Archive for May, 2010

May 30, 2010

memorializing

Four day weekend before my life reaches maximum craziness. On Tuesday, I’ll be at work two whole hours earlier than the past two weeks, and on Wednesday, I’m Red-Lining it to Somerville for Internship: Day 1.

Oh, and I have a presentation on Tuesday, and a paper regarding that presentation due the following Tuesday.

And do we have any guesses as to what piece of children’s literature this paper will focus on?

I’ll give you a big hint: I read it three times last year and wrote three papers on it.

Oh, you guessed it? You’re so smart.

Anyway. I haven’t been working on that paper much, because you see, I am a big fat lazy slacker pants.

Instead, I’ve been going to Indian food buffets,

eating self-serve frozen yogurt… multiple times…

and Going Off-Syllabus with Going Bovine


Tomorrow, I should probably start plotting that presentation. Or we might just go to free-day at the MFA.

Oh, and laundry. And cooking. And freaking out about my week ahead. And my apartment is still mighty trashed. And I really had a hankering to do some baking today… and I’m on the last 100 pages of Going Bovine!

Also, tomorrow is Memorial Day. Do you have a favorite soldier? I do! She just moved to Germany with her husband, got a promotion, and is 12 weeks pregnant. Lucky lady! Thanks for healing our soldiers, Chrissy!

May 26, 2010

steamy

High of 80

High of 92

After all my enjoyment of the lovely, temperate weather,

I am back to sleeping without a blanket,

dragging the fan with me from room to room,

and running cold water on my wrists.

My cat is panting.

Panting!

I need to add a new line to our budget for ice cream and coffee – aka admission to Air Conditioned Spaces Open After The Library Closes.

Good thing I won’t be home starting after next week.

Maybe I can stay away until September 1, where I will move to a second floor apartment, hidden by shade, with an air conditioner in the living room.

Until then?

Sweat.

May 23, 2010

disturb yourself silly

On Friday morning, I looked out onto my three-day weekend and felt happy to know that my only real responsibility was to read. I haven’t been reading very much this year, so I felt a bit of perverse happiness to have someone tell me what books to read and then require that I read them.

But, of course, my instructors have done their best to choose the most overlooked, most bizarre and disturbing children’s books published.

We start with When Jeff Comes Home by Catherine Atkins.

An uplifting little read about a 13-year-old who gets kidnapped, lives with physical and sexual abuse for two years, and then comes home and deals with the aftermath of these traumas.

Next up, A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich by Alica Childress, which is actually a REALLY awesome read – beautiful prose, daring perspectives and whatnot… but…

…it’s about a 13-year-old heroin user from a poor, broken family.

Okay. I’m starting to get a bit bummed out at this point. But I’m out of books. I’ll need to get a hold of The Facts Speak For Themselves by Brock Cole at some point, so I looked up the Amazon page.

This book appears to be about a 13-year-old girl who witnesses the murder of an adult male who may or may not be her lover.

Uh.

I did take the bus into Copley Square on Saturday to scour the shelves of the Big Library for the last book on my assigned, due-on-Thursday reading list, Eva by Peter Dickinson.

So I sit down to read and I’m immediately befuddled. What in the world is going on in this book?

I’ve read enough now to tell you: Eva is a 13-year-old girl who gets into a car accident. She ends up in a coma and in order to save her life, further scientific research, and probably some other nefarious reasons I’m not yet privy to…

THEY TRANSPLANT HER BRAIN INTO THE BODY OF A CHIMPANZEE.

Just a little light, weekend reading. Who knew being a fictional 13-year-old could be so dangerous? All these adult characters are kidnapping you, getting you addicted to drugs, raping you, and exploiting you, and then (adult) readers are enjoying these terrible stories for a little “pleasure” reading when we’re off work.

I repeat: THIS CLASS IS TRIPPING ME OUT!!!!! GAHH!!!

