Monthly Archives: February 2007

Achieving a happy Medium

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The conference in Atlanta, true to my pessimistic prediction, sucked. It was all aimed at academic librarians. And all of the presenters were academics.

Now, I loves me some professors. If not for them the academic humor genre wouldn’t exist.

If you have not read Portuguese Irregular Verbs, by Alexander McCall Smith, then you must. You must. You must. It is the funniest book ever. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. It doesn’t matter if you think 44 Scotland Ave is slow paced or if you think the Sunday Philosophy Club books are dull. You must read Portuguese Irregular Verbs. You will thank me, preferably with cash

PIV is, arguably, funnier academic humor than Lucky Jim. PIV is, without argument, shorter than Lucky Jim. It is a novella. Stop making excuses. Go read it.

Back to professors. They are funny people, funny in a good way. They’re great for conversation. I have no bias against professors. Why, some of my best friends are professors.

But those profs still trying to achieve tenure are forced to go to conferences and present sessions. Sometimes they happen to be passionate about their presentations. (Who wouldn’t get off on digital archiving?) But sometimes you can tell they’re just trying to beef up their CVs. And even if they are passionate about using wikis in a staff environment, it’s nearly impossible to turn that into a 45 minute talk. It’s ten minutes of pertinent info and half an hour of fluff.

So I’m sorry to report that the conference was a waste of my time and your tax dollars, but let me relay the best bit of news, something that made it all worth it:

We got free hoodies. They say “Think Digital.”

Okay, that’s neat, but not something to get super excited about. Here is the super exciting bit:

When I walked up to the table, the lady glanced at me and said “Smalls and mediums are over there.”

I have entered the land of mediumness.

Holy crap.

I’ve been wearing Large and XL for years. (I’ve always been pissed at XL. It’s not just large, it’s extraordinarily large. Fuck you, too.)

My ample gazongas mean that I have to wear shirts with a loose cut under the shoulders. My ample gazongas cause me no small amount of back pain and elicit unwelcome sexual comments from strangers. My ample gazongas get in the way when I’m trying to do a shoulder stand in yoga. We’re talking nipples in nostrils.

But despite my bountiful bosom, the person at the conference figured me for a small or medium. It’s because I’ve lost weight in other areas.

I’ve been dieting and exercising. (Don’t think yoga counts as exercise? Try holding an inverted triangle thingy for a minute, and see if you don’t get a little sweaty.) I’ve never been a thin person. I was chunky as a kid and I’ve fluctuated between acceptable and fluffy during adulthood. But these days I am the lightest I’ve been since middle school somewhere.

I’ve never thought of myself as an attractive person. (Personality-wise, sure, but our parents lied to us when we were young: People don’t actually care how nice or compassionate or smart you are. They care what you look like.)

I’m being facetious, you know. My favorite t-shirt, which unfortunately I can’t wear anywhere, says Fuck Your Fascist Beauty Standards. I despise the cult of thin. What’s important is that you’re happy with what you look like, and bollocks to anybody who gets hung up on appearance. At least, that’s the ideal attitude, but we can’t help caring what other people think. It sucks.

Do you know a woman who’s happy with her body? Some of us actively hate ourselves. Some of us are only moderately dissatisfied. But I’m hard pressed to think of any women I know who are actively happy with their looks.

Doesn’t matter if the woman is physically attractive or not. That’s irrelevant. Society has wired us to be dissatisfied with ourselves, regardless of what we actually look like.

Like I was saying, I’ve never thought of myself as attractive. (Still don’t, for the record. Thanks, Society.) Acne ruined my face starting in fourth grade and didn’t let up until assaulted with powerful drugs in high school. As an adult, even in my less pudgy phases, I’ve been sort of plain looking. Those rare times when someone would compliment my appearance, I figured they were A) trying to be nice or B) aesthetically challenged.

But now I’m a bit slimmer, which accentuates the gazongas even more, and I have spiky purple hair. I’m hearing more positive comments these days.

Unfortunately, the great majority of those positive comments come from ookey old men.

Listen up, gents, and ladies too: Don’t hit on the librarian when she’s at the desk. I will bend over backward to give you excellent reference and reading service. When you’re at the counter, I am your intellectual slave. I will be extraordinarily pleasant to you, even if you’re a big jerk.

