2015, a very very late recap

I started this post back in 2016, and finally got around to adding the photos 2 years later. So here you go a recap from my year as it occurred 3 years ago. It sure was a good one!

January

Due to my job, I got rather invested in the Seahawks and their fight to the Superbowl. Mainly because the longer they played the more opportunity my nonprofit had to fundraise.
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Alex and I went out to eat (probably for brunch, probably where there was coffee).
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We enjoyed the chance to babysit the youngest of our friends’ daughters. It was great fun to get some solo time with her and see Alex show off his future father skills.
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At some point this was my grocery list, I don’t know what I was planning on making, but I am sure it was tasty.
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February

Spent two evenings creating the adventures of Seda, a half-ling ranger, and her wolf, Akela. With the help of a cleric and a warrior, we successfully found, stole, and destroyed the crown of the long dead Lich-king.
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Reached level 7 of Ingress.
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Got to cuddle this ridiculous puppy thanks to my former co-worker Erin.
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March

Ate brunch with Alex at Volunteer Park Cafe and then walked around the Arboretum to look at signs of spring.
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Went to Olympia to tell lawmakers to fund emergency food programs. Also spent time looking at the cherry blossoms.
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Alex purchased a long-a-waited desktop computer. He was very happy about it.
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Went to the Pacific Science Center with Alex to escape a dreary weekend, mainly hung out in the butterfly garden.
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April

Got a new iPhone 6, giant computing power that fits in my pocket. Main use? Taking pictures.
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Went on a weekend getaway with Alex to Ocean Shores. Walked along cold beaches, made food that didn’t require an oven and lived in a tiny cabin 10 ft away from a hot tub = fun weekend. The more time I spend with Alex, the more I am convinced that I married an amazing person.
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Lindsay and I’s office amarylis bloomed!
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Alex and I went to hear Neil Gaimen speak at the University of Washington. Gaimen speaks as intelligently as he writes, or in other words quite well.
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Jenn, Katie and I made pretty smelling spa things. One out of three was very successful, but mostly I liked the time spent with these fun women.
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May

Seattle attempted to demonstrate just how many colors it could jam into one season
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My family came to visit!
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My friends came to visit!
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David and Sarah got married (While the highlight is truly the lovely ceremony that reflected their deep appreciating for community based activism, the main thing people talk about is the llamas).
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I went on a hike with family and one adorable dog.
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I started a tiny porch garden.
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June

I went strawberry picking with Katie, Jenn and kids. It was hot, but very delicious.
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I ate a burger at Miller’s Guild that will be included in my top ten list of things ever eaten.
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Alex and I joined up with Hedgehog friends from across the country and spent a long weekend in Cape Cod. The house was delightfully old, the beach was fantastically close, and the weather was mostly perfection. Side note: My friends seem to have only very adorable children.
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Celebrated various birthdays with the Peterson family women by eating and drinking our way through a lavish high tea.
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July

The sad departure of a friend at work brought about Bacon Hor-d’oeves day which was salty, fatty and completely delicious.
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I took the bus down to Portland to visit Meryl. Portland was in a heatwave, so we spent most of our time chatting, drinking iced coffee and seeking out air conditioning.
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We also spent one day hanging out and swimming in the nearby river – a completely lovely day.
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I reached level 8 of Ingress.
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Jenn and I hosted a baby shower for Katie and Bryan, for which we mainly focused on creating a spread of very tasty food. Highlights include the various tea sandwiches, Jenn’s Tres Dulce cake and my lavender creme brûlée.
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My amazing former co-worker Zan helped me get my very own signed photo of the Chef from Battlestar Galactica. #Nerdpoints
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August

Alex and I got very into making delicious protein salads like this one.
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I finally finished my contribution to a group knitting project – a Tardis themed baby blanket for Katie and Bryan’s baby.
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I ate homemade s’mores with my co-workers.
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I was offered a long awaited dream job – librarian and after much discussion with Alex made plans to move back to the Midwest. (No photo)

I baked a blueberry peach pie.
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I discovered an old macro cover for my iPhone and proceeded to take lots of extreme close-up photos around the apartment.
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Katie, Jenn and I enjoyed a celebratory (and final (for a while!)) ladies night by having dinner at a fancy waterfront restaurant.
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Alex and I “got sick” so we could spend the day savoring one last ferry ride around Seattle.
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We indulged in one giant weekend of RPG, trying to make up for the fact that we didn’t know when we would be able to play again. Battles were fought, Akela died a noble death, experience was gained, and so much fun was had.
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I reached level 9 of Ingress.
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September

