Three hours of sleep in the last 48, this is all I've got for you:
I have spent the majority of my adult life working in libraries until now. My mother randomly knew Rita, my first library boss, and she was new to the library and hiring a new staff. Completely by accident, completely by chance, I fell in love. Please do not confuse this with a love a books. While I do love books and certainly that is part of my romance with libraries, this is a love for libraries themselves, for the buildings, for the quiet corners, for the maze of stacks.
I mean, look at this:
I went to Boston over spring break when I was 19. I went alone, because that was how I rolled, wandering around a large, strange city like a gap-mouthed hillbilly by myself that is. I stayed at a youth hostel that was a block away from the Christian Science "Mother Church", a few steps from the Revolutionary Trail and smack in the middle of Berklee College of Music, but screw all that I went to the library. (I also went to the pizza place around the corner called Little Steve's House of Pizza for pizza-by-the-slice everyday because I was b.r.o.k.e. and it was c.h.e.a.p. I just google mapped it and it is still there! So awesome. And I went to a Bim-skala-bim show - oh, the 90's- and missed the last train across the river and the very, very nice coat check girl drove me back to the hostel after I came and asked her what I should do looking like a sad puppy. And she didn't rape or murder me or nothing. Bostonians are nice.)
I love the Boston library, I remember walking into the reading room and having to steady myself against a wall because I was just so overwhelmed by the scale of it. Certainly one of my most favorite libraries. I have heard that the library in Stockholm is amazing, I am really looking forward to checking it out on my trip. Here is a secret: when I visit a library in a strange city, I try to get a library card if I can. Sometimes it is not possible, because you need proof of residency, but sometime they just take your address, like maybe the address of a random hostel you are staying at and hand you over a card.
I stole those images above, but here are my contact sheets from my visit. On the first sheet, first photo on the fourth row you will see my own pic of one of my statues from the front of the Boston library. I actually have the full sized print somewhere but not at hand and I like looking at the contact sheet besides, it kinda tells a story.
Maybe when I get to P I will post some photos from my photography days, I should be able to dig them out by then. It would probably be good to get them scanned.
But anyhoo, back to libraries...
Lest you think I am only into big fancy libraries, here is one of my favorites, the Carnegie library down in Eureka Springs:
It feels like you are entering a wood-paneled, book-lined cave and only partially because it is built into the side of a hill.
Of course one of my very favorite libraries is another old Carnegie here in town. I worked at the Midtown branch as a Reference Assistant for about 5 years after college. Definitely one of my all time favorite jobs even with the throngs of teenagers from the neighboring high school infesting the place every afternoon and the variably entertaining and sad encounters with the local homeless population. I loved working reference, it is a good job for the curious.
I have been told I can get my hands on a old large scale photograph of the Midtown library when it still had its giant iron mezzanine on the main floor. That thing was awesome, black and clanky and an absolute labyrinth. I was told that when the tore it out and sold it for scrap, it was discovered that it had not really been bolted to anything and had been just been floating there supported by a few thin iron joists and the bookshelves on the bottom level.
In 2003, Timmy, three pugs, and I went down Route 66 with our teardrop trailer. I had picked up the trailer the week before in Wisconsin and this was our maiden voyage. I had researched and purchased historic maps and guide books. I didn't want to kinda, sorta go down route 66, I wanted the real thing. At least what was left of the real thing as 66 had disappeared in some places or been gobbled up by the interstate in others.
It was May, a day after Timmy's 23 birthday and only a few days after I had (finally) graduated. We took hours and hours to meander over the border of Missouri, through a small corner of Kansas and a convoluted maze in north east Oklahoma. There were not many signs and the maps were sketchy. We made it to our first campsite after dark, a distance that would have only taken us a few hours by interstate.
Oklahoma and Texas blurred into each other. The desert was another planet and I marveled at every cactus and cluster of rocks. The poor pups rode in the back of the car looking bored and hot. Pugs are not really built for a desert climate.
