Ontological Small Talk

"What's your deal?"

I turn around from my workstation, the half-folded CD box still in my hands. Paperclip Guy* is standing at the processing shelf, scanning a cart-load of orders before shelving them. I can only imagine the puzzled look on my face that prompts him to repeat his question.

"What's your deal?... What do you like?... What do you do?"

Basically he's asking me who I am. This is what I get when I work with a guy who studied philosophy in college; instead of discussing the Mets and Dodgers (metaphorically speaking, of course; I care nothing for baseball) we discuss our ontology in a round-about way. I half turn back to my table, slipping DVDs into plastic sleeves while I gather my thoughts.

"Oh gosh," I say slowly, "That's complicated..."

"You can give me the short answer," he says. He's dead serious. He's always dead serious. Even when telling me that manatees weigh only 50 pounds because they are made up of mostly air. I almost believed him for a half minute, before he told me he was just teasing. He hadn't cracked a smile at all.

"Well," I say carefully, still forming the thoughts in my head, "I guess I would say that at the very heart, I'm a Lover of Words." The words have capitalization even in my head. "Its why I want to be a librarian, its why I like to read..."

I'm not finished--there's three to the group--but he interjects. "Then why don't you become a writer?"

"...and why I love to write" I finish.

His cart is almost empty, but he's got enough time to ask what I like to read. Seriously, Paperclip Guy, one hard question at time. Isn't it enough to ask me the nature of my being, let alone try to condense my sphere of reading into a single sentence? I manage to pull an genre (essays) and an author (Chesterton) out of my mental card catalog, and we exchange niceties about the great Englishman.

Now his cart is empty. He goes back to overseeing the rows of tapes that are transferring to disc. I return to reviewing orders for shipment. I can't say I didn't enjoy the conversation. It was just...different.

*Obviously not his real name... Names changed to protect the innocent (or something like that). Besides, for about a week, (before I learned his real name) I thought of him as Paperclip Guy, because I didn't even know he worked with me until he came through the building looking for paperclips.

girlhood things and sprig muslin

I've been reveling in the joys of re-reading an old series from childhood this week--The Betsy-Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace. I read the first few books in 3rd grade, but didn't discover the later ones till I was in highschool. For those unfamiliar with the series, its follows the life of a girl, Betsy Warrington Ray, and her two best friends, red-headed Tacy Kelly, and fairy-like Tib Muller. The books start when Betsy and Tacy are quite young--five or six, I believe--and continue through highschool and into Betsy's first year of marriage. The books are all quite wholesome, and on my Must Read list for any girl. The girls get into all sorts of hilarious scrapes and seem to have hardly a care in their Pre-Great War world. I'm currently re-reading the highschool years, and as I am wont to do,  projecting the characters onto my own life. I can see myself and my friends reflected in varying combinations of personalities. Betsy's journaling certainly sounds so much like my own, that I wonder if, somehow, I  have been subconsciously echoing her in the way I write these past four years of steady journal keeping. Tacy is just one of the many red-head's who have stirred my own longing for true red hair, and her coronet braids have certainly been manifested in my life a lot the past couple of years.
Most mornings lately, you'd be able to find me sitting legs folded beneath me in my plush armchair with coffee  at hand, giggling at the escapades of Betsy's Crowd,  smiling a secret smile when ever Joe Willard comes into the story (for I know what Betsy doesn't know... she's gonna marry him someday) and occasionally scribbling a quote down in my ever present notebook. It's been good for my imagination, and good for my soul.
Also on a slightly unrelated note, I have an observation. Isn't "sprigged" the loveliest word? Meaning "decorated with a design of leaves or flowers" you'll most often read it in books like Betsy-Tacy, and Little House on the Prairie, in the context of describing fabric. Ma Ingalls has a sprigged calico dress, Tib Muller has a lilac sprigged dress, and I do believe there's a Georgette Heyer book titled "Sprig Muslin". The word is  dainty and quaint and innocent in sound, and I am utterly enthralled with it. It kinda makes me want to sew a sprigged calico dress of my own. 

Til next time my lovely readers, I am yours in hopeless romanticism.

Rainy Day Ramen

I couldn't have been older than ten, but not younger than eight, when I first remember thinking that Ramen noodles on rainy days was possibly the best lunchtime combination. I think it might have been my first conscious recognition of comfort food. Sitting at the dining room table in our little white World War II era house with the rain coming down hard on the windows, I don't believe I'm fabricating memories when I recall being perfectly content as I forked up the warm brown noodles and contemplated the books I was going to read at quiet time.

