A roll in LaHaye

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Mes amis, it is January 6 and it is 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

I live in the South—not the Deep South (thank you, Lord God) but the South nonetheless. I have lived in the South my whole life. I know it’s unrealistic to expect a blizzard (though, if you hunt through boxes in my closet back in Western NC, you may find an old purple t-shirt that says “I survived the blizzard of ’92.” We got out of school for two weeks with that one, we did.)

I know what it’s like down here. I know we drink our tea sweet (yay!) and I know how to form a plural you in English. I know I probably won’t get a snowstorm this year.

But the 70s? In January?

I’m trying to look at the positive side. This is just fabulous for homeless people. Granted, we don’t have much in the way of homeless here in Wilhelmsplatz—or if we do, they’re invisible. This place is rich, white, and touristy. I’m not even sure black people are legal here, much less the homeless. (We do have one black person in Adult Services, but she is married to a white man and she listens to country music. Her bumpersticker says “Redneck Black Chick.” Dionysus is whiter than I am, for crying out loud.)

I’m petrified of global warming. I fret about it every day. I’m not kidding. That’s what marked 2006 for me, by the way. It’s true that I got my awesome new job and I moved to Wilhelmsplatz and I met some fab new people, but decades from now, I will remember 2006 as the year I started seriously worrying about global warming. If I’m alive decades from now, I mean. I may just die from lack of snow.

I love snow. Love it love it love it. I turn into a giddy nutty crazy little kid when I have snow. You know how other people suffer from SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder? I’m the opposite. Hot weather makes me wretched. I get cranky with too much sunlight. Give me gray skies and ice and bitter winds and lots and lots of snow. I’ll even take the nasty black slushy stuff at the corner of the road. I think it’s pretty. Nothing, bar nothing, puts me in a better mood than cold gloomy weather.

I’d drink my tea unsweetened and forget how to pluralize the second person if I could. Boston would be great, or Vermont, or Saskatchewan. But librarians can’t afford to live in those places, not unless they marry rich people. (Hello? Any rich people reading this? …we don’t have to get married, necessarily. You pay the bills and I’ll sit around looking pretty. Deal?)

Speaking of affording to live, and bringing this discourse back on track, at least I can afford to live in an apartment in Wilhelmsplatz. Some people can’t. For that reason, and that reason alone, I am glad that the weather is warm.

The people in France are doing something cool. That’s what French people do as a matter of course. They think of ways to be cool. They talk through their noses and they stomp on grapes and they storm the Bastille when they get bored. They rock.

France has approximately 87,000 homeless, which really isn’t much compared to some places, such as, oh, Los Freakin’ Angeles. Can you believe that? One trifling city in America has as many homeless as an entire European nation. And yet, despite the relatively low numbers of unpropertied people, France is pissed. For the past few weeks, a lot of people who live in homes have been setting up tents along La Seine and living in them. They’re protesting the unacceptably high numbers of homeless people. They want to do something, and they’re acting on it in a very visible way.

God, I want to live in a socialist country. With snow.

So this weather is impairing my weekend plans. I had intended to settle under my blanket and read books and drink hot chocolate. It just doesn’t seem right to do that when the weather is balmy. Already I’ve ditched the blanket and the hot chocolate. I’m wearing shorts. Shorts! I look terrible in shorts!

At the very least, I will have to sit on my porch to read.

Oh, and I should be working on the final edits of my LaHaye/Jenkins read-alike piece for NoveList. I’ve been procrastinating on that. It is possible that you have not heard of the Left Behind series, if you have been living in an underground bunker with no windows, no radio, and no internet, and if said bunker is located under a mountain in my future home, Saskatchewan, and if that mountain had an avalanche that has effectively trapped you for the rest of your natural life. (It occurs to me that this doesn’t apply to anyone actually reading this blog, since you get to it via an internet connection—but let’s not get bogged down in details, mmmkay?)

The Left Behind series is a phenomenally bad set of books, though of course I can’t say that in my article. (“Phenomenally popular” is my secret code.) The writing is terrible. Jessica the Librarian would never say that to someone at the reference desk, but Jessica-Who-Has-a-Degree-in-English would, and does, think that to herself. Furthermore, the Left Behind series is conservative tripe.

(“Tsk!” clucks Jessica-Who-Has-a-Degree-in-English. “Conservative tripe! A redundancy! For shame!”)

Instead of revising my Left Behind piece like a good girl, I have been counteracting the effects of too much evangelical fiction with lots of pleasure reading. At the moment I’m working on Blindsight, by Peter Watts, a science fiction book with lots of technical jargon and hard science.

“That’s odd,” you say to yourself. (I just love putting words in your mouth. Thanks for humoring me.) “I thought you didn’t like hard SF.”

Aw shucks. It’s sweet of you to pay attention to my reading tastes. You’re absolutely right, I don’t normally read hard SF. All the technical science-babble makes me feel dumb. I hate feeling dumb.

I’m reading it on the recommendation of d’Artagnan. This is unusual. I don’t normally read books that people recommend. It’s not because I don’t like the people. It’s because I am so very picky. And if it turns out I don’t like the book the person recommended, there’s a strong risk that I will like the recommender less.

I will read books that my mother recommends. She is my mother. I will read books that my boss recommends. He is my boss. I will possibly – possibly – read books recommended by people I’m sleeping with, but it’s not very likely. If they recommend something I don’t like, the relationship itself becomes imperiled.

(Naturally, I reserve the right to recommend books to other people, and they damn well better like what I suggest.)

So why am I condescending to read a book that d’Artagnan suggested? It is most unlike me. I told him I didn’t want to. My eyebrow went down when I saw the alien space ship on the cover. (NEVER a good sign.) My eyebrow went down further when I saw the cover blurb describing it as hard science fiction. Both eyebrows went way, way down when I saw the cover blurb likening the author to William Gibson. Neuromancer sucked, and I don’t care what anyone says. It is as bad as Dune.

“If I don’t like this, I’m never speaking to you again,” I threatened d’Artagnan.

d’Artagnan shrugged.

But hey, I was feeling in a generous mood, and besides, it was nice to hear d’Artagnan discussing something other than football or bikes. (Am I the only person in this freakin’ library who doesn’t ride a bike?)

So I started it and, cool, it’s way better than I expected. It really is too technical for me, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m missing some of the finer plot points, but the setting and tone are bleak and depressing, just ho
w I like ’em, and the characters are really well done.

And anything is better than blathering about how good the Left Behind series is.


One response »

  1. I think Queen of Claremont once told me (back in the days when I was in college & the crown princes were little) that in order to read Dune you had to be stoned. I think the same thing about William Gibson–I never made it past the first chapter. >:)Chessie >^..^<


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