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Friday Fun! (May: MLA Chicago and Boston Calling)

Hello my lovely readers!  You may have noticed the blog was a bit quieter than usual this month.  That’s because I had my annual conference for work, and I extended my Memorial Day three day weekend into a five day one.  The month was so incredibly full of both good and stressful busyness, I’m kind of amazed I managed to blog at all!

Image of a sunset over a lake. Buildings are right on the water's edge.

Lake Michigan at sunset.

Every year for work I attend the Medical Library Association’s annual conference.  This year the conference was in Chicago.  I’d never been to Chicago before, and I made sure to make the most of my limited free-time to see the city!  I walked through Millennium Park and got a selfie in the bean, went to American Girl Place on the Magnificent Mile (and bought a mini version of the Native American doll, Kaya), and went to Navy Pier.  I also checked out the Chicago History Museum and got to see items that were melted in the Chicago Fire, such as marbles.  I walked through Lincoln Park and went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where I got to hang out in a butterfly conservatory room.  None landed on me, but I got some great pictures! My partner’s sister and her husband live in Chicago, so I went and had dinner with them at a Chicago style hot dog restaurant that actually had vegetarian hot dogs.  Score!  They also took me to see Lake Michigan, and I was blown away by how soft the sand is and how the lake is so large it looks like the ocean.  I guess they don’t call them the Great Lakes for nothing!  I know that sounds like a lot to squeeze into the amount of time I wasn’t at the conference, but I am the queen of getting a lot of sightseeing done in a short amount of time.  I pre-plan, using Pinterest and its great maps feature, and plot out routes and timing so I can get everything in.  Plus, in museums, I only check out the exhibits of greatest interest to me.

Of course, the main reason I was in Chicago was for work.  I attended the conference, listening to many excellent plenary speakers, as well as presentations by various librarians and library students on their projects and papers, and networked with vendors at the opening event.  This year I was an official blogger for the poster sessions.  You can see my blog posts here.  Our library director also took us all out for Chicago style deep dish pizza.  While I enjoyed the deep dish pizza, it was a lot like lasagna without the pasta, I can’t imagine eating it more than a few times in my lifetime.  I still prefer the thin crust brick oven or thick crust New England styles!  When I got back to Boston, I taught a library skills class and presented a poster at an education event on my work’s campus.  After all of that work, I took my five day Memorial Day weekend!

A stage surrounded by blue signs with a dog in a suit and the words Boston Calling. A band is on the stage and a large crowd is in front of them.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performing at Boston Calling.

The reason I took the long weekend was because my bf and I wanted very much to attend Boston Calling, Boston’s live music festival.  My favorite band, The Decemberists, and his favorite band, Built to Spill, were both playing, as was the band that sings our song, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  The festival was Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.  It’s held in the center of Boston, at Government Center, on two stages.  The architecture there is very brutalist, and the entry to the festival had signs up denoting male and female.  We figured out later the signs were just telling you if the person doing the wanding was a man or a woman, it wasn’t intended to split up the crowd along gender lines, but the whole thing felt quite dystopian when we arrived and lent the concert a pretty damn cool vibe.  I had such an incredibly wonderful time at the festival, I can barely put it into words.  Hearing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sing our song live was stellar.  I had seen The Decemberists once before, but not as up close as I got at this concert.  It was raining when they came out, which, if you know their music, gave the performance such a perfect atmosphere.  They sang both old and new songs, and it was just amazing.  I also really enjoyed watching my partner’s favorite band, Built to Spill.  They have amazing guitar skills, and their fans are of the cool head bob variety, so it was the perfectly chill performance for the sunny, relaxing day.  When we weren’t at the concert, we went a long motorcycle ride and grilled for the first time this season.  It was a great vacation!

Just because I’ve been busy doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading.  I finished seven books this month, three more than usual, but only managed to review two of them so far.  Definitely be prepared for an onslaught of reviews in the next couple of weeks!

