Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Selling pencils in Hanoi

Library school finals season enforced that long lull. I have a couple of things to talk about, so that will either make up for the lull, or bore you. Like Fox News, I'll let you decide.

I'm at home in the Midwest for a couple of weeks, but I just finished a trip to NYC with my mother and sister. We were quite touristy - did museums, skating at Rockefeller Center, etc., but my favorite part, of course, was the Strand. This was my fourth time to New York, and I finally visited the physical origin of those tote bags I've been staring at forever. Their slogan is "18 miles of books," which must be mostly in the height of the shelves. It was just everything I hoped it would be, from the hipster employees to the overstuffed poetry section to the way you'd keep turning corners and there would be still more books. Only the prospect of having to carry my purchases all day prevented me from buying boxes of high-quality, reasonably-priced used books.

And speaking of books, I'm two-thirds through one of my first pleasure-reading books since the summer: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers. I didn't know what it was about before I started reading it, didn't know it was a memoir about the death of his parents--I just expected some good clean po-mo fun. And it is, but it's also moving and funny; David Foster Wallace's blurb on the back of the book really describes it best, and you should check it out. The writing reminds me of DFW's, but not in a derivative way. He writes thus about exposing all his experiences to the world:

"These things, details, stories, whatever, are like the skin shed by snakes, who leave theirs for anyone to see. What does he care where it is, who sees it?....Do we know where the snake is now? What the snake is thinking now? No. By now the snake could be wearing fur; the snake could be selling pencils in Hanoi."

This makes a lot of sense to me, and also seems to explain, somehow, why PostSecret hasn't posted any of the four secrets I've sent them. They're not really secrets, after all. They're just secrets from some people. I've never been able to keep anything totally to, hence, this blog (among other things).

Oh, and this week I'm in love with:
The Pursuit of Happyness, which my mom and I saw tonight and very much enjoyed, despite the efforts of many giggling suburban teenagers.
Rilo Kiley - actually, I'm fairly obsessed. Thank you, Michelle.

The Strand! Image from

Monday, December 04, 2006

An embarrassment of riches

I think there's a directly proportional relationship in my life between the level of busy-ness and the number of good things happening. I have barely two more weeks to go in this semester before I leave for a couple of weeks (New York, Chicago, Louisville). I have no time and less money, and so much work to do academically. And yet, the following things are true:

-I got into Collection Development next semester.

-I got to write a paper on Library Thing - you can peruse my catalog as LaBibliotecaria here.

-I opened my Wallace Stevens' Collected Poems to a perfect, appropriate poem today.

-I'm looking forward to a long break full of books, food, and travel.

-This morning, I had to get up early to go to a full day of work after not that much sleep and with a fairly wicked hangover, but I'm glad, because if I hadn't, I would have completely missed the first snow of the winter - which always inspires this foolish, primal joy in me.

Basically, my little life is bursting at the seams. So I'll have to be running now.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Batgirl was not part of this quiz.

Usually on these sorts of things, I have fairly equal distribution, but apparently I am so much like Spiderman, it's scary.

Maybe I'll have something more insightful to post later this week.

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Stage combat and old journals

Lately, I've been all dramatic about my life - about things like indecision, infatuation, school-related stress. Now, I'm at home, and last night and today I was leafing through old journals. And I was reminded of the actual hard things I've gone through--really hard things. At this point, I'm relatively stable and sane. I'm making my own way. There are lots of people that love me. I get to go to class and talk about encyclopedias.

I'm not saying there's nothing left to improve upon, or that everything in my life is somehow resolved. (Ten hours with my dad is proof of that.) I just need to remember the bravery of my old self and of many people I know (especially my mother), and to quit whining. I should be using that energy to create some small amount of change, or at least to communicate better/more.

To make this post slightly less navel-gazing, why don't I tell you how I enjoyed The Pirate Queen, a musical in its pre-Broadway run in Chicago. There were some interesting themes about feminine power. Also Irish dancing and, um, pirates.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Questions of travel.

