I’m not even sure anymore who follows this blog, but this will probably be one (if not the most) very personal entry. I don’t keep a paper journal, and it’s for these types of things that I wish I did. Perhaps I will start one.
But I’m mostly writing this for posterity’s sake. I feel some intense need to mark this day as important.
Let’s start at the beginning…or perhaps the end, depending on how you look at it.
My grandmother died on February 4th, 2012. Yes, it was 5 months ago. I didn’t post anything about it to facebook - hell, I have avoided the subject as much as possible. It’s not that I’m trying to pretend it didn’t happen, I just don’t like talking about it.
My grandmother wasn’t what most people would call a warm person. She cared very deeply about myself and my brother (her only grandchildren) but was never one of those warm, cuddly grandmothers who baked you cookies and stuff. I’m not really sure what grandmothers do these days anyway.
My grandmother, Mama, was a very astute woman. She ran the computer room at the Harvard Coop back in the day when most women were secretaries - running a room-sized computer was way ahead of her time. She went to college with Betty Friedan. She didn’t like Betty Friedan.
She lived in a house on Cape Cod. A house her father built. On land his father’s father or something bought. As of February 5, 2012 that house no longer belonged to my family.
My grandmother’s will was, for all intents and purposes, unfinished. It was a full and legally binding document, but she never got around to some specifics. The gist of it is that EVERYTHING goes into a trust. That means the house, the money and the value of the contents of the house in their entirety. In March the bank (who owns the trust) sent an appraiser into the house to appraise anything and everything. He was very thorough. We were presented with a 36 page document listing pretty much everything in the house and their appraised auction price (based on a buyer with no personal connection). This was very hard to grapple with. We aren’t the Astors, Vanderbilts or Kardashians by any stretch of the imagination. There was nothing in the house that would knock the socks off of anyone on Antiques Roadshow. In fact, the most valuable thing on the appraisal was her car: a 2005 Saturn Vue, beige interior with heavy black lab fur accents - but having every article, memento, family artifact be so scrutinized and diminished to dollars and coins is hard.
So why is today important? Today is/was the last day I will probably ever see that house. My brother and I had to go down this weekend to essentially “buy” any heirlooms, mementos or tokens we wanted to keep from the estate. I use the word “buy” because anything we took was deducted from the value of the trust - because, remember, EVERYTHING in the house was incorporated into the trust. My mother and uncle have already gone through, so all that remained was for my brother and I to take what we wanted.
Everything that remains (and there is quite a bit) will either be auctioned off or sold en masse to a glorified flea market dealer. Both of whom will take a hefty percentage of the selling value.
It’s been extremely frustrating throughout this whole ordeal because there’s nothing we can do about it. My grandmother (either by choice or not, we will never know) essentially made it our job to decide how our story ends. It became our responsibility to go through literally generations of family history and keep what we could “afford”.
So today was that day. The end of our story there. I realize everything comes to an end. But I never thought it would fall (whole or in part) on my shoulders. I found a photo album of my great-grandfather building the house and I couldn’t help but wonder what will happen now? Will I drive by it with my children and tell them the stories of that house, just like my mom and grandmother told me the stories about the center house in Harwich (another family house that I had no personal connection to, but a cousin of my mother sold it and it’s been a source of contention in the family). It feels good to have a connection to a place - to have a history. To have that history have to end with you due to forces out of your control creates a panoply of emotions in me that I’ve been having a really hard time grappling with. My father asked me how it was, going to the cape to gather these tangible memories. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it. Not because I didn’t want to talk about it, but because I didn’t know how.
I honestly don’t expect anyone to read this whole thing, and if you do - congratulations, I guess. Like I said earlier, I think I just need to somehow acknowledge this day.
So I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple days now, but I guess now is as good a time as any.
Not sure how many of you were familiar with Dodge’s “Find a Journey” campaign (www.youtube.com/dodge). Well, the gist of it was that they had three scavenger hunts for their new model, the Journey. They hid 3 of them around the country - one on the west coast, one in the midwest and one on the east coast - now, mind you, to Dodge, the east coast is anything east of the Mississippi. Chris and I found out about it after the west coast and midwest journeys had finished and they were going to release the clues for the east coast search on the 24th. I told Chris that if it looked like it was anywhere in New England that we’d have to go look for it.
