Lady Crumpet's Armoire


September 03, 2002

Vacation Hangover

It's pretty hard to come back from a break only to plunge immediately into a loaded schedule. A sluggish but lowkey return to work, plus night classes twice a week. Ugh. But by next summer, I will have earned my degree and emerge from my chrysalis a spanking new librarian.

Went to the beach with Scott and his extended family. Highlights: wiggling toes in the sand, getting smacked around by monster waves, big hugs from the three-year-old. A few days, some sunny, some misty, but lots of family time, especially goofing off with the nephew. Our schedules were fairly light, except for the mandatory 4:30 departure time ("Are we in the car yet?") in order for the lot of us to descend upon some monolithic restaurant for a stuffed-to-the-gills dinner. There was also the Mini-Golf Crisis - "Which course are we supposed to meet them at?!?" - but that was the extent of our troubles.

The next leg of our trip led us to Beantown for a conference. Scott joined his fellow wonks; I took off around the city, armed with maps and a subway pass, scouring used bookstores and CD shops. Toured the Public Library - the first free municipal library in the country. (Not something that the backwoods yahoos in Washington would appreciate.) Also made the lovely mistake of wandering into The Closet, a secondhand shop. Scored a slinky, sleeveless Betsey Johnson dress for $60 - deep red, decolletage, and covered with an abstract pattern that upon closer examination turns out to be snakeskin. It sounds tacky but it's really cool. Thank goodness, though, for the matching wide fabric belt with the big wooden buckle, which will do wonders for hiding the summer (and fall/winter/spring) potbelly.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:45 PM |

September 06, 2002

Friday Five

1. What is your biggest pet peeve? Why?
Mostly transit-based : when people rush into your subway car before you can get out. When people hog the seats with their stuff or guys sit with legs sprawled so you either choose to let them have both seats or just sit down and squash your way in. When someone hogs the entire pole by leaning against or hugging it so other people can't hold onto the pole while the train is moving. People who have no clue that they are not alone on the sidewalk and shuffle five across with their friends or family. People who suddenly stop in front of you and trip up your momentum. But I think the worst has to be when people stand in the middle or on the left of the escalator instead of standing to the right so people can pass, and who are then self-righteous about it. Usually, I'm in a hurry because I really have to get to my railroad train, which has less frequent departure times than the subways, so I can't just let it go. If you're gonna be a moron or a jerk, you'll get a curt "Excuse me!" or if need be, an elbow or a less-than-cautious shove with my bag as I squeeze by.

I am not coldhearted when it comes to the elderly or the handicapped or people with small children. I speak of the able-bodied but feeble-minded, or those who know what they should do but don't give a damn anyway. Really, the people who commit these transit sins have the same flaw in common, which I suppose is my biggest peeve : People who think only of themselves.

2. What irritating habits do you have?
I have trouble with punctuality, unless it's for something important, like an interview or a haircut. ;) It's a wonder I make my morning train. I'm really messy at home - books, papers, CDs, clothes, lots of piles all laying about. It's hard to live with myself like this.

3. Have you tried to change the irritating habits or just let them be?
I try - I hate being late, I hate forcing people to wait on me. I hate running for the train, like this morning. When I'm due to have a visitor, I can really clean up. Or when it's too messy to even think straight, I'll fly into a rage and just slave away. But there's got to be a healthier approach to housekeeping - such as regular maintenance. I really wish one of us was the neat freak, cheerful and jolly to be vacuuming and ironing away. But then that's why Dear Husband's so perfect for me.

4. What grosses you out more than anything else? Why?
This is really all-out disgusting : the puddles of phlegm that guys hulk up on the sidewalk, although maybe worse is hearing it happen. I'd rather step in dogshit. Barefoot.

