You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2006.

(Please ignore me talking about school and skip down to the pictures, a la library smut)

So here I am!  I made it to Indian summer Seattle.  I miraculously made my way to Lis’ place entirely from memory.  I now insist (well, strongly recommend) that you listen to/read Feed (M.T. Anderson) because it made the last hour and a half of the trip speed past like nobody’s business (and I even went more or less the speed limit).

Classes haven’t actually started yet; they’re easing us into it with orientation sessions and tours and computer lab tutorials (oy).  The people seem generally friendly and enthusiastic, as befits the job description (in my mind, at least).  It’s hard, though, because there are three days in which to meet people and get to know names and faces…and then we all go off to our own little computers and communicate electronically until we meet again in January.  (Which reminds me – the school sent out some flier about “recommended computer skills” and one was a familiarity with online communication like blogs or message boards.  Um, check.)

But I’m forgetting my main point.  And really the only reason (apart from seeing more of Lis) that makes me think, oh maybe the residential program would’ve been nice…

The Library.

There’s nothing quite like a faux-Gothic cathedral/reading room.  Although maybe it’s best if I’m not on campus, because I might spend more time admiring the Reading Room than actually studying. 

Well, I ought to get back to the ever-fascinating Looking for Information.  As Kitri said, I’m on my way to being a Certified Card Carrying Librarian.  And as I said back, I already have 3 library cards.  So technically, I’m already card carrying.

Oh, and how much do I love the bundt cake visualization from Eat Cake?  Okay, so the main character goes to a stress reduction seminar and has to picture herself in a safe, peaceful place.  She chooses a bundt cake.

The place that I went, the place that I still go, was the warm, hollowed-out center of a Bundt cake.  It is usually gingerbread, though sometimes that changes.  Sometimes its gingerbread crowned in a ring of poached pears.  The walls that surround me are high and soft, but as they go up they curve back, open up to the light, so I feel protected by the cake but never trapped by it.  There are a few loose crumbs around my feet, clinging to my hair, and the smell!  …This isn’t a fantasy about food exactly, at least not insofar as I want to eat my way through a cake that’s taller than I am.  It’s about being inside of cake, being part of something that I find to be profoundly comforting.

I know what I’m baking when I get home.

I just confessed to Kitri that I’m overthinking my book packing for this trip (like I’ll even have time to read, but still). When venturing into the world of library school, one’s book choices could say a lot. Will this one show my abiding interest in children’s lit? Will this one seem too fluffy? Will this one look pretentious?

In the end, I’m packing two audiobooks and two regular books. Just, you know, in case. I need options. And I will be riding the bus, so I’ll have time to read.

I vote we change it from meme to Mimi, okay?  Okay.

Five Things I Wish Were In My Freezer

Hazelnut gelato from that place down the street in Bologna.  Yogurt container upon yogurt container of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (I’m a frutti di bosco kind of girl).  Gin.  An unending supply of chocolate chips.  That elusive meal to pack for lunch that’s never around when I need it.

Five Things That Shouldn’t Be In My Wardrobe
Those worn at the knees, too small corduroys.  The shoes a size too big (why?)  The slips that belonged to my great-grandmother.  The over-the-top leather coat that belonged to my grandmother (on the other side) that I never wear but can’t bear to part with.  The not-so-white anymore embroidered sleeveless top.

Five Things I Hate About My Car

The CD player that stopped working.  The twang in the bass when it’s turned up.  The fact that it requires gasoline.  The dust I’m too lazy to get rid of.  The fac that I was nine when it was born.

Five Things I Should Throw Out Of My Handbag/Backpack/Wallet

The phone cards that are probably expired.  My alumni card (will I ever really need it?)  The practically empty chapstick.  The credit card I never ever use.   The receipts (I do this every couple days, but seem to breed during the night).

Five Things I Don’t Want To Admit Are In My Bathroom

I actually just cleaned everything out.  So I guess I’m left with the frighteningly powerful drain unclogger, which is sadly necessary on occasion.  I suppose I do have an unnecessarily large collection of contact lens cases (some with ancient contacts still inside, I’m sure).  Then there’s the mold in the grout, but that’s the landlord’s fault because he did the grout himself and it’s a half-assed job.

For the first time in, oh, four or five years, my siblings and I are all in school. Or rather, we will be come Monday. In a sane, civilized way, our respective universities, colleges, and institutes wait until autumn has officially begun to start classes. I approve of this. The leaves on my street are just starting to turn yellow here and there, the pool is closed, and the air smells a teensy bit like a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

Today is my last official day of freedom. Tomorrow I work and drive to Seattle. The sky is a perfect September blue, not a cloud. I should have some marvelous plan that involves being outdoors and Taking Advantage of My Last (Sunny) Day. But here’s the thing: I think I’ve forgotten what to do with a Saturday. Sure, I can laze my way through it and take a walk and shop for wedding gifts and maybe go down the street for coffee later. But none of it feels like enough. I’m in that in between state, where I feel like I ought to do more than be lazy, but I lack anything specific to do to get that Taking Advantage feeling. I feel the day slipping past and it freaks me out.