I was also too busy for stitching most of the month.  I would have stitched on my trip to Chicago, but fellow cross-stitchers and embroiderers stated that, even though the rules don’t say you can’t have a sewing needle, a lot of the times they get confiscated.  I didn’t want to risk it.  Once my vacation was over, I picked it back up again.  I’m working on the second item for the Foraging New England line, and it is almost done!

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (Seattle and MLA12)

Hello my lovely readers!

You may have noticed a recent surge in librarianship posts this week.  I was so energized and excited about my career after MLA12 that I decided to post up my notes from the various sessions I attended here.  It helps me organize my thoughts about them, but also gets the knowledge out there for others to see.

But enough about the conference, I know you guys are wondering about Seattle!

Pike Place Market painted piggy.

My first day I made it to Pike Place Market.  It’s a famous market in the Puget Sound.  Unfortunately, it’s kinda well-known for how the fish sellers throw the fish around.  Obviously, being a vegetarian lady I wasn’t too keen on watching dead bodies of innocent creatures being thrown around, so I avoided that particular sector of the market.  I did find some things in the market that entertained me in their own way, though.  The very first Starbucks, complete with its topless lady logo.  I stopped to listen to a band of old men jamming (they were very talented).  I met the giant carving of Sasquatch that Seattle is evidently very proud of (although I was never in the woods, so, alas, did not meet the real Sasquatch).  I also managed to find an adorable independent bookstore called Left Bank Books with quite possibly the best bookstore logo ever: Read a Fucking Book.  Also they had an entire animal liberation section that warmed the cockles of my heart.

Looking up through Seattle’s sidewalk.

The next day I somehow managed to squeeze in the Seattle Underground tour around the conference.  Basically, Seattle burned down back in the day. They decided this was a good chance to solve the whole sewage constantly in the street because of lack of proper drainage problem. But the merchants didn’t want to wait the 7 years it would take to elevate the ground, so they built their building at regular level, but made the pretty entrance on the second floor. That way as the city built up the retaining walls and filled in the street and such, the first floor became the basement, and the second floor the first floor. So we were wandering around underground on what used to be the above-ground sidewalks. Confused yet?

Outside the EMP Museum

My final day in Seattle, I went to the EMP Museum (Experimental Music Project).  I wasn’t so into the main museum itself, but they were having a special exhibit called “Can’t Look Away.”  Besides learning more about the sociology and history of horror, I also saw: an Alien from Alien, the monster’s boots from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the saw from Saw, the axe from The Shining, models used in special effects from The Fly, Freddy Kruger’s glove, the interrogation chair from Hostel, and much more!! It was totally bad-ass. I was in heaven.  Also they gave me a list of the 100 horror films to see before you die.  I’ve seen 29, which is pretty good for being 25 myself.

Freddy Kruger's glove!

So beyond the touristy stuff, what did I think of Seattle?

The Cool:

  • Buildings hand out free “umbrella bags” so you can bag your umbrella and not drip everywhere.
  • Buildings also have overhangs so most of the sidewalk is not actually out where you get rained on.
  • Super hilly, which is good for the legs.
  • Skid Row term originated there.
  • The history is skeezy and fascinating.  All the stuff I love about the old west.
  • The accent is pretty adorable.  Kind of a softened version of Midwest with less niceties.
  • Legal happy hour.

The Annoying and/or Odd:

  • Getting called ma’am all the time.
  • Having doors held open for me even when it’s not necessary or particularly helpful.
  • Way too many homeless people.
  • Omg the smoking.
  • Seriously, where the hell are the pizza places and why did the two I found not sell by the slice?
  • The Space Needle is seriously underwhelming.
  • The fashion is. Well. It’s like Berklee threw up on people.

Really, though, I had a wonderful time at the conference and being a tourist.  It’s not like it surprised me that I wouldn’t want to call Seattle home.  I’ve known a very long time now that Boston is my city soulmate.  But I had fun visiting and definitely would go back as a tourist again.  I just would skip Pike Place Market and spend a lot more time in Pioneer Square.