Tag Archives: libraries i’ve lurked

that time i cried at the library of congress;

i’m not a very emotional person. no, really. i only cry in animal movies that require animals to perform feats of strength and courage. don’t ever ask me to watch “homeward bound”  with you. and  all fifty-six “land before time” movies caused major trauma for me as a child. so you can imagine my surprise when something besides a brave pterodactyl/ golden retriever brought me to lady-tears the last time i was in d.c.

it was innocent enough. for months i had had friends tell me i wouldn’t be able to see the fabled reading room portion of the library of congress. you’d need a pass. or to be a genius. any non-geniuses who strolled in would be met by a guard who would escort you out and deport you from the country after measuring the size of your brain. okay, so maybe not the last part, but my friends were being major buzz kills, for sure.

so i stumbled into the library of congress innocently enough. i thought i’d buy a tame, little water bottle to note my visit and maybe see a rotunda or two. no hyperventilating between stacks of book would happen. i could be just a normal person for the day, not a girl who has visited 20+ ornate libraries over the course of three years. a simple goal, if you will.

and if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that what i expect to happen almost never does (in the best ways possible).

i saw a huge swarm of people gather together like a cattle call up a nondescript flight of stairs. i assumed there was free food involved, mostly because i was shocked any large group of people was bum-rushing any part of a library, in general.

i followed them. and then i saw it. the reading room. and i cried. i actually cried. i wondered for a split second whether or not i had watched “air bud” in my dreams the night before and it was just playing out of my subconscious. but no, it was a bunch of hustling scholars and a fiiiiiiiine rotunda (if i do say so myself, homegirl has a lovely rotunda) that brought me to animal-movie-level tears.

to save face, i decided to silently back out of the observation room (it was a silencing, glass box that overlooked the reading room) and went to one of the exhibits that looked tame enough. 100+ books that changed america. it only took a whiff of the room to realize that these books were all first editions (have i lost you yet?) catcher in the rye. a tree grows in brooklyn. goodnight moon. all in their old, musty glory. the tears started again. i just couldn’t handle the fact that i was seeing all these books in exactly the state that the authors had decided they would look. and how they’d sound. and how they would be perceived by the books’ first readers. no movie-edition covers. no abridged versions. it was almost as if i could see all those famous authors’ hand-prints on each copy i passed by.

pure magic, guys. absolutely magical.

a washington, d.c. itinerary;

be greeted by the lovely maya at union station. regret not having a baby wipe handy because you are sweating like a sinner in church, as it is hotter than a witch’s teat (approximately) outside in d.c.

try to forget the heat because there is a hopeful plateful of fried vegetable dumplings coming your way. priorities, guys.

watch some twilight zone marathon with some of maya’s bros. because for some reason the universe is smiling on you.

be the lucky guest star of maya’s radio show, where you play the tunes that were the theme of your friendship and amurrica, for it was the day of the birth of our great nation. which naturally means a lot of songs like these. have a police officer break you into the radio station because you don’t have keys. have said police officer tell you to “shout out to the po-po!” on his way out.

…awkwardly find out that your face has been on maya’s photography business cards for many moons.

almost bike vomit on your ten mile bike ride into d.c. it wasn’t pretty. there was a lot of swamp-butt involved. and a lot of missing boston’s lack of hills.

remark to yourself “man, all of this construction on the mall is really going to get in the way of my instagram pics.”

air out in the air and space museum and feel nostalgic for your floridian upbringing (i.e. eating space ice cream, trips to cape canaveral, watching rockets shoot off in the middle of third period, always. god bless the swampland.)

pose in front of statues and the like at various smithsonian museums (my nerd heart couldn’t believe the price tag for all of them: free! my favorite price!).

nearly get thrown out as maya gets hit on by a guard. such is life.

as per your dear friend and former neighbor naomi’s request, go off to the venezuelan embassy for a free concert and some pure,innocent fun.

pillage the open bar of drinks and foodstuffs. realize there aren’t any vegan foodstuffs, so scraping the pork off of a sandwich (and into the nearby bushes) and eating the bread will have to do. sorry, venezuela. the bread was really good, though.

notice a  really cute boy off to the side of the main room. think nothing of it.

dance with strangers to some venezuelan tunes. wonder why you haven’t immigrated to venezuela, because good bread and tunes are basically all i need in this world.

pose in front of a picture of hugo chavez. of course. when in venezuela. YOVO (you only venezuela once). and so on and so forth.

somehow begin talking to aforementioned cute boy. somehow get boy’s number. somehow have plans to go on date with boy the next day.

such is life.

pre-game said date by doing the obvious (?): learn to dance “the wobble“, see the aids quilt and go to the holocaust museum! i mean, right? that was bad planning on my little heart.

most girls like to actually spend an hour getting ready, but this is me we are talking about. a quick swipe of a baby wipe over your face and airing off at an au bon pain (it was at least 102 degrees outside) and off you go to an ethiopian restaurant…for a “punk dance party”. of course.

stroll around d.c. with said boy ’til midnight and end up eating at ben’s chili bowl and wondering if a bowl of beans could change your life and the final verdict says yes, yes it can.

let your inner history-dork flag fly proudly (and blink in front of the crazy-small white house).

guys, america is really neat. like really, really neat.


spend the day berry picking in maryland. secretly pretend you live in a quaint provincial town like you’re belle from beauty and the beast

….because you are about to see a beast of a library….

at georgetown’s riggs library. um. i had to stifle happy tears.

