Friday, June 27, 2008

My Love-Hate Relationship with My Library

I hate:

That every time I go, Catch-22 is invariably checked out. I have been trying to acclimate myself to Heller since I've been in high school, but I only have Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man at my disposal! The horror! I end up going to the Vonnegut section across the aisle and my dad is tired of Vonnegut. Vonnegut is the stuff he read when he was slightly intrigued by being icked out. I'm still slightly intrigued by things that ick me out.

That the security guard who looks like A.W. Tozer apparently no longer works there. I hope this doesn't mean he is dead. I liked him, even though I had my serious doubts that he would protect me if the library came under any kind of siege.

That it is under construction. Isn't it a rule that libraries should never change?

The Dewey Decimal System and the way my favorite books inexplicably slip through the cracks. Where are the plays? Sort of all over the place! That's where!

Oh! Apparently, the library has lost its print of a Maxfield Parrish illustration. How does this even happen? Maxfield Parrish is my very favorite illustrator! I have to console myself with mediocre abstracts and pseudo- Japanese screen-printed tree-things! Does the library LOOK like a cheap t-shirt, I ask you?! DARN IT!

The limits to their Dilbert collection. Where are the Friends of the Library when I need them?

I love:

Most of the librarians and all of the male ones. There's this guy who looks like he's never seen the light of day, and even though he's shades of Boo Radley, he's helped me find terribly obscure research material with a zeal for discovery that beats my own (which is currently, admittedly, rather jaded). I think this is precious. And I secretly (well, not now) want to impress the one that works on the second floor. I don't know why. He just seems rather hard to impress. So every time I go, I wear my Mutual Funds Magazine tote bag to carry my books. As if I know something about mutual funds.

The DVD collection. They had the entire run of Arrested Development there this time. O... M... G! Did I check it out? Psh, no! I'm waiting for this fall so I can get my hands on a copy of season 2 and watch it with my roommate! My self-control sometimes astounds even me. (As does my hubris.) I consoled myself with season 3 of The Office.

That they have a good fifty-zillion copies of Les Miserables, in different translations. I can read it all the time without feeling like a literary hog. (Though, they do also have Laura Kapalkian's Cosette, which is mindless, heretical drivel-- also known as a SEQUEL to Les Mis. Strike one. Even in my darkest days, I never wrote fanfic.)

I love pretty much everything about the library, actually, now that I think about it (except for the things that I hate.) It's the building equivalent of NPR!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

J: awkwardly keeping his forearms, which are somewhat mobile, at a small distance from his torso.

Me: J, what are you doing?

J: I'm waiting for a hug.

You can't understand the significance of this unless you find eye contact and mutual conversation a victory. Sometimes my brother is more beautiful than Gael Garcia Bernal (but in a different way.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


No, not the work which I desperately need to be finding this summer, but Jobs as in Job of the Bible and G.O.B. of Arrested Development. I've been thinking about them.

I took a trip to Virginia last weekend, and at the church I went to, which was not mine, because it was in Virginia, the pastor talked about Job the book. So I've been reflecting on what I know of Job the book because the sermon was on the first twelve verses only.

Job is a terribly theatrical book, so it's interesting to me dramaturgically; not only is the text written in dialogue form, but the book also translates REALLY well to the stage in a Pulitzer-winning play called J.B. by Archibald MacLeish.

Back in the day, I used to turn everything into a philosophical statement, but reading Job this time, I'm doubting that Job really wants a rational answer. It's all well and good to propose the question, as I did the first time I really read Job, of "is God really loving and sovereign, or are we pawns in a cosmic game of chess to prove power?" but I think it's quite different to BE in the position that Job is in, to go through major suffering. For one thing, the idea that Satan is in control never occurs to anyone in the book of Job. For another, when calamity is real instead of hypothetical, I'm not sure the why is enough. We want comfort. We want love. And I think that's one thing that MacLeish really nailed in his play. Apparently he started out with a play that focused more on the rationalizations and philosophical arguments, but he ended up with something much, much, much more ambiguous in that sense because it was more artistically

I don't have a lot to say about Job; there's a lot I don't know. I don't think it's a book that forbids us to question God, but I think it's a book that shows us that we can't always understand Him.

And with that, I have to think about G.O.B. I can't think about Job very long without thinking about G.O.B. because their names are homophones. I have that thing about homophones. G.O.B. is a jerk, but he's also lovable. And I think part of this is because he's so fallible and I empathize with that. And part of it is that sometimes he does something nice. And part of it is because he is really dumb. And part of it is because he admits to making huge mistakes.

Interjection: I hope the development of the Arrested Development movie never gets arrested (it's slated for release next year, but horrible things can happen, like THEY CANCELLED THIS SHOW). And doesn't suck. Because dang, that show had everyhing, down to the Hamlet references and the Andy Griffith Show references and the references to making references...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Warning: Stream of Consciousness Ahead

Dear gnat currently flying around my face and elbow, bugger off. You itch. XOXO, Claire.

