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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.

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.

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.

Before we get to the point of the post: Dale’s and my phones are both 907- numbers, now. If you don’t have them, let us know. Our 412- numbers are off, or will be by tomorrow.

I bought the tickets for my flight to and Dale’s, Ella’s, and my flight back from Boston. I’m getting there in the afternoon on Thursday, January 14, and there will be conferency goodness on the 15th-18th. I know Saturday afternoon, evening, and night are full of librarian shenanigans, but much of the rest remains semi-unscheduled. (I don’t think Event Planner has opened up yet. When it does, I’ll know better what’s what.)

After the conference, Dale and I will head back to his parents’ place from Boston, hang out for 3 days, and fly back to Anchorage on Friday the 22nd, with Ella. Sadly, no airline seems to allow chinchillas in the passenger cabin, after all, so we’ll have to trust the cargo people. It’s going to be a little nerve-wracking, but I’m fairly hopeful that everything will go smoothly.

We get back late enough on Friday night–and the jet lag will be bad enough–that we’ll probably have to spend most of the weekend recuperating (though I kind of hope to show up to whatever shindig the gamer friends might be having, so they can meet Dale right off :)). I’ll take off Monday–or possibly Monday and Tuesday–to show Dale around town a bit. And then I’ll start back to work and, hopefully, he’ll start interviewing for work.

Dale’s Move:

First things first, I’ve gotten this question a lot, so I think maybe I didn’t mention it in the blog before: Dale’s moving in mid-January. He’s staying with his parents in Connecticut over Christmas and through the beginning of January. I’m flying out to Boston for the ALA Midwinter conference, which he’ll also be attending (he’s agreed to take charge of book signings, since I’m always too busy to wait in line; also, I’m hoping Exhibits Plus will get him into the NMRT Social :)). And I’ll take a few days of vacation, to hang out with his family, too, either before or after the conference. Then we’ll put Ella into a travel crate, sized to fit under a seat–which reminds me, I should probably poke Dale to get her that crate now and let her get used to it–and fly to Anchorage, hopefully on a non-stop flight.

After that, we’ll try not to spend any money until he’s employed.

Phones:

I got a new phone, since Verizon up here is terrible, and that contract’s ending soon. If you don’t know my new number, email me for it. Or call my old phone; it’s hooked up until the day after Thanksgiving. Dale’s, too. (We are on the same area code AND the same exchange, this time, which is cool.) Or, I might call you. If you see a 907 number, pick up. If you have tips about iPhones, share them. Dale has a texting-friendly phone, with a keyboard (or he will, once I mail it), because he didn’t want the Internet Everywhere. I did. And, yeah, we have 3G in Alaska, though it’s new within the last year or two.

My growing pains:

I’ve sort of hit that wall that people moving to new places eventually hit, where I know some people and have some friends to hang out with, but I’m not really full integrated into any one group. The best stories all predate me and will for a long time, I know. [I had only just gotten to the point, in the Pittsburgh crowd, where that seemed less true.] And, as wonderful as people have been, I still feel a little bit like an outsider. Although these people are part of my life, now, it’s not clear that I’m part of theirs, yet, if that makes any sense–and, by all rights, there’s no reason I should be: I haven’t even hit the two month mark, yet. (I feel like I should point out, they’re putting in a real effort. A couple of them invited me along and showed me all these cool things in Anchorage, last Sunday, and it was super fun. They didn’t have to do that, and I am super grateful. They’ve been great. This complaining, it’s not about them; it’s about not having what I already know and where I already fit surrounding me, like I’m used to.) There’s nothing for it; that’s just how moving to new places is. It’s not just socially, though that’s arguably the bulk of it: I know a lot about how to do my job, at work, though I’m still not quite “expert” at it. I know most of the people there, though I’m still learning how all the little pieces fit together, between all the departments and individuals and what sits where and… you know, all those things you learn on a new job. I’m still new, which lets me ask naive questions, but gives me a bit of that outsider feeling, too.

