Part One – An Informal Quantitative Analysis of My Blogging History

Basic data about the website

  • Length of time I’ve been blogging: exactly nine years and ten weeks, or roughly 3359 days*
  • Number of posts written in that time: 1,292
  • Average number of posts per day: .38 posts per day**
  • URLs this blog has existed under: three
  • Number of times I’ve changed the banner and layout: countless
  • Number of times I’ve done this fueled by wine: countless
  • Number of times I’ve had to ask Jason or Matthieu or Chris or Luke to look at my CSS and tell me what the hell is wrong: countless

Professional

  • Jobs I’ve held since beginning this blog: 4
  • Graduate degrees I’ve attained since beginning this blog: 1
  • Time spent working on fiction whilst working part time: one year, two months
  • Time spent working on graduate degree whilst working part time: two years, two months
  • Time spent regretting my decision to walk away from fiction writing to focus on library and information science: approximately none
  • Time spent marveling that by sitting patiently and not letting my manic drive get the best of me during my twenties, I’ve finally found a career path that suits me perfectly: approximately a lot

Personal

  • Real life friends I’ve made entirely because of this blog***: 26 (and that’s only counting friends I’ve met in person and invited to parties, not to mention countless wonderful run-ins at meetups and conferences and drinks)
  • Real life friends with whom I am also blog friends: seven
  • Weddings I’ve attended (or will attend this week) for friends I met through my blog****: five
  • Real life husbands I’ve met and married because of this blog: (my) one (and only)
  • Number of times I’ve been talking to someone only to find out they know me through my blog or I know them through theirs: 3
  • Number of times I’ve gotten an email from someone, saying they saw me and my friends brunching in Brooklyn and recognized all of us from our blogs: 1

Also relevant

  • Number of times I’ve pushed past the awkwardness of explaining what a blog is, and why I do it: countless
  • Number of times in the past few years I’ve qualified this explanation by saying “well, I don’t really blog anymore”: countless

*365.24 multiplied by nine, plus two leap year days, plus seventy days or ten weeks
** But let’s be honest, there’s a gradually diminishing frequency rate involved here
*** Simon, Kate, Mark, Anna, Bobbie, Karen, Pete, Adrian, Dave, Sarah, Daniella, Deb, Kristin, Leah (and Simon), Heather, Robin, Dahlia, Danielle, Bryan, Josh, Helen Jane, Shana, Penny, Matt, and Zan
**** I am counting Kate here even though I wasn’t quite there, because I was there in spirit

Part Two – A Qualitative Approach to the Same Quantitative Conclusion Reached by the Preceding Data Set, or, Why Commencement Is Terminus

I was awarded my undergraduate degree, with only decent grades from Sarah Lawrence College, nine years ago this week. I had already moved from my campus dorm room to my first apartment in New York, a sunny little two bedroom in Astoria, with a fun roommate and an exciting new job about to begin at a Big Photography Magazine. I had emotional angst over a best friend turned love interest (turned best friend again eventually). I had a lot of spare time to write some thoughts on the internet, and it seemed like the thing to do. So I started writing in earnest at petithiboux.blogspot.com, something I had begun on a whim during my spring break two months prior.

When I came home from my commencement that sunny day nine years ago, I hung my tassel on the doorknob. It wasn’t a deliberate choice exactly, but it did feel like the right place to put it. It was my door, after all, to my very first apartment, to the beginning of my shiny new life as an adult woman in her twenties in New York. It was where I always wanted to live, and here I was. So the tassel stayed on the door for the next five years, through wild parties and awkward romances, through my whirlwind romance with Stuart, until we moved in 2007. As my dad and I were packing up the apartment together one morning while Stuart was at work, he brought the tassel into the living room and asked me where to put it. I took it and placed it in the OPEN FIRST box, so that I could hang it in the new apartment. I am a sucker for things like this.

Yesterday, I arrived home with Stuart after a wonderful, hectic commencement weekend where I walked across two stages (awards convocation and commencement) to mark the end of my graduate degree program. I am fiercely proud of how hard I worked in this program, particularly considering some of hard times that have come my way since I started back in January of 2009, on the same day Obama started his new job. It has been totally exhilarating to find a career path I am so well suited for and so excited by, to find colleagues who love sitting around talking about better ways to facilitate learning, better ways to enable research, better ways to organize the vast stores of knowledge both extant and still to come. It has also been exhilarating to flex the muscles of my (sometimes lacking) discipline and find the energy and determination to do some really cool things and excel in some really great classes. I am not overly humble about my 4.0 because it feels empowering to have really earned it.

