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Nostalgic for the days of being shushed.

“Libraries are more than just free book stores!”  That is the quote I just read off of cereal.  Could it be that I am old-fashion?  Or maybe I am just nostalgic for the libraries I remember as a child, but that quote just made me feel sad.

I will be the first to admit that I am a bit odd, as I am the only person I know who  is genuinely excited to go to the library.  I go with my notebook in hand, contained within is a long list of books I want to read.  I go prepared.  I arrive with an arm (or bag) full of books, and I will try to not feel self-conscious as I slide each book one at a time into the return bin.  I will clumsily hurry if there are people waiting behind me.  Then, I enter the most magical place on earth (for me at least).

Each time I move, visiting the library is a must.  I need to know their selection, whether the books are organized by a general fiction, and non-fiction, or if there are sub-divisions within the fiction.  I will take in the shelf, or shelves containing the recently released to see the variety and number of copies available.  While impressive at first, how new and shiny the library appears to me is not a large factor.  Yes it is pretty at first, but it will not make up for any deficiencies I will later learn of.

My nostalgia comes from the library from my hometown, the one I visited on a constant basis as a young child up until I had graduated college.  The library was in a building donated to the city, and the architecture of it was like nothing else in the city, but that is what made it even better.  The walls were covered in dark wood panels, there were fireplaces that were beautiful but unused.  There were large stone steps that led to the entry way, which then turned into a foyer with a set of stairs going to a second story that I never actually went up to.  The whole atmosphere was musty, the books were crammed into an insufficient number of shelves.  The children section was an addition which, by the look of the decor, was probably added in the 70’s.  There was a disconnect between the addition and the rest of the building, one immediately felt as soon as you placed foot in either of the sections.

Growing up, Saturday was library day.  My younger sister took dance lessons located across the street from the library, so I would spend that hour picking up a stack of books to last me through the week.  I know now that the selection was somewhat sparse, but as a child it was wonderful.  The librarian was a friendly woman who, up until 3 years ago, was still working there and always had a jovial greeting  for me.  As technology goes, they were pretty behind up until I was in college.  It wasn’t until the new director  (my uncle’s friend whom I had known since I was a young child) took over that the system became computerized.  That is right, up until at least 2001 if you wanted to find a book you did it the old fashion way, by searching through the card catalogs.  In addition to the use of modern technology, the director also ordered fantastic CD’s and more variety in books.

I continued to have my library days throughout college, and afterward in whatever place I was living at the time.  While in college the city’s public library had a limit on items borrowed by college students, six at a time, and that number has stuck with me.  It is handy when gathering what I must return, I rarely lose track of them.

I recently moved, yet again, and I experienced a lot of frustration at how long I had to wait to get a card, it took about two weeks before I had a piece of mail with my name on it.  Upon first inspection I was in awe of the structure.  It was just opened this past May, so of course it  is all shiny and technologically savvy.  The more time I have spent in it, the more I have realized that it is arranged much like a large bookstore, from the location and arrangement of the chairs, to an area of pub style tables with stools which looks like it is just waiting for a Starbucks to be built.  Do not get me wrong, if that is what it takes to get people into the building and interested in books, then I am all for it.

There is one thing that has come as a side effect of not only technology but the way it is all set up.  People no longer have respect for the institution as they used to.  Whatever happened to the quiet atmosphere?  Cell phone ring tones are left on, which subsequently leads to not so hushed conversations.  The patrons no longer monitor the volume of their voices as they carry on conversations.  It drives me mad.  With the increased use of self-check out comes the decreased presence of the librarians.  I rarely have seen actual employees while I spend inordinate amounts of time in the stacks of books.  These are part of the reasons I have heavily considered going into a Library Science post-graduate program.  It was the recommendations of recent graduates with no jobs that steered me away.

With the advent of e-readers, death of the paper printed word appears to be a given.  For this girl, that will never be so.  My Grammie raised me to have a love of books, she always said that if the time and economic situation was different she would have been a librarian.  From her, I have learned to love the public library.  The idea of finding a book that would make me forget anything and everything going on around me is enticing.  There is also the fact of having vast amounts of information which I do not need to pay for.  There are still so many people, including the ripe minds of children, who do not have the financial opportunity to either buy books, or own an e-reader, and this is where the library comes in.  I feel as if it has never been more important to have these resources available to anyone, no matter their economic status.

Libraries can be seen as a “free bookstore”, but it is my hope that they are seen as much more than that.  I will quiet my frustration each time a cell phone rings, but a  little “shushing” here and there would be nice, for nostalgia’s sake.

Ear Candy 11/2/10

George came home and played this for me.  I love it.

Ear Candy 11/1/10

Who could resist this?  While I like the song, it is the video that I truly love.

