The other day I had one of those wonderful experiences where I went to the library and checked out SO MUCH STUFF that I left gleefully feeling like I had robbed the joint.
You may recall that I haven’t been able to do that I awhile and of course that’s because I, kinda-sorta, owed the Los Angeles County Public Library system like sixty bucks and I really didn’t want to pay it.
Well, enter stage left: Divine Providence!
See, I live in Santa Clarita California, which is a somewhat uppity burb of LA, and the city up and decided awhile ago that it wanted (and deserved!) its own library system. So a hearty thank you goes out to the City of Santa Clarita Public Library for wiping my slate clean!
So for nary a penny I was able to check out eight CDS (which I will totally not be burning into my iTunes) and six books (one on digital photography, two books of poetry, an illustrated memoir, a book about the carbon footprint of everything [from swimming pools and grocery store bananas to text messages and walking through a doorway] and a book of essays).
I was so happy!
Then I was made even happier as I read Sarah Vowell’s essay , “God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass” in her book “The Partly Cloudy Patriot”. If you have never heard her on NPR or seen her on the Daily Show, Vowell is “droll” and “intelligent”, or so says the blurb on the cover of the book. It turns out that what she actually is, is gloomier than I am and even more obsessed with the minutia of history. Toward the end of the “Blood” essay she wrote the passage below, which articulates better than I ever have been able to, the way in which history is not a class you’re forced to take, but rather an endless story that you and I and everyone we know is participating in.
Here is what she had to say about it:
The more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories. Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey caffe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. No wonder it costs so much.
It had never before occurred to me to try and high-five a book before, but I considered it after I read that.