So yesterday I hung the 2011 tassel on my door. It made me think about the last nine years, and how I’ve gone from 21 to 30, and what has changed along the way. And this blog has been a huge part of it. It’s always been my online space and it has had a measurable effect on my life. There are all those friends. Like Kate, who came here from San Diego to be my interstitial roommate between my single life and my married life, whose very name in an email From field still fills me with delight, who is one of my very dearest darlings. Like Simon, who is wise in so many things and the best possible person to talk to about silly things and deep, meaningful things alike, who has become one of my dearest friends and greatest champions. There’s Stuart, obviously, who is the biggest part of the story of my twenties and this blog, and yet who is so much bigger and realer than the neat fairy tale story of how we met and fell in love. He is my life partner, he is the sunshine at the end of my day, and although we are so very far from perfect and we fight like any other couple, we are still so crazy in love.

I think we can all agree that this blog has brought me riches not measured in quantitative data (although I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try). It also has survived through the massive sea changes of blogging, which went from a hobby that very few people with the technical skills could engage in, to a way of connecting personal stories on the web, to a massive commercial engine that struggles now to retain credibility with the same readers who flocked to it before it gave out a dime. I have some blogging friends who started when I did who are making a living off their blogs. I have many others that have simply stopped doing it. I have always struggled with where I stand in this generation of early bloggers who never took it in the direction of monetizing this product, this brand, this ME. It is just not my thing, as I’m sure is fairly obvious. It was never the point of this space and I have no regrets about that, although it’s jarring to meet professional bloggers who have been doing this since 2007 and consider that a long history of online web presence. Hello, babies! Take good care of this sphere, I guess.

I’ve never wanted to write some post where I say “I’m taking a hiatus” or “blogging, I quit you”. Why, when this blog has given me so much, would I just delete it? And it goes against all my impulses as a preserver of information, as a believer in the public sphere of digital content. Plus, how else would I know exactly when I first went out for coffee with Kate, or how I felt when I first started school, or even the painful outpouring of grief when my dad died? Removing this blog from the web was never an option. And so that’s not what I’m doing.

But I will say this: I’m no longer blogging. I think it’s only fair to put this (admittedly long) post up as a way to say goodbye to this space, which is something I never wanted to do, but to remind everyone that a closed door doesn’t mean there isn’t still a window. Creating and maintaining an online network of presence is unavoidable these days and frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. We had blogs before there was Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter because we wanted to connect with each other, so isn’t it a marvelous thing that people have created all these new exciting ways to do that? You don’t have to like all of them, or use all of them, or even trust all of them, but they’re all just tools. We are the content.

So you can find me in all the usual places (listed below) and you can always find my archives here. I will primarily use Tumblr as a way to communicate personal things like photos or short blog posts because Tumblr has the feel the blog world used to have – of intimate and unfettered non-commercial communications between cool people showing, and sharing, cool things. I will always be a die-hard Flickr user because at this point, my Pro membership is the most valuable tool in my online arsenal, and still one of my favorite daily places to find many of you. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook (although I’m more stringent with privacy settings in these places so leave a comment if you want to join me there). And as always, my email address is on the About page. I hope you will come find me in all the plentiful corners of the web that have sprung up since I first opened a web browser and started a blogspot account.

So, yeah. It’s time to wrap up this post. This blog has been such a beautiful, hilarious, fruitful, silly, divine little facet of my life.  One of my favorite poets, T.S. Eliot, wrote at the end of East Coker that “in the end is my beginning”, and this seems like the right moment to live that line.

Thanks for everything. See you around.

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Flickr
Twitter
Facebook

Go to bed at 10pm the night before, belly full of beans and rice and a glass of wine (it’s the weekend). Sleep until 9am. Foist the morning walk on your lovely husband who, after all, has been away the whole week, leaving you to mercilessly drag the dog up and down the block watching the time lest you’re late for work (which you were). Make a pot of tea. Manage your bank account while it steeps, based on the directive to do one unpleasant but necessary chore before breakfast and thus before the day really starts. Pour a cup of tea and and cut the banana into your cereal bowl; add rice crispies; eat.

