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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday!

We celebrated Jason's birthday one day early by trying out Fort Worth's top steakhouse (according to three different friends). Yum. They brought us a free strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Again...yum.


We were too full for birthday cake, so I'll be baking that tonight. Jason always wants lemon cake with lemon icing, which I actually don't like at all. (And mine will look exactly like the picture...smirk.) Maybe my Dad, who's coming to town tonight, will share a piece with him.


We have lots of to-dos lined up for Dad, including a visit to Chapps, watching the Tide Roll at Bonnie & Clyde's, and a trip to Dallas for Labor Day.


What are YOUR long weekend plans?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School and Baby Shower

So, I haven't really been in the "bouquets of sharpened pencils" mood that I usually am at the beginning of school. Perhaps because it's been such a busy summer.

Nevertheless, here we are again at the beginning of another semester. Jason is president of one of the
student associations and is looking forward to his classes. And my first class in my certificate program is tonight. We're both taking an Old Testament class this fall, so it should be fun discussing!

This is Jason right before school started...

And the building where most of his classes are...



Also, last weekend, I co-hosted a baby shower for two of my student workers. It was my first experience hosting anything like that, but I had a great mentor. It turned out well!

I also did the invites (another first for me). Sorry the address is whited out, but I think you get the idea. :)







Next on the agenda will be Jason's birthday, my dad's visit and the kickoff of Alabama football! Roll Tide!

Meanwhile, I can't leave out the most important member of the family (at least in his own opinion). Fred is doing well and has decided that piles of dirty sheets make a really nice bed.

Bear Management

I apologize. I haven't been blogging much lately. There's a lot going on at work and a lot going on at home. Also, we sold our treadmill, so I've been jogging (not running yet) outside, which means instead of reading I listen to things like the Rocky soundtrack, Beyonce and Britney Spears (yeah, I know). While this has done wonders for my waistline, it has also drastically cut down on my reading stats.

I'm trying to do better, and I hope to have several overdue reviews up soon.

Meanwhile, I have found time to keep up with my professional development reading. A couple of recommendations--The Accidental Library Manager by Rachel Singer Gordon and Transitioning from Librarian to Middle Manager by Pixey Anne Mosley.

And while these were both quite helpful, I actually found inspiration in a somewhat unlikely source.


Our Dean of Libraries (my boss) sent me this amazing picture of Coach Bear Bryant, and there's a whole story about it on my other blog. I've always been fond of The Bear (what Bama fan isn't?), but I was surprised to see that I could apply so many of his coaching tips to managing student workers in a library.

If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you.

Set a goal, and don't quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don't quit until you reach it. Never quit.

Set goals--high goals for you and your organization. When you rorganization has a goal to shoot for, you create teamwork, people working for a common goal.

So, I've been trying to apply some of those recently, and I'll let you know how it comes out at the end of the semester. Meanwhile, here's one to keep in mind when you've had a week like I did last week...
Tough times don't last, but tough people do.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bear With Me

As a general rule, I try not to use my blog to vent, but sometimes...let's say this week, for example...there, theoretically, could be the temptation to rail against Library Overachievers, Distracted Husbands, Smug Mothers, Pompous Religiousites...any of those people who, in theory, could make life difficult for someone...let's say me, for instance.

But I won't vent or rail. Because my blog is not a diary, and no one wants to read venting or railing anyway. Right? ;)

Instead, I will just concede that it's been a tough week, I will tell you a somewhat campy story, and I will show you an awesome picture that I don't know who to credit for taking it.

Anyway...once upon a time...10 years ago...I started school at the University of Alabama. (Roll Tide.)

I was pumped for the usual going-to-college-away-from-home-for-the-first-time reasons, but I was really thrilled when I moved into my teeny tiny room in New Hall and discovered that I could actually see Bryant-Denny Stadium from my window.

In my flurry of freshman excitement, I told my brother about the amazing view. He said, "Just remember, college is going to get tough. It's not always going to be as exciting and fun as it is now. You'll get bogged down by classes and papers and exams and just the stresses of life. But that's when you can look out your window and remember that The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards."

"Know-it-all," I thought.

Then he told me to memorize and repeat that quote and to think about Coach Bryant every time I felt overwhelmed. Silly? Yes. But it worked for me then, and it apparently works for me now.

Our Dean of Libraries (my boss) is a fellow Bama grad, and he e-mailed me the picture earlier this week. On a whim, I put it as my desktop wallpaper, and it got me thinking about Coach Bryant, which got me thinking about his quotes, particularly If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.

And in the middle of this overwhelmingly overwhelming week, it still helped. It really did. So thanks, Rece. You're not a know-it-all at all.