I harvested the tiny red fruits of my porch plant labor and my spider plant decided to have lots of babies.
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Meryl came up for a visit and we talked, ate, laughed, Ingressed, talked, walked and laughed some more. Meryl is such a gem, I miss her lots.
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I went to my first ever Steampunk Tea and Painting Garden Party in costume and painted an owl. Somehow during my three years at my last job, many of my co-workers became dear friends.
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A baby was born! It was truly incredible to see such a tiny new life, only 24 hours old and to see two of my favorite people step up and become outstanding parents.
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David and Sarah treated us to an incredible meal at a fancy restaurant. We caught up on life and ate lots of tiny amazing food. This was dessert.
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While packing for our move, I found some outstanding old newspaper clippings that attest to both my extreme neediness and my brother’s early start to activism.
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As part of our farewell (for now) tour of Seattle, we spent the day at the zoo with our friends and their amazing daughters. It is very true that zoos are more fun with children along.
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After a feverish week of goodbyes, packing and much hecticness, Alex and I hooked up rented Uhaul and trailer and started our 5 day journey across the country.
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After a 16 hour first day, we took it a bit easier and traveled through Yellowstone on Alex’s birthday.
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Alex indulged my childhood love of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and we spent one night and part of a day exploring the tiny town of De Smet, South Dakota.
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We finally arrived in Goshen, tired and ready to say goodbye to our Uhaul. My parents welcomed us with open arms and plenty of help with the process of unloading.
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Being back in the Midwest means getting to see several of dearest girl friends more regularly. This makes me very happy.
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October

On Oct. 1, I fulfilled a dream I first started to have back in 2006 and got my first full-fledged librarian job. While changing careers is always hard, I am excited to say this job continues to inspire me and make me excited to grow in new ways.
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After our arrival in town, my parents promptly left on a week long vacation, so Alex and I took care of their chickens for the week.
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Another favorite of my fall was getting to see my younger brother Jonathan more regularly and get to meet his really awesome girlfriend.
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While Seattle will always win in terms of mountains and water, the Midwest really takes the cake in autumn.
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A quick weekend trip up to Evanston brought with it fun city adventures and more time with Jess, who is always incredible to hang out with. This also brought about my first visit back to the Chicago Botanic Garden is probably over 5 years. It was as lovely as I remembered.
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November

Part of the advantage of living closer to the middle of the country is that one can easily take a day off of work and make a quick trip east to attend a cousin’s wedding. So good (if all to brief) to see family. (No photo)

The Midwest delivered a spectacular first snow of the year. 6 or so fluffy white inches and one very gleeful Norwegian husband.
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Another highlight was the indulgent Saturday spent with girlfriends watching all of the previous three Hunger Games movies in anticipation of the release of the final one. Fun was had by all. (No Photo)

Thanks to our interest in cooking and disinterest in choosing only one kind of cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving was an expansive feast including three different red (or pink) dishes.
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I reached level 10 on Ingress.
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Family fun also included a game of disc golf, whereupon the four non-Jonathan members of the family attempted to beat the frisbee king at his own game by playing together on one team. We were unsuccessful.
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Jonathan’s dog Mathilde is the cutest.
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December

I love living closer to more of my family. Now all that we need to do is find a way to bring Tim and Charlotte a bit closer to this part of the country.
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My growing appreciation for my new co-workers reached new heights with Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.
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Winter means seeing a lot more sunrises, this is not always a bad thing.
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We decorated the christmas tree with my parents.
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My co-workers are intelligent, dedicated and also incredibly goofy.
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Alex and traveled for the week of Christmas to Seattle where babies were cooed over, dear friends were hugged, coffee was imbibed, chats were had, food was eaten, presents were opened, family was enjoyed, and then we flew back to Goshen to celebrate Christmas in Goshen.
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Bagels were baked, sweaters were knit, games (oh so many games) were played, food was cooked, presents were exchanged and lots of laughter.
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We finished up our time together with a day trip to Chicago on the train.
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Thoughts from a conference

On this blog, I try to write only the things that I am okay with the world knowing about the real me. I also generally keep my professional online presence separate from my personal blog. That said, I just spent the last 12 hours at work conference, so in terms of daily blogging, that is the only subject matter, other than a random picture of a cat, that will work for blogging today.