Do. Not. Abuse. That. Relationship.

Want to compliment my hair? Groovy. It rocks, I totally agree. (Teen girl started our reference interview today with “Oh my God I love your hair.”)

Like my fishnets? Feel free to tell me so.

But me? My body? Verboten, kids, verboten.

I’m sure there are some dispassionate folks out there who want to innocently compliment an attractive person. “You look beautiful,” they might say, in the same way they say “Klimt’s Adele is beautiful.” (And they would be so right.)

But even with the most innocent intentions, the compliment is going to be perverted in the transmission. Women deal with unwanted physical attention from age 12 or so. It is almost always sexual in nature.

You say: “You look nice, though I’m a gay male and I can’t get an erection.”

She hears: “You are an object and I intend to sleep with you.”

Though they might not intend it, men can’t compliment women without sending sexual subtexts. It’s not fair. I’m sorry. But we can’t help inferring lust, because 99 times out of 100 it’s there.

It’s nice to be physically complimented in certain situations. If my friends or coworkers want to tell me I’m hot, that’s awesome. (They may be aesthetically challenged, but it’s awesome.) If I’m in a bar by myself and someone tells me I look attractive, that’s acceptable because it’s a bar and you go there for the purpose of finding potential dates, though this scenario is purely hypothetical because I do not go to bars by myself. Too many creeps.

I can’t speak for all women, but as for myself, I do NOT want to be told by a perfect stranger that I look good.

And whyever not?

Because it reduces me to a physical (and in all likelihood sexual) object. It bypasses brains and personality and skips straight into “maybe she’ll sleep with me” territory. That sort of presumption is intimate, and I do not appreciate casual intimacy from strangers. Even if the stranger is Jo
hnny Depp, I don’t want to be reduced to a sexual figure. I don’t want to think about sex with someone I don’t know. Sex for me (and for most women) is emotional; thinking about sex without an emotional and personal context is distasteful.

Okay, I lied, Johnny Depp can do what he wants with me. The rest of you folks need to refrain from commenting about my body, at least until you’ve learned my name. Maybe then we can talk. But you’re buying at the bar, I’m warning you.

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Midday Plane to Georgia

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I won’t be posting for a few days.

Oh geeze, that was insensitive of me, springing that on you unawares. Here’s a Kleenex.

[Respectful silence passes]

This time I’ll have a better excuse for my silence than logic problems. I’ll be attending the Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference in Atlanta.

Considering my job title, Electronic Resources Librarian, this conference sounds made for me. I hope I’ll get a lot out of it, though I’m nervous about the other conference-goers. I looked at the attendees and damn near everybody is from an academic library.

What, don’t public and school libraries have electronic resources? (And special libraries, can’t forget special libraries, though I always feel silly saying that. “Special” is a euphemism we use because there’s really not a polite way of saying “severely challenged” or “not very bright.” This can work to your advantage if you’re in a bad relationship but you haven’t mustered the courage to end it yet. “Of COURSE I’m happy with you, baby. I think you’re special.”)

If the other conference-goers are all “the faculty this” and “the students that,” I’m going to pipe up with “homeless people this” and “small children” that. That’ll learn ‘em.

To be perfectly clear, I don’t have any problems with the homeless in my library.

I’m not wild about visiting Atlanta. It’s better than, say, Detroit, but a far cry from Boston or Seattle or Denver. If they had to pick a crime-ridden city, why couldn’t they send us to New Orleans, where our tourist dollars would help them out? Hmmm?

But I’m not really grousing. I get to travel on the library’s dime. (Thanks, taxpayers!)

And maybe I’ll get some toys out of it. As I see it, I can’t be a good Electronic Resources librarian without an iPhone. And I could really use a new laptop. And a new vibrator, which is not a traditional library resource, but think about it: Most librarians are women, and most women are happier with vibrators, so… are you following me? Happier librarians = better service. I’m not saying I’d use the vibrator in the library…

Whoops, time for a tangent. Have I mentioned that I’m not a real librarian? I did the coursework, I wrote my master’s paper, I joined the associations, but I never had sex in the stacks. Most people get around to this in college, but if you’ve entered library school without being naughty in the stacks, you don’t get to graduate unless you take care of that little requirement. Which I never did. I’m a college grad and I have an MLS but I’ve never had sex in a library.

