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Surfacing
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
My kindom for a digital camera...
Topic: Catching up

It's a ridiculous complaint, I know, but I miss having a digital camera.  I have about 6 photos left on the disposable one I paid way too much money for in Stockholm, and no idea when I'm going to use them up.  So I am unable to find out whether or not any of my pictures from Stockholm and London are decent, let alone share them.  That, and the fact that it was colder in DC today than it was in either Stockholm or London, has made me just a little bit cranky.


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Wednesday, 12 November 2008
I am the farthest north I have ever been
Topic: Catching up

Never having pulled a 24-hourish stint of travel with hair this short (chin length) before, I did not anticipate that it would look quite so bad getting off the first plane, let alone the bus between airports and the next plane. I’m writing this sitting on yet another bus, waiting to depart Skavsta airport for Stockholm, and at long last, a hotel where I can wash my hair – and the rest of me – free of the sticky film of travel.

It’s been nearly two years since I last used my passport, which – well, I would say that’s peculiar, but I didn’t leave Australia for two years, so that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. It is a bit strange to have spent such a long stretch of unbroken time in the States, though. Now I get a week out, in two European cities I’ve never been to before, and while I’m pleased, I do find myself wishing they weren’t northern European cities in November. I can only hope I’ve packed warmly enough.

The trip out to Stockholm has been a bit grueling – while it’s a professional trip, it’s on a pretty limited budget, so instead of flying reasonably directly from DC to Stockholm, I ended up leaving DC for London last night, arriving at Heathrow this morning, transferring to Stanstead airport, well outside the city, this afternoon, to fly Ryanair to “Stockholm” – and now I’ve got another hour+ bus ride ahead of me. Not to mention a conference that starts at 8:30 tomorrow that I have to figure out how to get to. And all I want to do is shower and sleep. Sleep, like I did briefly just now, and came to myself to find six rows of “mmmmmmmmmmmm” marching across my screen.

The bus ride from Heathrow to Stansted might have been a good way to see a bit of the English landscape, but I’ll never know, because I have vague recollections of pulling out of the station, and then I was out like a light, with only a couple brief “huh . . . wha . . . should wake u. . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” moments before we got to the airport. I almost never sleep well on planes, but the hum and sway of a vehicle on the road rock me off to sleep almost against my will. I’m struggling now, but I really don’t want to doze off because I’m afraid I’ll wreck my chances of getting to sleep tonight. And I dearly want to sleep, and hopefully lessen the jet lag.

I can't believe how easily the trip out has gone. Both flights actually came in a bit early, there was next to no wait at immigration, practically no customs, and impressively little delay in securing my checked luggage.  I am not accustomed to this state of affairs. Tiny little Skavsta airport though, with it’s formerly blond finishes greyed and dimmed by time and hardly shown off to their advantage under greasy florescent lights, that felt vaguely familiar from my days schlepping around Eastern Europe.

I am losing the battle to the rocking of the bus. I keep yanking myself awake, trying to focus on the screen, to force my brain to string thoughts together while the landscape rolls by in anonymous darkness, and I wonder whether Sweden would look familiar under sunlight or not. I may never know – my return flight to London is a late one, and I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be dark when I reverse this trip on Friday.


12:01 AM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 23 November 2008 3:30 AM GMT
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Big day coming
Topic: Catching up

After much fretting and fussing and crossing of fingers and visiting of really ridiculously unsuitable sharehouses, it has finally happened. I found a place in DC. It's a lovely apartment in a neighborhood I'm familiar with that's close to my friends and to the office. And which I will be sharing with two other people.

This is going to be interesting, since it has been quite awhile since I've shared housing.  I'm feeling pretty good about it, since I liked my future flatmates a lot when I met them, and the apartment is certainly big enough that I'm not going to feel like we're living on top of one another.  I just hope that I won't be too awkward about the process of re-learning how to live with people.

It's also strange because I'm leaving Baltimore.  For as long as I've been able to choose where I live, when I've been in the States I've chosen to live in Baltimore.  Making the choice to live in another city feels a bit odd, somehow even stranger than moving overseas ever did.  Perhaps because although Baltimore and DC aren't far apart, it's enough of a trip (particularly when relying on public transportation) that I know I won't be coming back to visit anywhere nearly as often as I'd like. 