This memory came back to me today when I was working up in the library archives and trying to figure out what I'd eat for lunch when I got off work. When I woke up this morning, the Hill was enveloped in grey clouds and mist, (the actual Bryan Bubble--am I right?) and it was trying to rain. It actually did rain for a little while-- happy, fat drops that fell on the library's atrium skylights with a most beautiful rattle. The rain, plus my   hungry belly dredged up the memory of rain day ramen, and made my lunchtime planning easy.

It surprises me when I find people that have never had ramen. For a young family on a tight budget, it was a cheap lunch; for the large family with hungry boys, it was again, a cheap belly-filler, we've never not had ramen in the house (except for that one time mom was going on a MSG-free kick and didn't buy it for a month.) Hardly nutritious, and barely delicious, its not the most glamorous food out there. But it's warm, and comforting, and perfect for rainy days.

50 Reasons why my dad is the best

I started out writing a post about my dad, and why I love him, but as I worked on it, it quickly began to grow to proportions that would make it most unsuitable for online reading formats, so instead, I decided to compile a list of reasons supporting my argument for why my father is, indeed, the best

  1. Canoeing the Seneca River with me as a six year-old
  2. Midnight cross country skiing at Beaver lake (not much older than above)
  3. Camping in the backyard (despite rogue skunks)
  4. He built the canoe we used in the Seneca :)
  5. He built several sets of bunkbeds of various designs
  6. He made me a Susan Pevensie bow. best. toy. ever.
  7. He constructed a luge ramp out of snow in the backyard for our sleds
  8. He drew this amazing picture of Aslan that my sister and I hung near the creepy trap door above the bunks to keep bad dreams away.
  9. He sewed a baby shirt for me by tracing my on one of his old t-shirts and cutting it up. 
  10. He plays the bagpipe chanter, and used to play it for us before bed.
  11. Same with the pennywhistle
  12. Taught himself how to play the banjo
  13. Has listened to Thistle and Shamrock (the best celtic music radio program ever) for over twenty years.
  14. Loves Lynyrd Skynyrd and southren rock
  15. Taught me every thing I know about household gymnastics 
  16. Had a red bike that we called the Red Baron, on which he would chase us around the bus lots on our bike rides, playing Snoopy and the Red Baron. There's nothing like an imaginary dogfight on wheels.
  17. He coached my soccer team..... that one year I actually played soccer in third grade or something.
  18. He can still do a triathlon and do it well.
  19. He has an affinity for diving off tall objects into deep water. its pretty cool.
  20. He loves to waterski
  21. He can make the best monkeybread and cinnamon rolls. Mmm.
  22. His smoked pork shoulder is to. die. for. 
  23. He appreciates coffee, and in large doses.
  24. He makes the best christmas breakfast spreads
  25. Happiness is his delicious pork ribs. 
  26. He loves superhero movies (but isn't one of those dad's still stuck in childhood and collecting comic books)
  27. He also enjoys a good Masterpiece classic movie, almost as much as mom, my sister and I do.
  28. He tolerates Austen (I think Emma is his favorite), enjoys Gaskell, and loves Dickens
  29. He introduced me to Little Dorrit last summer and we obsessively watched the BBC miniseries over the course of the summer. 
  30. He took me to get my first library card.
  31. Makes sure I get at least one book for Christmas
  32. Comes home with random books for me when I least expect it.
  33. He challenged my reading choices at a young age and taught me not to feed on drivel.
  34. I learned from him that if nothing else, read essays and short stories.
  35. He's made fantastic reading lists for me.
  36. He read me Tolstoy at an impressionable age, not worrying about whether or not I could handle it. I turned out ok.
  37. HE didn't shy away from literary gore. There were heads cleft asunder in King Arthur, people loosing limbs and fingers in Grimms Fairy tales and heaven knows that the Books of Kings would be an R rated movie, but we read it all...before bed.
  38. He introduced me to everything Lewis
  39. He gave me a jump start on my computer knowledge
  40. Tried to teach me how to write... I just wasn't ready yet, otherwise I know he would have succeeded
  41. Anything I know about cars... anything that impresses my guy friends.. I've learned from him.
  42. Because of him, I know how to set a proper table
  43. ...also how to rake a lawn, and good work ethic.
  44. He's always been supportive of my choice of major
  45. When I told him about my plans to live away from home this summer, he backed me up wholeheartedly and told me he was proud of me.
  46. He works hard to help me with my FAFSA and getting my financial aid.
  47. He loves my mom and us kids faithfully.
  48. He trusts God unwaveringly.
  49. He's given me his genetic code for non-people person tendencies, and I'm quite ok with that.
  50. He's my biggest fan, and I know he'd do anything for me.
Happy Father's Day, to my dad, and to all the other great dads out there!

Half as Hard and Twice as Good.

