Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Monday movie madness (Wednesday edition) and is the Internet making us stupid? (FB to blog)

Monday Movie Madness, *Wednesday edition.* After 3 jam-packed days at PALA (PA library conference), today was filled with laundry, learning about Skype, grocery shopping and paying bills. 

So, to round it out, I spent 93 minutes sitting in a dark theater. I went to see "Enough Said," which made me laugh and cry and laugh some more. B, don't know if you will like it, as there were awkward moments, but you might. In the theater, we were all shouting at the screen, which is one of the wonderful things about going to the movies with a bunch of strangers in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. 


So...after a weekend at PALA where everything internet was touted as all wonderful and the wave of the future and YOU MUST JOIN, it was refreshing to listen to the following debate show on Q with Jian Ghomeshi. So far, it's 50/50, as to whether the internet makes you smarter or dumber. 

I loved hearing from the twentysomething father who has taken his family back to 1986, complete with "hockey hair," as described by Jian.

Q debate special: Is the internet making us smarter or stupider? 


EXHAUSTED. The end. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Agreeing with Neil Gaiman...on libraries.

This is fascinating. I knew there were studies saying fiction made you more empathic, and I know avid readers who are jerks, so I was wondering about that.

But this is about innovation. Apparently, in China, they were missing out on innovation. (Really?) And they did a study. Well, I'll let Neil tell it:

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Yeah. Stretching your imagination helps you innovate.

Read the rest here. It's good stuff. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Agreeing with Roger Sutton...

This was going to be a comment on Read Roger. There's a study out there about "literary literature" being better for you than "popular fiction." But my comment got too wordy and I lost my nerve. But I'll post it here:

Studies are interesting animals. There is one out there that two cups of hot chocolate will fight dementia. Oh, and another one that fish oil actually ISN'T good for brain health. Well, I'm not going to start on two cups of hot chocolate a day (I think my cardiologist and waistline would protest) and I'm not going to stop taking fish oil, which does other wonderful things.

I used to think that reading made you a better person, but I have discovered that it only makes you a more interesting person to other people who read.

When I was a girl, I had a teacher who clucked her teeth that I read lots of Nancy Drew. She thought I should read harder books. But the reading that I did then? Was for escape. To get me out of my life. I actually remember some of the Nancy Drew plots MORE than some of the "literary fiction" that won awards. And I did read other books. I enjoyed BOTH Nancy Drew and Newbery Award Winning books. When I was a children's librarian, I always told parents, (especially the ones who thought Junior should be reading Anna Karenina at age 8), "Children read two levels below their reading level for recreational reading. And you WANT them to read recreationally, because it's the only way they will stay readers for the rest of their lives."

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Stolen (and slightly embellished) from my FB postings. This is a safer place to keep them...

The New York Times has published an article, saying that branch libraries could be our refuge from the next storm.

Of course I love this idea, as a librarian. But it makes *a lot* of sense. More disasters will come. A personal story: when a power outage wiped out a lot of houses near the Barnes & Noble where I worked in Virginia, the bookstore was teeming with people coming in from the cold. This was before wifi was something people even knew about. But we had chairs, coffee, and books, and our heat was working.

From the article: "The New York Review of Books, apropos the closing of neighborhood libraries in London, libraries are 'the only thing left on the high street that doesn’t want either your soul or your wallet.'"


Thinking of other "power" readers as I plow through a book I never thought I'd consider reading after the disaster that was Eat Pray Love: Elizabeth Gilbert's novel is GOOD. Maybe she should stick to fiction? LAF, Babelbabe, are you/have you read it? I'm halfway through. Of course, my father and I could discuss it b/c he'd read the book review. (My father is like the character Tom in the movie "Metropolitan," who only reads book reviews.)

The title is forgettable though. I had to just google it to get the link, below:

Oooh, but this link describes her research, which is what I'm interested in.  

And b/c I can't shut up about a book that could still disappoint me b/c I'm only halfway through, I'd like to point out that Eliz Gilbert has been publishing for 20 years!! So when she was "given" the book proposal money to go do Eat Pray Love, people in publishing knew she had the chops. If you haven't read EPL, I recommend ONLY reading the Italian part (Eat) b/c it really is lovely. 

(Which is why I hated the book in the end, b/c the Pray and Love parts were hideous, in my humble humble opinion.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ducks and author sites...and other news

I have not been down to da Point to see da Duck, but @janepitt has. Here is her Instagram of "Pittsburgh Duck", which I adore.

(Watch this space for pictures, the Duck is here in town for a month.)

Author websites, pro or con? I think Sara Zarr and Anita Silvey have proven that they can be done well and support the author's goals. The first time I googled Sara Zarr, I landed on her blog/site, and I have been in love ever since. She has changed the site with the times of her life, but I respect the hell out of that. Anita Silvey, author of the Children's Book-a-day Almanac, started her book as a blog. I can't remember when I discovered her, but we started tweeting back and forth and she shared some really fun stories about some librarians and publishers I was researching.

