Saturday morning, I thought I had to work from nine until four. My problem was, I had three books ready for pick-up at the library, with the reserve on two of them expiring that Saturday. I had gone in twice to pick them up but forgot both times that my library card was in the flowerpot on top of the refrigerator. Friday evening I had gone by after KidThree and I got back from dinner with her bio-mother, but the library was closed. I knew I had to work Saturday and that the two books would be put out for someone else to take. What to do? Early Saturday morning, I sent an email to the library contact address and asked (begged) if they would please, please, please not give away those two books, that I would get to the library after I got off work at four.
Then of course I didn't have work that day (oops), but KidThree and I went to the Bay Area to visit my parents, leaving town before the library opened. I sure did hustle to make sure we got back to town before the library closed. When we got there, around four-thirty (closing time was five), I went straight to the reserve shelf. There were three books waiting for me still--yippee! Some marvelous library person had drawn a line through the pick-up-by date of 11/15/08 and written in 11/16/08. Thank goodness for library staff who understand how badly we want to read those books that we reserve.
One of the books was "Where Memories Lie," by Deborah Crombie. I love her books. I like the characters--they are fully developed and grow and change over time. They don't all get equal time in each book, but life is like that, too. I got that one read almost in one sitting. The only reason I didn't was stress--I kept popping up out of my chair to go do this or that or some other thing, anything to make me feel like I was being at least a little productive, making at least a little progress in my continual struggle to get control over things here. But I did manage to keep sitting back down and to focus on the book again. It was excellent. The plot was complex and the characters were not cookie-cutter. One character struck me as insultingly stereotypical at first introduction, but then later that was shown to be false. (I was quite relieved at that, as at first I thought Crombie was getting lazy on me.) I recommend it strongly, but if you haven't read her books, go back and start at the beginning--"Where Memories Lie" will be there, ready, when you get to it after the others.
After that, I read "The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters," by Rose George. Who would have thought that a book on excrement could be a page-turner? It really was. I was fascinated from the first page and could hardly put it down. I was carrying it everywhere I went, begrudging anything that took my attention from it for even a little bit. George went all around the world, studying how and where people pooped and peed and what they did with that poop and pee. She did it all with respect and understanding and humor, meeting people all over who were dedicated to finding better ways for people to manage and process their poop. The book was marvelous. It was funny, empathetic, and enlightening all at the same time. Before reading the book, I was maybe a little more aware of different toileting habits than some Americans, as I had lived in Japan for two years and got to use some distinctly non-western toilets, but I still learned a lot of new things. It surely did make me more aware of what was behind every flush of my toilet lever. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn something new and fascinating (or, rather, OLD and fascinating).
***Here is my one funny poop story: Back when I was in the Navy and working on a medical ward, I had to explain to a hospitalized Army sergeant that we needed him to give samples from three consecutive stools. He nodded his understanding, I gave him the specimen containers, and that was that. Or so I thought. I happened to go in his room for something about an hour later and he told me he had the samples ready. Huh? Three stools in an hour? The sergeant wasn't hospitalized for diarrhea. More than little puzzled, I went into the bathroom to get the specimens. There, on the back of the toilet, were three cups, each neatly filled with urine. Uh oh--I guess I hadn't been clear enough. I stifled my grin and went back into the room to explain to the sergeant that I needed the OTHER kind of specimen. I tried different words but he didn't recognize b.m., or bowel movement, or feces, or stool (I tried that one again just to make sure). Finally I gave up and told him I needed his shit in the cups. He gaped at me, then exclaimed in dawning horror, "you mean you want my MESSES in the cups?!?!?"
They should have given me a medal for maintaining a straight face.
Now I'm a little more than halfway through "In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography," by John Gartner, a psychologist and university professor. Gartner delves into Clinton's complex family background and tells his story from the perspective of a therapist, not an ordinary biographer. It's very interesting. Of course I've never met Bill Clinton, but I haven't thought of him as a person I could be friends with (although I did have tremendous respect for him as a politician). Reading this book is changing my opinion of him, at least a little bit. It's enlightening and I'm enjoying it.
When I'm done with that one, I'll try some fiction. Last time I was in the library (before Saturday, anyway), I chose two books from the new fiction shelf. I usually don't stop by there, but I've been reading so many blogs here by fiction writers that I've gotten to feel a little guilty about my neglect of storytellers and their stories.
That's it for today; I hope you've all had a good one.