"I really can't believe it all. Not only are there highly impractical mountains all around with clouds floating in & out of one's bedroom, but waterfalls, orchids, all the Key West flowers...."
-Elizabeth Bishop, letter, February 14, 1952

Last night, I went to hear Jane Mirandette talk about founding the first lending library in Nicaragua. (Libraries there were previously non-circulating only.) It's an amazing project, and I recommend that if you have time, money, or books to give, to give those things to the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Móvil.

Jane said she went to Nicaragua on vacation and stayed, and soon "knew" that she was meant to be there, that she was meant to end up there. This struck me and stuck with me, especially because my only pleasure reading lately has been One Art, a book of Elizabeth Bishop's letters. Bishop did the same thing. She went on vacation in 1951 to Brazil, got horribly sick, and when she got better, found that she really didn't want to leave. She stayed for fifteen years.

Part of me (okay, a big part) finds these stories incredibly appealing. I came home last night all starry-eyed. I wanted to go to a South American country, fall madly in love (as Bishop did) with someone who would both love me and financially support me so that I could start a library and write poems. More than that, maybe, I want the feeling that I was meant to end up somewhere.

It also gives me pause to remember that the other Elizabeth's story didn't exactly turn out happily ever after. She was happy while she was there, though.

EB in 1954:

not stealing...
The EB picture is by J.L. Castel and comes from the Vassar College Archives & Special Collections website.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some librarians have some resentment.

I pretty much have no time, since I've been staying up late and having great conversations with people, and haven't been working on final papers. I did come across this, however, when actually doing research for a paper. And I had to post it.

Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A good day for Democrats and manual labor

I had to post because this afternoon, in the small library where I work, the two librarians and I put together a book truck. We screwed in the shelves, applied the cranberry racing stripes (I kid you not), and had it rolling in an hour, all while discussing same-sex marriage ballot initiatives and various members of the Simmons faculty. I love my job, and the people there. I'm learning all the things they don't teach you in library school, etc.

Speaking of ballots, I cast mine today - or rather, fed it into a scanner. Deval Patrick was elected, as were John Yarmuth in Louisville (SO exciting), Baron Hill in Indiana, Ted Strickland in Ohio, and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Of course, post-election giddiness will not suffice. How about perhaps, getting some work done? Yes, I'm Elizabeth and I still (somewhat) believe in democracy. I even write to my representatives in Congress. What can I say? I'm old-school.

However, I must protest that Massachusetts apparently does not give out "I Voted" stickers. Come on now...there has to be a little incentive, a little visible way to declare your superiority to others.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Turning over old leaves

Apparently, people do read this blog, because I had a complaint recently that I hadn't posted lately! Imagine that. There's so much going on - I'm in the middle of a bunch of projects at school, it's a big week at work, and I had two fabulous weekends in a row (my mom came to visit; I went to Amherst).

So I checked out Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (see previous post), and read it in two sittings. It was really good; its subtitle is "a tragicomic," which is accurate. It's literary, layered, and moving. And there's nothing in it that you wouldn't find in your standard Judy Blume or Francesca Lia Block book. For goodness' sake.

When I was in Amherst I went with a friend to the Quabbin Reservoir. For those of you who don't know, the Quabbin, which supplies Boston with its drinking water, was created by evacuating, "discontinuing," and flooding four towns in this valley, which formed a natural dam on three sides, and just needed the fourth one to be blocked. It's a beautiful but melancholy place; you can feel the spirit of things that once were, and will no longer exist again.

We tried to catch leaves as they were torn from the trees by the strong wind, saying that if we did, we'd get a wish. My friend caught one, but I couldn't chase one down - they're pretty damn elusive. The other morning, however, as I walked to class, I felt something run into my side. I looked down, and there was a dead leaf sticking to my jacket. I'm still thinking about what to wish for.

This is the Enfield Lookout (I think). Photo (c) Sam Masinter, from Amherst Magazine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Get it together, Missouri

This is from Libraries Online, the news & updates portion of ALA's website. Seriously? Are they serious? Are we still banning books? Yes, they should have a collection development policy; however, that's clearly not the real issue here. I'm officially offended on behalf of graphic novels and the Midwest.

Missouri Trustees Pull Graphic Novels, for Now

The board of the Marshall (Mo.) Public Library voted 7–1 October 11 to remove from circulation the two coming-of-age graphic novels Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Blankets by Craig Thompson until trustees have codified a material-selection policy—a process that could take months to complete. “We will then have concrete guidelines for [the books’] appropriateness and for their placement if they are kept,” Board President Anita Wright explained to some 90 citizens who packed the meeting, according to the October 12 Marshall Democrat-News.

Explaining that trustees intended to craft “a lasting policy for any selections to be made in the future,” Wright asserted, “At no point will the policy be written with an attempt to ‘work around’ the materials in question.” Louise Mills, who made the reconsideration request, agreed, telling the Democrat-News, “The policy is definitely needed because currently anything can be brought in or taken out by [the library director].”

“Both board members and staff members will work together on the policy committee,” MPL Director Amy Crump told American Libraries, explaining that “for a variety of reasons” the 16-year-old library has never had written collection-development guidelines.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More time for words

I have to admit that as a former English major, I probably don't use the word "ironic" correctly. That being said, I think it's ironic that now that I'm in library school, I'm not reading very much. I read for class, of course (most of the time), but I miss reading books like The Unbearable Lightness of Being or White Teeth. Books that crack my mind open, that make me say "Holy crap, that's brilliant" or laugh out loud in public places.

And then there's time for writing, too. I feel that if I just scheduled myself a little better (and if Facebook died), I'd write more regularly. Ironically, I did write a poem last week in class. I'm going to post it, and I'm not exactly sure why. It's not quite finished; it's kind of like an in-class exercise (I guess, in this case, literally). It's not based on anything that really happened; I was just thinking about the phrase "gray area" and thought a sonnet would be accomplishable in two hours. Like my previous poem, it is as yet title-less.

[I removed this poem for various and sundry reasons.]

Monday, October 09, 2006

A comic.

I have Evan to thank for this. It comes from

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Good librarian, bad librarian

I'm reading for my reference class, and the chapter is basically about what is required to be a good reference librarian. Namely, the desire to help people, and a broad knowledge. I've always sort of felt ambivalent about the fact that I try and read about lots of things, but am an expert on nothing. Now here I am training for a profession in which this will be an asset. It's nice to be validated.

On quite the opposite end of the is a link to a "naughty librarian" Halloween costume on Target's website (which I must thank Amy for pointing out to me):
It's pretty ridiculous. And expensive. For God's sake, just unbutton your shirt a little, put on your glasses, and carry around a copy of...I don't know, Lady Chatterley's Lover or something. Much more cost-effective.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meant to be read on October 5

Maybe make a donation here today, if you're so inclined. This may not be an exciting issue, but these people do important work. I still remember the compassion they lent me six years ago.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday was nice, and we were friends.

Friday is becoming my day to clean, recharge, catch up. (Also known as laundry day.) It's also the day I usually check my Free Will horoscope, which is at the bottom of this post. Lately, I've been getting these startling messages about love and opportunity and unexpectedness, at least from that corner of the universe.

I will say this. I have a feeling of possibility to a degree I haven't in a long time. I can see myself living in any number of places, falling in love with anyone, really. As soon as my focus narrows in one area of my life (library school), it explodes elsewhere.

Free Will Astrology. (Aries)
Love isn't as simple as you wish it would be. On the other hand, it's nowhere near as complicated as you fear it is. My advice to you is to extinguish any itch you might have to compel love to serve any agenda at whatsoever. Instead, bow down before it with all the innocence you can muster, and declare yourself ready to be its humble student and servant. Celebrate through surrender.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sky of arrivals

There's always the sky; let it hear what you are saying
And let it take you apart, to the elements of praying
Till we are only playing to the firmament
-Dar Williams

Maybe I didn't look at the sky enough in Chicago, but I have this feeling that it was not as interesting as the sky here. I rarely see it monochromatic; there's always some complex cloud cover. Is this delusional?

