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.