5. What one thing can you never see yourself doing that other people do?
"Reality" television. I can't stand those shows with every fiber of my being.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:25 PM | Memes

September 08, 2002

More tinkering to the Armoire:

More tinkering to the Armoire: rearrangements and additions of links, and, after much anticipation of its completion by the artist, my portrait. ;)

Yours, &c., LC at 09:19 AM | Admin

Do you ever get caught

Do you ever get caught by a song and have to listen to it over and over, when even the radio doesn't seem to be playing it enough? I confess a weakness for catchy, jaunty, usually sugar-saturated pop music. Maybe your song is crap, but I will fall for your hook anyway.

So Duncan Sheik has just released a new album, Daylight, which isn't crap by the way. I'm absolutely hooked on the first single, "On a High." (If you like, check out Duncan's site and you can hear the song in full and see the video, sparkly and colorful and set in a karaoke bar.) I love this song - I get this musical, fizzy rush that makes me start bopping my head and flailing my arms around. But this giddy ditty has a catch - it's about being in denial, of being really caught up in the rush of a relationship, a "conspiracy of happiness" that's really, well, just a high. But there are enough fluffy singles out there, so I'm quite happy to have a bit of edge in my sugar-pop.

Yours, &c., LC at 10:02 AM | Music

Saw Possession this weekend. Jeremy

Saw Possession this weekend. Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle are the stronger actors, though their roles are smaller. With Ehle, all the acting seems to radiate out of her eyes - the rest of her could be quite still. Jeremy also has lovely, poetic hair - not that Fabio-type stuff, but more like Shelley or Byron. I'm still rather peeved the film left out his bare chest, but perhaps that will appear in the deleted scenes on the DVD. Also caught My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Chockful of belly laughs - although thank goodness I didn't have these problems at my own (tiny, non-Greek) wedding.

I'm also really thrilled that Pete Sampras won the U.S. Open. I only wish I'd gotten to see the match.

Yours, &c., LC at 10:13 AM | Film/TV

September 10, 2002

Public Service Announcement

Join the EC E-mail campaign Katha Pollitt at The Nation has written an open letter that discusses the facts about emergency contraception (EC). The idea is to send around this link via e-mail, although you can also post it to your site or print out the letter and distribute it the old-fashioned way too. (Thanks Liz!)

Yours, &c., LC at 12:19 PM |

I'm trying to stay busy

I'm trying to stay busy and distracted, but the gnarled knot in my stomach has been with me now for days. Dashing through Penn Station this morning, there were small clusters of NYPD scattered throughout the crowd. Only to be expected. But it didn't help that I read the paper on the ride in - at least the Times doesn't have the screaming headlines of the daily tabloids. But the news is still ominous all the same.

I'm more bothered than I expected to be, and I have less reason than others who were actually in the city that day. I had a paper due for a class I was supposed to attend in the city that evening. My sister in Atlanta was the one to tell me the horrible news, and I wouldn't believe her until I turned on CNN.

Last year, we were all huddled around the television in the grad lounge, watching, barely breathing, let alone talking. There was a first-year in Scott's department among us, reassuring his mom on his cellphone. He's a really obnoxious pseudo-smartypants who had to leave after his first semester because his cancer re-emerged and he had to do chemo again. Naturally we hoped he'd get well and return to school. Well, he's now back, healthy, and he remains as pseudo and full of himself as ever. But at least he's still around to irritate everybody.

The others who have been mourned all this last year and who've never been forgotten by their loved ones will be remembered and honored by the rest of us tomorrow. Maybe the rest of the country needs to memorialize every milestone on the calendar, and watch and read everything out there, but for those who live here, it seems inconceivable that a year has already come to pass.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:15 PM |

September 11, 2002

Grieve today, grasp tomorrow.

That's what Bloomberg has said, according to a headline in the Times. We have to start thinking in the present and looking to the future, because there's a lot to do in the weeks, months and years ahead, one day at a time.

I kissed Scott three times before I got on the train this morning and told him I loved him and that I'd see him later. I'm wearing my New York armor - all black, and I see I'm not the only one. Not everyone is, and that's okay too.