All of a sudden, I tumbled into these packed weeks of class, work, and seeing people. I processed stacks of materials about past and present injustices. I understand what Linux is; I can make a webpage. I met the librarians behind Radical Reference. I've had JP Licks ice cream three times in two weeks. I've discussed my romantic dysfunction more than I care to remember. Speaking of which.

This week, I'm in love with:
Eileen Ivers ( from the Boston Folk Festival today, which had a blue-and-white sky full of arriving airplanes)
Carbon Leaf (Thank you Jacob and Eliot)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The first of many library-themed links, I'm sure

I saw this and had to post it. I don't really have anything else to say.

The Onion

Dewey Decimal System Helpless To Categorize New Jim Belushi Book

DUBLIN, OH-Members of the OCLC Online Computer Library Center's Editorial Policy Committee, which oversees the Dewey Decimal System library...

Friday, September 08, 2006

People with three names

I have now been in Boston for a week, and library school for two days. So far, both have been illuminating and enjoyable.

One of the classes I've been to is what I've been referring to as my technology requirement, which I thought would be more "how to use this program," which to an extent it will be, but will also be "how the Internet works" and the digital divide, and the future of resources (i.e., the printed book). All very interesting (to me, anyway). In the timeline of technological developments was the second mention I'd heard in 24 hours of Alexander Graham Bell...just the night before, Jon Stewart posited (in a conversation on decency) that after Bell said "Watson, come here," he followed it with "What are you wearing?"

Speaking of timelines, I came across this one today by Ben Schott, of Schott's Miscellany. I find especially fascinating the top Google searches for the year 2005: XBox 360, Iran, and Jessica Simpson.

In one more dispatch, I spent the afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I'm afraid you'll be hearing a lot about this place, because I'm utterly in love with it. It's laid out just as ISG wanted it, not by artist or period, but in a way she intended to impart inspiration. This sounds really presumptuous, but I think we have similar tastes in art. Beauty ranks high in her aesthetic sensibility. The painting is of her, by John Singer Sargent (from She either had a good tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, or was on the arrogant side -- this painting is in the Gothic room with portraits of the Virgin Mary and female saints.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's the end of the summer, when you move to another place.

Oh, for goodness' sake. It's been a long time since I wrote anything. I'll try to make this post worth your while.

Yesterday I was listening, predictably, to Dar Williams' album The End of the Summer (from which title track my post title comes). If and when I ever leave the cycle of academic years and summer jobs, I think I'll feel off-kilter. August has always been a time of upheaval and moving and breaking off, and 2006 is no exception.

I finished my second summer at the Newberry last week, which completely flew by. A definite highlight was being called a "born cataloger" by one of the higher-ups in Special Collections. Not that I necessarily want to be a cataloger, but my library-nerd reflexes responded nonetheless.

And now I'm off to Boston this weekend. To be honest, I was feeling more nervous than anything up till this week, but now I'm getting excited. About library school, living near college friends, and plunging right in to a new phase. I've got two job interviews next week, too, so hopefully I'll be writing about one of those two libraries in future.

The last book I finished (and it may be the last pleasure-reading book I finish in a long time, despite my purchase of Fiasco earlier this week) was White Teeth by Zadie Smith. It was just excellent: ambitious, funny, thoroughly enjoyable. At times, I was reminded of Tom Robbins, but for the most part, I was just carried away by the way the book's..."themes," I guess, gracefully coincided and surfaced, instead of hitting me on the head or making me roll my eyes. And she was twenty or so when she wrote it. A co-worker and I discussed how we were happy that such talented people exist, but we're a little sad we're not those people. Since I've graduated from college, I've had a really great run of reading. I've knocked some big ones off my list: The Changing Light at Sandover, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, House of Leaves, In Cold Blood.

One more thing. Yesterday as I was surfing around the radio I heard a song with the refrain "In Boston, no one knows my name." (An interesting variation on the Cheers theme.) It was another one of those coincidental (but not really) radio moments. And while there are certainly people in Boston who know my name, I was reminded that here is another nice obvious opportunity to try to make myself better. I hope I will.