Kind of like how the summer slipped past. I barely picked blueberries. I never went swimming. I only harassed my brother a little bit before he left for college. I did manage to eat a hell of a lot of raspberries early in the summer, so there is that. It wasn’t a total loss, berry-wise. And it was a busy summer. So I suppose I can cut myself some slack. But still! I only have one teensy tiny tupperware of blueberries in the freezer to last me through the long winter. I’d make a terrible hibernating animal.

*Sing Through the Seasons, baby. And if you go here you can read comments from people who had it sung to them as children. When we homeschool, we used to sing this and jump off the couch, pretending to be leaves falling.

Currently reading (in a mad frenzy before school starts):

Donuthead, Sue Stauffacher

Funny Little Monkey, Andrew Auseon
Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

Just finished:

Digging to America, Anne Tyler (excellent comfort book)

Embroideries, Marjane Satrapi

Caddy Ever After, Hilary McKay (did I already mention this one? Probably. But it’s worth a second mention.)

On the shelf (too numerous to mention, really, but):

Busman’s Honeymoon, Feed (both audio for the car ride), The Position, The Secret River, Victory, Rules, Skellig, At the Sign of the Star, Eat Cake.

And? I’m now addicted to the Sopranos. Plus Kitri has the beginnings of the second seasons of Lost and Grey’s Anatomy. Which are all exerting a magnetic pull on me.

I think I’ll go make some chocolate pudding. But only because it’s possible to stir pudding and read simultaneously.

First of all, I’m pleased to say that I’m getting hits from people searching for Henry VIII related information. It adds a nice note of prestige to an otherwise everyday bit of writing.

Also, I’ve been asked to report back on that “must spend $25 at Barnes & Noble” thing.  Here’s what happened.

I wandered.  I circled.  I paced from fiction/literature to teen to young readers to picture books to mystery and back again.  My first impulse was The King of Attolia, which I know I’ll reread, but they didn’t have it in stock .  And who doesn’t want immediate gratification?  Plus, I was slightly horrified that they didn’t have it (all they had was The Queen of Attolia.  Not even The Thief.)  And I didn’t want to order it and make another trip to the mall.  (Although of course I had to go back to shop for a bridal shower gift & look for bridesmaid dresses with my sister (for her, not me, thank God).

Then I spent a long time in the picture books, lamenting the absence of certain fabulous titles and muttering to myself like a crazy person.  (I only scared off a few toddlers.)

I thought about How I Live Now, Harriet the Spy, Gaudy Night, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, This is London…

And ended up with Miss Rumphius & Case Histories. One old favorite to clasp in joy, and one new safe-ish bet (considering I loved Behind the Scenes and Human Croquet).

Just finished…

Gaudy Night.   My God, I could almost listen to it again from the beginning.  I cried listening to the last bit.  (Of course, I’d just come from vespers, where I felt like a ball of yard unraveling (but in the best possible way), and half an hour of holding a sleeping M with her little cheek cuddled up against mine.  All it took was Dorothy Sayers to do me in.)

The Doctor’s Daughter.   Which was described as “tidy and predictable” by Kirkus and “alternately claustrophobic and insightful” by Booklist.  Huh.  I liked it, but it was predictable.  I almost gave it up 50 pages in, but I’m glad I stuck to it.  I liked the cover, really, which kept me going.

Now, finally, I have Caddy Ever After in my hot little hands, and the Cassons are as splendid as ever, although the eccentricity is ever so slightly toned down, in a good way.  The “this is how I do special” bit was perfect.

The countdown to grad school begins. It’s September, so people are starting to ask more. When do you start? And as I register for classes with names like “The Life Cycle of Information (And How It Will Put You To Sleep),” “Information Behavior,” and “Internet Technologies and Applications” – oh sweet fancy Moses, it makes my head hurt. My idea of internet technologies and applications is this. Blogging. I’m sure there will be interesting aspects to the classes, some redeeming value, but really, why am I going back to school? Oh yeah, because I’m addicted to the library.

Last night I was on my dinner hour, and I finished eating and was sitting there reading…and decided to go back to my desk 15 minutes early. What’s happening to me? Granted, part of the reason was so I could decorate my space.

Have I mentioned this? I have my own desk! Not quite my own office, but I was just upgraded last week and now have possession of a landing. Part of the library is an old house, and the offices are upstairs, with dark paneling and quirky closets and a view of the duck pond. And the landing? She is mine. The best part? One of my windows opens onto the roof of the newer building. Just in case, you know, I’m being chased by a library serial killer and need an escape route. It’s also handing for viewing lunar eclipses.

All will be well, all will be well. I just…won’t have any free time. Which will probably mean I’ll blog even more to give my brain a break.

