R.I.P.

I found out about two weeks ago that one of my oldest friends (and my backyard neighbor as a child) was killed in a car wreck recently. We were pretty good friends through high school, which was a bonus for me because I didn’t have many. We worked together at McDonald’s (hold your tongue) and I had both my first beer and my first cigarette with him. We had not stayed close over the years but I would run into him once in a while since his mother still lived across the yard from my parents. He had sort of a rough childhood, with an abusive, alcoholic father and a very sweet mother who always seemed a little “off.”

As it happens, I also introduced him to his first wife. She was a high school friend and they married probably right as he graduated from college. They were among the first few people I ever came out to. I was in their wedding. I also sort of new it was not going to last, and I was right. I liked both of them, but they were not a match made in heaven. I think they split up after a few years; I was living somewhere else at the time and we’d sort of lost touch. He remarried twice after that and had three daughters.

Anyway, I was looking online to see if there would be a memorial service and I was also wondering if anyone had told his first wife. When I looked her up, I found that she had also died about four years ago (cancer, I think).

So that made for kind of a depressing day. A lot of my good friends have died young, and most of them not from the causes you might expect.

Sigh…

A productive pandemic

When I get overwhelmed or start wondering where the last year went, I remind myself that since March I have:

  • Co-authored a book that should be published later this year
  • Migrated one of the largest library digital collections in the state to a new content management platform (link later)
  • Participated in the salvation of American democracy
  • Added a bunch of new cities to Groceteria
  • Eighty-sixed Facebook
  • Rebuilt a friendship that had been dormant for almost thirty years
  • Watched at least a hundred vintage episodes of “What’s My Line?”
  • Become disturbingly conversant in the MODS metadata schema as well as several new XML tools
  • Supervised three student capstones and independent studies
  • Managed to avoid getting a COVID-related illness
  • Done a few pretty good media interviews (radio, national magazine, well-trafficked blog)
  • Read many good books (and bought way too many more)
  • Never hoarded toilet paper and also never run out of same
  • Managed three big grant projects simultaneously and remotely
  • Only gained about five pounds and actually ended up with better labs than last year
  • Stayed reasonably sane

Try it yourself. It helps!

By the numbers

Things insomnia made me count. In my life I have:

  • Owned 3 houses and rented 5 apartments.
  • Lived in 3 states (4 if you count a vacation home).
  • Had 2 roommates (not counting a few temporary situations of less than a month).
  • Had 1 (common law) husband.
  • Owned 9 cars.
  • Had 6 traffic accidents, 2 of which were ruled my fault.
  • Spent time in 3 countries, including 45 U.S. states and 6 Canadian provinces.
  • Had sex in at least 24 states.
  • Had phone numbers with 5 area codes.
  • No brothers or sisters, but 14 first cousins (approximately 12 of whom are still alive).
  • Spent 2 nights in a hospital (not counting when I was born).
  • Been to 0 high school class reunions (with plans to attend 0 more).
  • Had 5 primary home computers (all Macs, which is why I had each one for so long).
  • Had 3 full-time employers (though I had multiple positions in multiple locations for the first two, plus a ton of part-time and freelance employers).
  • Had 4 medical procedures for which I was put completely under.

Furniture City/Beer City

Grand Rapids is known as “Furniture City.” So is High Point, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City.” So is Asheville, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is very different from either place. It sort of fascinates me, because it’s never really seen the depopulation that most other cities in the Upper Midwest have. There have been decades where the population declined a bit, but current estimates show that the city is currently at its highest population ever. And it reads like a much bigger city than it is, in some ways. The downtown area is aided by the presence of a major medical facility and several universities and colleges.

There are a ton of craft breweries and some interesting neighborhoods. The main public library rocks.

This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in a city I’d never visited before. And best of all, I got to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. Bonus all the way around.

For the record, I’m home

You may not have known I was gone. That’s OK.

Some stats on this year’s October Canadian adventure:

  • 3600 km.
  • 7 states, 1 province.
  • 1 graduation.
  • 1 new border crossing point (Sarnia ON/Port Huron MI).
  • Dinner and assorted socializing with friends in Buffalo, Toronto, and London.
  • No recreational (nor any other) marijuana purchases.
  • 4L of assorted craft beers imported into the USA.
  • 19 books, 3 DVDs, 1 CD.

There may be more details later. Or there may not. I can be enigmatic like that…