Gotta take care of that someday, just to ease my guilty conscience.

Plane leaves tomorrow afternoon. I’ll try to find some good souvenirs for folks back at work, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s Atlanta. The only thing Atlanta is famous for is severe racial tension, which is notoriously difficult to giftwrap.

Sum-mer lovin’

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The multitudes of people (say, three or so) who read this blog have surely been pining for my next post, or at the very least they may have noticed an absence of recent activity. I do apologize for your withdrawal symptoms. With no new Lesbrarian material, you’ve probably been suffering from headaches, nausea, and hives. It is probable that you’ve developed a mild form of depression and that, consequently, your relationships with your family and coworkers have soured. Sorry ‘bout that.

The problem is that I’ve been busy.

What a lovely phrase. “I’ve been busy.” It’s so vague. It is as vague as vague gets. It tells you absolutely nothing.

“I’ve been busy.” Maybe I started a soup kitchen at the homeless shelter. Maybe I opened a tattoo parlor. Maybe I invented a time machine and I’ve been tooling about pre-Depression America with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. I’d make an awesome flapper.

If I had invented a time machine, I would not tell you. Everyone would be clamoring for a ride.

The reality is that I’ve been busy playing killer sudoku.

The alternative reality is that I invented a time machine, but like I said, if that’s so, I’m not telling you.

Being a logic-problem aficionado (read: dweeb), and with apologies to my sudoku-addicted mother, I admit that I harbor some disdain for sudoku. It’s just a matter of putting the numbers where they belong. Work at it long enough and you’ll get there.  

Killer sudoku, however, has a much trickier component: you have to make different blocks add up to a particular total. It’s extremely difficult. I gave up on a problem at 2 this morning after having filled in only 6 our of 81 blocks.

Lest you think I’ve done nothing but work on logic problems and travel through time, I should point out that I’ve been doing a lot of yoga. It’s really remarkably fun. It involves stretching and balance and concentration. Some of the positions are brutal (and I’m only in the beginners’ class!) but even the agony feels good in a stretchy sort of way.

I only have class once a week but I’ve started practicing at home. (And at work. It’s a good way to pass time while waiting for the copier to finish copying.) The only problem with home practice is the cats. Anyone can do yoga. Not everyone can do yoga with two interested kitties rubbing against your leg, especially when said leg is balanced precariously while the other leg is up in the air somewhere

And in a completely unrelated note, some Christmas presents I ordered showed up last week, effectively turning them into Groundhog Day presents. Some friends of mine received crocheted crotches because, let’s face it, every woman needs a crocheted crotch. My friends got the version with the clit ring.

(You didn’t get one, Queen of Claremont. You got a book. It’s sitting in my linen closet.)

The nice lady who runs crochetmycrotch.com was really apologetic for getting them done so late, so she refunded half my money and sent me an additional consolation gift, a pussy purse. It’s supposed to hold a tampon. I don’t use tampons anymore but I’m sure I’ll figure out a clever use for it. Maybe I can cram my check book in there.

Sorry this is so short, but I’m really jonesing for some killer sudoku. I need to break this pattern soon. When I go to Atlanta next week I won’t bring any puzzles with me. I’ll be forced to read Cormac McCarthy, and hey, that’s not a bad deal. After having written about Omar Tyree and Tim LaHaye for two successive NoveList articles, I am ecstatic to read an author whom I actually like. He’s not one of my personal favorites, but—careful distinction here—I think he’s one of the best living writers and I really do like him immensely. Plus, as you can see from that link, I’ve already written a fair bit about his appeal characteristics. I’ll just plagiarize myself and call it done.

BWI: Blogging While Intoxicated

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There are two conditions under which I should not blog.

The first is BWI: Blogging While Intoxicated. Doesn’t matter the intoxicant, be it alcohol or some other drug or the sheer joy of living. It being 10:45 on a Saturday morning, we don’t need to worry about drugs, except for caffeine, which in my body is not a drug at all. My bloodstream is overwhelmingly dominated by caffeine. The platelets and cells and plasma are grudgingly allowed to continue existing, but only in small, unpleasant wastelands, and only because they were, technically, here first. It’s like the Native Americans.

I have never, to my knowledge, been intoxicated by the sheer joy of living. That was a hypothetical condition.

