Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Repurposed Library

So yesterday, between withdrawing three carts full of bodice-rippers (romance novels) and trying to find a missing book on teens in India, I found THE coolest book.  It is called The Repurposed Library:


It's a whole book full of cool projects to do with old books!

Before we go any further, I do have to get off my book snobbishness off my chest.  I adore old books.  To me, anything over a certain age should be saved simply because it's cool.  I'm a historian, cut me some slack.  The older they get, the cooler they get.  I mean, seriously, you can't make a bracelet out of the Dead Sea Scroll or a first edition of The Origin of Species.  Come one.  That's just how I see it.  These books they're using in The Repurposed Library are gorgeous, but I'm not going to do it.  I just can't do any of the crafts where you have to mutilate gorgeous old books.

Having said that, there are pa-lenty of other crafts in there, and, as I mentioned earlier, I just discarded three carts of romance novels.  In the book, there are crafts for sculptures, mobiles, lamps, bracelets, and vases even!  It's so crazy and cool! And what better way to find a home for sad old books with broken spines, water damage, or other things that render them unreadable but perfect for projects like this?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

R-E-S-C-U-E, Rescue Aid Society!

So you may or may not know this about me, but. . .I am a superhero.

No, really.  I have my own t-shirt with my logo and a cape.  My aunt made it for me, because she's cool like that.

I am. . .wait for it. . .THE VEGETABLE SUBDUER.  Yes, that's right, folks.  Who do you call when your broccoli gets uppity?  Who comes to your aid when your peas get out of hand?  Who saves you when you're being held hostage by an angry cucumber?  (True story.)

Yes, yes, these are awesome super powers.  But, I may have to add one in there, which doesn't really have to do with subduing vegetables at all, but I'm also already SLUG WOMAN (able to traverse a garden in a single night), and so I think creating a third alter ego is a bit much.

My new superpower, therefore, is:  BOOK RESCUING.

So, a regular part of library work is to get rid of books that are either really old, really worn, or really unused.  In a humane way.  We do lots of donating, usually, instead of the image I know you just conjured up in your head of librarians scurrying hither and yon shredding books and laughing maniacally.  While we do occasionally laugh maniacally (who doesn't?), we do need to "weed the collection".  However, as part of our librarian superpowers, we can rescue the occasional book.  We're like the librarian and book version of the great Disney classic, the Rescuers!  Except we don't search out books in trouble.  That would be kind of cool, though. . .

ANYWAY, getting back to what I was talking about.  If a book looks like it's in really good condition still, or it's just a really important/worthwhile book, etc., we can exercise our librarian rights of book rescuing and do a little toggle and save it for many more reads.  I did just that today.

I was going through the teen section at our library.  First, a note about teen books.  A.)  They are highly under-appreciated by the majority of, oh, I don't know, people.  Mostly teens.  B.)  It does have to be said that right now, about half of them are about vampires.  but C.) it is our job as librarians to promote awareness of awesome books!  FOR ONE, FOR ALL, FOR THE JOY OF READING!

Today, I saved: Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar and Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson.

Beneath My Mother's Feet is about a young Pakistani girl trying to be a good daughter in the face of adversity.  Behind You is about a bi-racial relationship in the 1960s that turns to tragedy when the young black man is killed, and what happens to the people left behind.  There might also be a hint of the ghosty about that one.  Anyhow, I am going to read them, and then, if I like them, I am going to recommend them!  And they shall be read, and the land shall be beautiful, and the minds of the people will be expanded with much knowledge!

Namaste.  Shanti.  Salaam.  Et cetera.

Monday, February 13, 2012

And Also Phwoar.

Favorite Middle School Book Series: The True Confessions of Georgia Nicolson.

Witty.  Hilarious.  Innovative.  British.

In short, everything a middle school girl needs to help her get through the hell-hole that is 7th and 8th grade.  One of my friends suggested them to me, and I've never been the same.  I read the first four over and over again, every couple of years.  When they made a movie and I couldn't find a physical version, I sat through the annoying ten-minute clips on YouTube.  And it wasn't half bad.  Even on a school night, I would stay up really late and read them, and then I'd be laughing all by myself in the middle of the night, just like Georgia.  It made me feel less alone.  They always say that about literature:

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Or, as Georgia might say, "We're all together in a cosmic whatsit.  With Buddha and Baby Jesus."

The sad thing was, however, that when I was reading them, author Louise Rennison had only come out with about four or five of them.  Now, there are ten total.  Of those, I have since read a total of six.  Thus, this brings me to the gist and nub of this literary foray: I shall read the final four installments of Georgia's confessions.  This week. Completely.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine, The Earth Says Hello!


I mean really.  Wow.

I haven't felt this good consistently in a long time.  That may come as a surprise for some of you, considering the fact that I bounce when I walk and when I don't have a smile on my face it's extremely bizarre. Having said that, this past year has been a difficult one for me emotionally.  Student teaching (while very rewarding) destroyed not only my immune system but also my spirit.  Graduating was awesome, having no immediate job prospects was not.  Getting a job was awesome -- still is.  Getting engaged was awesome.  Stressing about the wedding and not being able to plan prior to actually getting engaged: not awesome.  Living with my parents -- some days it's awesome.  Let's just put it that way.