Read the travel section and the real estate section first, to indulge your more acquisitive, aspirational impulses. Then the opinion pages, then Modern Love, then read the real news on the iPad app because let’s face it, you’re more accustomed to reading things on screens than paper. Wonder when that shift happened. Consider mourning it. Read bits of the news aloud to your husband even though he is, himself, sitting in front of his own information device consuming the information he chose to consume. Be grateful that he’s back. Take a moment to look at the dog curled up in his ridiculously large bed (three times his size, a gift from your mother), your sunny living room, your pot of tea, and forgive yourself for being such an unrepentant yuppie.

So read the paper. Browse some blogs. Start considering lunch; decide that rotisserie chicken and a greek salad can be assembled from the belly of the fridge. Feel gratefulness that there is good food to eat in the fridge. Have another cup of tea.

Suggest seeing a movie that evening. Offer two options: The Adjustment Bureau and Jane Eyre. Laugh when your husband asks warily if this question is a test. Be not-so-secretly pleased when he agrees to see the one he knows you most want to see. Play with the dog, who at this point has gone bananas over chicken-based lunch preparations. Enjoy your new knife.

Suggest an afternoon outing that involves walking the laundry to the laundromat and going down the hill to the flower shop on 5th. Check flickr. Talk to your mother. Contemplate changing out of loungewear around 4pm. Sit down to write this. Get back to your Saturday – you unrepentant yuppie, you.

I’ve had the loveliest weekend one can possibly have when the love of one’s life and constant companion is three thousand miles away visiting the motherland. Yes, it does mean I have been housebound after work because of this small nuisance with fur (sorry Nano) but the weekend has been nothing but friend puppy piles and afternoon drinking. With apologies to the actual puppy in my life, who’s had to amuse himself for large swathes of the day.

Yesterday started with brunch at Buttermilk Channel with one of the great good friends of the world and wouldn’t you know it, we ended up spending the entire day together, finishing it off with help from her tip-top husband and a lot of delicious libations. Who knew starting the day with a bellini or two would go so decadently? oh.

Then today I woke up to a chocolate croissant I had wisely invested in the day before (and refrained from eating when I returned home at 1 am). How smartypants was I to preload my day with pastry? Supersmart, is how much. Then I pureed peaches and strawberries (thanks, Helen Jane) and hightailed it to another friend’s house for girly brunch (bellinis again!) and a thoroughly ridiculous period piece. We decided the word TITS! is really underused, and that Marty Scorsese was phoning it in on The Age of Innocence. All that waist hugging! Come here my darling, let me … kiss your shoes. And then my dessert stomach actually couldn’t handle the cupcakes that were the grace note of the afternoon. Good thing I’m going to the gym tomorrow, huh. Otherwise it would just be too Roman.

All weekends should be three-day affairs. I may have to spend all day tomorrow doing homework (and the elliptical machine for my sins) but at least I got two full days of silliness and pastry. And tomorrow that wonderful man I married is coming home to a very happy wife.

It’s almost over, you know, winter. I am sure of it. I am starting to feel my metaphorical toes again. Be brave, green shoots! We’re all waiting!

I wrote the essay below for Salon Esse, the incredible writing group I’m lucky to call mine, for our January meeting. We gather once a month to read works in progress, drink too much wine, and provide a safe, positive place to be writers. The piece is borne out of the ridiculous sense of melodrama I am experiencing over being a morning commuter for the first time in years; even though I am loving my new job, I am not adjusting well to getting up before the sun does. Here’s my attempt to poke fun at myself and my flair for despair in the mornings. I hope you like it, too.

You hear the harp strings plucking out their siren song and you float to the top of your dream, with reluctance, as though you are a balloon, and helium is taking you to the big merciless sky, and you are grabbing at the branches on your way up to no avail. This is probably because balloons don’t have hands.

It’s seven AM and you stumble out of bed on deadened feet to swipe at your alarm clock, which is really just a function of your smart phone (smart phone, dumb human) and even though the whole point of leaving your smart phone on the dresser instead of the night table is the fleeting hope that one of these days, you’ll just stay upright, you never do, at least, you haven’t yet. There’s always time to learn. Today is never the day, you think, as your body collapses back into the impossibly warm and delicious bed and at this time of the morning, you would throw your husband and your dog to the wolves if it meant you got to keep your bed. That’s not something you’re proud of.

You have the misfortune to be in possession of an east-facing window. This would be helpful if the sun, the gentle sun, would just fucking rise already, but you also have the misfortune of living in this frozen wasteland called Brooklyn where it’s January and there isn’t a sun at 7am, there will never be another sun, it seems. What is this new fixation of yours, with the sun? You make a mental note to look up the symptoms associated with SAD,  an unfortunate acronym for a disease that until a few months ago, you were pretty sure  inflicted only the weak, mewling hypochondriacs of the world. Only now that’s you, researching sun lamps and vitamin D. Sad indeed.

