Gwnewch y pethau bychain

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Looking forward, looking back

For Larissa and me, 2012 was the year of stasis.  We had big plans, and we worked towards them diligently, but a great deal of it felt like marking time until we could pull the lever that would propel everything into motion.1

A year ago, we threw that lever and began the adventure.  Leaving our jobs, packing the car, and driving west to Seattle was a carefully orchestrated gamble, but a gamble nonetheless.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

2013 was the year of transitions.  We moved across the country and set up house with a dear friend who needed roommates.  Six months later, we introduced her to another dear friend, with whom she promptly fell in love and moved to Boston.  We left our landing spot in the suburbs and moved into the heart of the city, in the shadow of the Space Needle and just blocks from the scenic waterfront of Elliot Bay.

I found a new job.  Larissa found an old one.

One romantic relationship came to an abrupt end, to my dismay.  Another unexpectedly came into being, to my delight.

I left one podcast, and began the work of reviving another.

I wrote several new songs.  I performed a concert at OryCon.2  Just recently, I started taking guitar instruction for the first time in over 15 years.3

Darling, I’ve always tried to find the road not taken
From Monterey to Macon, two lanes have been my friends
Coastal highway, bayou byway, out and back again
But if you say you’re lonely, you know there’s only 40, 80, or 10
–Tanya Savory, “40, 80, or 10”

I drove the entire length of the country, from Georgia to California and up to Washington.4 I saw the Grand Canyon in all its glory, and traversed the Great Divide.  I travelled to destinations old and new:  Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Canada; Salt Lake City, Utah; Columbus, OH.  I explored my new city and it’s surrounding lakes and mountains, the place I had chosen at long last, to call home.

Over the course of this year, I’ve not done some things as well as I would have liked.  I have been a terrible correspondent, relying much too heavily on social media to keep in touch.  I’ve done an even worse job reaching out to newly local friends.5 For various reasons, I’ve done very little podcast recording this past year, though that was almost entirely not by my choice.  This blog has been too too neglected, though I made a couple of efforts to remedy that, and I hope to do a better job in the coming year.  And it will probably take most of the next year for our finances to adequately recover from moving all the mountains we had to shift in order to make it to where we are.

But where we are, I have to say, is pretty damn good.  As the year draws to a close, we are finding a new equilibrium, and settling into new habits and routines.  There will always be change; the wheel will always turn.  But I feel as though the great transition we set in motion a year ago is complete.

We are home.

This is my ghost, this is my home — millions of miles my mind can’t own
No one’s seen it all; no one will
But I want to memorize it, every inch, want to remember where I’ve been
I bless these waves, I bless this wind, bless this grace & all my sins
–Marian Call, “Highway Five”

  1. I remarked to Kathleen Sloan in July of that year that I felt like we were turning our entire world upside down in slow motion. 

  2. Where I also was a program participant on a wide variety of panels. 

  3. Aside from a 12 week introductory group class in 1998, I’m entirely self taught.  Many of you are now nodding and thinking “Ah, that explains it…” 

  4. I’ve now driven pretty much the entire length of I-40, most of it on this one trip. 

  5. Social anxiety is awkward. I really do want to spend time with all of you.  I’m just really really bad at actually saying that. 

Back to Basics

As I wrote about over the weekend, I’ve finally done something I’ve needed to do for some time, which is find someone to sit down with who can help me expand my guitar toolkit.  Tonight was my first meeting.

They have a nice little setup in the basement of a marina on Lake Union, with two small studio rooms.  I met with my instructor, Mike, and spent a lot of time discussing my background, how I learned, what I was already good at, and so forth.1   Mike is a curious mixture of laid-back and hyper-focused, but I think I’ll get along with him.  He had me play a song for him2 just to watch my current style, and then we got down to the brass tacks of what I wanted to learn and how to get there.

We’re starting out by refreshing on theory.  Now, I know a bit of theory, because you can’t hang out with folks like Gwen Knighton and Mary Crowell without absorbing some stuff just through osmosis, but I’ve never made a formal study of it.  The last time I had any formal music instruction, I was too impatient to get to the “I wanna play a SONG” stage to really focus on it.  I think I’ll be a slightly more disciplined student today.

