Beer flight at Bastone, Royal Oak.

I’m currently ensconced in the wilds of Illinois, where Wednesday I’ll be heading off to my second interview with a local library system. I’m alternating between being nervous and depressed about this interview, not because I don’t want the job – I do, but rather because job hunting is exhausting and at times, incredibly depressing. But I think the depression is not so much about the looking for the job but rather how much my life will change once said job is obtained. It is not so much about what I’ll be doing as it will be where I’ll be doing it and how much coin will be slipped across my hand for my performance. Justin and I ran the figures on what I needed to stay solvent, independently, to fend off the U.S. student loan sharks1 and save a buck or two for retirement. 2 And then there is the probability if we want to have kids, buy a second home, or even a new car. It feels like everything I want takes money and I will never catch up.3

And if I’m not stressing about money, I stress a lot about time. I never seem to have it and when I do, I never seem to manage it properly. Which is odd since I managed it quite well juggling everything I did while in school. All the silly projects I had set up for the summer, I have not even touched. It feels when I have two seconds to myself, I’m prepping/heading off to go somewhere else or do something else. I always wonder how people can accomplish so much when they have the exact amount of time that I do. Time is not flexible

This is the first summer since I was a bonafied kid that I’ve had “off” – no work or school to contend with. But my time has been packed and while I can easily account for it all – job applications, job interviews, volunteer work, trips to professional conferences and such, it still doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything this summer. Well, I haven’t accomplished I had set out to do: learning new programming languages, research projects, writing projects, knitting projects. Job applications are a two day process and when I have an interview or two a week lined up, even by phone, those interviews require prep work, which means more time set aside when I could have it allotted for something else. I’m not resentful I have to do these things, I’m more resentful that I’ve let so much spare time slip through my fingers.

This will also be the first fall in nearly a decade in which I will not be heading off to some institution of higher learning. Books will not be bought, notebooks will not be scribbled in and notes will not be taken. I will not be graded on my achievements, not in the usual way of a letter grade, but there is something sad about not having grades made instantly available at the end of the term. Now all is the piling of rejection notices and “We’ve not quite made a decision yet” emails. Summer, when I was a kid and had no real responsibilities to contend with, meant cookouts, overnight pajama parties with friends, long bike rides to hidden areas where I would pack a lunch and read for the day. Trips to the exotic lands of Canada or to a cabin up in the Thumb area4 with family. There were many, many days of going to the beach and getting brown like a raisin.

The seasons always have a certain smell to them, each one is completely distinctive from the others. Summer always smelled of fresh cut grass, meat roasting on the grill, and the smell of coconut from the tanning lotions. My skin and hair always smelled of the lake we lived by, and while I did not go swimming every day during the summer, I did so enough that the smell lingered for weeks. I always felt that my best moments, my adventures and my memories, are all romanticized from those days. Even in the summers when I was working or in class, there was still a sense of excitment about them even if they were not close duplicates to my childhood. Then it was more about the sense of getting time off to do some of these things, the freedom and de-stressing form work/school whereas this summer, it’s about the additional stress and in some cases, the derailing of freedom. We’ve made many plans this summer, only to have them curtailed by sudden changes in my schedule, whether that meant I was leaving for job interviews or by Justin’s schedule, with him being on call or there was a strike or two happening within his company.

We’ve tightened our belts, financially, since I have no income coming in. We’re not struggling, no, we’re fine but mini-breaks, cabin overnights or day long picnics all must be accounted for somehow. We’ve been trying to set something up before I get whisked away by a library system and I’m working fulltime, but until the strikes end, when we can call our time our own again, those plans will not be happening. Last summer we planned on driving up around the eastern coast of Michigan, going up as far north as Mackinac before heading diagonally home on I-75. We wanted to sleep in cabins, splash around in the beach, and go walking in the woods. Hunt through sleepy little towns, lounge about in hammocks, reading all day and eat fruit so fresh, our faces are bathed in their juices. We never went because we could never sort out my work/school schedule for the summer and then fall came, and everything went to hell.

In the wilds of Illinois, I would give anything right now for that weekend to happen. Just one more last summer hurrah before adulthood, and reality, sets in.

1. My car will finally be paid off soon, so student loan debt will be all that I have. Before you get all jealous, that debt is nearly $100K.
2. Solvent in that I should be supporting myself, in case Justin leaves me for an (even) older woman or young hussy, or dies by Pug strangulation or something. Since I’m seven years older than him, I should have money in the bank for retirement and since I do not, I have to be aggressive with the savings.
3.. You know, The Jones
4. Michigan is shaped like a mitten, so the “Thumb” is the thumb shaped area that is directly north of Detroit.

To: Read: One Day

oneday [Cross-posted to GoodReads and LibraryThing.]

You’re going to read this book and know at least one thing: That the end won’t end happily or tied up in a big pink bow and that tissues will be needed. This is David Nicholls we are talking about here, where his endings are never simple nor do they tie together at the end to make the reader happy. No, the book is about the author and the challenge to the reader to believe – whether or not a story of a friendship between man/woman over 20 years can make it without sounding like a rip off of “When Harry Met Sally” or some other derivative, trite plot line. The story is gorgeous and IT IS believable. You can feel Emma’s frustration in her letter writing, the pooling of the grease on her nose and Dexter’s legendary trim backside and feel the heat of his hand on your ass. Nicholls knows how to capture that fine line of realism without being overtly descriptive and to not use the description as mere filler for the novel. The plot, the snapshot one day every year into the lives of these two people, is also incredibly clever. Watching Dex and Em (Em and Dex, together forever), grow up, fall in love and struggle with that idea of love over the course of 20 years is painful, hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Nicholls has a way with prose that you cannot put the damned book done – it’s like they injected heroine or crack into the binding of the book. I was so desperate to finish the book that I stayed in a black car in 95F heat while my aged mother was shopping because being 2 hours away from the book was painful. The night before, I was up to 4am because I couldn’t imagine falling asleep while there was more Dex + Em to get through. I finished the book in less than two days, reading at diners, coffee shops, parking lots, and until my eyes were bleeding from lack of sleep.

The reviewers who said this was chick-lit are wrong, it’s not even lad-lit. There is no happy ending and no moral or tale or lesson to take from it. The guy does not, for the sake of argument, get the girl. It’s, simply the snapshot of the lives of two very ordinary people and their extraordinary relationship. And it is also one of the better written books in the last few years. THIS, that feeling of having to finish the book before anything else was to take place is the feeling that all writers should aspire their readers to want to feel whilst reading their book. Writing in the last few decades has become almost unbearable dreck with a few jewels thrown in – particular in American writing. If you’re not writing some fake existentialistic-esque material with a vaguely catchy title, then you won’t be read. And that’s a shame because Nicholls, being a Brit, will be mostly ignored by the American audience who will attempt to liken him to Nick Hornby which is like comparing Jane Austen to a Bronte: There are similarities, yes, but they are vastly different. And if you don’t love it, then you are simply Un-American.

Biblyotheke: A Meme. (Look into a thought process.)

o Be Read Pile: As of July 2010.
Does not include the TBR piles from the library or on our bedside tables…”

This is how it works:

My wonderful friend Alice and I were bemoaning to each other a few months back that we were behind on a number of projects, blogging on our websites and in short, world domination. We decided to support each other since we were in the same boat on a numerous things and so she wrote up this post to kind of nag us to well, stop bemoaning! One of my things is/was to clear out Google Reader and keep the more quality stuff while in turn, Alice would update her blog more on her antics with her crafts, charming daughter ‘Melia and whatever floats her boat that day. Total win-win situation.

This morning I’m poking Google Reader with a big stick and see that Alice has indeed been writing and not only that, but name checking me in the process. Except that because my gReader account is getting beyond scary, I haven’t been checking it as much as of late because well, it’s getting beyond scary even when marking many of the accounts “Mark as Read – Anything Over 7 Days.”1 Plus, I’ve also been talking to Alice nearly everyday so if she was name checking me, surely she would have told me, yes?

Well, no. 🙂 But the post, a meme, which looks kind of short and fun to do, instead of spending the 15 or 30 minutes of whatever writing, editing and posting the damn thing, I, being me, turn this into a big production!

In order to get the post out, I have to:

  • Take pictures of our TBR books!
  • Compare from photos taken a year ago.
  • Notice that many of the books haven’t really moved position in that time.
  • Wonder
  • Upload the photos to Flickr and to the blog!
  • Oh, wait – there is a work around for posting to Flickr and Twitter at the same time? I must debug that! 2

The meme (unanswered):

1. What was the last book you read?
2. Recommend a book.
3. Recommend a children’s book.
4. My guilty pleasure is:
5. This one was rubbish:
6. If you wrote a book, what would it be? (Adapt as desired if you are writing or have written a book.)

1. This is a definite note to self that I must clear out my gReader of stuff that is less than mildly interesting, educational or amusing.
2. Originally, any camera photos were being uploaded to Twitpic. The problem I have with this is that I wanted a central location for my photos and while Flickr has a great iPhone app, said app does not have capability to upload photos to your Flickr account and then repost, from the app, to your Twitter account. Poking around, however, discovered that Flickr allows you to email photos to Flickr+Twitter simultaneously, so I can ditch the Flickr app, dump the Twitpic account and just post photos to Flickr as $deity intended.