In other news, I'm back in the hunt for a car. A Jeep Cherokee hit the rear of my Hyundai Sonata and 9 days later the insurance adjuster said "eh, that's a total loss." It's Sunday in Pennsylvania, and you can't buy a car because of lingering Blue Laws. I'm grateful. I get to not worry about a car today. Tomorrow is soon enough. I'll change rental companies ($20/day vs. $24.50/day adds up), and my car is only paid by the insurance company through end of business tomorrow.

My mom may show up for dinner. She is one of the busiest non-employed people I know, but when she heard about my "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day" on Friday, she offered to MAYBE come this evening through tomorrow afternoon. I hope she does.

That's it for now. Time to get ready for church.

Monday, August 12, 2013

living the questions, now (Rainer Maria Rilke-ish)

I have a friend that reminds me when I forget.

Today, I groaned that all I did this summer was go to work and come home to watch Bones. She reminded me that I had done so much more.

There's something so personal about a personal blog, and there are some things I'm not ready to write about here. Anyways, if you know me, you know that this has been one of the hardest summers of my life, if not the hardest.

So instead, I will write a litany of who I am like, similar to an older post, where I list the things I say to myself, circa 2007.

I am like Skeeter, writing, not knowing if my writing will ever be read, writing, knowing that it is dangerous, wanting so hard to get out of the life I'm living, but not knowing how. Writing, just writing, and more writing. All the while, wondering if Hilly will find out the truth, and what that might mean. I'm also Minny, thinking that truth is so wonderful, and that I want my story to be told. A bit of Abileen, thinking that I'm done with new things. (from The Help)

I am like Dicey, in Homecoming, in Dicey's Song, and the other Tillerman cycle books.

“What do you do when there’s nothing you can do,” Gram said. “I dunno, I do something else,” Dicey said. (from Dicey's Song)

I am like Anne, who is thrilled to learn that tomorrow is a fresh day with no mistakes in it. (from Anne of Green Gables)

I am like Pollyanna, who actually was a rather impish girl, not as boring as she sounds, playing the glad game. Why be glad someone sent you crutches instead of a doll? Well, be glad that you don't need the crutches. (from the book bearing her name.)

I am like Erin Brockovich, who sees a wrong and will not stop until something is done. (from the movie bearing her name)

I am like Carrie, trying to figure out love and lust and friendship. How does one sort out being a woman, find a good man, some good friends? (from Sex and the City)

I am like Brennan, nose in a book, missing the social cues. I am like Angela, after her boyfriend died in the desert, wondering if I'll ever find love again. (from Bones)

And I am me. Resilient, and not so delicate that I cannot change. But oh, how I resist it. Same same same, I say to all the good things that will not stay in my hands, like water through a sieve. Different, and now, I say to all the bad things that make me want to stay on my bed forever. But do not be deceived, dear ones. I have done so much more than stay on that bed. And I will do so much more again. Life doesn't slow down.

Tonight I walked the around reservoir. I hate to tell you that I was so tired that I sat down at every other bench, just about. But as I sat and walked, sat and walked, I thought of these women. And I did walk a mile, even if it took forty five minutes, because I kept sitting down to rest.

My mother would look at this list and also add Susan B. Anthony. So there you go. Go and do likewise. I'm just going to rest here for a moment.

Maybe I'll come back and link up the titles to Amazon or a library or something. Maybe I won't.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Twitter jail can be a good thing...

Until this afternoon, I had no idea who Hugo Schwyzer was. But I immediately recognized the anguish as I read a little bit of his Twitter feed today. Bipolar disorder is real. It is also highly treatable, but it often takes forever to get diagnosed. So in the middle, you can screw up a lot of things. But recovery is real. My life and the lives of many others are a testament that medications and therapy work.

I did a little research, and found this great quote from Sinead O'Connor, talking to Oprah about her experience with bipolar disorder: "Anything is an improvement when you've been in desolation, but it doesn't mean you don't have lumps & bumps."

Hugo's last tweet shows that he is moving in the right direction:

"I'm going to be giving my laptop to my family tonight so I can more effectively stay offline."

Best of luck, Hugo. It sounds like you have hurt a lot of people, but it also sounds like you are moving towards a healthier place. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sarah Louise's playlist for a rainy day

1. Bring on the rain (Jo Dee Messina and Tim McGraw) I remember reading that Jo Dee wanted this to be a generic song, not a particular calamity. I love this song.

2. Every storm runs out of rain (Gary Allen). This summer has been a lot of trouble. And I keep thinking, "every heartache will fade away, just like every storm runs out of rain."

3. I love a rainy night (Eddie Rabbit.) I remember listening to this song, circa 1980, on my radio that was in the stomach of a stuffed animal dog. It's strange to me that my siblings were not even born, that a lot of people weren't even born when this amazing song came out. This song always makes me smile.

4. Raindrops keep falling on my head (B.J. Thomas) There was a radio show when I lived in Bonn, and I remember listening to it on Saturday mornings. and "Raindrops" was the theme song. I liked making up extra lyrics to it.

5. The Sunny Side of the Street (Tony Bennett, this version) My mom played this on the piano a lot. It's just another song that I know by heart. There is no recording that I like of this song, b/c I know it from singing it, not listening to it.