We did have an entertaining digression talking about how my personal guitar idols are.3

My homework for next week, aside from making a list of five “desert island” songs to send to him as background, is to play the note C.  More specifically, to play all of the C notes on my fret board.4   I’m looking forward to Wednesdays for the next few weeks!

  1. Actually, the very first thing that happened was I opened my guitar case, and Mike immediately gushed about what a lovely instrument it was, and took it to his partner’s studio to show it to him. Because it’s that nice. 

  2. I randomly pulled “But The Days And Nights Are Long” by Cheryl Wheeler out of the air 

  3. The Two Richards: Thompson and Shindell, Paul Simon, Robbie Robertson, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour… 

  4. I do actually understand the point of this exercise, but I’ve still been humming Beethoven’s “Minuet in G” over and over since I left. 

Going to Market

One of the things that excited Larissa and me about our new apartment was that it was walking distance to a great many things, and we can certainly do with more exercise and fresh air in our lives. So today we decided to go out for a nice stroll down to Pike Place Market for lunch and a bit of random shopping.

We left a bit after noon and headed down Thomas Street to the pedestrian bridge that goes down into Myrtle Edwards Park. We’ve already come to love this park, and there’s a great many photos taken of the waterfront and the Olympics across the water on my Instagram page. We had not, to this point, really taken the time to explore the walk/bike trail that runs all along it, though, so we set off south towards downtown to see what we could see.

We wandered along the edge of the Olympic Sculpture park, stopping to take a photo of myself under a giant ampersand.1  There’s a bit of a sandy beach just past it, with a large sign warning people to not pester the harbour seals when they are resting on the rocks.  We didn’t see any seals, but there were a number of ducks on the water looking reasonably pleased with their lot in life.  Past this beach the trail empties out onto Alaska Way which continues on down past the piers on the waterfront.

We ambled on down the street, stopping to take pictures of interesting signs or structures, and eventually arrived in the vicinity of Pike Place Market, where we promptly became incredibly indecisive about where to eat.  It didn’t help that, being Saturday, the market was completely packed with people, so we wandered up the block a ways and found a nice sushi joint called Japonessa which promised “a Japanese core concept with hints of Latino flair.”2  We were seated pretty quickly despite having no reservation and our very friendly waiter got us set up with some ginger beer and a superb edamame appetiser, which was very fresh and salted perfectly.  We then sampled the brie tempura, which was served with an extraordinary raspberry sauce, and finished with a variety of sushi rolls and sashimi.3 I have a feeling this is going to be a restaurant we return to, because everything was excellent.

Well stuffed with food, we went back over to the market4  We poked through the hat shop, but they only had sizes up to XL, which isn’t quite large enough for my head, so no new hats were acquired.5 We wandered down into the lower levels, where they keep the bookstores.  There are two bookstores that I’m aware of in the Market, both with friendly and conversational clerks.  I was tempted by many things, but in the end we only walked out with a single paperback.

We wandered over to Beecher’s Cheese Shop to get some cheese, but it was packed and the line was very long, so we decided to come back another day.  Larissa’s foot was starting to bother her and it was beginning to get dark.  So we headed up Pine St to 3rd Ave and caught the #13 bus back home.

It was a lovely afternoon with no agenda.  And that’s really what Saturdays are all about, Charlie Brown.

  1. amplectere potestem “et” 

  2. This wasn’t a fusion I’d encountered before, so it seemed worth a try. 

  3. Larissa declared the sashimi “the best she’d ever had”, and she’s had quite a lot of sashimi over the years. 

  4. Pausing briefly to politely suggest to the guy standing on the corner with an IMPEACH OBAMA sign that he might consider the many benefits of getting a job, or at least finding something better to do with his time. 

  5. I’ve been told there’s a serious hat shop somewhere in Seattle, and I need to take some time to find it. 

Hello, yeah, it’s been a while. Not much, how ’bout you?

So, where was I?

The last time I wrote here, I was on the road between Atlanta and Seattle.  I had actually intended to live blog the trip, but then I didn’t, and once I got here I was caught up in the whole process of settling in and finding a job and all those other mundane things that take up all your time and attention, and the next thing you know, four months have gone by.

