I have, once again, had a full couple of weeks, and so this post is going to be a collection of stories.
This week I’ve been attending a library conference at the U of A, and it has me thinking about everything from how to go about changing and mending the Library of Congress subject heading list, to what counts as literacy and literate activity, to what working at the Jubilee had to do with my construction of a social narrative around myself.
One day one of the conference I took part in a workshop about practically applying critical theory to library problems (thrilling stuff, I know), and it made me think of my time as a liquor supervisor at the Jubilee, and the Work Persona I built around myself to make my life there as a young woman working in customer service easier and safer. I had props to help me do this: I wore an all black uniform, I made liberal use of my radio with its ear piece and wrist mic, I had a ring of keys to carry around, I had a card that unlocked doors to whip out whenever needed, I had a heavy-looking scale for weighing liquor, and I had my nightly reminder of “I can have anyone removed from this theatre.” My secret weapon when speaking with an adversarial patron was pretty simple. I would reply to any call I got on the radio with “just a moment, I’m just dealing with a patron.” I constructed a narrative of myself as an authority figure, as connected to other people through my radio, as busy with important tasks. I remember feeling safe inside my black clothing and severe attitude, and I was good at my job.
The keynote speaker talked about, among other things, the differences between print (European) literacy and Indigenous literacies. These differences includes concepts of responsibility vs right in storytelling, of what a map looks like, of what “published” means, and what counts as documentation. I’ve been thinking about all this along with other things I’ve been learning about literacy. Earlier in the week I listened to an episode of 99% Invisible about statues of Lenin being torn down in Ukraine as a part of the effort to remove communism from the built environment. During my undergrad I came across the idea that everything is a text that can be read. Rivers are a text, not only because they tell the story of past floods or new development (and therefore societal priorities), but also because they map out relationships and family ties, as I was shown with an Anishinaabe map based on waterways, landmarks, and relationships. A bridge is a text because it has hammers and sickles built into the railing in wrought iron, and tells the story of how a country was taken over by a communist regime. I don’t understand these ideas perfectly, and I want to learn more. I want to navigate a way to do so respectfully.
I’ve been figuring out the bus route between my and Josh’s new house and school. Today was an exercise in not being blown away by 90km/h winds while trying to stay at least slightly dry, while getting turned around and going the wrong way and missing a bus because differentiating between left and right is hard for me at the best of times and only gets worse when I’m frazzled. When I finally made it home, I was soaked but felt accomplished. Whenever I’m taking a new bus route I am so thoroughly thankful for Google. She almost never steers me wrong.
Our house is cute and has a large yard and we are slowly settling in and making it ours. A few of Josh’s photos are on the wall. Some of my favourite dishes are in the cupboards. We have a small table by the window looking out on the front yard. The living room furniture is sort of set up. There is a small jungle of plants by the big front window. The washing machine sings a little song when it’s done the cycle. It feels more like home every day. I’m excited to share it with people. There was a (small, non lethal, it’s fine) fire in the basement of my place in Bonnie Doon awhile ago, and now that the smoke smell is gone the weird cleaning plus smoke sealant plus construction smell has moved in and I don’t spend much time there. It makes this new house all the more attractive and comfortable. We’re making a list of things we need to do (paint two rooms, hang art, plant a tree, plant some vegetables, insulate the basement) even though we aren’t totally moved in yet.
I went to two bachelorette parties in one weekend and by the end I was exhausted. I did get to go play bingo for the first time ever and it is a) a good deal of fun, and b) bizarrely stressful. It is fast moving and if you miss a number, well, that’s on you. And people do a zillion cards! It’s intense! It is also Very Quiet, which was odd. I was expecting music or something but no! It is a big, quiet room filled with concentrating people. After two parties, Josh and I spent a day in Banff. I miss the mountains.
The next few weeks are full of weddings and driving and visits and my bridal shower. It’s going to be full. July is going to be less of a month off than I originally anticipated, and in August I get married. What a world.