Monday, August 07, 2006


A magician came to the Newberry yesterday. He had huge spiky blond hair, and a kind voice, and reminded me of Ryan, a mutual friend of many of my friends. He asked to look at some old science, pseudoscience, and witchcraft works, and later he came out of the reading room, got on his cell phone, and said, "Dude, did you get my text message about Discoverie of Witchcraft?" His wife had come in to look at some really beautiful calligraphy samples. I also paged something out of the artifacts cage, which doesn't happen very often. Basically, it was a day of quirks in the collection, and readers who were both excited about and respectful of what they had in their hands.

Then I had a very frustrating train ride, on an incredibly full train - ended up at home at 8:30 (I got off work at 5), and nearly had a panic attack getting off. But I pulled it together and my aunt, sister, and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The three main characters in this movie are so good-looking it's hard to concentrate on anything else, but it was quite enjoyable. I generally find Keira Knightley annoying, but I like Elizabeth Swann a lot.

Here are two things that Jack says to Elizabeth. I enjoy them. (I have a temporary obsession with this movie.)

"You know, these clothes do not flatter you at all. It should be a dress or nothing. I happen to have no dress in my cabin."

"One word love; curiosity. You long for freedom. You long to do what you want to do because you want it. To act on selfish impulse. You want to see what it's like. One day you won't be able to resist."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eat, pray, love, sing, drink, float

Two forces have acted on me in the past couple of weeks. One was a long weekend at Rough River Lake with old (and a few new) friends. Another is the book I'm almost done with: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. These forces are definitely related.

I first read about Eat, Pray, Love in O magazine, and immediately recommended it to my mother, because it's about a woman who has been through a lot, trying to figure out...everything. A bare-bones synopsis: E.G. (it has not escaped me that we have the same initals, and first name) spends a year traveling, four months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali). Italy is for pleasure (food, sleep, music), India is for devotion (meditation, mostly), and Indonesia is ostensibly for balancing the two (love encompasses both).

Now, a three-day trip to Rough River is pretty far from a year-long globe-circling quest for the self. However, I did remove myself from my normal habitat, and did things I rarely do, or haven't done in a while. I hardly read at all while I was there. Instead, I did all the things in the title to this post. Who knew drunken karaoke could be so renewing? In all seriousness, floating in the sun and then opening my eyes to a brilliant blue and green landscape did a lot for me. So did spending time with people I hadn't seen in two years, or haven't known as well as I could. I came back to Chicago, read a big chunk of Elizabeth Gilbert's book, and decided to attempt to work my way toward a) trying to create a little peace in myself and b) trying to recognize in everyone the ability (and deservedness) to be loved, to recognize that they're just another part of the universe, struggling and making mistakes, etc.

This has been a rather New Age-y post. You should read this book, too. It will make you feel all cosmic inside.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

If on a summer's morning a commuter

Currently making my curious way through If on a winter's night a traveler. Near the beginning of the book Calvino lists several categories of Books You Haven't Read, including:
Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success (maybe less common in the age of
Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified

This book itself belongs to Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages, and I'm glad I am now. I generally like books about the nature of reading (unless they cross the pretentious line). The "novel" unfolds into permutations, becomes "an instrument, a channel of communication, a rendezvous."

I was taking a break from reading this morning on the commuter train to watch some people on the bottom part of the car read. I guess I never realized how much I love to watch other people read (though I'm certainly in the right job right now to do that). There was a boy about eleven reading To Kill a Mockingbird while his nearsighted dad peered at a WWI history. Behind them, a woman in her early thirties was halfway through Emma. The world can't be totally on the rocks when people are still reading Harper Lee. Scenes like this also bolster my opinion that the book will survive. No matter how much digital media engulf communication, nothing will surpass the intimacy of the handheld volume.