We’re pretty well settled in, at this point.  Both kitanzi and I found jobs fairly quickly; she has a temp gig in Bellevue with dumb hours, and I found a permanent posting at a company in Seattle, so we’re doing okay there.  Both of us are enjoying living in an area where transit is actually useful, and as a result we’re only driving the car on the weekends most of the time, and ended up selling the second car that we’d left behind in Atlanta.  Housemate situation with runnerwolf is also going well; the apartment is a bit cramped for our liking, but we expected that, and when the lease is up we can look for something with a bit more space if we wish to continue sharing quarters.

I’m at the point where i’m ready to start being more social again, now that my routines are starting to coalesce.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on redesigning my personal website for the first time since 2001.  The old page was aesthetically antique, and it was time for a refresh, so I set up a brand new WordPress installation and have rehomed my blog there.  I will still be cross-posting entries on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, and I encourage people to comment in whatever place is most useful and convenient to them.  I’m hoping to do more long-form blogging in the future, and also be more active about promoting my various projects.

As of right now, I expect to be at the following conventions, if you’d like to see me:

July 5-6, Nerdtacular 2013, Salt Lake City, UT
October 25-27, OVFF, Columbus, OH
November 8-10, OryCon, Portland, OR

I’ll add more if and when plans are made.

So, that’s what’s been going on.  What’s going on with you?


…And never worry about the fall

Earlier today in the #frogpants chat room, Malynor (my 19th favourite Canadian), asked how I was doing on my first real day of unemployment, and commented that planned unemployment was probably less stressful.

I said “Well, planned unemployment is slightly less stressful in that it’s, well, planned and I have resources set aside to deal with it. But it’s still weird for much the same reason skydiving is.

Because of your careful preparations and precautions, you have a strong belief that everything is going to work out fine at the end of the fall, but you still can’t quite shake the fear that you just stepped out of a perfectly good aeroplane.”

A long December, and there’s reason to believe…

…maybe this year will be better than the last.

To be honest, 2012 wasn’t a bad year, as such. It was a slow and frustrating year. It was the year of holding still, the year of planning, the year of being restless and unable to proceed. And now, having run in place for so long, things are about to move very quickly, indeed.

As of today, I am a professional hobo. At least, for a time. I will be aggressively looking for new employment as soon as we get to Seattle, which we will do within the month, but for now, I am an agent without portfolio for the first time since 1996. I have no words to describe how utterly weird that is to me. Yesterday, I went out to lunch with my manager and those of my team who were in the office that day. I’m going to miss working with them (though I have a suspicion they will miss working with me more).

Over the next week, my primary focus will be on packing and shifting things to the storage unit, and planning how to pack what we’re bringing with us. Because of the financial uncertainty brought about by not having our income locked down, we’re choosing to leave most of what we’ll eventually move in a storage unit here in Georgia, to be sent for when we know the money won’t be needed for rent and food and such. After that, it’s crunch time for Gafilk, and I have plenty to do in the leadup for that to keep me busy until we actually have the con and then we’ll hit the road.

One of the things I’d like to try and do in the new year is write more, and in particular write more in this journal. For a variety of reasons, I stopped posting much a few years ago; primarily, it was because what was mostly on my mind at the time wasn’t really for public reading, and then I fell out of the habit. But when I go back and re-read my journal from 1999-2006, I like how so much of what was going in my life was documented there, and I dislike the big empty silent place my journal turns into. Of course, it’s harder due to the fact that fewer and fewer people are participating here, and I’m a comment-driven writer to a certain extent, but since I’m mostly writing for myself, I should be able to get up a regular schedule. Expect to see my prattle on a bit in the common weeks, and possibly live-blog our drive across country.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful turning of the year, and may your 2013 be full of health, magic, and prosperity.

RIP Dayna (1998-2012)

Nearly fifteen years ago, shortly after our apartment burned down and we had moved into a townhouse in Norcross, our neighbor asked a_blue_moon_cat and I if we’d be willing to adopt a couple of kittens. She’d rescued the mother from the parking lot of her workplace, and she had two that she’d been unable to find homes for. We already had two cats at the time, but the kittens were adorable, and we decided to take them on. We named them Tarrant and Dayna, continuing the Blake’s Seven theme our other two cats shared.