In Arizona, we camped amongst a cluster of improbabe looking pine trees, the next morning every surface was covered in a sticky pine sap. New Mexico there was a dust storm and another stop- the exact location a bit fuzzy in my memory- scorpions and camel spiders scurried past our feet at night. We made it to LA, feeling busted, but continued down the coast to San Diego where we holed up for a a couple of days not doing much but eating hot dogs and going to the dog beach.
And then we headed home, but this time we cut north to Las Vegas and camped just off the strip. We went to see a really bad showgirl act and that night I stripped down to nothings and flung the camper doors wide open and stuck a leg out on the wheel. It was so.damn.hot. The dogs actually stayed in an air conditioned kennel that night where they got baths and cool bed. Lucky bitches. Then we went over the Hoover dam and peered into the Grand Canyon.
It was one of those life-changing, relationship-rocking trips, Timmy and I made it through camel spiders and dust storm grime in our bed. I was was short tempered and Timmy was patient. I navigated and Timmy drove. One of the things I love most about Timmy is that when I come up with these ridiculous ideas (Let's go down Rt. 66! Let's go to Europe! Let's buy a house! Let's buy another house! Let's have a kid!) he doesn't just roll his eyes and go along, he jumps in with his whole self. He lets me do the obsessive planning and manic preparation, he happily packs the car and loads the cooler, he enthusiastically pats my back when I am certain it will all go to shit. I loved this trip. I have loved all our stupid adventures together. I am looking forward to many stupid more.
Anyway, this all came up because I was looking through some old photos on my laptop. Our camera crapped out less than half way through the trip. I tried vainly to get it to work a few more times, but all the pictures where over exposed and blown out. Hurrah for modern technology! I futzed some with those pics and was able to get some recognizable images out of them. Some of them look kind of funky and artsy, Hipstimatic before Hipstimatic! You can check them out on my flickr stream:
In this post, I will list by name all the jerks I have met over my lifetime.
Just kidding! That post would be entirely too long!
Instead a how about a post about jobs?
Here are some of my job highlights:
My first job was painting the pipes on the flat roof of a shopping center. I was 14 taking summer school classes in town (as opposed to out in the county) and before school each day and before the sun got too blaringly hot, I would climb a 25 foot ladder through a hatch on the roof. The ladder was completely vertical and scared the crap out of me every time I did it, I was convinced someone would find me hours, days later head splattered on the concrete below. The job itself consisted of putting on a plastic glove and then a woolly glove over that, dipping my hand in a bucket of thick-as-pudding gloppy brown paint, cupping it around and sliding it up and down the pipe. It was basically the world's longest handy. It was pretty mind-numbing. I did enjoy being on the roof, before dawn, before world woke up. It was me and just the bakers awake. I would walk to the edge of the roof and watch a bit as the world slowly gained color and the grey slipped away over the horizon.
The summer between high school and college, I worked for the park board watching and doing activities with any random child that happened to wander into the park to which I was assigned. It was pretty sweet because my park had a pool and any kid that came to the program during the week got into the pool free on Fridays. I was pretty popular. Because of pool. Because really, I am horrible with kids. I spent more on craft supplies and snacks that summer than I made pretty regularly. We did our activities in a old native stone shelter full of picnic tables and kept our supplies in musty closet in one corner. One day, while poking around in the closet I found a half strip of photobooth pics of a blond and freckled boy and girl lightly stuck into the mortar between the stones. They were teenagers and the picture was decades old, when I plucked it from its hiding place it cracked and crumbled. I still have that mystery couple pressed in a book somewhere.
My sophomore year in college I became an Resident Assistant. Which I never really know if I should count as a job officially, as I wasn't paid. I worked for room and board. Honestly, it was awesome. My freshman year, my roommate never showed up to school and because I was lucky enough to live in the all female dorm, no one wanted to live there so I just never got a roommate at all. I was so lonely. But with the RA job came 40 girls who had to at least pretend to like me, not to mention the staff. Friends! And once I was nearly stabbed with a screwdriver by a drunk 18 year old!
