In my dream the other night, I had moved way out west, to Arizona or California or something like that, and I was startled to find myself working as a high school English teacher.
I played it cool. I informed the students of my classroom rules. (“This is an English class. You’re learning to communicate. You will never get in trouble for reading or for writing. You might get in trouble for talking, though.”) Then I discovered that the class was reading Nathanael West’s novel The Day of the Locust, a book I enjoyed in college and which I have since completely forgotten. But no matter: I made a joke linking the characters of the book to the characters in The A-Team.
Is there such a thing as an anti-anxiety dream? Because that’s what this was. Unfamiliar situation, totally unprepared, first day of class jitters– and here I am, cool as ice, making up a very convincing classroom philosophy on the spot.
I hope this bodes well for my new job. I’ve got two more weeks of classroom training, then a couple of weeks of training on the floor, and then they feed me to the wolves.
That’s okay. I eat wolves for breakfast.
This is a three-day week for me. Now that I’m earning anemic wages, I ought to be horrified at not drawing income on Thanksgiving or the day after, but I’m just looking forward to having the time off. This past weekend was productive in many senses– I mopped the kitchen floor and I got a new pair of hiking boots, I dispatched some glasses of wine that were just sitting around doing nothing– but I did not get to start digging into my library books.
Nor did I get to start working on my column, due the first of December. A couple of weeks after I absented myself from the library profession, one of my former editors contacted me and asked if I’d like to start writing a regular column for a monthly library newsletter.
“Sure!” I enthused, neglecting to mention as how I’m a fraud. I’m not a librarian anymore. I didn’t even read any books this weekend.
I further neglected to inform the editor that tapping me for the column was a bad idea on general principle. The previous writer of the column is one of the giants of library scholarship, a god among library men. He was one of my professors in library school, and he was writing thoughtful and cogent pieces about books and reading before I was born. Whereas I, as the successor to the column and facing a deadline 10 days from now, have only managed to come up with one (1) talking point, viz., isn’t this quotation funny?
Strange how these things work. Here I am, an imposter in an imposing land, and I’ve just been offered a paid writing gig. I didn’t go hunting for it; the editor emailed me to see if I’d be interested.
On the other hand, I cannot convince the local public library to hire me on as a volunteer. I filled out a form and explained about my professional experience and left all kinds of contact information. I did my best to convince these people that they should please let me volunteer, to do the same sort of work, for free, that I was recently getting paid $22/hour to do.
Now it’s true that I have not been particularly fierce in pursuing this agenda. It’s not like I need additional activities to fill my time– and between you and me, I’ve got my eye on the local animal shelter as a place I might volunteer. Aside from dropping in to the library occasionally to see if the main librarian is around (she never is), I haven’t gone out of my way to get myself hired on as free help.
Ah well. It’s getting to that point in the afternoon where I have to begin making myself presentable for my role as slightly-more-expensive-than-free help. In the two full weeks that I’ve been at the new job, I’ve been getting tons of compliments on my style. “You just wear the coolest clothes,” one of the security guards informed me. He’s right, of course. I do just wear the coolest clothes. But now that I have established the standard, I need to continue gratifying my public. They have come to expect a certain level of flair in my person, and I cannot disappoint.