Monday, January 29, 2007

Mind the Gap

I have to preface this story by saying that it's NOT about being all anti-corporate and hipster-cool and I-only-shop-at-thrift-stores-and-listen-to-indie-bands-and-forage-food-by-eating-boll-weevils-from-the-dirt. Sure, I have my moments when I am sure as hell skeered by Walmart and the fact that Proctor and Gamble owns everything, and that they both probably own me and this blog and the wax in your ears. But that's not what I am talking about right now. Ok? Or if I maybe AM talking about it a little, it's not in that totally annoying holier-than-thou Judgy Judgerson with a side of generalizations way. Because I know it's more complicated than that. So just remember, I'm not being annoying in that way with this story. Annoying in OTHER ways, I'll grant you, but not that one. Ok, preface over.

I was reading this entry by Josh about Gap clothes. How they allow you to fit in, be from everywhere, or nowhere. They are the ultimate place to shop if you want to blend in. As I am a fashion devotee, it was an interesting thing to think about. And because I am a compulsive collector of slightly amusing anecdotes, it made me think of this one that centers around my local Gap.

For a long time, I didn't shop at the Gap. I can't remember if this was a conscious decision or not. More than anything, I think it was just not a "me" store back in the day. So much of where we shop boils down to the marketing of the place, and the clientele, and whether we think our identities mesh with those two things. I could find a pair of nice black pants at Anne Taylor, or Eddie Bauer, or Club Monaco, or J. Jill, or J Crew, but I'm less likely to step foot in all but one of those choices, just based on what it looks like from the outside and whether the people shopping there look like my people. Think about your favorite store, and that logic is probably going to factor in somewhere. When I think about my friends, and what their favorite clothing stores are, it always, always fits them so well that it's almost poetic. Well, poetic if you think about clothes the way I do, which admittedly, is pathological.

Ok, so back to the Gap. I didn't shop there for a long time. Just didn't. Analyze it however you wish. Until last year, when I went in there to buy some t-shirts for Nordic Boy. I went up to the counter with my items, and the woman working there gave me the "save 10% if you sign up for a credit card" spiel.

Me: No thanks.
Her: It's really a great deal. With the credit card, you also get lots of other perks and discounts throughout the year.
Me: No thanks.

And then the urge to over-explain my "no thanks" overcame me. She looked very disappointed. I remember working retail for commission and all that shit. I felt for her and wanted her to get why I was rejecting her.

Me: It's just, I never shop here, so I don't really need a card.

The girl stopped folding the t-shirts and stared at me like I'd blown snot on her cupcake.

I got the urge to over-explain AGAIN. I don't know what came over me. I do not usually jibber-jabber like this to total strangers, ya'll. (Wait, I guess that's pretty much ALL I do on this blog, isn't it. Jibber-jabber to strangers. You got me there).

Me: Yeah, I mean, heh heh, I actually have never shopped at the Gap before in my life.

I may as well have punched this girl in the sternum, friends. Verbally, I kind of did.

Me: Well, no, I mean, not that I wouldn't, or don't shop here on purpose, or I mean--
Her: Hey you guys! This girl has never been in a Gap before!

And she called her co-workers over. Yes she did. They all gathered around her and stared at me.

Me: No, I didn't say that. I've been in a Gap before, I just hadn't bought anything here until today--

Her: So, like, where do you live?

Like I had to be from Siberia, or the top of Mt. Everest, or Mars to have made such a statement.

Me: I live down the street.

Her: And you've lived there for like, a while? You're not from...somewhere else?

Me: No. I'm from here. Can I have my t-shirts please?

She and her Gap-mates stared at me some more, but they gave me my shirts and I scurried out the door. I immediately went home and had a snack of boll weevils. They sell those at Starbucks now, you know.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Friday, January 26, 2007

Whine and Cigarettes

The other night I went to a swanky party at a high-end restaurant in my city. It was the kind of place where they serve food like you see on Top Chef, with amuse buches and amuse-geules and unamused bony maitre d's who smile pained smiles as they lord over the power of getting you a good table. I arrived in what passed for day-to-evening-wear (which, really, is kind of impossible. My fabulous hipster-librarian clothes and my fabulous party-girl clothes are really not the same thing, regardless of what Rachel Roy is trying to sell us all) and ready to rock. Except, honeys, I was tired. I had worked a full day at the library, and although many of you non-librarians think we are sitting in overstuffed wing-backed chairs and reading novels all day long with cats in our laps, I assure you that library work can kick the crap out of you by the end of the live-long day. Or even in the early part of the live-long day in some cases.