6. Here comes the rain again (Eurythmics) No joke, when I went to the Sting/Annie Lennox concert (maybe 2003?), Annie Lennox started singing this song and it started raining. My friend M and I spent a great deal of the concert in the ladies room where it was at least dry. My brother drove up from (not sure where he was in 2003) for the concert. We had lawn seats, but he pretty much sat outside for the concert. Sting butchered some old Police favorites. So, yeah, no great memories for that concert, but this song sticks out.

7. Rainy days and Mondays (The Carpenters) This song makes me think of the movie About a Boy. I had heard of the song before seeing that movie, but I'm not sure I had heard the song. 

8. (You make me feel like a) natural woman. (Carole King) My senior year of h.s., I had a crush in on this guy and I told my friends that he made me feel like a natural woman. It was an innocent crush, so it wasn't meant in the earthy sense, just that I felt like a girl around him, the way a girl feels. (Sorry, my words aren't working...but just gooey and flirty and nice.) This song opens with "Looking out on the morning rain." I had two Carole King albums that I bought at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I listened to them over and over and over. I know them by heart.

9. I won't last a day with out you (The Carpenters) The lyric that gets me in this song is "When there's no getting over that rainbow, when the smallest of dreams won't come true..." I just love this song.

10. Somewhere over the rainbow (Judy Garland) This one is another one that I don't have a favorite recording. I remember my friend N. singing it at the senior's luncheon the year we graduated from college. I actually think I saw the movie Under the rainbow (a bizarre comedy) before I ever saw the Wizard of Oz. (I lived overseas. We didn't have the Wizard of Oz coming on TV every year.) Also, I remember going to the movies with my parents to see Michael Jackson in the Wiz.

I started thinking about playlists this morning while listening to the Saturday Light Brigade. Two teachers talked about "playlists" and how to cross over to history by asking what would your grandchildren think about the songs on your playlist right now, what would it teach them about who you were and the time you lived in. Voices across time, a project of the Pitt library system and the Stephen Foster Memorial, looks at songs over history and exactly what songs our grandparents listened to, and what we can learn from them.

The songs on this list are songs that I heard on the radio when they were popular, or sang them from a song book, or songs that I discovered by buying an old record or listening to standards on the radio. They all have their own place in time, as well as a place in my own timeline, in or out of chronological time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some stuff I found this week: 7/15/13-7/19/13

Tuesday, 7/16:

Household bill binder (I used to do this...)

Household chores binder (might work...)

Menu planner binder (hmmm...)

Cool free library benches in NYC (thanks to PopGoesTheLibrarian)

Duquesne professor helped with Cuckoo book (Rowling)

Sidney Crossbrick (a model of Sidney Crosby in Legos) 

Writing Women back into history: from the Brooklyn Museum about Wikipedia and the Dinner Party Installation.

Race (writing about it, audio) by Mitali Perkins

Why Librarians are needed more than ever in the 21st century (from Boing Boing

The beauty of eating at the bar (from the Atlantic) I love eating at the lunch counter at a pharmacy near the library. Marian the librarian and I used to go twice a week. With my schedule as it currently is, I often go 4 times a week.

Friday 7/19

Best 15 Red Carpet Dresses, EVER. (from Elle

Young Evangelicals are Getting High (Church, that is)

The mother of all grief (Washington Post) about Trayvon Martin and mothers.

Dirty Dancing is 25 plus years old. Found this article on xoJane. Article may have triggers for some.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some stuff I found this week...


I need to keep my stuff in a better place than Facebook, Twitter, and (used to) on Delicious.

This was a really good reminder: "stop writing meaningful things on Facebook."

Also, a friend of mine was looking for something I posted. I'm hoping perhaps I actually sent it in an email.

This is something I read about "Women's Pages." Medium is becoming one of my favorite places.


"[Tootsie] was never a comedy for me." Dustin Hoffman in AFI video:

A notebook company that has a blog about people that use their notebooks. Now that is something I can sink my teeth into:

Also, yesterday, a friend posted this on FB about the contents of Prince's refrigerator. The internet again is interesting.

A TED talk that I need to watch, but don't have time for at the moment, about identity.

What makes you put a good book down? (from GoodReads)

Why do kids' books matter? Here, look. (Backs up all my Florida research...) (Leonard Marcus' curated exhibit at New York Public Library.) 

It's Frustratingly rare to find a novel about women that's not about love. I thought, what about Anne of Green Gables? Oh, Gilbert.

Twitter Help Center, Advanced Search. good to know.

Tweet from Bruce Reyes-Chow: "Gets at some of the complexities, "The Torch We Pass On: Asian Generation X-ers and the Millennials" via

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

For Beth, some of the highlights

Red Winged Blackbirds (about my senior year of college and other thoughts)

The King of Love my Shepherd is (about being diagnosed bipolar, and other thoughts)

Comments on Comments (one of my favorite posts.)

For Erin, because I said I would (about a verse I love.)

Women never dine alone (well, I disagree.)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

"Let them eat cupcakes!"

