little, you know, sheepish.

I’m not dressing up as much for this ALA as I have for previous ones. I intend to be recognized by my awesome monkey hat (which is my icon on Twitter and Facebook), so it seems silly to be dressed to the nines. I’ll wear denim skirts, most of the weekend. I figure nobody trusts an over-dressed systems librarian from Alaska, anyway. It’ll technically be my second ALA after employment, but since all I had was the verbal offer, last ALA, it’s very different. So, I’m looking forward to that. And since most of the networking activities are in the evenings, I can segment my days really nicely, leaving Dale to his own devices for most of the daylight hours and dragging him along to socials and the like at night. (I do sort of wish there were a little more open time on my birthday proper. I may declare it a week or two late, this year, to celebrate on my own terms. :))

My most excellent bird sitter is more or less trained. She is (reasonably, I think) afraid to let them out of the cage, so they’ll be cooped up for a week and a half. Since their wing feathers are growing back, and even I have trouble with them when they’re re-learning to fly, this is really for the best. To stave off boredom and anger, I got them some toys to destroy, so they should stay reasonably entertained. Even Francis has a new toy, despite being quite happy inside his cage all the time. He’s delightedly tearing it apart now. (Didn’t want to wait until I left to introduce them, in case they freak out at them. Every other toy terrifies the cockatiels, when I first put it in.) Anyway, she’s stopping by again tomorrow, to get them more used to her, which I think shows really awesome dedication. I’m super glad and grateful that she was willing to watch them!

Still not sure what I’m doing with the car. Since the plow sometimes comes through our parking lot, and also my bird sitter needs a place to park, using my own spot is no good. A coworker says she has a large driveway, and I can store it there. I’m definitely tempted to take her up on that! And a friend said he could give me a ride to the airport, though I have to check and see if that’s still true. (He also said he could give us a ride back from, but given how much stuff we’ll have with us, including a chinchilla, I think we’ll cab that part.)

But, yeah. I’m a little behind on packing, but not miserably so. I’m dreading the flight (Alaska’s one big down side is that you almost have to fly to get out), but looking forward to the trip as a whole. It’s weird that I’ll be, you know, legally married when I get back up here. But not nearly as weird as Dale, getting married and then moving to Alaska in a matter of 2 days…

Anyway, this blog should be pretty quiet for a couple of weeks. But I’ll (or maybe he’ll) post when we get back.

That’s how long until the move is “over,” for all intents and purposes. In reality, it’ll probably drag on a bit past that, as more boxes come in and Dale gets a job and we find new digs. But it’s as good a line as any, right? … Not that I really plan for the blog to stop then. I think there’s probably value in posting about the first year here, for people who might be thinking of moving up here and for friends and family who wonder what it’s like, since Alaskan summer is just as weird as Alaskan winter. (Then again, it’s become a little more about life and a little less about life in Anchorage, in a lot of ways, so maybe it’s only of value to friends and family, anymore. Maybe we’ll refocus, once ALA is done and Dale is here. I’m all full of thoughts and stuff, with everything that’s coming up in the next two weeks! … And, hey, maybe Dale will post what he thinks. Moving in the middle of winter is a very different thing than moving in early autumn, right?)

More important than the number 17 is the number 8. That’s how many days it is until I see Dale. … Not going to get gushy, here; I try not to be that type of gal. But, seriously, moving–nay, driving across a continent–to a new place without my SO of [roughly] 5 years, and then waiting 4 and a half months for him to join me up here? Not one of my most brilliant plans. I was correct in my early assessment of what the pros and cons would be–briefly, pros: less social inertia and more flexibility in finances, cons: loneliness and lack of a spare set of hands/shoulder to cry on/roommate/etc.–though I misjudged which of the difficult parts would be most difficult. I knew I’d miss him, in a general sense, and that I might even get downright miserable, now and then–I don’t think I’ve spent much time “downright miserable,” honestly, but instead had this kind of constant, pretty low grade thing going on–but I didn’t know how hard it would be to hang up the phone/Skype each time I talked to him. (I think he hesitates to answer the phone, now, a little, actually; I’ve gotten noticeably worse over the last week or two.) I knew the holidays would be a little tough, but I blew them out of proportion, compared to, for instance, wanting to have someone around during bird crises.* These are weird things to admit; I’ve always fancied myself a loner, albeit a chatty one. I guess that changed, somewhere along the way.

That’s sort of weird.

And I think I misjudged what to worry about with him, too. I flatter myself that he might have missed me a bit, yes. But I was all worried that he’d be housebound, except for work and D&D games, and that definitely didn’t happen. He socialized a whole lot. (Enough that I suspect Pittsburgh thinks I’m the anti-social one, of the two of us. But, I’m telling you, inertia! It’s easy to stay home when you have someone to talk to, there. And it’s easy to let yourself be dragged out, if you don’t. Though I really want to be easier to drag out, as a couple, moving forward. Fingers crossed.) He socialized so much that it was a real push to finish packing and shipping and the like. So, you know, that was kind of a relief. … Except for the whole “not having a vacuum cleaner yet” thing, which is less good, but, on the scale of things, a small price to pay.

But, yeah, anyway, I’m impatient to get to see him. And I feel kind of bad that I have filled my ALA schedule up to the brim with activities–beyond what’s realistic, honestly, though I did do myself the favor of not agreeing to attend anything before 10am [which is my 6am, something maybe east coast conference organizers might think about, ahem]–and am kind of leaving him hanging for 4-6 hours, minimum, on Saturday and Sunday, even though it’s my birthday. (I’m taking him to the NMRT Social and other activities like that, despite his having an “Exhibits Plus” badge, rather than a full registration. And I’m crossing my fingers that that’s OK. … In the meantime, he’ll kill time on the Exhibit Hall floor and around Boston. And, hey, who knows, he could meet a vendor he likes who wants an employee with computer programming skills and doesn’t care where he lives.) But we get Thursday evening–jet-lagged joy that I’ll be–and Friday morning for random Boston shenanigans; I think we’ll maybe go to the Science Museum or Aquarium or something, if I’m conscious. :)

On a whole other topic… “Why,” you might ask, “are you up at 1am on a weeknight when you’ve been sick?” Just couldn’t sleep. Thought maybe I could empty my head of some of the thoughts buzzing around, and the others would lose momentum. … Also, I’m waiting for cold medicine to kick in. (Cold’s gone. Fighting bronchitis.)

*Bird thing, btw: going well. I may have found a system that works. I’m surprisingly unworried about the week and a half I’ll be gone, since they’ll have more than their usual amount of light, the whole time. I’m more worried about loneliness/boredom/feather picking, due to the small amount of human contact they’ll have, than I am about night frights.

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