Between Posts

Sitting in Hanover, at the Hop, a tradition I’ve had for going on nine years now, typing away on my laptop about nothing really of importance. I’ve got nothing really to say, but I’m writing anyway, because sometimes that’s the right answer for stress and worry and overthinking things (not because it stops any of them, but because it codifies them and thus offers the potential of getting some sort of mitigating manageable handle on them). The reasons I’m stressing are largely unimportant and unsurprising. I’m in a sort of purgatorial limbo right now in pretty much every aspect of my life, and it’s driving me up the wall, though I know I simply need to accept it and not let it get to me, especially since at least some elements are decisions I’ve made for myself. (Make your bed and lie in it and all that.) That’s not really why I’m writing though, other than to point out that those concerns and stresses and frustrations haven’t left, they are still there, still acting like monkeys on my back. Frankly, I’m sick of talking about how stressed I am. It feels redundant, it’s embarassing, and it hasn’t done a goddamn thing for advancing any of my goals, causes, or ideas. The only reason I’ve talked about it as much as I have is because it’s taking up so much of my mental energy (not because I feel it’s at all noteworthy or interesting to read).

So, let’s talk about other things, shall we? My time at Peterborough was interesting (a word that is used far too often), and it was nice seeing my cousins. I managed to even get some writing accomplished, some of which I’m feeling pretty good about. Most of it was stress/loneliness/depression induced whining, but there’s some things that I’m feeling alright about. I’m writing a comic script for a friend of mine that I think is coming out pretty well, and look forward to seeing what they do with it. I did some writing exercises talking about the ghosts in the house, and (at my father’s suggestion, per my request for such) a quickie story talking about the Thing in the woods up on the hill, and I think those at least are moderately interesting if not an acceptable quick read.

I finally went back to my parents’ house, which is my home base for the next few months. I’ve managed to successfully live on my own and outside my parents’ house for a decent number of years now, and even owned my own house for a while… so it’s a little embarassing to be suddenly back there for a while. I’m staying positive about it: I get along with my parents, which helps, and hopefully it will serve as a good motivator to do what’s necessary to improve my situation. (Job applications continue to be sent out and, after looking at my most recent list of bills, with redoubled energy.) Mostly, I’ve been working to get my room into a semi-productive configuration (things are still mostly in boxes, so finding ways to organize it functionally is a nice challenge), so that I can get at least some mental and physical clutter out of the way for NaNoWriMo in a few days. I’ve also been applying for jobs, several of which are particularly exciting prospects (notably, a few at Apple, and a few game related jobs), with any luck, I’ll hear back from at least some of them sometime soon, and in any case, it’s something vaguely productive, to get back in the habit of doing.

There’s a new television show that I found out about looking at craigslist that involves travel, where they take you wherever you want. Needless to say, I applied this evening. I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere, and frankly it doesn’t matter. It’d just be neat, is all. I sent in two different places I’d like to go, telling them to choose which they’d prefer for the show. I think they’re interesting choices, we’ll see if they think so too.

Plenty more to report, but nothing more for the evening. Now that I’m back around, I’ll aim to post a bit more frequently.


I’ve largely finished moving out of the house in Montpelier, with my belongings (and myself) moving down to my parents’ house for the time being. This really isn’t that bad, as I get along with my parents rather well, and we’re all aware that it will be temporary, which takes a lot of the stress off (though it still remains to be seen exactly how temporary). The one major flaw with living there is that they have no broadband, and even their dialup is noisy and slow. This is through no fault of their own: they’ve kept their hardware up to date and internal lines clear. It all comes down to the fact that the phone company isn’t willing to lay new cable, nor add a station to a pre-existing box to add DSL capability further out of town. Also, the cable company continues to give a song and dance about “maybe” running cable out there “soon” (which is what they’ve been saying for 20 years), so that’s out as an option. There is wireless broadband in the area, but there are a few hills in the way of the line-of-sight needed to get there. Cellular based broadband (EVDO and the like) MAY work, assuming that our somewhat sketchy reception at the house is enough and that the towers serving it are upgraded to handle it… awful big investment for something that may not work. Basically, the choices are either pay an exorbitant amount of me getting a T1 or partial T1 installed, move, or suck it up on the 56k dialup service that is consistently lucky to hit 28.8 (which is “high enough” according to the letter of the law that the phone company will do nothing about the line noise, since it’s not seriously affecting voice communication).