About the same time I got my first library job. It was in the basement of the university library in the microforms department. I had the best boss ever. Her name is Rita and she was nice and fair and square danced in her spare time. This was my first experience with libraries being full of weirdos. And I am not just talking about the patrons, we were a weird bunch of kids working down there hauling boxes of mouldering newspapers and getting the green-tinted microfilms of Playboy out from behind the counter for the teen boys from the lab school on campus. For the articles! The ARTICLES!
And then I got a job in the public library.....oh sweet cracker jebus, this post has already gotten too long and let me tell you, the public library is like 5 posts worth of crazy. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. If they would take me back (with benefits and significantly higher pay), I would work there again quicker than spit. But, not this post, maybe L will be all about the crazies of the library.
Man-o, I don't feel like I have had a lot of jobs, but I guess since that is not even half of them I have. I have only had a couple that were truly miserable. I have been pretty lucky in that regard. Now I am working for my family and it very well maybe the last job I ever have. That is crazy to think... I mean, I will be working for at least thirty more years yet. Thirty plus years in one place. Wow. I am going to need to get some more hobbies.
Short post today, I am locked in the craft room screen printing.
Speaking of ink, I was talking about a friend who was getting a new tattoo and I started doodling tattoo ideas. I am seriously running out of room and I am saving every penny for my 35th birthday present. NO MORE TATTOOS WHITNEY...maybe just a teeny one...maybe next year...
Even though I got it in perminant ink, I still have a hard time with patience.
Oh man, I had an Ambrosia apple last week. Food of the gods indeed!! It was so sweet, like crisp honey! I had a burp after and rainbows and glitter came out. I wish I had bought more than one because then I could
But really, this post is not about apples it is about
here is a chart:
So alone.... Timmy and Alfie have gone up to St. Louis for T's dad's birthday. I am super the worst daughter-in-law for skipping it, but the idea is that I will be doing some intensive crafting while they are gone.
That is the idea.
So far, I have watched some crap television and one really excellent movie. I ran out the hot water in the shower. I have gone to Walmart at two in the morning. I have done the sketches for some ornaments. I have bought some felt and screen printing ink. I have forgotten to drink anything and got a rip-roaring headache. I eventually remembered to eat.
I am so bad at being alone. There was a time, in the distant past, when I made my own food, when I paid my own bills, I did my own laundry. But I will be honest, I was never very good at any of it. And having met Timmy when I was 21, I never really had to learn how to be good at being alone. That is fucking sad. Don't get me wrong, I am perfectly content being with myself. I like to craft alone, in the quiet, not even music to distract me from the chunk-a-chunk-a of my machine. I like to watch bad movies, read books by myself. One of my favorite things in the world is to travel alone, have adventures by myself. But the practical, everyday parts of being alone, I am not so good at. And that is sad, sad fact.
Timmy cooks, Timmy cleans. I...I... have a sparkling personality? I am a wildcat in the sack? Ugh. Lame. What used to be a cute quirk in our relationship, a fun inversion of gendered roles has grown into a full-blown co-dependency. We talk about it and I will cook a meal or two, load the dishwasher, do a couple of loads of laundry and then... and then back to our old routine.
Wow, I must be light-headed from lack of food, all these relationship confessions.
I once was haranguing my brother about my parents still paying for his cell phone and a number of other things, I think at the time he was 23. I was giving him the shit for taking advantage of all the stuff my parents were willing to do for him and his response was "Why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't I when they are happy to do it?" Well, for one thing they weren't so happy to do it, as I heard them bitching about it nearly constantly. But they still did it.
I don't think Timmy bitches about my lazy ass. (Though he did write this song once about me being messy and it made me cry. Repeatedly, as he wouldn't take it out of the regular line up of his band at the time.) Timmy seems happy to do it. He loves to cook and is a thousand times better and more inventive at it than me. Mostly he does the laundry because I have fallen down the basement stairs a couple of times and I now have a hard time making myself go down them and despite that we all still need clean underpants. And the rest, well let's just say we both have a pretty high tolerance for mess and disorder.
So maybe it isn't so bad, maybe I am not the worst wife ever. Maybe my sparkling personality DOES make up for all my faults, for letting the dishes pile in the sink. Maybe I am really just that great in bed.
