Friday, August 17, 2007

How Compulsive People Plan Vacations

We spent last week in New England, and stopped by Wellesley College. It started like this:

One cold rainy day last winter M and I sat in our kitchen with a couple of glasses of wine, thinking about how fast D was growing up and how short the period of time is while your kid is old enough to be physically competent and intellectually eager, but emotionally not-yet-screwed up. This lamenting grew into a travel conversation, you know, the "wouldn't it be great to take D to nepal" kind of discussion. Given 1) finite resources, and 2) limited overlap of free time between M's and D's school schedules, and 3) the alarming speed with which we seem to be hurtling through time, we decided we'd better get organized about vacations.

It would help to know that we feel obligated as parents to travel with our child, as frequently as possible. This might be just a ruse for us to travel as much as we can, but we like to pretend it's all about providing a multicultural experience for D. Anyway, in dreary January we made a list of places to take D before he gets too old to want to travel with us.

The List includes foreign travel to Japan, Australia, Great Britain (particularly Scotland and England), American historical sites like Washington DC and Boston, scenes of natural beauty or general coolness like Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, the Canadian Rockies, and Hawaii, and repeat trips to Alta, New Zealand, Italy, and Alaska. Whew!

Several months later we were watching our summer calendar fill up with the usual Jedi camps and family visitors and hiking weekends and we thought, "Yikes! Quick! We need to schedule a family trip!" We dutifully got out The List and picked Boston. Why? D was born there. We lived in the area from 1990 to 1999 (and in Western Mass from 1978-1981). It has easily accessible history dating back several hundred years. It's very close to Cape Cod. And it's much cheaper than just about everything else on the list.

I will NOT describe trip details, even though I'm sure you'd all be fascinated to read them. I started to write this blog about visiting Wellesley College, so, sorry, that's all you get.

Wellesley is gorgeous. Actually, New England is gorgeous. I had completely forgotten about the trees. Here we have very beautiful tall dark trees that look best when mist is whirling through their branches. In New England they have very beautiful short fat trees that look best from underneath with the sun poking greenly through.

Wellesley has many of these trees -- ancient beeches and sugar maples and white oaks -- growing luxuriantly between perfectly maintained gothic classroom buildings. I used to work in the science center, which we found open on a Sunday afternoon. We went inside and found my old office and looked at pictures and comics and quotes proudly decorating the doors of my old colleagues. We wandered through a computer lab with the same old signs (Save Often! Don't Forget to Log Off!) and the Victorian-era greenhouses where we found displays that couldn't have changed in 50 years. And I felt a pang of homesickness. Mainly I miss the sense of establishment, of an institution deeply rooted and cared for, stately and elegant like the trees on the lawn.

Bothell is not charming. But it's beautiful in its way. Our trees are tall and straggly and wild and they get tossed around in November wind storms. Blackberries and horsetail grow like crazy beneath them. Foxes and deer and eagles and hawks and great blue herons and weasels live in and around them. I like to think that UWB is like that - vibrant and scrappy and growing and resilient and nurturing, all at the same time.

I was happy to come back, happy to throw in my lot with the scrappy frontier adventurers. It was fun to work at a place like Wellesely, but it never really felt like home. Now I just need to bring in some pictures of D and cut out some Dave Barry quotes to start a trend in office door decoration!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Library 2.0

Our fabulous Library team is using Blogger to communicate about their experimentation with a variety of emerging (or recently emerged) technologies. What they're doing is safe and supportive and very, very cool. Nonexperts pick a topic, do some research, and create a little module in the form of a blog that includes recommended readings, some instructions for getting started, and an opportunity for reflection. Please see the original Learning 2.0 program for the inspiration behind this project and links to other libraries doing similar things.

They kindly invited me to participate (thank you, Sarah), which of course raises my last question of "do I blog?" for which I'm still awaiting an answer. But also! While I've been assiduously not-blogging, Blogger has been making blogging cooler with new ways to customize sites and more easily add images (see proof at right) and probably do things I haven't even thought of yet.

So... maybe I'll pull up my old list and get to work. Maybe.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Do I blog?

Earlier this week I was sitting in on a presentation by a candidate for our Writing Center Director. He asked, "How many of you blog?" I raised my hand (along with a surprising number of my colleagues), but I felt really guilty about it. I don't blog, do I? I have a blog, but do I blog? Not since November!

And then today I listened raptly to Gardner Campbell's amazing and inspiring audio piece that manages to combine poems and music and planets and time and wikipedia into one coherent and moving message at the end of which you want to punch a fist into the air and shout, "YES!" In closing Gardner talked about a caravan as a kind of community of spirits moving through this adventure of life together.

I'm still not sure I really want to blog. But I do want to be part of that caravan, and I think maybe there's some responsibility for contribution involved with that participation. So maybe I'll start up again.

We'll see. In the meantime, y'all should go listen to Gardner.