But there I was, ready to go, rocking a black on black ensemble that hopefully was more NYC than Johnny Cash (you know I love the Man in Black but I really don't want to look like him) and said my hellos to the few people I knew and started in on the many that I didn't. First off was cocktail hour. This was definitely a wine and cheese sort of crowd, and there were many reds and whites to choose from, and not much else in the drinky-drink department. I suppose I could have ordered something else, because the last time I had red wine I had formulated quite an opinion on it, but I figured I would just go with what was right there.

I picked up a glass of red off a tray that floated by me, that was attached to a white coated waiter. And I know this will subtract off some of my urban sophisticate points, but you guys. Red wine? It tastes like ass. I'm sorry, but I'm just being real. If Jenny from the Block can be real, then I can too, right? And red wine may as well be toilet water as far as I'm concerned. Please. Just admit this to me. Just between us. The Emperor has no clothes, and red wine is just a way for people to feel like they are the Earl of Fancyland. This opinion of mine may put me on the hit list of Wine International, most of Europe, and Niles Crane wannabes everywhere, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Red wine tastes like rotten grapes. Go figure.

So I proceeded to walk around with my glass of red and not take a second sip. I didn't even bother to get another drink. I was THAT tired. And after a lovely meal that was more Elia than Marcel (in that there was no foam involved) I excused myself to my friends because I needed to get the hell home and sleep my knickers off. I was the first to leave the party at the witching hour of 9pm. NINE P.M. What is happening to me? This is a crying shame, is all I can tell you.

As I made my way to the door, one of the waiters came up to me. "Do you need help out?" he asked. Help? To leave a party? No thank you. I think I can figure out how to ride in an elevator and then find the front door. "Please, allow me." He punches the "down" button on the elevator. Ok, great. Thanks for sparing my finger the effort of button-pushing. I am tired enough to actually appreciate this courtesy. When the door opens, I get in, and...he gets in too. He then pushes the L-for-lobby button. "No, really, you don't need to walk me out," I insist. "It's my pleasure, was your dinner this evening?" As we chat pleasantly in the elevator, here is my inner monologue. "This place really is swanky. They actually escort you right out the door? Unless this guy's just doing this to hit on me. But he called me 'miss.' Such a formal word. If he was trying to be social, then wouldn't he loosen up a little?"

As we walked out of the elevator and out the front door, he did loosen up. He got his loose on, in fact. As we stood there on the sidewalk, he said, " you want to hang out for a bit and share a cigarette? I have one left." Share. A. Cigarette. Is this what the young people are doing these days? No more "can I have your number?" or "can I see you again?" Just an offer to suck a communal cancer stick on the sidewalk? Classy.

"No thanks." I'm way too tired for this. I think I need a drink. Where's that wine again?

Kiss the rings I'm out,
Librarian Girl

Friday, January 19, 2007

Irene Cara Was Sort of Goth

When I was a kid, I had a small record collection. I also had a kiddie record player that would close up like a little red and white suitcase, with a white plastic handle on it. The first record I remember owning was a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz. It came with a book that you could read along in sync with the story. The songs weren't nearly as good as in the movie, but I went along with it anyway. All of the voices on it sounded tinny and creepy, and I wouldn't listen to it unless it was light outside. The second record I remember owning was the soundtrack to the Sound of Music. That record was the shit because I could run around and act out all the scenes. In my version, Rolf wasn't a Nazi and Liesel didn't say "whhheeeee" after he kisses her in the gazebo because I liked to think that playing it cool was the way to be sixteen going on seventeen. I memorized every song on that record, except for Climb Ev'ry Mountain, which is the biggest grandmaw song I have ever heard in my life to this day.

My sister collected records and so I got to listen to everything there was to listen to back in the day, from Billie Holliday to Mozart to the Beatles. But those records weren't MINE, so whenever I actually got to have a record for my very own, it was momentous. One day, my sister came home with a 45 that someone had given her that she didn't want. I distinctly remember her scoffing at it and berating the poor soul who had deigned to give it to her. "Can I have it?" I drooled. And thusly I came to own my first rock record. And, whenever I got the chance, I put that sucker on my little red record player and rocked out with my baby bootay. "If you want my body, and you think I'm say-exy, come on sugar let me knooow..." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Rod Stewart was my very first rock record. Thanks, Big Sis. You couldn't have given me Hendrix or Joplin? I would've even taken Sonny and Cher or something. But Rod Stewart? This probably explains a lot about my deep love of cheezy goodness that's lasted me throughout the ages.

