Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Doctorow is in

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“That guy’s a dead ringer for Cory Doctorow,” I thought. I was peering through a window of a conference room at the American Library Association annual conference. I was peering into the room, rather than sitting in it, because I was only up for a day trip to visit the exhibits, not to attend any of the sessions.

I was peering into that particular room because I was making googly eyes at one of the panelists, my colleague Nebuchadnezzar. My sophomoric antics did not result from my juvenile disposition– I am a mature and staid woman—but from my desire to improve my colleague’s public speaking skills: It is good practice, maintaining composure in the face of distractions. Also, I wanted him to hurry up and finish so we could go get lunch.

But I couldn’t help noticing that the panelist right next to Nebuchadnezzar was the spitting image of science fiction novelist Cory Doctorow, editor of Boing Boing, hero of digital rights anarchists, and winner of the prestigious Locus Award for Best First Novel, which is really obnoxious. Dude’s not even forty.

I can easily recall all these facts about Doctorow because I just finished writing about him for NoveList the other day—and that’s why his image was fresh on my mind.

“Yup. Could be his brother,” I thought. Then I made another childish face and forgot about it.

Ahem. My freaking buddy Nebuchadnezzar, the father of my CAT, for crying out loud, literally rubbed elbows with Cory Doctorow today. Jerk. And here I was too dim to pick up on it. I mean there was even a freaking sign outside the room, “The Future of Science Fiction.” A sign. Printed in clear sans-serif letters. It just does not get more obvious than that.

If the potential employer who called me today for a screening interview happens to stumble upon this site, I would like to protest that I am not normally this slow. Really. I have nothing to back up this assertion, but please just take my word on this. I am not usually so appallingly stupid.

On the bus ride up to the conference, I read a book on green housekeeping. I think there was some good advice nestled in there, but I’m irritated that I spent money on it. (Library didn’t have a copy, and besides, I like to have cooking and cleaning books within easy reach. A recipe for removing candle wax from your carpet isn’t doing you any good when it’s midnight and the library’s closed.) The problem with the book was that it suffered from bad copyediting and worse proofreading. I struggled through it enough to glean some eco-friendly cleaning ideas, but now my entire book collection feels sullied by this interloper.

On the bus ride back from the conference, I got about four pages through the first book of the Dark Brotherhood series before determining that life is too short to read that kind of crap. I can tolerate stereotypical characters and cliched actions to a point, but I have my limits. When those limits are reached within ten minutes of reading, it is time time to slam the book down in disgust, and also it is time to take a nap. Which I did. But then I woke up with nothing to read for the rest of the bus ride back.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to describe such a horrific episode. Enduring it was agonizing, but that’s no reason to make everyone else suffer by proxy. I beg your forgiveness, and I will leave you with a much brighter note: within a week or two, I should know whether I have an in-person interview on the horizon.


Hey Sistah, Solsticah

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Happy Solstice.

This is the longest day of the year. There is an inordinate amount of sunshine. It is invariably hot. This day is associated with millenia of traditions and rituals, but no one around here observes them. I do not get a day off, and no one buys me presents.

By some measures it is my favorite day of the year. This is because I am the sort of person who eats her vegetables first: I’d rather suffer through the bad parts now and relax through the good parts later. Other people are reveling in the long days and warm temperatures. Fools! Everything from here on out is one long march toward winter.

Or, for those who prefer wheels, it is one long bike ride toward winter. My bicycle has finally found a new home. It has been bartered away for catsitting services, garden plunder, and moving help, with the understanding that I might not be cashing in on the moving help anytime soon. I am not moving till such time as I become independently wealthy or, as a backup plan, till such time as I find gainful employment elsewhere. (I am still waiting to hear back from this one job application I submitted. It is an agonizing exercise in being patient.)

The other day I walked to Rite-Aid, a drugstore I instinctively distrust due to its unorthodox spelling—though perhaps I am being uncharitable. Perhaps the store’s mission is to aid us in our rites, rather than to offer aid of a correct nature. If this is the case, I a puzzled by the absence of any aids for my Solstice rites. Didn’t see a single solstice promotion in there, unless it was the display of sunblock lotions.

As I was walking back from the Rite-Aid, I heard music in the parking lot. This is not unusual. I hear music blaring from that parking lot all the time. What was unusual was the nature of the music. Almost invariably what I hear is Hip Hop or one of its cousins. This sounded like Punk.

Trotting a bit further along on my walk back home, I discovered the source of the unexpected music: a young man with his radio, lounging against a wall. Then I realized I recognized him.

“Shouldn’t you be in the library?” I called out. I’d never spoken to him before, but he’s one of my regulars. Comes in for the computer, never bothers anyone. Looks like he’s in his early twenties.

“Closes early on the weekends,” he answered. Oh. Right. I knew that.

“What’s your name?” he continued, and my estimate of his age dropped a few years. He didn’t sonud old enough to drink.

“I’m Jessica.”

“Most people just call me Roof Bum.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I used to live on that roof over there.”

“Oh. How’s the view from up there?”

“Nice, but it sucks when it rains.”

Turns out that my quiet and unassuming patron is a street kid. I’m not sure if there’s a moral to this story, but if there is one, it’s that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people. Even a basic assumption—“This person has a place to live”—might be wrong. And if there’s another moral to this story, it’s that it’s heartbreaking to discover yet again that there are homeless kids right here in the richest nation in the world.

The birds have been chirping for a few minutes now—it’s five o’clock in the morning, which I am bearing witness to only because I fell asleep last night at seven—so I can report that the solstice is safely underway and that winter is going to rear its beautiful head in about six months. Sorry for the brevity here, and for having skipped last weekend, but I’ve been busy with some NoveList stuff. I’ll write again next weekend, or else early next week, when I report back from my one count’em one day at the ALA exhibits.

I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman, All I wanna do is Bicycle

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Yesterday I swam home from the store—not because the eastern coast of the United States has finally fallen into the ocean, which I figure is bound to happen someday, what with global warming and all, but because it was so stinking hot that I was sopping wet for the mile-long walk back. I quite enjoy swimming, but I prefer the type that takes place in a mountain stream or a pool or the ocean that will eventually consume us all.

A few weeks back, on a day that was slightly less hot, I participated in the annual Roll or Stroll to work day. I like that it’s good for the environment, good for my girlish figure, and good for my wallet, but let’s not quibble over details here: my overwhelming motivation for walking to work is to achieve a sublime feeling of smugness. Moral superiority is a sensibility more valuable than gold.

I trek the two mile each way on days that are not rainy, not spectacularly hot, and not dark for the return journey (which, okay, is really not all that many days around here, where the summers serve as practice for spending eternity in the sulfurous pits of hell). But I especially like walking on Roll or Stoll day; in addition to the sheer joy of self-righteousness, I get the chance to earn prizes.

Two years back I won a t-shirt. It is soft and yellow and it makes a snuggly night garment. Last year I arranged my route to take me past two of the booths set up for the day, thereby garnering two granola bars and two raffle tickets, both of which scored prizes: a coffee mug and a gift certificate to a Mexican restaurant, which maybe wasn’t so good for my girlish figure, but anyway.

I intended to hit two booths this year, but I woke up too late to accomodate that longer walking path. I would have swallowed my pride and just driven to work, but my car was scheduled for maintenance; made sense at the time, since I wasn’t planning to drive that day, see? I went so far as to call a colleague to see if I could bum a ride, but she didn’t answer, so I was forced to do the walk anyway, at a very brisk pace, with only one booth on my path.

I grabbed my granola bar. I scrawled my name and number on the raffle ticket. I huffed and I puffed to get to work on time, which is absolutely no fun at all when you’re trying not to spill coffee on yourself.

Later that morning, while working on the reference desk, a call came in for me, from a person representing the city.

“Did I win?” I asked, fondly recalling last year’s Mexican food.

“You won the grand prize!” the caller said. “The bicycle!”

A few things worth noting at this point:

  • I do not know how to ride a bike
  • I do not have a place to store a bike
  • I do not have a way to transport a bike

Ahem. As a matter of principle it is really cool to win a grand prize, but I gotta say, it’s turning into a real pain. I tried to sell it at work, to no avail, so now I’m hoping my craigslist post turns up some hits. At present it is being stored in the garage of a coworker.

(If anyone reading this wants to buy a bike, wow do I have a deal for you.)

The other item of interest this week is the job I applied for on Friday. This job is, and I do not use the word lightly, perfect. I am the perfect person for the job, and the job is the perfect match for me.

Before I jinx everything, I’d like to go on record before any eavesdropping gods of fate that I’m really not that interested in the job, it’s not at all as though I am yearning for them to interview me, honestly my attitude could be described as “nonchalant” and “indifferent,” and above all I am not getting my hopes up about a position that is absofreakinglutely ideal. Nosiree, that’s some other job candidate.

It’s a position as a librarian for a non-profit women’s reproductive health organization, located in Chapel Hill. Not only do I have the right skill set—seriously, it’s not like I have to creatively bend the facts to prove that I’m qualified, I truly do have the experience they need—but I have some serious background in Women’s Studies. Like, I have a degree in the field. (And here everyone thought it was useless!) And I’ve worked in a Women’s Studies office. And I just published a book on Women’s Nonfiction, handily showing that I am both interested in women’s issues AND capable of doing independent research and reference work.

Okay, tell you what: you want to buy the bike, and I’ll throw in a copy of Women’s Nonfiction free. That’s a fifty-five dollar value! Act now! This offer won’t last forever!