So, instead I’m sitting in my car, in Hanover, listening to my iPod on my car stereo, getting some writing done and downloading a few updates and apps I wanted/needed for some projects. Normally I would be sitting out in front of Collis, but it’s too cold and rainy. Otherwise, I’d be sitting inside the Hopkins Center and using the wireless there, but that’s closed up tight for Labor Day weekend (as is the interior of Collis). But hey, my car is pretty comfy, and it’s nice being able to listen to my own music.

Tomorrow, I pack up my bags and head south to Rhode Island, where Erica and her friends are gearing up for the new school year, and planning a big camping trip up in Maine, which I will be accompanying them on. (And yes, I do consider them my friends too, but I know them through Erica and they were her friends first, so…) It should be a good time rain or shine, and it will be nice to see them all again (many of whom I haven’t seen since the spring). One of my secret projects should be coming up tomorrow as well, so hopefully I’ll have time to post about that once it’s done.

Y’know, modular apps is kind of neat in that when you update an application, you just drop the new application into the directory and it replaces the old one. That said, I do kind of miss when an updater actually modified the pre-existing app. They were smaller. I’m most of the way through an 80mb download, and that is frankly a small package compared to some. it gets frustrating killing time waiting for things to download (hey, news to companies out there: not all of us have an OC3 pipe!). But then, when else would we write all our blog posts?

The Heat Has Broken

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it before [just checked… 10 other times], but I’m sitting in Hanover at the moment, watching people and enjoying the New England August, which is about as close to perfection as can be achieved in nature. It is ranging between 72 and 78 between shade and sun, with a light westerly breeze and low to non-existent humidity, and just enough vivid white clouds floating by to provide texture to an otherwise rich blue sky. Simply put, this is the weather that God sets his climate control to. If you abruptly keeled over and died, wafting up to that oft-remarked upon better place, you would not notice a difference in the weather.

Depending on the weather report you listen to, it’s supposed to stay this way for a few more days. Personally, I’m hoping so. In the grand scheme, as much as we claim an immunity to the weather via concrete and steel, we are still very much affected by it, and enriched by the beauty of that divinely pristine day. But perhaps I am waxing on too much of the day, and not enough of the moment, nor my place within it.

Things have been (un)hectic since my last post. By that statement, I mean that there have been a great many things happening, but very little of it has been occupying my attention. My brother has taken a position in Washington, DC, and in fact has already moved down there (rather abrupt, I know). I wish him luck, and hope to visit him at some point soon. My car was broken into shortly after leaving my previous post, while it was parked on the street in Providence. They went through my trunk lock, so I didn’t even know anything had been taken or damaged until I was already north at Squam, and went to collect the bags holding my mask, snorkel, books, and warmer clothing (it was raining when we got there, an a sweatshirt seemed an eminently good idea). All in all, about $1600-2000 worth of stuff was taken, encompassing two bags and my leather jacket containing all the usual doodads and knick-knacks I’m wont to carry. As soon as I got back home, I assessed to make sure everything I thought was gone really was, and then arranged to report it to my insurance company and to my bank (since my checkbook was stolen). It’s proven to be a bit of a hassle, since I now need to prove to the insurance company that I did in fact own each of those items, several of which were gifts, others were part of events or other non-itemized things, and others still are either too old to have a receipt after several moves, and the remainder have receipts handily organized by my ex-wife for just such an occasion… in a storage unit in Seattle. It’s not enough of a loss to justify the money to fly out to Seattle, either. Of course, the whole point is moot until I get a police report case number, or else the insurance company won’t pay a dime… and of course, you must file a police report in person, which I have not been able to arrange yet (I’ll be heading down later this week). All that said, I find myself remarkably unstressed about it, or much of anything. It’s like someone’s been slipping valium in my water — I simply find myself remarkably beyond worrying about what I cannot change, and accepting of my situation (broke, unemployed, and unsure where I’m going or what I’m doing next). To be perfectly frank, a part of me has been thinking of just taking off for parts unknown and taking a job at a diner in some podunk somewhere no one has ever heard of.

