January 18, 2006

I'm so hip I even sneer at myself.

The following is not a joke: my readers for Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology and LGBT Studies are so big that I needed to buy a bigger backpack to hold them. One of them is only Volume 1 of a two-volume set, and the other was pared down to one volume by the simple expedient of taking out required readings and putting them on electronic reserve instead. For my third class I have four textbooks and a reader, and now I'm very glad that my fourth class entails only a small stack of J.D. Salinger paperbacks. I am going to be reading a lot of things this semester.

The ridiculously huge backpack I bought at REI last night is easily big enough to fit all of these reading materials simultaneously, and that was the enticing thought which compelled me to buy it. However, there is a problem here. The problem is that I cannot lift that much crap no matter how it's contained, and self-levitation is not one of the features of this 3-man tent I seem to have purchased. So I went back out today to find something a little more appropriate.

I tried on backpacks. I tried on bags. I did lightning-fast volume calculations in my head. I took a sensible and purposeful survey of inexpensive, minimally sufficient backpacks with dazzlingly plentiful ergonomic pockets. Then I gave in to the obvious, which was that I really wanted to join the throngs of hipsters with canvas messenger bags. I would pick up a backpack and admire its simple, sturdy, practical design, and then realize that I'd turned my head away from the periwinkle monstrosity in front of me with its proliferating external pockets and was instead contemplating a rack of three-panel messenger bags in sober, attractive colors. My defenses were ravaged before I even had time to assemble them.

So that's it, then. I've got my hoodie. I've got my rolled-up pants. I've got my lip piercing. I've got my book bag slung over one shoulder, filled with titles like "Inventing Heterosexuality". I believe I've just ceased to be whoever the hell I was before and become a hipster nancy boy. Well, all right. If that's the way it's going to be, I'm going out for the afternoon. I'll be in a coffeeshop reading gender theory if you need me. Past four o'clock you should probably look for me to have square, dark-framed glasses, because I understand these things have a sort of acquisitional momentum about them.

Posted by dianna at January 18, 2006 02:25 PM

I hear ya. I spent a lot of time with a simple messenger bag thrown over my shoulder, adorned with a series of patches (fencing, UCSB, JPL, etc). Then I realized that the excruciating headaches that I was having MIGHT have been the result of TOO MUCH WEIGHT for one shoulder. Enter the backpack.

I still consider returning to a messenger bag, and one containing a 12" Apple Powerbook and a can of Redbull would probably help my own waning (that's a joke, son! a joke!) hipster cred. Just let someone see me fetching it from the boot of my MINI and I'll be asked you where I can get a pair of squareish, thick-framed glasses, too.

Posted by: Erik at January 18, 2006 03:04 PM

what about levoduction? by which i mean, obviously, strapping your books to a duck and levitating the duck.

Posted by: didofoot at January 18, 2006 03:10 PM

God damn, but that's a lot of books! Did you have to take out separate student loans for them, or has the Cal Bookstore instituted some sort of endentured servitude program to help students pay off their crushing book-debt?

Oh! Have you started working at the library again yet?

Posted by: Zach S. at January 18, 2006 03:11 PM

Erik, I've actually gone the other way. I carried a backpack up through my last semester of school, at which point said backpack died and I decided to salvage it by making it into a small messenger bag (defining messenger-ness here not as a matter of cargo capacity but as a square bag carried over one shoulder and across the chest). Since then, and having made another one which is also sadly too small for this purpose, I've decided that for reasonable loads they really are comfortable and enjoyably easy to use. There's less fumbling with straps when you only have one of the damn things, and I've gotten used to the ease of swinging the bag around to retrieve things while still carrying it. For unreasonable loads, well, this is where I've basically decided that I'm not going to carry unreasonable loads anyway, so I'll damn well show up with half my books and do it in style. And you, my friend, have something better than hipster cred, which is actually being the unselfconscious individualist whom it's so alluring and popular to appear to be. Well, okay, and you've got the Mini. That helps too.

Posted by: Dianna at January 18, 2006 03:58 PM

Kris: if I had a spray-on suspension bridge I could just stack the books on that, and carry my spray can so that I could spray some bridge wherever I needed to take my books. Alas, I do not.

Zach: I wish I were only dealing with the student bookstore. In fact, most of my expenditures are scattered around other places thanks to this profusion of readers. $40 at Krishna Copy, another $40 at University Copy Service, another yet undisclosed amount at Copy Central (undisclosed because I haven't yet brought myself to stand in That Line), $30 at Cody's, and, yes, $80 at the student store. Did you know that now there are only two textbook stores in the vicinity of campus and their prices are identical to within 15 cents per item, but Ned's, after buying out Campus Textbook Exchange, is still promoting itself as the funky, independent and above all cheap option? Liars.

I have my schedule planning form for the library, but I haven't turned it in yet and therefore have not started work. I need to agonize over a few details of my hours still. I did go in and talk to Willyce and Ferol, though. And realize to my horror that there's one person I know still working at the library and I can't quite remember her name. I need to remember (or discreetly ask someone) before I start, because she's a Sup now and I don't wish to start off by offending her.

Posted by: Dianna at January 18, 2006 04:07 PM

Oh! I might know. Hold on... Keelin Haddix graduated, as did Nathaniel, and Elaine, Katy Olmos, I think, is still there, but she might have come after you left. Justin Martin may be there as well. David was still there as of last fall, but I think he may have graduated in December.