(i wanna give a shout out to the caterers inside the riggs library that let me gawk at the gloriously smelly books for ten minutes.
it made my world complete. in so many ways.)

spend the rest of your last day in d.c. biking around with the dear maya. sangria and ethiopian food and facebook chatting and giggling from across the room included.

resolve to go back to d.c. very soon. as in like, two weeks.

because you are. (true story. see you soon, d.c.!)

seven minutes in (book-smell) heaven;

okay. so i technically had twelve minutes in heaven with this sassy little number, fisher fine arts library at upenn.

and what a sassy broad she was.

and yes, i definitely had to ask a nice little dad, who was in the middle of taking his daughters up and down the spiral staircases, to take my photo of me not once, but twice (the first one was heart-wrenchingly blurry. i didn’t want to relive my uc berkeley experience. i still get the night terrors of not properly documenting it).

three week road trips are all about shame, guys. and a newfound love of face-wipes, carrying as many snacks as a soccer mom named pam, and awkward back tans.

so, twelve minutes before closing i got.
oh, and you best believe i sniffed those books.
and stifled happy tears.

best-smelling library on my list by far. by far. 

a new york city itinerary, continued;

…for my previous new york city itinerary, click here. 

realize on a four hour bus to nyc that you should never read the book thief on the bus, as you will most likely want to sob/ugly cry into the shoulder of the nice-seeming man sitting next to you.

 spend the rest of the night recuperating from the episode by eating hush puppies with a guy friend from home on a bed-stuy stoop.

wake up the next morning for a lovely brunch at caravan of dreams with the lovely danielle. nom to your (mostly vegan) heart’s content on a breakfast burrito, pre-noon sangria, and a decaf iced coffee whilst chatting over silly boys, nerding out over graduate school, and blogs.

be walked by the chivalrous danielle to the strand bookstore to buy a book you’ve been wanting to inconspicuously buy for the last three years (more on this later). not possible. you still got eyebrow raises from the various hipsters that lurk in the dark and feed upon musty basement air and the prospect of kurt vonnegut tattoos. naturally.  

run into some of your favorite lady friends that you’ve known since you were a wee little kenzie, with a penchant for spit-balls, memorizing the whole of the movie “the princess diaries” and double-daring each other to eat mysterious concoctions at slumber parties.

spend 5 minutes comparing arm-pit hair to see who would win. fortuitously lose by a long-shot.

go to a free concert that involved a badass lead singer kicking over a huge amp on a stage overlooking the river. almost witness a drunken brawl, but slowly back away like you’re a cartoon rabbit that doesn’t know what is going on.

wake in the morning to the prospect of blood orange donuts, cute boys that know how to fix bikes (swoon sauce. i would gladly break my brakes), and overpriced t-shirts boasting the apparent self-esteem boosting properties of massachusetts.

spend fifteen minutes whispering to yourself, “mango agua fresca…why did you have to end?” in the heat wave at brooklyn flea as you try on purple cat-eye glasses that will only be cute until you realize how hipster they make you look.

get yourself to a lower east side dumpling house ASAP, because our floridian was starting to show. chug a gallon of oj on the train and praise the bounty of your motherland (i’ve honestly never met a floridian that doesn’t have a gallon of oj in their fridge at any point of time plus a bag of oranges).

realize you’ve got another two weeks of bus travel until you can eat oranges off your own tree and fend off baby alligators in your cul de sac. god bless america.

cross another library off the list. lose a little bit more shame with each foot-pop of your signature pose.

truly believe your friends are talking about crazy art-school alley cats when they say “let’s go see the pratt cats!”, and show genuine shock when they have award winning felines that live in an old engine room. of course, pratt. of course.

say toodles to nyc by giving your regards to broadway or whatever. thank the city for the free purse you scored from a stoop sale, yet another lost nalgene, a belly full of vegetable buns, and an awkward back tan from staying outside to stare at cute bike-shop boys.

and this was the abridged version.

libraries i’ve lurked;

so i was originally going to write this up as a joke, thinking i really hadn’t gone to that many libraries (usually as my main point of traveling to places), but then things got real, really fast

. feast your eyes on these literary wonders of the world (ahem, america.) is it sad that these are just the libraries i’ve purposefully visited in less than three years?

1. harper library, uchicago.

2. chicago public library. (for some reason i found this library kind of underwhelming when i visited it, ergo i couldn’t find any pictures that i took while i was in chicago. so i found this pretty instagram of it.)

3. boston public library.

4. new york public library.

5. los ángeles public library.

6. powell library, ucla.

7. iwasaki library, emerson college. (yes, that is the set of the show “will and grace”. in a library.)

8. biltmore family library, asheville nc. (you’re not allowed to take photos of it, so just some prancing outside. but it looks like this!)

9.  doe library, ucberkeley. (closed that day. ughhh, sorry mark twain autobiography that has been unpublished for 100 years [at the time].)

10.  providence athenaeum library, rhode island (MY FAVORITE.)

11.  salem public library.

12. some random library, nyu.

13.  widener library, harvard (and lamont…and…)

14. eliot library, harvard.  (i got to renaissance dance in this one, no less! and it had secret passageways!)

15. butler library, columbia university.

also, i only have one look/pose. i should probably work on that.

know any libraries i should look derp-y in front of? holla at your girl.