Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What do the words mean anymore?

So during my mass personal library weeding last week I came across a number of books with personal inscriptions inside. Hmmmm...what to do with them. I refuse to donate books that have been personalized and have usually held on to them but I'm really trying to weed the books I haven't read in ages.
So I made a little pile of my personalized books and reread the inscriptions and had a nice trip down memory lane. There were sonnet books with love inscriptions from long lost lovers, parenting books with inscriptions of hope that I didn't screw up my kid and fiction books with Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday scrawled inside. Some of the inscriptions were heartfelt such as a book of poems my sister gave me, I kept that one. Lost loves had written endearing script of their undying love and devotion to me but alas I didn't marry any of those men. Ironic no? I wonder, does the opportunity to reread the book mean more to me or the knowledge that I can reread the inscription and remember that once upon a time, someone loved me enough to personally pick out a book for me and hope that I would remember them forever?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stepford Wife Phase-RIP

I've had my Stepford Wife phase as so many women do. My phases didn't last very long, I start to go a little ape sh*t crazy when I have to walk the halls of my sons school or plan parties for kids.
During the years I lived in Chicago my son went to a private Montessori school and I was very involved in the school and his activities. When I moved and he started at a public grade school I did my turn as a member of the PTA and as a room Mom. (Stop laughing, I really did!) I see it as a right of passage like getting your drivers license or voting for the first time. Those years of school involvement are happily behind me and I don't miss it at all.
Ironically I currently live around the corner from a large public grade school. If I leave my house anytime between 8:45-9 am or around 3:30 pm, my neighborhood is chaos. Here is what I see:

Minivan, SUV, minivan, minivan, minivan, SUV, Jeep, Van, minivan, minivan, minivan, SUV, SUV, SUV, minivan, minivan, Van, minivan, minivan, SUV, SUV, minivan, minivan.
Ya, suburban mom's keep the gas pumps busy for sure.

There are only 2 times in my life I really hated suburbia.

#1, I was a AYSO referee for little kids in Skokie Illinois. Went through the training, got my shiny whistle and was ready to ref pee wee soccer. I made it through 1 game and was absolutely traumatized for life. Nasty parents screaming at me, screaming at their kids. Totally horrifying. Now my son has been in park district sports for 12 years and LOVES it, and most of the parent involvement is amazing. But geez, North Shore Chicago parents and soccer still gives me nightmares.

#2, PTA politics. It exists and it's scary. I don't know if it's the former corporate moms who are now "stay-at-home" moms or if they are just looking for drama to discuss at spinning classes, but please...there is no stay-at-home for these women, they are involved in EVERYTHING, PTA, church, walking groups etc. And when they are planning a room party,a holiday event or the next year's PTA representative, seriously...stay the hell out of their way. Dealing with some of those women was often more political and catty than joining my college sorority.
Really...I still shudder at the thought of rolling tape to hang pictures on brick hallway walls or counting paper cups for red juice.

My new niece is only a few months old and I see her and my sister together and I see the happy years ahead, picking out a good child care provider, finding a good preschool, the first day of school and I watch it from the sidelines like viewing a film. Happy to experience it through someones else's eyes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weeding and letting go...

We are remodeling the fireplace in my library/family room by removing the 70's yellow brick surround and replacing it with dry wall and a more modern mantle and stone facade. I decided this was the perfect time to weed my home library and let go of some of my books. I hate clutter and I'm not the book lover who never gives away a book. Books to me hold memories of a certain time in my life or an important event or are simply a story I like to read again and again. When I get the weeding bug I toss without mercy and in the last few days I finally let go of some books I've held on to for too long.

Those that went included:
All books on babies, raising babies, baby names, baby behavior, raising boys books etc.
All self help books, seriously do those EVER help anyone. It was my Bridget Jones moment.
All biographies except those on Princess Diana (my little royal family obsession)
My weird finding-my-religion phase books, Wiccan, Buddhism, Taoism etc...
Relationship books, please I already know it's all my fault, I don't need some quack telling me that
The I-never-read-odd-author books like David Sedaris

The books I didn't toss and never will, my growing collection of rare books. Hopefully if I continue weeding someday I will have a library that looks like it belongs in an English country manor although I actually will read my precious books.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Reality Star is Dying

For those of you who know me or read my blog regularly know that I have been a reader of the London papers every day for over a decade. I'm sure it's a combination of my anglophilia and the sensationally trashy style of the rags in England, but I start each day with my daily dose of all things British.

One particular young woman is the perfect example of today's British culture and I've been reading about her exploits for years. Jade Goody is a self made reality star who got her start on the voyeur show Big Brother and became both reviled and beloved for her uneducated, endearing, funny and honest personality. She became a millionaire, released her autobiography, opened some hair salons and even sold her own perfume. She was a staple in the tabloids for her in-your-face lifestyle, her love life with a fellow reality star and then a boy toy convict and her constant run ins with people who either loved her or hated her. Oh and then there was her lesbian 1 armed mother who she often battled with and the death of her father by drug overdose in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant bathroom.

