Monthly Archives: August 2007

I have more fun

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It really is true. Blondes have more fun. Or put another way, blondes have more skanky-ass Neaderthals hitting on them.

The pink is gone. Did it myself. I feel bad about not going to Hairdresser Jeff, but he charges a lot more than the $6 it cost me to go blonde at home. The guilt’s really eating at me, because I’m not planning on going back to H.D. Jeff for a while.

Don’t worry, I’m not cheating on him. I’m an ethical woman. It’s just that I’m growing my hair out.

Normally when I go blond, I get universal praise. To be sure, there’ve been some nice comments, including “Ah! Marilyn!” and “You kind of look like Mae West.” But I’ve been hearing a lot of “What the hell happened to the pink?”

Tough crowd.

It’s been well received by the drooling, chest-thumping males in the population, though. With the blonde hair, men are more likely to get the door for me, more likely to make eye contact, and more likely to ogle.

“Well hello there,” said a guy in the grocery store. I was picking out lettuce.

What, pray tell, what about produce selection invites solicitations?

Naturally, I went home and slept with him. I was seduced by the sexy pickup line. Couldn’t help myself.

(I am kidding, just want to be clear. Kidding.)

If having a different hair color—a natural hair color, for crying out loud—makes such a remarkable change, what does having a different color skin do? Discuss.

Not sure if the blonde had anything to do with the conversation that happened yesterday, but it’s too good not to relate:

I was just leaving the library. I’d taken off my name tag and was muttering my mantra: “Iwanttogohome Iwanttogohome Iwannttogohome.” I looked like your ordinary civilian.

This woman, whom I completely did not recognize, caught my eye.

“Hello!” she said. You could hear the exclamation point.

“Hello!” I said.

“You must be an artist!” she said.

“No!” The exclamation points were contagious.

“Oh. Then you must be a student?!”

“No!”

“But surely you are a free spirit?”

Grasping at straws, aren’t we, lady…

“Um… sure! Sure I’m a free spirit!”

“And I can see that you have a good heart!”

“Thanks,” I said, “but aren’t you judging a bit based on appearances?”

“Oh, no,” she explained. “I can see it in your aura.”

As I have never seen an aura in my life, I couldn’t really argue with her, but I have to wonder if her psychic skill is trustworthy. She bombed on the Artist and Student points.

Also yesterday, I learned that my favorite sales rep is leaving his Virginia customers. This blows.

First, understand that a huge part of my job involves working with database sales reps. Their job is to call me and sell me stuff. My job is to deflect them. This is not too difficult, because I am lukewarm toward most of them. I actively dislike the ones who use slimey tactics and smarmy attitudes to get my dollars. They are the used car salespeople of the library world.

But my EBSCO rep is a really nice guy. He never pressured me to look at databases if I didn’t want to. Half the time we talked about NoveList, which under no circumstances could he have possibly sold to me, because the library already subscribes. We just talked about it because it was fun. We also talked about the vacation he took with his wife and stuff like that.

So that’s distressing.

Also distressing is the new yoga schedule.

Astute readers will have noted that I take yoga, because I mention it every other paragraph or so. I am subtle like that.

I’ve been enjoying unlimited yoga classes for the summer, but with August closing, we’re moving into the fall schedule.
There is only one class that fits my schedule, Level II/III. Bear in mind that Level III is for the most advanced students.

Shit.

Remember that I’ve only been taking yoga since January. I’m no longer a shiny green beginner, but I’m not what you’d call a master yogi. I’m an advanced beginner/early Level I student–very bendy, but without the stamina and muscular strength of the people in Level II and level III.

Disregarding for the moment my fear of death by yoga, I ought to be looking forward to the classes: I have recently realized that yoga is sexy.

I know, I know. It took me since January to puzzle this out. I am not very quick on the sexual uptake. Probably this is because my libido is comparable to that of a ninety year old nun. A ninety year old hermit nun who lives alone on a mountaintop and tends goats.

But it occurred to me in class the other night that yoga poses are really quite erotic. Why’d it take so long? Even a mountaintop nun could pick out the potential sin in the yoga studio.