Has anyone reading this (?) read A Handful of Dust? I read it and was so put off. I loved Brideshead Revisited, but this book felt like it had no heart. I guess books have to have a little bit of a heart for me to appreciate them.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I like my men like my coffee

earthy, sweet, and lively
This weekend I was in Louisville. I got caught up on movies (Mulholland Drive, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). I played lots of Scrabble. I went to my favorite places - Heine Brothers', Ramsi's, Mark's Feed Store, Clare's house, and Ear X-Tacy. At the latter, I bought two CDs, which I really shouldn't have, but they're essential. The Rushmore soundtrack is full of good songs, and Taking the Long Way (the Dixie Chicks' new CD) is quite amazing. I miss the country-ness that characterized their earlier songs, but these songs are so good. They're about interacting with both past and future, and not apologizing for one's self and beliefs.

clean, sharp, well-rounded
Which is a good affirmation in general, and in particular right now. Something about Louisville, or maybe just this weekend, made me feel free. Maybe it was the chance I got to jump on a trampoline, to be airborne and momentarily weightless in thick summer air.

smoky richness, with a tantalizing finish
However...I did get my ass handed to me in a spectacular game of Scrabble. My consummately worthy opponent got 512 points.

(The coffee descriptions come from Heine Brothers' website.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Step on the gas and wipe that tear away

So according to the news, there was a (now thwarted) plot to blow up the Sears Tower. I wasn't surprised; I worry about the Sears Tower. I can see it from the Special Collections desk, and I'm just waiting for the day it's destroyed. If I treat the event as inevitable, then perhaps I won't be shocked if/when it happens. This worrying is, as usual, really just worrying about myself. About what happens when I declare myself, stand out vulnerably.

The discovered plot actually made me feel better. At least I knew my suspicions were confirmed. So yesterday as Andrew was driving me into the city, I looked calmly at the skyline, felt that everything was as it should be, and deserved to be there. Of course, I could have just been distracted by the company, and by the rhymes in "Californication" that make me inordinately happy. Or the past couple of days, filled as they were with Scrabble, the Beatles, chocolate mousse, huddling under my new purple umbrella, and laughing hysterically with my sister. (A Thoroughly Modern Millie is the most utterly silly movie in the whole world, and we love it.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cape Disappointment

The other day I took a piece of scrap paper from the Special Collections desk to write a note. Later I noticed that the back of it was a photocopy of a map. There was a peninsula, and handwritten was: "Cape Disappointment." I mention this more for its poetic nature than any kind of parallel to my actual life, although I have been disappointing myself in a sense.

I was in Boston for the weekend, where it was 100 degrees and my senses and brain were cooked and motionless. When I came home, I realized that my New Year's resolution - to be more aware - had been sadly neglected, especially over the past few weeks. So I'm making a renewed effort not to screw up, not to forget things, not to come home and just lie around until I go to bed. Yesterday, this experiment didn't go so well. I forgot my umbrella on the bus, stabbed myself with a pencil, and dropped something I really shouldn't have. (Luckily, I wasn't hurt, neither was the thing I dropped, and I got a new umbrella this morning.) I'm getting there, though. One day at a time, etc. Not to get all John Bunyan on your ass, but beyond Cape Disappointment I am betting there is a smooth sea.

One more thing.

In an effort to improve my Spanish, I took my Penguin Book of Spanish Verse on the train with me this morning. I hadn't cracked it yet (it's old and from a used book sale), and there was already a dog-ear made by someone else, marking a poem by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz called "A la esperanza" (To Hope). The last six lines (it's a sonnet) are:

sigan tu nombre en busca de tu dia
los que, con verdes vidrios por anteojos,
todo lo ven pintado a su deseo;
que yo, mas cuerda en la fortuna mia,
tengo en entrambas manos ambos ojos
y solamente lo que toco veo.

Let them follow your name in search of your light,
those who, wearing green glasses,
see everything painted as they desire it;
but I, wiser in my fortune,
keep both my eyes in my two hands
and see only what I touch.

It's a grounding kind of poem, which I need in my 'awareness training.' But I found it serendipitously, which always appeals to me.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Alone at last

I came home tonight after a long, frustrating drive from the city, followed by a fruitless search in the suburbs for a new nose stud ("no, we don't sell those"). Despite my sister's car in the garage, no one was home. I sat down and ate dinner in absolute quiet, and realized how long it's been since I had some true alone time. It's wonderful. I think a lot about whether or not I'm cut out to spend the rest of my life living with another person, and I don't know if my lust for solitude could coexist with the desire to be married (etc.) I suppose it all depends on the other person.

