Sunday, February 28, 2010

We have walls

Yes, after four—FOUR—months, we have walls again. Those white boxy things you see are our two new HVAC systems. They are split ductless systems and will both heat and cool the space. There's a unit outside about the same size as a heat pump, and the pipes that run out there are hidden in our new walls.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

There's no place like home, part 3

I flew back yesterday from Washington, DC, where I’d spent the week attending a conference for work. (As a quick aside, Tuesday night I attended a gala which was truly a gala, and not at all what I expected. The National Guard Youth Foundation puts the gala on and has a lot of corporate donors so it was pretty swanky.)

But what I really want to write about is the flight back. I’ll leave out the details around American Airlines canceling all their flights from DC to Boston and then telling me they could get me home on Sunday. I flew home on US Air instead and sat in a window seat next a daughter and her father en route from Dayton, OH. The father’s name was Victor, and I think the daughter’s name was Victoriann but she was soft spoken and I’m not positive I heard her correctly. She auditions at Berklee today on violin and then they fly home.

She was nervous about flying and the flight was a little turbulent at first. So I chatted just a little with her in hopes of distracting her—I told her that normally planes land from the east at Logan so we’d fly over the Atlantic Ocean as we came in, unless the winds were wonky. In that case, I said, we would come in from the south. I asked her a few questions about her upcoming audition and then as the flight settled down we both returned to our music.

Once we broke through the clouds on our descent, I wished I’d asked her if she wanted the window seat because she was clearly trying to see things. So I pointed out landmarks to her. I asked her if she ever watched the show Fringe (she did) and I showed her the John Hancock Tower and told her the show said it was the FBI headquarters but it wasn’t really. I wanted to show her the Prudential but it was gloomy enough that I don’t think she’d have known what she was seeing. But as I pointed things out to her I realized that uh-oh maybe Boston is home after all.

In the taxi on the way to the apartment, I looked around at things like the Charles River (which has thawed) and the Citgo sign over by Fenway and thought that I know more about this place than I realized.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

There's no place like home, part 2

This whole post was sparked by my new job, where quite a few of the people I work with are from New Hampshire. They may have left briefly for college or been career military folks but they came back. They have a quiet sense of belonging there that’s not the same as what I’ve seen in the Midwest or even here in Boston. I’m not sure I can describe it very well except to say native Bostonians are positive they are the elite (which somewhat explains why the city called the Hub, as in the Hub of the universe). And Midwesterners are a little more ebullient about being from a place, especially if it happens to be either Lawrence or Manhattan, KS.

This notion of belonging is something I’ve thought about for most of my life because I’ve been such a nomad. As best I can recall, I moved 12 times before I graduated from high school—that’s assuming we lived in one place in Connecticut where I was born, and lived in just one house in Overland Park when my brother was born. As an adult and before marrying Kent, I lived in 21 different places. Since Kent and I married, I’ve lived in another six places. So if my sums are correct and I haven’t left any out, that means I’ve lived in 37 different places.

When asked where I’m from, I usually claim Philadelphia. I spent my summers there with my step-mother and father beginning when I was four and ending when I was 12. I returned there off and on in high school and once stationed in New Jersey, I drove down there a couple of times every month until I was transferred to Germany. More than any other house, that one remained a familiar constant to me. But the truth is I’m not really from there either.

It’s funny what makes us feel connected to a place. I lived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for four years and I am not from there. My brother, who is just 11 months younger than I am, lived there five years and he’ll claim Cape. His sense of place may be also shaped by having moved to the Kansas City area in the mid-1980s where he’s lived ever since.

One thing our flood situation did for me was sharpen my definition of home. I used to think of home as being synonymous with where I lived. Now I think of home as being anywhere Kent, the kitties and I are together. Maybe that sense of home will replace my desire to be from someplace.

I had Kent read this and he pointed out that I define home as where people are because I’ve never had home mean a specific building. He also said (and he’s right on this one) that one of the reasons I purge my belongings a lot is because I’m always getting ready to move again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Survivor’s guilt

To quote LOLcats, I gots it.