I think it’s because I went off birth control. I finally conceded that I’m not fooling anybody and decided to save myself the money I spent each month on Nuvaring (which, ladies, I strongly recommend as an alternative to the pill). Until I get over my bias against lechers in the produce aisle, sperm and egg are in absolutely no danger of encountering each other these days.

Consequently, my hormones have altered a little bit, and now my libido is up to the level of a mountaintop nun who tends some very randy barnyard animals.

And with that lovely image, I am taking my shaggy blond head to bed. Pictures of the new hairdo will appear once I’ve edited them (read: “altered out ten pounds”) to my liking.

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Going Native

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On behalf of the loved ones and descendents of whomever I murdered in a past life, I hereby offer my profoundest sympathy, compassion, and above all, regret.

Make no mistake: I did murder someone, and it was brutal. There is no other conceivable conclusion. I murdered somebody and now I am paying the delayed price. How else can one explain the suffering I’ve endured this past week? It’s karma, plain and simple.

The suffering this past week has taken a deviously fiendish form of punishment known as Grant Training.

I’m telling you, I slaughtered my victim. It was a bloodbath. Had to have been.

Grant training is the process by which a bunch of strangers are thrown together in close proximity for the duration of one week, during which time they have to listen to the monotonous drone of The Composition and Construction of the Grant.

This makes How A Bill Becomes A Law from civics class look scintillating by comparison.

Worst part? I think I already knew how to do this stuff. Grant writing ain’t rocket science. Ya follows the directions and ya writers yer grant. There is no special mystique or arcane knowledge required.

Maybe—not likely, but maybe—I’d have a less cynical attitude if I hadn’t written a master’s paper in grad school. But I did, I did. Because of that, I have more than enough experience in writing Objectives and Methods and Statements of Purpose, please and thank you.

(But while we’re on the subject, allow me to remind everyone that I had the coolest title for an academic paper ever. Naked Ladies and Macho Men: A Feminist Content Analysis of a Burgeoning Graphic Novels Collection. The bit after the colon is dull, but it starts with naked ladies. Everyone loves naked ladies.)

If grant training is so dreadful, you may be wondering, why didn’t I jump off a cliff? Why endure this mortal coil when I could end it all? We’ve just seen conclusive evidence that reincarnation is a viable option—alive and well, as it were.

Respite from the agony of grant training has come in the unlikeliest form, by way of two of the other participants. John and Roy are neat and fun and—get this—their brand of entertainment comes with a theme. They are both Cherokee Indians, visiting here all the way from Oklahoma.

Can’t say I’ve learned much in the way of grant writing this week, but I’ve learned tons of stuff about Cherokee culture, history, and politics.

The grant we’re writing, along with a few other nifty folks, is an attempt to get funding for a totally awesome project. The Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council wants to go into the schools and teach little kids how to sing Cherokee songs. It’s a way of preserving the culture and sustaining a language that’s in severe danger of dying.

Having grown up in western North Carolina, spitting distance from the eastern Cherokees, I had a slightly better knowledge of Cherokee culture than your average bear. I’ve been to Cherokee and I’ve seen the museum and I know that Andrew Jackson was a dick. But I wasn’t what you’d call an expert.

I’m still no expert—that would be Roy, a living encyclopedia of everything Cherokee—but I think I’ve ascended to enthusiast. I’ve learned a lot about Cherokees this past week: There’s beadwork, and there’s flatbread, and there’s this messed up form of discrimination amongst the Cherokees (not to mention from outside sources), and there’s, um, Walmart. And I can say “see you later, alligator,” in Cherokee: Kilah Julahski.

This is the pinnacle of cultural enrichment, if you ask me.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking about race this week. I have a long, happy history of thinking about race. In college I majored in Women’s Studies, and while there’s obviously a focus on sex/gender/orientation, there’s also a lot of discussion on race and class. I tend to think of my degree as Oppression Studies.