I was pleasantly satisfied with the results of the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote yesterday, where they showcased a number of features being added in the next release of the OS (Mac OS X 10.5, due out this spring), many of which I think will be invaluable additions to my workflow (their incorporation of several principles of GTD into their apps bodes well for being more organized). They also debuted the new Mac Pro (the desktop to replace the PowerMac G5), and the new Xeon-based Xserve, completing their transition to an Intel based architecture after a whopping 210 days (instead of the anticipated 2 years). Both of these new systems are looking pretty stellar, though I really can’t justify an upgrade: my G5 is still in excellent condition and usability, and my Mac Book Pro had best last me quite some time (though I will be the first to admit I use it quite a lot, and not in ideal flat-table-or-desk situations… in fact, I think it may have warped a little, as it no longer sits entirely flat with all four feet on the table anymore… I may take it down to the Apple store sometime soon and have them look at it while it’s still under warranty). Overall, the keynote meant very little to me in the present, since I have neither the money to join a high enough developer’s membership to get a 10.5 developer’s seed, nor to buy a new machine. That said, there is a lot of excitement about some the features to come in the spring, not the least of which includes what they’re calling “Objective-C 2.0”, which according to the banter on the obj-c-language list hosted by Apple, is still under NDA and won’t be elaborated on for a while yet. The little tidbits put on the Apple website, however, point to some really nice additions to the language, including ones that potentially make it an even more viable platform for using in a game development situation (I still believe it has the potential, and that we simply need to really assess the libraries and tools provided in its feasibility — the Core libraries alone hold a lot of potential).

In the next few weeks, I need to move out of my house, and line up where I’m going to be after that lease ends (I also need to find rent money for that final month, as well as pay off some bills that require cash). I’m still sincerely hoping that I’ll be able to work something out involving staying at Squam and Peterborough for a few weeks each, to get some writing done in a place that I can be alone and undistracted (both of which are very important to me right now, as I find myself more and more a recluse).

Actually, I want to talk about that parenthetical for a moment. As many of you know, in the Meyers-Briggs personality scale, I’m consistently a strongly leaning INFP (Introvert iNtuitive Feeling Perceptive). My introversion has been becoming more and more pronounced over the past months, and I find myself more and more reluctant in combating it. It has nothing to do with anyone but myself, and the directions I feel I need to go. It does not mean that I don’t care about others, or my relationships with them. It does, however, mean that I’m realizing that I probably haven’t been the best person to hang out with lately, and likely won’t be for some time to come. Caveat emptor!

Less Broken

Things are a bit better today. Mickey called (before reading my post or any sort of prompting, I should add), and we talked for a bit, which was good. I knew I was painting a bleaker picture than the reality, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was how I was feeling. So that was a good thing.

I slept in today, and ended up sleeping for around 11 hours, finally getting up around 1pm. I puttered about the house for a while, and then Mom got home with the mail, and I discovered that my application for a free subscription to Game Developer magazine had succeeded: August’s issue, including a disc containing the ATI Speakers and Presentations from GDC 2005. This really made me feel a lot better, and from there I gathered enough gumption to actually call and make appointments for hair cuts and oil changes, both of which I’d been putting off for quite some time. Being productive is a good feeling, even if it’s little things. And frankly, getting those two things accomplished made me feel more productive and functional than I’ve been in two weeks.

