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Posts Tagged ‘library

This (Particular) American Life

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Since I spend six hours a day working at a job where headphones are as common as book jackets, I’ve been listening to a lot of This American Life.  I’ve listened to at least eighty episodes since the beginning of the month, along with the occasional episode of Car Talk.  The ratio isn’t as even as I’d like it to be. Car Talk’s archives are pay-only, while TAL allows you to stream theirs from your computer for free.  As a result, I probably get one episode of Car Talk for every 25 of This American Life.

I have to hand it to the Magliozzi brothers for coming up with this scheme.  I know they came up with it, too, because it’s simultaneously brilliant and diabolical, plus you can hear it laughing and snorting if you listen very closely.  Here’s how they get you:  their weekly podcast is free, but all episodes posted prior to your subscription to the podcast are not.

Who did they get the idea from, drug dealers?  They give you just enough free stuff to get you hooked, then they crank the prices through the roof and bleed you dry.  At 95 cents a pop, they could easily get the entirety of my minimum-wage paycheck almost before it’s deposited.  Sometimes I’m tempted to do it, but then I remember I need things like gasoline and spending money during the long unemployed stretch of the school year, and I abstain.  But man, they really must need to make that boat payment.

It seems like an obvious choice:  to forgo Car Talk in favor of This American Life, which is equally entertaining at an infinitely kinder price.  And I will, but I don’t do it carelessly.  As the fifth straight hour of Ira Glass’s excessively thoughtful and morose narration draws to a close, I really miss Click and Clack.  I wish I hadn’t already listened to the week’s podcast, which I do first thing on Monday morning, to take the edge off.

It’s not that I don’t like This American Life.  I do, really, very much, despite the well-publicized opinions of The O.C.’s Summer on the matter.  It’s just that in real life I’d rather hang out with the Magliozzis.  Ira Glass and his crew would probably find me sweet, in the same way that one finds a spaniel sweet, and there’s nothing that pisses off twenty-year-old white girls more than finding them sweet in that way.  Most of us would rather you found us fat.

Tom and Ray, on the other hand, are more like my family members than anything else.  Replace “Italian” with “Southern” and “mechanics” with “truck drivers”, and you’ve got the Boland clan.  Sure, they’d probably find me sweet too, but being thought of that way by a pair of grandfathers is infinitely less galling.  My own grandfathers feel/felt that way about me.  It doesn’t prevent me from tossing out whatever crazy or stupid thing comes to mind in conversation with them.

I went to high school with kids who will grow up to be the types of people Ira Glass hosts on his show.  Even after two years of class three hours a day with them, just ten kids and a teacher in a room, things were still tense between us.  Part of it was the competition, and another big part was the premature development of overblown egos.  But still another part was that the more pretentious, elite clique found me lame.  And no wonder:  they cited Walter Benjamin, while I wrote about how much I love my cat.  I’m prone to awkward outbursts, making oversized gestures when I talk, and actual pratfalls.  I’m like Charlie Chaplin, if Charlie Chaplin’s jokes fell flat too.  Ira Glass would be as exasperated by this as Katie, Allen, Andrew, and Tori were, as his crew would have to spend hours editing my faux pas away.

But the Magliozzis are as lame as they come.  I think they’d be more forgiving of my shortcomings.

I only snort when I laugh REALLY hard.

Written by Estie

June 16, 2010 at 3:24 am

The Prodigal Blogger Returns

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Having slogged my way through final papers and final exams, study sessions and an eleven-mile hike specifically designed to avoid study sessions, I am now safely on the other side of my sophomore year of college.

(I am taking a Maymester course, starting tomorrow, but for some reason that counts as part of my junior year.  Hooray bureaucracy!  The course is on the trial of King Charles I, which is a good thing for me to spend a month on, because I am sadly lacking in Stuart-related historical proficiency.  All I could manage to say about Charles in the essay section of my final exam was that Parliament had important things to discuss with him, but he dismissed them, which was a poor choice because what if they just wanted to tell him his fly was down?)

On the same day I made jokes about anachronistic pants-closure methods, I had a birthday!  Not only am I free of the yoke of underclassman status, I am free of the infinitely-oppressive “teenager” status.  I feel this is important for my credibility as a Deeply Serious Writer, bringing it to a grand total of zero, if you round up.  Compare this to the average teenager’s negative credibility; I’d say birthday = win for me!

In addition to aging, higher education, and regicide, the other gleeful news in my life of late is that I managed to wrangle a summer job.  I am one of two minions (as one of the Circulation supervisors calls us) hired by the campus library’s Technical Services department to turn regular books into library books.  The work is menial and the chairs are damn uncomfortable, but I don’t work weekends, I get to choose my own hours and lunch breaks, and I can even snack on the job.  Plus, I don’t work for a Fascist corporation.  I work for a bunch of laid-back librarians.  So I’m down like a massive object in another, more massive object’s gravitational field.

Technical Services is on the ground floor of the library, cocooned away from through traffic.  It houses all sorts of things:  the library mailroom, Acquisitions, Cataloging, and one hugely pregnant lady whose purpose I don’t remember, but it doesn’t matter because she’ll be on leave after this week.  The place is my favorite kind of organized mess.  Bizarrely-organized shelves of new books fill one wall, and carts laden with books and other media at varying stages of being processed are strewn about.  Because of all these carts, an aerial view of our office would look like a paused game of Tetris.

And because it’s in a library and all, it’s QUIET.