Today was all about storytelling, specifically storytelling designed to inspire donors to give money. I have really only been in the nonprofit world for 3 years, 1 of that was serving as a stipend-ed volunteer, and the past two have been in the world of communications & marketing. I also love stories, primarily as a reader, but also now as a writer. Telling good stories, stories that connect, stories that inspire, that is important to me and to my organization. I also believe in my organization, not only do I give it my focus, attention and hard work for 40 hours a week, but I am a donor as well. I truly believe we are doing good work.

That all said, I don’t always connect to the idea of being a fundraiser. I don’t necessarily want to make you cry with one of my stories, I don’t want to only ever tell you about the individual success story of a kid who overcame great diversity. And I don’t want to ONLY focus on the emotional centers of donors.

As one of our speakers said today, currently nonprofits compete primarily in terms of sales & marketing. The nonprofits who tells their story better, has the best website and gives you a great donor experience is the one who wins the donors. And yes, nonprofits should work hard at all of those things. However, shouldn’t we instead be competing in terms of impact? Shouldn’t it be that the nonprofits who really make the world a better place are the ones who win donors? Not just the ones who can pull at your heartstrings the most?

Another speaker earlier in the day talked about how (and he was coming primarily from the world of direct mail) sad photos move people to donate more than happy photos. He scoffed at the idea that poverty porn should be avoided and said in essence what matters is telling the stories that will generate the biggest checks, not necessarily the stories that are the average outcome from your organization.

That really bugged me. Perhaps it is my millennial generation showing, but my only interest in the world of marketing is the chance to do at organization which is making the world a better place. Life as a salesperson, advertising executive, or marketing guru sounds abhorrent to me. What I want is authentic transparency in the organizations I give to and I work for. I never want to rely on sad black and white photos of kids with empty bowls to inspire donors. I want to show them stories that help them understand how they play an important role in truly solving hunger. I want to write stories that don’t just tell the formulaic (no matter how tested) stories of individual people whose lives were changed, but I want to tell the story of how my organization is connecting the dots between where food is wasted and where it is needed.

One of the big adages of fundraising is that people give from a place of emotion. Supposedly no one gives when they are presented with stats or rational explanations. I can understand that, giving is an amazing act of humanity and it makes sense that it would be more right brain than left. However I don’t think that means we leave the left brain out of it. If the nonprofit sector truly wants to change the world (which is the claim we make in front of our donors every time we ask them for money) than we need to start finding ways to connect rationally as well as emotionally. This world has a lot of problems and it shouldn’t just be the program staff that are using the left sides of their brain to solve them. I like to tell stories and I like excel spreadsheets. I love a good novel and I love to read articles about psychology. I want to tell stories that connect emotionally, but also carry a strong rational core that help our work be understood on a broader level. In other words, I want my stories, but I want my stats too.

12 hour day

While I am incredibly lucky to work in a job where the balance between work and life is valued and I am only expected to put my 40 hours in every week (and paid overtime when I overshoot)*, today was a 12 hour day.

But on the plus side I did get to watch the Governor of the great state of Washington face off against a popular radio newscaster in 1 on 1 basketball. Oh and people at the event totally surprised us and donated enough food to fill over 20 food drive boxes (60-70 pounds each) and donated several hundred dollars. Not bad for a last minute event, which we had no idea what to expect. In the end people are pretty great.

*Which is actually pretty rare in the nonprofit world

Big Decisions

Hey all, so I am in the throws of a pretty big job-related decision right now. I can’t really go into details at this point, but if you can send good thoughts my way it would be much appreciated. Or even better, perhaps leave a short comment about your most recent big decision in the comments? I would love to hear from you!

Tough Day

Today was just plain old tough. I won’t go into details, because this is not in fact my own private journal buried securely under my bed, but this odd way of writing things down and sending them unknown out into the world. Perhaps to be read by parents, friends, relatives, strangers, employers, enemies, boyfriends, or even no one. But suffice to say, work was hard. I had a 30 minute meeting that stretched into 3 hours where I had to repeatedly express unpopular opinions, that I believe strongly in, to a somewhat unreceptive person of authority.

Then after the meeting, I ended up crying in front of my co-workers. If you know me in real life, you may know that I hate to cry in front of people. Close friends and family, maybe, but  people outside that circle? Not my preferred thing. Crying is vulnerability and crying is messy. It is also oddly something I never regret in hindsight. Turns out crying in front of two of your co-workers can spark real conversation, connection and a refreshing sense of community.