I often say that it is impossible to know what goes on between two people behind closed doors, how relationships work from the inside. Clearly, this is absolutely true because I am still a bit fuzzy on how mine works exactly. But it does, somehow it does.
On a lighter note, some baby faced Violent Femmes, swoon:
And to wrap up this cavalcade of confessions, I called Timmy earlier today and talked to him while he and Alfie were at the St. Louis zoo. Alfie loved the train and was thrilled with all the animals. And I cried, big ridiculous, sobbing tears. I miss those guys so much.
It is Veteran's Day, ya'll! I want to thank America's military for being directly responsible for my existence! My parents met in the Navy. I am grateful for their tireless service in Eleuthera, Bahamas...
...wait a minute. That looks an awful lot like paradise. I really tried to get my dad to find the picture of him and his brother's at arms all lined up for muster. As I remember the pic, it is my dad in his full beard, one guy in just his under-shirt, and I distinctly recall someone with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Yep, they ran a tight ship down there in Eleuthera. A beautiful, balmy, 200 feet from a white sand beach ship.
We went as a family to visit their old, decommissioned base several years ago. It wouldn't be a hair of exaggeration to say it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Eleuthra is a long, thin slash of a crescent shaped island right on the edge of the Atlantic, on the edge of the continental shelf. The base sat on the eastern side of the island, just steps away from the beach and a dark and churning Atlantic. On the western side of the island it was the calm and crystalline blue waters of the Caribbean. At one point the island becomes so narrow that the ocean had actually broken through and formed a rock window, dark on one side, light on the other.
Clearly the perfect spot to listen for Russian subs lurking out in international waters. And meet hotties in uniform in my father's case. My mother was a drill instructor (fun times growing up!) and she used to sing this to us occasionally.
So, remember folks, freedom isn't free. You have to thank some bearded dudes and bikinied ladies that shed a lot of sweat over a super awesome barbecue at the beach for the fact you are not speaking Russian right now. (Unless, of course, you happen to be Russian and randomly reading this blog)
So I have been getting the word of the day email from oed.com for a bit more than a year now. Initially it was just to feed my word nerding and then for a bit it turned into my doodle project, OEDoodles, but that fizzled out. I have long loved the OED, big and dusty and imposing. Kept on a special stand, a pulpit of sorts, with tissue thin, crackling pages, I have always thought of it as one of the sacred texts of the library. But then I keep libraries a bit sacrosanct anyway (something I would occasionally wrangle with past colleagues about - you want a coffee bar in an academic library? Dude, it is a LIBRARY. It is not the mall.). My earliest memories of the OED is looking up the histories of dirty words in it in middle school. Dirty words always have the longest and best entries. Once for being too loud, a teacher made us copy the entry for 'quiet.' What a great teacher.
We are a words-loving house. Here Scrabble words have to be used in a sentence, none of this memorizing lists BS. Okay, memorize the list, but memorize the meanings as well. And Timmy is basically a machine when it comes to boggling. And Alfie, man that kid slays me, already he loves letters and reading. We go round and round picking out the letters in the house, in magazines, on signs. I imagine he is not so exceptional or a genius or anything, (cut me some slack, this is my first go round with a kid, I don't know how it works) but I am just amazed at how genuinely interested he is in letters, how he will rearrange them on his little magnet board for as long as his attention span will stretch. I just didn't know kids were like that, I just didn't know it started so early.
On the way in to daycare, the sun at the perfect place in the sky to blind us, we talked about shadows. Or I talked about shadows and Alfie listened. And he said the word shadow for the first time in his life. Wow. To have first words, first concepts, that seems to happens so rarely to me, to grown-ups. Nevermind that light and shadow are pretty big, metaphorically heavy concepts and probably not the first things to come to a two year old mind. More likely the long shadows of trees falling across the street, being covered in the cool shadow of a tall building and the sun pin-pointed in the windows of the building opposite were clearer.
That is probably one of the most rewarding part of parenting so far, to actively participate in one person's history. Even in the small ways, even just the histories of their words. A short drive on a November morning will probably never make it to the pages of the OED, but even if he doesn't remember, in the entry for shadow in his personal history of words, there it is.