Otakuu

We had a bonus meetup at Trattorie this morning because otakuu was in town and was keen to get together with a few of the local bookcrossers. Not a bad turnout considering the short notice (the whole thing was planned via the Yahoo group last week) – as well as the usual breakfasters (me, lytteltonwitch, awhina and meerkitten), gwilk and his family turned up. We haven’t seen them for ages, so it was great to see them again (as well as good to see otakuu, of course!)

I only took a couple of books along (I still haven’t restocked my to-be-released pile after Brisbane – I’ve been too busy to read!): The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory and Kiss my Tiara by Susan Jane Gilman; and somehow managed to come home with two: Ceremony in Death by JD Robb and Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Elizabeth Berg (though that doesn’t count, because it was an unregistered book I “rescued” from the OCZ in order to give it a BCID).

Currently reading: A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K Hamilton (yes, I know I’m reading them in the wrong order – it’s a long story…)

On not being brave and speaking Spanish

I really will get around to finishing the story of my Brisbane trip one day soon, I just haven’t had time since I got back. For some reason, I’d thought that term started two weeks after I got back, which was crucial, because I knew the first week back at work would be flat out (as it always is when you go away for more than a few days – no matter how much you try to clear your desk before you leave, you always come back to find a huge amount of work has accumulated in your absence), so I was counting on having that extra week to get up to speed again with Spanish before classes started (and I especially need to get up to speed, because unlike most of my classmates, who took the first part of the course last semester, I’ve had a year’s break in between (for various complicated reasons), so I’ve totally forgotten everything). Anyway, it turned out I was wrong about the two weeks – it was only one week, so instead of having the luxury of using my spare moments at work to go over last year’s notes, there were no spare moments (I didn’t even manage to get a lunch-break for most of last week). Which left the evenings (when I was too tired to do much anyway, because I’d been so busy all day) and the weekend. So all plans of using the weekend to catch up on my diary were abandoned in favour of trying to cram the minimum of vocabularly and grammar into my head so that I wasn’t totally lost when I got to the first class on Monday. I was only partially successful, so I think this weekend will be again dedicated to study…

In the meantime, I had (and totally chickened out of!) the opportunity of actually using some Spanish last night at our TGFKAM. A new member who came along, sandrabejarano, is Mexican, so I *should* have been able to practice my Spanish conversation. I chickened out after “Hola”, though – I just couldn’t remember enough :-( But she said she’ll be back for the September TGFKAM (she’s going back to Mexico for a holiday next month), so I promised her I’d be brave enough (and have learnt enough!) to speak to her properly in Spanish next time :-)

Otherwise, the usual crowd were there: Cathietay, daveytay, non-fiction, lytteltonwitch, natecull, awhina, and meerkitten.

I didn’t take many books along last night – I released most of my available books in Brisbane, so I need to get some more read (and unfortunately I’m struggling my way through some bookring books at the moment (in the very little time I’ve had for reading), so there’s not been a lot of opportunity to convert TBR books to “to be released”). I did return the convention journal (which had done the rounds of Fort Worth and Brisbane) to Cathietay, and brought along a couple of hardcovers that had been left languishing in the bottom of my to-be-released box because they were too heavy to pack: Sue’s Circus Horse by Judith M Berrisford and Great Cat Tales, plus Dragon Sun by Michael Ely, which mecka-antics had released on campus that morning, and I’d picked up to take to the meetup when I saw it still sitting there later in the day (I also picked up one he’d released for myself: Billy by Pamela Stephenson). I’d had good intentions of not bringing any books home with me (Mt. TBR does NOT need increasing!), but lytteltonwitch had finally remembered to bring along The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace (not a book I particularly want to read for itself, but it’s one that boreal passed on to me in Dunedin, which is special because it came (sort of) from heather, one of the Bookcrossing founders), and then In Your Dreams by Charlie Ross was left lying on the table looking lonely at the end of the evening, so I took pity on it…

A couple of nice catches recently: Abba: The Lovers Whose Music Conquered the World by Harry Edgington and Peter Himmelstrand, which I released in Wellington two years ago, which was caught by someone who wasn’t very impressed by the book, but at least seems to appreciate the idea of Bookcrossing; and Baby and All by Candace Camp et al, which I released in Dunedin and from the sound of things seriously improved someone’s day (which is the best bit of Bookcrossing, really).

Currently reading: Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K. Hamilton

London thoughts

My friends (both real-life and virtual are safe) are safe, but there’s a lot of people who can’t say the same :-(

For over a year I worked in an office opposite the entrance to Liverpool Street Station, so the images on TV were doubly shocking to me – they seemed so much more real than the footage from the World Trade Centre, just because the places were so familiar to me. I’m sure there are many NZers who have done the London OE thing who are feeling that same sense of connection, and are grieving with the city they know so well.

But having lived in London, there is a feeling of hope mixed with my grief. I know that London will recover from this blow – it will not hurt it in the same deep-seated way that the World Trade Centre hurt New York. And not just because of the difference of scale, but because terrorism was such a shock to New York and the USA – they, like most of us, felt that terrorism was something that happened to other countries, so when it did hit them, it was completely out of the blue (tasteless pun entirely unintentional). Londoners, on the other hand, have lived with terrorism for years. The blitz (not terrorism, I know, but when bombs are going off around you, the difference between “legitimate” war and terrorism is not an issue) was still a vivid memory for many when the IRA began their 30-year bombing campaign, and the ink on that peace agreement is barely dry. The IRA was still a threat when I was in London (in fact, Canary Wharf had just been bombed when I moved there from further north), and the thing that amazed me was the lack of fear – whether it was because they’d lived in fear for so long that they’d become immune, or because of a concious decision to fight the terrorists in the only real way anyone can (by not letting their actions change your life), Londoners seemed to treat bomb threats (and even actual bombings) as just another inconvenience, to be dealt with and then forgotten. There was always vigilence, of course, but not fear. And it wasn’t long before I started to act the same way (thus totally shocking my mother when I casually mentioned on the phone one day that I’d been late for work that morning because of a bomb scare at our Tube station – I’d only been in London for 6 months and already I’d forgotten that bomb scares weren’t a normal part of life back home in NZ – I was more concerned that I might lose some pay for being late!).

Which is why I was so cheered when I saw the news yesterday morning and heard that only 8 hours after the bombing, London was struggling back to normality – the buses and most trains were running again, people were sitting in pubs drinking as they would at the end of any ordinary working day, sending a strong message to the terrorists that they hadn’t won, they hadn’t broken London’s spirit. And I think that’s the best thing the rest of us can do too – spare a thought for those hurt or killed, and for their friends and families, and then just get on with our lives. Yes, be vigilant, but don’t go over the top and let it change the way you live. Keep taking public transport, don’t cancel your holiday plans, keep planning that trip to London, or New York, or Madrid, or whereever, and above all, don’t be scared. Terrorism is all about controlling us by instilling fear. If we don’t fear, then they can never win.

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Ok, deep philosophical thoughts over – promise I’ll go back to Bookcrossing trivia from now on.