As the times changed, records stayed in vogue, but tapes were now added into the scene. I spent many a night listening to Casey Kasem or Rick Dees or Shadoe Stevens or John Garabedian with a tiny tape recorder. I would hold it up to the radio and press record to get the songs I most wanted, and those mixed tapes were like GOLD to me then. I also bought tapes at the record store, and the first one that I bought for myself was the soundtrack to "Fame," which was one of my favorite tv shows at the time. I played the shit out of that tape, and sang my little heart out to "I Sing the Body Electric" although I had no idea what the hell I was saying. I even took that tape with me on a trip back to the South Pacific, and it was there, at
my cousin's house, that I played it until it literally wore out. I remember my brother saying "well, I guess it didn't live
forever after all, ha ha" and me being so so MAD at him for making fun of my tape that was gone, never to be played again. And even though that happened years ago, I swear to you I could sing you every song on that soundtrack, backwards and forwards. Those songs were so on my level, as an elementary school kid, it was truly heartbreaking to lose that tape. It had a song on there entirely about hot lunch in the cafeteria, people. Listen to this poetry that Irene Cara was belting out: "Macaroni and baloney, tuna fish, our favorite dish. Hot lunch, hey. If it's yellow, then it's jello. If it's blue, it could be stew, ooh, ooh." Oh man. How can you argue with something as simple as "hot lunch, hey"? You can't. And that's why, when that tape wore out, I cried. Really, I did.

So imagine my surprise today at the American Libraries Association conference, when I saw a demonstration of an online karaoke site. The demo was using the theme song from Fame! Be still my beating heart. I watched the words go up on the screen as some brave volunteers sang along to these words from my childhood.

"Fame, I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly. I feel it coming together. People will see me and die."

Wait, what the-. People will see me and what? They'll DIE? How come I don't remember it saying that? I remember it saying "people will see me and cry." Still a little creepy and definitely very egotistical, but I can live with that lyric. But DIE? Really? This song has death in it? Did you all know this?

See what I learn at these conferences? Life changing.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Snow Blows

Oh my sweet Rock Hudson on a platter, it is cold. I live in the mild Pacific Northwest, and it is in the goll darn 20s. There is snow on the ground, and wind blowing right through coats and hats, and ice along all the smooth surfaces as far as the eye can see, just waiting to trip you and kiss you right on your assbone. It's just not right. Not right at all.

As I've mentioned before, I am, in the words of Rick James, cold-blooded. I have been known to shiver uncontrollably in 50 degree weather. Honestly. My teeth chatter and the whole nine yards. When this happens, people look at me and ask "Wait, weren't you born in the Midwest? Didn't you spend most of your life there? How did you survive?"

Yes, I was born in the Midwest. I did spend most of my life there. And I'll tell you how I survived. I was COLD. Six months out of the year, I was freezing my knickers off. In fact, this is probably the only reason I got any play with the boys back then. Believe me, if your knickers freeze right off of you, you get dates pretty easy. Har har. My point is that my body, it just isn't designed for cold. My parents come from a tropical paradise, for Cher's sake, and I am convinced that I am just built for 75 degrees and my body is just incapable of forgiving me for sub-60-temperatures. I have this memory of walking home from the school bus at age 7 or 8, bundled up like a wool burrito, and staring at the snow covered ground and trying to visualize fire in order to make it home. I also have a memory of going to high school and sitting in my theatre rehearsal in the auditorium, wearing two pairs of tights, long underwear, jeans, two shirts, a hoodie, and a sweater, and sitting on my gloved hands and trying to breathe calmly and think warm thoughts. My friend Michelle came over to me and said that it was time to go put our costumes on, and I flat out refused. I was not going to peel any layers off of me in order to change, no ma'am. The only way anyone would get me to do it was by letting me change my clothes in the boiler room. Yes, the boiler room was my dressing room. Listen, J-Lo may demand to bathe in Evian and Madonna may require an 8 jillion thread count, but this here diva has her standards too. Only the best for me, kids. The boiler room. And I was STILL COLD in there.

So this is why, whenever I get to miss the Midwest, I think about the cold and the ice and the horrifying winds, and I think ok, at least I don't have to deal with that any more. Except on days like today, when I DO. And then I get irrational grumpy feelings, where I say things like "This is SEATTLE. This snow is being so UNFAIR!" or "Mild winters my ASS!" or, as I did at 4am this morning when I woke up and saw the snow falling: "Doesn't the sky CARE that I'm DYING?" Did I mention that I used to work in the theatre? I know I can be so understated that it's easy to forget.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, January 08, 2007

Start Making Sense

Here's what I am thinking about today. Lyrics that don't make sense. I think I like lyrics to make some sense, in a pretty linear, clear, perhaps simple-minded fashion. Why? I don't necessarily have this requirement for any other type of art. I can watch a Pinter play and enjoy it thoroughly. I can see a Merce Cunningham dance piece and take it all in. And modern art-- you know the kind that people always say "my five-year-old could do that" or "I don't get that, WHY exactly is there a black dot in the middle of the canvas?"-- that's actually some of my absolute favorite art ever. But with music, if I start to sing along, and I realize I don't know what the hell I am saying, it starts to bug me. So I present to you, a discussion of some of Librarian Girl's "Whatchoo Singin' "bout Willis?" greatest hits collection, volume one. If any of you out there can enlighten me on these, please do. I beg of you.