Saturday comes and I’m at work until one. The first clue is released at noon. I call Chris and he watches it and it looks like it’s heading towards Vermont. Awesome. I’m thinking this might end up being an interesting day. I never do anything spontaneous or crazy like this, so randomly driving to Vermont seems like a pretty wild thing for me to do. At one another clue comes out and it’s basically backtracking and showing where they drove through to get to VT. I’m home before the 2 oclock video clue comes out. They clearly are heading into VT. By 2:30 Chris and I have a full tank of gas are are roaring up I-89 North. By 3:15 Chris has figured out that the clues are leading to an intersection just over the southern tip of Lake Champlain - across from Fort Ticonderoga. The 5th and final video clue released at 4 pm doesn’t help us much more. Just after 4:30 we made it to the intersection from the clues. We were joined by New York, New Jersey, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina (to name a few). Clearly word had gotten out. Defeated, we start driving (slowly) back towards Rutland to regroup, re-examine clues and get some food. (Adrenaline does a good job at dampening hunger pains) The whole time Chris is watching the live feed on his phone (well, as long as we have service). The host guy hanging out with the car puts up a chalkboard and writes “join us for a slide show of where we went next”. We’re glued to the phone. The photos start showing up and we’re frantically googling the subjects and finding out the car went down the road we came up. With every new photo we realize it’s heading down the EXACT road on which we came up from New Hampshire. WHAT. This car is CLOSER to us?! So we’re driving back towards home/towards the car. When it smacks me in the face, they’re going into New Hampshire. Of all the places Dodge considers to be in the East coast, they’re going to Freakin’ New Hampshire. NOTHING happens here. Anyway, the adrenaline is starting to course though my veins again and we get three slides into NH when the host guy writes on the board “thanks for playing, we’ll pick it up again tomorrow at 9” I’m in awe. So many people came from so far away to find this thing, they can’t stop now! But hell, we have the upper hand, the home field advantage. It ends only 30 miles away from my house, so I figure we’ll be ahead of the game tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Sunday. I have to work. The clues start up again and it cuts down I-89 south. The car drove seriously 5 miles away from my house. Through concord. Still heading east. I have to go to work. Chris thinks there are too many people looking for it now so he doesn’t go chase it even though I said he should. It continues east. I’m calling chris from work to see if anyone’s found it yet. Nothing. I get home, it’s still there. By this time we know it’s in Maine, but not sure where. North. It’s still there. We could drive out there, no problem. It’s only like 4 hours away, that’s NOTHING!
Someone found it at around 5 pm Sunday. Some girl, from Maine. good for her. I was a bit frustrated because I had diluted myself into thinking that if I hadn’t worked Chris and I could have won it. But that wasn’t what it was about. The whole time Chris and I were driving around VT like crazy people I had a huge dumb grin on my face because I was having so much fun exploring. That was the point of it. Even Dodge knew that. They wanted people to go ON journeys, not just to FIND a Journey. I think that is a type of experiential marketing that is way overlooked, but very specific. Yes, people enjoy experiences that deepen their relationship with a brand or product, but brands and products very seldom support experience for experience’s sake. I never would have done this if it weren’t for clever people at Dodge, but even though I didn’t actually end up with the product it didn’t diminish my experience. I had so much fun regardless, and that is what the point of it was. I was impressed and fulfilled both as a consumer (or not?) and as someone who thinks about these kinds of things more esoterically.
Chris and I both had the day off today. We decided to run some errands and generally just tootle around. There’s a brewing supply store in Pembroke that I’ve been meaning to check out (www.kettletokeg.com). The owner, Jesse, was a super cool guy and was really helpful with all my questions about making my own cider. But what caught our attention when we pulled up to the store was how little traffic there was near the shop. What was even weirder was the super fancy cake shop across the street. Aside from these two stores, a dingy record store and a divey diner there was NOTHING. I kid you not, every other storefront was vacant. I thought this was strange.
