Saturday, February 24, 2007

Library visit #229...and the clock is ticking

Friday was my 229th visit to the local library since we moved back here in August of 2001. I know this because I number a little slip of paper and paperclip it to the bib slips I make for each of the books in that batch. I used to number the reciepts too but started letting that slide as I gained more dependable access to my libary account online. I don't know how many more visits there will be before the doors close April 6. Only six more weeks. I have been averaging a visit per week but I won't be now because as of next Thursday, March 1st, they are limiting all patrons to 30 items. After I checked out my card totaled 97. Which means I have to return over 67 items before I can check out more. If any more of my requests come in early next week, I might go pick them up on Wednesday. They will hold a request for eleven days. So I have until March 12th to pick up something that comes in for me on the 1st. Some of the items I'be been waiting my turn for for months.

But quite a few of the items I have checked out right now I watied in queue for weeks or months for. Like Sidney Poitier's The Measure of a Man, which is the Oprah book club selection this month. It was actually due Friday and I kept it over the week-end. I started it last week while staying with my husband's grandmother so my in-laws could go on vacation. I sent for the large print copy, which is why I even got it at all. When I went online to check on it just hours after watching Oprah announced it, the queue was already in the double digits for the regular edition. Looking for large print editions of high-demand books is one of the tricks I have learned. I feel guilty holding onto a book I know so many are wanting right now. But I really want to finish. Not least because its subtitle is a spiritual autobiography. And also so as not be totally lost when I watch the Oprah show in which the book club discusses the book with its author. But mostly because I started it and was already enchanted by his tales of life as a boy on Cat Island in the Bahamas.

I hope to finish the Poitier by Saturday night as next on my agenda is Stephen King's Lisey's Story. It is due next Friday and is over five-hundred pages. I was amazed I got my turn at all as the queue was already in the 70s when I signed on in mid December. But for very high-demand items like King and Harry Potter, they tend to provide enough copies for each of the 15 branches to have their own--and then some. I am quite frustrated that I have had it for two weeks and not started it yet. The day I checked it out was the day I learned I was needed to sit with Grandma for three days in the upcoming week. I knew better than to try to read a King novel under circumstances where frequent interruptions were a given. When I got back home, it was time to do that week's TT--the 13 giggles. And then prepare for the Friday library visit, which entailed fullfilling a vow I had made to myself on the walk home the previous week to return 30 items--I had finished three books and watched 12 DVDs and there were six items that would not renew during that week. I sent back all the novels coming due in the next three weeks and several NF that I knew there was a queue for.

Today, I brought home the new Thomas Pynchon novel. Against the Day. It is over 1000 pages. I know there is a queue for it. I know it will be at least a week before I can start it and I already let it set on the reserve shelf for a week. But I just had to bring it home and hold it in my hands and browse in it and make out a bib slip for it. Plus, my husband expressed an interest in it. But if neither of us has started it by next Friday, I intend to let it go.

My 13 year-old niece spent the long weekend with us and she and I had a movie marathon each of the three nights. We watched two Jane Austen novel dramatisations--Northranger Abby and Persuasion. I have turned another young-woman onto Jane Austen! Now she wants to read the novels. We also watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I've read the three novels, turned onto them by another niece over a year ago. We also watched The Glass Menagerie, Now, Voyager, Charade, An Affair to Remember and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. All of these were firsts for me!

That is due in part to being raised Fundamentalist. This past year I have gorged on old movies trying to fill in some of the huge culture gap created by being mostly cut off from my own culture for the first thirty-three years of my life. This is one more thing I can thank a Public Library system for. Just as the Longview, WA Public Library was there for me when I discovered I needed to learn to think for myself in 1992 the Southern Oregon Library System was here for me when my sense of being clueless about essential culture memes became unbearable.

I almost didn't get to go to the library this week. We had five inches of snow over Wednesday night. The power went out for three hours Thursday morning. I was in the middle of visiting TT participants when it cut out at 4am. My laptop still worked on battery but of course we lost the WIFI, so I just hibernated my laptop and lay down in the dark and listened for evidence the power was back on. It hadn't come back on when my husband had to get up to get ready for work at six. He and his Mom both had to get ready for work in a dark house, though in the end she didn't go after learning that the traffic signals were out between here and Ashland. My husband was back home again before noon because the power kept going out there so they couldn't print the tickets for the product to be shipped.

There was still qutie a bit of slush on the pavement Friday morning and I knew I was taking my life in my hands to go out in that. If I put my foot down wrong on a slick patch... If I lost my bearings because a landmark was covered over--for me with severe tunnel vision a landmark is a crack in the pavement, a manhole cover, a painted line... Well, both those things happened several times but no disaster came of it. I did almost walk out into the traffic once when I lost my bearings after stopping to dislodge ice and gravel from the wheels of my rolling backback.