Bunny Ears and Push Up Bras

It is that time of year again, when women find the shortest, tightest, and most revealing outfits, put on a pair of cat ears and call it a Halloween costume.  We have all heard it and/or said it, the one day a year when women can dress as slutty as they desire and they are not looked down upon.  In fact, it has become expected and also accepted.  Yes I know many movies, TV shows, and other forms of media have discussed this, but it being such a juicy topic, how could I resist?

I must confess, I have participated in this rite of passage.  Freshmen year of college I dressed as a belly dancer (back when my stomach could be bared to the public without immense humiliation).  This costume was thrown together from clothes I had crammed in my closet, and it really was not that good.  The next year I knew I had to dress up but was not feeling creative, I went as a sexy pirate.  I wore a short skirt, a cleavage baring top, and accessories bought in a cheap kit from Walmart.  The only thing I regret about that “costume” is one single compliment (if you can call it that) from my college boyfriend.  We broke up and got back together a few times, one of those times happened to be several days before Halloween.  We lived in the same residence hall, and I was an RA, so I had to be dressed for the party thrown for the residents.  The use of a fog machine was not well thought out as it resulted in the fire alarm going off, and everyone having to stand outside in the cold until the fireman deemed it safe to return.  As we were standing outside, I was shivering and somehow the boyfriend ended up standing next to me, I was not pleased with this.  He turned to me and told me that I looked really hot.  He continued to say that if he had not broken up with me then he would hit on me.  That was the last year I just sexed up an ordinary costume.

My final year in college I did get all dolled up and looked hot, if I can say so myself, but I was dressed as Marilyn Monroe.  I had found a perfect dress on sale at The Gap, a black strapless dress that ended just above my knees, and it was $10.  Score!  I also wore heels, which I ended up taking off after a short period of time.  What can I say, I like high heels, but my feet do not.  The next several years I really did not have a chance to dress up, as I was working.  I did wear a pair of cat ears while working at the psychiatric hospital, but I was also wearing cargo pants and layers of t-shirts, so it was more like a sweaty, tired kitty.

This year I finally get to dress up, the boyfriend and I are throwing a Halloween/Walking Dead/home warming  party so of course I must be in costume!  The boyfriend also loves the holiday so it forced me to really think about what to go as.  Today we went to a local Halloween store, and as entertained as I was by the costumes offered to women, it was also ridiculous.  Did I keep my mouth shut as I perused the aisles?  Hell no.  I got looks that, at the very least, would maim me from the other women shopping.  How could I keep my mouth shut when I saw a sexy Freddy Kruger costume?  Or a sexy Ghostbusters outfit?  In the words of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, really?  The costumes lining the walls looked like outfits strippers would wear at the start of their act.  The outfits would also not be out of place in the wardrobe of a pornography shoot.  How could I not find this ridiculous?

There is something more to these barely there costumes.  I think that there is a bigger reason as to why women happily don the costumes.  In our society there are still glaring double standards when it comes to gender and sexuality.  Women are still thought of as sluts if they are sexually active, or even if they just wear clothing which our culture deems as too revealing.  People still blame female victims of sexual assault if they were wearing provocative clothing.  While discussing the current scandal in which football player Brett Favre is under investigation for sexual harassment, a male friend asked why they did not discuss the woman and her past more.  More specifically, why it was not mentioned the victim had posed for ”Playboy” in the past.  I understand wanting to know more about the woman who has brought up these allegations, but is her posing for “Playboy” really an issue?  Does her past employment make her claims any less valid?

This incident really shows, what I believe, to be the cause of risque costumes.  Every other day of the year a woman is judged, in a variety of manners, including for the clothes that they wear and their sexual history.  Halloween is the one day out of the year where, for the most part, a woman can dress as “slutty” as she chooses and no one thinks less of her, it has become the norm.  Halloween represents a sense of freedom, whether consciously acknowledged or not.

Halloween is the time of the year when everyone can be anyone or anything that they want to be.  Some dress as classic serial killers, supernatural personas, or even celebrities.  It is the one time when a person can feel comfortable to be something that they are not, something that, if worn any other day of the year, would most likely result in ridicule.  So ask yourself the question, are the slutty/sexed up costumes really any different?  Could it be that it is a day when women can ignore the other 364 days of feeling restricted and forcing themselves to be who society wants them to be?

So this Halloween when you see a woman wearing an outfit that leaves little to the imagination paired with a pair of bunny ears, do not roll your eyes like I have done.  I may purposefully choose a costume that is the opposite of sexy, but I do wish I had the confidence to feel like I could wear a revealing costume if I wanted to.  So instead, just remind yourself that this is the one day of the year where anything goes, including a woman who is not judged purely on the clothes she dons.  After all, Halloween is when fantasy can become reality, even if that fantasy is being confident of your body without fearing judgment or ramifications.

Ear Candy 10/27/10

I chose this since I was unable to go see them this evening (big, big sad face).

Ear Candy 10/25/10

If you have not listened to Mates of State, do yourselves a favor and do so.  They are a great duo.  Enjoy!

Ear Candy 10/24/10

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