I’m a white girl. I’m privileged, but at least I know it. I am deliberately conscious of my race. Folks in other races don’t have the luxury of forgetting their skin color; they get reminders of it every day, every hour. It’s the least I can do to try to be aware of my own color, and the little ways it helps me out (every day, every hour).

Though contemplating race can be painful, it can also be great fun, and no matter what, it’s fascinating. I miss being in college, when it was normal to chat about race and ethnicity and society. That sort of thing doesn’t happen too often in the real world.

That’s partly why I’ve been so pleased to work with Roy and John. They’ve been happy to talk about Cherokee stuff with ignorant ol’ me. The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between—it’s been fabulous. I’ve learned so much, and it’s fun, and gosh I wish every week was like this.

Except for the grant training part, I mean. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m never killing anyone ever ever again.

It’s Uter-them or Uterus

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Overheard today, ver batim:

"So how was the blueberry picking?"
"Got about three gallons in an hour."
"Are you serious?!"

This is the most exciting thing that happened today. This is possibly the most exciting thing that has happened all month.

You understand now why I haven’t posted here in the past few weeks.

The other reason for my silence is that I’m in a bit of a funk. Life’s no fun when your time is filled with A) writing a book and B) slacking off from writing your book. The slacking is fun, sure, but it’s tinged with a healthy dose of guilt. And even the slacking is losing its luster because, quite frankly, there are no books to read.

A skeptic might mention that I work in a library which, by traditional definition, is chock full of books. But there is a problem with each book, displayed here in a convenient two-part rubric for easy comprehension:

1. Either I have already read the book, or
2. The book sucks.

It’s very simple. If we were to draw a Venn diagram of the books in the library, they would fall neatly into the two circles, with a tiny bit of overlap to graphically illustrate those books I have read which, unfortunately, sucked. A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines, would be an example of that ugly field of overlap. It is saccharine and bland, like water with a packet of Sweet-n-Low in it.

Sadly, I know what water with a packet of Sweet-n-Low in it tastes like, at least when it’s accompanied by a lemon slice. I call this concoction Poor Woman’s Lemonade, and it is what I drink in restaurants when I don’t want to pay for a beverage.

The optimists out there might gamely suggest that some of the books I haven’t read are good. They would be wrong. In recent weeks I have checked out a flurry of new books—new to me, I mean—and they have all sucked. Given the uniform results of my desperate reading frenzy, and considering the impressive sample size, we may conclude, statistically, that all of these books suck.

In other news, my body is now, officially, one giant stretch mark. I’ve been going to yoga class now for 7 months. My body is capable of more twists than a Jeffery Deaver thriller. Conceivably, I could plug my nostrils with my nipples and suffocate. (Have not actually tried this. “Smothered on her own breasts” is not the tombstone epitaph I’m aiming for.) I can almost reenact the pea soup scene from The Exorcist.

Which is all very cool. I would be the life of the party, if I ever got invited to one. But it means that I have stretch marks everywhere: boobs, tummy, hips, bum, thighs, calves, arms—probably even my scalp, though that’s one area of my body that I can’t twist to see. Yet. Give me another 7 months of yoga.

Speaking of my body, I am trying to sell my uterus. It leaks, so I am prepared to offer a very generous discount. The leakage occurs only once per month, so I am sure that it will be suitable for most purposes. Act now, before it’s gone!

Read it and weep

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When I was a wee lass (until I was, oh, eighteen or so) I would get a thrill on those rare occasions when I saw one of my teachers in the grocery store. It was titillating to realize that they, too, shopped at Food Lion. It was like sighting a celebrity (or so I assume; I’ve never bumped into a movie star at the library. Can’t for the life of me figure out why not.)

The magic of these encounters promptly vanished the time I saw my university’s chancellor in Harris Teeter. That wasn’t a woman I cared to encounter. I still wince when I see her photo in the alumni magazine.

But the point here is that I was inordinately excited to see someone from the dazzling world of school out in the gritty real world of Food Lion.

Today I became that person.

