Monthly Archives: October 2013

Flex time

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Professional employment as a librarian brings with it many perks — access to books, continuing education opportunities, groupies, cult status, wild parties, superior booze, and an altogether higher class of hooker — but of course the main draw is the paycheck. I’ll be getting my first one tomorrow.

The downside to professional employment is that it eats up all of my time. There’s a stack of library books sitting at the foot of my bed, and if I don’t get some quality time with them soon it’s going to make it look like Carrie was mildly disappointed that time she went to prom.

One of the time drains is the gym. I’ve been going faithfully for about 6 months now. The irritating part is that I have absolutely precisely exactly the same waist measurements as when I started, which begs the question as to why I even bother. I mean apart from how I’m all healthier and stuff — other than that, why do I bother?

Image The good part is that I have muscles now. Cardiovascular exercise has not made me any svelter, but all that weight-lifting has given me some darn fine muscle definition. Though in the course of writing this paragraph I have learned that taking a flattering bicep selfie is approximately impossible. I share this image not because it conveys my She-Hulkiness but because being photobombed by your own stuffed koala is kind of cute.

The abbreviated vinyasa I go through at the gym does not exactly constitute a dedicated yoga practice, so really I probably should hunt for a local yoga studio. And once that happens even more of my time will be consumed, so I may as well go ahead and start kvetching about that now.

Observant readers will notice that I’ve been posting even less here than with my normal not-terribly-impressive weekly-ish schedule, and I’m really hoping my editors are criminally unobservant, because otherwise they’ll be noticing that I’ve written practically nothing since I moved here.

So, to sum up: even though I’ve been doing almost no reading or writing or yoga, I’m still somehow completely strapped for time, so I’m going to go ahead and blame this squarely on the whole employment thing. Which is still better than the whole unemployment thing, but geeze.

I’m going to wrap this up now — that stack of books isn’t going to read itself — but I’ll end with something good: today I had the chance to communicate with one of my very favorite authors. I won’t divulge the particulars here, but let me put it this way: the interaction was arguably better than the time Pat Rothfuss wrote to compliment my review of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. (And yeah, I am so totally on a first-syllable basis with Pat. Sure I am.)

Happy Halloween, and happy birthday to Goblin and Gremlin, who will celebrate their twelfth and eleventh birthdays tomorrow. I’ll post a picture of my costume if I can manage to improve my self portraiture.

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Geography lessons

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Living in Missouri still feels like punishment, but it’s more along the lines of community service than Alcatraz. My breath caught in my throat when I glimpsed a mountain the other morning. Then my mountain resolved into the pointy roof of a car parts store.

Disappointing, but not catastrophic. That sums it up.

It may be in my best interests to find things that are not disappointing. I concede this. There is a certain logic there. Unfortunately I just can’t work out how to find non-disappointing things while sitting in bed in my pajamas.

In my slight defense, I don’t have anywhere to sit that isn’t my bed. I really probably should get at least a couch, but I am reluctant to purchase furniture if I’m just going to be moving next year anyway. Also, I haven’t been paid yet. My first paycheck arrives on Halloween. There is a very real danger that I will forget my debts and instead spend several thousand dollars on Kit Kats.

At the pet store today I wandered through the dog section, hoping to find someone who needed petting. I noticed that the dog beds were awfully big and awfully comfy looking. Then I started to wonder if I could pass off dog beds as human furniture, or if the milk-biscuit motif would be a giveaway. Eventually I tabled the idea, but mainly because the absence of back support could lead to problems, not because there’s anything wrong with decorating one’s home in Modern Kibble.

Tomorrow I plan to visit something called Swope Park, which is a sizeable green patch on the map. Unfortunately it’s about thirty minutes away, but I am starting to understand that everything is about thirty minutes away. It doesn’t matter where you start or where you want to go. It will take you half an hour to get there.

This is part of a physics unique to the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, a sprawling mass comprising one city and innumerable suburbs. It is huge. It is really huge. It is the Jabba-the-Hutt of urban living. I would guess, optimistically, that I will have a handle on the local geography in about four hundred years. That’s if I study really hard.

Bear in mind that I once got lost in my own bathroom. True story.

I’ll say this much for Missouri: I am now positioned for exploring whole new territories. There is Nebraska, for instance: I am sure it has a culture and history and charm all its own. Probably. Well — possibly. Definitely possibly. Definitely possiblyish.

redfernAnd to the south I can find the Ozark Mountains, which are darling little foothills compared to the mountains back home, but I am in no position to be say patronizing things about them. They’re all I’ve got. Anyway I think I’ll like them fine, since Where the Red Fern Grows is set in the Ozarks and that’s a brilliant book, provided you never ever ever read the final chapter.

And if I head west? There’s a whole lot of Kansas — it’s a pity, can’t be helped — but then I would get to Colorado. Colorado does not loom in my imagination quiet as large as Alaska or Maine or Texas, but it’s worth probably nine or ten Nebraskas, easy. I have never visited, but my copy editor lives out there, and after someone has scrutinized and improved four hundred pages of your book, you feel absolutely fine about asking to crash on her couch, nevermind that you’ve never met her in person.

