- Adding this to my list of vacation ideas (h/t @stijnvanorbeek): Wild swimming in France via @Telegraph http://t.co/NDntED3j #
- Summer salad, from the garden http://t.co/zLsU2mFu #
- Beach strolling by the light of the moon #happyhappyhappy @ Main Beach And Boardwalk http://t.co/WRxWW4Vq #
- Enjoying a bit of Belgium tonite @ Brussels Bistro http://t.co/oaZMjK0V #
- Grilling! #yum http://t.co/TUWNfswS #
- Reading stories abt California landmarks in decay, makes me want to visit w/camera in hand: http://t.co/JqoQP60s #lifeofahistorian #
I’m rarely more content than when I am perusing the shelves of a library. There are many reasons why that’s the case, but I’ll just focus on one of them today: it’s because I know where to find the stuff I want. There’s a lot of pleasure in finding a call number in the library catalog and then heading directly to the place on the shelves where the item is located.
Because of my desire to be organized and have a place for everything I own, a few years ago our family adopted a classification scheme for our thousands of books. As a busy graduate student I needed to know where my books were, so I could consult them regularly for my research. Enigmatic piles of books and haphazard shelving practices were not my friend. So we used the Book Collector program to create a database of our book ownings and tagged the spine of each book with its Library of Congress number for easy shelving and retrieval. It was a lot of work. So much work that it took two summers (one for fiction, one for non-fiction) of data entry before our collection was entered and tagged.
When we divorced, John took the bulk of our books. I was happy about that–wanting to shed the weight of so much ‘stuff’ in the process of moving on with my life. However, I did keep the academic books for my teaching and research (and my poetry books), bringing them to my office at Chapman University. However, in moving them I didn’t pay much attention to their shelf location and also acquired many new books as I was in the final stretch of dissertating that weren’t in the book database or weren’t tagged with a library number. I told myself that when I was done with my PhD I would get things organized again. And of course that means now.
So last week I did some research on the best software for creating my new book database and settled on the iPhone app Book Crawler. It allows you to use the camera on your phone to scan the ISBN barcode on the back of any book for importing the relevant data fields into the app (i.e. title, author, publisher, etc). It can also do google searches for books on the title or author name if they do not have a barcode on the back cover (this is the case with many books printed prior to the 1980s). And, it can sync your book collection to Dropbox.com and export as a CSV file (right now I’m emailing a CSV of my database to myself daily as a backup for my collection).
Even with the handy Book Crawler app, cataloging my books is taking a lot of time. I set a goal to do one shelf per day and have accomplished that on most days since I began. But in the midst of the project my office is looking a bit untidy, which is good motivation to power through and get this done as soon as possible (because I like people sitting in my groovy office chairs, not stacks of books):
Not only is there a lot of pleasure in getting my books in their rightful places on their shelves, but it’s also fun to peruse each of them and consider how I acquired them and why I’ve kept them (I regularly cull my books to keep the acquisitions from getting out of hand). Along the way I’ve found a few treasures, such as this early self-portrait by Catgirl, and this signature by author Terry Tempest Williams, which spawned a series of memories that will be another blogpost soon.
I feel certain that many of my readers are probably rolling their eyes at my desire to be so organized with my book collection. I’m sure you think I’m over-the-top with my need to control my shelves. But for me, one of the best parts of owning books is that they are there when I need them. So if I’m having an I-need-Mary-Oliver-right-now moment, I can reach over and grab that book in an instant. Because if I didn’t know where to locate my books when I needed them, it would hardly be worth the owning of them for me. If I can’t find it, what’s the use of having it?
PS: One of the biggest charms for me, in meeting my current partner, was seeing the library in his home for the first time. Knowing that he cared about books as much as I do confirmed my hunch that we had a future together. I think you can tell quite a lot about a person by how they treat their books, right? :)
A few years ago, whenever I was faced with a situation where I would typically insert deity into my thinking, I started inserting the ocean instead. It seems something worth worshiping (whereas God was no longer something I could worship) because it is vast and ineffable and powerful. I find it easier to surrender to the currents and ways of the sea than I do to anything else in my life right now, and find that time out on the water also seems to put everything into perspective.
