Get a Job

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    Get a Job

    Yesterday Cathy and I headed up to Cape Ann to visit Tim and Meg and explore Dogtown Commons, the nature preserve that makes up much of the inland area of Gloucester. It has a colorful history stretching back to the early colonists, full of tales of the pirates, witches, and widows who supposedly inhabited it.

    One of our goals was to track down Babson’s Boulders, a string of large stones with inspirational sayings engraved on them, commissioned by the millionaire philanthropist Roger Babson during the Great Depression. Since I’m applying for a job right now, I was particularly interested in finding the “Get a Job” stone, hoping to tap into its good luck properties. According to the geocache desciption we used to locate the rock:

    Local legend and lore says that if you are seeking employment that you should kiss the large boulder found at these coordinates and pour a fifth of Bourbon on it for better luck on your search.

    Not having any bourbon might hurt my chances a bit, but I still feel good about making the pilgrimage.

    We ended the day at Halibut Point, hoping to catch some action from Tropical Storm Ophelia, but there wasn’t much sign of her. Nonetheless, the views were as great as they alway are.  

    More pictures of our Dogtown hike

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    A whippoorwill

    Description: Whippoorwill is from Northern Ontario Canada, soon to re-locate to Toronto.  She has some of the best writing you’ll find on the web.  She often writes about place.  You need to check her out.

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    A Sense of Place: Finding a Somewhere to Call Home

    Yesterday I tried out Google’s new blogsearch feature by plugging in “place” and one of the first sites that came up was Ronni Bennett’s blog, “A Sense of Place: Finding a Place to Call Home.” In May she decided to start this blog to document her recent decision to leave New York City after 30-some years and to find a less expensive part of the country to live in. Ronni has been keeping another blog for a while now, Time Goes By: What It’s Really Like to Get Older; the new blog builds on this one by focusing on what it’s like to have to move later in life after having been somewhere for so long. There’s a particular energy that comes with a new blog, especially when it’s clear some important personal work is getting done in the writing. I looking forward to reading about her transition to Portland, ME, a place that I have good memories of visiting.

    It was nice to cross paths in the comments with some other familiar faces–Fred and Rana. It’s no wonder they would find common ground with Ronni’s blogging.

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    A Sense of Place


    “This weblog is an adjunct, a companion, to my primary blog, Time Goes By. It was born in May 2005, when I made the wrenching decision to leave my home in New York City and move to a less expensive part of the United States.

    Ageism and its sub-category, age discrimination in the workplace, are alive and thriving here, and I am not alone, at 64 (many face this at even younger ages), in the fiscal necessity, after nearly a year of finding no employment, to leave the place I hold dear and make a new life elsewhere.

    Having a sense of place is a large part of how we identify ourselves. When we meet new people, one of the first bits of information exchanged is where we are from. That can mean many things – where you were born, where you live now, perhaps where you feel a part of the earth, the feeling of your primal place in the cosmos. And as geriatrician William H. Thomas, explains, the sense of place is deeply important to older people.

    The concern of my main blog is aging and what it’s really like to get older. This one tracks my uprooting, figuring out where to go, searching for a new home, making peace with leaving behind a life of 37 years and creating a new sense of place.

    By its nature, this is a more personal blog, a place to explore both the practical details, my emotional response to it all and see what larger issues about place and aging it may raise.

    You can read about what was a “moment of decision” to leave New York here and here. And there is a bio at Time Goes By.

    It is my hope that the conversation here about A Sense of Place will be as fruitful as the ongoing dialogue at Time Goes By is about getting older.”

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    The Value of a Place

    I was surprised–and unnerved–to read in the Boston Globe that Boston is the most expensive metro area in the country, at least according to one study.

    The article lists some starting statistics from the report:  

    • “The report found that last year, a family of four living in the Boston area needed $64,656 to cover its basic needs. This was $6,000 more than in New York City, and about $7,000 more than in San Francisco. Living expenses, which include healthcare, child care, and other basic needs, were $44,000 or less in Austin, Texas; Chicago; Miami; and Raleigh, N.C.”
    • “In 2004, the median price of a single-family home in Greater Boston was $376,000, up 9.5 percent from 2003, the report says. The median price of a condo was $282,000, up 9.3 percent.”
    • “In 2004, there were only 27 Boston-area communities in which a household whose members made the median income could afford the median-priced home in that city or town.”

    I didn’t set out to live in the most expensive city, honestly. It just happened. It makes it hard to imagine actually being able to buy a house here, but I guess normal people do make it happen somehow.

    It makes me thankful for the house I’m able to rent for an affordable price. Sure, it has its problems, like the blocked main sewer pipe we wrestled with most of last week, with rather nasty consequences. And the wildlife that often shares the house with us–well, we won’t get into that. But it also has many benefits–convenient location, lots of space, free parking, cheap broadband, big rooms, good housemates.

    I’m still shocked that as of last week I’ve lived in this same room for 6 years. While I’ve wrestled with issues of place and mobility in my academic work and in my blogging ever since I moved to Boston, the reality is that I’ve stayed put for much longer than many of my friends.

    And now it looks like I may be stay in Boston for a few years more, depending on how the job search shapes up in the next few months. I think I’ve made my peace with this possibility–I’d rather stay put until have a have a compelling reason to be somewhere else. 

    When I moved to Boston, I could imagine all the gains of mobility, but I miscalculated the costs of moving—the personal price I would pay. Now, after seven years I can both recognize what I’ve gained from being here and the continuing cost of living far from friends and family.  

    But while Boston might be most expensive place to live by one set of criteria, there are many other ways to assess the costs that places are having on people. Certainly, New Orleans would have to be at the top of the list now, if we factor in all the ripple effects this disaster is having, even beyond the immediate human misery it’s caused. But what scares me is that this disaster is a symptom of bigger problems, hinting at all the hidden costs we’ve been ignoring for so long. My small attempts to weight the costs of moving or staying are overshadowed by the larger sense that we as a country are just beginning to pay the price for our unsustainable ways of being in the world. The bills are coming due, and too often the poorest and most vulnerable bear the brunt of other people’s shortsighted and selfish decisions. With wars abroad and disasters at home, it’s hard not to feel like our future has already been spent and the ones in power are having a harder time covering up the obvious.

    I’m no economist and math has never been my strength, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that things aren’t adding up and we’re paying for our poor investments. Clearly we can’t trust the authorities to tell us how much our places are worth; we all have to check the ledgers and ask hard questions about how money, resources, the environment, and our future is being spent. Fortunately, more people are doing this now, from the local level to the national level, so perhaps together we’ll begin finding better ways to count the cost.

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    The View from Other Blogs

    After a week of gleaning Katrina-related news from many sources, it’s been good to read the reflections of those in the circle of bloggers I follow:

    It’s nice to see people writing from their guts, trying to getting perspective, engaging in healthy self-criticism, and bringing their own vantage points to bear on these important issues. This is the quotidian work of blogging, whether it’s responding to disasters or observing the blooming flowers in the backyard.

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