If I Were A Rich Girl

If I had a trust fund, I’d squander it on the book arts.

I’ve always been a bit disappointed that my first choice of career, typesetting, is no longer a thing. My great-grandfather was a compositor in Philadelphia during its periodical publishing heyday, and it is from him that I inherited my nimble, s0-small-they’re-kind-of-creepy hands as well as the ability to read and write upside down and backwards. I love all aspects of printing, particularly of the letterpress variety, and — thanks to the college education that none of my forebears, save for my mother, were able to access — I emerged from my alma mater with the knowledge that I possessed exactly one tangible skill: the ability to set type only a bit more slowly than I can use a keyboard.

I’m also pretty good at sewing (tho’ when I’m feeling lazy or in a rush, it’s more like suturing), so I wouldn’t rule out bookbinding either.

Alas, I had to go and get a job and earn a living, so there went that. But sometimes, when I think about what I’d do with a Scrooge McDuck-style vault of money, I drool over stuff like this (WTF, I could have done my library degree here AND also done book stuff; was I even thinking when I choose UNC?*) Or this, which sounds WAY theoretical, but whatever, Julie Chen is on the faculty (And is an alum)!

I mean, if my writing isn’t “marketable” now, just think how much LESS marketable it would be as a free verse manifesto, handset in 12 on 15 Bembo, and printed on parchment lovingly harvested from freegan roadkill before being encased in a coptic-bound codex with blank copper covers — an objet d’art which, of course, would include an upcycled echoppe (maybe a repurposed syringe?) and a blown-glass, wax-stoppered vial of acid so that the reader could create his/her own intaglio plates. Yes, you’d destroy MY book in the process, but out of the toxic chemical sludge of my deranged vision, a new and greater creation would flap and flail its way out of the ooze like sick, lubricated pelican from the Gulf of Mexico. By the way, the print run would be 9, at a cost of 3 per 10 billion dollars. Until — like the Cumean Sibyl — I’d start burning them in triads. The price? Still 10 billion dollars. Art. Society. Capitalism. Metaphors, b!+c#!
Hey, if you’re gonna fail at something, FAIL HARD.

I don’t regret my life at all. I’ve got a career that I love, a Fella whom I love even more, and the best damn house/urban farm EVER. I’m a happy, lucky, and truly blessed individual.

But I’m just saying, if I were some sort of heiress, that’s totally what I do. Create handmade books and book-related art objects. Because why not?

Also, not that retirement is a thing, either,  but when I’m old, I absolutely want to be the overnight security guard at the Mütter Museum, if such a position exists.


*Actually, I could NOT have been a rare book or special collections librarian. I originally set out to be one, but permanently deferred my admission when I realized that the school was just going to take my grant plus loan money and laugh me out of the building. Sure, I’ve got the practical skills and educational bona fides to pull it off — for example, I can read, with relative fluency, several dead languages — all invariably penned by monks and scribes in the most appalling scrawl. And I can tell you approximately when, where, and by whom various tomes were illuminated or printed.
BUT I don’t own enough (or any) silk scarves; I tend to dress for most, if not all occasions, as though my apartment complex burned down in the middle of the night. I don’t know the different kinds of glassware that fancy cocktails go in. My last name is both ambiguous and foreign, but not in a classy diplobrat way — you know, with hyphens and $#!+, like everyone on NPR. And no matter how much effort I put into doing my hair, I’ll always look scruffy. Plus, when I open my mouth, the stuff that comes out instantly identifies me as a Pennsylvanian, which won’t ever not be a liability. I am not destined to dwell among the Beautiful People.

One thought on “If I Were A Rich Girl

  1. JennyOH says:

    I am not brave enough to be night security at the Mutter. Though I do love visiting (it is a must-stop every time we are in Philadelphia).

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