rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
Allow me to be frank—I know I'm on the internet, which means *gasp* anyone can see me being frank—but I'm going to have to get a little ugly-personal. Don't freak out.

It's been a rough week. It's hard to say how much you, my reader, already know me, when some know me in real life but just in passing, some know me in real life quite well, some have never met me but are closer to me than all but a few of the people I have met in real life, some know me in passing on the internet, and some just stumbled here randomly hi I don't know what you're doing here but you're perfectly welcome. So I don't know if you know that I'm an utter mess, both figuratively and literally. I am NOT a together person.

But one thing I have always felt confident about? I'm a dang fine librarian. Being at work is for me is a BREAK from feeling lost and incompetent. It keeps me steady, and smart, and productive.

Until last Saturday. See, my literal mess caught up with me, and I guess it hit on my coworkers' last nerves? This is hard to explain, because I'm honestly so confused and I guess not quite so shaken as I was last Saturday, but still just...broken. Like I can't piece it together in my brain. I didn't get completely cleaned up after my program Tuesday night-- to be fair, we were pulp painting, it's quite complex, and I DID clean up MOST of it-- but, maybe it was my lackadaisical attitude toward finishing up that they didn't appreciate? Maybe, but the thing that got me lost was that this somehow earned me a week suspension. A week and a day, actually, as I didn't end up working last Saturday and here I am still off today. Now, Jason points out that I really should have been given a written warning or something instead, that the punishment far outweighs the crime and he is SO TEMPTED to march down to the library and give everyone a piece of his mind but he won't because that's totally something his mother would do and he doesn't want to do something she'd do; and there's a rational part of me that definitely agrees it's all out of proportion.

But the problem is it triggered something, shattered me further. Work was the one place I felt competent, the one thing my literal-and-figurative mess wasn't tainting. For the first time since I've been in this particular job, the thought of going back to work on Monday gives me a jolt of anxiety. I have lost that little piece of confidence. And, talk about an out-of-proportion reaction, I'm just BROKEN.

I don't want you to think I'm being melodramatic. I very nearly checked myself into the hospital that day. Because obviously I'm not good at ANYTHING anymore so there's no point trying until I can get myself FIXED. I didn't, because I figured it would be cheaper to just go home and go to bed, while telling everyone to leave me alone. That didn't work so great either, because except for Maddie, who came in and just hugged me and said "I love you" for awhile, nobody else could manage to talk to me without increasing my stress. In the middle of the night I wrote this poem-- cleaned it up and put it on Tumblr in the morning just because Tumblr seemed like the best format for it. It pretty well describes "how I'm doing," kind of perfectly, if you're asking and want to know the truth.

Well wait, copying and pasting so you don't have to click:
"EFFORT"
I’m not okay
though if you ask
I’ll say
I am
because I pull myself together
I smile, I laugh, I sing
I cook, I eat
I hug and say I love you
I go through the backpacks and take-home folders and
usually
remember to sign things
I pay the bills
eventually
I get where I need to go
eventually
But then you notice the cracks and say
Why don’t you pick up after yourself?
Why have you let yourself go?
If you would
Just
Try to
lose some weight
exercise a little more
make the kids behave
(no, MAKE them)
get her hair brushed
get YOUR hair brushed
make them make their beds
make YOUR bed
watch what you’re wearing
watch what they’re wearing
do the dishes from the start
organize your time better
leave a little earlier
make those phone calls
communicate better
pay attention to your surroundings
don’t leave things lying around
go to bed on time
tell us what you need
If you would
JUST
put in a
LITTLE EFFORT.
Good to know
that’s all I need to do
Just
put in
a LITTLE
EFFORT
If only I hadn’t used up all my Effort
pretending
i’m
okay


The thing is I usually AM okay because I'm holding together and getting through contently enough, it's just I can't take any MORE than that. Technically I SHOULD be capable of more, because more is required of me, and, like, maybe life should be more than just hanging together?

So at counseling on Wednesday I got some interesting news: I now, officially, on my medical records, have indeed been diagnosed with ADHD-light-on-the-H. See back in the day they just called that ADD but now no matter how nonexistent the H they call it ADHD-Inattentive Type instead. I slipped through all these years because of the complete lack of H, because I was well-behaved and smart enough to ace tests even if I couldn't stay on top of my homework and was only half paying attention in class. My brain was good at school. It's not so good at practical life. But practical life is what adulthood is about. You know I've said this before, lots of times, it's just now I've got an official label saying it's real, my brain really DOES work differently than normal. "You've been struggling with this all your life without even knowing why," my therapist said, having just read the above poem. 