Perhaps that’s why this song struck me so powerfully when it came onto my Pandora playlist recently…
And it’s peaceful in the deep,
Cathedral, you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under.
And it’s breaking over me,
A thousand miles onto the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head…
And the arms of the ocean are carrying me,
And all this devotion was rushing out of me,
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
The arms of the ocean deliver me.
Though the pressure’s hard to take,
It’s the only way I can escape,
It seems a heavy choice to make,
Now I am under.
- Wonder if they're related to the funky chicken-buses that we rode on daily from New Jersey to NYC last year: http://t.co/gAJ14m9E #
- Re-cataloging my books & finding sweet memories in the pages. :) @ Memorial Hall http://t.co/J4GCAsxw #
- .@horse_thatbooks awww, that's kind of sad #thatcamp in reply to horse_thatbooks #
- Blessing the bees in NYC: http://t.co/dnt0DMQn #
- IMO, everyone ought to paddle in their local waterways–for understanding & appreciation: http://t.co/zLYAfSRd @LAReviewofBooks #
- The graduate & his celebratory cupcake :) @ Claim Jumper http://t.co/PBQv6GxC #
- Huge graduating class! @ Bren Events Center http://t.co/bXY4TUpi #
- So excited to be at Gameboy's graduation–he's magna cum laude from UniHigh, such a huge achievement! #proudmama #
- Saying goodbye again, but I'll be back…#thatcamp @ The Well (@ The Mason Inn & Conference Center) http://t.co/EFCKl8i3 #
- Mango sticky rice! @ Fairfax, VA http://t.co/jM8GURLX #
- Will any #thatcamp ers still be around at The Well tonite? #
- MT @dancohen: Public Google Hangout w/ @angshah for the #thatcamp "Digital Journalism and Digital Humanities" session: http://t.co/2tC1hqpW #
- RT @briancroxall: RT @captain_primate: Nerds doing nerdly things at #THATCamp (playing Resistance) http://t.co/2QamFSEq // fun game! #
- Love the idea of doing collaborative orals prep with committee members via a group blog #thatcamp #
- RT @dpmckenzie: Students want the good grade. That's usually structured. RT @retius: Students only think they want freedom. #THATCamp #
- God idea: Using online forums for Intercampus collaboration (interacting w/students studying the same novel at other unis) #thatcamp #
- Example of using @anthologize in the classroom: creating a document for each student's blogposts that they can use for their exams #thatcamp #
- Can someone tweet the link to the schedule googledoc? #thatcamp #
- Interesting, two podcasts in the first few dorkshorts. A new trend? #thatcamp #
- MT @boone: Is it too late for a last-minute #thatcamp proposal? http://t.co/OIHVyi5i // would love to talk w/others abt LMS administration #
- Happiness is: dining outdoors with friends by the light of fireflies #thatcamp #
- It feels like a bit of a homecoming to be back at the Mason Inn again. Wish all my #oneweek friends were here… #thatcamp #
- Breakfast of champions #ontheroadagain #thatcamp @ Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) http://t.co/TgullF28 #
As I searched the procession of hundreds of graduating seniors filing into the arena at my son’s high school commencement yesterday, I found him by recognizing the guy who looked the most like Harry Potter. I then zoomed in on his face with my camera to confirm that that was, indeed, my son and not another Radcliffe look-alike. :)
And, I must add that I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier or more confident than he was yesterday as he crossed that stage (which was, incidentally, the same one where I’d been hooded for my PhD just two weeks prior). I’m so proud of the man that he’s becoming, and so happy to be his mother.
