Weekly rundown 2/19

Good weather, bad wildfires. Yesterday smelled like charred leaves and there’s ash everywhere, like a damn volcano went off. It’s the end of February and we’re all looking around wondering when winter is gonna start.

Your attention pleases the missing cat god.

What I’ve been reading

  • P.G. Wodehouse over at The Economist. Always fun to read about my problematic fave; even more when it’s about his bizarre exploits and steadfast refusal to view the world except through his own very rosy lens. I feel that, and I feel a deep kinship from it. I will never love politics.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Darcy’s (First) Proposal is an excellent take on all meaningful Pride and Prejudice adaptations.
  • The New Yorker has an article about Harvey Levin’s iron-fisted rule of TMZ and the history of how it came to dominate and regulate modern celebrity. Interesting to see how it all happens—all the collusion and under-table payments to the most obvious and yet somehow unlikely people. If Hedda Hopper had an iPhone.
  • Everyone in my life has sent me this article in the New York Times about Neko Atsume, and I am deeply touched that my people know me and know what I’m about. I am about collecting photos of cartoon cats, and the random pieces of trash they leave in my yard.
  • I read A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston in preparation to lead the book club discussion in April, and have many thoughts about it.

What I’ve been listening to

  • Are you aware that Pink Martini and the Von Trapp family recorded an album together? Did you know that one of the tracks is the ABBA song “Fernando” in the original Swedish? How long were you all conspiring to keep this from me? Do you think I will forgive or forget this transgression anytime soon? I will not, but I will listen to this song on repeat.
  • California Soul by Marlena Shaw. Yes, tell me more, Marlena. Tell me everything.
  • I have entered the age-of-having-a-way-to-connect-my-phone-to-my-car-speakers, and have been listening to the upbeat Brigit Esselmont on her Biddy Tarot Podcast this week.

What I’ve been doing at work

It occurred to me this afternoon that I’ve never described my job, or what it is that I do.

  • I am a Special Collections Librarian in charge of digitization, digital collections, and of exhibiting our materials. My job is very cool, but it also involves big, long-term projects, so when I see friends, they ask me what I’ve been up to and often I worry that my answers are boring or vague. I’m either working on months-long stuff, or a whole passel of tiny things that happen all at once. And I can’t always talk about what I do, for various copyright, privacy, and administrative reasons.
  • We were sitting around talking this afternoon while the power was out, and my boss noted that I came into this brand-new position that they’d created last year, and how I was essentially told to create and define what the job actually means and entails. That’s been a very interesting and refreshing exercise in autonomy and independence, which I appreciate.
  • Currently I’m working to put together an exhibit that will be in cases for all of 2 hours. It’s for a library fellows dinner, which will involve a lecture on advances in archaeological technology. I’ve been printing and mounting photos, and researching archaeology to come up with good case labels. Did you know that in ancient Mexico, certain dogs were fattened up with extra food and then sacrificed to feed the people in a tribe? The tribes respected and revered these creatures, and made little pottery figurines of the dogs with fat bellies and happy expressions, called Colima Dogs.
  • I’ve also been scanning, organizing, and adding metadata to correspondence and inventory lists written in Cherokee syllabary from the 1870s-1900s so that I can upload them to our digital collections and tribal members can translate them. This involves very detailed and specific knowledge of cataloging and collections software for digital objects.
  • I am continuing to photograph old stereoscope cards—this week was Indians of America, and next will be famous landmarks around the world.
  • Continuing to work on processing forty years’ worth of papers belonging to a reproductive rights activist. It’s going to take quite a while, but it’s my first processing project, so I’m taking my time.
  • I’m going to a conference this fall! My first big work trip, and it’s going to be in Denver.


  • Have you played the Kesha Choose Your Own Adventure Game? She deserves goodness and love, and I want to hug and support her.
  • Our cat has disappeared. He hasn’t been away from the house for more than a few hours at a time for the past 2 1/2 years, and isn’t much of a roamer, so I’m concerned, but hopeful. I wonder if the wildfires got his nose confused. He’s my buddy, even though he pretends that our love isn’t real. (It definitely is—my attention is an endlessly renewable source of validation and ego flattery. Also he is a big fan of tummy rubs, which I dole out like a supplicant.)
  • I have decided what my Nanowrimo project is going to evolve into. Beware; I live.
  • Simultaneously and incongruously, given the previous bullet point and the weather, I have become consumed by the idea of knitting socks.
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