I helped Dad bring the futon downstairs and set up in the living room, and then went to lunch with Mike and April, got coffee, and then wandered over to Collis, where I’ve been hanging out the rest of the evening. It’s been a very quiet evening, which I kind of appreciate. JJ swung by for a little bit, as did Jasmine. Caroline came by and hung out/studied, which was nice (I haven’t mentioned her before because I haven’t known her that long or very well… something I would like to correct). Jasmine swung by again after her Aikido class, and that brings me to the present moment, where I’m sitting by myself in front of Collis on Dartmouth Campus in Hanover, New Hampshire, in the United States of America, North American Continent, Earth, Sol System, Milky Way Galaxy, Greater Magellanic Cluster, somewhere adrift in the Universe.

So, yeah, I’m doing a bit better today. The general consensus is that I need to get back into therapy. They’re probably right… but I doubt it’ll happen until I get back in September. I suppose I could go for a session or two before needing to drive west, though… we’ll see.

Streetlight Glow

Life can be frustrating at times. At the moment, I’m worn out from a long weekend and sitting in Hanover, playing with my new iSight, a largely frivolous geek toy that I purchased at the same time as my Photoshop upgrade and speakers. I don’t really have any need for it for video conferencing, other than for the “new” factor of it. I can pick up software to make it function as a DV camcorder, which I’m strongly thinking about (Boinx iVeZeen), as it would make it at least slightly less of a symbol of geek lust.

On Friday night, I ended up sitting in Hanover until 4am, then crashing at Mariah’s house. In the morning, I met up with JJ and Mike in Hanover, had lunch with Tegan, and then went south to Hampton Beach. I’d neglected to pack shorts, so I hung out on the beach and dug holes, while Mike and JJ went swimming in the surf. After that, we wandered up and down the boardwalk. This was appealing to the eyes, but not so much to the intellect… attempts to strike up conversation weren’t met with disgust, rather simply blank, non-comprehending stares. It made me actually somewhat appreciate the snobbery of Hanover, where you at least have a higher chance at a conversation (assuming you can get them to talk to you). We rolled back into town around 2am, and called it a night.

It’s currently humid as hell, and I’m desperately hoping that the storms forecast actually show up; even if the humidity doesn’t drop, the wind and rain would be great, and even better if they turn out to be truly raucous thunderstorms. I’m sitting on my own, mostly because I’ve not made any effort to contact anyone to hang out (well, not entirely true: I did email Jasmine and let her know I was at Collis, but that is entirely variable on when she’ll actually get it, let alone have the time or desire to swing by). This is fine: sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and be alone. Especially after being around people for so long.

I’ll close with this minor epiphany: it’s extremely easy to be misunderstood when you not sure yourself. Which pretty much sums up my feelings right now, about relationships and emotions and thoughts. It seems like any time I make the effort to be decisive and state what I want, it’s spun around and thrown in limbo. I suppose this is my fault, self-sabotaging myself through who I become interested in, but it does get old being double guessed on my own mental and emotional readiness. As Othello stated, “Judge me as I am, nothing extentuate”. Translation into modern parlance: Don’t assume you know what’s going on in my head. As has been obviated in the past, I’m not exactly “most people.”


I’m currently sitting in front of Collis (becoming a broken record on that one, I suppose), wondering whether or not I want to go spend $250+ on going to a convention in Connecticut. I’ve heard good things about it, and I know several people who are going. Given that likely what I’d be doing instead is more of the same, I’m not sure why I should be hesitating. I suppose I’m just trying to figure out if I really have the gumption to go be surrounded by hundreds of people for three days. Some days I’m fine with the idea, other days… not so much. That many people wears me the fuck out.

I’ve already packed my bags and have left the house, and an idea that has been running around in my head is foregoing the convention and just holing up somewhere instead. We’ll see… I’ll let you know what I ended up doing when the weekend is over.

