Friday, September 16, 2022

All Who Wander ...


I've been walking a lot these past few years ... wandering, actually. Since moving to Salem, Ed and I walk almost every day. We take routes that we've walked before, some of which we walked for the first time over 25 years ago when we first visited Salem together. Sometimes we wander streets that are new to us. We explore streets in our new neighborhood that aren't part of the tourist sections of town. We weave up and down streets in the morning with the newest members of our family -- Doc and Ziggy.

We adopted these two pups three weeks ago from a local shelter. Both are in their sixth month and both are "pure breds." Doc is the miniature Dachshund and Ziggy is the Maltese. They were surrendered to the shelter by a woman who bought them at a pet store. She was working remotely at the time, but recently returned to the office. They were home by themselves for 7-8 hours a day. She did the right thing and gave them up ... and, of course, we scooped them up in an instant. How could we not? 


Look at those faces!!! They are good little pups; however, they didn't have much training. We're starting potty training, walking on the leash, and general good behavior from the beginning. Both are very different dogs and are at very different places in their training and understanding. Doc is great on the lease, but terrible at potty training. He is submissive and shy. He tends to hide behind me and urinates when he's excited, nervous, or scared. Ziggy is great at telling us he needs to "go," but is awful on the leash. He lunges and barks at everything and everyone. 

They are great at playing and wrestling and wandering. Boy! Do they love to wander!!! Noses to the ground, they'll let the scent take them everywhere and anywhere. They're curious about the world around them ... and, at times, are very scared of the things in this world. This doesn't deter them from wandering. Noses to the ground! Let's go!

Bijou has been very curious of her brothers. Sometimes she just sits and watches them wrestle each other. Sometimes she runs away. More recently, she will jump into the fray. Even though she's still not sure of them, she's perfectly happy giving them a good (clawless) swat and chase. Curiosity hasn't killed this cat, that's for sure.

When I'm not physically wandering, I'm mentally wandering. I'm exploring and curious. It seems like I've been like this for the last decade. Can you believe this past July was nine years since Mom died. NINE YEARS!!! Almost a full decade! When I said goodbye to Mom I started to wander. In a lot of ways she held me in place. She grounded me. She kept me from flying away, even when I wanted to ...

I can't tell you how many times I moved in the last decade ... how many jobs I've had ... how many people came and left my life ... 

I can't tell you how many times I've pivoted in my career ... started an MLIS, left the program ... (re)started in another school and almost left again. I always go back to teaching college. I feel most at home in academia despite the fact that I still haven't figured out how to cope with it.

I can't tell you how many times I've gone through my wardrobe, got rid of stuff that now longer fits or feels right ... only to get lost and pull everything out of the bags. I can't tell you how many times I've cut my hair, let it grow, dyed it, taken the dye out, dyed it again ... only to chop it all off in frustration. 

The last decade has been one of wandering, though not necessarily one of searching. It's been one of sniffing around and letting my nose guide me. It's been one of great change and one of deep nesting. 

And here I am, coming home to roost in a nest that Ed and I have built last October when our offer was accepted on the house. Here I am with an empty closet because things and people change. Here I am with two dogs and a kitty. Here I am back in academia giving it one last shot because why not?!? I'm tired of wandering and my feet hurt. Hell, my bones hurt! Like Doc and Ziggy, I want to learn how to "sit" and "stay." I want to be a good napper like Bijou. I just want to be ...

I'm home again after a really long journey. Here's hoping it's for good.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

And Just Like That, I'm 50


Last month I celebrated my 50th birthday. 50 ... a half century. The big 5-0. I would be lying if I said the day didn't affect me and that 50 feels like 49. Sure, I'm still the same person. But something changed. I know I wrote about this in my last post, but this feeling is quite tangible and took me by surprise.

New siding, windows, doors, and roof

Maybe it's because we spent the last 6 months in a state of disarray? We moved into our beautiful home in January and have been spending almost all of our time -- and money -- renovating it. We still have a bunch of boxes to unpack and the yard is a mess, but BOY! the outside looks gorgeous and the inside ... well, that's coming along nicely.

The living room. Painted and furniture in place. 