(Sarah Louise)

This post is about cupcakes. I had dinner with a dear friend and his wife this week and I explained the rules of cupcakes, so far. Since I invented the "cupcake game" as it were, I get to make the rules. And they change, to my delight, like Calvinball, the game Calvin played with his stuffed tiger, Hobbes.*

Cupcake rules

  • Cupcakes can only be given to others, not to oneself.
  • I can share a single cupcake with someone, or a plate of cupcakes. 
  • If I share half a cupcake, the other person's cupcake can become a whole cupcake, like a starfish with a new limb. This probably also works with half a plate of cupcakes, but has never been expressed as such, yet.
  • Cupcakes become the favorite flavor/color/style of the person receiving the cupcakes.
  • Cupcakes have no calories/sugar/other things that adults avoid to be "healthy." 

I started giving cupcakes because of my friend, Holly, who was always making them, or looking at pictures of them. It sort of became a thing I gave away on Twitter, when anyone was having a bad day. I figure, not everyone likes to hear "I'm praying for you," and it's not always appropriate. But I haven't met anyone (yet) that doesn't like an imaginary cupcake. Well, actually, I do give Sara Zarr cheese, since she can't eat cupcakes. I generally give her wheels of gouda.

Anita Silvey is known for her hats. If I'm known for my cupcakes, well, that just makes me smile.

Little known facts: I don't eat actual cupcakes very often. I haven't actually made cupcakes in my apartment stove since I started giving them away on Twitter, circa a few years ago. I have sent actual cupcakes to events, (well, at least one event) and I have eaten cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery in New York. Funny story. The next to last day in Florida, I popped into the Gainesville Junior League Thrift Shop. They had an "I heart NY" shirt, but instead of a heart, it was a cupcake. The back said "Magnolia Bakery." I figured, if the shirt fit, I had to buy it. And I did. So I ate cupcakes in New York, but I had to go all the way to Florida to get the shirt.

*of course there is a Calvin and Hobbes Wiki. (The internet is full of people of whimsy.) 

Friday, May 17, 2013

If it's Friday, it must be Florida...and everything new is old again.

In my world, the weekend is Sunday/Monday. In my world, I do errands on the way home from work. I climb three flights to my apartment, and crash, generally watching Bones or Frasier re-runs on DVD. In my world, I drive my car 30 minutes to work, 30 minutes home. In my world, I spend my day at a desk surrounded by things that belong to me or to the library, and I can go to the bathroom or get a drink of water at my leisure. I can even have a drink on my desk. I have the internet on in the background at all times, so that I can quickly check Twitter or email, and/or listen to Pandora internet radio.

In this new temporary world, my weekend is Saturday/Sunday. I live on the tenth floor. I ride an elevator down to the lobby or up to my apartment, which is not a glorified studio, it *is* a studio. Everything is right here. I have a balcony and when I look outside, I can only see the parking lot or trees, or the hospital a few miles away. I cannot see the street. The microwave is different. The freezer is TINY, no room to buy frozen foods. My freezer holds frozen broccoli, exactly two freezer pops, one ice cube tray, and can only fit the small one serving Haagen-Daaz ice cream. I ate the second and last one last night.

In my temporary world, I have access to an amazing Christian music radio station. This morning I got to listen to an in-studio TWO hour interview/chat with Amy Grant, listening to her tell the stories behind each track on her new album. I am eating dinner at home tonight so that I can buy her new album when I go to Target tomorrow. I take the bus to campus, which means there have been days when I haven’t even gone ANYWHERE in my car. Wednesday was the first time I put gas in my car since May 3.

It is wonderful to be in Florida, doing research using children’s books. My pet peeves? having to ring a doorbell every time I come back from the bathroom? The fact that I can't have a glass of water (any water) next to me as I work? I can only have these things on the table where I research: my notebook, a pencil, my camera, my phone, and four books at a time. These are small inconveniences that I will soon forget once I return to my world in Pittsburgh, where I don’t have daily access to chapbooks made for children in 1843. Signed copies of Maurice Sendak books. Conversations with people who care deeply about saving and talking about these things.

It’s one of those “on the one hand, on the other hand” situations, until  you run out of hands. I am here to research. If I can do some fun things, see some people, that is icing on an already rich (but hard working) cake. I am using my vacation time to enrich my life. This fellowship is meant to be a stepping stone to whatever my next step is in life.

I was incredibly homesick until yesterday. A switch flipped and this morning, I thought, I am *so* incredibly blessed to be here, now. But it’s still lonely. But I've been lonely before. That is one of the few "not new" things about this adventure.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-19, KJV)

I am trying to aim myself in that general direction. Every once in a while, it shines through.

Friday, May 10, 2013

TGIF (Friday); TGIF (Florida)

Went to lunch with the curator (SA) of the Baldwin collection and my faculty adviser (JC), who is in the English Dept, with a focus on Children's Lit. (Swoon.)

Today, twice was outside when the bells rang, they ring at the 15 minute intervals of the hour. Also, got a picture of a bird. My first picture of an animal (fauna) to balance out all the pictures of plants (flora). 

