Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A foolish life

My best friend recently had a visit from a friend she had not seen in three years. They met each other in a night class, hit it off, and enjoyed spending time with each other for a couple of years. Then each moved away. Over the next three years they stayed in touch via telephone calls and email, growing even closer. She struggled with self-confidence issues and graduate school; he struggled with unemployment and came out of the closet. They may have shared their victories, I think, but it seemed that they fell more easily to the lamentation side of things. I wasn't party to their conversations, but I imaged the scene from "When Harry Met Sally" where Harry is moaning over the phone. mmmmmmmmmm. mmmmmmmmmmm. mmmmmmmmm. "Oh my god, you won't believe what happened today..." " I am having the worst week ever..." mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nevertheless, she really loves him and couldn't wait to see him again at long-last.

So anyhow, said friend came for a visit for Thanksgiving. He really couldn't afford the plane ticket so my best friend used her frequent flier miles. She took time off work, cleaned her house, planned a slew of things to do, and... he apparently hated every minute of it. His comments were of the "everything here is so... blah" variety. Apparently life in the DC metro area is very bland and cookie cutter compared to his home city of Seattle.

In snatched cell phone calls here and there best friend had hinted that things weren't going well. "Nothing I do is right," she hissed from a restaurant when he went to the bathroom. "Nothing is making him happy!"

My husband and I were supposed to go out with them on Saturday night. It was to be a Meeting of the Best Friends evening. Best friend calls me from a movie theater Saturday afternoon. "We're about to see a three-hour movie," she whispers. "He wasn't happy with my restaurant choice for tonight. He wants to go somewhere unique. Help!"

I am an amateur foodie and an avid reader of local restaurant news and reviews, so I agreed to see what I could do. I made reservations at a Moroccan place that features a belly dancer on the weekends. Sounds unique, right? And it got good reviews. So I call and leave her a voice mail detailing the plans.

She calls back three hours later. "He says that he's tried Moroccan before, but he's willing to try it again."

Willing to try it again? Whoops.

That didn't bode well but we plunged ahead with the plans. Seattle friend was... not the most brilliant conversationalist I've come across. I don't know if that's his personality, or if he was brooding because he was having such a bad time in blah-ville, but I can honestly say that I've never asked so many questions in my life. ("So, how many siblings do you have?" "What music do you like?" "Whoops, what's the best way to get an olive stain out of my shirt?" Best friend had apparently just given up and was sucking down Long Island Iced Teas, and my husband was trying but this really wasn't his problem, so there you go.

We went to an Irish pub after that had some lovely live entertainment, but that didn't seem to get him too excited, either.

Now, I tend to be a pretty forgiving person. My friend Sue tells me I am too forgiving, that I should grow a thicker spine and just hold life-long grudges like she does. (I've tried and just can't do it) I don't let people walk all over me, but if someone has offended/hurt/betrayed me, and I can see that there was a good reason (even if the reason is that the person doesn't know any better), then I can forgive.

But when someone has hurt my best friend this way?

She called me crying on the way home from the airport. "I knew he wasn't having a good time. I can accept that. But when he says that everything here is so blah... when he says he doesn't know how I can live here..."

It reminded me of the scene in Love Actually where Karen is confronting her husband about his infidelity. She says, voice breaking, "Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me, and you've made the life I lead foolish too."

He made the life she leads seem foolish. And on purpose, too. Isn't that one of the most unforgivable offenses?

Even through her tears she said she could understand, that he was in a bad place emotionally and that he must be very unhappy to have taken it out on her.

I thought it was the "misery loves company" idea that had bonded them. Only as long as the misery has outside sources, I guess. The kind that's caused by the company doesn't go down so easily.

Friday, November 19, 2004

UH! UH!

There seems to be a mass exodus taking place in my library.

Okay, "mass exodus" might be stretching things.

BUT, you must admit that when you have a tiny staff, two resignations creates quite a hole. I might soon be forced to work 24/7 to keep the library running.

Okay, that's another exaggeration. (I like to do that)

But things will certainly get interesting. To release some of my pent-up frustration and aggression I went to my kick-ass Body Combat class last night. It's such a great opportunity to clear your mind and focus your entire body on movement and power...

UH! UH!

...and to think about the fact that I was supposed to be off early for the December holiday but since I am the only one who will still be in town that day...

UH! UH! Jab, cross, jab!

...I gladly volunteered to come in. That's just the swell kind of person I am. And that Saturday in December that we no longer have coverage for? Well, students must have access to the books...

UH! UH! Elbow strike!

...even if it is my birthday. Besides, I can still find plenty of ways to celebrate...

UH! UH! Roundhouse kick!

...like by remembering that I am helping to nurture the young minds of today...

UH! Drop kick!

...and bringing knowledge to the masses!

UH! Double jab!

And fighting censorship!!!

UH! Upper cut!

And upholding intellectual freedom!!!!!

UH! UH! UH! (INSERT SIGNATURE HOWARD DEAN SCREAM HERE)

gasp.
wheeze.

I gotta go.
I think I pulled something.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

There are too many of it...

Favorite book quote of the day:
"There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly . . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it."
(preface, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith)

The other day as I was driving home during rush hour an ambulance approached from behind, its siren wailing. Immediately, silently, the cars around me pulled to the sides of the road to let it pass. In that moment I found this occurrence strangely admirable, and also mystifying. Admirable because the people who, just moments before, had driven hunched over the steering wheels like balls of seething road rage, were now dutifully, even respectfully, making way for something critical. Mystifying because I wasn't sure I should find pride or comfort in a sporadic display of humanity.

I know that kindness exists everywhere, even extreme, life-changing acts of kindness . Someone donates a kidney to a stranger. A fireman rushes into a burning building to save a life.

Today a student held the door for me as I entered the library. He smiled, too.

Sometimes a tree grows in the library.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A shivery entrance

My first blog- incredible! Especially since I was completely ignorant of blogging until I attended a Computers in Libraries conference two years ago. Who knew there was such a vast number of bloggers in existence? I should have, apparently. Librarians are supposed to know a bit of everything. And here, finally, I dip my toe into the bloggy waters...

Hubby and I are planning a trip to Italy and we just got a preliminary itinerary from our travel agent. I have been too excited to work much. I hope I get control of myself soon as the trip is not until Fall 05. Yes, there's still a whole year of work to go. Maybe I should remind myself that with every reference question I answer and class I teach, I am earning the money that will buy a gondola ride in Venice, or a nice, big glass of red wine.

Make it several. Ah, too bad it's only Tuesday. I am fairly strict with my weekends-only drink policy. I do like wine a lot, and Long Island Iced Tea. Now that's a drink that gets the job done.

Winter is setting in and my teeth are close to chattering as I type. My office was built as an afterthought, and apparently the heater was added as an after-afterthought. It never seems to kick in at the appropriate times. I've been told that once it becomes cold enough the heater will spring to life but I am currently at 64 degrees and that's obviously not cold enough. I considered wearing my gloves but that makes it awfully hard to type so perhaps I will have to sample the fingerless variety.

Maybe I could bend the rules and have some hot coffee with a bit of Bailey's. That doesn't count, does it?