My firm offered breakfast and had the television on for the ceremony downtown. I feel badly for the receptionist on our main floor who had to run the desk with another television on by the visitors' seating area. It's not like she had a choice of tuning that out. I went down and sat by myself for a little while, plate untouched, listening to the names recited. When Liz came in I went back to the conference room with her, thinking it wouldn't be good to hear those names alone. Here's her take.

It's hard to be here and work. I do a little at a time, then I check email or the news sites. I traded emails with my friend Julie, who'd interviewed for a job last year that would've been in the towers, but then there was a hiring freeze, for which I am grateful.

I'm making a list of all the things I want to do while I'm here both touristy and native. I truly regret not making it to the WTC observatory, although I remember the perfect blue sky and the bright, blinding sun shining down and gleaming off the towers as I crossed the great plaza to attend a closing or pick up theater tickets at the TKTS booth.

I was born here in the city, moved away as a kid, and now sojourn for a while longer. But my heart is here. This is the place I will always call home.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:07 PM |

September 12, 2002

Well, still here. Not that

Well, still here. Not that I really expected anything to happen - it was more preoccupation with the emotional weight of the day. I went about feeling as though there were invisible hands pressing down upon my shoulders. It was a gusty, blustery day - sunny, autumnal. The clouds flew by overhead, almost apocalyptically. There's a surreal image by James Estrin in the Times today - the dust at ground zero blew around the officers, firefighters and rescue workers who stood in an outer circle about an inner, circular memorial where people could leave flowers or other tokens. You could almost envision the spirits of loved ones swirling about to comfort those left behind.

(To view the image, go to the NYT site, click on "A Nation Challenged" and look for the multimedia links about the ceremony - you may have to register.)

Yours, &c., LC at 03:38 PM |

A Secret Marriage

Those letter-writing lovesick poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, were wed today in 1846. Barrett's father forbid his eleven children to ever marry - so when Elizabeth eloped with Robert, he disowned her and never acknowledged her existence again. Her brothers took the same stance, though her sisters soon came around.

Dunderheads. What a terrible, hypocritical demand, to forbid one's own children a chance at the happiness of marriage and family. Barrett rebelled against her father at the age of 39 - an age where she was considered a spinster at least a decade before. Here's to true love, to literary passion, fueled by nearly 600 letters and the poems they wrote for each other.

Yours, &c., LC at 06:35 PM | Writing & Language

September 14, 2002

The Friday Five! (late edition)

1. What was/is your favorite subject in school? Why?
English. I've always loved to read and discuss literature.

2. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Mr. Cicero, who taught my junior year of high school English. His hair was silver, and he wore light tortoiseshell reading glasses that were crescent-shaped - half-moon rims, I liked to call them. His low, melodic voice was a pleasure to listen to whenever he would read passages of some of the great American authors - Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Melville, Miller. He even made Hawthorne seem interesting. He engaged you - if you made an observation that he felt truly expressed the essence of a work, he'd look you in the eye, point your way and emphatically say "yes!" Each class seemed heady, intoxicating, as if these literary doors and windows were flung open just for us.

He won me early on. Over the summer I had read Russell Baker's Growing Up and was particularly struck by the chapter about his essay "The Art of Eating Spaghetti," where he first realized he could be a writer. Besides the typical papers and readings, we also had writing drills to prepare for the AP exam. For one of our first, I wrote about having just gotten a dachshund puppy, just to get something, anything, onto paper. The next class, he read it out loud, and my heart was in my throat - the experience seemed to echo Baker's when his own teacher read his words aloud to the class. To have Mr. Cicero find merit in my writing was a dizzying thrill. (Sadly, all I've got to show right now are a few poems and this blog.)

3. What is your favorite memory of school?
I have several:
On the first day of first grade, as my father walked me to school, I asked him where I would go to college. He truthfully answered that he didn't know.

Being a volunteer in the fourth and fifth grade and by turns annoying and amusing Ms. Segal, the school librarian. Later, in another school, another place, the library was my retreat from the agony of seventh grade - that was the year I discovered Anne McCaffrey and the joys of Harper Hall.