I forget how much I need good company until I've been  absent from it for a while. When I have it back, my soul rejoices and is filled beyond measure. The past month has seen me settling into my townhouse, getting into a morning routine in the library, and working nights till I'm exhausted. There have been stints of excitement, "vacation"--Graduations, weddings, traveling. But this week has seen regular life. I've kept my self entertained with back to back episodes of Doctor Who, sewing, knitting and reading in my few hours of spare time, and in general, being quite the hermit. I've seen people, interacted with humanity, and done my duty socially, but like the introvert I am, I've kept to myself. I probably should work on getting to know other people and being more social, but when I think about it, it doesn't sound that appealing. When I told my mom this the other day, she told me "you are just like your father. When he sees his people, he has a great time, and couldn't be happier. But if they aren't his people, he would prefer to be alone." This is probably the best and worst thing I have inherited from my dad. It will work both in my favor, and horribly against me as I continue to grow up I think. For now however, I am okay with it.

Today though, I realized how much I need those few people that I do socialize with... my close circle. I didn't realize how lonely I was till Sarah came for lunch. She walked in the door and hugged me, and there was a sigh of relief in me that said "finally, one with whom I can be perfectly at ease."  There was no need to "entertain" her like I might other guests. We ate our summer squash and talked about everything and nothing. Slowly I saw the pieces of life fall into place and start meshing together. This summer can continue now that I  have my support in place.

Sara Groves said it best in her song "Twice as Good" in which she describes the friend with whom life is "half as hard, and twice as good."
They may be few and far between, but when find them, you have found a great treasure indeed.


And when we were done eating our squash, 
we poured cream over strawberries and feasted like summer queens. 

#WriterProblems: the perfect notebook

I'm in (near) dire straits. My journal has only 10 pages left (not ten sheets, but ten pages, ten sides of paper to write on), and I do not have a new one lined up and ready to go for when I finish this one. My problem? I can't just go to walmart and grab a new one off the shelf. It has to be carefully chosen and has meet specific criteria to become my next journal.
For the past three years I have used only one type of notebook for my journals, six in total, which has become my definition of the perfect journal. Carolina Pad company puts out what they call the "ideal book", and ideal it certainly is. Measuring about 8" by 9", it is spiral bound and the perforated sheets have no margin. All four of those points are crucial. The size is perfect for the small front pouch of my backpack, and both of my purses. It stacks nicely with my bible, and can be comfortably cradled in the crook of my arm. The Spiral binding, again, is very important. As a lefty, I need to be able to fold my notebooks back to more comfortably fit my hand to the page. Also, the spiral provides excellent pencil storage. Perforated sheets mean that I can make lists in class and then easily, and neatly tear them out for use. This also applies to letter writing, an activity of which I do a lot. Finally, the marginless paper, COLLEGE RULED, is probably the most important aspect. The margins allow for more freedom of thought on the paper as the thin lines stretch unhindered from one side of the page to the other.  There are myriads of pretty journals out there, some which meet size requirements, or binding requirements, but they rarely meet margin requirements, and never all at once. And now, walmart and Carolina Pad have betrayed me. Walmart used to stock several designs of the ideal book, but lately their numbers have dwindled down to one new design from Carolina Pad. Its still  called the ideal book, but the latest design has been hard bound, like a composition book. No more spirals. Everything else is still the same, but I can't bring myself to try it. When you find something that works for you, its hard to change. I'm still searching other retailers for the perfect notebook, but I might have to resign my self to the change. I suppose I'll adapt. Adaptation is an attribute of evolved beings of the highest order right?  yeah, something like that.

And then again, I'm rather sentimental about this journal. The events chronicled here have been some of the loveliest of my life. Maybe I just don't want to move on. But as a good reader, I know that you can't get to the next chapter if you keep re-reading the page you're on.

Tennyson, Weddings and More to Come

This past weekend I had the honor of attending two of my best friends at their wedding. It was amazing. I'm planning on writing out some of the events that transpired.... mainly for Sarah's sake, because I know she'd like to hear the stories that she wasn't involved in. That all will be coming soon, but for now, I just wanted to share a Tennyson sonnet that I discovered a few months ago that I love.

The Bridesmaid

O bridesmaid, ere the happy knot was tied,
Thine eyes so wept that they could hardly see;
Thy sister smiled and said, ‘No tears for me!
A happy bridesmaid makes a happy bride.’
And then, the couple standing side by side,
Love lighted down between them full of glee,
And over his left shoulder laugh’d at thee,
‘O happy bridesmaid, make a happy bride.’
And all at once a pleasant truth I learn’d,
For while the tender service made thee weep,
I loved thee for the tear thou couldst not hide,
And prest thy hand, and knew the press return’d,
And thought, ‘My life is sick of single sleep:
O happy bridesmaid, make a happy bride!’