BWI is dangerous because I am wont to say things that ought never, never be published, i.e. “The Following Are People I Would Like to Sleep With.” Embarrassing at best (think coworkers) and mortifying at worst (think Rush Limbaugh), BWI is such a threat that I have forbidden myself to get anywhere near my laptop when there is a glass of wine in my hand. The only problem is that I tend to forget my resolve once there’s a glass of wine in my hand. It’s a right quandary, it is.

For the record, I don’t want to sleep with Rush Limbaugh. That’s disgusting.

The other condition under which I should not blog is boredom. It leads me toward mundane observations (“I woke up at 8:45 this morning”) and dull details (“I’m out of veggie burgers, need to pick up some more”) and petty complaints (“Drat, looks like my veggie burger coupon has expired”) that no one, bar no one, cares about.

Were I being sensible, I’d close this here laptop and head to Food Loin and hope the veggie burgers were on MVP discount this week. (Food Loin is much, much funnier than Food Lion, I think you’ll agree.) Sensibility has never unduly burdened me, though. Neither has common sense, or emotional maturity, or an unblemished complexion. I try not to let it get me down.

First bit of boring news for you: I co-taught my second computer class yesterday. That is to say, Currer Bell taught the class, and I observed, but it was a very hands-on sort of observation. I walked around helping people follow along. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. We’re not talking ecstasy here—teaching computer classes doesn’t elevate me to Sheer Joy of Living status—but the gratitude of the folks taking the classes makes me feel warm and tingly. I could get used to this. (Good thing, cuz it’s in my job description.)

Now a bit of shocking news: I am seriously toying with the idea of throwing a party.

The words “party” and “Jessica” should never be employed in the same sentence, unless one is making a horrific comparison (“The Klansman at the Black Panther rally was received like Jessica at a party”) or a hyperbolic negation (“The cease fire in the Middle East lasted until the end of time because Jessica was not at the party.”)

Though the mere act of thinking about having a party will probably result in a nuclear holocaust, it’s something I can’t help, because the event is too important to ignore.

You see, the final Harry Potter book is going to be published on July 21.

The instant I heard the release date, I rushed to my calendar to see if I was working that weekend. I’m not. Glad I won’t have to quit my job.

Here’s what will happen. In the week leading to the release, I will re-read the first six Harry Potter books, twice. (Not sure if I should read them in series order twice, or if I should read each title twice in a row, for maximum detail-absorbing impact.) Then I will dress like Minerva McGonagall and wait in line at a bookstore. I will step on any small children who try to cut in front of me. I will smite them with my wand.

Then I will rush home, read without pause, nap for a few hours Saturday afternoon when I finish it, wake up, and read the whole thing again.

Then probably I’ll jump off a cliff because there won’t be any reason to live any longer.

Where’s the party fit in? Either we need a pre-release party to celebrate the publication of the last book, or we need a post-release party to grieve the publication of the last book. Though if I’ve jumped from a cliff I don’t suppose I’ll be there.

Indulge me a moment while I wax nostalgic about childhood. I didn’t really care for it. I hardly had any friends. I was an ugly child. I was pudgy and I had terrible pizza-face acne and my hair was terrible. Every single day I am grateful for being an adult.

But when I was a kid, reading was better. My imagination would kick into overdrive. It was total escapism. I danced with fauns in the snow in Narnia. I practiced telekinesis with Matilda. I personally took a role in destroying the Black Cauldron.

As an adult, no book has gripped me like that. I still view reading the way normal folks view breathing, but it’s not the same.

The exception is Harry Potter.

Certain assholes like Harold Bloom take great pleasure in criticizing J.K. Rowling. Mr. Bloom thinks the writing is bad. Mr. Bloom thinks kids should be reading “good” literature, like Rudyard Kipling. Mr. Bloom can step in front of a speeding bus.

So yeah, I’m already depressed, thinking about the end of the series. Ms. Rowling has already famously said that some important characters might die. (No surprises there. That’s happened reliably for the past three books.) But really, all the characters are going to die. It’s the end of the series. Once Deathly Hallows is finished, all of those characters will leave me. And worse, the books that I have best enjoyed as an adult will leave me. My brief return to the joys of childhood reading will vanish.

Haven’t read them yet? Hurry up, hurry up! Part of the painful pleasure of being a Harry Potter fan is agonizing through the wait for the next book. After Deathly Hallows comes out, you’ll have lost your chance to be a Real Fan. You’ll kick yourself.