Now I'm thinking Coach Bryant's quotes might actually end up being more helpful than all the management books I've read this summer.

The End

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Technically Texan

Over the weekend, Jason and I celebrated our one-year anniversary of living in Texas. On my Facebook status, I said that we've now been Texans for a year. But then I started thinking...am I really a Texan? Did I change my state status just by moving here?

So earlier this week, I asked my good friend, the self-described Arrogant Texan, if there are requirements for officially becoming a Texan.

Texas tags? Texas driver's license?
Living here a certain amount of time?
Cowgirl hat? Cowgirl boots? Giant belt buckle?
Affinity for beef barbecue vs. pork?
Choosing between the Longhorns and the Aggies? (Hook 'em Horns, by the way.)

Well, apparently not. The Arrogant Texan said there is no tried-and-true definition of a Texan. "It's an attitude," she said all-knowingly.

Hmm.
I don't think I have the attitude figured out just yet. So maybe for now, I'm still in between...an Alaxan...or a Texabamian.

Thoughts? Just what is a Texas attitude? And how long do you have to live somewhere before you consider that place "home" or consider yourself a whatever-ian?

Whatever we are, we are happy to be here, by the way. Fort Worth rocks...as does the entire state, I'm sure. ;)

So Long, South

If you need a little structure, motivation and/or variety in your reading, I highly recommend getting involved with the Southern Reading Challenge next year. (You are doing this next year, right, Maggie?)

These are the three books I read:

Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston
The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King
The Reivers by William Faulkner

The Reivers was my favorite, but I enjoyed the new and familiar worlds opened to me by all three.

So, thanks again, Maggie, for hosting the challenge and being such an inspiring librarian!

Meanwhile, I don't have any other Southern lit on my plate right now, but I'll probably revisit it before next summer. You can see my reading list on the right. What are YOU reading?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Follow-Ups

An update is coming soon. Life has been...busy, stressful, exciting. Add in your own adjectives; they probably fit.

Anyway, here is the latest layout of the rest of the living room sans treadmill. Thanks for the encouragement on the last post! :)

Before...

After...

Spartan-ness is definitely a theme! Also, the wooden boards in front of the entertainment center are intended to be more protective than decorative. They're good shields for when a whim of nature (i.e. Fred) decides to exact his revenge on us for leaving him by attacking our DVDs.

After one year here, it's starting to feel more like home.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Reivers

The Reivers by William Faulkner

Lucius Priest wants to go home. It's understandable, given everything this 11-year-old has been through in the last week.

"Maybe I was just too little, too young; maybe I just wasn't able to tote whatever my share was, and if they had had somebody else bigger or older or maybe just smarter, we wouldn't have been licked. You see? like that: all specious and rational; unimpugnable even, when the simple truth was, I wanted to go home and just wasn't brave enough to say so, let alone do it...Not that that mattered either, since I would be home tomorrow with nothing--no stolen horses nor chastity-stricken prostitutes and errant pullman conductors and Ned and Boon Hogganbeck in his normal condition once he had slipped Father's leash."

That's right--stolen horses, chastity-stricken prostitutes and errant pullman conductors. Not to mention grand theft auto, horse racing, his first fist fight and learning about pugnuckling (i.e. the birds and the bees).

He is coerced, but coerced easily, into this den of iniquity by Boon Hogganbeck.

"Boon was a corporation, a holding company in which the three of us--[families]--had mutually equal but completely undefined shares of responsibility, the one and only corporation rule being that whoever was nearest at the crises would leap immediately into whatever breach Boon had this time created or committed or simply fallen heir to; he (Boon) was a mutual benevolent protective benefit association, of which the benefits were all Boon's and the mutuality and the benevolence and the protecting all ours."

Boon is transfixed with Lucius's grandfather's automobile--one of the first in the county. When Lucius's other grandfather dies, all of his adult relatives leave town, indirectly leaving Boon in charge of Lucius and the car, which they promptly steal and take to Memphis. Little did they know that Ned, a black man who also worked for Lucius's grandfather, had come along for the ride. They get into a series of misadventures on the way to Memphis, but nothing compares to their trouble once they arrive, when Ned trades the car for a horse. He plans to race the horse, win back the car and make plenty of money to boot.

Faulkner said he wanted to finish his literary career with a "golden book." The Reivers perfectly fits that description. It is a funny, coming-of-age story with vibrant characters and lush descriptions.

"Then there was all the spring darkness: the big bass-talking frogs from the sloughs, the sound that the woods makes, the big woods, the wilderness with the wild things: coons and rabbits and mink and mushrats and the big owls and the big snakes--moccasins and rattlers--and maybe even the trees breathing and the river itself breathing, not to mention the ghosts--the old Chickasaws who named the land before the white men ever saw it."

But there were also more succinct sentences than you usually find in Faulkner. In fact, some of my favorite quotes in this novel were the witty one-liners.

"Didn't you hear me say shut up?...If I didn't speak plain enough, excuse me. What I'm trying to say is, shut up."
"There's a better use for the mouth than running private opinions through it."
"A Republican is a man who made his money; a Liberal is a man who inherited his."
"Women no more have whims than they have doubts or illusions or prostate troubles."

The novel is not lacking depth, however. The story is described as a "reminiscence." It is set around the turn of the century, but Lucius is apparently talking to his grandson in the early 1960s ("There are some things, some of the hard facts of life, that you don't forget, no matter how old you are.") at a time when he and the South can look back on mistakes they've made and lessons they've learned, all while looking toward the future of the "New South," symbolized by the automobile.

Faulkner does end up making several poignant statements on race and racial relations in the South. Ned, in fact, turns out to be the smartest, most astute character in the novel--far from an Uncle Tom figure. Also, Lucius thinks nothing of sleeping with Uncle Parsham, a black man, as he does with his own grandfather. Part of Lucius's coming-of-age process is the growing sense that racism is wrong.

"I was a child no longer now; innocence and childhood were forever lost, forever gone from me."

Faulkner's take on women in the novel is also interesting. They are seen as embracers of change, moral but not flawless. He seems to indicate that they will perhaps have an easier time with this New South.

"It's not men who cope with death; they resist, try to fight back and get their brains trampled out in consequence; where women just flank it, envelop it in one soft and instantaneous confederation of unresistance like cotton batting or cobwebs, already de-stingered and harmless."
"Hitting a woman don't hurt her because a woman don't shove back at a lick like a man do; she just gives to it and then when your back is turned, reaches for the flatiron or the butcher knife."

Meanwhile, in Lucius's coming of age, he ultimately begins to understand more about home.

"We crossed the street toward home, and do you know what I thought? I thought 'It hasn't even changed.' Because it should have. It should have been altered, even if only a little. I don't mean it should have changed of itself, but that I, bringing back to it what the last four days must have changed in me, should have altered it. I mean, if those four days--the lying and deceiving and tricking and decisions and undecisions and the thing I had done and seen and heard and learned that Mother and Father wouldn't have let me do and see and hear and learn--the things I had had to learn that I wasn't even ready for yet, had nowhere to store them nor even anywhere to lay them down; if all that had changed nothing, was the same as if it had never been--nothing smaller or larger or older or wiser or more pitying--then something had been wasted, thrown away, spent for nothing; either it was wrong and false to begin with and should never have existed, or I was wrong or false or weak or anyway not worthy of it."

And, by the end, he better understands his role in the world as well.

"A gentleman can live through anything. He faces anything. A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences, even when he did not himself instigate them but only acquiesced to them, didn't say No though he knew he should."

I approached this book with trepidation. I read Light in August (my first Faulkner novel) last year and loved it, but I was beyond disappointed with As I Lay Dying. But The Reivers has redeemed Faulkner novels in my eyes and prepared me to take on another one--but not until next summer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not a Total Betty, But a Vast Improvement

So, here are some befores and afters. We can't really do anything about the, um, negative amount of space, but it's starting to come together...after living here for a year. Hey, it's a work in progress. :)
I am open to any suggestions, by the way!

OK, bedroom last year...

Bedroom this year...

Living room corner last year...

And a few days ago...

And today...

Better, yes? But did I mention I'm open to suggestions?!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sweetest Story of the Week (and a few others)

If you don't read anything else this week, check out this story about a random group of people reading to a 101-year-old lady in New York City. This reminds me that there is goodness in the world.
Meanwhile, I've been overwhelmed with reading lately! (Fred too.) But I'm almost finished with The Reivers, so I'll have that review soon. My promised author interviews didn't pan out, but I'll see if I can get in touch with Faulkner. ;)

As I said in an earlier post, Jason and I have been haunting the various branches of the Fort Worth Public Library lately. If you still need convincing about what great things they are, here's a story about ways the public library can help during a bad economy.

Meanwhile, NPR did a story about how libraries are coping with the economy themselves.

Because they're not dealing with the economy, Congress is instead considering a bill that would bar children who use computers in public libraries from accessing Facebook and other social networking websites without parental permission. Two links on this one:


And an article asking if Internet reading is real reading?

Interesting info about the Federal Writers' Project

And, finally, libraries taking the long view (on preservation)

Happy weekend!

Read from the beginning...