Which is true in general. It's not easy, at times, to resist the conventions of relationships, and the unnecessary limitations they place on me. Two people may be anything to each other they want. If I don't want marriage in the traditional sense, I don't have to undertake it. Henry James, oddly enough, wrote, "We must for dear life make our own counter-realities."

Well. In other news:

We've discussed hiring a photocopy monkey at the Newberry. One of us thinks this monkey should wear red overalls and a hat. However, this week, we were basically the photocopy monkeys. The book-scanner (which is used to copy fragile-type materials, and is pretty cool), broke down twice, and there were mountains of copy orders. In the end, though, we conquered all, because we are Super Pages (TM).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

Today at the Newberry I spent some time with the microfilm readers. They're on the second floor, with low light so you can see what you're doing. I could hear the whirring of the advancing film, the elevator bell, and the buses braking outside, the mechanical voice announcing the route. I was looking for one name in a sea of payroll records; I almost fell asleep. It was a space of peace in a fairly hectic day; I was reminded of a song I didn't know I knew existed before this weekend, "Enjoy the Silence." I knew Tori Amos' version, which is lovely and haunting, but now I've heard the original by Depeche Mode. By the way, if any inquiring minds wanted to know, "Depeche Mode" means "fashion update" or "fashion news dispatch."

And, as may be visible from the title of this post, I finally saw Donnie Darko. I very much needed to fill that gap in my film repertoire. I don't think I'll adopt it as my new philosophy of life, but it was really good. A good Gyllenhaal quotient, too.

Above: behold a skillful Scrabble game, played on a gorgeous windy day at Belmont Harbor in Chicago. Some plays might be questionable, but doesn't it look great?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Plagiarizing Elizabeth Bishop

I don't think I have ever in my life said the phrase "happy as a clam" aloud. But it's been floating through my head this week at the Newberry. When I describe my job to other people, it doesn't sound that amazing. But I feel so at home there. Around books, and people who love books and honor them and get all geekily excited about holding, in their hands, an object created by another human being and passed through the hands of other human beings (properly supported on a cradle, of course). There is something you simply cannot get from a digitization.

Today, also, I paged books that reminded me of friends. There was una Historia de Obstetricia, about Mayan birth customs, which made me think of Clare. Then a bunch of students from dePaul were doing projects about pirates, and paging these great collections of buccaneer tales from the 1700s, which made me think of Sam. So that's always nice.

I'm halfway through Holy Fools by Joanne Harris. It's all right. I liked her Five Quarters of the Orange much better. It's too late to abandon it, I think, but there are so many other books I'd like to move on to. Of course, I still have to finish unpacking my stuff so that I can walk in my room, and so I can find things. I hate not being able to find things. I have tried to accept the fluster of lost things in life, but haven't mastered the art yet.

(And that is a shameless, artless rephrasing of my favorite poet's most perfect poem.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Poetic License

So this is my blog. I started it because it seemed like it was time for a blog. It's called "A Room Full of Books" because:

a) it's what a library is (and yet so much more than), hence what I love
b) I always have one, no matter where I move
c) it's from a Dar song, helloooo
d) my mind, also...filled with other people's words, etc.

In subsequent posts, I'll talk more about books -- what I'm reading, what I'm paging at the library. For now, though, what I really do best: navel-gazing.

Below is my latest Free Will Astrology horoscope. I love his horoscopes, and I read this one after I'd sort of adopted it. To hell with safety and caution and sleep; lately, I want to be driven to the edge of breathlessness and not knowing what is going to happen next.

ARIES: In all my years of evaluating your astrological omens, I have rarely seen a time so favorably disposed to the value and pleasure of variety. I'm tempted to conclude that the cosmos is conspiring for you to try all 32 flavors, 46 positions, and 64 loopholes. For a limited time only, you really should be determined to sample a little of a lot rather than a lot of a little. Grazing and browsing are not only fine, they're preferable. You have a poetic license to be mercurial, spontaneous, and inscrutable.