Stupid, sure. Illogical—definitely. And yet I still feel guilty that I landed this fantastic job doing the kind of work I love while so many of my friends remain unemployed. And let’s bring it even closer to home.

Kent’s job ends a week from tomorrow. He loved the work he did and the field he was in, and his reviews and bonuses showed the company thought the same about him. But then the business plan changed and poof—bye bye entire business unit. Watching him go through this has been like watching someone I love go through a divorce he didn’t want. And while he’s getting a job divorce, I just got a job marriage.

Or maybe it’s like announcing a pregnancy to friends who can’t conceive. Whatever the analogy, I’m really trying to shed the guilt because God knows I didn’t just sit around eating bon bons while job searching. I needed and wanted a job in my field.

How do you handle false guilt like this?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This and that

I have a post written in my head about how important a sense of place is. I even started counting how many times I've moved in my life and stopped at 28 because that's a hell of a lot of moving. I've thought through how different it must be to actually BE from someplace. But the post remains unwritten because since I started this job, the kitties (by which I mean Wally) have decided that 4:30 is not a good wake up time, I should get up at 3:30.

Seriously I'm about to wring his little neck. Right now he's curled on my lap, purring and making bread with his paws which is very sweet. But I want that hour back. I think 4:30 is plenty early for a wake up.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

There’s no place like home

I’ve lived in Boston about 18 months now, and mostly felt as though I’m just sort of visiting for a long time. It hasn’t felt like home. Not in the sense where I’m glad when my plane lands just because I’m in Boston—obviously I’m always glad to be back with Kent and the kitties. But to be glad because I’m in Boston? No, I haven’t experienced that yet. In fact, except for one time on the roof deck of the bed and breakfast Brad and Kerry stayed in last August, I haven’t even thought Boston was all that pretty. (By the way, that B&B is directly across the street from our place.)

Monday night as I drove home from the first day of work in New Hampshire, I saw the city from 93 heading south down a pretty long hill. The skyline was framed and the buildings were lit because it was dark, and I actually caught my breath. It reminded me of driving into Kansas City from the west along I-70—the first time you see the skyline, it’s just really pretty. As a quick aside, it always makes me think of Frank Baum and the Wizard of Oz since somewhere I heard or read that he modeled Oz after Kansas City. I don’t know if that’s true or not, although I’d like it to be.

Anyway—I’m still not sure how much I love Boston or how much like home it feels. I’ll find out in about 10 days because I have a business trip to Washington, D.C. I’m interested to see if I’m glad to be in Boston then, or if it’s still only that I’m glad to be with Kent.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where are my slippers?

After 25 months, I’m back among the fully employed. I was underemployed (love that term) for 12 months and flat out unemployed the rest of the time. The adjustment has been about what I expected—I’m tired, my brain is full, my feet want to know where my slippers are and I’m getting used to driving a lot again.

I thought I’d be able to work out at night when I get home from work but that’s just not the case. Let’s face it, I’m wired as an early bird, I’ve been that way since I was a teen and even when not working, the latest I “slept in” was 6 AM. Since I need a solid eight or nine hours of sleep every night, that puts me to bed around 9. Now that I’m getting up a lot earlier, my bedtime has shifted too. When I get home, Kent and I eat dinner and I’m in bed about an hour later. So I don’t have time or energy to work out at night. I’ve shifted my wake up time to a half hour earlier so I can get a work out in before I go to work. It’s always been far easier for me to get up a half hour earlier than to stay up even five minutes later.

I’m also learning a lot at work, both about the processes, the clients and how we work with them. My start date came at a really good time since we’ve got the adjunct faculty (who work with our clients) in for a two day workshop. I’ve had a chance to meet those who attended and I’ve started getting a better sense of who they are and how they operate.

