Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Drive Yourself Crazy

It's been quiet around these here parts because I've been gone. I decided, at the last minute, to take advantage of my Friday off to drive up and see the family for a couple of days. Chicago to St. Paul: 6.5 hours, with traffic and refueling stops.

I stayed until Sunday A.M. I must apologize to all the Twin Cities folks I know for not dropping a line; I haven't actually seen my folks since, well, Christmas, so mainly I just wanted to chill. I helped some around the house--my parents own a Queen Anne that was built just after the Civil War and has been much renovated in the past, but not so much in a loving way. About a year and a half ago they started redoing it themselves with the help of this carpenter fellow they've sort of adopted, and the house has been in various states of chaos ever since. My dad, who's retired, says he's ready to go back to work so he can relax. (My dad thinks jokes like that are pretty funny.) The parts that are done, though, look great--nearly the entire second floor is completely changed from the way it looked while I was growing up there. It's a bit odd. I used to know where all the creaky boards were in the hall, so I could sneak out of my room in the middle of the night without waking anyone. Now the boards don't creak, and I feel somehow cheated.

What else--I went to two book stores that were shutting down, one that sells new books and one that sells used. Cheap books all around. Twin Cities folks reading this probably know about Bound to Be Read shutting down (and it's hard for me to be sad about that, since it's right across the street from where my beloved and much-lamented Odegaard's used to be, and the two are connected in my mind as part of some vast Odegaard-slaying conspiracy spearheaded by Stanley Hubbard), but you might not know about Turn About Books, which is at 708 Southview Boulevard in South Saint Paul. The woman who owns the place is surly and the books aren't in the least organized, but they had a raft of paperback SF, some of which aren't easily found (I saw a few old Tim Powers books, for one, including Forsake the Sky), as well as lots of mysteries and romance novels, all for a dollar each. They're trying to sell the place out, and she said she had a bunch more in the basement, so if you've got a free afternoon it's worth checking out.

I listened to the Twins play Thursday night as I was approaching the Cities, the signal from WCCO gradually becoming clear as I navigated the hills around Eau Claire. Nowadays I listen more to NPR when I'm in town, but nothing feels more like home than listening to the ball game on 'CCO. I watched the boys play the Dodgers on Friday and Saturday, too; much was made of the fact that this was the first meeting between the two teams since the Drysdale/Koufax Dodgers beat the Killebrew/Versalles/Oliva/Allison/Battey/Kaat/Grant Twins in 1965. The Dodgers took this series as well, 2 games to 1. Damn that Hee Seop Choi!

Sunday we went to brunch and then I hit the road for Champaign with an audiobook. (More on that later.) St. Paul to Champaign: 8 hours, with stops. Then, of course, I couldn't sleep, and I had to be on campus at 8 AM yesterday for class. The class I'm taking this summer is Adult Popular Literature, AKA the genres class. Primarily we're covering mysteries, speculative fiction, romance, westerns, and narrative non-fiction. It's targeted towards Reader's Advisory needs, but part of the purpose of the course is also to eradicate snobbishness among librarians. Good luck. There were a few people who expressed a distaste for SF and/or horror, and I personally have a bit of an attitude when it comes to romance novels. (More on that later.) We had class sessions from 8 AM to 6 PM, with some breaks, and at that point I just wanted to be home. Champaign to Chicago: 2 hours plus, the plus being primarily spent in an attempt to find some road food that wasn't going to make me ill. I don't want to look at my car again for a month. I don't know how some people do it.


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