Question: How do you feel about blogs maintained by people who are obviously not real, e.g. Schrute-Space, Dwight Schrute's blog, or the Bob Loblaw Law Blog? I go back and forth. The only one I read like it's a real person's is Barney Stinson's. Because Barney Stinson is a real person. Speaking of real persons whose blogs I read, I recently read pretty much the entirety of Things I've Bought that I Love (which Mindy Kaling hasn't updated since Tuesday, April 08, 2008--not that I'm bitter; I still want to be her when I grow up and finish my thesis) despite the fact that I cannot afford 87.668% of the wares that she flaunts for the sheer joy of sharing information, and the other whatever-percent of wares are just soooo urban and I'd prefer to flaunt them on that day when I actually finish my thesis and become a yuppie.

(Warning to men: If you don't understand the significance of a Marc Jacobs shoe sale, you will, very likely, not respond to Mindy's rhetoric so maybe you shouldn't even read it.)

Observation: My baby sister is surprisingly sophisticated and astute. She has proved herself as more than a mere force to be reckoned with in Jenga, more even than a second vote in the "Should we go shopping or save gas and stay at home?" debate. I say this not only because she tends to agree with me on very important topics like the futility of the middle school relationship, the superiority of classic Converse All-Stars, and everything about The Office. I realized today that she has interesting and valid opinions in her own right, and I happen to agree with those. How refreshing. This is my sister, as we discussed the merits and faults of stubble on guys:

"I think stubble is very mysterious. You have to think, 'I don't know what he was up to yesterday, but clearly it was so interesting and time-consuming that he didn't have five minutes to shave.'"

I never would have come up with that, but I'm saving it for when I write my Better-Than-Friends sitcom. (It won't be, but that's what I tell myself.)

Dear gnat, what the heck? We've been off; no more trying to caress my face with your little feeler limbs. I will slap the crap out of you, you hear? XOXO, Claire.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Say No to Ho... and Yes to What, Exactly?

I'd never heard of Simon Doonan before, since I am awkwardly unstylish, but he has written a book with such zealous rhetoric that I feel it is necessary to put it on my Summer 2008 reading list. "Banish the badonkadonkdonk. Say no to ho!" he pleads with plastic-surgery Stepfords everywhere in an excerpt of Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You which I read in Elle magazine (I love Elle for its intelligence, although it scares me at the same time by featuring certain ready-to-wear and haute couture items that throw me into a panic by their sheer surreality. I've had nightmares about the Marc Jacobs horizontal heels for, like, two weeks straight and woken up in a cold sweat with my hair standing on end. Ok, my hair stands on end whenever I wake up. But still. Magritte is for paintings, not for shoes. Christian Louboutin is for shoes.)

This message is easy for me to swallow. I have neither the budget nor the tiny dog necessary to be unoriginal. However, Doonan then asserts that there are only three alternatives to "badonkadonkdonk," only three facets of "eccentric glamour," although there are subsets to these general categories. These categories are the Gypsy, the Socialite, and the Existentialist.

I am well aware that I am not a Socialite. Socialites, according to Doonan, are the Jackie O, classic, old money, old school eccentrics. I am too short for that.

I'm hoping that actually reading the book will make everything clearer for me. While I don't own a peasant shirt or strappy sandals, I do like big, beachy totes, green living, and torn-up jeans, suggesting that I may be a brand of Gypsy after all. However, my style icons tend to all kind of look/dress like Marcel Marceau (Jean Seberg, Agyness Deyn, Liza Minelli in Cabaret), I own ten black eyeliners, and I write plays.

I'm still so confused.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Do Not Talk to My Brother

I'm going to tell you a secret--at least, a bit of trivia that my brother will not tell you--and that is this:

My brother and I are on speaking terms.

This has not always been the case. In fact, for the first few years of his life, my brother didn't really talk to anyone. Several years of speech therapy and many more subsequent years of talk later, you'd never know that my brother, once upon a time, relied almost solely upon his big brown eyes, shrieks, and the occasional catchphrase to communicate his every need.

However, my brother is also a big fan of talking AT you rather than WITH you. I think this is mostly because he is concerned with such extremely specialized matters that few people are erudite enough to converse fluently with him. Furthermore, he has gathered and memorized a massive amount of trivia and will spout same at the drop of a hat. This gets old. He is also known for making up his own statistics. This also gets old. And finally, he has a disadvantage in the area of reading social cues, so it's naturally a little harder for him to converse.

But... and this is not public information... when the rest of my family leaves the house, my brother and I start to have discussions. Oh, yeah. Even lengthy ones. (I don't know exactly why we pretend we don't speak to each other when anyone else is home, but we don't.)

