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.