The Frustrations of Finitude

Why do all of the interesting things happen all at once? I'm leaving town in a few hours to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Philadelphia, and ever since I booked my flight, I've been discovering more and more things that I am going to be missing by taking the trip.

The greatest disappointment is that I am missing not one, not two, but THREE library sales. The Friends of the Chapel Hill Library throw open their doors often enough that I won't suffer too much withdrawal between now and the February event, but the Wake County sale only comes around once a year. (Then again, the Wake County sale was a bit disappointing last year, so I'll just tell myself it wouldn't have been worth the gas to drive to Raleigh. But it still would have been fun.) For any Triangle-area bibliophiles who are home for the weekend, the Carrboro Library sale is on Saturday and Sunday, 8-3 and 1-4, respectively. I recommend all three, or at least whichever one is closest to you.

Not that I need any books. And not that I won't be getting any books this weekend. The most heavily guarded part of the Annual Meeting is the book display room, where publishers display their wares for 20-50% off MSRP. This is not as good a deal as finding a rare, out of print, $20-$50 book at the library sale for $1 or less. On the other hand, the books I get at AAR are more likely to be directly applicable to my professional development, as opposed to the hodge-podge I accumulate at library sales, of which 1-5% are professionally valuable and 30-40% eventually wind their way into my "what was I thinking?" pile.

I am also, at this very moment, missing the premiere of the forth Harry Potter movie. (By-the-by, Alan Jacobs, the man who is indirectly responsible for me getting hooked on Harry Potter before he was Harry Potter, has a thoughtful review of book six in the current Books & Culture that manages to discuss the significant moral trajectories of the second-to-last installment without any plot spoilers.)

Finally, sadly, I am missing the Do-It-Yourself Messiah at Duke Chapel on Sunday, in anticipation of which I purchased a score of Handel's masterpiece, at one of those library sales last summer. Sigh. Perhaps next year.

I'm also missing the Harvard-Yale Game, although this does not distress me. It is, however, a spectacle worth taking in if you ever get the chance.

Nevertheless, the Annual Meeting promises to be a Good Thing. Some of my friends HATE the Annual Meeting, which I find very disappointing, because for me the main point of the Annual Meeting is seeing my friends, and maybe even meeting new ones. The second main point is free food and booze (it's a lot of money to spend to get there for free food, but still). The third main point is buying books. If there's any time left over after that, I may go to a few of the sessions. Or else take a nap. I get an intellectual buzz at the Annual Meeting that helps me fall back in love with my job and finish the semester well. I also like going now, early in my career, before I'm to the point of presenting papers or (gasp!) going on job interviews. This is part of my strategic plan to avoid freaking out when I get around to doing those things, since I'm creating a reservoir of memories of the AAR as FUN! rather than PURE ANXIETY! Instead, I'm going to buy drinks and offer moral support for my friends who are doing the stressful stuff.


Sarah said...

Alright, I am *not* going to be your friend anymore unless you promise to CALL ME when you find out about these library sales.

I HOMESCHOOL for heaven's sake!! I don't have any cool stories about finding Henty's books or Jim Weiss audio tapes for $.50. All the other homeschool moms look down on me. You have to HELP me!!!

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