I was in Staples, thanks to a ten dollar gift certificate I had won as part of a library contest. By virtue of the brilliance of insightful, nuanced, cutting-edge reviews of area venues, I was picked to receive this enviable reward. Well—probably it was the brilliance of my reviews. There’s a slim chance my name was drawn randomly from a hat. Goddess knows I wrote enough of the damn things. After running out of restaurants and yoga centers to review, I moved on to thrift stores and laundromats, and when I ran out of those, I was reduced to reviewing traffic intersections, parking garages, and my desk at work (three stars: messy, but it has personality).

I spent my ten dollars on ink pens. I’m fussy about pens. They’re mightier than the sword, for starters, so it behooves me to select them carefully. Also, my handwriting is tiny, as in miniscule, as in itsy-bitsy. I only deign to use ultra-fine points. Also again, I really prefer blue ink, because it’s pretty.

As I stood contemplating pensively (get it? Pensively?), I heard a voice: “Hey, library person!” That’s a direct quote, mind.

Ah, yes. Library person. Like my teachers before me, I am become a recognizable pillar of the community. I trust that this is because of my professionalism and excellent service, and not at all because my hair is sort of, erm, distinctive at the moment.

Twice in the past week I’d helped the person who said hi. He’s a kind of, well, bulky fella—not at all fat, but lives-in-the-gym kind of bulk. My first thought on seeing him was “Meathead,” for which I immediately chastised myself. Judging on appearances is exactly what I do not want people to do to me when they see my pink hair (unless they judge “Ah! Sense of fun, but clearly intellectual and socially liberal!”). Besides, what if the guy was psychic?

I thought that, really: “Ack, what if he’s psychic and heard me call him a meathead?”

In physique and demeanor the guy reminded me of Gym Instructor Jeff, the owner of the gym my parents go to. Gym Instructor Jeff is, for all intents, the exact opposite of Hairdresser Jeff. HD Jeff is urbane, slender, and gay. GI Jeff is country, built like a hoss, and… well, I try not to assume about people’s sexual orientations, but if he’s gay I’m a two-dollar whore, which I am not, so there you have it.

Haven’t thought of GI Jeff in ages, but my subconscious took the thought and ran with it. That’s how I ended up on the high school wrestling team in my dream the other night.

In other exciting news, it’s a new month, and that means it’s time for new book displays! I don’t do a book display every month, but this time around I’ve got a theme that can’t lose: Read it and Weep!

Or it seemed like it couldn’t lose, when I thought of it a while back, though now I’m starting to wonder if people will really want to grab depressing books. “Oh look, there’s a display of books to put me in a bad mood! Perfect for this sunny summer weather! I think I’ll take two!”

One side of the display is nonfiction and the other side is fiction, because I could not, in good conscience, place Nicholas Sparks alongside The Diary of Anne Frank. I can not in good conscience place Nicholas Sparks anywhere but the paper shredder, but I was having a hard time coming up with weepy contemporary fiction. Old stuff, that’s easy to find—I could easily fill a display with tear-jerkers from Thomas Hardy and Edith Wharton and other classic authors whom very few people care to read today. I did include some of the 19th-century novelists, and a few twentieth-century classics (because Where the Red Fern Grows is a classic, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but it was difficult for me to find weepy current stuff in fiction.

Nonfiction was much easier. To say nothing of books about war, or biographies of tragic figures, there are all those lovely Social Science books lurking in the 300s. Failed school systems! The working poor! Institutional racism! Incarceration, drug abuse, gambling, global warming!

What can I say? I love to read books like that. Maybe other people will, too.

But don’t worry—not everything on the display is depressing. I picked a few sappy sentimental tear-jerkers. There’s Owen and Mzee, for example. Remember hearing about them? Owen is the baby hippo who lost his parents in a flood. Mzee is the hundred-something-year-old tortoise who adopted him.

(Oh God, I’m tearing up just writing about it.)

There’s a kid’s picture book about Owen and Mzee. It was a natural choice for the display. But when I went to pull it from the shelf, I discovered the sequel.

Foolishly, I skimmed through it at the desk. How daft can I be? By the time I was halfway through I was sniffling and wiping my eyes.

Maybe my maudlin sentimentality is the reason I was never invited to join the wrestling team.