Monthly Archives: October 2007

A rose is a rose is maybe a rose

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Friday marked my one-year anniversary with the Wilhelmsplatz Regional Library. If I stay here till I’m 65, then I’m one fortieth of the way through my tenure. The end is practically in sight

Is it likely that I’ll stick around for another four decades? Statistically, no. The days of lifelong company loyalty are long gone. People change careers two, three, even more times. Working at the same factory from high school graduation till retirement is no longer en vogue. Besides, who wants to pump out widgets for a lifetime?

But I’m not pumping out widgets. I’m working in a public library. The details of the profession will evolve, especially with technology changing the way people seek information and entertainment, but librarianship will always be about service, learning, and (please, God) books. I think I’m one of those lucky few who lucked into her dream career straight out of college.

Will I stay with this library, though? Now that I have a year’s worth of experience under my belt, let’s speculate.

Pros:

  • I love my job. I love the work I do. Sort of a compelling reason to stay, don’t you think?
  • The grass may not be greener anywhere else. Why risk it?
  • I have good benefits and good pay. Good pay for a librarian, I mean. I’m horribly underpaid for my education and merit, but that’s true for librarians everywhere.
  • My library emphasizes readers’ advisory, the very best aspect of librarianship. Not every library cares about RA.
  • My boss is great.

Cons:

  • I have uncommonly low social needs, but dang. This is not a good environment for a liberal single twentysomething. I hardly know anyone outside work, unless you can count the cute clerk at Food Loin, which you can’t. And he’s not my type. Forgetting for a moment that any sexual relationship with someone his age would be A) illegal and B) immoral, he’s just not too bright. He hasn’t realized yet that I don’t use plastic bags. I go through his line at every available opportunity. He’s probably had fifty chances to figure out that I bring my own bag for a reason, but has he kenned on?

It would be nice to meet people who do not, in fact, work with me. I like the people I work with, really I do, but there can be too much of a good thing.

But I’m not knockin’ my coworkers, really I’m not. Consider Bookish Jet, who got me flowers Friday, in honor of my anniversary. Isn’t that swell? They were roses. I think. Botany really is not my forte. They were orange, at any rate, and smelled nice. I accidentally left them at work, but it’s probably for the best: At home, the kitties would eat/ravage/knock over the probably-roses; left at work, they can make everyone else jealous.

Or consider… drat, I don’t have a pseudonym for her. Um. Let’s call her Wonder Woman, ‘cos she likes graphic novels as much as I do, and will appreciate the comix reference. Plus she has the personality of an Amazon: great person, but she may kill you. Probably not, but I don’t want to get on her bad side.

So anyway, after In-Service Day on Thursday, Wonder Woman and I moseyed into Barnes and Noble. We then proceeded to scrutinize the graphic novels and the SF/Fantasy section, because those are our favorite types of books. Took us probably 40 minutes to browse through everything, what with our detailed commentary and critical analyses of the various authors, illustrators, and series.

“That discussion,” I said afterward, “was every man’s wet dream.”

Two attractive women talking nerdy about GNs and speculative fiction? We coulda filmed it and made a fortune, selling it to adult novelty stores. It was book porno for straight men.

Book porno. Wow. There’s a niche waiting to be tapped. If I ever quit the library, that is totally my plan B.

 

Salad Distressing

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Like schools everywhere, Carolina had an orientation for new students a few days before classes started. In the midst of that morass of people, I laid eyes on a physically stunning human being. Attractive folks aren’t all that uncommon, especially amongst shiny young college students, but this woman was a total knockout. I’d rarely seen anyone so gorgeous in a magazine or on a screen, let alone in person.

Of all the programs she could have been enrolled in, happenstance had it that she was a library student, too. Walking home from orientation that day I realized, to my gradual amazement, that this Helen of Troy lived two doors down from me. It’s not every day that a breathtaking person winds up living in your neighborhood and taking Intro to Reference with you.

Turns out that this classmate of mine was intelligent, funny, and cultured. She was a truly likeable human being. Her boyfriend was similarly likeable, and pretty hot, too; he could make hearts thump all on his own.

The situation, you will agree, was tremendously unfair. Any person who is extremely attractive in both personality and looks is nearly unbearable. Two of them together? Intolerable! Inexcusable! An offense against God!

I consoled myself by pretending they were brother and sister. I don’t have proof that they weren’t, thanks very much.

Cosmic harmony must be maintained. No single individual should be so gifted on so many fronts. Thus, to balance my own natural intelligence, talent, wit, and humility, I have deliberately acquired certain fallibilities. Germane to this conversation is my lack of grace in all things domestic.

I can’t cook. I hate to clean. Whole gardens wither under my care. Trivial domestic repairs go untended because I don’t know how to fix them and I don’t care to learn. (Sure, I’d like to be able to close my blinds, but I’d also like a million dollars and that’s not happening anytime soon.)

(I’d also like to close the window. I suspect I’ll figure out how when it gets colder. Or not. You’ve got to pick your battles.)

Still though, a few basic chores must be seen to. I vacuum, I run the dishwasher, I do laundry, and I empty cat litter—maybe not as often as other folks, but with enough frequency to prevent a Chernobyl situation.

The other chore is food. As I said, I don’t cook, but as food is necessary to sustain life, I’ve figured out alternate ways to get meals. Nuking veggie burgers is one of those ways. Preparing salads is the other.

Last night I went through my weekly salad routine. I cut open the bag of greens and distributed them equally amongst four tupperware bowls. Then I added dressing, and then cheese crumbles, and then pre-sliced, pre-cooked chicken.

This morning, as I stumbled blearily to the coffee press, I glanced over at the kitchen counter.

There were my salads, all four of them, with the lids patiently waiting to be fitted on the bowls.

At this point, a clear-thinking human being would have tossed the room-temp salads in the trash. But me? Hey, I spent money on that food! And worse, I spent time creating them! I hate making salads! I’m not going to waste it!

Besides, work was stressful enough today that I was secretly hoping for a bout of salmonella to send me home. By “secretly,” I mean I was asking people questions all day along the lines of “Say! How long does it take for salmonella to kick in?” and “Do I look flushed to you? Possibly a little faint-looking? Green, even?”

No such luck. But as it turns out, I did get to go to the doctor. Bastard refused to treat me for salmonella, probably because I don’t have it. He practically forgot to treat me for my eternally-unclear complexion, which is why I went there in the first place. Instead he fixated on the mole on my chest.

He says it looks abnormal. Yes, but it’s looked abnormal for twenty-six years. I’m not exactly nervous about it. But he’s nervous, so he set up an appointment for me with a dermatologist to get it excised. He didn’t describe it in optional terms. The mole’s a-gonna go, like it or not.

Not as fun as salmonella, but it might be good for a half-day off work.

And I could use time off work. I used a week’s worth of vacation last month, but somehow I missed out on the restorative benefits. I’m still a nutcase.

  • Exhibit A: the salads that I didn’t put in the fridge.
  • Exhibit B: forgetting to take those salads to work. What’s the point of preparing your lunches at home if you’re going to leave them sitting on the counter? This has been happening with disquieting frequency of late.
  • Exhibit C: putting on shoes from two different pairs. I’ve done this twice in about three weeks, though both times I’ve managed to catch myself before getting to work. But I worry that it’s only a matter of time.

I should stumble off to bed soon. Maybe if I get enough sleep I can dress myself properly come morning. But first I want to take a moment to promote a CD.

I know, I know, this is atypical. Why can’t I just talk about books like I always do? (Okay, then: Go read Water for Elephants. It’s great.) It’s just that I rarely come across new music I like. Most of my favorite music was written in the late 1600s. There’s not exactly a lot of Neo-Baroque coming out these days, you know?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy lots of music that was written after the harpsichord had its heyday. I just don’t listen to much contemporary stuff. Most of what I’ve heard (which, to be fair, is probably not a representative sampling) doesn’t float my boat.

But I’ve liked the grunge-punk-altnerna-Indie rock group Modest Mouse since I first heard them in the late 90s. All of their albums have been enjoyable, especially This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. I thought they’d never top it. But their release this year may have done exactly that. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

Anyway: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. Great album. Go listen to it.

Now I’m going to go see if I look pale, feverish, or green. Keep your fingers crossed.

Cite seeing

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The structure of this post shall be as follows:

  1. Interesting, positive news
  2. Griping, moaning, and kvetching, with a bit of dark humor for comic relief
  3. Light-hearted news, to deceive you into thinking that I did not write this post with the sole purpose of griping, moaning, and kvetching. I did, but I don’t want you to realize that.

So! Good news, everybody! I’ve been cited!

Last month, I had an article published in Virginia Libraries. Let’s all close our eyes for a moment and pretend that Virginia Libraries is a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, that Virginia Libraries is not, as I suspect, desperate to publish anything, anything, that someone will submit.

The article was an informal discussion of Blogging for a Good Book that I wrote in one of the following two ways (take your pick):

  1. After months of intensive, soul-searching research, with lots of impressive statistics and critical analysis
  2. In the wee hours of the morning the day it was due, took me maybe half an hour to throw something together

But then Michael Stephens, who as I have mentioned here before is ABSOLUTELY DREAMY, published a lengthy report in Library Technology Reports, which really is prestigious. He talked quite a bit about my library’s blog as an example of a Best Practice in the application of Web 2.0 technologies in the library sphere. Yay!

And he quoted my article extensively. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been cited. I am a scholar. It’s official.

Now we shall move on to the bit where I complain a lot.

(More observant readers will have noticed that this is a highly structured post. Other bloggers content themselves with “Hey, here’s a neat link!” This thing here has lists and sections and hierarchy. That’s because I’m a diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive. OCD folks need to be in control or they go crazy, literally. Each individual OCD person manifests the need to control in different ways, and to different degrees, depending on how stressful life is being. Since I’m feeling stressed these days, I’m trying to gain control in lots of little ways: By counting steps, by scratching at my head (don’t ask), by writing down lots and lots of lists, and by investing my informal writing with heavy-handed structure. Now you know.)

Things that have me stressed:

1. Money. Somehow there doesn’t seem to be quite enough of it. Not quite sure what the cause is, besides the obvious bit about being a librarian (rather than, oh, a computer programmer or an accountant), having only one household income, and living in a city where the median price of a home is $350,000. Median. That means half of the houses cost more. Mother o’ God.

The money situation probably will not be helped by the need to take Charlotte (my car, not my coworker) to the Toyota dealership for regular maintenance, nor by my need to visit the doctor (this head-scratching thing is getting out of control).

2. My carpet. Spilt beer all over it this evening. Dark beer, because there’s this wonderful chocolate stout that they sell at Farm Fresh. I like it because it’s just one bottle, which naturally prevents me from having “just one more,” and because, despite the gutter swill one normally finds in single-serving beer bottles, this stuff tastes good. But it’s really sort of wasted when its dark color soaks itself into my carpet. And the carpet had already committed an offense against me today, so really this isn’t fair. Gremlin vomited a great deal of kitty food while I was at work.

3. My book. Don’t let’s talk about the book I’m writing. Just trust me that it’s stressful to write one.

4. Work. I love my job, but there’s a lot of work to do these days. It’s nothing like my last job, where there was such an overwhelming amount of work to do that it went past the point of ridiculous and came back through the other side. My present job is nowhere near as stressful, but these past few weeks have been intense. Lots and lots and lots of things are due right away, as in yesterday. Perhaps the worst part is that I brought some of it on myself. In the distant past it seemed like a good idea to teach two classes in one week. What, pray, was I thinking?

5. Work again. Specifically, the people who come up to the reference desk. It’s funny, I can go for weeks on end with happy, pleasant transactions, but then today I get two in a row who put me on edge. For privacy reasons I can’t give you the details of either, but the second one said something that tickled my sense of irony (for those of you paying attention, this is the bit that’s supposed to be funny). She was calling on the phone to request a whole slew of movies, but our policy is to only answer three brief questions by phone. It’s a good policy. It’s our way of showing that people who make the effort to come in to the library get higher priority. But the caller wasn’t happy with this policy, even after I’d politely and regretfully explained it to her—and even though there was a person patiently standing at the desk, waiting for me.

“But I tried calling twice before and didn’t get through!”

Let’s think here: Could it be that she didn’t get through because we were busy helping people in the library? Just possibly?

Oh well, seemed funny at the time.

Finally, I will deliver the bit of frivolous news that I promised as an antidote to the preceding bitching.

I got someone to read The Commitment, by Dan Savage! It’s one of a very few books that I wish everyone would read. In this case, it was my former database rep. I tend to group database reps in the same category of humanity that includes lawyers. insurance salespeople, and DMV clerks. The shining exception was EBSCO rep, who acted like a normal human being and liked to talk books. Except then he got assigned to a different state. And yet he just emailed me to tell me he’d finished reading the Savage book.

Even my friends won’t read the books I suggest, and here one of The Enemy took my advice! At this point, it’s not like he can even influence me to make a sale!

In conclusion, I am going to go scratch my head now. G’night.