Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is risen, He is risen indeed!

One of my earliest Easter memories is of being tucked in my bed on Calle Guaymura, and my mother coming to my bedside, whispering in my ear, He is risen! I guess I was 9 or 10.

I just got off the phone with my Dad, who answered the phone, "He is risen." I responded with, "He is risen, indeed!" which is a tradition in many reformed tradition churches. It's one of the traditions that holds with Easter, and as a one who doesn't have many traditions to hold on to, I cling to this one for more than one reason.

I'll go to the Open Door for the 11 o'clock service, join some friends from church afterward, and then drive to O'Hara Township to spend some time (and Easter Dinner) with some friends from college. I only see these friends about once a year, but they are dear to me. They were not in college, but in their early thirties, but that is when I knew them. They weren't even dating when I first met them. I met Pat first, and Henry later. They were engaged and married before the end of my freshman year, and theirs was one of the first (if not the first) weddings I ever attended without my family. (And at the church where I want to get married, but BEFORE the renovation, so I remember the gray ceiling with chips of paint peeling off.)

Wow, that's not where I meant this post to go, better get back on track. My dad said that the year my mother was in the hospital, the first person that spoke to her on Easter was the woman coming around for payment for the newspaper. Did she say "Happy Easter"? my dad asked. "Are you kidding?" My father has a great way of telling stories, deepening his voice for effect for that last bit. I'll have to ask my mother more about that story. In some ways, that year is a locked box that is just now becoming opened, as the pain of losing Peter lessens, even for me.

(If you're new here, Peter was an angel baby. Born March 23, 33 years ago, so 1978. Wow. I would have had a 33 year old brother. He lived for about 20 days. It was Maundy Thursday, his birthday, that year.)

My dad and I talked about sunrise services, the ones at my grandmother's church in Washington. We'd meet at a tiny graveyard and the pastor, who was the man who baptized me as a baby and maybe the same man who married my parents, would blow his trumpet. And then we'd have Easter dinner at my grandmother's house and have lamb-shaped cake from her friend...whose name I've forgotten. Later years, we'd go to restaurants so that people didn't have to cook. A restaurant that was NEAR the Wayfarer. The Wayfarer, which is now gone. And no one lives in Washington anymore, even though at one time my great Aunt Margaret, my grandparents, and my Aunt P. and Uncle Klaus and their three kids (yes, right, my cousins.)

The other sunrise service I remember, a picture that I can see in my mind's eye, was across the street from the Union Church in Tegucigalpa. It overlooked the city and like Pittsburgh, the city was hilly, so it was a beautiful view.

I always say that Pittsburgh is the city of my childhood. It has the rivers (like Bonn) and the mountains (like Tegucigalpa.) I remember telling that to a new therapist once and she laughed at me. That was when I knew (though I had suspected) that she was not the therapist for me. I mean, you don't laugh at your clients. Laugh with them, maybe. But not at them.

As per usual, this post is going ALL over the map, and I don't just mean Central America, Europe, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh.

It's funny, I woke up this morning thinking it was Monday and crap, what time is it, I have a chiropractic appointment at 8:30, and I REALLY have to get writing, because my self imposed deadline for a draft of my paper is Saturday. I have written 3 pages front and back, but I have miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep. It took me a while to realize, um, no, I think it's Easter, and really, I had to check my phone to see if it was Sunday.

I went to a conference on zines yesterday afternoon. I did NOT fit in, in the sense that either I hadn't ever written (or really read) any zines, I didn't have a tattoo, or blue hair, or I hadn't written a book. (Two of the speakers had written books, and while I did bother her in the hall while she was texting, and I was ignorant of her book, I did think she was kind of rude...I mean, isn't one of the points of being at a conference to meet new people that might want to read your book? Or at least to meet with kindred minds? I do NOT want to read her book based on her personality, although I do, based on the subject matter.

(I mean, if you are Alan Rickman walking through a bookstore and someone walks up to you and says, "are you in movies?" I think you have the right to be rude, because, well, he is, a little bit, and I was a COMPLETE naif in that situation. But...I have to let it go.)

Because I've discovered that magazines are one of my "research interests." How lucky that the first bit of mine that will ever be published in a scholarly journal is ON magazines, how I fell into that opportunity. I am astonished at how Providence has lined up things for me. Even that I happened to read the City Paper on Thursday (which I rarely do) because I had left my book on the kitchen table and needed something to read while I ate dinner. And that the zine convention was listed on the front cover...I couldn't go in the morning b/c I had to supervise at work, but I was there for the afternoon, and it was amazing. These were people who cared about Sassy magazine (before it sold out, I mean in terms of publishing quality) and I'd heard the librarian (with blue hair, jello blue, not granny blue) from Barnard speak before...perhaps when I heard Leonard Marcus speak for the first time in Chicago, at the American Library Association conference, that would have been 2005.