Last night when you were steering a canoe through some heavy swells you caught the edge of your thumbnail on the gunnel of the boat and the angle was just so that it pulled off half of the nail. And you swore and then realized that was going to hurt a lot and then you kept paddling because you needed to. If it was just that one thing perhaps you wouldn’t have wondered so much. But if that followed an incident over the weekend when you grabbed your razor wrong when you pulled it out of your suitcase and sliced through the pad of your fourth finger (and thank you concierge for the band aid and the sympathy) and last Tuesday when you grabbed a pan from the oven the wrong way and got second degree burns on three other fingers and just a few weeks ago you accidentally sliced off the tip of your middle finger…
If this is you, you might wonder why such things just keep happening to your fingers. And whether you ought to just preemptively bandage them all because you’re worried about what will happen next…
My birthday fell about halfway through my trip to Europe in May, while we were in Tuscany and staying at a villa just outside of San Gimignano. The night before I thought a lot about what I wanted to do that day. We’d already had several whirlwind days of traveling so I thought it would be nice to something a bit slower-paced for a change. What I did for my birthday:
- Slept in a bit and then headed for the nearby town for a bit of sightseeing and wandering
- Had my first and only Italian gelato
- Shopped for a few small gifts for my kids
- Did my daily 40 laps in the cold water of the villa pool
- Spent an hour or so lying in the sun and dozing
- Watched an afternoon storm roll across the sky and across the valley around the villa
- Ate a simple dinner of bread, cheese, olives, and charcuterie, along with a bottle of local wine
- Took a rambly walk around the grounds of the villa with my camera, including a visit to the organic garden
- Went to bed a bit early
Here’s a slideshow of photos taken on that day:
Since being single I’ve felt a strong resistance to dating anyone with young children (young as in, still living at home). It’s not that I don’t like children (I do like them, very much), or it’s not that I have any prejudice about dating a parent per se, but my reticence seems to stem from a desire to maintain an identity for myself that’s separate from my role as a mother.* Perhaps it doesn’t make much sense as I try to articulate it here, and perhaps it sounds especially odd given that I’m a parent and anyone that I date has to accept that part of my life…But what I seem to crave now is to be defined by my own merits and not to be put into a situation again where I will be defined or restrained by a caregiving role.
Navigating romance and relationships in the middle-stage of life is tricky business and I certainly have my fair share of baggage from the past to make it more complicated. So I’m figuring all of this stuff out as I go along–proceeding with caution and listening as closely as I can to my various inclinations in the process. These matters aren’t entirely logical and there are few models to follow, so it feels like I have to depend on my own intuition as I move forward.
I’m curious if any of you have made similar decisions about dating and relationships? Do you have ‘rules’ that you follow (e.g. no kids) as you evaluate potential matches?
*FWIW, I’ve also not been interested in dating anyone LDS or formerly-LDS for the same reason. I’ve put my natal religion completely behind me now and I don’t want it to play any part in my future relationships.
As I packed my suitcase for this trip, I remember pretty distinctly the moment that I packed all of my power cords–checking to make sure that I had phone charger, iPod charger, and laptop cord (all necessities for a technology conference). And it wasn’t until last night that I realized which power cord I forgot–the one that powers me (it charges the battery in my bionic knee). I don’t actually know how long my battery will last, never having pushed it past 48 hours before. But I’m a few hours over that now and still going strong so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and have power until I get home in 2 days (but I doubt it).
About 15 minutes before the battery goes dead my leg will chirp a few times and vibrate (like a phone). After that, the knee will go analog–maybe something a bit similar to losing power steering in your car. The pneumatic will go stiff and it will be difficult to bend the knee at all.
I’ve never had to walk with my leg like that, much less traveled with a stiff knee. It’s sure to be an interesting experience–a good reminder not to take my bionics for granted. And I’m feeling really happy right now that I opted for a ‘more legroom’ seat for the flight in the way home…
UPDATE: My battery died just shortly after take-off on the plane ride home (apparently not disrupting the navigational system of the plane as it buzzed and chirped to let me know that it was dying). I still can’t believe that it lasted while I traveled for four days, but I’m so glad that it did!
When I travel, the one blessing of jetlag is that some days just seem to last forever and it’s possible (with a few catnaps) to just keep going and going and going…This last trip to Europe I had one of those days…
It began with breakfast in the hotel dining room (why oh why is European yogurt always better than anything I can find here in the States) and with a hour’s lounging at the sauna, with an amazing view (above).
And then we went to the station to book tickets on the historic Bernina Express train route through the Alps. Without a doubt that train ride was the most scenic that I’ve ever experienced, and we lucked out to have an entire panorama car to ourselves because of it being off-season in the region. Here’s the train station, just before we left (note: click on any of these photos below for a larger view):
And here are a handful of photos from the trip, as we made our way up and over the Alps (where I learned that swiss green is greener-than-green):
It was raining and snowing a bit that morning. I loved how the clouds hovered around the tops of the mountains…
Our views out the windows looked like this (i.e. amazing, there was so much to see):
- Anyone else arriving at IAD early tomorrow morning for #THATCamp I've got a cool carpool oppt'y available to GMU :) #
- Such a delight to go to the library yesterday & come out with an armful of novels. #postPhDlifestyle #
- Anyone else going to #THATCamp from IAD early Friday morning? I'm looking for a lift. #
- Annie Dillard, on writing #justwhatIneededtoday #knowyourownbone http://t.co/YErImG22 #
- I think #ChapmanU should offer free chair massages for staff everyday! #soblissedoutnow #chapmanrocks #
- Catgirl's self-portrait, all of the details/shading are handwritten text http://t.co/FWzhEefe #
- Me & my awesome adviser #uci http://t.co/lxL26NRs #
- The podium view #uci http://t.co/7Pojr441 #
- Being a doctor is hot (these robes are keeping me more than warm) #uci #
- Wonder if I dare not remove my hat, as instructed, for the anthem #becauseImaQuaker #uci #
- I'm the lone student in the stage (for now) h/t Lorie for the pic #uci http://t.co/NHc2pYRR #
- I think they're playing the Harry Potter theme song instead of the graduation song #uci #
- View from the podium (empty chairs are for other grads who haven't yet arrived) #ucigr @ Bren Events Center http://t.co/h52dkLWi #
- Just became Dr. Remy! #butitsnotofficialuntilIwearthefunnyhattomorrow #happyhappyhappy #
Monday I went to lunch with an old LDS friend, someone I’d known back in the days when most of my time was spent corralling toddlers and keeping house. Because she was on her way to Italy and I just returned, we planned to discuss travel. But instead we talked mostly about change. I wondered if she would recognize the now-me, and how different I would seem from the Jana of twenty years ago.
She said I was still the same person, but suggested that maybe my years spent as a mother-of-young children and as a dutiful-Mormon-wife were more of an aberration from the “real me” than is my life now. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that since we met and I’m not sure. I think I have changed in some pretty fundamental ways–that was the major insight that I had while ruminating on my life at Cape Cod last year and that feeling has persisted since then.
Just like I look back on the essays that I wrote when I was a college freshman or even the blogposts that I wrote a few years and cringe a bit at my naivete, I do the same when I reflect on some of the decisions that I made in the past. I don’t have any regrets, per se. But my lens is not the same as it was before, and that change means that I make decisions differently and hold other priorities than I used to. It feels right to see an evolution of behavior and choices in myself, instead of stagnation.
But perhaps the biggest change in me is that I used to be afraid of change. And I’m not so much anymore. Maybe it’s just a phase that I’m going through and eventually I will find a familiar path and will no longer want to deviate from it. But for now, I’m enjoying the exploration and the traveling. It feels right to be trying new things, even uncomfortable ones. And it’s a liberating feeling to not be constantly measuring myself against the expectations of a church, a community, or a relationship that doesn’t fit my values. In general I feel more present and alive to my experiences and possibilities than ever before, which seems right to me at this mid-stage of my life.