It’s been quite a while since I wrote on this blog! Finally I’m back to writing (and in Brattleboro, Vermont for the holidays). In the summer and fall of 2016 I had a very enjoyable five months in Brattleboro (June through October), with frequent short trips to Boston. My closest friends live here — they are family to me and we’ve spent our Christmas holidays together since the late 80s. It’s really great to live where you have a community of friends you love and know well.
Tucson for the winter
In November I went back to Tucson for my third winter. Since I know the owner of several properties in Tucson, I was able to rent a very cute little micro-studio apartment for 7 months (November 2016 through May 2017). It’s a nice place, recently renovated, and very close to downtown — a 5-minute walk. I love having a tiny apartment of my own, since when I’m in Vermont I live with several friends in a very social (but fun) apartment. It’s nice to switch between living socially and living alone at different times of the year. It’s got beautiful hickory floors, a new IKEA kitchen, and includes wi-fi. It came with a bed frame and a wardrobe, so I only needed to buy a mattress, a chest of drawers, and an easy chair with a small computer table. I bought a Leesa mattress online and had it shipped so that it would arrive at a friend’s house before I arrived in Tucson (yes, it’s possible to get a very comfortable mattress online — and it comes compressed in a portable shipping box). (Use this link to get $75 off if you buy one). I will sell those items when I leave at the end of May.
I have a handful of friends in Tucson now — so it’s fun to go out and do things with them, like open art studios with JP, movies & other events with Jerry, hiking with Chaz, and so on. See my November and early December albums on Flickr for more of Tucson.
Brattleboro for the holidays
I came back to Brattleboro (and Boston) for almost a month for the holidays — that’s where I am now. I have a lot of frequent flyer points, and the lowest price (in points) for a flight was to leave on Dec. 13 and return to Tucson on Jan. 10. If I flew any closer to Christmas on either end, the price would have been double (in points). So I figured, why not? I enjoy being with my friends and I don’t mind a month of winter weather. I’m paying my friends for a partial month of rent since I’m in Brattleboro for 3 weeks. I’m staying in their “storage room,” which is much nicer than it sounds. This apartment is beautiful, with high ceilings, 4 very large bedrooms (if you count the storage room), and a beautiful view of the river and mountains. This storage room is bigger than my entire apartment in Tucson!
The benefits of coworking
I don’t like to work at home for various reasons — distractions, not having a good office table or desk, wanting home to be work-free, being too isolated when I live alone, etc. I love to go out into the world when I work and be around other people. Since I started my own business in 2013 I’ve been using coffee shops and libraries, but now I’m a fan of coworking. When you work in coffee shops, you can’t alway sit near an outlet, sometimes the wi-fi is slow or goes down, sometimes there aren’t enough tables, or the tables are tiny, and you can’t leave your stuff there while you take a break. Coworking solves all of that. I love it.
Since I had such a good experience with coworking in Brattleboro, I decided to join a coworking space when I arrived in Tucson. Connect Coworking has been around much longer than the new space in Brattleboro, so it has a large community, many social events, and lots of amenities. It’s $150/month for use of a shared space from 9-5 Monday through Friday. That works well for me, since that’s when I like to work anyway. I joined for a month (mid-November through mid-December), and I’ll join again when I return to Tucson on Jan. 11. It’s month-to-month, which is nice.
At coworking spaces it’s common practice to wear headphones or earbuds when you are focusing and don’t want to be disturbed. When you take them off, that shows that you are open for conversations — and it’s nice to have people to talk with sometimes.
I recommend coworking if you work online and haven’t tried it. It’s so nice to have a regular place to go, where you can count on outlets and fast wi-fi. And it’s a good way to meet other people and to make connections for your business.
Location-flexibility has many advantages
When you’re a digital nomad, you don’t have to stay nomadic all the time. I’ve had many fun adventures living in Oaxaca, Seattle, Budapest, Chiang-Mai, and other places, but sometimes it’s nice to stay in your own country and be near people you know well. I had so much fun in Vermont and Boston last summer and early fall.
In August I met a great guy who I’ve been dating and it’s been going so well that I’d like to spend more time in his location getting to know him better. He owns a store in Brattleboro called Positive Geek. It’s a fun, playful place full of pop culture items like comic books, costumes, action figures, and games. He’s in his second year of business and he really enjoys it. He told me once that his vision is that it should be like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007 movie with Dustin Hoffman) — and I believe that he has succeeded at that! So I’m enjoying this month with him in addition to our time last Aug/Sept/October. He’s coming to visit me in Tucson in February, and I’ll come back to Vermont in June — I’m intending to stay for at least a year this time.
Keeping in touch during times away
These days there are so many ways to keep in touch with people you care about when you’re far away. Some of my friends prefer text messages, other prefer Facebook messages, either synchronously or asynchronously. Hardly anyone seems to talk on the phone these days. I like that — here’s why.
- With texting, you can reply right away or later when you have time (not like interrupting someone with a phone call). People seem to treat it like email these days and wait to reply until it’s convenient.
- You have a record of what you said.
- You don’t have to be in a private, quiet place — you can reply from anywhere and not be overheard.
- You have links to things you want to point people to.
- You can use funny photos, animated GIFs, and stickers to have a playful conversation. There is something so fun and humorous about this… it’s so different than talking out loud.
If you are a young person, you already know this. But I have many friends over age 60 who don’t quite understand why we don’t use the telephone more. So this is for them.
A fun idea for virtual dates
The guy I’m dating, James, likes the show Westworld as much as I do. So when I was in Tucson (and he in Vermont) we figured out a way to have virtual dates, watching Westworld together. Here’s how it works: on our computers, we open Facebook Messenger in one window and the video in another. We set a time to watch together and we aim to hit the play button at the same time. We do a countdown by typing in Messenger…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go! Then we hit play and we’re each watching the same episode at the same time. While watching, we type funny and snide comments about the show in our Messenger window. It’s so fun — kind of like MST3K. Feel free to use this idea for watching anything with any of your faraway friends!
I really think that having conversations by text is a good thing for any relationship, whether between friends or romantic partners. It’s such an fun way to interact, and you bring your imagination to it in such a way that it reminds me of reading a novel. It’s a very good way to keep in touch when you’re far away.
Balancing comfort and adventure
So I’d like to close by saying that:
- coworking is worth trying,
- living near a community of close friends is great,
- location flexibility means you can alternate having nomadic adventures with the comforts of staying near those you love,
- and texting (especially with animated GIFs and stickers) is a lovely way to communicate.
One more thing
By the way, I totally enjoyed my writing projects for the second half of 2016! I wrote a technical report for the American Library Association and a book to be published by Libraries Unlimited. Both will be published in 2017. Check out the table of contents in these posts on my other site.
- Podcast Literacy: Recommending the Best Educational, Diverse, and Accessible Podcasts for Library Users.
- Keeping Up with Emerging Technologies: Best Practices for Information Professionals.