When a_blue_moon_cat and I split up a few years later, she kept all four cats, but a couple of years after that asked me if I’d take one of them, as she was about to move and didn’t think she could find a rental that would let her bring in four cats. We agreed to take Dayna.

Dayna was a neurotic cat even by feline standards. Wild-eyed and curious, she loved sounds, and would frequently rattle blinds or scratch the sides of boxes just to hear the sound they made. She was convinced the knowledge of mankind could be hers if only she could eat enough magazines, and any periodical left within her grasp soon looked like it had been attacked by a confetti punch.

She was often shy about attention, but she always liked being near people, if not quite within arms reach. In recent years, and especially since our other cat Jenna passed away she’d become much friendlier, and spent many a night curled up between [personal profile] kitanzi and me while we watched television, and she slept many nights on the bed with us, purring contently to be near.

As we prepared to make the move to Seattle, the question of how best to move Dayna was discussed. She had become older and frailer as her years advanced, and she’d lost some weight recently which concerned us. We took her to the Cat Clinic in Roswell, which had been her vets her entire life, and they checked her over and found some early kidney disease, but otherwise found her to be in good health for a cat her age. They gave her some meds to help with that and to clear up a small infection, and said she should be fine. As we got closer to Thanksgiving, I again raised concern to the vet, and they even did an ultrasound to rule out any early cancers. The vet cleared her for travel, saying our only concern was finding something she liked to eat to get her up to a healthier weight.

She flew back to Seattle with runnerwolf, who would take good care of her and help get her settled into our new home. But it quickly became obvious that she was continuing to fade. Tonight, Beth called me, a couple of hours ago, and said “I don’t think she’s going to last much longer.” We discussed her condition, and I asked her to put the phone down where Dayna could hear me. I said “Dayna….we love you. If you need to go, it’s okay. We understand.” Beth says that when I spoke to her, she flicked her ears a couple of times, and a few moments later peacefully slipped away.

In her last days, as in all her life, she was pampered and loved by those around her. She had a long and full life, and in the end her suffering was minimal. I wasn’t ready for this, and I will miss her more than I have any words for…she’s been a constant presence in my life for 15 years, and you are never really prepared to say goodbye.

Farewell, Dayna-cat. I love you, always.

Guess I got distracted, but hey at least I tried

This weekend involved a great deal of unproductive productivity brought on by having a better idea after having already implemented the not-as-good-idea.

See, in addition to a great number of books, we have a great many DVDs. I like movies and TV and over the years I’ve accumulated a great many of these, and while it makes for a really cool shelf look, they take up a lot of space. Because there’s no way we were going to watch the great majority of these between now and moving day, they were (along with the bulk of the library) the first things to get boxed up and moved into storage.

But then I got to thinking — we don’t know how long those are gonna have to stay in storage. And who knows what we’ll want to watch once we’re settled in. For at least a while, our entertainment options are going to be necessarily limited to cheap things, and “watching movies you already own” is as cheap as it gets.

So over the weekend, I initiated Project Recovery, which involved going to the storage unit, shifting through all the boxes to find the ones with DVDs in them. (Yes, it would have been helpful to have labelled them in the first place. Thanks for pointing that out.) My original plan was to go through each one there in the unit and move the actual discs into a very large binder I’d bought for the purpose. After one box of this, I decided this was a dumb idea, and loaded the remaining boxes of DVDs into the car and brought them home to complete this task in the air conditioning.

I still suspect there’s a few discs floating about, since I can’t find my dvd of “The Quantum of Solace” anywhere. But the vast majority of the DVDs have now been reduced from several banker-boxes worth of space into two enormous binders which together take up about the same amount of space as a piece of carry-on luggage. This will make it relatively trivial to bring all of them with us when we drive out in January.

(I also took the occasion to weed out some duplicates, including “Firefly” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, both of which have been upgraded to BluRay, and the first two seasons of M*A*S*H, made redundant when I gave kitanzi the “Medicine and Martinis” box set for Christmas a few years ago. I passed these on to Matt and Mary when they were here for dinner on Saturday.)

