Brainstrummings from a Bug-Eyed Bookworm

Tiff is a PhD student in English literature at UC-Berkeley. She takes no prisoners, bars no holds, holds no bars.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pictures From The Valley of Death

PM and I drove down to Death Valley to visit my friend, Eileen, who works in the park as a hydrologic technician! Here are photos (taken by PM because I didn't bring my camera.) I'm imagining that he'll post some up on his blog as well sometime soon.

This is Eileen and her boyfriend, Lance.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be....

An ongoing conversation with someone has recently set my mind wandering on thoughts of my dream occupation. Ideally, it would be something that combines all of what I love to do and who I want to be. It wouldn't have to involve riches or fame. After all, I am a simple person, and don't need much in order to be happy. I thought to myself: I wouldn't mind eking out a humble and modest existence as a (fill in blank here). But the question is, with what shall I fill that blank?

So after some idle pondering, I've decided that when I grow up, I would like to be a master-baker entomologist literary critic and ninja.

Working life would go something like this:

Tiff sits in a comfortable armchair in her office, which has gigantic windows overlooking the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Her air-conditioned office is located in a spacious and rustic log-cabin in the middle of a tropical rainforest. Tiff is reading a novel by Joseph Conrad. Suddenly there is a knock on the door.

Tiff: (looking up from book) Come in.

A petite bookish-looking elf enters from the bakery directly adjacent to Tiff’s office. He has pointy ears, is dressed in a three-piece suit and a baker’s apron. He is also wearing horn-rimmed glasses and carrying a memo-pad.

Tiff: Ah, Glintwing. What news?

Glintwing: Just a few things. (Peers through horn-rimmed glasses at memo-pad) Firstly, we’re fresh out of your world-famous chocolate chip baguettes.

Tiff: What? But we baked double the usual quantity just this morning!

Glintwing: Well, we’re fresh out. And we’re also out of grasshopper pie.

Tiff: It’s nearing the end of grasshopper season. We’ll have to discontinue it until spring.

Glintwing: (peering at the novel Tiff is holding in her hands) If you don’t mind my asking, Tiff, what are you reading?

Tiff: Oh. It’s a Joseph Conrad novel.

Glintwing: Victory? Heart of Darkness?

Tiff: No. It’s a Conrad novel hitherto undiscovered and unread by the world. It’s a funny story, really. It was handed to me by a mysterious elderly librarian behind the counter of a small town public library. With a twinkle in his eye, he passed me a brown paper package tied up with string, and then vanished into mid-air! In the aforementioned package was this very book! And from an initial reading, it appears to contain the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Glintwing: Forty-two?

Tiff: Ah, my petite and delicately-boned friend and employee. If you want to find out, you’ll have to read it for yourself, along with the essential critical handbook I will publish to accompany its publication debut.

Glintwing: I look forward to it very much! Oh! Just a few more things. Your gnomes have managed to capture Emeril. He’s in a big burlap sack out back.

Tiff: Excellent. Take him down to cell block B and break his spirit until he can longer annoy innocent Food Network watchers ever again.

Glintwing: (peers at list again). Also, Homi Bhabha is outside. He wishes to apologise in general for being an arrogant megalomaniac and to shower you with acclaim.

Tiff: Hmm. Not really feeling up to it today. Tell him to try coming back tomorrow.

Tiff yawns and stretches. And as she does so, a magnificent orange and purple longhorn beetle springs through the window and lands softly on the palm of her hand.

Tiff: Ah! A particularly striking new species of Cerambycid! (She gently closes her hand around it.) My little friend, I shall put you in the freezer and then pin, name, and publish a paper on you.

Glintwing freezes with a look of horror on his face.

Tiff: No, not you Glintwing. The beetle.

Glintwing: (looking relieved). Well then, I’d better get back to the store, and see what I can do about the baguette-demanding customers.

Tiff: Thank you, Glintwing.

Glintwing exits, and Tiff returns to her novel. Just then, an alarm clock rings, playing the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

Tiff: (shuts book). How quickly time flies!! I must now go fight the forces of evil in a stealthy manner.

Tiff dons form-fitting black clothes, outfits herself with throwing-stars and a sharp sword, and leaps lightly through the window, springing from tree to tree as nimbly as a black-clad ninja tree-frog.