Monthly Archives: April 2009

Dull-eyed and limp-tailed

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“Golly,” I thought to myself, sitting at a traffic light this evening, “I sure am tired.”

I anticipate that many of you don’t believe me. Those of you who do not work in a library may harbor doubts about the strenuous nature of librarianship. Even those of you who do work in a library may find it hard to accept that I said “golly.”

“Golly” went out of style at least twenty years prior to my birth, and even in earlier decades I’m not sure it was ever what you’d call properly fashionable. Mainly it was used by people who wanted to avoid swearing.

I have no compunctions against swearing, none. I swear frequently and, I’d like to think, stylishly. I swear in American English, and in English English (I’m fond of “sodding” and “bugger”), and in foreign tongues, with “sheisse” being a perennial favorite.

But even though I’m happy to swear, and even though it’s terribly retro, and not in the good retro kind of way, I still say Golly a lot.

As for my being tired, well: I’d like to make clear to any skeptics that librarians do not get to sit about and read books all day.

(As an aside, I’d like to make clear to anybody in charge of government funding that librarians work their tails off, and that making cuts to library budgets is a really bad idea. I know we’re in a global economic meltdown, but you don’t want to underfund the libraries. You really don’t. Things would be even worse without libraries. Thanks.)

In any given day, I might answer reference questions, help people help for jobs, steer reluctant readers to books they’ll enjoy, be nice to mean people (VERY tiring), catalog books, agonize over which books to buy, straighten books, write about books, help lost children locate parents, haggle with salespeople, and fend off lechers, which frankly ought to justify some hazard pay, if anybody in charge of government funding happens to be reading this.

This evening I taught a computer class, one of the most tiring activities of all. Teaching—and I realize this is not a terribly original insight, humor me—teaching is a very difficult job. Communicating new concepts and ideas to a group of people, while making sure that no one feels left behind, or insulted, or bewildered, AND while being interesting and entertaining and personable, really does wear a girl out.

“I bet I wouldn’t be this tired if I worked as a physical laborer,” I continued in my conversation with myself.

“Oh whatever,” I countered. “You’re romanticizing physical labor”

“Fine, it’d be harder, but it would be more satisfying, more healthy. Less mental angst.”

“You wouldn’t last a day as a ditch digger.”

“I was thinking more of a… park ranger, maybe, or a field biologist. Nice fresh air, type thing.”

“Bourgeois,” I muttered.

“What did you call me?”

“I said you’re bourgeois. Whining, privileged, delusional bourgeois.”

At this point the traffic light turned green, preventing what could have been a very ugly battle with myself.

I’ll concede that I wouldn’t last a day as a digger of ditches, and for that matter I can’t realistically see myself as a park ranger, though I think it’d be fun to wear one of those uniforms and track wild bears and so forth. Plus I am willfully ignoring all the hazards that I decidedly do not encounter in my indoor job: physical ailments from working every day with my body, nastiness from inclement weather, attacks from insects and wild bears.

So I suppose I’ll stick with my cozy suburban airconditioned job, especially since this particular job provides me with daily access to free books. Sunburn and wild bears I could possibly survive, but living without books would be unthinkable.

The fact remains that I am tired—golly!—and have been tired recently, quite a bit. I did just have a mini-vacation a few weeks ago—Mom and Dad and I went to the Outer Banks—but I feel neither recuperated nor refreshed. I’m worn out all the time, barely fit for reading when I get home, to say nothing of blogging (hence the dearth of updates here), and as for deadlines for writing assignments, well. The less said about that the better.

And the less said about anything else right now, the better, because I am about to nod off, and I am not a very coherent typist when I am asleep. More from me soon, I hope, when I am less tired, or at any rate when I have more compelling subject matter than “I’m tired,” though I did manage to wrangle 790 words from the topic, which ought to count for something, if you ask me.

Bag lady

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Wilhelmsplatz, a small city of about 12,000 people, has two Targets and a Walmart. Does that seem a bit excessive to anyone else?

I would rather die than go to Walmart. (I am using hyperbole, but not by much.) Of course I have all sorts of political and social objections to the store, which is the excuse I use in polite company. In impolite company, I still use the political and social excuses, but I tack on to that Excuse #3: I avoid Walmart because it attracts undesirable people.

“Undesirable people”: at best, this assessment makes me sound like a snob; at worst, it suggests that I’m a card carrying member of the National Socialist party.

Just to be clear, I am neither A) a Nazi nor B) a snob, or at least not too much of one. As it turns out, I’m actually quite comfortable amongst undesirable people, if “undesirable people” means “poor folks.” Given the choice between poor people or rich people, I’ll take the poor people any day.

Nonetheless, in Walmart one is likely to find harried people, people with small children, people with small noisy children, loud people, sullen people, unhappy people, etc. etc., all of whom are trying to get their hands on mass-produced* cheap shit.

*“Mass-produced by wage slaves,” to be exactingly precise.

So instead I go to Target to get my hands on mass-produced cheap shit. I’ve found that the clientele are slightly less noisy, sullen, unhappy, etc. etc. The atmosphere is still depressing, but not as depressing. As for my political and social objections, they still apply, but not quite as much. Anything’s better than Walmart.

I really ought to be going to a small, independent Mom-n-Pop store, but those are not exactly abundant in Wilhelmsplatz, and to my knowledge none of them sell Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, my lunch of choice.

Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, along with their compatriots Healthy Choice frozen entrees and SmartOnes frozen entrees, constitute the variety in my diet, which is appallingly predictable*. Save for the infrequent splurge on dinner out, I eat the same damn thing every day: yogurt for breakfast, microwave thingy for lunch, salad for dinner, cottage cheese and fruit for a snack, Fiber One to munch on for another snack. The various microwave meals give me the illusion of variety.

*Appallingly predictable, but I bet you anything my bowel movements are more regular than yours.

Recently, however, Change Has Happened. Most of my diet I’m perfectly content with, but I’ve had it up to here with salads. More compellingly, I’ve noticed that my salads tend to go bad. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the salads have taken to sprouting. I don’t really fancy eating mold.

Salads comprise ingredients that are healthy, spinach and beans and carrots and tomatoes and so forth. All things being the same, I should like to continue consuming these sorts of ingredients on a regular basis, just without the mold.

So I sat down to think about how one might eat healthy things, if salads proved to be impractical. Now I am a pretty bright cookie, but I could come up with absolutely no solutions, save one:

I would have to start cooking.

For a variety of reasons, I do not cook—chief among them being that I do not know how. In theory, someone who is a self-admitted Pretty Bright Cookie should be able to figure it out. This cookie, unfortunately, though bright, is not patient, nor creative, nor curious, leastaways not if she’s in a kitchen.

Still though. Mold. Ugh.

Anyway, the other day I went to Food Loin and grabbed the same things I always get for my salads. Additionally, I purchased rice and broth.

Then I went home and hunted for the slow cooker. Finally found it in the cabinet above the fridge. No idea how I got it up there in the first place. Getting it down involved acrobatics atop the kitchen counter.

Then I put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, turned it on, and waited eight hours.

The resulting stew was… pretty gross, really. Also, I ruined that poor little slow cooker. The gross stew clung to the sides like a leech to a seventeenth-century medical patient.

(This is why I do not write noir novels. My similes are atrocious.)

So there I was back at Target again today, purchasing a new slow cooker. My uncharacteristically optimistic hope is that I will eventually get the hang of this cooking business, at least far enough to be able to make stew that doesn’t taste yucky.

This, however, leads me to a severe criticism of Target. The checkout folks there just don’t grasp the concept of reusable bags. I was armed with two paper bags (salvaged from somebody’s book donation at the library last week) and my cloth grocery bag.

“Don’t worry, I brought my own bags, I’ll fill them myself,” I said cheerfully. The poor checkout girl was puzzled, but she humored me…

…through one bag. After that was filled, she started trying to put my groceries in plastic.

I’ve trained my baggers at Food Loin to deal with my eccentricity. My checkout clerks at Farm Fresh actually give me a five cent discount for bringing my own bags. But the Target folks just don’t seem to get it.

But I suppose the woman who can’t grasp the basics of cooking is in no position to cast aspersions upon the intellectual capacity of others. If and when I figure out how to make stew, however, my wrath shall be terrible.

Ravages of age

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Just a quick note, in the few minutes that remain of my dwindling lunchbreak.

My lunchbreak is dwindling because I wasted time in line. I wasted time in line because it is my birthday. It is, as usual, a crappy birthday. I cannot recall ever having had a good birthday. Maybe some year it will happen, but apparently not this year.

It would have been nice if someone at work had offered to buy me lunch, or a cup of coffee, or something. This did not happen. At this point I think it would be nice if someone merely bothered to wish me a happy birthday.

But even though there is a distinct absense of baked goods in honor of my birthday here at work, I decided I would stop by the local coffee shop/bakery to buy us something tasty, my treat. There was a lovely creme brulee cheesecake sitting in the case, every single slice intact. I asked how much it would cost to buy it.

“You have to order cakes three days in advance,” they told me, after I waited, and waited, and waited in line.

“But I’d like to buy that cake, right there.”

“But you have to order three days in adv–“

“Nevermind.”

So now I have zero slices of creme brulee cheesecake, only one person at work remembered my birthday (for which I’m grateful, though his rendition of Marilyn Monroe’s “happy birthday” was distinctly unsettling), and I am eating a Lean Cuisine for my birthday lunch. And did I mention I didn’t bring a snack with me? It is going to be a long, hungry afternoon, followed by a long, hungry walk back home. I had foolishly assumed there would be cake.

The good news is that I can see, sort of. I haven’t written here in ages because I’ve been getting killer headaches every time I look at a computer screen. It’s taken two months worth of dealing with my eye doctor (who is competent) and her assistant (who is decidedly not) to finally, maybe, get a pair of glasses that work. I am trying to get adjusted to my new bifocals, which I have owned now for about thirty minutes.

Yes: bifocals. I’m definitely aging. Happy birthday to me.