So, somewhat tangentally (it's my ADHD! It all becomes clear!), last week we upgraded our cable to take advantage of their Triple Play, which includes phone service, since the main reason we never had before was our home and cell phone accounts were tied together, but now we get cell through J's work, so we were like, hey, and WE NOW HAVE CALLER ID AND AN ANTI-ROBO-CALL SERVICE AND I AM NEVER GOING BACK. But, also, we now get more TV channels, including FX. I'd bought access to FX's Fargo because it was awesome before, but look! Now we have FX just in time for Fargo-showrunner Noah Hawley's new show, Legion, which is a friggin' X-Men spinoff! I love Noah Hawley's storytelling (at least if Fargo is any indication) and I love X-Men, so can it get any better? The answer is, yes, it can, because Legion is also FRIGGIN' PSYCHEDELIC. 

Now I've been thinking of writing a whole post about me and psychedelia-- I've had a draft in the GeekMom Wordpress for about a month now, because I started writing it and then it turned into something else, and it might be really two posts, or it might not, but anyrate. Started when I finally got a chance to listen to the United States of America album I got for Christmas and it totally out me back in touch with a part of myself I'd been neglecting. I've been giving my psych rock collection a workout lately. Anyway, the short story about why I love psychedelia is that it reminds me of my own mind, but ever so slightly more orderly. 

So the main character of Legion has been diagnosed schizophrenic, although it turns out his hallucinatons are really telepathy. So you see the show from inside his head, which is tripped out...but strangely familiar. Me and psychedelia. I've never had to deal with hallucinations (or telepathy as far as I know), but my brain is always RUNNING and tumbling and jumping from track to track and it IS a lot to keep up with, and my dreams-- my dreamworld is nuts, y'all, and I love it--Legion really reminded me of my dreams (also the soundtrack is awesome) (maybe because there's a lot of psychedelia) (also it's made the Stones' "She's a Rainbow" stuck in my head since Thursday and I don't mind a bit).

Anyway, but the point I'm really getting to is that part of the reason he struggles so much with his mental illness is he's been fighting the wrong thing-- he thinks he needs to stop the hallucinations when really he needs to learn to control the input from his psychic powers. I keep thinking of it in relation to myself, how my brain works differently, but I've been expending so much energy trying to compensate for it instead of trying to work WITH it. It's funny, I used to know I was pretty smart as a kid, but most of the time as an adult my self-talk immediately goes to "you're an idiot." Since Wednesday it's occured to me, wow, if so much of my brainpower has gone to trying to compensate for my attention issues... maybe I actually am a genius. If I wasn't constantly trying to fight my own brain, what else could I be putting that power to? If I wasn't using up all my effort on being okay?

There was more on the end here, but somehow it got erased....

rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
A few years back it occurred to me, libraries are SUBVERSIVE. Our whole mission is to give the Have-Nots access to knowledge, and knowledge is power. This image of librarians as revolutionaries tickled me. Since on the surface I am a sickeningly sweet somewhat prudish well-behaved little white girl, I like being also, secretly, a bit of a rebel.

By now it's probably clear to you I'm in a particularly revolutionary mood lately, and you know exactly where my ire is directed. Maybe you're sick of me retweeting stuff on the subject. You remember when I was an optimistic ray of sunshine (with chronic depression) talking about books and music and children (in some order or another), who AVOIDED "issue" tweeting and political side-taking.

I apologize if all this rallying is getting old. I don't want it to get old. I want it to stay fresh. I keep sharing it because I don't want anyone to convince you that it isn't happening.

I think it's only in the past day that I've been able to pinpoint my motivations. There seems to be reason after reason to protest the government. Keep calling your representatives? What about NOW? I'm losing track of all the dangers we need to make sure our representatives resist... which is apparently something rising dictatorships count on. I read this nice article this morning called "How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind" --she talks about supporting "progressive agendas" but I want to again make clear that THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PARTISAN ISSUE AND CONSERVATIVES NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THE NEW ADMINISTRATIONS BLATANT IGNORANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION, TOO, but ignore that bit. Anyway, her #1 says GET AWAY FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF NEWS FOR AWHILE which might make you go "SEE, AMY? Shut up with your retweets, you're just overwhelming us so we don't care anymore!" Again, sorry. But #2 is what I want to talk about right now, and explains why I have such a hard time shutting up: "Focus Your Energy on One or Two Issues."