On the last day of Mr. Cicero's class, I got my fellow students to stand up on their desks - yes, like in Dead Poets' Society, damn it! I read the last passage from Whitman's Song of Myself ("I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world"). He was certainly surprised! Corny as hell, but heartfelt anyway.

4. What was your favorite recess game?
Red Light, Green Light. One person is "it" and while she counts with her back to us, the rest of us rush up as far as we can from our designated line, then freeze in position when "Red Light!" is called. We move again when she says "Green!" and try to reach to safety, while the "it" girl has to try and tag people out before they get there.

5. What did you hate most about school?
The feeling of not fitting in, because my family always moved just when I started to feel settled. The emotional and physiological angst of adolescence. People trying each other on for size as friends, then dropping some in favor of others. I was by turns a drama kid, an alternative/New Wave kid, student government, honor society...trying to figure out who I was, where I fit in and with whom. Never mind having unrequited crushes and thinking no one would ever want to go out with me.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:07 AM | Memes

September 16, 2002

Links a Go Go

The First Smiley Have you ever wondered how those ubiquitous smileys came into being? For those of us who aren't great enough writers to convey our tone through text, the variations of smileys have helped out tremendously. Well, through some diligent research, you can now witness the birth of the first smiley, as conceived by Scott Fahlman.

You Are Where You Live Type in your zip code, and see what lifestyle "clusters" or "segments" comprise your area. Turns out I'm sort of Great Beginnings or Upward Bound, but these descriptions aren't perfect fits.

Pop vs. Soda? Do you call it pop? soda? soda pop? Coke? Vote, and be heard on this vital matter of national trivia!

Yours, &c., LC at 05:20 PM |

September 17, 2002

There's a Ruby Tuesday near

There's a Ruby Tuesday near my apartment. Since last September it's had patriotic messages on its marquee - United We Stand, God Bless America, etc. So last week Scott and I drove by and there was a new message: We Remember the Heros of 9/11.

I know what they meant but I kept thinking hoagies and submarine sandwiches, because that's the kind of twisted thinking that pollutes my brain. It's since been corrected - we're guessing it was probably a teenager who put the letters up, but it just as easily could've been an adult who thinks "its" and "it's" are interchangeable.

Yours, &c., LC at 12:43 PM |

This-or-That Tuesday

Once again, Liz, my personal blog guru, finds more neat stuff for her blog that I in turn have to steal for my own. Good thing we're friends!

1. Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon?
I've passed through Portland, Oregon on a layover, so I guess I should stop by Portland, Maine someday. Outside the airport even.
2. New York or New Jersey?
Oh come on! New York! Even Ol' Blue Eyes, who hails from Hoboken and hated it, knew which was A Number One.
3. Van Gogh or Van Halen?
Van Gogh. Cutting off your ear is so much more original than an onanistic guitar solo.
4. Bill Clinton or Bill Gates?
Gosh, I dunno. Both could screw you over for money and power. But Clinton would at least pretend to care.
5. Leonardo daVinci or Leonardo DiCaprio?
daVinci, who led the true Renaissance life. DiCaprio's only given us Titanic.
6. "American Pie" or "American Idol"?
Neither - talk about American Crap!
7. George W. Bush or Curious George?
Curious George. A little monkey may sometimes forget, but at least he's not trying to ape his daddy by becoming President.
8. Billy Joel or Billy Idol?
Give me "Dancing With Myself" over "Piano Man" anytime!
9. Donny Osmond or Donald Duck?
Donny Osmond. He's still cute, he can still sing, and he knows he's supposed to wear pants out in public.
10. Dr. Seuss or Dr. Kevorkian?
Dr. Seuss. If you want your Theodore Geisel twisted, did you know he did propaganda animation in the 30s?