Winter Exposes the Nest, and I’m Gone

We buried my grandparents yesterday. The clouds sat low in the sky and muted the world, leaving just a rustle of wind through the grass in the cemetary. A few words were spoken, and each of us were given the opportunity to place a handful of earth in the grave. There were hugs all around, and then we went down to the church, where services were held. Several family members got up to speak, though I’d chosen not to. At the time, however, I was strongly tempted to. There was a lot of talk about all the community work my grandmother did, and being such an upstanding member of the community, which is absolutely true — she did a lot. My memory of my grandmother, however, is far more simple and personal: climbing into bed in one of the really high beds she had in Lyme, and her coming in with her hair down, and reading to us before we went to sleep. For all the big things she did, that’s the memory that’s been running through my head for the past few days.

After the services, my brother, my cousin Philip, and myself climbed up the bell tower and rang the bell, once for each year of her life (comes out to 30 each plus one or two by the person who let us up there, whose name is currently escaping me). After it all, we went to Dowd’s Country Inn, which is Gammy’s old house, and had a reception and dinner together. It was a good conclusion to the day, and really made it feel more like a celebration of Dick and Mary’s lives than a mourning of their deaths.

After getting home from dinner, I went out to Hanover, and spent some time with my friend Jasmine. I’ve only known her for a week, and I already think she’s absolutely fantastic. She is both forthright and honest, yet compassionate and caring, and simply great to be around, whether for a quick hug or to spend the day with. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her. I’ll leave it at that, for now.

I’m thinking pretty heavily lately about the lack of deeper thinking I’ve been doing. The notion of spirituality and emotions and mysticism and energy, these things I’ve been touching peripherally but not actually delving into on a personal or deeper level. To some extent, it feels like these topics are knocking on my door, waiting for me to let them in. Maybe it’s time I did.

Accordian Music

I’m sitting in Hanover again, with Uri and Mike this time. Uri flew east yesterday for our grandparents’ funeral, so he’s around for the next ten days. He brought his laptop this time, so we’re both getting some writing done, sitting at Collis. On Uri’s computer, iTunes is playing Below the Salt, a band we saw out in Seattle. It’s interesting stuff, a strange combination of jazz and hillbilly; laid back with a simple groove, a mishmash of upright bass, accordian, and musical saw. Totally worth looking into, assuming you can find it.

I’ve discovered that lately I have a strong aversion to hanging out with groups of people. More than two or three people and I simply lose interest in the situation, and want to go elsewhere. It’s like the more people around, the more I become exponentially more anti-social. I’m just more interested in actual dialogue right now, which is more likely in a one on one situation than it is in a group dynamic. I want to talk to people about what they are passionate about, what they care about, what they think about. I simply can’t bring myself to care about the inane little bullshit like what Buffy was wearing at the Yacht Club last week or how drunk you got last night. If you can’t make it to relate to your enlightenment, why are you talking about it? What does it bring to the table that makes it unique from the thousands of other stories exactly like it? We don’t like “reruns” in our entertainment, why should we have to accept it in our conversation?

Over the weekend, I spent some time with Mariah, leading up to her departure for Option. That was fantastic — she and I talked a lot about what was going on, and just in general had a really great time together. That lead really well into Sunday, when Mike and I were hanging out in Hanover, and randomly started talking to someone walking by. It turns out that her name is Jasmine, and she’s a graduate student at Dartmouth, studying organic electrochemistry. Let me just say that I think she’s awesome. I’m very glad to have met her, and look forward to spending more time with her in the not too distant future. She lives life passionately and genuinely, and it’s a breath of fresh air that I really value.

The house in theory is going on the market today. Mickey has been stressed about it, and I feel kind of bad about not being around to help with preparations, to spread the stress across an extra set of shoulders so to speak, but there is really very little I can do from here beyond lending an ear. I hope she knows that she is welcome to call and vent any time she needs to. I don’t really have anything else I can offer.