So which one or two issues do I want to focus on? Which slice of humanity under fire deserves more of my support? For a moment yesterday I thought it was going to be Climate Change, because I've always been an environmentalist, and I was feeling particularly angry about the government science departments being censored. But then I remembered my sensitivity toward gaslighting, and when a fellow GeekDAD actually posted this great little piece about evaluating information sources almost simultaneously with a high school friend posting this great graphic, and when I shared the former on the library's facebook page, I realized I'm not just being suddenly political. I'm DOING MY JOB.




So right. This will be my focus in the Rebel Alliance: Freedom of Information. This is why I will keep harping on about it. I'm not trying to change your political opinions-- well, not outright. I hope your political opinions will become more well-supported by fact. But I am making damn sure that the people will have access to actual facts and will have the skills and guidance to figure out what those actual facts are. That's why I'm standing up against the censorship of scientists and the intimidation of the media. That's why I'm standing up for freedom of expression and Net Neutrality. That's why I'm amplifying marginalized voices. BECAUSE I'M GOING TO MAKE SURE NOBODY CAN TAKE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AWAY FROM US.

Because that's what librarians do.

rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
It’s time for the yearly roundup, and while 2016 is pretty universally known to have been a pretty crappy year, it’s had its bright spots too. As I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve rounded up events and reviews into Top Five lists for your perusal. It makes for a long post, but I’d love for you to read it, and chime in with comments on anything you see that you agree with, disagree with, or feel enlightened by, because I do these things to talk to people, you know.

Cut for length and pictures )
So yay! I hope you've stuck with me through this long, long post! Drop me a comment!
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
My dad is a big genealogist, and when I say big, I mean he was into it WAY before Ancestry.com, when you had to do serious legwork, travelling all around the country and even world to pour over decades of paper church registries and the like. By chance I eventually settled in the town that one of his favorite ancestors had lived in, my great-great-great* grandfather on my dad's mom's side, a blacksmith, guardsman, and Civil War hero. My dad wrote a (self-pubbed and extremely limited in distribution) book on the guy and his squadron's history, which supposedly once was in the Local History collection of the library I now work for, though I can't find it there now. I have to smile every time I drive past the corner where this several-greats grandfather's blacksmith shop had been, just because I can hear the enthusiasm in my dad's voice as he once pointed it out to me, every single time.

Ancestry.com has certainly added new ways to track genealogy, though. And recently, through DNA testing, it unearthed an unpleasant truth: the man he so admired, who'd done so many great things, wasn't his great-great-grandfather after all.

My great-great-great (or however many) grandmother had been 15 when she married this man. And five months pregnant. And according to the DNA trail, the father of that boy she carried (my g-g-grandfather) was one of three brothers, one of whom was a teacher, another of whom was eventually locked up in an insane asylum, and all of whom were at least twice her age. Was it the teacher, taking advantage of one of his students? Was it his younger brother, and they locked him up for being a serial rapist or something? Does it matter? Whatever happened, it was at LEAST a STATUTORY rape, if not full-blown. The blacksmith/war-hero was a family friend, who married the girl to save her from what in that era would surely have been scandal and ruin. "It makes me admire him even more," my dad said sadly, "to have raised this boy as his own even though he knew he wasn't actually his."

I wondered a little at my dad's disappointment when he said that. So this hero's blood didn't run in our veins after all. But he still RAISED our however-many-greats grandfather. Did it matter that our DNA came from a rapist, or did it matter more that the boy ended up calling a good man Dad?

(It's a bit like the part of the Gospel of Matthew they read on Christmas Eve, which always makes me roll my eyes. Ol' St. Matt goes off on this long, long genealogical report, tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham all the way up to Joseph. To JOSEPH. Who, in the very next verse, he explains is NOT ACTUALLY JESUS'S BIOLOGICAL FATHER, ANYWAY. Like SERIOUSLY, Matt, what was your point?! UNLESS it's more important that this man, who happens to have serious Jewish blood going way back, RAISED the boy Jesus as his own. Because maybe that's more important than the bloodline after all? I don't know, don't lecture me on theology, I'm just observing. Anyway, this is only tangentally related, because this post is about bad stuff in the past, which makes this story very different depending on whether you believe Mary had been raped like my g-g-g grandmother or she had indeed conceived the child via the Holy Spirit. Or you believe the whole story was made up period which makes it moot. But in that case, the Holy Spirit answer's the one in the story so it is still good).