So you get up, and you’re gentle with your body while it assesses the damage done on re-entry (aching neck, slight headache from an over-application of wine). You’re trying to not be so obsessed with the morning clock in this new reality where the world is suddenly sixty minutes from start to finish, and your only concern in this world is, will you make it out the door on time? You are the Jack Bauer of mornings. This hasn’t been lost on your heretofore relaxed husband, who used to claim peaceful dominion over all mornings while you slept until eight AM and then went to your easy job, or stayed home all day studying. You have planted a pirate flag in the warm gooey center of his previously relaxed mornings, and now you’re ruining your marriage in tiny increments of “are you done with the bathroom?” and “isn’t it YOUR turn to walk the dog?”, and he bears it stoically and then not so stoically because frankly, you have gone from this beautiful sleeping creature he kissed on the forehead to this shrieking harpy with a ticking clock and an attitude.

In the shower, you listen to NPR, you relentless yuppie you, in an effort to be aware of some other part of the world than yours. You scrub yourself down with tangerine-scented bath gel because the women at the store said it would invigorate your mornings. You smell delicious but you’re not any more awake. You towel dry, and wrap yourself in the soft tee-shirt robe that you bought specifically for these mornings, and this is the nicest part of your sixty minutes; this robe, wrapped around a now compliant and fragrant body, a body that – hey! – is awake! This period of calm lasts through the hair-drying, and the face-moisturizing, and the tooth-brushing. Something about the steamy warmth, the hum of the blow-dryer, the lingering smell of tangerine: maybe you can do this after all.

Every day, the same routine of disbelief followed by begrudging acceptance followed by tangerine body wash and the wisdom that comes with understanding. You are the amnesiac from the movies, whose whole world is reconstructed every day with the alarm clock. You dress in clothes that you hope you won’t hate by the end of the day, although you always do hate them, because they’re black and a little formal and winter requires so many layers, so much thought, why don’t you live in Northern California again? And usually around this time, you think about your dad, and how for forty years he woke up around 4am so that he could have an hour of personal space in the world where he could read a book and drink his coffee in peace, before suiting up – and every day, he suited up – and going to the office for a twelve-hour work day. If you don’t think about him during this part of the morning, it’s during the part of your day when you’re jammed up against the crush of humanity on your subway train, breathing in someone else’s bad mood, someone else’s coffee breath, someone else’s body wash, and you think of your dad commuting from the Upper West Side down to Rockefeller Center in the seventies, which he called “the bad old days”, and you wonder if his trains were this crowded.

But you’re not there yet, the sardine can of fellow commuters; you’re still at home and somehow, it’s 8:04 and you haven’t left yet. So now you’re full of self-loathing and coffee, and by the time you wrap the scarf around your neck, jam the hat on your head, fumble with the gloves, zip up the damn coat with the ripped zipper that you swore you would replace this winter – only who has the time to go shopping anymore? – you are not only filled with self-loathing and coffee, you’re also hot. If you’re lucky, this isn’t the moment you remember that you forgot to brush your teeth.

Out on the street, you have to reapply all the winter accessories that you stripped during the grumpy walk down the stairs, because of course you forgot to brush your teeth. You are not yet the valedictorian of mornings. You walk, and if you’re really at the bottom of your karma cookie jar, the weather gods have thoughtfully layered the ground with yet more snow, fluffy new snow covering old disgusting snow, which makes you walk like an ostrich, carefully plucking your feet and putting them down while trying to walk quickly because you left the house four minutes late. Pro tip: If you try to put your headphones on now, buddy, you’ll probably fall on your face.

2010 is almost over and in the spirit of all things end of year, a list:

Things that are Shiny and New:

  • My new job! I have left my beloved ACAT and all the wonderful AT teachers that made up my days, 20 hours a week, and have started at a research institute that’s part of a Big Hospital Conglomerate. The work is research support on a few grant-funded projects that deal with HIV/AIDS and intravenous drug use (cheery!) and it’s full-time and very librarian-adjacent, which is how I like it. I get to manage data (yay), facilitate academic research (double-yay) and make sure things are efficiently ticking along (double-plus-yay) for the researchers.