Thursday, UPS is finally sending an inspector to check out the monitors that were damaged in the move. For the record, from the date they called to confirm that I needed an on-site inspection (“Someone will call you in the next 24 hours to set up an appointment”), it was fully a week and a half until they called to set up an appointment, which was nearly a full week after that. I am very frustrated with this process, and if they try to dick me around on recompense over my damaged, insured items, I have absolutely no qualms filing a complaint with the BBB. I’m sincerely hoping that it won’t come to that, though.

Stacking Saucers 1

It’s currently 75 degrees and raining large, heavy droplets here in Hanover. I’ve spent a fair amount of time the past few days hanging out here, doing a lot of thinking, and a fair bit of talking along with it. It may not all be coagulated enough to put down in written form, but I’m going to give it a shot, because it’s an important subject. Of course, the subject itself is somewhat amorphous, multifaceted, and subject to interpretation. You could call it living an authentic or genuine life, but I prefer calling it living a passionate life.

As some are aware, I define being a geek as being genuinely interested and engaged by a subject. Theater Geeks, Movie Geeks, Anime Geeks, Book Geeks, these are all valid descriptions, but likewise there are Sports Geeks, Fashion Geeks, Social Geeks (not an oxymoron!), and these are just as valid, though we generally give them other names, like “jock”, “fashion maven”, and “socialite”. It all comes down to the same thing, however: being passionate about a subject and having it interest you so much that you learn all you can about it. It becomes a part of your life. You grok your passion.

Everyone has something that they are passionate about. It can vary wildly, and can even be unexpected to those around you. I’ve met people who are fascinated by the process of sewage treatment and water purification in the same way that I might talk about games. You never know what people are passionate about, and that act of wondering is a way that we can connect with others. A case in point; yesterday, I got to rambling about this topic in front of Collis, and randomly asked the girls at a table nearby what they were passionate about. Once they decided I wasn’t a nut-job (or at least a harmless one), the results were quite fascinating. These were people I’d never spoken with before, and yet when asked to talk about their passions, their eyes lit up and the conversation became animated. That passion for a subject is infectious, it becomes interesting to those around you whether they themselves share that passion or not. This is the power of passion.

That’s all pretty straightforward. Where I get all ranty and foaming at the mouth is the question of what we do with those passions. How many people are we surrounded by who are enthralled by a subject or topic or medium, but is never willing to take the step outside the safety net to actually pursue that as a profession? We go to college because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We get jobs that we hate because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Our passions are naysayed as too difficult, unattainable, unlivable, not just by those around us, but by ourselves, because we’re so afraid of stretching ourselves outside of complacency. For the most of us, the annoyance of living in the box is outweighed by the pain and fear of breaking out, and being who we want to be. If you have a passion for writing, be a writer. Write every damn day. Read other writing, read about writing, write stories, your thoughts, how your day went, that dream you had, a story, a poem, write about writing, write about reading. Live it, breathe it, embrace your passion, and it will embrace you. If you’re worried about it not being good enough or that it’s hard, or that there isn’t enough time in the day or that you want to watch your favorite television show or you want to go to that party, then ask yourself why you’re worried, and DO something about it. Afraid of the quality? WRITE MORE. Want to watch that show? Write about it, make it a project. It’s not just writing, either, it’s ANY passion. If you want to make art, bleed ink and paint. Don’t relegate it to a wistful sigh and a hobby, MAKE ART. If you aren’t pursuing your passions, then you deserve any unhappiness you receive.

If you think that’s unfair, then I have to ask what you’re so afraid of that you would deny your passion, your potential for the delusion of safety. That’s not contentment, and it’s certainly not happiness; it’s complacency. It is one thing to let that which does not matter slide. This is not such a case, however. It matters. It’s your passion, it’s your interest, it’s a part of your LIFE, and to deny it, to relegate it to the sidelines is denying a part of yourself. I do not see how that could be driven by anything but fear, or some form of self-destruction. Complacency is the antithesis of passion. Care to see what complacency and fear do? Here’s a social experiment for you to do: sit on a bench on a street and look at people. Look them in the eye, and see the reactions. It doesn’t matter if you’re well dressed or in rags, angry looking or with a smile on your face, nine times out of ten, the other individual will look away. Some can be explained away by conversations or other distractions, but that sort of ratio is simply too large to argue away. (For the record, out of roughly 100 people I tried this with last night, only 3 actually acknowledged the eye contact, all others looked away. Your mileage may vary.)

