Thursday, April 28, 2011

School Nostalgia, or Why I Bought A Book about Puns the Other Day

I miss school. (And if you think: "I see 'I miss school,' but what I really read is 'I'm a big, fat nerd'"...well then. You're probably right.)

Right now, in all reality, I feel pretty content with my life. I get along well with my roommates. I have settled into something of a routine in my new position at work. And even further, work has helped me learn that sometimes it's okay to accept the chaos and just join in the crazy. In an ironic twist, even, I'm learning that sometimes you have to join in the crazy to stay sane.

But there are moments that something reminds me of past school experiences and I can't help but get a little weepy. Yes, you read that right: weepy. (Again: Big. Fat. Nerd. Not denying it.) And there are some things that I can't completely resist when they remind me of such.

For example, a notable and lively discussion in one of my classes revolved around puns. Someone asked why puns were considered the lowest form of humor; in turn, the professor asked us to attempt to define exactly what a pun is. A dozen graduate students, mind you--a mix of Ph.D. and Master's candidates--and we could not reach any type of consensus.

We all agreed (at least as I recall) that wordplay was necessary, but that seemed to be the only point of agreement. We couldn't decide if puns were innately political, always subversive, or even if they inevitably resulted in humor. For crying out loud, you'd think we would have also agreed on whether or not a pun is funny. (Except that sometimes they are and sometimes they're not.) It was a stand-out discussion, the type of discussion that only happens in an academic environment that allows the luxury of spending fifteen minutes or more fighting about wordplay.

And that is why I teared up a little when I saw a book entitled The Pun Also Rises at the bookstore a couple of days ago. It's also why I immediately seized the book, hugged it, did a somewhat impromptu small jig, and added it to the pile of bounty I collected.

I'll let you know if it's any good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Physical Acts=Mindset?

I realized something today. Or rather, I suppose I remembered something today: when I feel a need to get right down to work, I roll up my sleeves (if they're long). And I pull my hair into a ponytail (provided it's long enough).

I used to do this when I wrote papers for my classes. Something about the actual physical act says to me: "Okay, self. It's time to knuckle under."

Today I was wondering to myself why I do this, when it occurred to me... the pushing up the sleeves and the pulling up the hair gets distractions out of the way. Trust me: if I want to put off working on something and my hair is down, I can twirl it for quite a long while. Or braid it. Or use it to make silly little mustaches on my face.

Yes. I suppose that means I'm easily distractable. So be it.

But if these small links are all I sometimes need to convince myself to get down to business, I wonder why I don't do them more often.

Also, I wonder if I have equivalents when my hair is short and I'm wearing short sleeves.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Please, Don't Make My Books Go Digital

My dad keeps "trying" to convince me to purchase some type of e-reader--a Nook, a Kindle. I use scare quotes because the man knows me. He provided half of my DNA. And he knows that the apocalypse will come before I choose to read my books electronically. In this day and age of already plenty-enough staring at computer screens (after all, I get all my news online), I relish the physical interaction of reading a book. I like turning pages. I like New Book Smell, and Old Book Smell, and I even like You Found Me In A Used Bookstore and You Can't Place My Smell Smell. I like taking notes in my books when the whim hits me. Sometimes I dog ear pages. (But not often. It ruins books' aesthetics.) I recently read someone--and no, I don't remember who-- who wrote about the experiences we have that are associated with particular books. And she (yes, I remember it was a she! Hm, maybe it was from The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, now that I think about it) talked about how we are tied to particular actual material books--our copies. It makes perfect sense to me: it's why I resent that I had to replace the first copy of Ella Enchanted I owned--the one I begged my mother to let me read to her (and she complied, at least for a few pages)--with a lesser, less hammered version. It's why I'm always a little bit sad every time I pick up a new edition of Corduroy in the bookstore---the one I originally fell in love with as a young, young child had practically fallen apart. I have difficulty imagining waves and waves of nostalgia and untold reminiscences triggered by my touching an e-reader. And while I can "note" an electronic copy, it's just not the same as rereading 1984 and coming across my own handwriting with some note that 17-year-old me thought was such a revelation while 27-year-old me marvels at how obvious that revelation seems now. Not a revelation at all, anymore, except that it still seems that way when I see it in my own juvenile handwriting. Of course, to be fair to my dad: he knows I'll never go digital when it comes to my books. He just wants to keep from moving any more of mine than he has to the next time I change location. But books are supposed to be heavy: heavy with importance. And memories. And more stories than the words on the page readily show.