A Sunday night in Cleveland


Some random thoughts before I hit the road tomorrow (specifics about Cleveland and what I was pondering beside Lake Erie will come later):

  • Freshly-buzzed head + very sunny day + too much walking = OUCH.
  • I don’t think I could ever live on the West Coast again. I like Eastern cities too much, particularly that there are so many of them to explore and all of them are so very close.
  • I should do more long weekends like I used to, and not just hold off for big trips.
  • Going to a regional conference that’s in a different region than the one where you live and work is a very good idea because it forces you not to just sit around talking to colleagues you already know.

The city as suitor

I’ve always collected cities in much the same way I used to collect sex partners. In fact, my relationships with cities parallel stereotypical love affairs in many ways. Some are quick flirtations (Seattle, Atlanta) and some (New York, Los Angeles) are just masturbatory fantasies that I’d probably despise in real life even if they were attainable. But my most serious relationships have been with San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.

I’ve told many versions of my San Francisco story. We’ll call this plotline “true love gone wrong.” I loved that place so very much, and for many years I thought we’d spend the rest of my days together. It was a love like I’d felt for no other city and I allowed myself to be blinded to all its many, MANY faults. And that’s why it was not to be. I changed, and San Francisco changed, and I realized that much of what I had loved about it was not real to begin with. It ended badly, and I’ve come to realize that San Francisco and I will probably never really be friends. I get the sense that San Francisco is OK with that; it attracts thousands of new friends every year and will no doubt get along fine without me.

Pittsburgh was very different for me. It was always sort of a side attraction, never my primary love (nor residence), and that may be what has allowed us to stay friendly despite some tense moments. Pittsburgh is the classic “fuck buddy” and the only real problem surfaced when things started to get a little too serious. Fortunately, we got past the awkwardness and I think we’ll be just fine now with our very causal but mutually satisfying arrangement.

And then there’s Toronto. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to what I felt about San Francisco. But I’m not sure I could ever make another commitment like that. Maybe Toronto is the idealized “long distance relationship”; I love it all the more because it’s a convenient escape from my everyday routine–one that I can have in small doses pretty much whenever I want it–and leave the rest to fantasy. Toronto can be my “happy place.” When I feel sad or lonely or just plain overwhelmed by life (which happens a lot lately) I can escape to that little fantasy world–or sometimes even to the actual place. I never have to deal with commuting to work or fighting my way through lines at Loblaws every week, etc. In short, we don’t have to wake up next to each other everyday.

I’m not sure what would happen if Toronto and I ever got serious. I’m a little scared of the idea and am not at all prepared to be hurt by another city. And it’s not terribly realistic anyway. Legally, I could move there tomorrow. I have my Canadian permanent residency. Finding employment and building a life would be another story altogether. But that hint of possibility without the attendant expectations may be be what I find so enticing about Toronto. Plus it’s a pretty sexy place in my view.

You’re soaking in it

As an academic librarian in a university setting, I find myself engaged in stimulating intellectual discussions on a daily basis. For example, just a few minutes ago a colleague and I were debating about whether Jane Withers played Madge, the Palmolive lady, in the commercials. Of course, we now know (being librarians) that Jan Winer played Madge. Jane Withers was, in fact, Josephine the Plumber.

Evidence and context:

The discussion also strayed into such important areas as the extra value Rosemary Clooney found with Coronet, Rosie’s quicker picker upper, and the special appeal of Martha Raye, denture wearer.

I like being a librarian.

And I want a big can of “Other Cleanser.” Right now.

Videolog: Ordinary World

Duran Duran – Ordinary World by DuranDuran-Official

Duran Duran
Ordinary World (1992)

I always really liked this song and it brings back rather pleasant memories of my first few months in San Francisco. Musically, I think i enjoyed the early 1990s more than any other time of my life. Those were the days when Live 105 was a true commercial alt-pop station that played everything from King Missile to 808 State and Soundgarden to Depeche Mode. That is to say it was a far cry from the bastardized nu-metal atrocity that it (and many of its sister “alternative” stations) became in the days of Limp Bizkit and later Linkin’ Park.

Duran Duran is a band that I sort of enjoy more now than I did in the actual 1980s from whence they came. I think their music has aged well. I’m not suggesting that it sounds fresh and new, because it doesn’t. It is very much a product of its time and sounds it, but it doesn’t come across as laughably dated like, say, Total Coelo, to The Other Ones (thanks, Duncan). Duran Duran’s music reads more like the 1980s equivalent of a 1950s pop standard. It’s obviously period music, but not a parody of the period. Hall and Oates falls into this category of 1980s pop that’s aged pretty well, too, I think.

Of course, “Ordinary World” is from 1992, so the relevance of that last paragraph is maybe a bit suspect…

On a Sunday

I’m working on digitizing a video letter I wrote to a friend probably seventeen years ago so that he can have it on DVD. This means I am:

  • Amazed that the VHS has held up as well as it has. There are dropouts but it looks pretty good considering it was done in six-hour mode and involves second and third generation video of variable quality.
  • Even more amazed at how well I was able to do the analog editing way back in 1995 using two VCRs and a cheap boom box. It worked, strangely enough…
  • Hoping I’ll uncover some of the assorted video I lost over the years, including such classics as “Greensboro 1994, Part 1″and “Three-way with the boy who had a pink mohawk.”
  • Also hoping this will jumpstart some of the other video digitization I’ve sort of floundered on in the past year.

I’ll tell you how it comes out.

Happiness is a warm pun

We had a departmental retreat at work today, one of those daylong affairs at a cabin by a lake outside the city with intradepartmental brainstorming, strategic planning, etc. Actually, this one was much better than most and wasn’t really annoying at all. But at the inevitable introductory communication exercise, my question was, “What was the happiest day of your life?”

I had to pause and swallow before answering.

Eighteen or nineteen months ago, I would have had a very quick and easy answer to this question. That’s no longer the case. It’s not that I don’t have lots of happy days on file in my mind. I do. And new ones are still being added, albeit not always so often as I might like. But there’s no longer that one special day that trumps them all for me. And it made me kind of sad to realize that. It also made me ponder two important points, which I guess I’m now expressing as bits of advice:

  1. Always accumulate as many happy days as you can. Not only is it a very good way to live your life, but it also comes in handy sometimes when you have to have a ready response to a question for a team-building exercise at work.
  2. Never allow a significant part of your own personal happiness to be dependent on another human being. It’s a universally bad move that you will nearly always regret at some point in the future.

I’m now going to enjoy the fact that I actually got home early tonight.

Onward to L.A.

Got my flight booked for ALA in Anaheim in June, with some vacation days at the end. The great thing is that by waiting a  few days to book it, the price actually went down. Adding the vacation days brought it down even more. So I’m actually saving the state money by going on vacation. This is a major bonus since I was pretty convinced last week that I wouldn’t even be able to do the extra vacation days.

Oddly enough, this will be my first ever solo trip to L.A. Despite the fact that I lived on the West Coast for thirteen years, I was always either with someone or visiting someone when I went south. So this should be interesting. And the fact that I don’t have to pay to get there makes it even better. My only regret is that I won’t be visiting Clifton’s this trip. And I don’t necessarily mean that I would say no to hanging out with interested parties, should there be any.

And for those of you who are (a) librarians, and (b) get up really early on Sunday mornings, a colleague and I will be doing a presentation for what I assume will be a very sleepy and/or hungover group of metadata catalogers on Sunday the 24th.  Woo hoo!

Six years on the cul-de-sac

Six years ago today, the ex and I took possession of this lovely house in Winston-Salem.

In a lot of ways, it’s the only place I’ve ever lived as an adult that’s ever really quite felt like home. At the same time, it also sometimes feels like I’ve never really lived here at all. For the first few years, I was waiting for Mark to be here full time so we could really “start” living here together. Once he moved back (only for a few months, as it turned out) we pretty much immediately put the house on the market with an eye toward downsizing and moving to Greensboro, and it’s been on and off the market ever since–in a pretty much “staged” condition, devoid of any personality whatsoever. And then there was the mortgage nightmare earlier this year, where I took full possession even though I wasn’t particularly sure I wanted to do so. I feel like the poor house and I have both been in limbo for a good chunk of the past six years.

And now, strangely enough, I’m thinking about hanging on to the place for a while. I’d be hard pressed to find a rental that would compare at the same price point. I really do like the house even if it is too big and too much to maintain. I have a lot going on in my life for the next year and the thought of a move fills me with much dread. And to be brutally honest, I kind of like having thirty miles separating me and my parents right now; I think that maintaining that distance might be essential to my sanity.

So after six years, I’m thinking of actually moving in. On my own terms. With my own stuff on the walls, and new curtains in the somewhat grim bedroom, and maybe even a new refrigerator and some paint.

But when I ponder the yard and the roof and that big, dead tree out back, I waffle a bit.

To be continued, evidently…

I may come to regret this, but…

Me, approximately twenty years ago. This (obviously) was taken during my “hair monster” phase. When I finally cut it all off a couple of years later, I went for the buzzed look. No in between for me.

Spring cleaning can be fun. And frightening.


Rough itinerary for next month’s trip west:

Thursday 21 June – Tuesday 26 June: Anaheim for the ALA Annual Conference. My presentation is Sunday at 8AM, for those who care. I’ll probably be roaming around Orange County and environs some too.

Tuesday 26 June – Thursday 28 June: I may spend a couple of days in San Diego. I haven’t decided for sure.

Thursday 28 June – Tuesday 2 July: LA proper. Actually, I’ll probably be staying in Pasadena.

A week-plus of exploring and taking pictures. I do so love LA. There’s really no place quite like it. I’m up for the odd lunch or dinner meet-up if anyone’s interested, although I have to admit that I’m not sure how many people I still know in the Southland.

The sky (or something) is falling

I love Toronto. It’s probably my favorite North American city these days. But I am rather relieved to be missing all the stuff that seems to have been falling from the sky for the past week or so.

Pity none of it has hit Rob Ford in the head yet.