Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Sneakers, No Music, Aborted Run

My new Asics sneakers (yes, Dr. Nic — SNEAKERS!) arrived Tuesday so I put them to the test this morning with what I had plotted out (yes, Dr. Nic — on MapMyRun!) as a 5.4-mile run. I should have suspected things would go wrong because There Were Signs: The inside of my right calf had been feeling a bit twingey for the past couple of days (nothing major); and when I went to the charging station to get my iPod as I prepared for my run (DUN-DUNNNNNNNNN!!!! <--Dramatic musical flourish) I found I had not fully plugged in the connector and the iPod's crap battery was DEAD, Jim! So, there was no music for me on this run, as you may already have guessed from the fact that No Music is the meat in my titular New Sneakers, No Music, Aborted Run sandwich, above.

Running is boring enough at 5 a.m., but without music, it's even worse. To amuse myself on the run, I decided to alter my route to make it closer to 6 miles. (Yes, I'm easily amused.) The calf was feeling crampy, but it wasn't horrible. But then, as part of my improvised route, I ran down a not-too-steep hill which, as frequently happens with declines, turned into an equally not-too-steep incline at the end. At that point, the crampy feeling intensified, so, after a short debate as to whether or not to continue running, I decided — what with my 15k race coming up a week from Saturday (the longest distance I've raced up to now is a 10k)— that I'd just stop running and walk the rest of the way home.

I iced the calf but I don't think I'll be going on any more runs between now and race day. Looks as though a Certain Recumbent Exercise Bike I know is in for some Extra Special Attention over these next eight or so days. RRRRrrrRRRRRR!

So the deets on the run: Overall, 4.11 miles in 40 minutes = 9:41 pace. The running part (3.8 miles) was at an 8:54 pace.
I was up at the Reference Desk the other day working on the reference department laptop for reasons that don't matter for the purposes of the story I'm about to try your patience with. So I was talking to one of the other Reference Librarians — let's call her "Anne" (not her real name) — and she starts asking me about the Library Mystery I wrote as a joke awhile ago; because she says libraries should be the keepers of ephemera and what could be more ephemeral than some crap that I wrote? (She didn't actually say that last part.)

See, about seven years ago, Anne herself told me I should write a mystery story and set it in a specific branch of our system. And for some reason I did it. If this sounds odd to you, I guess that's because you don't know Anne. She's been a Reference Librarian in our system for quite some time and she's kinda the system's institutional memory. Every year at the HQ Branch's Christmas Party, she reads a list of events that happened over the past year that she's kept track of: odd, funny things that happened to staff — stuff like, e.g., a staff member getting locked in a storage closet for hours and banging on the door and whimpering for help like a little girl only to realize the key was in his pocket the whole time and NO that particular thing did NOT happen to me, wise ass.

Every year, Anne also writes a new Christmas play, set in the library; and the plays have lines for every staff member and all the Friends of the Library, so we're talking scores of people, here, foax. We don't act these plays out, but we kinda do a line reading from our seats after we eat our Christmas Party Roast Beast. The plays generally revolve around the imagined antics of the library's CFO, Director and Head of Acquisitions & Cataloging. To give you the flavor of these plays, it is not unusual for them to involve numerous instances of, e.g., cross-dressing, which might involve the CFO and Acq-Cat Head actually donning dresses — the freaks!

So that's what Anne does, and not just at Christmas time. Jobs can be boring — yes! Even the EXCITING CAREER that is PUBLIC LIBRARIANSHIP!!! — so Anne comes up with these diversions pretty much year round to keep people from going stir crazy.

And so that's why her instructing me to write a Library Mystery was not only not unusual, but pretty much in character for her.

And so I did it. I kinda did it as a parody of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe series of novels. (I love Chandler.) I even titled it Through These Mean Stacks a Man Must Go, after the famous quote from Chandler's essay The Simple Art of Murder. I called my first-person narrator "Barcode" and made him a Library Dick (not in the sense you're thinking ... well, okay ... in that sense, too, because he is a bit of a dick — he is, after all, a stand-in for me, in part) because in the world I created for Barcode, most librarians are sociopaths and it is the job of the Library Dick (every library has one) to kinda cover up all the crime that goes on at libraries, most of it perpetrated by the sociopathic librarians themselves.

My thanks to Anne was to name the most sociopathic of all the librarians in my story after her. (She — fictional Anne — has a habit of assaulting irritating patrons with a copy of the PDR and then wearing the teeth she knocks out on a necklace she wears at all times.)

Yes, it was as stupid as it sounds. But I ended up writing like 15 chapters, and as I wrote them, I'd pass them to Anne, who handed them around like some kind of library samizdat. A lot of people saw and read it and it even made its way into the hands of some foax it probably would have been better to have kept it from. Because the story's library system was based vaguely on our actual system, and when you do that, some people are inevitably going to read the whole thing as a roman à clef, which I did not anticipate beforehand because if I had, I would not've, e.g., named the mystery's Library Director McMammary and implied she had marital problems. Ooooo, went the imaginations of some: Our Director has marital problems?

I mentioned in an earlier post that Bruce, the former Head of Reference here at my library, is an actual writer. After I kinda go in hot water (not much, really) over my mystery — because certain people insisted on reading it as an exposé of some sort about our actual library — I had my first conversation with Bruce (who was reading my chapters, too) about this issue. Because I was flabbergasted by it. And Bruce all, "I hear you brother. There are members of my family I refuse to show my work to because they'll insist on seeing themselves in it and then get angry at me."

Kinda sucks.

So, anyway, I had literally not thought about this stupid mystery of mine in years ... until Anne brought it up, worried that, if she didn't preserve it, it might be Lost To The Ages. Which was really flattering.

And looking for a copy of that mystery in my documents folder is how I found that stupid poem I posted yesterday.

And now you know the whole story behind The Finding Of The Doggerel Poem.

Totally worth the trip, huh?


  1. Locally, a librarian's been arrested for stealing 100,000 items. Good to know they keep watch so closely!

  2. A library comment, rather than a running comment. I was wondering which it would be.

  3. I thought I would read a bunch of comments demanding you post your mystery, but since nobody spoke up here's my comment: "Finish it, post it, and we'll judge it!"