In trying to do my job better, I went to a reception for engineers, with the hope of meeting some of the students and faculty, and the feeling of otherness was overwhelming. The students and alumni relations people all had name tags, but there was nothing to separate the professors from the industry people. And, while I have the guts–after a fashion–to walk up to somebody and say “I see you’re a professor of [whatever]. I’m one of your liaison librarians,” it was beyond my comfort level to walk up to somebody and not know whether they were a professor, someone from the Chancellor’s office, or someone from totally outside the school. So I ended up standing around, a lot, and talking to five or six students and someone from, I’m guessing, the Green Party, before I high-tailed it back to my office. It’s hard to describe how disconcerting that was, being the non-engineer–but not really!–in a room of engineers. (“Are you an alumni?” someone asked, not quite grammatically, and I responded “Not of this school.” Which is less than helpful.) It was just super awkward and has kind of thrown me into a funk, I think.

And I’ve had my nose rubbed in to the fact that my politics don’t fit in up here, which I knew, sure, but… In one week, I received three replies from three different representatives (well, one Representative and two Senators), all disheartening. Murkowski used the term “rationed health care” in her reply, at which point I fed her letter to the birds, because I hate being lied to. (They’re enjoying it.) Begich showed he hadn’t read my letter–he assured me most assiduously that nobody will ever be forced to have an abortion, which is definitely not what I wrote to him about. And, when I called Donald Young’s office, his punkass staffer told me he will be voting no on the health reform bill, opting to support the Republican bill, instead. (When I asked “You mean the one the Budget Office smacked down this morning?” he said “Well, I don’t know about that.”) Argh.

On the bright side, although there was more of the whole “I’m an outsider” feeling, I did have a nice time at Bird Club on Tuesday. And they suggested that I could prevent night frights by leaving the birds uncovered at night. I want to get them some sort of ceramic heat-maker, or something, because I worry they’ll catch a draft. But it’s been most of a week, with no night time freakouts. So that’s good.

I didn’t have the social energy to go meet with the campus feminists or attend the amateur radio club, yesterday. But I went to dinner with my friend from the first apartment building, and that was nice.

I’m going to drop off a thing at the gamer friends’ get together, today, because I’m not feeling up to socializing. I’m tired and in a funk (as if you can’t tell) and possibly not entirely well, on top of that. And then I’m going to come home and spend the day regrouping. And tomorrow, too, if I need it (though I need to go by CostCo for a SAD light and some other stuff).

Once I’ve regrouped, I’m planning to go to Drinking Liberally, as well as meeting up with another gaming group for some D&D fun. (If we all hit it off, I’ll have to come up with a way of distinguishing “gamer friends,” on the blog. :)) While meeting more people won’t help me get over the “otherness” thing, so much, it will help me have more to do. I’ve been at work a lot more than 40 hours a week, and I need to have more reasons to leave.

Winter:

I picked a good time of year to get into the Song of Ice and Fire series, I guess. (It’s winter for years on end, in that world. And winter has been coming for the last book and a half; maybe it’ll get there, in-book, when it gets here, in reality.) We’ve had a longer, nicer autumn than we could have asked for. And all of the snow that’s been predicted for the past couple of weeks has failed to arrive. But it’s time. The radio is hinting at lots of snow. So I need to suck it up and get studded tires, I think. Will it ruin my normal tires to be stored on my porch, under a tarp? Because I have nowhere indoors for them; it’s there or inside the car itself.

Anyway, sorry to be a downer. I’ll come back with a happy post later this week. Things really are fine; it is, as I pointed out, just growing pains I’m going through. And it’s getting darker and colder, and I miss Dale and Ella and old friends and family. It’s not a knock on new friends, even, to be feeling that way. They’ve been nicer and more accommodating than I have any right to expect. I’m just, you know, still trying to adjust. This isn’t the first wall I’ve hit, and it won’t be the last, and I’ll get over them all. I’m adaptable.