Like any girl who grew up in America, and like any girl who has an older sister she worships, my musical taste has changed, refined, and solidified as I’ve grown older. I had my middle school phase where I listened to anything that was on Top 40 radio, and there are still some things from the 1997-2003 time period that I will always love, defend, and unabashedly listen to, even if I know it’s absolutely terrible. And there are other things that are actually kind of underrated, like the fact that those manufactured pop groups like N Sync and Eden’s Crush were actually very well trained singers, just stuck in the bodies of fakely attractive people and forced to sing really terrible songs.

Anyway. My main genres when I was young were Motown, show tunes, jazz-pop standards, and pop-inflecting R&B. I could count on my sister getting me the latest Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, or Alicia Keys CD for each birthday and Chrismukkah. I listened to them extensively, and to this day, even in the age of iPods and playlists and listening to single songs and not albums, if I hear a song off of one of these ladies’ albums I know exactly which song should come next in the track listing.

But then I transferred from the very urban middle school I went to to private school, and then I discovered lots of other music, both that satisfied my ear and that spoke to the major angst I had. Also, it helped that liking music that my classmates liked helped me to fit in, since so much of the way I acted seemed not to do that for me. Continue reading


Last week I went down to New York for a day and a half to do research for the novel I tell people I’m working on. It was a really illuminating experience for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t really know what doing research with primary documents entails. For a library school student at a college that boasts a huge archives program, I’ve never really been in an archives, so stepping into Schomburg was new for me. And then I’ve also never done research to write a novel before, not having finished a long narrative work since the novel I wrote when I was 12 (I think it was 54 pages, single spaced, which is actually not all that bad). But I’m in the school of fake it til you make it, so I was all prepared to fake it.

Fake it I did. But I felt rather awkward. The biggest two things I’ve learned in library school thus far are that everyone is excited that you’re in it until you ask working librarians for help/interviews/jobs, and then they stop being interested in you, and also that you can’t work in a library unless you’ve already worked in a library/you can’t know how to use an archives unless you already know how to use it. And that’s exactly what happened at Schomburg–I’m sure it’s not on purpose, but archivists tend to kind of look at you like you’re a jackass for not knowing how to behave in an archives, but really that’s absurd, because it’s not even a library, so it’s not exactly like you learned the proper usage of one back in elementary school. Anyway, I figured it out, got my temporary NYPL card (!), and found out that the sound archives I requested weren’t there yet, but that I could go upstairs and look at the rest of the stuff I wanted. Continue reading

miracle of miracles!

This is very exciting. At this very moment, I am sitting at my desk, writing.

That may not seem all that interesting, but let me paint a picture for you.

Generally, my desk is where my textbooks sit when I am not using them at my dining room table to read or write papers. It is also where magazines and journals that I have not yet had time to read live. So imagine a desk that has been cleared off, save for a faux vintage clock radio/iPod dock and various other regular desk implements. Also, the light in the hallway is on, but the bedroom light, in the room where I am writing, is off. I’ve always been kind of a vampire when it comes to light. My eyes are sensitive to my computer light, and overhead lights just add to that mess. So, hallway light plus liliko’i scented candle on the bookshelf and tealight in a recycled materials lantern on the desk is what I’ve got. Love it.

Diane Birch singing to me about fire escapes and Valentino. The delicious smell of wick burning and wax melting. Late night mood conducive to writing. Continue reading

holiday lite

I’m sitting on a bus heading back to Boston from DC, where I spent the last two days with my aunt, uncle, cousins, cousins’ significant others, and cousins’ kids. I had a great time, and even though I didn’t want to admit it, it was definitely preferable to spending the holiday alone. Also, I got to go to a speakeasy on Wednesday night and drink old, Ragtimey drinks, some of which come with raw egg in them.

But I am not a big holiday person, even when I try to be. There are some things about a person inherent and unchangeable, and my inability to care about books and movies about war/military strategy or to get excited about holidays is something I can’t change, even when I know that it’s an award-winning film or that the entire rest of the world thinks it’s interesting that once a year at midnight it becomes not only a new day and a new month, but also a new calendar year. I’m not big on commemorative or celebratory things that are deemed obligatory. I didn’t go to my college graduation and a year later, I still don’t care; even if I weren’t someone who had never had the option of celebrating Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend I don’t think I would be big on celebrating it; I haven’t really done much for my birthday the past few years because it’s always awkward and an exercise in finding out how little my friends care about me. I much prefer showing people I care, and being shown they care, in random ways that mean a lot more because they come from the person just thinking about you and doing something special, not seeing a calendar date and feeling like they’re socially obligated to do something. And it’s not that I’m anti-capitalist or trying to make a stupid hipster statement; I have honestly tried to get excited and buy Halloween costumes and I always end up not following through, even if I mean to. Continue reading

quick review of my weekend in minneapolis

Quickie observations, insights, discoveries, and revelations.

1. The Midwest doesn’t suck. Oops for thinking it did. It has pretty nature, clean streets, good food, and friendly people. Also, does it have an obsession with aioli?

2. Keynote opening speaker: Stephen Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Excellent talk, must read his book. Neuroplasticity is like neural mapping–it’s that part of neuroscience that I understand conceptually without having to remember without drawing a cell, so I love it. Also, I wonder if the current tendency towards multitasking and multimedia extravaganzas is linked to what I see as a rise in more of my peers choosing multiple college majors in disparate fields or going towards interdisciplinary studies. Hyperlinking gives us access to so many new ideas, and I know in my experience, it has made me more interested in investigating other areas of study. Could be interesting to look into…

3. At the YALSA/ALA booth in the vendor exhibits, I got to meet a lot of the people I’ve been meeting via the Internet who work for or with the wonderful organization that is giving me money to go to school and get all kinds of extras like stipends for conferences. Not only are these people pretty awesome, but they way pumped up my ego by implying that I am already kind of famous in their circles, and that they want me to present at conferences and volunteer for committees and stuff. Sweet. Continue reading