I’m the type of person who would rather listen to my own thoughts than to someone else’s noise.  I nearly shut myself in the hotel room’s closet when we went to New York City, so desperate was I for a little peace.  Sometimes even coffee shops are too loud for me:  they’ve always got some weird music playing.  Coffee Underground, though otherwise perfect, plays disco ad nauseum (and yes, it really does make me nauseous).  Needless to say, I was super-jazzed about getting paid to sit somewhere quiet with books.

Yesterday, the quiet was everything I’ve ever dreamed of.  It was like going to a spa, except that a) I’ve never been to a spa, and b) the chairs are wicked uncomfortable.  I thought up all sorts of big thoughts.  I debated the relative merits of Soren Kierkegaard and Rainer Maria Rilke—who has the better name?  (Ragnar Shaggy-Britches was the write-in candidate.)  I enumerated the evils of highly-processed foods, and decided to try to eat more cleanly.  I even pondered the nature of the human-animal connection!

But today, I mostly hummed the Frito Bandito song to myself.

So I’m charging the old iPod as I type.  I wonder, do Click and Clack have a free podcast?

Written by Estie

May 12, 2010 at 2:25 am

Things Girls Do in Libraries

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It’s a month away from finals, which at CCU means crunch time!  Our last papers are coming due, our last tests are on the horizon, and our less-organized professors are scrambling to get through the rest of the material before they have to examine our knowledge of it.  So I’m sorry I haven’t been around.  I’ll try to write once a week, but probably no more often until the first week of May.

Crunch time at CCU also means library time, if you’re not me.  I go to the library when I have leisure time, because they have a great selection of books and magazines, and plenty of comfy chairs in which to read them.  The chairs are even next to big, floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can get your Vitamin Sunshine in the winter and don’t shrivel up and die of SAD, even though you haven’t been outdoors properly in 42 days.  Last but not least, libraries are one of the few public places in which you can be near other people without having to interact with them, and that is awesome.

Part of the reason I went to CCU was their library.  I think it’s like #18 on the Princeton Review’s list of bestest college libraries evahr. If they served food in the basement, I’d spend all day there.  If they had a dormitory in the attic, I’d spend all night there, too.  But sending me to a library to study is a little like sending a football player onto the field in the middle of a game to study.  I do my homework in my dorm, because I’ve already read everything in there.  So I haven’t been to the library lately.

When I do hunker down for a marathon library session, it’s like embarking on a wilderness expedition.  I make sure I have everything I need to sustain life:  food, Diet Coke, lip balm, layers of clothing…sometimes I even grab a clean pair of socks.  I only get up to go to the bathroom.  And when I do, believe you me, it is with great reluctance.  If I were a guy, I’d probably just pee out a window.

I don’t know if you’ve gathered as much, but CCU is uptight, type-A, anal retentive yuppie central.  Emphasis on the anal-retentive.  And not in the figurative sense, either.

I know most girls are kind of shy about pooping.  But I swear to you, I have never met so many girls who were so neurotic about pooping in my entire life.  The brave ones skitter out of the stalls like ashamed mice, scrubbing their hands at lightspeed while avoiding eye contact with anyone.  Some people won’t go at all if there’s the remotest chance they may not be the only person in the bathroom.  Then there are the people who pick up their feet when they go, because someone might recognize them by their shoes.  And heaven forbid someone else know that they, like everyone else on earth except colostomy patients, poop!

Okay, I know that it smells bad, and it’s kind of embarrassing when it’s loud, but guys?  Come on.  Everybody poops.  As my mother said to me when I was very young, even Cinderella poops.

This concept had a lasting impact on my life.

For some reason, the CCU female hive mind has collectively decided that the only place any of the ~1500 of them can poop is the library.  I can understand the privacy-seeking and the shoe-hiding and even the refusal to exit the stall if another person’s presence is detected, but I do not get the library-pooping thing.  I’m beginning to suspect it’s a ritual they learn at sorority initiation.

I can’t imagine what the situation was like before the library was renovated.  It’s got something like nine stalls in it now, by far the biggest bathroom on campus, and it still smells like something died in it.  If it shrank by two thirds, to the size of all the other bathrooms, it’d have to be designated a Superfund site.

Or maybe the pooping came after the renovation.  This seems more likely, given that the campus was built in the 1950s, when everyone smoked everywhere all the time.  To the best of my knowledge, the CCU library has never exploded.

I know I am a liberal arts major, but I think it’s time for a little cross-disciplinary science experimentin’.  So let’s pretend I know what I’m talking about, and look at this empirically.

There is one other bathroom on campus that is almost as big as the library bathroom.  It does seem to be a little funkier than the other ones, which would suggest that CCU girls like to poop in big bathrooms.  I, too, have often felt that larger bathrooms provide greater anonymity:  I can blend into the crowd of poopers, instead of being the lone pooper in a bathroom where the other two people present are just fixing their makeup, and inexplicably judging me.

But I wouldn’t say the odor in this second-biggest bathroom corresponds proportionally to the odor in the library.  The library bathroom is about a third bigger, but it’s probably twice as stinky.  Hmmm.  Problem.

But wait!  This second-biggest bathroom is upstairs in the CCU dining hall!  And nobody remotely sane poops where they eat!

Conclusion:  There is poop safety in numbers.

Conclusion #2:  The CIA should begin recruiting its agents from the female population at CCU, because they are a superlatively sneaky bunch.

For another insider’s report on female college poopers, see PoopReport.com.

Written by Estie

April 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm