Just Shelley


Loren and his wife, Leslie returned from a 4 day holiday to the ocean, bringing back wonderful pictures and a story of their adventures. It was lovely to read. I was working on another post when I read his post and it stopped me, cold, with such a feeling of homesickness.


I grew up in Washington state, lived there, mostly, until I was 23. I also lived in Portland, Oregon for a few years, too, though I haven’t been back to either state for a visit in many years. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Northwest: Cannon Beach, the San Juans, the Olympics, and the rivers. I had thought myself content in St. Louis, but now I’m just not sure. I miss the ocean. Above anything else, I miss the ocean. Sometimes it reduces me to tears, I miss it so much.

Every once in a while, one of you will send me an email with this job or that, all in New York, or Washington DC or SiliValley or some other place such as this. I appreciate these, I really do, but I wish you would stop. It’s not that I don’t want a job, I do. Desperately. Or that I’m ungrateful– I am and you are loves to try and help. But I want to have a home more than anything else, and moving yet again to start over in some new, strange community has no appeal for me.

I don’t want to move back to the Silicon Valley, in time for the next bubble bursting, putting up with overpriced apartments and people who are, frankly, more class conscious than they will admit. I liked San Francisco, but it was never my home. As for other places, in Michigan, or Virginia, or Tennessee, these are all places I know and like and each has something special, but they aren’t home.

Some of these jobs I’ve been sent have been with this new ‘venture’ touted by this A lister or that highly linked person, but these won’t result in a job. Most of these aren’t real–they’re a way of generating publicity, or to tease about this operation or that coming up. If these people have jobs to give, they already have folks to give them to. Or if they don’t, they’re certainly not going to give them to me–an opinionated, strong minded woman who has most likely got on their case at one time or another in the past. More than once.

One I contacted seemed interested, until I realized that the so-called ‘paid’ work became, auto-magically, voluntary somewhere along the way. A couple of others wouldn’t even respond back, after many emails.

The one with Jeff Jarvis was interesting. I sent the email in applying for the job and did get a response back from the person who was doing the hiring — an email containing a copy of exactly what Jeff Jarvis wrote with a cryptic note asking “is this me”. I wrote back that yes, it was, and gave examples of like work that I’ve done–with the Acoustical and Linguistics group at Boeing working with robotics, computational linguistics, and heuristic search engines; the interface to the image system that I worked on for Lawrence Livermore; the anti-missile defense system for Saudi Arabia–but it seems these weren’t enough because eventually the person wrote back that they were ‘hiring someone local’. When I asked if they would mind telling me who, so that I can figure out how to refocus my job applications in the future, I never did hear back.

So much for the golden opportunities that weblogging provides. Oh, the folks who send me job listings for Six Apart, I think we can safely say that they won’t be interested.

I am 50, soon to be 51. This is not old; in fact, I don’t feel much different than I did 20 years ago, and still like most of the music that plays on the radio, and the clothes and the energy. I can be playful and mischievous and silly and romantic and adventurous and everything in-between. But none of it matters because lately all I have been thinking is that I want a home.

If I moved from St. Louis, it would be back to the Northwest, near to the ocean that I love, the San Juans that I adore, the rivers and dark, strong mysteries that live within its mountains and rain forest. I had thought I had found a home in St. Louis, but when I go out in the hills now, there’s a voice that’s telling me it’s time to go. Or maybe it’s just my discouragement because I can’t find a job here, I don’t know.

It’s not that I’m lonely, though I wouldn’t mind having a relationship with someone again someday. Besides, Ive always believed that you should never get into a relationship because you need someone; to do so means that you could just as easily unplug one person and plug another in, because what’s important is the body, not the specific person.

I’ve even chatted with a few people out walking that I think could have gone somewhere except that I would take the nearest right (or left) when a fork came up in the road. I’ve gotten so used to the odd, detached, intimacy of, well, I don’t think we can call them ‘relationships’ that we have in this medium that I find it hard to connect with real people. Meeting someone for the first time in the flesh is a curiously vulnerable feeling. Or perhaps what the issue is that I’ve become attached to gentlemen I’ve met in weblogging, but they are either too young, married, gay, living in another city, or uninterested–with emphasis on uninterested.

Maybe that’s just an excuse, though. I’ve always thought the Ghost and Mrs. Muir was an oddly erotic work.

I am lonely, though for what, I don’t know. When I had that exchange of emails with the person from the historical society that abruptly stopped when she saw my gay pride pictures, something of the magic of this place was lost. It would have been so grand to talk with someone, in person, who shared an interest in history, science fiction, writing, anything. To have something of a normal life–yes even one with all the aches and pains that comes with reality.

I want a place of my own. I am grateful to my roommate, my ex-husband, but I want a place of my own. I want to pay taxes normally, and save up for a trip, and be able to go to a doctor when I’m feeling sick. I want to go out to dinner with friends, and sit over coffee and talk about the flood of 1927, hopefully without the other people being bored.

I want to feel that I have worth as a person, and not just an avatar with the name of Burningbird.

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