Sub-List #1 – Things I Love About The New Job:

  • Everyone here is a tea-drinker.
  • I have plants.
  • I took over the position from one of the A+ coolest people in my graduate program, whose shoes are going to be tough to fill; everyone was in tears at her goodbye shindig.
  • DATA. Did I mention the data?
  • ACADEMIC RESEARCH. Did I mention all the databases? No? Let me mention them.
  • Working downtown near Stuart.
  • Working near water.
  • To re-iterate, the data and the academic research. And the spreadsheets.

Continuing the Things That Are Shiny And New list:

  • Oh, wait, I think the job was the only shiny, new thing. Let’s tweak this list.

Things That Are Shiny, But Not Necessarily New:

  • Our new couch. We have a new couch that I spend a lot of time communing with. (A new couch with which I spend a lot of time communing.) You could say I’m a couch potato, but that would be rude, because potatoes, though delicious, are not particularly sexy or exciting, nor are they maintaining their 4.0 in graduate school. So let’s say I’m a couch … what’s a sexy vegetable? Asparagus is sexy. Let’s say I’m a couch asparagus. That watches True Blood.
  • That article I published in Hawaii Women’s Journal. Woops. I really dropped the ball here, internet visitors and loved ones. I didn’t tell you about this? Really? Well, most of you know me from Facebook and Twitter anyway, right? I mentioned it there. So, if you didn’t see it, it’s on pages 44-45 of HWJ’s November 2010 issue and it’s full of geektastic librarian jokes.
  • My hair. What, it is. It’s shiny, long, and now that I’m working every day, has to be diffuser-blown-dry before leaving the house, lest it freeze to my head. My hair has suddenly developed a maintenance routine.
  • The caramel brulee latte at Starbucks. It is like crack. (A joke I shouldn’t make now that I work at a research institute devoted to HIV/AIDS and drug use that sometimes includes actual crack.)

Things That Are Distinctly Un-Shiny:

  • Winter. Listen, people, this has been one cold bitch of a December thus far. Maybe this is because I am leaving the house at the crack of dawn every morning eight in the morning now, but I have never been so desperate for the thermostat to just crack 40 already. Just 40! Just break out past freezing, WINTER. This segues nicely into…
  • commuting. I used to secretly roll my eyes at friends and loved ones who I live with that liked to bitch and moan about the MTA and commuter rage. Dude! It’s an economy of scale and a glorious feat of civic engineering! Shut up already! … oh. Then I started commuting every day at commuting o’clock (as opposed to the glorious hour of 9:30am where it’s all unicorns and candy canes) and I am distinctly less impressed with a. my fellow humanoids and b. the MTA. I’m still refusing to bitch about it, cf. economy of scale and glorious feat of civic engineering.
  • Hermit-itude. I have become a hermit. I vaguely remember what my friends look like and people, these are not your garden-variety friends, these are top-shelf, scarcity-marketing, sign-up-luxury-goods-website type friends. These people are a crack team of friends. Not THAT kind of crack. And yet, I barely have seen them in a month. I will blame school, and my new job, and the weather, but I will also blame myself a little, and I commit to being 63% more social in the upcoming year than I have been in the last month.

Things That Are The Reason For This Pathetic Post Being My Last Update in 2010:

  • Aruba. I am going there next week, with Stuart and my brother and my mom and my other brother and his wife and daughter. We are going because my mom likes to have all her three kids in the same room/city/continent from time to time (is the Caribbean a continent?) and also because let’s face it, people, my dad died last year around Christmas so Christmas isn’t going to be the same and it might as well be not the same on a Caribbean island that may, or may not, be its own continent. I will maybe post pictures if the beach house has wireless, but I realize that sentence means you’ll never talk to me ever again. Until 2011, right?

Okay, that’s enough with the lists. I wish you a beautiful and peaceful and family-filled (or family-less if that’s your preference!) and delicious Chrismukkah (although the -ukkah part is already over) and I hope you spend your New Year’s Eve making out with unicorn candy canes, if that is what your little heart desires. I, for one, am cautiously optimistic that 2011 will not suck, or at least, it will not suck in the same ways that 2010 sucked, and it will rock in similar or amplified ways that 2010 rocked.

2011: Less/Different Suck, Equal/Better Rock. How’s that for a motto?

