the madness of being without library card access

i am so bored. i can’t get a library card in philadelphia because i have no proof of residency here (no lease, utility bills, paycheck stubs). i made a few unfortunate choices when i selected books to pack. i thought this would be the summer that i finally finished reading anais nin’s diaries, forgetting that maybe there is a reason that it’s been eight years & i’ve only read six of them. it’s because they are not engaging, have no narrative structure, & only hold my attention for brief periods of time. i have borrowed a book or two from amanda, her library pales in comparison to what i have at home (which is not a slight–just the truth), & even at home, i usually go through at least five books from the public library per week. i can’t even drown my sorrows in internet TV because amanda doesn’t have an internet account. we steal what we can from unsecured signals, or we go to coffeeshops. none of it can support an episode of “roseanne” on youtube.

it’s worse now that jared is in new york city. when he was up in the mountains, i knew i couldn’t see him & that we had to set a time to talk on the phone. now that he’s in the city, two hours away, with cell reception, i miss him more because he is more accessible. (in theory–in reality, he’s even busier with his research & has less times to talk.)

i’ve also been in philly long enough at this point to realize that philly peeps aren’t just busy. they’re flaky & impossible to make plans with. so i have to amuse myself. which usually i am really good at. because i go to the library & check out big stacks of books! argh, i am losing my mind! i have exactly one semi-appealing books here that i haven’t read yet. if i want to expand my selection, i’ll either have to cajole amanda into getting a library card & then use it to check items out, or i’ll have to buy some new books, which will cost money i’d rather not spend, & which then will have to be shipped back to kansas, which will also cost money.

i have twenty days left in philadelphia. i can’t decide if that seems like a lot or a little. amanda suggested that we make a list of everything we want to make sure we do before i head back to kansas. but aside from the mutter museum, which she has no interest in seeing again (not that i mind–i’d rather go by myself so i can spend as much time there as i want & not be distracted by conversation while i’m reading all the exhibit cards), i can’t think of anything. i don’t care about record stores or eating a cheesesteak or going to the beach. we already have plans to see a phillies game next week, & the only reason that will be fun is because jared will be there & he’s always entertaining at baseball games. i’m going to new york city again this weekend, but even the thought of that exhausts me. my last trip made me completely burnt out on shuttling back & forth across the city on the subway, desperately seeking some air conditioned bar, cafe, or restaurannt in which to get out of the sweltering heat.

i just want to be at home, hanging out with my cat, a big stack of library books at my side, the cabinets stocked with food i like to eat, a washing machine in the basement. i want to be able to use an ATM that doesn’t charge fees, a fresh selection of already-laundered socks, without all the pressure of going out & making the most of the city. this is exactly why i think a second set of “homebody” knuckle tattoos would suit me so well. i loathe traveling. i miss my pink blanket & pile of half-completed logic puzzle books & dirt-cheap chicken cutlets that can be turned into food that tastes good. (for some reason, no chicken i have tried to cook so far in philadelphia has held a candle to the chicken i am used to in kansas. they all seem to have weird gristle parts.)

jared came down to philly last weekend to visit for a grand total of 21 hours. i’m sad that he couldn’t stay longer, but it was great to see him. amanda was gone overnight at some party in new jersey, so jared & i got to be alone, & it was like being back in kansas, just hanging out & shooting the shit. aside from being my boyfriend, he’s also my best friend, & it’s always a treat to just sit around & chat with him. we talked about books we were reading, possible dinner party invites we may want to issue, plans for my birthday, the passive sexism of “the daily show,” & charlotte. there’s no pressure to wrap the conversation up or keep it constantly entertaining with him. we both agreed that this little separation has made us appreciate each other all the more, & i know i just need to be patient & i’ll be back in kansas…but still.

the good news is that the heat seems to have broken to some degree. i actually had to sleep with a fleece blanket last night. i almost fell out of bed retrieving it from the box of extra bedding (which would have been hilarious). i know it’s just a temporary respite before temperatures climb back into the mid-90s & i do nothing but suffer once again. i hate hot weather. the only way i can deal with hot weather is if i can just sit perfectly still & lose myself in a book…& i am swiftly running out of books! it all comes full circle. a library card would solve all my problems.

tomorrow is july, & it’s supposed to be surprisingly cool, at least in terms of summer weather. i’ve made myself a big spreadsheet of goals i hope to accomplish while i am 31, & i think tomorrow will be my first practice run. maybe i’ll just disappear to some other part of town, pick up a few used books, & sit & write in a coffeeshop for a few hours. pretentious, costs money, & not especially good for my back problems, but it beats complaining. amanda & i are hosting a barbecue in the late afternoon. maybe a little social stimulus, even with people i don’t actually know (which generally means that they will ask me what various words mean–people i have met for the first time are always asking me about “hydrology,” “fortuitous,” “perfidy,” “calumny,” “intractable,” “leonine,” etc, like you have to have a dictionary to be my friend), will improve my mood.

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3 responses to “the madness of being without library card access

  1. okay. I’m not from Philly and I’ve only been there for probably two hours, but there’s this sandwich.. not the cheesesteak, but this roast pork-broccoli rabe-provolone number that is available at a few places in the city (i think the main place to get it is some big indoor/outdoor freshmarket kind of place?).. you should eat that. seriously. because it looks amazing and I am not in Philly. And there’s gotta be some nice culinary adventure you could go on, however brief, during your time there!

  2. oh, also! Maybe you could have someone send you a letter that looks kind of official.. like the return address could say something like “Marcus and Sons Apartment Rentals” or some crap that makes it seem like you have a place in Philly and then you could get a library card? Though it seems more practical for Amanda to get one that you could then use, because she’d then have a library card anyway once you head back to Kansas.

  3. Are any of the libraries around comfortable enough to relax in and read there without checking out a book? Or perhaps there is a coffeeshop nearby with a “take a book” shelf you could utilize? Any thrift stores with a randomly good book find for a buck?

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