So perhaps that all will help explain a little bit of why the video below made me feel a little better. This isn’t intended as a political statement, but more a vision of gratitude, humility and leadership that I find very moving.

Good Fridays = Good Weeks

Today I was struck by the realization that having a good Friday can completely turn around the whole week. After a long work week full of slightly painful mornings and slightly too long days, having a satisfying Friday really makes all the difference. What made my Friday a good one, you may ask? Well, the short answer is I don’t know, maybe it was having a good conversation with my boss that helped answer some of my communication related questions, maybe it was hanging out with Alex, Matt, Katie & Bryan while they played their RPG game – Shadowrun, or maybe it was the 3 hours I got to play Civilization 5 on Alex’s computer or maybe it was just having enough things go right to tip the scales towards the better half.

Well seeing as tomorrow I have a long day of wine-tasting ahead of me (one of my book club friends got us all to sign up for Living Social deal), I should probably wrap this up. So I will leave you with this informative hedgehog video.*

*Katie recommends you put the closed captioning on and I have to agree. Also fair warning ,there is some language involved, but I think the overall hilarity is worth it.

Day 11 – Teaching computer classes and really good suppers

Tonight I volunteered for the second time as an instructor for a computer skills for adult english language learners class at the local library. However, thanks to a missing instructor I got a last minute bump from assistent to teacher!  While not my ideal way to start teaching, the evening still went quite smoothly, although I missed having someone else there to help monitor how the students are progressing. Due to the set-up of the lap you can either instruct from the front, where you only see the backs of student’s monitors, or you can stand in the back and help out from there. Thankfully it was a pretty small class, with only 4 people in attendance, which let me balance helping individuals with leading the class.

I am enjoying this chance to both flex my instructor muscles and get to do more direct service, however seeing as I haven’t had the work to evening class transition in well over a year, these types of days tend to leave me pretty exhausted. But seeing as David just pulled this out of the oven, the evening just started looking up!

Sausage, sweet potato, apple, onion and garlic roast

[Insert obligatory statement about not posting for a while]

So life has continued at a rather quick pace since I last posted anything here.  Routines have been created – wake up around 7am, shower, breakfast, run to catch the 7:53 bus, transfer, get into the office somewhere between 8:30 and 8:40, drink coffee or tea, desk time, meetings, chatting, planning, lunch, desk time, desk time leave work around 5pm (or sometimes earlier, since I make it in half an hour early), catch the bus, wait in exasperation for my second bus (and if the weather is nice give up and walk home), get home around 6:15 or so, make dinner/eat dinner, get sleepy, chat with Alex, read the internets, read my books, hang out with housemates, sleep.

As for the work itself, I am enjoying it for the most part.  I think it helps that I don’t really miss my old job (the people yes, the job not really).  I like the routine of riding buses (I am reading so many more books now, especially with discovering how well it works to read library books on my iPod) and working in an office with adults.  Sometimes it can get frustrating when the end objectives don’t always seem clear, but I really like my fellow VISTAs and I am excited about our goals.

If you check out my Flickr stream from time to time, you can see that I have been up to some fun things including a train ride around Mt. Rainier with Alex’s family, gone to a church related young adult potluck, numerous happy hours with co-workers and new friends, made blackberry jam, granola and a carrot cake for Alex’s birthday, a celebratory after party with co-workers for the United Way Day of Caring, a weekend at Alex’s grandparents’ lake cabin with friends. So in case you missed them, here are some pictures from the past few weeks:

Heading to potluck on a bridge over Aurora Ave

Downtown Seattle from Fremont

Alex turns 27

Alex and his birthday carrot cake

Happy Hour sunset

Taken from the back deck at Captain Blacks on Capital Hill

Mandi and Elissa get their groove on

Dance party

Stephen, Elissa and Mandi

Stephen, Elissa (my fellow VISTAS) and Mandi (co-worker) at the after party for the Day of Caring