A couple of years ago on another reality tv show Jade called a fellow contestant (an Indian actress) a racist term and became the most hated woman in Britain. The media circus was so extreme British politicians apologized to the Indian government and people for Jade's behavior. Jade flew to India last summer to try and make amends by appearing on the Indian version of Big Brother and while she was there, on live television she got a phone call that she had cancer. Jade Goody is a 27 year old mother of 2 young sons and she is dying.

In the months since her cervical cancer diagnosis Jade has been allowing a tv crew to film her journey as a cancer patient. Cameras have rolled while Jade had chemotherapy, while her hair fell out, when her boyfriend was released from jail, when she found out her cancer was terminal, her boyfriend's proposal and her wedding planning while she also plans her death.

So the woman who was created by reality television is going to marry her jailbird boy toy fiance Jack this weekend in a wedding dress donated by Harrods and filmed for tv, all in the hopes that the money she makes in her final weeks will ensure the future of her motherless children. The British people are fascinated with this beloved but equally despised woman and her decision to live and die through their newspapers and televisions.

The fact is Jade is the reality of reality television, she is the epitome of class division, a poor uneducated woman who has taken every advantage of society's obsession with watching and judging to create for herself a new reality. The sadness is that Jade Goody is dying as she front of the cameras and that keeps me up at night. I watch and read like every other fascinated observer to Jade's tragedy and I hope that the money she earns in her final days and the happiness she finds in her perfect wedding is enough as she kisses her children goodbye as the cancer claims her.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ghost in the Library?

Usually I like this type of story, an old spooky university where there are sightings of ghostly students or long dead librarians.
This article is about the "reported" ghostly occurrences of the Depauw University Roy West Library and a specific "haunted" book.
Apparently a ghost hunters group decided to check things out and made a couple of audio recordings. I was enjoying the story until I made the mistake of going to the ghost hunters website and listening to their so called library ghost recordings. Then I laughed and kept laughing. Ridiculous, foolish and downright embarrassing not only to the "ghost hunters" but to the library.
Next time I want to make the papers, I will make a ghostly audio recording of myself whispering and see if anyone believes it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wonderfully Spooky Read-The Graveyard Book

It was no surprise to his devoted readers when Neil Gaiman recently won the Newberry Medal for The Graveyard Book. I've been a fan of Gaiman since I started his comic book series The Sandman back in the 90's. I've recently reread the series and I consider the characters and stories some of the most fascinating, tragic, frightening and fantastic tales I have ever read. Truly Gaiman's imagination gives me many a sleepless night. (See my post on The Sandman here: )
I had heard of Gaiman's tale of a boy raised in a graveyard and was fascinated. I have a weird appreciation for cemeteries and have spent many a day wandering through graveyards locally and in countries around the world. My Mom has told me stories of myself as a young toddler wandering a local cemetery licking the fresh snow off the tombstones while my father was doing research (he was a history teacher). After watching a recent interview with Gaiman on the Today show shortly after he won the Newberry he spoke of his inspiration for the story, his own son riding his bike through graveyards. Well that was it for me, another weird parent who takes their child to graveyards, I have been doing the same with my own son since he could walk.
So it was luck and chance that I stumbled into a bookstore in Naperville last week that not only had copies of The Graveyard Book on the shelf, but SIGNED copies by Gaiman himself who stopped by the store on his book tour last fall. I bought more than 1 copy and have been reading ever since.
The Graveyard Book is about a little boy named Nobody Owens who is given "The Freedom of the Graveyard" and raised by the dead after his family is murdered. Chilling, imaginative and haunting is how I would describe this book and a must read for anyone who has ever wondered if it's the dead or the living we should fear.

To listen to Gaiman read you the book, chapter by chapter, click here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Now this is a character worthy of a book

It's not often that an unusual character much less possible criminal enters the world of libraries. Unless you are in Britain where apparently rare book stealers abound.
This genius who is accused of stealing a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio from a University worth over 3 million pounds, shows up at his hearing wearing a fur coat, in a stretch limo, drinking Dom Perignon and eating pot-o-noodles. He of course says he is innocent and is now turning his notoriety into a book.
My favorite part is that he thought he would arrive in a chauffeured limo with either the Pussycat Dolls or Girls Aloud. Love it...
The trial continues...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Starbucks Saved His Life

Great story about a man fired from his 6 figure income job who went to work for Starbucks. Starbucks changed his life, he wrote a book, it became a bestseller and now Tom Hanks is going to star in the movie.
Check it out:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Collections in the White House

I thought you might enjoy this story of a little known White House collection.
Obama's a lucky man.