Back to the zine conference...there was one amazing moment, when someone asked about cataloging zines and there we were, looking at one of her MARC records, talking about 650s, and 655s (subject headings, genre headings) and I was in librarian HEAVEN.

Afterwards, I still had time before the Pitt Library School Library closed at five, so I browsed the bound periodicals. Found a bunch of cool articles. Which meant that my brain was not dead at five, and so I chose to go to the Sharp Edge for dinner, and after dinner, I sipped my water and composed a grocery list and then WENT grocery shopping.

(This is pretty amazing, folks. By the time Saturday evening comes, I am so brain dead I generally curl in a ball and watch TV)

Well, time to get ready for church. And, um, eat something. Ta!

OH, OH. But first, if you want, visit this link for a trip down mem'ry lane -- Anita Silvey spotlights The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes in her Almanac.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sarah Louise goes to the cafe

Apparently, I am not having luck with the e part of cafe. (Alt +0233 doesn't want to do its magic today.)

Learning, learning. I'm not going to fuss over it now, I'm actually writing this from a national chain cafe that has wireless!

Why, you ask, the exclamation point? Don't you do that all the time, SL?

Why no. This may be my first time...I'm pretty sure it is. We are experiencing Pittsburgh spring, which means 75 F by morning, 45 F by evening, showers with hail somewhere in between. It's why Channel 11 calls their weather forecast "Severe Weather." Since I live in a garret (read: third floor walk-up, attic of a 100 year old house with precious little insulation), the heat is abhorrent and today is NOT the day to be in my apartment, washing dishes. So I must find another occupation.

I've been thinking, as per usual. These days, my favorite subject to obsess over is grad school. Will I be in the Midwest, Texas, or the South? (Texas is South, but also a place unto itself.)

I am not naming school names on purpose, so please don't comment on them if you know where I'm talking about. I really really want to go to the Midwest, as the school in question is highly regarded in research...which is what I want to do.

I play a game with myself when I'm at work on the reference desk and it's quiet. What would it be like to live in x town, going to x school? So I've been researching the professors. What have they published lately, what projects are they interested in. Because apparently that is the most important component in getting into a particular school. Do your research interests match theirs.

All along, I was thinking Midwest, and then my main research interest changed. And then I found out how competitive PhD programs are in general, and this one in particular. And then I got scared and opened to the Southern schools (yes, including Texas.) I am not a warm weather lover, and our family is more a Northeast/Midwest family, so I hadn't really thought I wanted to change that. (A creature of habit, I am.)

The thing is, the more I try on other places, the more I want to go to the Midwest, and the more I am valuing the things studied there.

Learning for learning's sake seems somehow frivolous, to a daughter of a diplomat and a early elementary teacher, who are now both retired and advocating for the conservancy of monarch butterflies. Those are noble professions, with results that can be seen, after a few years, or decades. What is the tangible good of studying St. Nicholas magazine, which hasn't been published since the 1940s? But it is what I want to do. Digging, and digging more, makes me happy, as I find bits here, bits there.

And, I think, if I can get that coveted PhD, get an academic post, maybe my students will be the ones that will do the "practical" jobs. Maybe I will do something that will bear fruit in decades.

Following your bliss is scary.

(Oh, look, it's 11:17!)

Um, SL, yes, do you have to be somewhere?

No, not yet. But the home my parents owned for most of my life was 1117 "something" Avenue. And when ever it was 11:17, one of us would exclaim, it's 11:17! It's a silly thing, but it made us happy.

Outside, the clouds are moving across the sky. The rain isn't posted till the evening, but I can't believe it will wait that long, there feels like weather is in the air. To be prepared, I am not wearing my good shoes, they are inside my boots which are in the front seat of my car.

Back to research. While it seems frivolous, there is a reason why libraries exist, above doing preschool storytime. And if research is what makes me putter like a...puttering person, happy as a lark, and there are places I can do this...and my research will make me a scholar, which will in turn make me able to mold young's a lot to twist your mind around, a girl who saw library school as an opening to a profession, much like going to plumbing school makes you a plumber.

To go to study? That's what undergrads do. That's what my English degree was for. But now I, single and needing to support myself, must find something more practical, which is why I became a librarian. But it turns out that I'd much rather be DOING research than helping others do research (although I enjoy that too.)

I need to bend my brain around the fact that it is possible my dissertation will never be a published book beyond the university library...that it will not aid the cure of Polio, solve an economic crisis, or save an endangered species.

But haven't the women I always admired been women who had doctorates? That's another post...I have somewhere to be, my alarm on my cell phone just went off.

As Kim at All Consuming says, MTC (more to come...)