Thursday, July 12, 2007

What I do now:

Although my business card reads "Administrative Assistant", I am essentially a receptionist. I answer the phones, wrestle with the copy machine, and thwart the efforts of numerous telemarketers on a daily basis. I know what kind of shipping labels we use (Avery 8164), how to operate the fax machine (a surprising amount of people have difficulty with this), and the passwords to all email and supply accounts. In short, my job exists to make other jobs easier. The plus side? Receptionists are hot. (See above.)

What I could do:

When I was in grade school, I tried to bend spoons.

I'd read the book Matilda and was convinced that if I concentrated enough, I too could move objects with my mind. Granted, I had no ogre-like headmistress to confront, or lazy, selfish parents to chastise, but I thought the desire alone would be enough. (It wasn't.) However, another quality I yearned to possess was a little more realistic, but still enviable: Matilda's ability to read and digest almost anything. This characteristic only emphasized a growing frustration for me--sure, I could read, but my selections were limited. I could breeze through young adult serial literature and devour Judy Blume novels with no trouble, but there were books I couldn't comprehend. These books (namely a first edition of Treasure Island and a book on the Russian alphabet that my dad had from college) hung over my head, full of words I didn't know and plot points I wouldn't understand.

This seemed unjust, but Matilda transcended this hurdle in the one place I have romanticized ever since--the library.

I know you're reading this and thinking, Are you honestly considering adding to your college debt because of a Roald Dahl book you read when you were 10?

Well, Yes and No.

Yes, in that the book represented the library as a place of solace, where Matilda could indulge in her love for literature, and, in a way, libraries are still places to escape. Even in college, I found myself more comfortable at the library than in my own apartment. True, this might have had something to do with the fact that I slept on a futon for the last year of school, or didn't have a printer, but I genuinely enjoyed the visits to Special Collections and renting microfiche.

No, in that I think I would be good at it. Books are one of the few topics I get excited about (the others probably being music and writing), and I think I could excel in an environment that allowed me to dork out a bit. Also, librarians are hot. (See above.)

What I could do and is also a more realistic option:

I can get my teaching certificate in two years. An MLS will take longer, cost more, and the only place in Missouri that seems to offer the program is Mizzou. I think I could teach high school English, and what I would most likely lack in enthusiasm, I could make up for in proficiency. (I love books, but hate most teenagers.) Also, teachers are hot. (See above.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

When I meet an author I admire, I get incredibly nervous. This anxiety doesn't take the form of a charming, Woody Allen-esque brand of nervousness, but rather the girlish anxiety of someone like Annie Hall. When I'm confronted with one of my favorite writers, it's like an encounter with a penpal. I know this person because of what I've read, but my understanding of them is vague at best. They've been sending me letters for years, and yet, I'm unprepared. When I reach their table, it's like I've run into them at the airport. Sure, they are impatiently waiting for their luggage like everyone else, but I have construed our relationship as something more, so I will just stand there stupidly, letting my suitcase lap the belt while I think of what to say.

This happened with David Sedaris a couple years ago, and when I reached him after an afternoon spent in line outside of Left Bank Books, I was speechless. Inexplicably, my hands cramped up, and any articulate questions or comments were instantly traded for an embarrassing slew of incoherent noises. Fortunately, being the conversationalist he is, he asked about where we'd come from (Brandon, Chip, Alli, and I had ventured from Columbia) and found my sudden lack of speech entertaining, spinning my awkwardness into something cute that he could doodle in the front of my book.

Unfortunately, my stage fright made an appearance last night in front of another one of my top five favorites, the cultural essayist/stone fox Chuck Klosterman.

I'd like to say that his unexpected resemblance to John Lennon or love for Raymond Carver reduced me to a giddy fangirl, but these factors only exacerbated my starstruck state. Klosterman was pretty much exactly like he comes across in his books--articulate but humble, funny yet honest. He was surprisingly open about his dismissal from Spin, interviews with celebrities (Val Kilmer owns bison, did you know that?), and a novel to be released next year. He answered even the stupidest questions ("What's your favorite color?") with a colorful (*no pun intended) anecdote or thoughtful reply. He remained effortlessly cool, despite overly zealous audience members eager to compare him to Hunter S. Thompson or grill him for information about the next big thing. There also seemed to be a couple of people bent on tripping him up, confusing the Q&A session for a round of Trivial Pursuit, but alas, Klosterman knows his shit and his opinions on current music were unapologetic. When asked the unavoidable "What are you listening to?", his answer was predictable but earnest--Jim Croce and Battles, the Brooklyn math rock supergroup that has the staff at Pitchfork wetting their tight hipster pants.

In short, my expectations were sufficiently exceeded. However, I wish I would've been able to say something more than "Thanks for coming" and "Wow, I'm nervous". In a fit of regret, I'll probably risk being annoying and write him a letter to let him know that his writing means a lot more to me than the price of his new book and a couple hours on a Thursday night, but I'm not really one for writing letters--I just like reading them.

*Come on now, pun intended.