Apropos of nothing (let’s deftly avoid how I’ve neglected this little blog for over a month) I found this email when I was searching for an email from a friend about Italy.

from: e cavouras
to: Krissa , Luiz
date: Sun, May 25, 2008 at 6:26 AM
subject: sucess at last

Titiu and luiz
after two (count them 2) 4 kl trecks and 5 bridges* got me a sim card so you can call us. Phone # is
xxxxxxxxx. This Number is valid while we are in Italy.

we love you.
mom&dad

PS Lui
Will send email to Max but dont know if silvana will see email before monday if she works so maybe you call and pass the info.
PS 2 we are 6 hours ahead of NY and 7 hours ahaed of houston and Chicago

* bridges mean steps up and down. Also venice is perfwect for NYorkers who live in 4 step walk ups

I love every little word of this email. I love the joke at the end about New Yorkers. I love how dedicated dad was to finding a SIM card so that we could call him on their Big European Vacation. I love the typos, man-oh-man how I love the typos. My dad was actually quite exacting when it counted, but emails from him were always this weird amalgam of LOL-speak and telegram-like staccato communiques. Once, I forwarded a particularly choice example to Stuart, laughing, and Stuart responded that emails this bad were usually ended with “Sent from my Blackberry”.

I also love how with the hindsight of history, I know Venice wasn’t the highlight of their trip. Mom got sick with a bronchial infection and found Venice too touristy by half. But Dad still trecked (sic!) up and down a bunch of bridges to find a SIM card because that was what he did. He identified what needed doing, and did it. When he would visit us in New York, there was always a hodgepodge selection of things we needed coming with him. A new filter for our sink. New sponges. “Here, a new cordless phone, why is your house such a death trap for cordless phones?” He was at once incredibly proud of me and also constantly finding ways he could help me with things he lovingly joked I was incapable of handling. I’m more than capable of figuring tricks and tips out in Excel, but sometimes I would come across something I wanted a spreadsheet to do and I’d just email him and ask him for help. He’d always spend two hours crafting me the exact document I needed.

Anyway, this email made me happy. I mean, it also made me sad, because the label “dada” in my gmail account is populated with a finite number of digital objects, each so incredibly mundane, except what did I expect? Was every email supposed to wax rhapsodic about the short time we have on this earth, and how much he loved me? No. Instead I have a folder full of reminders about tax software, links to inexpensive camera gadgets, suggestions on where to buy hardware I needed for some harebrained home renovation project, emails from abroad with temporary phone numbers, cryptic text speak, jokes about my dog, and Excel spreadsheets designed from scratch to improve my life, or just one day in it.

Here’s another one, just because it’s a perfect example of my archive (and no, I didn’t forget any of these things):

from: evangelos cavouras
to: Krissa Corbett Cavouras
date: Sun, Nov 18, 2007 at 10:15 PM
subject: dont forget

to pack
a) my camera
b) swiss knife
c) electrick screwdriver
d) red box with drill bits/screwdrivers
e) stainless suare cake pan

love u
dd

 

Love u, too, dd.

(Oh, isn’t that wishful thinking.)

I was clicking back through my posts sort of mindlessly checking whether I use categories or tags when I had that moment that Snoopy has, where he’s wandered into the tall grass and he tries to play it cool, so cool, but he really wants to turn tail and run like a squawking chicken back to safety. I had stumbled upon my own grief.

And damn my blood for knowing how to write it, too, because I remember the way the sentences translated into the real world. I remember hating Fridays. I remember eating clementines. I remember how easily I remembered so many details from Dad’s last few weeks, remembered them like they were needlepointed to the insides of my eyelids.

It’s weird how the last ten months have changed me. I’ve been slowly but perceptively recovering in the ways you can recover (I don’t hate Fridays anymore) and also learning to recognize the swathes that are just permanently altered. I’ve been in therapy, which is just great – people, it’s great, you should try it – but it’s always surprising to me that it’s not always about my dad. It’s always surprising that the rest of my personality has withstood the gale force winds that blew.

But I’m also still so easily shocked into earlier states. I have this little problem where I wince when I meet the eyes of the very old or infirm. I feel like a grade A asshole but it hurts somehow, somewhere that isn’t all that healed actually, to see rheumy eyes and papery skin or watch a hand tremble on the subway. I want to fling myself against a window like a heart-thumping little bird to get out, away, out. It’s jarring how completely sub-conscious this reaction is. Sorry, old people. I’m usually not this weird.

Also I hate the sight of those auto-hand-sanitizers.

Grief is weird.

The thing I’m left with is so much more universal than what I had before. What I had before (amongst many other blessings) was this brilliantly unique relationship with this utterly brilliant human being that just happened to be my father, and happened to like me a lot, with whom I happened to have a ton of personality in common. What I have now is grief, plain and simple, dressing on the side. It’s not even wild grief with unresolved crunchy bits and fugue states. It’s manageable, but it has robbed me of something. I am a girl who has lost her father. Look around – there are a ton of us! You might even be one! Do you know what was better? Having a father.

So that’s where I am. Simultaneously marveling at the efficiency of my psychic organs, which always seem to know what I need when I need it (now: stay busy! now: pamper yourself! now: sad movie for release valve! I am a well-oiled machine!) and frustrated with my loss, with the misplacement of this unique and brilliant relationship. Like it was my fault!

We are these mighty creatures, I guess, if we don’t spend too much time staring at the little holes in the fabric of our superhero capes.

front

My splendid friend Anna Pickard (and her dashing beloved, Bobbie) set off on a train journey around these United States a few weeks ago, and not content to just do something that’s on all of our life lists, she also turned it into a delightful Web 2.0 + epistolary adventure of Olde mashup with her Snailr Project. I love it when my friends do amazing things that I can brag about, don’t you? So of course I signed up to get own little mail-tweet goodness.

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(Click over to Flickr to see the text transcribed)

What’s amazing to me about this postcard is how it stretches across a particular narrative divide in Anna and Bobbie’s trip, that is, the Train Crash. They were rumbling along through Louisiana when their Amtrak train struck a passing eighteen-wheeler, shearing it right in half. They were fine, most of the passengers were mostly fine, the driver of the truck was miraculously fine. But the character, A, that Anna so good-naturedly lacerates about his vegetable consumption, was taking photos and uploading them to twitter, and both Anna and Bobbie linked him and his accounts of the crash through their Twitter feeds. By the time I received the postcard, I was able to immediately identify who she was talking about because of this web/text mashup world.

I’m not sure Anna had any intention that A would be so included in her narrative after this card, but there you have it – narratives have a way of bringing back characters all on their own. And although the tweets about the crash reached me first, the card is on my fridge and is an altogether more interesting piece of ephemera. Two sides of a story.

I was thinking about Anna’s project as I watched all the photos trickle through from the Mighty Summit held last weekend in California. I won’t go into a whole long diplomatic summary of what Mighty Summit means or represents or who it affects, because you probably know and if you don’t, well, a tempest viewed from far enough away from the teacup just looks like a mirage.  I personally thought Broad Summit was fascinating, and I think Mighty Summit is, too.

But I was thinking about inspiration, and how the worst fallout I’ve noticed from Mighty Summit means we can easily miss the best possible takeaway from its existence. I get it. It was a public-facing event that not everyone was invited to attend, and it’s hard to see the spirit of something you’re feeling left out of. No, I don’t get free massages for sitting around with my friends and inspiring each other. That’s okay, though, because the muscles can get tense again but the ideas don’t fade from my grey matter. I’m inspired by Anna’s project and I’m inspired by the can-do, roll-up-your-sleeve Rosie Riveter attitudes I saw as the best cream skimmed off the top of Mighty Summit, across the blogs of the women who attended. And isn’t that a pretty good takeaway from something (two things really) that I didn’t even do myself?

I think there’s the risk that if we focus too much on what we, as a community of bloggers, didn’t get from not attending an exclusive event like Mighty Summit, we miss the chance to notice what we could get even without attending, which is the trickle-down puffs of inspiration and positive energy. Anna inspired me to think more about letter-writing, about the value we ascribe now to our written words because of scarcity. Mighty Summit made me look harder at my list, and think, what’s the purpose of this collection of ideas if I don’t approach each day (or, realistically, each year) as a chance to scratch a satisfying line through it?

So this year, the year that I am thirty, I am going to commit to five items on the list. One is a cheat, since I’m doing this anyway:

6. Spend New Year’s Eve on a beach.

(This year, my mother and brothers and our various partners are going to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Aruba. Before you get too jealous please realize that Christmas is going to be sort of sad this year and we made the collective decision that it’s better to be sad on a beach than anywhere else.)

Here are some other life list items I’m pretty sure I can reach August 31st, 2011, with some satisfying strikethroughs:

18. Ride a tandem bike.
41. Learn how to make perfect marinara sauce from scratch.
74. Help a friend with a project or ambition of theirs’.
98. Read Henry James and William Faulkner already, sheesh.

And I’m going to add one more, since #6 was such a gimme. This goes hand-in-hand with it, anyway:

87. Make gifts from scratch one Christmas.

And there’s another takeaway from Mighty Summit – we are not in anything alone. That’s why I put #74 on there this year. It’s not something I plan to only do once, and it’s maybe the most important (and self-referential) item on the list. But I know it’s something I can do this year.