We got to talking about it with Jesse because Chris saw some potential studio space on this street, but we wondered how business was both for him and the cake shop. He’s been there for 6 years now and business is doing fine. “On Saturdays, this street is packed with wedding types - they’ll do like $30,000 in a day over there” he remarks about the cake shop. Chris’ and my jaws drop almost simultaneously.
The key is, both of these stores are destination shops - they don’t rely on (or need) foot traffic to generate interest or sales. They get their names out where they need to be (wedding magazines and shows on the one hand, the internet and brew festivals on the other). Pembroke, New Hampshire is a small, but centrally located town right in the middle of the largest city (Manchester) and the capitol (Concord) and is also easy to get to from the seacoast. By the time people set foot in the door of both of these businesses, the owners have a captive audience.
This model works extremely well for these niche businesses - and possibly a photo studio? Chris and I mused about how perfect it would be to open a studio across the street from a bakery who specializes in wedding cakes….Think of it: Couples walking out of the bakery on a sugar high from the tasting, the first thing they see is a beautiful window display of other happy couples. I ask you, what couple WOULDN’T at least poke their noses in the door??
Potential, that’s the word. There is so much potential in this idea. There is so much potential in Pembroke. This area is still a pretty downtrodden mill town past its prime, with two decent businesses on main street. Can a town be revitalized from the outside in? If enough niche business bring enough people from outside the town (and outside the reputation) can the reputation change? Who knows, but these are the thoughts I took away from my venture today.
So the summer is over. I’m still living with my parents. The house isn’t finished. I really dropped the ball on this blog. Now that fall has greeted us with the promise of crisp air and beautiful scenery, I, too, need to take the opportunity for some change.
I need to refocus my attentions on what interests me and be more active in sharing those thoughts - whether it be reblogging articles or writing my own. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss writing. I’m not going to assign myself thesis essays or anything, but keeping up with the marketing world is something that I need to do more actively and less passively.
I’m not going to make any grandiose plans that I can’t keep, but I will attempt at creating a cleaner, more thoughtful and richer online presence. Most of you probably wont care, but for those of you that do - it’s coming together, I promise.
I have been so busy. I’m sorry internets. Working at the bank has really warped my abilities to do anything but count money. But I’m back. I’m ramping up to start something awesome. I’m going to find an awesome job and Internets, you’re going to help me do it. Thanks to rebecca for nagging me about failing to update this - please keep at it. But I think things are going to start to get interesting around here.
This week we surpassed 10.000 friends and followers on Tumblr. As a token of our appreciation, we’d like to extend a 10% discount* at our online store, the Museum of Useful Things, to all of our Tumblr friends.
A little about us: We are a utilitarian based, design centric web-store….
I’ve been scolded for not updating in days. I’m sorry! This is probably due to the fact that I got a job. I’m now technically employed. Working part time as a bank teller. Yeah, it’s decent, we’ll see where it goes! So I’ve been intensively training for that and not doug much else.
Painting has slowed. Between me working and Chris going to Kentucky, not much has gotten done.
My 5 year high school reunion was this weekend. Seems that both a lot and nothing has changed. It went better than I was anticipating, which is nice. Stayed with Rebecca and Eric and ate amazing cake. Today I woke up and felt like doing lots of things but was too uninspired to anything specifically. Then Chris and I went to concord and…well…I’ll post photos of how the rest of my evening will go.
One of the agreements my parents and I had when Chris and I moved back home is that we’d paint the house. It’s been a week and we’ve been hanging out, but now it’s time to get to work. We got supplies and such yesterday and today Chris and I started scraping. And of course it’s supposed to get up to 100 degrees today. Ugh. We’re inside now eating popsicles and tater tots - avoiding the sun at its harshest. I bought 50 spf and I’m pretty sure I’m still going to get burnt. Photos soon.
