Thoughts at the NYPL
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
I should have been a librarian. I've always liked the smell, even though the summer when I worked at the college library taking ancient bound journals off the shelves to be re-bound, the ancient decaying dust (and mites?) got into the skin of my hands and made me feel like a drug addict with itchy hands. Mostly, though, the decaying smell is a comfort to me. Is intellectual home. The smell of decaying books, I mean, not decaying flesh. But I learned this recently: There's some chemical that our bodies need, that we're basically made of, that is found in meat that is just starting to rot. Scientists and French people have found that the food that appeals to all palates is food that mimics this just starting to rot taste. Like Parmesan cheese. I'm not being fanciful. This is a nonfiction musing. I learned this from a student of mine who is a ballet dancer. Some people drilled a hole in her bones to repair the fracture she'd been dancing on all those months. One thing I've learned: I like knowing a person in one context, and then going to see them in their work context and realizing, "My God, that person can leap about!" I have also learned that most people have a compelling story if you stop complaining about your haircut long enough to notice. For example, since I moved to New York, I've met the guy from the radio who convinced himself he had a British accent when he was a teenager. I've met a woman from Kentucky who flew over Kansas in a prop plane, surveying it all. Also, my physical therapist has family in Argentina and co-owns a house on Fire Island. He likes the quiet out there and sometimes finds it hard to get up on Monday morning and take the train back to Manhattan and press on people's backs on the 12th floor of a building near Macy's. I've learned all that and more.