If you can think of some way to help my list along (are you a chef that can teach me knife skills? a pianist that can show me how to play a jazz standard on the piano? want to help me throw a benefit party? most importantly for # 87, do you know how to craft?) then in the spirit of Mighty Summit, I’d love your help. Until then, I’ll be here, plucking away at my little pile of awesome to-dos, and being inspired by the people around me. So the question is, what awesome thing are you going to do this year?

In which we find our hero and heroine considering the various acrobatic feats of public transit required for their upcoming three-city tour of southwest England this November …

Krissa: I can’t seem to do a dog-leg trip from London to Winchester, to Southampton, and back to London, without spending a fortune in single fares, and they make the return fares so cheap! Are we going to have to go through Winchester on the way back to save some coins?

Stuart: Maybe.

Krissa: Oh well, I suppose you don’t need to go back through London, you can go straight to the airport … and I can take a train from Portsmouth instead, since it’s easier to get to there from your house.

Stuart
: Definitely.

Krissa: So, there’s a bus leaving Portsmouth but it’s 3 hours to Heathrow, or a bus leaving Southampton that’s two hours but you have to be on a 6am ferry. On a Sunday.

Stuart: Mmmmm yes.

Krissa: But! I found a £5 fare from Portsmouth to London so I’ll take that on Tuesday and spend Tuesday night in London before my morning flight out.

Stuart: …. You and I are really well-matched. My current thinking on this amounts to, “this is a thing that’s happening in November.”

Krissa: …. so, what you’re saying is, you don’t want to see my Google Spreadsheet?

Fade to crickets.
[See also.]

gift

For my thirtieth birthday, amongst other things, Stuart had this bracelet made for me. He asked the designer to put 808.02 on there. It’s the Dewey Decimal Classification number for style manuals. Actually, 808.02 is the DDC for “authorship and editorial techniques,” and 808.027, “editorial techniques,” is where cataloguers are instructed to class style manuals, but that was getting excessively clunky (and I had to log into OCLC Connexion to find that out) so 808.02 it is.

I asked, upon opening the gift, what the DDC number was for. So sue me, I knew the 800 class is literature! That’s more than most people who aren’t librarians or sixth graders could tell you. Stuart said, “it’s for style manuals. Because you’re so stylish.” He’s just being nice – it’s also because I love rules. I love grammar. I love the way different organizations or cultures have sprung up around the correct way to create a bibliography, and why. How for different applications, there are different ways of organizing information and displaying it. There’s a good reason why I love library science. It’s because I love order.

This is one of those teachable moments, realizing how much I love order and organization. I’m thirty now! It’s okay to be obsessed with taxonomies! That’s just who I am! Another thing I am is a woman in her thirties, starting to think about family. And babies. Ohhhh, the kicking ovaries. Ladies, you tried to warn me.

I’ve been stymied as to why a woman already aware of her desire to start a family would suddenly FLIP A SWITCH just because of a birthday. And it’s not, to clarify, that we’re going to have a baby tomorrow. The dog and the graduate degree are enough for me right now. But what’s the difference between spending all of my twenties happily, calmly aware that I was going to have children someday, and turning thirty, where I can’t even look at pictures of my friends’ babies without getting all broody and making funny faces at Stuart? (Although, have you met Esme? You’d want one too.) Seriously, the other day, I found myself cuddling Nano in a distinctly …. swaddling … manner. What! The! Eff!

But today, I was talking to my therapist and I hit on it. In my twenties, starting a family with Stuart was something I was going to do in my thirties. In a very rigid, time-centered way, it was Tomorrow. I wasn’t in my thirties! Oh, guess what. Now I am in my thirties, which means that clock is suddenly labeled Today. And while nothing else, empirically, has changed, everything has changed. This is the decade we’re going to do this … and here we are, in that decade. Someone get me a to-do list! (Don’t worry, that to-do list starts with: Finish Degree.)

Which goes back to my first point, stepping slowly away from all this Heavy Stuff (although feel free to empathize and extemporize on your own clock systems if you have them). I am 808.02! I am your friendly neighborhood organizer. But Stuart also pointed out, I could easily be Greek myths and legends, which would be 398.20938. What would you be, if you were a DDC number? You don’t have to be a library nerd to play along – give me a general category you think would work and I’ll see if I can’t tease out the right number for you. My nerdy expertise could be your new charm bracelet!

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