Not in Kansas City anymore

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Just finished my little jaunt to the Midwest. That’s my excuse for the silence here, these past few weeks: I’d been busy preparing my presentation on Urban Literature. Urban Lit is an emerging genre that features black people in contemporary settings; subgenres include Street Lit (drugs! violence!), Drama Lit (with a focus on relationships), and Erotica (lots and lots and lots of sex).

I managed to turn that sentence into a three-hour talk, I did.

My talk was in Kansas City, which turned out to be a very pleasing little town. Reminded me of Asheville, NC, kinda sorta. That’s a good thing. It had a small-town feel, funky little neighborhoods, and hills that, though not tall enough to be mountains, nonetheless gave a decent variation to the landscape, the likes of which you don’t get here in Wilhelmsplatz.

Kansas City sprawls into two states, Kansas and Missouri. This confused the bejeesus out of me till Marian Librarian explained that most folks think of Missouri when they talk about the city. It’s the default. You have to go out of your way to explain that you’re talking about Kansas if you want to refer to that part of town.

On Monday morning at 5:00 (happy late Bastille Day, by the way), after a nice relaxing four-hour sleep, I got up an hour late, panicked, and still made it to the Richmond airport with plenty of time to spare for my 7:40 flight. After a bland few hours in Philly, I got myself over to KC, where Marian Librarian picked me up.

I’ve known Marian Librarian (not her real time, I’m sure you realize) for several years now. She’s a rock star amongst public librarians, and she sends me snarky little cards at Christmas, and she always inquires after my cats. And she helps me out whenever I’m stuck on an article or something.

So then Marian dropped me off at her house, where I got to hang out for the afternoon, playing with Bumble (very furry, very affectionate), Piggy (big-boned), Puck (no tail), and The Ashbaby (no front fangs). Marian herself had to boogie back to her library for a program.

Then Mr. Marian got home.

“Uh. Hi. You must be Mr. Marian.”

“Uh. Hi. You must be Jessica.”

“That, or I’m an imposter. It’s possible I killed the nice young lady who was hanging out on your front porch.”

I was pretty sure this fella was Mr. Marian, since he looked like the gent I’d seen in Marian’s pictures. Being relatively confident that he was who he said he was, I willingly hopped in the car with him to go to yoga.

This was the first time I’d ever cheated on my yoga studio. In the year and a half that I’ve been studying yoga, I’ve only ever taken classes at Anahata Yoga Center in Wilhelmsplatz. I felt kind of bad about it, but I figured an evening of yoga prior to my presentation would be good for me.

Boy, was I wrong.

Problem the first: It was a Hot Yoga class. This is a unique form of torture, in which the classroom is heated to a wicked level, I’m guessing 90-some degrees Fahrenheit. The point is to make you sweat, which I did, in buckets. A day and a half later and my clothes are still damp.

Problem the second: the instructor sucked.

…Wait, let me tell this right. Prior to the start of class, while we were all warming up individually (not like we needed to really warm ourselves, not in that inferno), this one chappie at the front of the room was showing off in a major way. It’s one thing to stretch out and practice before class. I myself do it all the time. It’s another thing entirely to show off all sorts of fancy moves.

This guy was doing headstands in the middle of the damn room, raising and lowering his legs. This is not how folks warm up. This is how folks show off their shit. It’s obnoxious.

So then, after showing off all kinds of crazy advanced poses, this prick gets to the front of the class and starts barking out commands. Turns out he’s the instructor.

But does he actually instruct? No, he just calls out poses, like he’s an aerobics instructor. He doesn’t do any adjustments, doesn’t offer anyone help to improve their poses. He just yells out commands for an hour and a half.

That’ll teach me to stray from my own studio.

At least it gave me and Mr. Marian something to bond over. This particular instructor was a new guy, unfamiliar to Mr. Marian, so we gleefully spent the evening kvetching about him.

Next day was the presentation. Fifty librarians from the KC area gathered to listen to my talk. It was the first time I’d ever done a presentation on Urban Lit, but they were a lovely audience, offering all kinds of comments and questions throughout the day, which mercifully disguised my inexperience. Way I figure it, even if I’d been the world’s best Urban Lit librarian (I’m not), I would have bored everyone to tears by talking for three hours straight. Who wants to listen to a three-hour lecture? Easier and cheaper to just read the article, ya know?

But these folks transformed my talk into a lovely interactive discussion, the kind of thing you can’t get from reading an article. It’s difficult to judge when you’re the person actually giving the talk, but I think it went well. Then after I was done, another guy talked about Spoken Word poetry (very cool talk!), and then another librarian talked about Teen Urban Lit.

Not a bad way to spend two days. I learned my lesson about Hot Yoga, I spread the good news about Urban Lit, and I got to explore Kansas City—not as much as I would have liked, of course, but that’s okay: I’ll be back there before too long. This same bunch of librarians wants to know about Graphic Novels. Guess who’s up for the job?

2 responses »

  1. The behavior of the yoga instructor you described is pretty much why I’ve never done any kind of exercise class. *shudders* Scary! D: Glad you survived, though. šŸ™‚

  2. the queen of clarmount

    I shudder at your terminology " spreading the good news about urban lit". Okay, okay, it gets people to read, but what I’ve seen of it really sucks as literature. I know it’s a hot item, but thank goodnes that the greater majority of my patrons shy away from anything like that….


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