This is, I’m afraid, the limit of my useful productivity for the weekend, but I think it will reward us in a few months when we’re wishing our movie collection was closer to hand. 🙂

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes…

While we’ve not made a secret of them, neither had either kitanzi and I made any general announcement of our upcoming plans. Part of this was due to a great number of open questions that made it difficult to make concrete plans, but as we approach the launching of the expidition, things are starting to fall into place. So here, in convenient FAQ form, is an announcement.

In January, we are moving to Seattle.


Washington state, that is. Space needle…Eddie Vedder…[end gratuitous Todd Snider shoutout]


Well, that’s a complicated question with a complicated answer. The truth is…Atlanta isn’t the place I’d have chosen to live if I’d made an actual choice. I just sort of ended up here. I moved to Georgia originally to be closer to a_blue_moon_cat, who I was dating at the time. That relationship ended over ten years ago. As early as then I was evaluating whether I wanted to stay in Georgia for the long term. Then [personal profile] kitanzi moved down and we both had good jobs and it settled into a stasis.

But the truth is, I don’t really like Georgia. I like a lot of the people here, but the actual place I don’t like very much at all. So, in recent years, I started to think hard about where I’d rather be. Larissa only moved to Atlanta to move in with me, so she has no deep ties to the place, either. I had a list of cities that, based on my research, talking to people who lived there and my own travels, I felt would suit me better than here. And finally, after much deliberation and a lot of thought, we’ve decided where it is we want to live, and we’re going to make that happen.

This is all so sudden…

It probably seems so, if you’re learning about this from this post. But this is actually a decision several years in the making, and many months in the planning to actually go.

So, why Seattle?

It meets all my criteria for a place I’d want to live. It has a better climate to my tastes. (No, really.) It as an active filk and fannish community. The culture there is much more agreeable to us. And, as a bonus, it puts us substantially closer to a great many people we’d like to be substantially closer to. (It also puts us farther away from some people we’d rather not be farther away from, but that would be true of anywhere we moved, or even if we stood still. The algebra of our interpersonal relationships defies simple equations.)

Seattle was always in the top four or five places on our list. It moved to the top for a variety of reasons, but the simplest answer is, having visited on many occasions now, we just like the place, and it’s the sort of place I can see myself living on purpose, rather than by accident.

Do you have jobs lined up?

Nothing firm, as yet, though there are irons being placed into fires. But we’ve been saving the last year, putting aside funds to allow us to pull ups stakes and move and weather a period of unemployment. I feel confident we’ll be able to find something on the other side. (If you’re in the area or have contacts in the area who might be looking for a good unix sysadmin with superb customer service skills, drop me a line.)

Are you insane?

Almost certainly.

But if you move, what happens to Gafilk?

Nothing happens to it. I will continue to chair the convention, and Larissa will continue to be the treasurer. I have people I trust that are here to handle such tasks that require a local person, and we have a fabulous relationship with our host hotel, so we don’t need to scout new venues. There may come a time down the road where I hand off the reins to someone prepared to oversee Gafilk’s third decade and settle into the same emeritus role that bedlamhouse currently enjoys, but that won’t be soon, and in the meantime I plan to keep putting on the same con that we’ve all enjoyed for the last 15 years for as long as everyone keeps wanting to come to it.

So what’s the plan?

The plan, currently, is that I will end my current employment at the end of the year, and we
will stay through Gafilk. Once Gafilk is wrapped up, we drive west. Most of our things are in storage, and the rest will be by the time the con happens. [personal profile] runnerwolf, who will be our housemate once we move, is coming for Thanksgiving, and will take the cat back with her. We are driving across country, likely taking the southern route and up the coast to avoid crossing the high plains and mountains in the middle of winter, and plan to arrive in Seattle just in time for Conflikt.

I don’t know what will unfold over the first few months of 2013. I know it will be an adventure, and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring.

So….that’s what’s new with us.

Jackie sits back, collects his thoughts for the moment…

“You know that feeling you get when you’re leaning back in a chair, and you lean back a little too far, and you start to tip over but then at the last minute you catch yourself?

I’m like that all the time.”
–Stephen Wright

It’s been an eventful summer. Not that you’d know that from following this journal, but it has. So I’ve got a few posts to make about recent events and future plans. If you’re still reading, you can expect them over the next few days.

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