Dec 6, 2008

Weekly Geeks #27 – for Dewey

Becky said,
I was thinking that it might be nice for those bloggers who are Weekly Geeks to pay tribute to Dewey in the next week or so. To take the time to post to their blogs a "Weekly Geek" post about Dewey--maybe share their favorite posts from her site, maybe share a memory or two about participating in weekly geeks, the bookworms carnival, the 24 Hour Readathon, or one of Dewey's challenges, maybe just share a favorite memory of Dewey in general, what they'll miss most, how they'll remember her, etc.
I clearly remember the very first comment Dewey left me. She told me that from my blog it seemed that my taste in books was like a mix of hers and her husband's, and she asked where I was from. It was the Spring of 2007, and I had only been blogging for a couple of months. Though later we realized we had started at around the same time, back then I automatically assumed Dewey had been at it for years. Her blog was so professional-looking, so dynamic, so full of energy and enthusiasm.

I had discovered her because she was organizing the Blogroll game - you had to visit other bloggers from a blogroll of participants, find out things about them, and leave a comment saying what you had discovered. There were prizes, of course. I won books in the Blogroll game, but more importantly, I made friends. Dewey was one of them. Going through the comments to that past now made me both smile and cry. I saw so many people who I know are blogging friends now meeting for the first time. This is what Dewey was all about.

The first thing about Dewey that drew me in was her sense of humour. She made me laugh so many times. I remember laughing for a good five minutes at this comment she left me about The Complete Calvin & Hobbes:
I have The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, and it's much less exciting than I thought it was when I opened it a couple Christmases ago. The thing is, the books are so enormous and heavy that it's uncomfortable to read them unless you're sitting at a table. You just don't want such heavy things in your lap. But first you have to make sure the table is approximately 1000 meters by 1000 meters, and then you have to clear a giant space for the book, and then you have to haul the book over to the table, preferably with a tractor.

Beyond this, the books do not fit in any bookshelf. This means that they sit around in their original box (you know, the open-ended kind boxed sets come in, only as large as a cave housing an entire city of grizzly bears). And sitting around in the original box, they collect dust. And since no single human being has the strength to lift the entire set of three books, they sit around on the floor, which means hiring seven burly men to move them every time you want to sweep the floor. Really, you're so much better off collecting Calvin and Hobbes in the original paperbacks.
And of course, nobody who read her blog needs to be told how often she was hilarious there. You know what else I loved? Dewey on sarcastic mode. I remember her once saying that she was a sarcastic person in general, but she normally avoided it on her blog because she didn't want to accidentally hurt people's feelings. But I think she easily managed to be sarcastic without hurting anyone's feelings. She truly respected other people, and the fact showed through.

I also loved her way of thinking, and I identified very closely with her worldview. So often reading her posts made me go "yes yes yes you worded it perfectly this is something I've always felt but could never explain properly". And then I wanted to comment with "I LOVE YOU DEWEY", but I didn't because I didn't want to scare her with my brain-crush on her. And I loved disagreeing with her as much as I loved agreeing, because often she made me see things from a new angle when we disagreed. She made me think about things differently. She made me think, period, and I'll always love her for that.

And you know, as much as her ideas made me love her, the fact that you didn't have to share them to feel welcomed or close to her made me love her just as much. She was so welcoming. She never ever ever made others feel small. She had strong opinions and she opposed certain ideas rather vehemently, but she didn't oppose people, nor did she lose track of the fact that people are real living breathing human being regardless of what they think.

I loved her recent review of Nation. In it she talks about acceptance of other cultures and beliefs. And in her lovely review of Gossamer she talks about empathy. And it's not only that I agree that these things make the books special, but also that I always saw a similar kind of empathy and acceptance in Dewey herself. She was such a great person, and in such a no-fireworks sort of way. Never "look at me, aren't I nice?", but always being genuinely kind and warm and accepting and decent and nice because she truly believed in being that way.

She once said that her husband had told her that she reminding him of Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and jokingly asked us to help her figure out whether or not that was a compliment (after which Athena and I enthusiastically explained why it was, and a big one). From what I knew of Dewey, I can definitely see where the comparison came from, and I think those of you familiar with the character will agree.

I love the fact that Becky reminded us in her post of something Dewey once said about how recommending a book to someone is sort of like giving them a gift. I couldn't agree more. I also think that the books we love say something about who we are, so when we pass them on, we are giving something of ourselves. Dewey gave me so many gifts. Looking for Alaska, Fun Home, American Born Chinese and countless others. Some are waiting for me to pick them up still. I will be reading Dewey books for years to come.

She helped me so many times. Either indirectly, by saying something awesome in a comment or on her blog or by making me laugh, or more directly, by helping me calm down when I got all panicky during the Read-a-thon or while organizing the Christmas Swap. She'd say "you won't mess anything up" in a way that made me believe it myself. Also, just knowing that there were people in the world like her made me feel better about life in general Although I'm not sure if this shows on my blog, I actually have a lot of trouble opening up and reaching out to other people. Dewey inspired me to do it more, and as a result I made some great friends. It's another thing I'll always be grateful for.

I know this is huge, but one last thing: I loved the fact that she was both incredibly intelligent and not snobby or elitist in the least. This goes with everything I said before, I know. A small example is what she says about not liking the term "literary fiction" in this BBAW interview, as well as her answer to the very last question. I love the whole interview, actually. Intellectual arrogance is often a pitfall that incredibly smart people can't avoid, but Dewey avoided it completely. She believed that everyone had the right to an opinion.

I knew Dewey from her blog, from exchanging e-mails with her sometimes and from chatting during the Read-a-thon, but there was so much about her I didn't know. I wish I'd had the chance to know her better, but I'm also so so grateful to have had her in my life at all. And what I did get to know of her is more than enough to assure her a firm spot on my mental Coolest People Ever list. (And I don't mean just online people.)

Writing this post me cry again, but it also felt a little like spending time with her. For which I'm very glad. I love you, Dewey. I will miss you.


Edit to include two things:

1) At the time of her death, Dewey was working with Jackie on a top 10 of 2008 project that would be a part of Weekly Geeks. Jackie said that Dewey would probably want to see it finished, so please go here to vote, and help spread the word to other Weekly Geeks.

2) LitLove is thinking of putting together a Carnival as a tribute to Dewey, in which we'd share our favourite Dewey posts, posts that are somehow connected to her, etc. Please visit LitLove for more details, and again, help spread the word if you can.

28 comments:

Trish said...

What a beautiful post, Nymeth. I didn't know Dewey quite as well as you did, but you have shown us all of the things that we have come to know and love about Dewey--especially how she touched our lives with such ease (or seemingly ease). I know she will be remembered and cherished for a long time.

N.Vasillis said...

Dewey gave us a lot of things: her warmth, her humor, and her books. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be reading graphic novels. Your post is beautiful, Nymeth.

Lightheaded said...

This is such a beautiful way of remembering Dewey. Again, my heart goes out to you.

I know that the two of you are close (as close as this virtual venue allows) and that her passing surely was hard for you. All the more reason to cherish the times both of you shared - the books, the comments and friendly banter for the past year or so.

I'm also thankful that I "met" Dewey through you. It was your link to her blog that led me to her site. And of course I wouldn't forget last year's Secret Santa (well, you do know I got her gift early this year) when you yourself were worried about it not reaching me.

Thank you for the links to Dewey's posts here. While I missed some of them in the course of my bloghopping (particularly that Calvin and Hobbes post, now that is truly hilarious) I'm assured that her words for now, will remain with us.

Hugs again to you Nymeth. Know that you're such a wonderful person yourself and that I'm glad to have "met" you as well.

Callista said...

Wow what a beautiful way to tribute Dewey. I want to post something today too but I'm not good with words and I'm not sure what to say. I can't remember specific posts that I really liked or things she said to me.

MyUtopia said...

That was a wonderful post! I have been out of pocket this week and just found out about her passing. I also did a post for her.

Nymeth said...

Trish: Halfway through writing this post I started worrying that I sounded like I thought I had her "all figured out". A lot of my contact with her was indirect, and I only talked to her outside of our blogs a limited number of times. So I only had so much on which to base my perception of her. But for me, it was more than enough to make me really, really care about her. And emotionally I did feel close to her. I also had been worrying, this past week, whether I had the "right" to be so sad, since there was only so much I knew about her. Which is ridiculous, I know. Of course there is no such thing as the "right to sadness". If you're sad, you're sad. That's all there is to it. I didn't know her intimately either, but I knew enough to love her, and I miss her. Anyway, excuse my rant. And let me tell you once again how much the sweet comment you left me earlier this week meant to me. It really meant a lot, Trish.

Vasillis: That made her so happy. We actually talked about it during the read-a-thon. She was so glad that she'd encouraged people to give comics and graphic novels a chance, that she's inspired them to put aside the preconceptions that still exist about the medium.

Lightheaded: It's what I was telling Trish: I felt close to her and I suppose that's what matters. And it really makes me happy to know I "introduced" you to each other. But yes, her words will remain. A lot of her will remain with us. And thank you...you know I feel the same way about you. You're truly one of the people who are dearest to me.

Callista: I know how hard it can be to find the words. I was tongue-tried for most of the week. But the intention counts.

MyUtopia: Even though the news reached us on Monday, we're all still pretty stunned, I think.

jessi said...

Beautifully written. It's still a bit of a shock, knowing that Dewey's gone. She will definitely be missed. :(

Madeleine said...

This is such a beautful tribute you wrote about Dewey permitting me and others to know Dewey better even so she is gone, it is so important to tell people in our lives how we feel.
I first noticed Dewey's header which cought my eye it was based on French drawings of those funny fashion ladies. I remember I had to like this blogger :) (For those who do not know, I am French)
Take care Ana

heatherlo said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for letting us all get to know Dewey a little better through your experiences. She will truly be missed, by those who knew her well (like you) and those who just admired her from afar (like me). Thanks Nymeth.

Madeleine said...

I forgot, you will find the header I mentioned under "SNIPPETS" on Dewey's blogs. 'Il etait une fois...' 'Once upon a tme...'
alsoo found my favorte reads of my childhood among her books, TINTIN, LE PETIT PRINCE

grayskyeyes said...

This was a really, really great tribute post. I love how specific is it, pointing to some of Dewey's posts and comments. Thanks a lot for writing it, reading your tribute made me both happy and sad.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Maree said...

Nymeth, that was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend and fellow blogger. Dewey's impact on all of us is lasting, and memorable.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

naida said...

hi Nymeth, that is a beautiful tribute post.
thanks you for posting alot of the little things many of us didnt know about Dewey.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Chris said...

That was really beautiful. You reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. Thanks.

Chris said...

Wonderful tribute Nymeth! That Calvin & Hobbes comment cracks me up! I can see why you were laughing so long. I feel the same way as you do..Dewey put so many things into words that I felt that I could never put into words myself. She was such a kindred spirit with such wonderful insights. I loved her sense of humor too...great post :)

Megan said...

Thanks for such a great post, Nymeth. I've been so caught up in feeling rotten about having lost her all week that I've forgotten to remember *her* and her great sense of humor (as so clearly demonstrated in the Calvin & Hobbes comment! LOL). This is a great tribute...and one that made me smile instead of cry. So thanks. Again. :)

Andrea said...

I never knew Dewey. Somehow I missed her blog and challenges after spending almost a year on the outskirts of the book blogging sphere. After reading all of the posts and tributes about her I realize how much I missed. Your post and other posts for Dewey are keeping the memory of her alive for people like me to have a chance to get to know her a little, even after her death. Thank you!

tanabata said...

Such a beautiful post, Nymeth! I remember the Calvin&Hobbes post and chuckling as I read it. I wish I'd spent more time at her blog and got to know her better. Thanks for sharing with us.

Debi said...

Oh Nymeth, I wish I had to words to express how absolutely perfect your beautiful tribute to Dewey is. You managed to so eloquently convey so many of the things that I loved so much about Dewey, too. Yes the tears are flowing freely now, but oh my, and you made me laugh too, with Dewey's words...and that felt so good. Thank you so very much for sharing yourself, and your feelings for Dewey. And thank you so much for sharing the links to Dewey's words. Some of them I'd never read before, and it was a true gift to read them now. I know I can't speak for Dewey, but I do believe with all my heart that she would be so touched to read your words.
(((((HUGE HUGS)))))
I love you!

Teddy Rose said...

A beautiful tribute Nymeth!

Bibliolatrist said...

This was a beautiful post - thank you.

Serena said...

Fantastic post. These posts remind me how little we knew about dewey's real life, but how well we knew her in the blogging community.

brideofthebookgod said...

Nymeth - as always, beautifully put

Nymeth said...

Thank you for commenting, everyone.

Madeleine, I know the header you mean. And she often mentioned that Le Petit Prince was one of her favourite books :) It's one of mine, too. And I used to be a Tintin fan too, but I haven't read it in years. I need to revisit it sometime.

Heather, I did a lot of admiring from afar too, but she had a very big impact on me. I don't think I had quite realized how big until she was gone.

Debi, thank you so much for saying so. Writing this post made me laugh and cry too. I love you too. Thank you so much for being such a great friend.

And again, thank you for taking the time to comment, everyone. It means a lot.

Alessandra said...

Lovely post, Nymeth. Dewey would be so proud.

Melody said...

This is a great tribute post, Nymeth! Thanks so much for sharing with us; I felt I've knew Dewey a lot better after reading your post.

Susan said...

Your story about Calvin and Hobbes caught her spirit perfectly, her love of books and her wonderful sense of humour. I didn't know her nearly as well as you, though what i did know I admired, and I miss her. I can only imagine the deep sense of loss you feel, Nymeth. As I said in an earlier comment to your post, you are very dear to me, and Dewey was one of those who helped show us how to become closer, just by being who she was. A very loving tribute to her, and thank you for sharing her with us again. Here's a big *hug*, and I'm sorry I'm late with this comment, I'm still catching up on this week.

Kim L said...

Well put, Nymeth. Dewey was an amazing blogger and I only wish I would have known her a little better. Ah, it seems funny at first to be crying over someone I have never met in real life, but I feel like I knew Dewey better than a lot of my IRL distant acquaintances.

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