Yours, &c., LC at 06:01 PM | Memes

September 18, 2002

Ah, the perils of

image of Veruca Salt

Ah, the perils of the workplace - office politics, asinine rules, leftover food. I went to the coffee station to get a refill, and found a platter of cookies right there for the taking. I might have summoned the will to resist, but a chocolate white chocolate chip beckoned me, so richly dark and tempting against the pristine white surface of the platter. Half a second's hesitation, and it was mine. I was good enough to let Liz know of the available treasure trove, but only after I'd claimed the crown cookie, because deep down I aspire to be Veruca Salt, the uber-bitch from Willie Wonka.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:41 PM |

September 19, 2002

How about not watching?

> There's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about businesses like CleanFlicks and Trilogy Studios, who are out to sanitize movies for the prudes of America. It's fair use, I suppose, if you want to bowdlerize your own copy of Traffic for yourself or your kids (although why would you let your kids watch it if you feel it's inappropriate?), but to profit by stripping movies of their objectionable content and distributing them for sale or for rental to fellow small-minded people - hey, that's a violation of copyright, not to mention an act of censorship. One guy in the article justifies this activity by saying it's about "choice" and that "this is America." There are American laws protecting such rights - you don't have a choice of violating copyright for non-expressive purposes (i.e., parody). You can choose to view a film, as presented in final form, or not. (Hell, fast-forward for all I care.) You can wait for the sanctioned version to come out on television, but that's about all the choice you have without infringing on the rights of others to present their work as they choose.

I don't understand why people think there's a difference between splicing up a film and banning a book from a library. It's like literally ripping out pages, or blacking out lines of text. Is that really the American way?

Yours, &c., LC at 02:09 PM | Legal

September 20, 2002

The Friday Five

1. Would you say that you're good at keeping in touch with people?
So-so. I keep in touch with the people who mean a lot to me, and who keep up with me. But my turnout during the holidays is rather pathetic. I can't get to writing out my cards before New Year's, and so don't send out any. Hopefully this year will be different.

2. Which communication method do you usually prefer/use: e-mail, telephone, snail mail, blog comments, or meeting in person? Why?
In order:
e-mail - Easiest way to keep in touch; I think more clearly when I write.
meeting in person - E-mail only goes so far; there's nothing to cement true friendships than lots of big hugs.
telephone - Sometimes a gal just needs a good yak on the phone. That's yak as in chat, not the hairy mammal.
snail mail - Though I don't write in longhand enough, I still have a fondness for fine paper and pens, for interesting stamps and postmarks. Of late my correspondence has leaned towards occasions - my most important feelings to my friends are expressed in ink.
blog comments - Maybe it's because I'm still new to this, but blog comments strike me as the most informal. Sharing the occasional thought. If I'm really going to talk something over at length, the comment box doesn't seem the best fit.

3. Do you have an instant messenger program? How many? Why/why not? How often do you use it?
I do, but haven't used it in ages. I signed up with ICQ and Instant Messenger, because those were the ones my friends were on. My best chat partner was my friend Mark in England; I was able to set up ICQ on my laptop at work and we'd occasionally IM in the afternoons, while I was doing work and he'd just gotten home from his job.

4. Do most of your close friends live nearby or far away?
Far and away. We've all moved a lot, though it seems more of my friends are now on the West coast. I'd have to take some weeks off to properly visit everyone out there! Thankfully, our various methods of communication make the distance less of a burden.

5. Are you an "out of sight, out of mind" person, or do you believe that "distance makes the heart grow fonder"?
A bit of both, I guess. If we were only casual friends, then I'm out of mind to the other person as well. But my close friends - we might not get in touch for ages, but then we'll pick up right where we left off. But I know I need to make more of an effort - I don't want to be a "forward friend," where I merely send jokes as the extent of our interaction.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:19 PM | Memes

September 24, 2002

So Monday was my first

So Monday was my first day as a juror. Got up at 5 in order to catch a train to Brooklyn. While going through the security line there was an African man ahead who wore a fancy gold crown and a blue-and-silver paisley robe trimmed with golden lace and tassels. He was asked to remove the crown and robe for inspection. In the waiting room he got up to speak to the people behind the desk, eliciting comments and laughter. He left and didn't come back, so I expect His Highness must've gotten excused from service.