So I’ve done what I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Actually started a blog. I’m not 100% sure about what I will be writing, or what purpose this blog will serve. Will anyone read it? Doubtful - but I’ll be able to look back on it (hopefully fondly).
Why am I doing this? Well, I’ve just moved back home and I actually will have time to do it. I don’t have a job. So why not spend hours writing about that fact and what I’m doing with my time otherwise. Who WOULDN’T want to read it?! But really, I want to use this as an outlet of self-expression and discovery. I’m going to write about my ongoing job hunt, my experimental/surprise/”woops I forgot what I planted there” garden, my personal philosophies on life and maybe somewhere in there a theme or purpose will emerge. We’ll see.
So I guess I should just start from the beginning. Chris and I got here on Monday night. Tuesday we pretty much spent all day unpacking. I was feeling extra productive and even went down to the town clerk’s office to get my car registered. Well, apparently MA never sent my old NH title back, so as far as the state was concerned, that car was still in New Hampshire. What does this mean? Well I got to save the $8 plate fee and reuse my old license plates that I had hung up in my room to stare wistfully at and pine for the fjords (or something). I thought “sweet! saving $8. I am so state-fee savvy….what’s that? $134 I owe you. oh….you don’t take cards?…..hmmm….let me run to the bank quickly” derp. womp womp indeed. oh well, the car is registered and that needed to be done. I am a responsible adult and car owner.
Next day = more unpacking and cleaning. I didn’t think chris and I had that much stuff. and I thought my parents’ house was pretty big. But i guess these notions are relative because seriously there is still stuff spilling into the hallway from my bedroom. Sheesh!
Today was an interesting day. In the morning we dropped off my car to get inspected (even though I JUST had it done in MA in April….) and went to go see a retail space downtown that Chris was interested in for a studio. $550/month (including heat & hot water) for a two floor retail space with hardwood floors, recessed lighting. The works. This place was AWESOME. we left feeling so optimistic. it was just such a great place. We go back to the auto clinic and the guy comes out saying “whoever did your inspection in mass should get his license revoked, your back brakes are down to the metal” Well poop. “How much to get them fixed?” “225” Hah, like I have the money for that. Especially after dropping $134 just two days earlier. So we fail the inspection - but have 10 days to get our butts in order.
I flip out. (naturally) I need to get a job. I got an email from the staffing agent that I’m working with saying that she hasn’t heard anything but not to worry. Everything is slow. This is all fine and dandy, but I need money now. I applied for a temporary mail delivery job with the USPS in my town. That would be fun. I’m always weary of online applications though…every job i’ve ever applied to online I’ve NEVER heard back from. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.
Chris prices brakes online. We go to concord. I apply for more jobs in person. He spends $50 on all the parts and we come home and he’s going to put them on for me (dating an auto-school dropout has its perks). About an hour into it, once the first pads and rotor are off, he realizes he needs a special tool. Enter my dad, the industrial designer. Why go back into concord and BUY this simple tool when one (my dad) could just as easily MAKE it. Well, I’ll let you figure out how the rest of the story goes. Needless to say, Chris and I went for a nice little drive later. We’ll bring it back to the shop next week. I mean, we have 10 days.
So this SoMe thing…it’s the future. It is the future of communications not just between us people, but between companies and people, consumers and product. Is that weird? Is there time for us to determine its weirdness before it becomes the norm and then becomes outdated?
I was listening to On Point with Tom Ashbrook (i love this show) tonight and one segment was about how texting is changing how we as individuals communicate with each other. Some people thought that it was a positive thing because it gives us time to formulate everything we say….but more often than not it’s frowned upon because people think it’s not only wrecking young people’s spelling abilities (omg u r so rite!), but it’s basically bringing our collective attention spans to 0. Before there were 30 second commercials - but now companies are lucky if you’ll read their facebook update.
On one hand companies can get a self-targeted customer base (based on likes on facebook and twitter followers) but on the other hand, how much attention are the majority of these people willing to give you and how do you go about acquiring more?
These things have been on my mind recently…how will we communicate with our worlds? are the days of legitimate conversations over?