I know you are wondering where I found such a great image. I will tell you. I found it at The Commons on Flickr, which is an online collection of publicly-held images. I learned about The Commons last week at Online Northwest 2011, a conference I attended in Corvallis, Oregon. It bills itself as “a one-day conference focusing on topics that intersect libraries, technology and culture,” which is true, but it’s also a place where you eat a lot of food, all day long, and develop new crushes on smart, cute librarians with tattoos (as if I didn’t already have enough of those — crushes on smart librarians, not tattoos).
My friend Bob invited me to the conference this year, just like he has for the past few years, and I finally took him up on it. Bob is married to Pam. I met them through my good friend Kenneth and we hit it off because of our shared interests. If you think of a Venn diagram, where Bob is A and Pam is B, I’m a pretty good C. Also, as I’ve stated here before, I have a great deal of fondness for people who are writers, readers, and rockers who make me laugh. Bingo!
Pam and Bob live in Vancouver, WA, so it was terribly convenient. I stayed with them for a couple of nights after taking Amtrak down there, Bob drove us to and from Corvallis the next day, and then Pam and I did some Portland sight-seeing the following day. We checked out the progress the workers are making on PGE Park, which is being renovated to accommodate the new Portland MLS team, the Timbers. We also went to Powell’s, of course. Here’s my favorite purchase. Before I showed it to Andy, I said, “You are not going to believe the book I found and that I didn’t already own it.” He said, “Is it Iggy Pop’s Underwear?” No, it’s better.
Plus, Pam cooked some wonderful food and I got to eat some of the granola that I’ve read about on her blog for years. Each time she mentioned making granola on her blog, I’d think, why don’t I do that? It sounds delicious. Now I know for a fact that it is.
Have I mentioned Bob much on this blog? I don’t have the patience to search through earlier posts to find out, but here’s what you need to know — he knows way more than I do about everything, on any topic, at any time. If a song I know comes up on one of his random mix CDs, I can maybe name one member of the group. He can name them all. I can barely come up with the fact that a former instructor we both had at WWU directed a TV show about a witch. Bob immediately names both the show AND the actress who played the witch. Bob consumes popular culture and technology by the gallons, while the rest of us are taking little drips out of an eye dropper. We think we’re sucking down pints. We’re not. His appetite for experiencing life is absolutely amazing. I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone more interested in participating so fully in life. So, as you can imagine, being around him for a couple of days is humbling and inspiring.
And, speaking of humbling and inspiring, Pam is just as amazing, but in a different way. She’s also very tuned into a variety of interests and topics (like professional soccer, hooray!) and lives a very full life. Pam is a writer and I’m a great admirer of her work. She does lots of other stuff well, too, but the trait that just levels me is her focus. She is insanely organized, focused, and productive. Plus, she’s smart, attractive, funny, and in excellent shape. Damn.
So, I came home from my trip (which was a bit complicated by a mud slide on the train tracks north of Vancouver) and thought, “Wow, not only am I not very smart, I’m super disorganized, fat, and my house is a mess.” I didn’t have time to wallow, though, because I had to work bright and early the next morning and then join friends for a fun dinner at King’s Hardware. (Have you ever eaten there? Wow, those people are so nice! Really!) Then I worked the next day and realized that just about everyone I work with is unhappy. It’s a sad time at work these days and I honestly have no idea if it’s going to get better.
What should one do when faced with so much uncertainty? READ! And then read some more. And avoid the computer! Thanks to my friend Linda, I read a couple of very good books that she either strongly recommended or loaned me (I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman). Then I read a couple of others that were on my own list (Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell and Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer). Now, I’m listening to an audio version of You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon and finally reading The Keep by Jennifer Egan, thanks to Lori. Reading has been my salvation this past week while my family and I have battled various illnesses and I’ve tried not to obsess constantly about the state of things at work. As I told a co-worker on Monday, I really want to work with grown ups. And, you know what they say: Grown ups enjoy reading, also.