All of the rooms and closets have been cleaned, and almost all of the rooms have been painted. We still need to paint the kitchen and the bathrooms and to organize basement.

The dining room. 

As you can see from these photos, we still haven't unpacked our collectables and china cabinet. We're so close ... but so far away! I love waking up in my own home. I love the feeling of being secure and not worrying about a landlord raising my rent or some obnoxious jerk moving in next door. Our neighbors are quite lovely and the neighborhood is wonderful. 

One of our favorite summer spots.

Maybe it's because we're living here in Salem? We've been dreaming and scheming a way to move back since we left in 2000. Turning 50 in Salem is a dream come true. We are surrounded by gorgeous historic homes and ocean views, delicious seafood, and wonderful people who are quickly becoming friends. I currently work part-time at the Salem Athenaeum with extraordinarily nice people and an active -- and fun -- Board that's truly invested in the organization. I will be teaching an intro class at Salem State in the Fall (HOORAY!) and I just applied for another adjunct gig at Monserrat College of Art. I'm finishing my MSLIS in Cultural Heritage Informatics this Fall. It feels like a big year, probably because it is.

Roses in the Ropes Mansion Garden.

Yes, something feels different this year. Maybe it's because I've done some serious soul-searching and mental/emotional work this past year? I've meditated on where I've been, where I am now, and where I want to be in my career and personal life. I've had some major disappointments in my career this year, but things are becoming much clearer and my job search is much more focused. I don't really want to publicly discuss this, at least not yet. The results might surprise you, or maybe not. If you've followed me for a long time you'd probably laugh and say, "HA! It's about time you get back on your Path!"

Birthday presents from Ed.

Yes, things feel very different. I've been thinking about what works for me and what doesn't, the people I want in my life, the material objects in my life, my habits, and "process." I realized that I've been in a chaotic state since leaving my gig at Texas A&M. There's so much to say about this. My ADHD probably has a lot to do with this. Knowing that I have this challenge helps me figure out the best processes that will help me stay organized and get things done. These processes work for me and that's all that counts. 

My delicious birthday cake!

Yes, everything feels different because it is different. It's good different. Fun different. Fulfilling different. And I'm ok with that because I worked very hard to make it so. 

Here's to being -- and feeling -- different! It's going to be a wild "second act"!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Radio Silence in a Crazy World, or Thoughts on my 50th Year of Life

Current Dr. Z sighting!

Gosh, January was a long time ago, wasn't it? One would think that I fell off the face of the Earth and stopped blogging all together! The truth is that I decided to step back from blogging for a bit for a number of reasons -- school, job weirdness, The Big Move into our forever home, renovations, etc. Let's just say it was a really busy five months. It was also a very introspective five months; after all, I am turning 50 this year. I have a LOT to think about. 

50 feels different. 50 looks different. It hasn't escaped me that my father died when he was 69 and my mother died when she was 73. Granted, they were both terminally ill and their bodies just gave out. If I factor in my grandmothers' lifespans, the outlook is quite different. My maternal grandmother died when she was 85. My paternal grandmother was 93 or 94. With this in mind, I have anywhere between 19 and 43 years left. I'm not trying to be grim, but reality is reality. So the question becomes, what do I want to do with my time left? Most importantly, how am I going to live my life and not take any minute I have for granted? 

Lecturing at the Salem Arts Association for Salem Ancestry Days

These are the questions that I aim to answer and highlight with this blog. I spent a lot of time thinking about why I blog and what I really, truly want to write about. Turns out, being 50 is a big deal. I'm heading into what my Mom called my "Second Act." My body is changing ... holy crap, is it changing! I'm becoming more and more comfortable with just being myself. I have nothing to prove and, well, everything to gain. I no longer have to worry about "building" a life and career. I am starting to care less and less about what folks think of me. This is my reality ... the reality of being a 50 year old woman who isn't done living yet. THIS is what my blog will be highlighting for the foreseeable future. I want younger women to know that life isn't over after 40 and that you never stop learning, growing, and doing.

Oh Bijou!

The content of this blog will sometimes be uncomfortable ... can we talk about this crepey skin around my eyes! and the damned bruises that seem to come out of nowhere?!? It will be inspiring and frustrating as I navigate a new career and possibly starting a business. It will be fun and exciting as Ed and I explore our hometown, the coastline, and hopefully go on extended trips to places far and near. And I'm sure there will be outfits, renovations, recipes, gardening, and lots and lots pictures of Bijou and other future pets. 

My Ed, forever and always.

And yes, you'll be seeing a lot more of Ed because we're a team. He's navigating his 51 year and well, it's been interesting. 

With that said, welcome back to the Very Curious Doctor Z and navigating your "Second Act." 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Is This Thing On?


December 10: Closing Day

*slinks in like a student who hasn't attended class all semester* So, what did I miss? Yes, I know. I haven't been around the blogosphere for four months; though, if you follow me on Instagram, you know A LOT has happened in those four months! You better grab yourself a cuppa and settle in. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Lessee, the last time we "chatted" I was about ready to start classes at Simmons University for a Masters in Library and Information Science. If you recall, I was able to transfer over six credits from the Queens College MLIS program and Simmons waved the three required classes. They also gave me a pretty substantial scholarship! Hooray! My semester went really well even though I took nine credits (three classes), had to do a 60 hours archival internship ... and got a part-time gig at a local museum. I was NOT prepared for how much work everything was going to be! Not only was I swamped with school and the commute into Boston, I was also commuting to Rowley and Gloucester! I was constantly on the go and barely had any time to do my school work. I managed to get all As despite the lack of time and scattered focus.  

I was extremely lucky to be placed at the Peabody Essex Museum, Phillips Library for my internship. Unfortunately, the collections facility is in Rowley, MA. There's no easy way to get there and absolutely no public transportation options. I don't drive. Yes, I know. I'm 49 years old and don't drive. As a Native New Yorker who has lived the majority of her life in NYC there was absolutely no reason for me to learn how to drive. Everything I ever wanted or needed was a train or bus stop away. Anyway, thank Goddess for Ed! That mensch of a husband drove me to and from Rowley once a week for 12 weeks. 

My internship was absolutely wonderful! My manager was extremely helpful and patient, which was necessary since I really struggled with the collection. I processed, arranged, and described the Towne Family Papers, 1630-1928. Yup, I wrote the finding aid, too. Pretty cool, huh? The Towne Family is one of the oldest families in Salem and Topsfield. They're descended from William Towne and Johanna Blessing, who settled in Salem around 1630-1635. The family line that I processed extends from their son, Sgt. Edmund Towne. If the name sounds vaguely familiar it's because you might know three of their daughters: Rebecca Nurse, Mary Estey, and Sarah Cloyes. Yup, the same Rebecca, Mary, and Sarah accused of being witches during the Salem Witch Hysteria. Rebecca and Mary were convicted and put to death.

I learned a lot about myself and what I want to do when all this school stuff is finally over. I really struggled with the Towne papers because they weren't in original order and because they were super interesting! The collection contained voter rosters from the beginning of the United States, documents associated with the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and an assortment of other historical nuggets of awesome. The historian in me wanted to read everything ... the archivist-in-training had to skim everything and intellectually arrange it for others to use. Eesh. I discovered that I am a horrible archivist, at least at this point in my career.

However, this semester I discovered that I am an awesome art cataloger and collections steward. I took art documentation and BOY HOWDY! did I love it. Why? Because it takes something that I love and know -- art and art history -- and combines it with controlled vocabularies, metadata, CMS, and DAMs. *whispers* I actually enjoy dealing with metadata and metadata crosswalks. What the hell?!? I'll keep you posted on my newfound love.

Our Home

We're still in Salem and loving every minute of it. We love it so much that we just bought a house two blocks away from the Historic McIntire District and Downtown! It's an adorable little Cape that was built in 1969. The best part is that we bought the house from the original owners! Well, the son and daughter of the original owners. Their parents built this house and lived in it until the day they died. It's in fantastic condition and still has many of its original features.

The original stove that still works!

Besides a paint job that was probably done at some point in the 1980s judging from the colors, a new downstairs toilet, and a new kitchen sink, everything is original from 1969. We don't plan on changing anything. On the contrary, we plan to restore this beautiful home to its late 60s glory! 

In Our New Kitchen

We need to do some cosmetic repairs, but all in all everything is good shape! We had the electric upgraded, the furnace serviced, the plumbing checked out and fixed, and bought a new washer and dryer. Every room will get a fresh coat (or three!) of paint and the floors will be scrubbed. Even though we closed on December 10th, we aren't fully moved in yet. We'll have the majority of the furniture over this Saturday and will have our heavier/bulkier furniture moved by professionals next Thursday. Yup, in a week we'll be living in our own one family Cape in Salem. I still can't believe it! It truly is a dream come true!!!

The Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Photo taken by me.

Wait, there's more! I had a really eventful four months. Go ahead and get yourself another cuppa. You might need it.

I alluded to possible "big news" back in September when I last blogged. That "possible" news became real news ... I got a part-time job at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA. I'm the Education Coordinator for School and Family Programs. HOORAY! The job is part-time for now because of budgetary issues caused by COVID and end-of-year spending; however, from what I'm being told, it will go full-time in February. I've spent the last few months working on all sorts of programming that ended being postponed or moved online this month because of the increase in COVID cases thanks to Omicrom. Ah well. We're still programming like crazy, but will need to be flexible because of this damned virus. Here's hoping things will calm down enough to have the school kids back in the galleries and families enjoying our programming. Stay tuned!

From grey ...
As for my personal health and well-being, I'm fine. Ed and I have remained healthy and COVID free, thank Goddess. We're both fully vaccinated and received our booster shots. We have never stopped wearing our masks and have recently upgraded to KN95s and N95 in all indoor situations. We both miss going to the gym, eating inside restaurants, and going to the stores to browse. I miss being carefree and not constantly checking my comfort level or doing a personal risk-assessment. We've maintained the same level of diligence that we practiced at the beginning of the pandemic ... and it's exhausting. I keep saying that I'm exhausted and frazzled, blaming work, school, or commuting. Sure, those things are all a normal part of my life that make me tired. However, the level of exhaustion I feel is not normal. I'm sure you can all relate.

... to black.
My goals for 2022 have moved from my career to myself and my well-being. I'm in the middle of Dry January and I'm slowly moving towards a vegetarian diet again. I'm moving my body and watching my portions. I'm being more mindful and intentional in what I eat, how I move, and how I occupy my time. Yes, the goal is to get back down to my ideal weight and to strengthen my body. However, the ultimate goal is to nurture my body, mind, and soul. That's the point of wellness, at least that's the way I see it. Diet and exercise play a role in wellness, but they are only part of the equation. I'm meditating, counting to 10 when I get angry or flustered, and practicing gratitude. I'm resting more. I'm drawing and knitting. I'm reading books, looking at art, and spending as much time outside as possible. I'm taking care of myself ... it's about time.

An understated Yule tree, 2021.

Other than that, we had a wonderful autumn here in Salem. We didn't do much Downtown during Halloween -- too many people and we were still worried about COVID. Besides, I was so busy with school and work that Halloween came and went without much fanfare. Sad, I know.

Yule was pretty much the same way. I didn't have any energy this year to do much of anything. If it were up to me, I would have given the whole holiday a miss this year. If Ed didn't put up the tree when I was at work, we might have not even had one! As you can see, my tree this year was pretty understated. Pretty, but not what I usually do.

I managed to bake chocolate chip cookies and make a special dinner for Yule. We had a nice, quiet day.

Christmas was the same. No bells, no whistles. We didn't entertain and didn't go anywhere again this year. 

Well, except to stand in line for hours in order to get a COVID test! I wasn't exposed, but I did lead a kids' program at work. I wanted to make sure I was ok to be around Ed and to be in work. I managed to get my hands on two at home rapid tests (four tests in total). Those are safe and sound in my bathroom cabinet ... just in case. Here's hoping there's no need for them!

Starting Dry January with Sparking Apple cider and Grape Juice

Now that I'm moving into my own home -- a house that Ed and I chose to buy -- I'm sure there will be all sorts of posts about decorating and renovations. And now that I have more room, I'm sure I'll start sharing my outfits, artwork, and cooking again. And don't forget gardening! SQUEE! 

Stay tuned!