Today was the first day that I actually had personal conversations with people, as opposed to professional ones. And I got to go with SA to the Library West, where we found a few books I wanted for my project and then browsed the DVDs. They are in the order of purchase, so TOTALLY RANDOM. I picked up a copy of "Sense and Sensibility, b/c *what a great movie,* right? Also, 2 episodes of "The Prisoner" which SA says is amazing. Also, "Pan's Labyrinth," which might make me sob uncontrollably. Oh, and the documentary on the Dixie Chicks, called "Shut up and sing." I adore them.

Right now, I am listening to my "Girl from Ipanema" station on Pandora. It calms me down. I lived in Belem du Para for the first two years of my life while my dad was the Consul General, and my first word(s)? were in Portuguese. The house boy adored me. I love hearing stories about that stuff, who doesn't love hearing they were an adorable baby, and adored?

I miss the Book Nook at work, where I get my daily decaf for $1.00 and talk to the volunteers, who love hearing about my life. They are like having at least 5 extra Grandmas, since there is a different volunteer each day I work. SN said when her sister was in college, there was a guide for off-campus students called "where to find free coffee on campus." I don't know that there is a coffee area at the Baldwin. I guess that's to find out next week.

Goal this weekend: to make real macaroni and cheese, in the oven. NOM. (My freezer is teeny tiny, so buying frozen dinners at Trader Joe's seems silly. Although SN did say they probably won't go bad if you put them in the fridge. Still, I want to bake. Baked macaroni came to me like a vision as I walked to the bus. There goes my stomach, time for pita chips and hummus. Trader Joe's, you save me. (Not more than JC, but you know what I mean.)

Keys: SA, curator. JC, faculty member at UF, SN, my BFF, JC, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The red winged blackbird...and love.

Once upon a time, a college senior lived on the freshman floor of a women’s dorm, in a single room. This was the same girl who dreamed of her senior year being full of memories with her two friends, sharing a suite in the cottages at the edge of campus. Not so much after both girlfriends got boyfriends over the summer and sleepovers ensued. One friend slept over at her boyfriend’s dorm room, the other’s boyfriend slept across the hall from me.

It was the year I made a sign in markers, each letter a different color: “Change is the only constant.” And how true it was. Change happened in the death of a drama student by electrocution, Fall Weekend. That same day, in a New Jersey hospital bed, my grandfather breathed his last breath. I still have the belt I purchased at a store in Union Station, Washington, D.C., on the way home to my parent’s house in Rye, New York. The belt may never fit again, but it holds the memory of the day I wandered around Union Station, before everything changed.

Because after that, it wasn’t just our classmate and my grandfather. It was Ray’s grandparents, all four of them. Not all at once, you understand. Grandparents die. But then it was freak accidents, brothers and mothers and children dying in car crashes. It was as if Voldemort had come back and the sky was dark every day. Except that none of us had ever heard of Voldemort. This was 1992, after all.

In the spring, a new year, 1993, when I lived in my nun-like existence, I often took walks around the small college town. My favorite place was just beyond the trailer park, an area of the river where cat tails and other kinds of reeds grew. I would locate the red-tailed blackbird, and everything would be alright.

Today, I woke up early, and it seemed only fit to take a walk.

I came across a broken egg, yoke and all, on the walk around the reservoir and looked up. Two more women stopped by and we ascertained that it was probably some kind of hawk. One of the women had been a close friend, about ten (more?) years ago. And I just wanted to talk, maybe to walk with them, tell her how excited I was, that I’m off to Florida in a few days, and before I knew it, she and her walking companion were gone.

Snubbed. Alone, again, naturally…like the old British lyric.

And as I walked along, taking pictures of cherry trees (there must be more than five kinds of cherry tree up at the reservoir), I took out my broken heart. And I took more pictures. And I counted how many benches Mr. and Mrs. Richard Fisher have paid for—EIGHT!  

[this is where there would be a picture of one of the benches, with a plaque, reading, “Mr. and Mrs. Richard Fisher.”]

And as I walked to my car, an old man with a dog chatted me up, wanting to know was I taking pictures and not asking exactly why, but wondering in his conversation. Had I grown up here? Did I live nearby? This was a man who could not conceive of taking pictures for the beauty of the day, only for the memory. And so I explained it in terms he might understand. I’m going away for a bit and all this will be gone, all the flowers will be different, when I return. Where are you going? Are you moving away? He was an old man, caught in the past, not seeing the beauty, wanting to talk about the year the deer ate all the tulip bulbs. His dog was cute, it was the kind with a beard—a Scottish terrier?

This man, to me, was Pittsburgh. Living in the year things went badly. Expecting young people to be moving away for a job. There was no joy in his step, only duty.

I’m not being fair, you realize. Pittsburgh is also young and adventurous and musical and very very artsy. But if you’ve lived here any time, (twenty years, give or take?) you realize that there is this Eeyore quality. “If you ask me, and nobody ever does.”

But I’ve drifted away from the red winged blackbird.

