Friday, November 4, 2011

The Martin Luther King Library, Old and New


See the old library here
So friend of mine's been posting these pictures online, pictures that are shocking, pictures I really don't want to see. But, I look anyway. The pictures are of the slow, deliberate demolition of the building that once housed the Martin Luther King Library. I have to admit it is a strange building, and I suppose finding a new tenant would be difficult. It's not a building design that would lend itself to many different purposes. I do, however, feel kind of sad watching it go.

I don't remember having much of a love for reading as a child. I do, however, remember my mother tried to encourage meto read often. It doesn't mean that I didn't see a power, and potential in books. I knew something exciting was contained within books. But, whether it was my limited attention span, or maybe I was just hyper focused on something else, I never gave books or school much attention.

But, I did have a family that wanted me to read. I loved exploring bookshelves, and I did enjoy our trips to the library. My earliest recollections of childhood is included trips to this little library in our neighborhood on Pearl Avenue. It was small, but it had a wonderful section for young adults that incorporated books of science fiction and fantasy that I would find myself reading in the coming years. My other great love at the time was fantasy role-playing games, and we had a group that would meet there regularly to discuss and play various games. We even had the opportunity to get indignant when the librarians would ask us to be quiet.


The Martin Luther King Library, the main library, used to be located on San Carlos Street in downtown San Jose. This building was different then our Pearl Avenue library. It was huge. Even with my indifference to reading, I somehow felt there is something exciting about any place that can house that much information at one time. I feel that thought alone makes me an enormous geek, yet I refuse to backtrack or modify that statement. I have to say that the Martin Luther King Library looked a lot bigger probably because I was only about ten years old at the time, and the only frame of reference I had was the small library at Pearl Avenue.

Well, I've developed my passion for reading, and still I read very slowly. It is hard for me to get through books. Now at this time in my life I feel compelled to put this on line, if for no other reason than because people keep giving me lots and lots of books. My world is made greater for all of the knowledge that I acquired through reading, and I'm glad to be in a family that has encouraged me to develop this habit. I suppose it is for that reason that I should feel some small level of sadness watching them tear down the place I spent so many countless hours in my teenage years.

The new Martin Luther King Library is located about six blocks away from the old one. It was built as a collaboration between our local university and our city. Instead of the original three-story building, this new library has an enormous foyer, wide open spaces, and multiple desks with people to help you. It has at least six elevators to take people's from the basement floor, all the way to its eighth floor. It is truly a magnificent building. With this exciting, modern building, it becomes difficult to miss the old library for long. I'm still sad that they have to take it down.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oak Hill Cemetery

I wanted to write about my day. And yet I'm not quite sure how significant this day was. I'm getting very grateful for the scan't four hours that I spend teaching every week. despite my insecurities, I find that I'm able to lead a group of people following someone else's lesson plan, and get some small satisfaction out of watching people learn.

Now, teaching English is really not all that complicated, especially when the lessons come out of a book, and I do have some history developing a competency in the subject matter. I do speak English fairly well. But this process- watching people follow a lesson plan, watching people get distracted, in developing strategies to keep focused-helps me to stay entertained while helping people develop a new skill. simply, having never done this before, I do find this to be a clumsy process.

I left Sacred Heart earlier today. I hopped on a bus, and found myself a place to eat. I wandered about Target's aisles with no intention of purchasing anything. I decided to go home. Now target is located in a shopping center called The Plant. When I cross the street I realized that I was at the Oak Hill cemetery . Yesterday was all Saints day, and today is All Souls Day, all blended in with the Dia de Los Muertos.

It just seemed perfectly natural for me to want to go in. I hadn't planned on it. I just decided that on All Souls Day it made sense to visit the cemetery. The people at the cemetery told me that they opened-meaning they started burying dead people there-probably around 1850. In 160 years I got to believe that a lot of people have found there final resting spot at this location. This includes in my case, my grandparents, and a number of friends. So, I do not feel bad when I forget where people are buried. I know several people who visit their relatives on a regular basis and I just don't have the history of doing that.

I found the main office of the cemetery. I told one lady inside that I wanted to locate a grave, and she copied down the names, disappearing down the hall to an office. She eventually came back to me, with a map in hand, and showed me the way to Veterans Park, a section where I guess many veterans are buried. All of the men buried in this section, were buried in 1970. I found the grave, spent some time in quiet, and prepared to leave.

I suppose all this when it just seemed like some silly quiet reflection, but there was an action sequence. I found myself most reflective about the fact that I last visited here on two feet. My exit was prompted not so much by my quiet reflection or prayer; I decided to leave when I realized I needed to go to the bathroom. The motors on my chair whirresd and whined. I I could feel my chair almost sluggish in the loose dirt and grass. I rolled my chair all the way to the meeting point between the the grass and the pavement.

An old cemetery like this has the benefits of having several visitors on a regular basis. when my wheelchair hit that meeting point, I discovered that my chair did not want to move anymore; it was stuck. I quickly surrendered myself to the fates. I knew that I was powerless at that moment. I also knew that I still had to go to the bathroom. My eyes scanned the roads separating the different fields of gravestones. sweat was breaking out of my forehead . I was no longer fixated on anything except finding someone to help me.One-hundred yards away, I saw a woman driving in a car, slowly.

I started waving. I started waving with both hands, and that car slowed down even more. Eventually, the car turned around and drove closer to where I was. The lady began by just staring at me, and I called out to her, explaining that I could not move. She came to my rescue. By leveraging her body against the back of my chair she was able to provide it just enough weight that I was able to force myself back up onto the sidewalk. I thanked her and I thanked her again. I then expedited my exit to the office building where a public restroom is available. (okay so it's not much of an action sequence). Another tragedy avoided.

Thank you for reading.