May 19, 2010

summer lovin’

Yesterday, I walked into class feeling confused and lightheaded. You see, part of the Change-Everything-You-Can freakout of May 2010 involves buying vegetables and whole grains… and not buying any of the crap I usually fill up on. Oh, and I simultaneously decided to nix the daily Starbucks habit last semester gave me.

So I walked into class feeling confused and lightheaded because I ate weird things all day, cut calories without thinking about how to replace them, and hadn’t had more than a Diet Coke all day.

I walked out of class feeling confused and lightheaded because I had three hours to get hungrier and develop the tingly beginnings of a migraine.

But also because…

  • I sat through a 3 hour class and I still do not exactly know what my class is about
  • I cannot force myself to be “child-centric” in my thoughts about books, which I think this problematic for a future library professional…
  • … which really transforms my “Career Crisis!’ into a full-fledged “Identity Crisis!” Gah! I don’t think finding a career is supposed to be this hard!
  • My class is 6 weeks long. My syllabus is 6 pages long.
  • There is an assignment due Thursday (tomorrow) which entails reading a year’s worth of Horn Books and Booklists and writing a 5 page paper.
  • Jack Gantos is coming to visit our class.

Jack Gantos, people.

JACK GANTOS!! Everybody go out and read Hole in My Life, right now. And when you’re done, go pick up a Joey Pigza book. The end.

~

I went home after class, confused and tired and getting that headache. I hoped Lance wouldn’t be too irritated when he got home from signing our lease, since I ignored 9 panicked phone calls and 3 text messages during my foggy-headed class. I tried to make a pizza, but the dough was cold, my upper body strength lacking, and I ran out of pizza sauce so I had to mix in some spaghetti… and then I lay defeated on the couch while Lance downloaded trumpet fingering charts onto his new iPod Touch.

Which, unfortunately, is probably how I will feel all summer.

Because my life will very soon look like this:

Monday Internship 9:30-4:30

Tuesday Work 9:00-3:00, Class 3:00-6:15

Wednesday Internship 9:30-4:30

Thursday Work 9:00-3:00, Class 3:00-6:15

Friday Work 9:00-3:00

Plus homework.

Plus any library shifts I deign to pick-up.

Plus ALA, Myrtle Beach, maybe a trip to Michigan in August, and packing up our entire apartment.

My reward?

On September 1st, I get to move out of my current apartment before 1:00 p.m. and move into my new apartment after 1:00 p.m.!

And then on September 2nd, classes start.

Confused and lightheaded.

I need an espresso.

May 18, 2010

my life is like

Sometimes I think about what I write here and wonder if it’s even mildly representative of what my life is really like, right now, as I write these words.

Well, not really what my life is like right this second, because right this second I realized where the weird, soapy odor that has followed me around today derives – a sizeable clump of Lance’s dried up shaving cream stuck in my hair. Right now, as I write these words, I am a person who has something in her hair that has no reason being there, and who can’t quite figure out how to get it out.

In general, though. How am I doing? What am I doing? When I look back through this here blog years later, will I remember what 2010 was like? Or will I be presented with page after page of what DVD I bought and what children’s literature obscurity fancied me and exactly how cute my cat was?

So right now, this week, my life is consumed with these three things:

  1. An emotional breakdown (don’t worry, I’m prone to these, especially when the tension of a semester’s end lets me go. I just collapse for a few days)
  2. This pair of jeans I spent too much money on
  3. Walking

The throes of my emotional breakdown (1) left me needing to change something in my life. Anything in my life. Anything that I could change, I wanted to change it.

So I changed how I wake up.

Instead of fighting with the snooze button, making breakfast, turning on the TV and vegging out on my laptop, I would do Something Else. Being horizontal so close to waking made leaving the house seem so terrible, made wherever I was going seem so dreadful, all this negative energy pooling in my idle limbs and my idle mind (1).

So instead, I would wake up, brush my teeth, check the weather to see how many layers to put on, plug in my earbuds and walk (3). This is a good idea because it’s a vertical, doesn’t require much brain power, doesn’t require much prep time, doesn’t requiring leaving and returning from a place since I basically live on a walking trail, and gives that a similar feeling to getting up for an early morning run… but without the pain of running.