"Listen to the Music" by the Doobie Brothers. (Hey, I didn't say these were good songs, just confusing ones). I get the overall jist of this song. The title says it all. Have a good time, feel fine, dance your blues away, etc. Got it. But one verse always gets me. It goes like this "Well I know, you know better, everything I say, meet me in the country for a day." Ok, the meeting in the country part I get. But the first part? Well I know, you know better"? I know you know better about what? And how does "everything I say" get inserted into the middle of it? Is it like, I know that you know better than to listen to everything I say? Or I know that you know better than everything I say? Whaaaat? I know this is a dope-toking free love song, but really. What the hell?

And then there's Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something." Again, the bulk of the song I get. It's about starting trouble. Simple. But then what's the whole deal with "it's too high to get over, too low to get under, you're stuck in the middle, and the pain is thunder"? What is this weird blockade of which he speaks? Is the person who talks shit about someone else causing the other person to be "trapped" in the web of lies? Is that the symbolism? An aside: this lyric used to be even more disturbing as my friend Heidi and I, when we were in the 6th grade, thought that the "pain is thunder" line was actually "the penis finger." We used to try and understand what the eff the penis finger was and why it was in this song. So I guess I can be thankful that we were wrong about that. And then don't even get me started about the whole "you're a vegetable" repetition at the end of the song. I know, I know, the lyrics of this particular song are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions about Michael, but still.

Even The Jeffersons. Pretty straightforward theme song. Short, sweet, to the point. They're movin' on up. They've finally got a piece of the pie. Uplifting, clearly. But why is that lady singing about "fish don't burn in the kitchen, beans don't burn on the grill"? I mean, why is that in there? The song is all about them movin' on up. Why is she talking about cooking? Wouldn't that be a line better sung for a theme song for, I don't know, Top Chef or something?

Ok, and what about this one: you know that song "Hell is For Children?" Good old Pat Benatar, you gotta love her. But what is with the "Hell is for hell" line over and over before she finally says "hell is for children"? Hell is for hell? What kind of jacked up double talk is that? How can hell be for hell? Hell IS hell. It's not FOR hell. I mean, really. What if we all started making statements like that? Knickers are for knickers! Twinkies are for twinkies! See what I'm saying here? It's just not right.

All of this confusion is enough to make you want to give someone the penis finger. Honestly.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Thursday, January 04, 2007

These Things I Swear

So, I'm not really a New Year's Resolution kind of girl. But since the blogosphere is running amok with New Year's lists, I will join in the fray and tell you all what pop culture has taught me in 2006.

In 2007, I pledge to do the following:

1. I pledge to wear underwear at all times. Because when Britney forgot to do this, the sky fell in and people started having fits, ya'll. On the other hand, you know that scene in "Home for the Holidays" where Aunt Gladdy gets out of the car and flashes her granny-panties at Robert Downey Jr? That's way worse. And who knew that getting out of a car is the sure-fire way to flash some cooch? Do we all need lessons on car-exits? Anyway, a happy medium with the skivvies. That's a promise.

2. I pledge to live simply, with less clutter. If Tori Spelling can sell off her used lipstick at her garage sale and Whitney can sell off her bustiers, then I can certainly cut down on my visits to Zappos.

3. I pledge to keep sexy from going away again. Thank you JT, for bringing it back. I was looking for it for, like, ever.

4. I pledge to come up with a good hybrid name for me and Nordic Boy, along the lines of Brangelina and Vinnifer. Libnordian? Nordbrarian? I'll work on that.

5. I pledge, that if I am ever in the studio audience of a talk show (Oprah, Ellen, The View, etc.) in 2007, I will NOT GO apeshit if they give the whole audience a new ipod. Or a new cell phone. Or a new robot vacuum cleaner. Ok, maybe for the robot vacuum cleaner. I will have my standards for screaming and jumping up and down, is all I'm saying.

6. I pledge to not marry Kid Rock in multiple-location weddings.

7. I pledge that I will not throw computers around like Denise Richards, as they may hit someone. (This one is not as far-fetched as it sounds. There are days in Libraryland where I have been THIS CLOSE to hurling a computer across the room).

8. I pledge to have a 6 limon-cello limit.

9. I pledge to not let George Michael chauffer me anywhere.

10. I pledge to try and yell out "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" every chance I get. Because, really, that is a catch-all sentence.

Happy New Year, pals. Let's rock out 2007.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl