Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Traveling Again (Traveling I)

Just a quick post; I have to finish packing for California. I'm leaving in less than 24 hours, and I'm excited to the point of being unbearable to other people, I think. My mom keeps talking to me about the conference, but I'm mostly excited for a week with my friends Ryan and Michelle. I haven't seen them in a month, but it feels way longer.

I'm really anxious about flying, though, as usual. And also about the flurry of interviews that's gone on the past few weeks. While I'm there, I might get offered a job in Louisville or Chicago. I might not, of course, but I'll tell you one thing - I am interviewed out. For once, I'm sick of talking about myself (though, apparently, not of writing about myself).

I re-read Harriet the Spy the past two nights; I came across it while cleaning out a closet. It's my mom's copy from when she was young, and the covers are missing and there's underlining throughout. I forgot how much I liked that book, and really, how sort of unusual and honest it is. There isn't a particularly happy ending or a moral. One of the last lines is "sometimes you have to lie" (which my mother underlined). Did any of you read this book when you were kids?

On another note, here's a link to my last.fm journal entry entitled "The Best Mix Tape Ever." Clare made it for my 18th birthday, and it definitely stands the test of time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A little knowledge

Just a quick post to give you the below Toothpaste for Dinner comic. I'm about to finish The Fall and possibly reread Harriet the Spy, so you may be hearing about those books soon.

toothpaste for dinner

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kate Chopin and Elton John...together at last

Right now, I'm trying to catch up on and update things. Here's an enumeration of some of those things....

1. I've updated my blogs on the sidebar to include my friend Ryan's new blog, as well as the resurrected Las Poetas Desesperadas. Check them out.

2. Periodically, I make mixes for myself that reflect my current state and whatever I've been listening to obsessively. Well now, thanks to the Internet, you can share in these creations. I'll have them at this site called muxtape. The current one is called "Don't let the sun..." The site only allows 12 songs per mix, so I had to leave off two songs ("Pitseleh" by Elliott Smith and "The Sun" by Mirah). But it's still a pretty good one, I think.

3. I'm trying to fill in what seem like unforgivable holes in my reading, and I'm starting with The Awakening by Kate Chopin - I'm about 75% through. I have mixed feelings about it, and maybe that's because I'm living in this quasi-post-third-wave of feminism. When I think about the novel in terms of a person who has been given no choices, deciding that she'll give them to herself, it is pretty powerful. The fact that Edna is so self-absorbed could be seen, I guess, as a product of that. It's hard not to like passages like this:

It sometimes entered Mr. Pontellier's mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.

I can also relate, having recently left one place for another, to this passage:

[T]he thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with an incomprehensible longing.

That's all for now. I may or may not write before the American Library Association conference at the end of June, but don't worry - you'll be hearing about it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Back to a room more full of books

It has been a very long time, and I apologize to anyone who was on pins and needles waiting for the next entry (doubtful). In the last month and a half, I finished library school and - finding myself without a job quite yet - have moved from my Boston dorm back to my mom's house in the Chicago suburbs.

The culture and various other shocks have been mitigated by the fact I've been kept quite busy: applying for jobs, preparing to go to the ALA conference in Anaheim at the end of the month, making trips into the city. I revisited places in Chicago I like (Wrigley Field, the Intelligentsia on Jackson St.), and went to ones I've been meaning to visit: the National Museum of Mexican Art, the main (Harold Washington) branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Now, I can't help but compare the main branches of the CPL and the Boston Public Library. They're very different, and I didn't actually try to locate items at the CPL, but it feels like it functions better as a library. The BPL has its two buildings - the old and beautiful and the new and stark - and the shelves are always a big mess.

The Harold Washington, however (at left) has apparently been redone lately. It was clean and orderly, but still lovely, with an indoor courtyard sort of thing on the top floor (it has nine smaller floors to the BPL's sprawling four or five). There's just almost a feeling in the new BPL building that this is what you get - good luck finding what you need. The staff is always pretty grim-looking, too. This is probably a funding issue, I would imagine. I will say, though, there's nothing at the CPL on the order of the BPL's reading room (pictured in an earlier post). (The image is a public one from flickr.)

I've also managed to read a little bit - I'm almost done working through a Christmas present, David Foster Wallace's collection of essays Consider the Lobster. Every time I read DFW's writing, I wonder why I bother reading anyone else. The one I found most interesting (of course) is "Authority and American Usage," a sort of descendant of "Politics and the English Language" (which he quotes and acknowledges). Everything that he writes about receives the same scrutinizing and humane treatment. If he's a snob, he examines the reasons for that (especially in "Authority and American Usage").

He also manages to write about politics and voting without coming off all soapboxy; I will leave you with an example from a 2000 article for Rolling Stone.

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.

from Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace, Back Bay Books, 2007.