I chose to ignore the mean voice in my head that said “But you should be running, because you have to be seen in a bikini in just a few months, and you’re too poor to buy a new swimsuit” (1), because the last thing I want to do in the morning is run. If I’m waking up to “run” every morning, I won’t get dressed. I probably won’t even get out of bed. I will get up to take a walk, though.

Also I was listening to one of my favorite books on audio, a book that reminds me of everything I love in this world.

I walk around the little pond. (3) About a mile.

And then I go upstairs and make breakfast and veg out on the computer and get dressed for work, but my willpower is usually strong enough at this point to keep the TV off.

And then I walk to work. (3)

One day a few months ago, the weather was nice and I decided to walk home. I was talking to my sister on the phone about her prom dress, and by the time my battery died, I was home.

Considering the time spent walking to/from the bus/train, waiting for the bus/train, and riding the bus/train, walking (3) was equally efficient. After a few weeks, the prospect of riding the crowded bus made me feel a little nauseous.

I started to walk (3) everywhere.

Yesterday, I walked around the pond (1 mile), to school (1.5 miles), to Trader Joe’s (1.3 miles), and back home (1.5 miles).

Last Monday, I walked from school to Filene’s Basement (1.9 miles) to buy a pair of jeans, because my go-to pair (purchased in 2003), had recently developed the Crotch Hole of Death… or, more accurately but equally disturbing, The Crotch Hole of Eminent Butt-Exposing Pants Rip (2).

I wouldn’t be so fearful if it hadn’t happened to me once in the Kroger parking lot.

But me being my idiot self (1), when faced in the dressing room mirror with two equally viable options, I did not choose the 30 dollar option. I chose the 99 dollar option.

I chose them because they were comfortable, looked nice, and fit like a dream. Or at least until I wore them a few times. Then they started to feel loose, make me look fat and slouchy, and were basically a size too big.

And me being my idiot self (1), I removed the tags.

So now I’m stuck with these expensive jeans (2), rubbing strangely while I walk everywhere I need to go (3), reminding me of what a big fat idiot I am (1). But I’m stuck with myself too.

So I get up every morning and put on my stretch pants that WERE worth the money and I walk around the pond and I try not to cry in public, when something strikes me with despair, like a lightning bolt. A crushed bird egg. The two goose families with their two fuzzy goose babies. A wrinkly faced dog. Something Barbara Kingsolver said about a tomato.

I try not to cry.

(1)

I try to like my jeans.

(2)

And I walk.

(3)

And I try not to get hit by cars.

May 13, 2010

consumerism success

Back when I was being needlessly spendy, I pre-ordered the Complete Series of Daria on DVD from Amazon.

Wait. Hold on. Back when I was being needlessly spendy? You mean, the 99 dollars you spent on a pair of jeans on Tuesday was NOT being needlessly spendy, self?

Ahem.

Anyway.

Operative part of the sentence – “back when.” I put it on pre-order awhile ago. It was deeply discounted – 44.99 down from 72.99. And given the vast amounts of time I used to spend attempting to capture every episode onto  VCR tapes in 1999 and 2000, well, this was something I would need to own. Might as well get while the getting is good.

Logic of the eventually broke and desperate.

ANYWAY.

My DVDs shipped yesterday. Yay! And for the day, Daria even beat out Avatar on the Amazon bestseller list. Awesome. I’ve come to terms with my loose spending and pledge to hide my debit card from myself.

Then I get an email from Amazon.

Pre-order, low price guarantee yadda yadda yadda… Amazon is refunding me 19 dollars?

Yes, soon I will be the proud owner of all 5 seasons of Daria, on DVD, and the two movies, all for the low-low price of  26 bucks.

After all of my recent consumerism fails, this was a nice surprise.

But I’m officially putting myself on a budget. One with NO DEBIT CARDS ALLOWED AT THE COMPUTER written in scary black letters across the top of the page.



May 10, 2010

black holes and revelations pt 2

Okay. Time for Part Two: The Dramatic Conclusion.