But those are plans for the future. Colorado won’t be happening for at least half a year, because I don’t get to use vacation until then. Wanderlusting for the next few months will be limited to weekend trips.  With any luck I’ll find a way to go exploring where the red fern grows, and then I’ll say hi to Old Dan and Little Ann, WHO ARE VERY MUCH ALIVE, THANKS FOR ASKING, and I’ll join them on their milk-biscuit patterned doggie bed.

Heinlein manuever

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Forgive the jargon, but I need to explain a library phrase. “Collection development” is the process of deciding which materials to buy, how many of them to buy, which branches to shelve them at, which formats to buy them in (hardback or soft? e-book or traditional? Large print or audio?), and when to withdraw them.

I’ve just started my job as a collection development librarian. I get to buy books all day long.

This is an extremely unusual job description. You’ll see it sometimes in academic libraries, but public librarians usually do collection development along with reference, computer instruction, programming, cataloging, and stopping creeps from looking at porn on the public computers. That last bit happens more than you’d think.

It’s almost a shame that I’m no longer supposed to escort drunks from the premises. After my stint volunteering at the homeless shelter, the typical problem patron at the library would be tame by my standards. If I ever become queen of the library, I’m going to give people bonuses for volunteering with the homeless. Best public service training I’ve ever had.

But there is no public contact for me at this new job. I will miss the readers’ advisory component (that is more library jargon, this time for “helping people find books to read”), but you know what? I GET TO BUY BOOKS ALL DAY LONG.

Also music and movies, though to a much smaller extent. My new colleagues have only known me for a few weeks and already they understand that I can’t be trusted with popular media. Put the music budget in my hands, and next thing you know the library is a superb resource for tuba bluegrass and not much else.

Mostly I’ll be in charge of the adult materials, but again: my new colleagues recognize that certain collection areas are not my strength. I happened to mention that my favorite romance novel is Hannibal (that would be the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, starring Dr. Hannibal Lecter) and suddenly I’m not allowed to buy romances for the library. Honestly, some people can be so narrow-minded.

Collection development at Mid-Continent Public Library is not like collection development anywhere else. At first it seems familiar, and then you realize that you’ve stepped into an alternate dimension. It is exactly like going to Canada, a country I’ve never visited but let’s pretend. You’re enjoying your day, quite at ease because everyone except for the Québécois speaks English, slightly mangling words such as “about” but in a very charming way, when suddenly you see a police offer and OH HEY THAT POLICEMAN IS ON A PONY THAT’S NOT HOW WE DO IT BACK IN THE STATES WHO IS A GOOD HORSE, ARE YOU A GOOD HORSE, YES YOU ARE, YOU ARE A GOOD HORSE, WHO IS A GOOD BOY, DO YOU HAVE A SIREN, HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK, HERE IS A CARROT YOU GOOD BOY YOU.

While I am stronger in some areas than others (romance novels may be incomprehensible, but ask me about Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests, Jessica Zellers 2009), I can confidently claim to be good at books in general. Books have personal, professional, and scholarly relevance for me. Collection development is my bitch — but even so, I’m having to be extremely resourceful to adapt to this unfamiliar model of collection development.

(Can I say that? Am I in a community where I can say “bitch”? Er — just so we’re all clear, nothing I say here is endorsed by the library, though now that we’re on the subject I noticed today that my stapler is manufactured by a company called Bostitch. I am tempted to artfully cover the “ost” with a bit of colored tape. I mean this in the brassy feminist way, obviously, not in the degrading-to-women way.)

(Also, while sitting through an orientation that was probably quite helpful for newcomers but not so useful for me, as I am already aware of concepts such as intellectual freedom, angry patrons, and collection development, the latter in fact being my bitch, I realized that the word “crumpets” anagrams into “spectrum.” I think spectrum was the brand name of the projector or somesuch. I stared at it long enough to discover its anagram potential, by which point of course I wanted a breakfast pastry.)

cthulucircusSpeaking of food, I am a stranger in a strange land — stranger than Canada, even. One colleague mentioned in passing that she does not like Mexican food, and although I am clear on the definitions of the individual words that came out of her mouth, when I string them together into a sentence I do not grasp what she is saying. “I do not like Mexican food” must be a syntax error, or else something so conceptually outside my experience and presumably offensive to the fabric of the universe that ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Also, another colleague has never even tried Indian food, for the love of Yog-Sothoth.

Clearly I’m going to need to start bringing in tasty ethnic foods or, failing that, breakfast pastries, though between you and me baking isn’t my strong suit. It’s a shame that the only Indian food in Independence is in my own kitchen. This town has Mexican and Chinese places stacked up to my eyeballs, but the global flavors stop there. Which really does strongly indicate that I’m living in the Outer Realms.