So to be feeling this good. . .there is only one word to describe it:  AWESOME.  Yes, you can call Philip and me Captain and Mrs. Awesome.  (On a sad side note, no more Chuck!  HIMYM and Castle, pick up the slack!)  Today, I am feeling really thankful.  So I am going to make a short list of things I am thankful for (I promise I'll keep it short).

1.  Being excited to work out.

I cannot tell you how nice that is.  I was a chubbster as a kid and just walked everywhere in college and so didn't really exercise, but here in asphalt-only Phoenix it's really really hard to get out and exercise.  But this week I have done it every single day, in some form, and it feels fantastic.  This week is off to a good start -- it helps that I'm working closing shifts practically all week and can go do something in the mornings.

2.  Multigrain bread.

There is something just so perfect about multigrain bread -- the size of the slice, the taste of turkey and cucumber on it, the added bonus of feeling a little healthier than when you eat white bread, and that moment of rebellion when you tell carbs to suck it, you're going to enjoy them.

3.  Just cold enough days.

I am a cold junkie.  I like cold water.  I like cold weather.  I like ice cream any time of the year and/or day.  I like iced coffee.  I like cold onion rings and chicken strips and pizza and chinese food.  And days like this are the best -- when it's just cold enough to be refreshing but not so cold that you can't drive with the windows down and thoroughly enjoy it.  Perfection.

4.  Sweet fiances.

Is there a better way to start off a day than with a text that says, "Good morning, my beauty"?  No, there is not.

And 5. Classical music.

Bach rocks your socks and you know it.

Ahhhhhhh, Monday.  I am usually not so happy to see you, but today I'm ecstatic.  Tanks and planes for not being crappy.  :)

Here's to your Monday being FANDIDDLYTASTIC and a feeling of awesome carrying through to the rest of your week.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love, It Will Not Betray You Dismay Or Enslave You

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.

You may think the title of this book sounds corny.  You may think you have love all figured out.  You may think there's nothing wrong with your relationships.  Okay, fine.

But I would recommend this book to every person who ever plans on having a relationship with anyone.


When Philip and I legitimately began considering getting married (beyond the point of sort of day-dreaming about an eventual probability), I started doing what every awesome student does: I read up on the subject.  One of my best features as an academic-minded person is my ability to research the crap out of anything you throw at me.  I learn best by diving into the material and submersing myself in everything there is to know about that topic.  I love trivia.  One of my favorite things to do (and I kid you not) is to sit in the library, surrounded by books, and look up information.  When a problem arises, I beat it to death with research.

And so it was/is with my impending marriage.  I had better read up on it.  Now, to a certain extent, I've had trouble finding books I like.  The first one I tried was called The Secret Lives of Wives, a book of personal accounts from women who had been married like forty years or more talking about what it took to stay married for the long haul.  Interesting, right?  Not so much.  Weirdly, it seemed very anti-marriage and anti-love, and pro-adultery, as well.  Most of the women in these stories had indeed been married a long, long time, but if they were happy it was because they had learned to be self-sufficient, and hardly any of the happiness was based upon a loving, mutual relationship between the woman and the man.  It was a series of friends with benefits stories, like old roommates who have the added advantage of being able to jump their roomie whenever they wanted.

Hmm. . .not exactly what I was hoping to achieve in my own marriage.  To be honest, I was so disappointed in the bent of all the stories I didn't even finish it.  Since then, I was really hesitant to pick up another book about marriage.  It didn't help that all the ones that came through my hands at the library were all about how to have God at the center of your married life, and while I consider myself a spiritual person, those kinds of books just are not for me.

But, as always, the right book comes along eventually.  In this case, I had heard several people mention this whole five love languages thing, and I was really curious to learn more about it.  And I'm so glad I did.

The basic idea of the book is that there are five main ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  When you speak to your significant other in their primary love language, their "love tank" will be full, and they will reciprocate and fill your love tank as well.  Basically, it's just being considerate of your spouse -- taking the time to understand who they are and what they need, and then making a selfless commitment to express your love in the way they understand the best.

I found out that I almost have a three-way tie between physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation.  It really bothers me when I can't see Philip.  I have a really hard time not seeing him for a few days.  When I do see him, I have this unconscious need to touch him.  I like to hug him, hold him, hold hands, run my fingers through his hair, touch his face. . .you get the drift.  If we're sitting on the couch, I like to snuggle up against him.  And I am almost never so happy as when he comes up behind me, surprising me with a sincere hug from behind.  I just adore that.  And now that I know this, I feel very freed.  I can actively see where he fulfills my needs, and I can be more proactive in fulfilling his.

Yes, I know, this is super gushy and mushy, but I not too long ago made the realization that family is the most important thing in my life.  I've known this for years in the back of my mind, but I only truly realized it recently.  And as such, I've kind of reprioritized my life.  Yes, I want to go back to school.  Yes, I want to have a career that makes me happy.  Yes, I want to be financially secure.  But even more than that, I want to have a happy family life.  I want to spend quality time with my spouse and my children, and make sure that they know just how important they are to my life and my happiness.

In other reading news, I have read several kids' books on predators (and javelinas, who aren't really predators despite their imposing tusks), a book of Indian folk tales I totally plan on reading to my kids (especially excerpts from The Mahabharata, the best epic EVER), and an expose of Greg Mortenson, Mr. Three Cups of Tea peace and education promoter.  It's been an active New Year so far, reading-wise.

Next up: Seeds of Love, The Demon in the Freezer, and The Man in the Iron Mask!