We were on tap to get a lot of snow yesterday, so I prudently packed an overnight bag just in case I needed to stay in Portsmouth. Mayor Merino (Boston) declared a snow emergency for yesterday a day early and we got pretty much no snow. Because of the snow emergency though, my commute home yesterday was the easiest yet—no traffic at all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More about Jamaica

We got there too late on Monday to sign up for any of the things that required sign up a day in advance, like snorkeling or the glass bottom boat tour. So Tuesday we took a sailing lesson instead and then went sailing in the bay for a while. I also went to yoga late that afternoon—that’s about as close as I’ll get to bikram yoga since it was held outside on a shaded deck area. While it was warm, the tropical breezes kept things pretty comfy and being outside was really nice. I found I didn’t want to be in air conditioning while I was there, except to sleep.

Wednesday we took a wind surfing lesson. If you’ve never tried wind surfing, I will say it’s pretty tough. You balance on the windsurf board taking into account the pitch and yaw of the water plus you have the mast, boom and sail which can move in any direction at all (except of course directly under the windsurf). I was very proud we tried and even though I didn’t master it, I sure had fun.

We booked a couples massage Wednesday afternoon which was perfect timing after the windsurfing that morning. Like the yoga, the spa area wasn’t air conditioned and it was very pleasant with the breezes. We were both pretty dopey after that.

Wednesday night we had dinner at the one restaurant with a dress code which also required reservations. The restaurant had a few two-top tables and then some four- and six-top tables. When Kent made the reservations, he was asked what we preferred for seating. My husband knows me well so he asked for a six-top table. He figured a four-top was sort of a gamble because we might end up sitting with two very shy people, but with a six-top we would have a better chance of having good dinner companions. And we really lucked out—we had dinner with two couples from New Jersey. June and Peggy have known each other since kindergarten, and in fact June and her husband Charlie set up Peggy with Joe. They really made my birthday dinner very enjoyable—we laughed so much and had such a great time with them. The picture is of the birthday cake our server arranged once he realized it was my birthday. I also got another cake in our room, so we had plenty of cake.

Thursday we took the glass bottom boat tour in the morning, and then that afternoon we went snorkeling. The water was pretty choppy by then so we both got water in our snorkels a few times which was disconcerting. We got the hang of things pretty quickly and saw all sorts of fish and coral and sea urchins plus a small stingray. Others who snorkeled with us saw some barracudas too, but we weren’t snorkeling where they were so we missed it.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures while we were there, mostly because we were so busy doing nothing. You’ll just have to take my word for it that we had a wonderful time and we’re already trying to figure out how to go back.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wally's bedtime ritual

This video shows what Wally does pretty much every night. In the first part, he's rabbit kicking my feet. Sometimes he bites the covers when he does that. Then you'll see Kent's fingers wiggling the covers so Wally will jump. After he does that a few times, he goes and sits at the end of the bed and then wanders up toward the lamp on Kent's side as if to say "I'm all done, turn off the light now."

Monday, February 8, 2010


Sadly, we returned to reality late Friday. I’ve never gone to an all-inclusive place before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. All I can say is this was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had, and part of it was being at an all-inclusive.

I’ve heard that some all-inclusives don’t really include everything, but this one did. Sure there were two or three additional activities that cost more, but they were clearly different. For example, snorkeling was included—and if you wanted to go on a night snorkeling trip, that cost $35 extra per person. But the normal snorkeling didn’t cost anything extra. If I recall correctly, fees for scuba diving didn’t kick in until you were scuba diving for certification, otherwise that too cost nothing.

So we took full advantage of the water sports and went sailing on a Hobie Cat, took a wind surfing lesson on Wednesday (very hard but very fun), went on a glass bottom boat tour, and snorkeled. We also got in plenty of time at the beach. We were prepared to stay pool side if that’s where the better shade was, but the beach had trees which cast good shade while the pool’s umbrellas were pretty small.

I’m off for my first day of work today so I’ll post more tomorrow about our trip. Just know it was an amazing vacation and we hope we can go back sometime.