I decided that though I no longer wanted to walk around the reservoir (I didn’t want to bump in to HER and her friend), I’d walked my mile and I was tired, that I’d drive down to Lake Carnegie. Its name makes me chuckle, because it is no lake. It’s a pond, that Andrew C. himself paid for, to be a sort of reservoir before the technology existed to have the double reservoirs we now have. But Lake Carnegie it is. The mallards live there in the winter. And who did I see among the reeds? My old friend, the red winged blackbird. Reminding me of another time when I felt snubbed, and that I got through that time as well.

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in. (Edwin Markam)

I had this on my study carrel in the library. My friend Rachel had it on the door of her dorm room. For today, it is enough. And I will write on my friend’s Facebook page, “So nice to see you at the reservoir this morning.” And I will post the pictures I took, pictures I was able to take because I was on my own, with my own thoughts. Not a bad place to be.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Good night Irene, Good night, Good night Irene, Good night...

It's past my computer's bedtime.

I've been sitting here, for the past half hour, reading old posts on my blog, posts from 3 years ago, in March 2010, when I was doing the Artist's Way with some folks from the Open Door.

Times have changed since then. Boy have they changed. More on that later. (And yet, they haven't changed, and I have but haven't changed...)

But this is what brought me to the March entries, a quote I've cherished since college: "Madness is never just madness. It is a way of coping when sanity will no longer do." (Renita Weems, in Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology.)

Take a trip back to 2010. You are all there: Helen, and Holly, and Katy, and Badger, Lemony Sarah, and even Anonymous.

Tonight I watched Housekeeping, which is an odd little movie, one you would never ever call cute. (I HATE it when people say a movie is cute. A kitten is cute, a baby is cute. A movie, is never, in my book, cute.) It's based on a novel by Marilynne Robinson, who is a hero of a writer to our family. My cousin knows her personally, and many of us have at least shaken her hand. We've all read Gilead, which is better as an audio for the first read at least, and a lot of us have read her other books. I don't know if anyone has read Housekeeping, although I bet my cousin has. It was her first published novel.

The movie reminds me of an Australian movie from the same time period (1980s) that is a really famous Australian movie about a girl whose biological mother happens upon her. I'll have to troll around to see if I can find out what it's called. High Tide. You have to be in the right frame of mind for these movies, because they are life affirming, but have sadness. Best seen either in a theater (if you dare, and I don't, these days) or found by flipping channels on a Sunday afternoon. I had enough "umph" in me tonight to watch Housekeeping on DVD. I think I might watch it again before I return it, now that I know how it ends. (I won't tell.)

Oh my goodness, these two movies were made in the same year!! (1987.) They really are like twins, or mirror's too late to go into WHY right now, but I guess an orphaned girl finding an adult woman that is a little strange, but who loves her...and in one movie it's the girl's aunt, and in the other, it's the girl's biological mother.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This morning I started a new devotional by Joyce Rupp, Open Door. I have gone through her devotional The Cup of Life twice, and was hoping for something new, but similar. I'm already a little disappointed and it's only the first day of six weeks. (My standards are high.)

But she asked what kind of door was our heart. And in my mind, I saw a summer porch, with a screen door. And that seemed to fit. Because I don't like surprises, for the most part. So a door where there are two steps, the screen and the door, getting to me is a two part process, after you've rung the bell. (I am, as everyone who knows me will agree, high maintenance.) Chuckle.

I slept ten hours last night. One of those hours meant that I missed the very last minute of Bones at 8:56ish. I woke up to the new show with Kevin Bacon, The Following, which I'm sure is great TV, and I adore Kevin, but looks much too violent for my taste.

Yesterday I went to the movies. I saw Quartet, which I had first heard about at the Golden Globes and then a friend from Twitter recommended it when I was moaning about the wasteland of movies. (January-February are typical wastelands, due to the awards schedule. All the movies up for awards are still, or back in the theaters, and movies that producers don't care about as much are opened in January. See: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, see Hot Tub Time Machine.) [ed.: Hot Tub Time Machine was released in March of 2010.] [DARN! s.l.]

This year was rich in the rich movies and weak in the weak ones. In past years I have sat through some interesting January fare (see Hot Tub Time Machine) [ed: see note above] [s.l.: darn!], but this year, I went to see Silver Linings Playbook three times and other movies, none. I was contemplating not going to the movies yesterday, as I sat (no joke) in Starbucks with my decaf no whip Mocha and no less than five newspapers, culling out what I wouldn't want to read later, saving all the news about the Oscars. And then I remembered Quartet. I had an odd schedule yesterday, as I had a 6:15 chiropractic appointment, so I couldn't do a 4:00 p.m. movie that was longer than 2 hours. And none existed at my regular Monday theater. So I started to look.

The Manor, a Squirrel Hill film institution (Squirrel Hill being a Pittsburgh neighborhood) had it, but the time looked wrong. I called to find out how long the movie was and their movie line was busy. Darn. My eyes looked eastward to the Waterfront listings, which is where I found a 3:10 showing of Quartet. With my therapy appointment at 2, it would be cutting it close, but that's what previews are for. I still didn't know how long it was, and I was not about to call the movie line of a theater that has 22 theaters. Can you imagine listening through that possibly alphabetical list for Quartet? So I did what any non-smart-phone card-carrying librarian would do. I called work. "Reference desk." "Yes, I'm trying to find out the length of the movie, 'Quartet.'" After a few minutes (or less), she came back with the magic words, "An hour and thirty-five minutes." Blissful sigh. That would give me enough time to drive across town from the Waterfront to Etna for my chiropractic appointment at 6:15.