And gentlemen in England, now abed, shall think themselves accursed they were not here.

Brrvix

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Closed my eyes for just a moment at 6:30 last evening. Woke at midnight.

“Well fuck,” I thought. I’d just woken up, mind. Banal swearing was all I was good for.

Read for a bit, then caught another nap around 4 am. Still managed to wake up late, despite the luxuriant amount of sleep I got. Being late, I had to rush to get to my doctor’s appointment on time, which meant I forgot to stuff my Terry Pratchett in my purse.

Horrors! I was stuck at a doctor’s office with nothing to read!

What about office magazines, you wonder?

Normally this might have saved me (though why, I have to ask, why don’t patient waiting rooms have Mad or Mother Jones or Bust?). In this case, though, I didn’t even have a Newsweek to rescue me. Everything was Fit Pregnancy this and Maternity that. I was at an Ob/Gyn office.

Got an abnormal pap last month, and though the doctor swore to me that twenty-five-year-olds do not get cervical cancer, he wanted to do some further tests.

I naively assumed it would be a painless procedure, similar to a pap smear. Kind of annoying, sure, but no biggie.

Wow was I wrong.

I had a coloscopy, and I’m probably not spelling that right, but the point here is that it hurt like… like… I don’t have a good simile here, but let me put it like this: I have two tattoos, and getting them was far less painful than the coloswhatsits. Plus I have something to show for them.

The doctor who did my pap back in December predicted my Ob/Gyn would freeze my cervix. (Hey, we always knew I was frigid…)

“A frozen cervix? That’d be a…. a brrvix!” said Kharma. Wish I could take credit for that pun.

Turns out the Ob/Gyn didn’t want to freeze anything today, but the speculum was mighty cold as it was, thanks for asking. Brr.

Instead of being frozen, my poor darling cervix was poked, pulled, scraped, and cut.

I’ve never thought much about my cervix. Out of sight, out of mind. Until today, I didn’t even realize it had nerve endings.

“Doctor,” I gasped at one point, “what possible evolutionary reason makes women have nerve endings there?”

“Beats me,” he said.

Not to second guess the Almighty (You up there! No lightning bolts, mmmkay? Thanks! Amen!) but really, what was She/He/They thinking? The cervix is not a pleasure spot. The only thing it’s capable of is pain, and the only thing I can figure is that the pain is to let you know that you’re delivering a baby. But, um, wouldn’t you figure it out anyway? Don’t the uterine cramps give it away? Don’t you sort of notice when a kid starts to plop down the ol’ vaginal canal? Kind of hard to miss, I’d think.

In addition to the garden-variety pain you’d expect any time you get an organ scraped, the molested cervix comes with its own special brand of pain: cramps. Instant, spine-bending, on-demand cramps. Imagine the worst menstrual cramps you’ve ever had. (If you’re of the male persuasion, imagine shooting jolts of agony alternating with dull throbbing misery.) Now imagine these cramps descending on you all at once, unbidden.

Further imagine that you’ve got to drag yourself to the car and drive to work, preferably without losing consciousness behind the wheel, when what you’d really like to do is curl up right there in the corner and sleep, or possibly die.

Then in the evening I saw a movie.

Not a typo. I saw a movie.

Didn’t want to—I just hate seeing movies—but I felt morally obligated to watch An Inconvenient Truth, even though I’d already read the book. Bookish Jet and Alyosha were there to keep me company (and I suppose to watch the movie), and then we saw Gust and her husband, so a good time was had by all. Plus it meant I spent an evening not reading, for a delightful change.

Have I mentioned the degree of terror I feel about global warming? I worry about it every day. My heart is breaking for the beautiful snowy places that are disappearing, and for the drowning polar bears, and to a limited extent for the people who are living on shorelines. (My priorities here are exactly wrong, but… but people can move. They can adapt. Glaciers can’t adapt. Once you lose them, they’re gone. I know I should care more about the people who will starve than snow melting from Mt. Kilimanjaro. I guess I do, but my visceral, bleeding-heart reactions come from pictures of starving baby birds and dwindling lakes.)

Fortunately, I have a new weapon in the war on global warming: a brrvix! Just what every woman needs to keep her parts cool!