Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ref Grunt

Printing, printing, logging on, street lit, devotionals. Announcing several times that you "don't use the library much" does not fill me with extra joy as I help.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I believe I learned this exercise while learning to be a trainer. It goes like this:

  • Think of a book -- or a TV show -- that you like a lot, but that you don't really talk to people about. A secret indulgence. Once you've got it, jot down some of the character's names for me.
  • Now think of a book -- or show -- that you talk about around the water cooler. And jot down some of those characters.
  •  How'd you do?

Most people find they can name more characters from the book or show that they talk about. We reinforce what we have learned (character names) when we discuss things. The lesson to wannabe trainers is This is why we ask people to report back, share, discuss.

This activity came to mind as I thought about fan-hood, lately. I missed the teen crushing phase: I found the idea of gazing at pictures of Andy Gibb or whomever vaguely embarrassing. Then there were the handful of months after I graduated college and before I got a "real" job -- the first time I temped. At lunch one day, I sat in a sunny break room with several middle-aged women who cheerfully chatted about "Alf." Good lord, is this what being an adult is going to be like? Were the smart meal-time conversations of college a brief and shining moment? Between, seemingly, not being predisposed to be obsessed and having had many phases of my life when I was surrounded by Alf-lovers and not fans of what I liked, I seldom reveled in being a fan, in having a common language with people.

The internet, of course, changes this; fans discover each other, more easily now than in the old bulletin board days of yore. Things that I might have been keeping as secret indulgences show as I get the chance to say "what, you too?" Curiously, the sort of sharing we can do online these days not only sets into our minds the characters' names, it also ossifies certain moments.

The activity of being a fan and sharing becomes self-centered and meta.

Recently, I had a truly weird experience: a real-life event -- observing a woman wearing a lovely red-orange wrap at a concert -- made a gif run through my head. Have I processed -- learned -- too much?

I have to admit to myself, at this point, that perhaps I do become obsessed? TV re-runs allowed me to learn more quotes from M*A*S*H than a 13 year-old needed to know . . . hmm, and I did have a M*A*S*H trivia book. But I didn't dress or draw pictures or even talk in a particular way because of the show. Perhaps there were other kids who were? Perhaps without participation in a fan club, much less internet-sharing, I just didn't know about them.

All of this drifts around in my mind not only as I watch TV or the ref desk with one eye, and scan Pinterest and tumblr with the other, but also as reasonably reputable articles on my current crush, BBC's Sherlock, appear. (For instance, Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker and well, several items in WIRED, but especially this one by Devon Maloney which asserts that the show does not pander to the avid fans.) I feel reluctant to call myself a fan girl -- pictures of handsome actors not in character, pictures meant just for gazing at, still embarrass me -- but my browser's history would argue otherwise. Perhaps it is time to go clear that.

Capital City weather: freezing rain, thunder