Quartet, review: To say Dustin Hoffman's debut as a director was a treat would be an understatement. There were moments where I thought, I WILL FALL ASLEEP, as the movie was about sleepy people. The movie took place in a retirement home for aging musicians. I wonder if such a thing exists outside of the imagination of the playwright, but what a wonderful concept! I would only hope I could get into the retirement home for aging writers (Anne Lamott, Judy Blume, Nicholas Sparks) or even the one for people who care about children's books (Anita Silvey, Leonard Marcus, E.L. Konigsburg, Margaret Kimmel, Amy Kellman, Elizabeth Mahoney).

But I digress, where was I? (By the way, that was the way the movie went.) People went in and out of being completely lucid to being completely mad, but were brilliant at it, the entire time. You really had respect for them, even the diva we all hated by the end of the movie, well, because she was SUCH a diva. The credits showed the musicians and publicity photos from their musical youths. So. There were two movies about Brits in retirement homes this year, and Maggie Smith was in both of them. In the one, she was a racist housekeeper needing a hip replacement (The Best Marigold Hotel), and in this one, she was a former opera singer needing a hip replacement. In the BMH, she was the first guest we meet, and in Quartet, she was the last. She shone in both, and I'm glad that I saw both. The two movies have ONLY these components in common: British movie, film adaptation, Maggie Smith needs a new hip, wonderful casting.

What a luxury that this is a post called "Ruminations" and I don't need to do a thing before I leave you but check to see if I should use less or fewer when describing minutes.

Ah, the Grammar Girl has set me straight. Minutes are an exception to the rule. Of course they are, that's what makes English such a delightful language to learn:

"There are exceptions to these rules; for example, it is customary to use the word less to describe time, money, and distance." (Grammar Girl)

And I'm out. Until next time,

Sarah Louise

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Oscars: WOW!

I am just star struck from last night's Oscars.

This year, the movies were very personal to me.

Argo brought up and resolved some issues I had with my father.

Silver Linings playbook (no link b/c I haven't written about it yet, need to fix that!) gave me hope about being a bipolar woman. And I just adored Jennifer Lawrence for being so nervous about her best actress nomination that she ATE the stairs on the way up to receiving her award.

I'll be back with more, probably. But right now, I need to eat breakfast. There's a commercial break on the morning shows (which are all about the Oscars, of course.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Live tweeting and award shows...the Grammys edition (but ABOUT the Golden Globes)

Growing up, I never was one for awards shows. They weren't something we watched at home. The first time I watched the Oscars was when I had mono as a junior in high school. My mom and I had a fight about it, since she had a problem with me staying up that late. My dad was out of town, as I recall.

The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show. Everyone is sitting around tables, eating, drinking, and it's just as fun to watch the audience as it is to watch the presenters and winners. The first time I remember watching them was January 1995, when I watched them with my boyfriend and got a phone call during a commercial from my boss, saying that I didn't need to come into work the next day because the store's basement had flooded. My boyfriend didn't have work the next day either, because his place of employment (a museum on the North Side) had a flooded basement too. (That was a year of A LOT OF SNOW.)

The next year, I remembered the weekend, since it was the memory not only of the flood but of the Monday following the Golden Globes when I broke up with my boyfriend. At work, the week leading up to the anniversary, I kept saying, remember what last year was? I remember my boss Noah telling me to shut up. And wouldn't you know? The day after the Golden Globes in 1996, water came from our sprinkler system damaging thousands of dollars of books, so we didn't have to come in to work on Monday.

This year, my Internet was out during the Golden Globes, so I "live tweeted" into a Word document. So as I sit here watching the Grammys, I'm going to share those tweets and some other thoughts. Helen and Lilly, see if you can find the tweets that mention you!

To make the tweets a little more interesting a month after a show you might not have watched, I have categorized the tweets and added some links, including video from the show.) 

Tweets from the Golden Globes:  [words in brackets are my notes tonight as I edit this post]

Some tweets about presenters/hosts: (and the opening monologue and highlights are here.)

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, finally!! [so grateful that it's not that British guy again]

"None of us have PLANS to do porn." [Amy Poehler]

Tina Fey: "The Hunger Games" also what I call the 6 weeks that it took to get me into this dress.
Amy Poehler: "Life of Pi," which is the 6 weeks of blueberry pie after I take off this dress.

Meryl Streep is not here. she has the flu and I hear she's amazing in it.

Some tweets about commercials (which are top shelf b/c it's an expensive show to produce.) 

And here are the commercials that are the first set of expensive ones we haven't seen. Ooh, Cadillac.

How to make a light bulb sexy? Try the new Target ads. "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" in a movie star voice.

Apple, that's a big new ad. The "do not disturb" on iPhone5.

Okay, who thought the apple orchard commercial was going to be for Happy Meals??