If I hadn't made it, I would have missed out on the visit of a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle wanting to talk to 'regular people' about to be affected by the libary closure. I guess it is very uncommon, for a whole county to shut down all of its library services, which makes it a story worth crossing a state line to check into.

I was getting ready to leave when the reporters came in and struck up a conversation with the librarian. I didn't understand that they were reporters. I just thought they were patrons chatting about the immenent closure. That has been quite common. I've overheard quite a few exchanges between the librarian and other patrons over this. I am not the only one freaking out over it. But this time they were talking about the history of the building the library is in right now and I hadn't heard it before.

We moved into temporary quarters last May so as to let City Hall move into the old library building. Then the building shared by City Hall and the Police Department was to be knocked down and the new libary built there. We were supposed to already be in our new quarters but the PD had trouble finding their new quarters. Now construction on the new building is to begin as soon as the weather improves. And yes, they are still going to build it even though the chances are high that it won't get to open for business. The funds for the building cannot be used for anything else.

Anyway, I was enthralled listening to the librarian tell how this little 'pocket library' we have right now used to be a dentists office and the dentist lived upstairs. Suddenly the floorplan made sense! The checkout counter was just like a receptionist window at a doctor's office. Next thing I knew, the librarian was coming out from behind the counter and over to the table where I was preparing to put on my coat and squirm into the straps of my backpack. I was wearing it on my back for the return trip and pulling a larger bag--a little old lady's shopping bag that had a larger wheel that could ride over that slush and gravel better. I had brought it folded up and stuffed into the backpack--its not much bigger than a coffee table book when folded up. I had also carrried a small duffle with a shoulder strap full of DVDs on the trip to and it was stuffed with DVDs again but I had stuffed it into the backpack. I had come prepared to take home everything waiting for both me and my husband. I was expecting to stuff all three bags. I am glad I didn't have to wear the backpack full of heavey books though.

I can't stay on track here. And it is no wonder. I can hear my mother-in-law is up and getting ready for work. I've been working on this post for hours.

To wrap up: The librarian introduce me to the reporters. I still didn't get that they were reporters at first and when I started to suspect, I still thought they were local. It wasn't until I had been talking to them for fifteen minutes that I thought to ask and she handed me her business card. Meredith May from the San Francisco Chronicle. She told me the story would be published in the next three or four weeks.

I was surprised at how easy it was for me to overcome my severe social anxiety to talk to a stranger for so long. It was my passion for the subject that made me forget how shy and socially awkward I am for a few minutes. But at one point, shortly after she had taken down the url of my blog, I started to freak a little bit as I realized that somebody connected to publishing might soon be looking at Joystory and the url might even be published. All I could think of was what a poor showing for a blog I have. It was bad enough when I still thought they were local. But SFGate? San Francisco is a publishing mecca almost equal in stature to New York. This is the kind of attention that those of us who put up web pages to display our writing pine for. And I feel totally unprepared to be observed.

But, hey, if I can't get past that reluctance to attract attention to myself, I might as well get out of the blogging business altogether. Not to mention writing. I don't know whether perfectionism or profound shyness is the worst of my bugaboos. Neither of them are conducive to a writer's productivity. Both of them together are nearly fatal. Blogging was supposed to help me overcome both. And it has helped a great deal. I've come a long way since November 2004. I just wish it had been farhter.

3 tell me a story:

Jamie 2/24/2007 6:28 AM  

That sounds like an adventure to me. Don't be nervous, your blog is great. I'm shy too, I have a hard time sharing things myself, it is those doubts that creep into your head that cause it. I need to send up error messages all the time in my brain. They say your brain is like a computer, so it is worth a try.

Jenny McB 2/26/2007 6:45 PM  

thank you for stopping by my blog- I feel for you! I would be lost without my library. Presently, I live in a small town next to the state capital of NH and love my library with it's plentiful parking and pleasant librarians. I just go in and look through the books that have come back and strike up a conversation with whoever is behind the counter.
Why is your library closing and is there any chance it won't? How can we become a literate society and leave no child behind without libraries?
Your interview sounded exciting and I am sure that you did fine. Jen

Elizabeth Bauterfly 2/27/2007 3:41 PM  

Hey joy I just read your post and I think your a little to paronoed for your own good. Your blog is great and your a lot farther then me on your blog, wich is not very much but you have a good blog so don't be paranoyed about this, and you can't say that having youe URL posted in a leading newspaper wouldn't be amazing.I love you, see you sometime soon.


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