Only don’t go hoping for an actual conclusion here. Maybe in another week. Or, more likely, in August. Awesome.

~

I promise you that one month ago, I had nothing to do this summer, except take this class that I simply MUST TAKE under threat of death. Those who know me know that you really don’t have to threaten me to take a class. I’ll take it. Even if it costs me 3,600 big ones, I’ll give you my money. I just did, actually.

So, faced with the prospect of doing nothing but drag my bank account balance into the red all summer, I started applying for some stuff to do.

A few weeks later, I had an interview for a reference-desk-sitting position at my school library. Perfect. Just what I wanted. Start as a summer fill-in, get a regular weekend and evening shift for the fall semester. Something to make a little extra cash in the summer, and once my regular job resumed in the fall, it would fit neatly around that work schedule. I’d already thought about dropping down to two classes for the fall – what better to replace a class with than a job that looks good on the resume?

Of course, two weeks after I accept the position, my boss pulls some ridiculous Hail Mary Phonecall and WOW I can stay and work over the summer for twenty-hours a week! Isn’t that great?

That is great, actually. May and June will be rough, what with two jobs and a (hard) class, but the rest of the summer will be easy and sweet. My hours here are flexible, especially since there are no students left to require a regularly staffed desk, I like my boss and my responsibilities and it’s really no sweat off my back to be here.

And then I got a call from these guys.

Back when I had nothing to do over the summer, I applied for two internships. I was hastily dismissed from the first, which was not particularly surprising. Getting a callback from the second completely floored me. Internship. Editorial department. Two days a week.

I’m going in for an interview on Wednesday, and I am scared scared scared. Scared because I know nothing about publishing and the best I’m going to be able to offer is “I’m really excited to see if this is maybe something I might want to turn into a career!” Scared because my jobs up until this point can be classified as either Library-Related or Childcare-Related, and this reeks of Big-Girl-Professional-Careerist and, as I mentioned, I thought I was okay with not being that person.

So I’m scared that I will bomb the interview and blow this chance. And I’m also scared that I will get the position. And then I will have to be a Big-Girl-Professional-Careerist. Which I might not be good at.

And I’m scared to give anything up.

Which might be necessary, given the whole “24-hours in a day” phenomenon.

I thought I’d chosen a direction for my life, or at least a direction for the next year or so. Put my focus on class, my second focus on making a few extra bucks to stash away. This internship is the wrench. I have to quit a job or cut back hours or negotiate, or I have to do my homework on the T and stay up past 10 p.m. to do my homework and be prepared to take on a great deal of stress.

Either way, I have to man up.

Part of me hopes that I won’t get it, and I’ll go back to being okay with everything. Because another part of me knows that if I get it, I have to say yes, and have to see where this adventure might take me.

May 9, 2010

a letter to my love

Dear Peach Pie,

You are adorable. You are so sweet. You are cute and lovely and warm and sometimes cuddly and I love you.

However.

If you could refrain from waking me by jumping DIRECTLY onto my face (instead of some other viable part of the bed) and making me bleed all over my pillow, that would be awesome.

Thanks.

Love and kisses,

Jessica

May 7, 2010

academic writing and caffeine addiction

I am about a page and a half away from the page requirement on my last final of the semester, but I think I could potentially overshoot it by a mile. Which has never happened in the history of me and writing papers, let me tell you.

But a lot has changed since I wrote my first five-paragraph-essay in the ninth grade.

At some point, Desmond Harding told me that if I turned in a five-paragraph-essay, he would shoot me in the head. Or something like that. I thought it would be easy, but I accidentally wrote one anyway. Then I revised enough that it wasn’t a five-paragraph-essay, and then revised it some more so it wouldn’t suck, but something went wrong because I got my paper back with the words “NO FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSAY” written in the margins and I counted… and there were five paragraphs, and then Desmond Harding shot me in the head. Or something like that.

Dr. Patty gave me a dense book that I liked and told me I could write about whatever interested in for 10 pages and it wouldn’t be intimidating at all because it would be fun. He was right, even though he tried to talk me into writing about nature and conservation. Or birds. Or canoeing in Wyoming. Or something like that.