Oh! Is it... For Pete's sake, I worked with her for 3 years... Former Clerk Stephanie's Sister... Vaughn's girlfriend...

Denise! That's it! Is it her? She's the only one I can think of right now. Most of the other sups are young ones.

In other news: I compared prices between Neds and the regular book store my first semester, being the ever-so-studious Freshperson. I discovered that they charged essentially the same prices. I did the same at buy-back and had similar results. Despite this, I spent years trying to convince people that they were essentially equivalent. Practically everyone I talked to insisted that Ned's was cheaper. They HAD to be cheaper! They're the fuck-the-man alternative!

Ned's, by the way, is a small chain, with locations serving Berkeley, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and Wayne County Community College (in Michigan). Huh.

Posted by: Zach S. at January 18, 2006 04:47 PM

Interesting/Boring side note: Barnes & Noble started out as the NYU version of Neds, selling textbooks across the street from the main bookstore. By the 70s they had moved to Union Square and were known as the store for rare and hard-to-find books. In the 80s they began an aggressive campaign to conquer the New York City market, and using NYC as their seat of power have now expanded across the country.

And now you know the rest of the story!

Posted by: Zach S. at January 18, 2006 04:53 PM

Ned's also has free candy.

The Barnes & Noble-owned Campus Textbook Exchange seems to have disappeared, and Ned's expanded into their old building.

Posted by: sean at January 18, 2006 05:15 PM

Dude, I feel your pain, although I was going to inappropriately express that by commenting about how much my books cost and how many cubic feet of space they tend to take up per quarter. But I will not, partly because I don't want to be a jerk, but mostly because I start to get shaky when it comes to 3-dimensional calculations. I blame this, like many things, on my 10th grade yeometry teacher.

Instead, I will comment: isn't it interesting how it can take less than 24 hours of being back in school to shake off whatever badly-fitting office socialization you've managed to have imprinted on you over the course of several years, and suddenly return to a piercing-replete student aesthetic which was apparently lying dormant like those eggs that those animals (you know the ones) lay in the desert, which sit there for years until it rains and then they hatch and hey, they've been under that cactus all along?

Posted by: katie at January 19, 2006 12:56 AM

I'm finishing up a January blitzkrieg course on Sexuality and the Law taught by William Rubenstein, who's apparently in charge of some well-known UCLA thinktank that I've never heard of. I just read an article by some dude named Kogan who informed me of the secret war raging between transsexuals and critical gender theorists (apparently it was the basis for the screenplay for Underworld: Evolution.) If you study this in your LGBT class I'd like to hear more about it. Quick, before Dan Brown writes the novel and it's old news!

Posted by: poot at January 19, 2006 05:46 AM

Katie, I'd actually really like to hear your numbers. If it helps, for the three-dimensional calculations, you can stack similarly sized books together and figure that you have, say, a 6" thick stack of trade paperbacks that are about 5" in width and 7" in height. Then you've got 9" of standard hardcovers at 7" width and 10" height. Or, you know, whatever the sizes are that you have. Length times width times height equals volume, and volume of stack A plus volume of stack B plus volume of stack C equals volume of the whole collection. Personally I'm okay with sticking with cubic inches, which is immediately easier than translating to cubic feet and also can be handily compared to the internal volume of various reasonable and unreasonable carrying devices.

C'mon, I'll do my books if you do yours. But I get to include in my space calculations the excellent anthropological dictionary you gave me, since it's obvious that I'll be carrying it around like a security blanket this semester. I swear I'm going to be the first person ever to get an anthropology degree without being able to remember which point of view is emic and which one is etic.

Posted by: Dianna at January 19, 2006 09:21 AM

Um, if you combine them you get emetic, which is something else entirely. Or at least hopefully it is.

The numbers: Looks like about $350 for the quarter, maybe a hair less. I also don't own a ruler (apparently), so I was going to do the measurements in the Approximate Finger System, but look, I'm not really known for being a number person. I give you, therefore, my calculations in semi-verse metaphorical limerick form:

The two-volume seminar reader,
And the one for the class of which I'm the leader,
are as tall, so it looks,
as two Santa Cruz phone books,
but the reading is totally sweeter.

The stack of 19th-century potboilers
(I won't give any spoilers)
is as tall as the skates,
from the tops to the blades,
of one of the Edmonton Oilers.

Civil War histories, it's true,
have a significant place in this queue.
The shelf space they take
would just about make,
head to tail, a full-grown Shitzu.

In Modernist and Avant-Garde Studies this quarter,
a lot of Gertrude Stein is in order.
The stack is as high
as the length of my thigh,
or actually about five inches shorter.

As far as the thing that's next--
Conceptual history texts--
You might imagine it's natural
That they'd fit in a satchel
But that belies their huge power to vex.

Historical fiction, as well,
is part of this quarter's book hell.
It measures as long
as a baby dugong,
and it's a good thing I'm done writing limericks.

Posted by: katie at January 21, 2006 06:11 PM

I'm missing the lip piercing, but this weekend I gave in and bought an ipod nano...while wearing all black.

And now that I'm paying attention: Four out of five pairs of headphones on the weekday morning MUNI underground commute are white.

Posted by: Danny at January 23, 2006 09:57 AM