What drives that sort of behavior, that shrinking away from the possibility of contact or acknowledgment? My belief is that we shrink away from contact because we are afraid of having our world view shaken, of being stretched beyond the bounds of whatever box we’ve chosen for ourselves. To communicate with others inherently holds the potential of being challenged, and that scares people. We mitigate this as much as we can by surrounding ourselves with the like-minded, in classes, conferences, workplaces, social gatherings. How often do we just stop and ask someone on the street how they’re doing, what they’re interested in? Why not? Are we afraid that we might be judged? Why does it matter if we are? It’s just someone on the street, there is no illusory status lost from a conversation not panning out. It is, at worst, a missed chance at enrichment and engagement. You have not LOST anything. Those who talk to strangers live the fullest lives.

On New England

Because life is currently rather circular, I’m currently sitting in the Hopkins Center on Dartmouth campus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat here, or near here, but suffice it to say that it was a mainstay of my high school and early college years. I’ve blogged probably 70 entries (out of 240ish) sitting on the wireless connection of this campus, and spent countless hours talking to my friends over a cup of coffee or tea, in particular chai.

Something is marginally different now, however. This is no longer where I live. I live three thousand miles away, and only come here once every six months. Time is relative, however, so the amount of time away is largely irrelevant. The difference is far more subtle: walking through town here, people generally don’t smile. If people know each other, they might smile briefly, they’ll say hello, and on some occasions stop to talk further. But by and large, everyone is solemn faced, if not grim. Now, Seattle has its fair share of depressed and grim people, but there is a generally acceptable mood in the population. We are not the most free-speaking area of the country, but even with that in mind, we’re lightyears ahead of New England Stoicism. It’s not that New England is dead, and in fact there is quite a bit of activity and growth occuring. But the general atmosphere is simply grim. I can’t think of any other word that would better describe it. It’s like they are industrious and unhappy about it, but don’t realize that they are unhappy about it.

There is the beginnings of an economic boom occuring the area, with several major stores moving into the area, and apparently there is even talk of a mall going in. Additionally and simultaneously, the counter-culture (people living alternative lifestyles, often artists or musicians) is also beginning to explode in the area, complete with a non-profit low-power radio station (WXND), and even a soon-to-open comic book institute. If after October I didn’t come back for several years, I honestly don’t think I would recognize much of anything but the basic layout of the roads (and maybe not even that, purportedly, they’re finally going to make modifications to Route 12A, to help clean up the traffic problem with the plazas).

Every time I come back to the Upper Valley, I realize more and more how done I am with the area. I enjoy seeing my friends and family, but as I become more acquainted with good coffee shops and places to hang out and good restaurants, I find myself less and less missing the area. That’s not to say I don’t miss Vermont, or Squam, or my friends, or my family. Far from it. It’s more that I’m trying to explain that the allure of the UV is really fading. Of course, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d probably buy some land up in the Northeast Kingdom and build a house up there. Not as a primary residence, but as a place to hole up and enjoy the world a bit more than cities really afford. I think it would make living in a city the rest of the time a lot more palatable to me, which I think Mickey would definitely appreciate.

I will give New England credit for one thing: history. In most other parts of the country, entire regions have been overtaken with housing developments and suburbs, cul de sacs, and factory fresh houses. New England has some of that, but you also get to see older architecture, and older town layouts where roads went somewhere and the housing was designed for a non-car centric style of life. It engendered a sense of community that has largely been killed through suburban planning in the rest of the country. It’s affected this area as well, but not as much, or at least more slowly. That is absolutely a good thing, and hopefully with the beginning realization of the need for communal interaction, it won’t lose any more (and maybe even improve).