Yesterday afternoon I started reading A True and Faithful Narrative. I picked it up (and by picked up, I mean put on hold and had it sit there for a long time until I got around to it on this historical fiction kick) because it was well-reviewed on Nina’s Newbery.

At around one in the morning, I finished it.  I read it on my break at work, and while I ate dinner, and straight from about 11 to 1.  I briefly considered putting it down, but what’s more fun than staying up late to finish a book?  Well, okay, some things are more fun.  But this is pretty high up there.

It wasn’t one of those books where I had passages I wanted to mark or share, or where there were particularly clever lines.  But it was one of those books where you are led into somewhat familiar territory – a girl who is unconventional for her times, but who contemporary readers can sympathize with, is approaching marriageable age and wonders whether it would be better to remain unmarried, and allowed to write like she wants, or whether she should accept one of the young men wooing* her.  You start one to think, oh this will be one of those nice solid books, with an engaging character and a glimpse of history.

Which, yes, it is.  But it has that extra oomph & strength beyong the ordinary.  For starters, it’s not one of those books where it’s SO obvious which guy she’ll end up picking (because they always pick one, don’t they?  are there any books where they don’t?)  Edward would be the more romantic pick, with the adventures and the story to tell.  But Meg doesn’t really know him all that well, and you reserve your judgment with her.  And Will doesn’t think she should write, and that he would run the household, but he & Meg have this nice banter/teasing thing going on, where you can see that he’d never quite have his way.   And the book presents views & stereotypes of the time as they would be perceived then, but also shows how individual people can grow & change without leaving their historical context behind.

Anyway, READ IT.

*Perhaps one of my favorite words.  Woo.  Woo.  Woo.

Once, when Bronwen and I were living in Ireland, we took a trip to Donegal. The hostels in Donegal Town itself were booked up, but we called a hostel outside of town and they had rooms. Actually, I don’t remember clearly. We might’ve just gambled on them having rooms. And rather than figuring out the bus (or maybe we just didn’t want to wait…can you tell I remember this story very clearly?) we decided to walk there (closed until further notice?? gah!) – 5km, according to the website. Five kilometers with heavy backpacks. On a gorgeous sunny day. Which had been a bleak, rainy day when we left Galway.

So, we weren’t sure exactly where we were going. We just had directions. And it took a while. But every time a car passed us, I realized: we are taking a very different trip than they are. Sure, their feet don’t hurt, but they aren’t noticing these flowers hiding on the side of the road. They aren’t stopping to admire the view, or that farm, or the sun on their faces.

Whew, I just got a trifle sticky-sweet there. My point is, a walk like that isn’t necessarily something you choose, but you end up appreciating it. Also that each way you get someplace leads to a different view. A different sense of things. And for some reason every time I think about this, I think about the walk to Ball Point Hostel.*
I’ve been noticing this as I zip (or dawdle) along on my bike. It’s a view somewhere in between a pedestrian and a car. You’ve got some speed, but you notice the hills (your thighs, especially). You can admire the view, but don’t look away too long or you might lose your balance. You notice the bumps, the dips, the best places to get through traffic to make a left.

In other news, I just finished The Other Boleyn Girl, which is a bit sensationalistic and apparently not quite historically accurate, but sheesh. It’s entertaining. And has me on a total historical fiction/Henry VIII & his wives kick. Picture the scene in our living room,something like this:

Me & Kitri (my new roommate – say hello to her): talking, blah blah, did Henry have a son? Did he die young? Did Anne Boleyn really have six fingers? How many children did she end up having? What about those illegitimate sons? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Travis (Kitri’s boyfriend, who I went to high school with – freaky, no?): eyes glazing over, nodding off to sleep as Kitri & I talk with unending enthusiasm.

It’s a good thing he wasn’t around yesterday, when read the entries on Wikipedia for every single heirless wife. And we’ll have to make sure he’s busy when we watch the documentary, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Which I have on hold at the library.

*Not it’s real name, as you’ll see from the link. But really, it should be called Ball Point. There’s a lovely beach there for swimmy-dipping, and rustic rooms, and a nice hill to lay on and watch the moon rise. I feel like I’ve blogged about Ball Point before, but I don’t have the will to look for it.

More from the land of children’s lit dorkitude: think you know your first lines? Test yourself. Why oh why is it so thrilling to recognize a line like that? Or to be able to think of what comes next?

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought.

You have $25 to spend.  You can only spend it at Barnes & Noble.  You don’t want to spend more than $25 at B&N because you’d rather give your money to Powell’s or Wallace Books.

You can think of a million things to buy.  You could add to your children’s books collection.  An old favorite or two.  A nice hardcover of something you know you’ll want to reread.

You could buy as many cheap copies as possible of things you Might Want to Read.  Things on your reading list.  Authors you know you like.

What’s a girl to do?
I don’t even know why I’m asking, because I’ll probably go with the comfortable favorite. I’m so predictable.

Stay tuned for a report on the mission.

September 2006

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