11:09 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 17 August 2008 4:53 AM BST
Saturday, 19 July 2008
I definitely need to move
Topic: Catching up

No question about it any more.  I had a ridiculous week at work - I'll spare you the details, but there was way too much going on and it all had to get done right away. By all rights I should've been a basket case, just like I was the week before.  But not having the commute, being able to get a little extra sleep, being able to hang out with friends after work - it all made a huge difference.  I was stressed, but I still felt functional, and I was almost frighteningly productive. 

So my friends in DC have been alerted to keep an eye out for open apartments, and I'll be putting in a lot of time on DC's Craigslist in coming weeks.  Wish me luck.  


3:03 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 9 March 2008
Oh, dear
Topic: Catching up

I disappeared again - I hadn't realized for quite how long.  The last half of February went a bit haywire, and so did my laptop, so I was without good internet access, or much energy, for a while.

I had been working at a synagogue for a few months, with very nice people and a very easy job that left me lots of time to work on job applications and play around on line.  But it wasn't full time, and that just wasn't working out for me financially.  So I put the synagogue and the temp agency on notice, and really expected that by about mid-January I would have another assignment.

No such luck.  Fortunately for me, the senior staff at the synagogue were kind enough to insist on keeping me on until I got a new assignment.  And January and February dragged on, with me wondering what was going on with temp agency and watching the national economic forecasts with growing unease.

And wouldn't you know, after a month and a half of silence on any job front, I got a new full-time temp job, and several interviews all within a week and a half?  I was frantically juggling my work schedule with my interview schedule, and trying to do online research for interviews with my laptop on the fritz, and a work computer located where everyone in the office has a clear view of my monitor, so I consider it prudent to be obviously online as little as possible. 

Now I'm back to sending out applications and waiting ... but at least for now I'm waiting on the results of the interviews, not waiting for just any response at all.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.


2:54 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2008 3:47 PM BST
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Briefly back
Topic: Catching up

Sadly, I'm still on the job hunt and still only have dial-up at home, but I stopped in at my brother's to check that his cats are still alive (which they are) and figured he wouldn't mind me borrowing his computer briefly. 

I miss blogging.  I like putting my writing and thinking, however half-formed, out on the internet for the few people who know me and the occasional strangers who stumble through.  And without access to my blog, I'm feeling disengaged from the little internet world I've built for myself.  I can't point out interesting posts I've read (and Feministe and WoC Blog have been on a tear lately), I feel silly linking back here when I comment on others' posts because my blog has gone moribund - it's frustrating.  

But then, a lot of things are frustrating at the moment.  Not having a job or even having had any nibbles yet at the applications I've sent out. The process of weeding through job postings to find positions I'm both interested in and qualified for.  Trying to make the decision about whether to stick with looking for jobs on a fairly full-time basis, or whether to try to take a meaningless job for awhile so as not to run down my savings any further.  Feeling like I'm in limbo, since I can't be entirely sure I'll get a job in this area and I might have to move.

Good things have been happening, too.   I got to go to the Virgin Festival last weekend because my brother's girlfriend couldn't use her ticket, and I heard so much great music - Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem, TV on the Radio, Peter John and Bjorn, Amy Winehouse, Spoon, Interpol, CSS, Deep Dish, M.I.A., and Regina Spektor were particular standouts for me.  And last night, I got invited to an impromptu barbeque that my downstairs neighbor threw together, which was really nice, considering that I'd talked to her for all of two minutes one day not long after I moved in. I had a really nice time.  She and her boyfriend were lovely hosts, and her friends were really interesting and funny. 

And today (in fact, in less than an hour) Ro arrives for a visit, which I'm excited about since I haven't seen her since February.  And then I'm going out to Oregon at the end of the month because Dee will be in the States before starting her new job, and I'll get to see these fine folks for the first time in over two years.  It's great to have that to look forward to.

But for now, I've got to get to the airport to meet Ro.  Until next time... 