Um, followed by "Apple Vacations"? 

Another commercial. Check the internet or no? No.

The everyday collection collection of commercials, yes!! [Target]

Also liking the Discover IT card commercials too. Almost makes me want a Discover card.

That Dart commercial was great. (More heartfelt...congratulate the movies for Best Picture instead, classy.) 

Some tweets about winners:

"We accept this award on her behalf" #1 goes to Maggie Smith.  

Game Change. Ah, a movie I've heard of. (What was the category?) #miniseriesorTVmovie

Heroic Brave Operation=HBO.

Okay, #2 for Homeland, a show I've never seen.

A guy that looks like an older Seth (writer of SNL) (not Rogan) just won for Life of Pi's score.

Jennifer Lawrence, WHOO!!!! [won a Golden Globe for Silver Linings Playbook]

Ed Harris, #2 We will accept this on his behalf.

First award for Les Miz, Anne Hathaway.

And she is freaking out. "that I will evermore use as a weapon against self doubt." And then she goes into a huge thing for Sally Field. Who knew she would be such a gusher. 

Quentin gets screenplay nod. 2nd award for Django, I think.

Not sure I've heard him speak before. [Quentin Tarentino, director of Django]

Clearly he proofreads, b/c speaking is not his thing. "Heavens forbid." "This is a damn surprise, and I'm glad to be surprised."

Wow, Homeland keeps winning them. 

Okay, and this is a show I've never seen, that I might want to. Girls.

"this award is for anyone who ever felt there wasn't a space for her, HBO has made a space for me."

Girls wins again, for best show.

Oh wow, star and executive producer.[Lena Dunham, creator, actor, producer, of Girls]

Oh my, no. Jodie Foster CANNOT be getting a LIFETIME Award. 5 decades????

WOW. And her dress is amazing too.

Woop woop for Jodie Foster for talking about privacy. WOW. Is she really stopping movies?

Another award for Les Miz. (Hugh Jackman)

Wow, can say I have never heard this guy do an award, he's amazing. 

Daniel Day Lewis, OF COURSE. [for Lincoln]

For this, I would stay up. Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg... [for Lincoln]

ARGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Movie of the year]

This is for them (the people in the diplomatic services, the people that work in the clandestine services.) YAY!!

Some tweets about my broken Internet: 

And it's not bad enough I have no Internet, now my digital TV is pixelating?

Server still not found. (Checking the Internet during speeches of shows I don't watch.) 

Problem loading page. I actually was going to be disappointed--I mean, I do want to share this night, but I'm having fun by myself, and that's good too.  

btw, i'm ready for internet this time...nope, problem loading page. ooh, another commercial (oh, the same one) for Cadillac.

I wonder if Comcast has DSL. 

Problem Loading Page. Ugh. 

Problem loading page. Why did i even think to believe it when it said "excellent?" there is that RED line on the Verizon thing, wish I could look THAT up. Now it's gone.

 Random tweets:

"Call me maybe" to Bradley Cooper from the President of the Hollywood Press Press

"Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

JOEY HAS GRAY HAIR!! (I mean Matt Le Blanc)

Before Twitter, this is when I found out about all the shows I didn't watch on cable.

TONY MENDEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [He was the Argo CIA operative]

"Do you really know Warren Beatty?" "Yeah, I took a leak next to him at the Golden Globes." [line from Argo]

Oh please let it be Taylor Swift, "Safe and sound."

Well, okay, I know who Adele is, at least. [who won GG for best original song. TS was nominated for her song which was in the Hunger Games.]

You could see that look of frost [from Taylor] when Adele said, "oh we just came out as mums for a night out."

I forgot that Kevin Costner directed "Dances with Wolves."

Bill Clinton!!

(And the room just stood up and lit up.) Everyone is in awe.

He's introducing Lincoln. Wow. That is a bold move.

"What an exciting guest, that was Hillary Clinton's husband."[Amy Poehler]

Wow, Jeremy Irons looks like the guy from Fantasy Island.

Salmon fishing in the Yemen--hmmm.


"Because English is a second language for both of us." "How long have you been here? It's embarrassing." [Arnold Swartzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, introducing GG's for foreign films]

"I never thought to get an award in Hollywood by an Austrian." [winning GG foreign film is an Austrian film.]

Ooh, Nathan Fillian.

One more hour???

We all yearn for something, and that something is...the other sock.

Cause everyone loved it, he's forever known as "The writer of The Notebook."

Moonrise Kingdom?

Two hours of late night and 50 cars. (Leno and Fallon)

Please let's go to bed SOON.

Jennifer Garner is SOOOO Cute.

Bedtime soon, plzzzzzzzzzzzzzz?

This is for Helen, who joined Twitter b/c the pope started tweeting. um, and he was mentioned in people who died, so check if he did. [he didn't.]

Anne Hathaway reminds me most of Lilly, which I think she'd love b/c she loves the Lez Miz.

Having George Clooney at the end is good, Meryl Streep was supposed to be here, but under the weather.

Julia Roberts. Where has she been hiding all night?

I would say whoever put this show together did an amazing job.