View of downtown Seattle from the stadium

Beautiful Seattle

The gang

Alex and his friends from high school at the lake cabin

Alex and I

Alex and I standing in front of a train

Three generations of Petersons

Alex, his father and his grandfather - on a train

Settling in, riding the bus and summer camp at Google

Seattle has been my home for little over a week now, even though I have already left it again for another trip.  I recently added up all the one-way airplane trips I have taken since January (and that includes the time I flew to Seattle via Kansas City and Albuquerque) and by the time I fly back from San Francisco to Seattle on Friday that number will be 17 (gained through 5 round trip trips and the triangle trip of moving (Chicago – Florida – Seattle)).  I don’t want to even think what my carbon footprint will be for this year…  But yes all that to say settling in has been high on my priority list, but of course in typical fashion I only really got around to a serious bout of unpacking Saturday night when I discovered that it was the perfect procrastination tool to avoid packing for my current trip.  But enough about all that you are probably more interested in hearing what I think about Seattle, how things are going at work, have I made any new friends, etc.
View from the parking lot next to my new office.
Well the answer to those questions are essentially – I like it – good, but still a bit vague – and yes (my two fellow VISTAs are quite fun and I think we get along swell so far)!.  Seattle is a pretty gorgeous city, especially in these few golden months of summer.  For example, during my week there, it has only rained one day.  The rest have been warm (almost hot even!) full of blue sky and essentially showing off how awesome it is to be surrounded by water and mountains.
Sunset over the hill at Gasworks park
This past week I figured out my bus commute and learned lots of little things like 1) the buses are  better timed and much faster during the morning rush hour than the afternoon one 2) podcasts really are quite wonderful – my current rotation include This American life (especially one I listened to this week called First Contact, which included the wonderful story of a young American man and his girlfriend who befriended a trio of Iraqi brothers and have had 4 hour weekly conversations with them since 2003), StoryCorp, FreshAir and RadioLab.  Which if you draw the conclusion from that, that I am a bit of a NPR junkie, you would be correct and 3) bus routes that involve only 1 transfer and drop me off literally 10 ft from my office door (they can’t get any closer due to a little thing called the sidewalk) are pretty awesome.
Walking through downtown Seattle to an afternoon meeting
But right now I am not actually in the fair city of Seattle, but sitting on my hotel bed waiting to head downstairs to catch the shuttle that will take us to our first day of TechCamp at Google Headquarters.  While I don’t think we will get any crazy cool swag like keys to the Google Private Jet or our own Segways (I just really rooting for the awesome Google Sharpies I have heard about), we will get to meet with folks from the tech industry, learn about non-profit needs and opportunities and also get training on various technologies.  Other highlights of the upcoming week include eating in Google’s famous cafes around campus, a rumored bowling event and outside dinner and movie on Thursday evening.

I made it to California!

Well I need to get packed up so I can be on time for the shuttle, but I wanted to give you all a brief update on my life on the West Coast.  Overall I think I am still in a bit of denial about Seattle actually being my new residence – seeing as I have only been there for a week, it still seems quite feasible that I will be returning to my “normal” life at any time.  Also I think after the demands of moving and adjusting start to wear off I think I will also probably start to focus on the all important “meeting and connecting with new folks” part, which if memory from previous transitions serve is always one of the harder parts for me.  So I am sure there will still be many ups and downs ahead of me on this transition time, but at least for now I am just excited to be here and about to discover the Disneyworld for techies – Google Headquarters.

So……(drumroll)……update on Job/Future location/Life in general!

For some reason, this draft (just the title) have been sitting here empty for close to a week.  I think having big news is sometimes a bit of a paralyzing force for me.  Like I have realized before, change is incredibly enticing for me, but the transitions needed to actually make them happen, often exhaust me.  But on to the good news…….I got offered an Americorp (VISTA program) in Seattle and I accepted it!!!!!  I will give more details of the position later, but I will say it takes me further into the tech/Information Science of my MLIS than I had anticipated back in January (which I find to be super exciting).  So as of mid-August I will be living and working in the fair (if slightly cloudy) city of Seattle.  I will be filling the recently emptied slot at Hedgehog house, home to both awesome friend David, boyfriend Alex, and two other equally lovely/hilarious housemates (who I shall not name because I don’t know wether to call them by their actual names or Katie’s clever pseudonyms).  Now my life is consumed by to-do lists, packing lists, empty boxes, storage containers, shredded old files, papers in need of recycling and all the huge spectrum of emotions that come from such a big life change.  Obviously the solution all of this lies in the following photo:

12 inches later

While I may not have my life entirely in order (yet!), I do finally have the summer haircut I have been hankering after for almost a year.  Seattle, here I come!