Monday, 30 July 2007
No news is boring blogging
Topic: Catching up

Even if I could get to my blog regularly, I don't know what I would say these days.  There's just not much to tell.  I spend a lot of time looking at (and usually rejecting) job postings, reading, and not doing much else.  I see my friends, of course, but usually just to talk in a cafe or something.  Which is great, don't get me wrong, but just isn't all that notable.

I'm finding it frustrating not to be working.  I am not particularly good at structuring my time for myself.  I tell myself that I could also be using this time to brush up on a language, or turn my thesis into a article, or start writing a book, but somehow, by the end of the day, I've usually managed to review my job e-mails and sites, and then I'm tired and the best I can manage is to go for a walk.  

This weekend, though, I broke from this routine to visit a friend and her family in New York.  This morning we were here, which was pretty awesome, and which actually made me wonder if PepsiCo HQ is hiring.  


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Saturday, 5 May 2007
Facilitating
Topic: Catching up

As I expected, I found facilitating a week-long meeting challenging.  It wasn't easy keeping my energy and the group's energy up and focused, especially on Thursday, when my grandmother was in surgery in the early afternoon.  I found it difficult to manage the agenda sometimes since I didn't design it, so I didn't have quite the degree of insight into what it was intended to do that I would have liked to have had - particularly in those moments when I had to make fast changes to keep the group engaged and moving forward. 

I learned quite a bit this week, which is good.  Both about the topic of the meeting, and about facilitating.  Like if I were to do this again, I'd want to be involved in designing the agenda early on.  And I definitely would not try to do what I did this time, which was facilitate and take notes at the same time.  It was much too hard to divide my attention like that.  The group was very good to work with, though - they were very pleasant and eager to participate and respectful of each other.  On the whole, it was a good first experience, since it wasn't so hard that I never want to facilitate again, but it didn't go so smoothly that I risk being falsely confident about my own skills should I have the opportunity to do it again. 


7:10 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Acclimating
Topic: Catching up
I'm not doing it so well.  It hasn't been all that terribly cold since I got back to the States, but I'm freezing.  I was just half asleep on Kat's couch, wrapped up to my neck in a fuzzy afghan, with a cat curled up on my lap, and I was still chilly.  I wish I could've stored up the summer in Melbourne, soaked it in to my bones and let the heat radiate out slowly until spring. 


9:43 PM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 1 March 2007
Charm City
Topic: Catching up

It's possibly the least fitting of Baltimore's nicknames.  For the grim, "Bodymore, Murderland" suits the city's violent crime rate.  "Smalltimore" captures the city's knack for putting someone you know in your path at the least expected moment.  "Mobtown" was at least earned, repeatedly - by wave after wave of riots in the city throughout the nineteenth century.  "Charm City" was manufactured, dreamed up by the same sort of people who saddled the city with slogans like "The Greatest City in America" and "Baltimore: The City That Reads" and the latest mediocrity, "Baltimore: Get In On It."  In a certain spirit of adaptation (or desecration) that characterizes the Baltimorean attitude toward such marketing efforts, the "Bodymore" people will occasionally throw out a "Harm City," just for good measure. 

And yet, Baltimore did charm me when I came here for college, and I do love it (in spite of itself, sometimes).  When I saw the downtown skyline from the window of the bus on Friday, I started to cry.  I was right to come back when I did, because my friend's death has complicated all my feelings about being in Baltimore.  He is so strongly linked with this city in my memories.  He should be here, and being here myself makes his absence all the more apparent. 

I have lots of other friends who are still here, though, and seeing them is like finding pieces of myself I hadn't realized were missing.  Or re-reading pages of a familiar but half-forgotten story.  So much has happened, so much has changed - but somehow it's like coming back to a half-read book after reading something else.  I might have to re-read a few pages, even a chapter, but then I'm back in the swing of the story.  There have been moments where I've had to remind myself that I've been gone, because I feel so perfectly at home here with my friends.  Just a few, but those moments are so comforting, with their reassurances that some relationships endure, despite time and distance.


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Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007 6:47 AM GMT

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