Oh, Dr. Patty.

Oh, Thoreau.

William Brevda taught me that yes, you can write a 10 page paper in less than 24 hours, with a hangover, if you dedicate yourself to the task. That means shoving down calories for energy, even if stress and peppperoni threatens to send those calories right back up the spout. That means closing down the library at 2 a.m. and moving over to Kaya, but you must then take advantage of the Idiot Studier’s Special – free additional espresso shots in the midnight hours. You must also resist altercations with your previously MIA boyfriend who drove all the way from the Upper Peninsula and went directly to said coffee shop without so much as a phonecall.

William Brevda taught me that with persistence, tears, and coffee, even such a painful paper can earn an A.

Desmond Harding told me that I should stop writing a five-paragraph-essay. Okay. I figured that one out. Then Mark Freed told me I should stop writing anything that wouldn’t fit on one piece of paper. From that day forth, I abandoned conclusions and most introductions. At that point, it was a good feeling. Letting go of unnecessary baggage feeling.

Last semester, I remembered how to do all that stuff I forgot about in the two-years I spent NOT writing academic papers. My paper grades were an accurate indicator of the variable memory of humans.

And this paper…. this final paper of my first semester of graduate school? This paper has taught me the following valuable lessons:

  • Somewhere, deep down inside of me, I like to write introductions. Two page introductions, apparently.
  • Writing without at least two shots of espresso at hand is mostly impossible.
  • A paper does not always have to feel like a death march.
  • Maybe the tools of fiction revision – the constant tinkering of sentence structure to achieve maximum effect, replacement of words to clarify intent and meaning – are relevant to academic papers as well.
  • I should get back to work so I can finish all 7 thousand pages before they are due in 9 hours or so.
May 5, 2010

new digs

So the dramatic conclusion to my previous post will have to wait. Things have only become more complicated in my head and in my life since then, and there is this thing called a Twelve To Fifteen Page Paper on Picturebooks Due on Friday to take care of.

In the meantime, a quick tale about Renting Apartments in Boston.

We decided not to renew our lease for September. Surely we could find a better deal SOMEWHERE in this city, now that we aren’t green around the gills, now that we have more than 24 hours to secure shelter.

As soon as we decided not to stay, the regrets filed into my tiny, annoying, one-bedroom. Some were delusional: But I’m right by the park! How will I ever become A Runner unless I have a place to run? Some were overly sentimental: If I leave JP, I’ll never eat a sandwich at City Feed & Supply again and if that happens I will die! And JP is the best neighborhood in Boston! Ask anyone who lives here! Some were rational: We can afford our rent… I’m close enough to school to walk when the weather is nice… Free and abundant street parking… My landlady isn’t nuts… What if we’re looking for Something Better That Doesn’t Exist?

So I’m moping around, being stressed out, and constantly browsing Craigslist for one-bedrooms under 1,050 or two-beds under 1,500. The only options that meet that criteria seem to be in my friend’s building down at the end of the orange line, or are in Brighton.

Until I venture over to the “rental fee charged” section of Craigslist and find this little gem of a listing that included some irresistible  real estate jargon: “dishwasher;” “laundry in building;” “off-street parking space included;” “cats are OK – purr;” “heat and hot water included;” “air conditioning.”

And it’s not only *in* Jamaica Plain, the apartment is so close it might as well BE in my apartment.

Two viewings, some advanced haggling, and a little under-the-table, dirty-dealing later…

I have a new apartment. And a dishwasher. And air conditioning in the main room. And a parking lot for Lance to change his oil in. And a square living room instead of a hallway shaped living room, so I can rearrange the furniture.

And a new roommate!

And I can still “Become a Runner” and walk to school at my leisure.

And eat sandwiches at City Feed & Supply.

And we only have to move our stuff down three flights of stairs and then up the street.

AND WOULD YOU LOOK AT ALL THOSE COUNTERS AND CABINETS!