I wanted nothing more than to stretch out on the floor for a nap, having only gotten four hours of sleep. My name wasn't called and we got an hour and a half for lunch. I spent most of it outside the courthouse, munching on some pasta salad while watching a bunch of kids from a school throw balls and run around screaming with delight - boys, tomboys and girly girls who just walked around tossing their hair in their midriff baring outfits. They couldn't have been more than ten or eleven, so that was rather unsettling. (Naturally I was never that trendy or cool or self-possessed but I'm glad I did not have Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera for idols.) There was also a touch football game going on with a bunch of guys. I was surprised when I returned that most of the waiting room was filled up - you'd think everybody would have waited as long as they could before having to come back inside and squash up in those uncomfortable chairs again.

My name gets called in the afternoon, and by then I'm willing to leap out of my chair for a change of scenery. The courtroom is bland, chilly and quiet, so every sound you'd normally take little notice of is amplifed. People cough, stomachs rumble, and there's fierce, incessant whispers - mostly speculation and grumbling from people who think that just because they've watched Law & Order they know all about the legal system. I know most people aren't really happy to have to show up. Just being there, available for duty, is considered serving - perhaps the thrill of citizenship is too low-key for folks. But sheesh - you have to be there, you've got other things you'd rather be doing, blah blah blah. Well you're not the only one - just shut up already! During the brief recess I managed to change seats because the guys next to me - much older, who should've known better - whispered like mad and leaned their feat against the short wall separating us from the rest of the courtroom. Unfortunately I got stuck with some women on either side of me who kept whispering to themselves or to each other.

I wanted to skin myself alive.

So democracy grinds on. The case was boring as hell and I did not regret missing the chance to sit on that jury. I have to work today but I'm on call for the next two weeks. If I have to serve, let it actually be an interesting case. But my work experience tells me that most litigation is usually a variation on slow-burn boredom.

However - there was a big, bright plus to this day. While letting my mind wander in the waiting room, too tired to read the stuff I'd brought with me, I came up with an idea for a book, maybe something to do for NaNoWriMo. I scribbled two pages of notes, including a complete story line. This has never happened before - if anything, it would be lines of poetry crossing my brain. So I think I'd better do this, even if the result will be so fatuous that no one, not even Husband, will ever see it.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:47 AM |

This-or-That Tuesday

1. "Gone With The Wind" or "The Wizard of Oz"?
Oz rules! I've played both Toto (kindergarten) and a Munchkin (4th grade, with a disco soundtrack), seen the ruby slippers in person and now have "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on the brain. One of the first magical movie experiences for me, thanks to repeated viewings on television.

2. "Toy Story" or "Shrek"? Toy Story.
Funny and sweet. I guess Scottish ogres with ear wax aren't my thing.

3. "Saturday Night Fever" or "Grease"?
Grease is the Word! I actually saw these films as a double feature when I was a little kid. Olivia Newton-John was my idol, to the point where I told people my name was Sandra.

4. "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane"?
Rick and Ilsa. Thwarted romance. "Here's looking at you kid." *sob*

5. "When Harry Met Sally" or "You've Got Mail"?
WHMS - the scene in Katz's Deli - mortifying and yet hysterically funny. A better battle between the sexes, without the depressing corporate greed of the latter. YGM pales, although Meg Ryan has prettier, blonder hair in that one.

6. "Forrest Gump" or "Titanic"?
Ugh. Neither!

7. "Pretty Woman" or "Working Girl"?
Working Girl. Melanie Griffith is actually okay...and HELLO! - her leading man is Han Solo!

8. "The First Wives Club" or "Thelma & Louise"?
Haven't seen FWC, so Thelma & Louise, I s'pose.

9. "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" or "James & the Giant Peach"?
I've only seen Wonka, but I adore it. Gene Wilder is so wonderfully unhinged, the songs are terrific and Veruca Salt is hysterical. What's even more hysterical is how much Grandpa Joe pisses off my husband.