In these discussions, I will express interest in John Williams' music. He will ask me my opinion on cinematic matters and make eye contact, to boot. We have talked about his future in vague terms, and he agrees with me that he needs to learn how to cook. We just talked for a substantial length of time on the thematic structure of Ratatouille, contrasting it with previous Pixar films. It was enlightening and enjoyable. Furthermore, my brother will get so into the conversation that he won't pay attention to anything else he is doing. Which means that I can easily coerce him into washing the dishes... as long as I check to make sure they actually get clean. He doesn't have a second thought about doing mindless chores while talking to me--in fact, he doesn't even have a FIRST thought. There are so many benefits of secretly being on speaking terms with my brother.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

There is no solidarity in this world. Thank you, Geico.

I don't get out much. Nor do I watch television that often. But when I do, I like familiarity.

I like to know that that Southern man with the carparts business will always be singing his own jingle, badly; that Smucker's jam commercials will have blond children in a vaguely rural setting that reeks of Americana; and that McDonald's commercials will end with "Ba da ba ba.... I'm lovin' it."

I do not like to be faced with a voice I do not know coming out of a face I've grown to cherish.

That's right, Geico gecko. I realize you've changed voices several times since your inception. But that doesn't mean I approve, and now, I'd like to go on record as saying so.

You've changed. You used to sound like Jeeves. Now you sound like some... pseudo British guy. Who is classy and dresses well, but still probably washes cars in pseudo Britain. You know what I mean? It's not stateside, so it's chic and adorable and not TOO far off from the cult-chah-ed original... and it's also a little urban and edgy... hair of Cockney, as if that makes you more down to earth and relaxed.

Ok. Whatever, doode.

This is not to say I don't like your new(ish... you've had it for what? a year now?) voice, because I do. I find it chic and adorable and not TOO far off from the cult-chah-ed original (which, according to my research, was voiced by Kelsey Grammar). But still.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

From Chuck Taylors to Sci-Fi

My Chucks are not accurate representations of my personality.

I bought them in a fit of muteness. They were on clearance and I was in jaw pain. So I bought them. This was in 2006. I would probably never do this now. As any scene kid can tell you, Converse are supposed to be representations of one's inner self.

Mine are "goth Chucks"--remember those?--which means they are Black where most Converse are White. Furthermore, the canvas is camouflage printed. They are a far cry from my Original Chucks which are pink and have disintegrated into a comfortable, not watertight, footcover held together with duct tape, hot glue and a prayer. Now THOSE were "me."

The current All-Stars fit, but they are fiercer than I am. It occurs to me that maybe I should keep wearing them. To make me fierce. Does one adapt to one's Converse or does one's Converse adapt to one? Questions, questions.

In other news, science fiction. Really. It's a genre I've, with some exception, heretofore avoided like rotten eggs, pepperjack cheese, and sloppy kisses. A#1, I'm a girl, which you might not be able to tell by my Chucks... but you CAN tell it from my very disorganize purse, which, if opened, betrays a serious lack of money, Altoids, and about 23 and 1/2 different lipglosses, nineteen of which are the exact same color as my lips. Pointless? Sure. But anyway. Pink Bonnebell is not stereotypically associated with lightyears and unfriendly intergalactic forces. A #2, I am an elitist nincompoop. I am ashamed to say this, but it's true. (I will say that the exception is Star Trek because I love Trekkies. For the most part they are rockin' and very nonjudgmental. And often pacifists, which is interesting.) My knowledge of bad science fiction has led me to believe that the genre is used as an excuse to utilize really nonscientific, contrived literary devices such as antigravity boots and make up unpronounceable names, like Csziminfuglyemmentaller, or Umphzurrrrrrrg V or Friedrich Nietzsche. A#3, I write theatre and Sci-Fi is not very theatrical; it's a lot more cinematic. When is the last time you saw Star Wars: The Musical! I ask you? But it has occurred to me that I do not always stick to and/or enjoy the conventions of theatrical writing. For instance, plays do not often address the work or office environment, and I think offices in general are hierarchal labyrinths of cold-blooded narcissism and vampiric ambition. They are hysterical. So maybe I should start thinking about at least the small screen, as much as theatrical enterprises are exciting and emotionally involving.

So yeah. I think the time has come for me to invent stupid things that defy physics (which should not be hard; I've never taken physics) and step on the keyboard to come up with the name of my main character. But it'll still have the 23 and 1/2 lip-gloss-girly-influence. It'll be like Louisa May Alcott meets H.G. Wells, or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants combined with "Nightfall" (Asimov, by the way, is not bad science fiction. He is brilliant science fiction. Period. I miss Isaac Asimov and think that January 2nd should be declared a postal holiday.)

So here's my germinal beginning for something: An alien from the planet Q329iat invades Earth in partial fulfillment of her B.F.A. capstone project.

The alien's name is Sam.