10. "Legally Blonde" or "Bridget Jones' Diary"?
Reese Witherspoon is spot on as the adorably dizzy but brainy blonde ("Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously deranged!") but BJD has more heart - a great adaptation of the book. My cinematic heart belongs to Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy/Mark Darcy. Hugh Grant is a delicious cad. Renee Zellweger rocks for putting on 30 pounds and the British accent. And of course, the divine kiss at the end and Colin Firth's snappy line is just perfect! I saw this four times in the theater, because I had to make sure all my friends didn't miss it, of course.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:23 PM | Memes

September 25, 2002


I'm tired and cranky and achy. Not enough sleep, eating at weird times of the day, pulling out next day's outfit from the laundry basket (clothes to be folded, so at least they're clean. Usually.) I was working on my legal research assignment during lunch and realized that we didn't have a certain set of reporters in print at work. So I'll be going to class, having already forgotten my textbook, now with incomplete homework.

Work has me in a funk too. I know that all I can do is a bit at a time and keep up with my various tasks. And yet I feel like I'm precariously sprawled on a Twister mat. We get new book acquisitions daily, there are all these invoices and statements I have to go through, and being the perfectionist I feel like I have to get it all done by myself. And then we get these periodic email reminders to keep our desks tidy. Yes, tidy. Between books and invoices there's barely room for a picture of my husband on my desk, so it's not like I've got doodads and knickknacks all over the place.

I'd like to tidy up my life in one fell swoop. But it's all about maintenance, upkeep.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:15 PM | Librariana

Reading is Fundamental

By the way, did you know we're in the middle of Banned Books Week? Check out the list of books challenged in 2001.

I read "Long in Dark, Afghan Women Say to Read Is Finally to See" in the Times the other day. The article discusses how women in Afghanistan are rushing to take literacy classes, because they were kept from education for so long, especially under the Taliban - below are a few quotes that moved me.

"I wanted to know something and help my children," said Mahgul, 45, a widow and mother of six. "I have no knowledge, and so I am not a useful person. If I can get some knowledge, I can help my children more."

"Without knowledge, I am blind; I do not know white from black," said Torpikay, 30.

I feel incredibly humble. I will never take being literate for granted, nor will I feel superior about it. (I will, however, feel free to rant when people should know better, like the NPR reporter who said "quicklier" the other day.) For contrast, keep in mind that this man is married to a former librarian. [Note - I don't know the source of the image, so it may well have been doctored. But a hoot nonetheless.]

Yours, &c., LC at 05:34 PM | Librariana | Comments (1)

September 26, 2002

Gah! To Brooklyn once more

Gah! To Brooklyn once more for jury duty. Let's hope I'm similarly fortunate, as I've been for the remainder of this week. Yes, I would actually prefer going to work.

Grr. Arrgh. Apparently I am the dread pirate Black Anne Bonney. My description: Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr! Find out your pirate name! (Thanks, Zeebah!)

Christopher Hitchens reviews the new biography on Byron. His introduction discusses the conversation between Anne and Benwick in Persuasion. I'm pleasantly surprised - when he's not spewing political polemics and constantly attacking anyone who questions his positions, Hitchens is a tolerable read.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:45 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)

September 27, 2002

Master of Minutiae dies at

Master of Minutiae dies at 103 Joseph Nathan Kane was the author of such librarian lifesavers Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries and Inventions in the United States, More First Facts and 1,000 Facts Worth Knowing. What a fascinating life of the mind he's had. R.I.P. Mr. Kane - I'm sure you're busy compiling facts from the great beyond.

Oh flubberduckies! You are such a puffenglooper! B.Y.O.D., or Build-Your-Own-Dictionary, is a site run by the editorial staff at Merriam-Webster - it encourages kids to submit invented words for this play dictionary. It's for completely for fun and gets kids to think about and play with language - although I wouldn't be surprised if someone mistook it for the real thing and tried to use these words anyway.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:56 PM | | Comments (1)