I got onto this subject today because I started puzzling over something I'd seen on social media (ah, social media). The other night the First Lady spoke at the Democratic National Convention, a lovely speech full of hope and integrity, and she noted that now two little black girls lived in a mansion that had been built by slaves-- look how far we've come! Think how much farther we can go! And for some reason a bunch of people, instead of hearing the message of progress, got stuck on "wait, did she just say the White House was built by slaves? How DARE she say the White House was built by slaves!" and I'm like, "uh, because it WAS? It's not like you can't learn this information through a picture book. Or even just, you know, ASSUME, based on the history of the region." But these folks were really riled up about this. If they couldn't deny that there were a lot of dang slaves "employed" in the building of our nation's capital, they had to start insisting that well, they were slaves, but they really weren't treated that badly.

I'm like what is your ISSUE? She wasn't trying to slander the holy edifice that is the White House by referring to a negative-but-well-documented fact about its history, she was trying to say Isn't it GREAT, that once people that looked like my family were enslaved and would they ever have imagined a family that looked like them would be living here as the Family in Chief but here we are? Hooray! Our country is getting better all the time! Is it really that important that the history of our country is far from perfect?

It got me pondering the ways history is told, and how a lot of these people are the same ones who complain about "revisionist history," and how they want to stick with the TRUE history, which is the history they learned growing up. You know, like how George Washington chopped down a cherry tree as a boy? So what these people are looking for, I guess, is Golden, Gleaming History, History that is a role model for us to look up to.

I finally got my ears on the Hamilton musical a couple months ago. 1) gosh it is SO GOOD; 2) one thing that struck me is how much it put the lie to the idea that the founding of America was some stately, well-organized thing like the back of a two-dollar bill. That's another thing people who like Golden Gleaming History like to talk about: "The Founding Fathers thought THIS" and "The Founding Fathers did THAT" and "WHAT would the Founding Fathers say?!" And yet, listening to this, it reminds me that the last thing the Founding Fathers were was a unanimous monolyth on the issues we would face as a nation. SOME Founding Fathers wanted stronger state governments, weaker federal; SOME wanted a stronger federal and weaker states. SOME Founding Fathers did indeed keep slaves; but SOME Founding Fathers were outspoken abolitionists. The notion that the Founding Fathers were the last word on every issue is based on this Gleaming concept of History, a History that has no room for Cabinet Battles and dirty deals and blackmail, because that would mean we COULDN'T use it as the final word in an argument.

It's literally part of the conservative mindset-- not just politically conservative, but the whole idea of conservative-- to want to hold the past up as ideal. That's what conservatism is about: change is bad, the good old days were good. If you hold this mindset, it's a little earthshattering to face up to the not-so-good parts of the past. If your ancestors came out of history on top, it can feel like a personal affront to hear that they weren't perfect. But it's not just political: we all have a little conservative side of us, a part that holds tight to stories of how things ought to have been and believes in them. My dad's a pretty progressive guy, but it did upset him to learn of the smudge in his family tree that seemed to take away his claim to good blood. And me-- as a kid I had a really hard time with this concept. To find out anyone great had a not-so-great side? To uncover the dirty laundry of history? Heck, to find out how many of my favorite musicians were "druggies"? Frustrated me, man. I couldn't reconcile it. If these things were BAD, why were we learning about how GREAT they were?

But I was younger then. I've learned about shades of gray. Which is why it's surprising when so many people my age and older are still stuck in this black-and-white mindset.

A thing I've always hated since I discovered it is the Your Fave Is Problematic thing. It's almost like the opposite of the History Was Great and Never Dare Say Otherwise mindset, but is the exact same thing, really. You think something's or someone's so great? I'm going to POKE AS MANY HOLES IN THEM AS I CAN. SEE, NOT GREAT. So a fan says YOU ARE SO WRONG, THEY ARE GREAT, YOU SUCK, and the "problematic" folks are like "NO, THEY SUCK, AND IF YOU LIKE THEM STILL THEN YOU SUCK." WHAT, people. Why does everything have to be perfect or terrible? Why can't things just BE with all their nuances?

Back to the topic of dark spots in ones ancestry. I've always felt uncomfortable with the use of the word "we" to describe anything that I, personally, was not involved with-- "we won" or "we lost" or "we did this historical thing because...." I don't like my sports teams referred to as "we" unless I'm on them (ha). I don't like my country referred to as "we" if it's something out of my control-- like, back to sports teams, Olympians-- "we" do not get so many gold medals, those people who are way better athletes than most of us could ever imagine being got them; and I especially don't like it when referring to events that happened before I was even born. We settled in America. We drove off most of the native people. We defeated the British. We nuked Japan. Our ancestors, maybe. And maybe we've even benefitted from horrible things our ancestors did.

But we don't have to take it personally. It happened. And who cares whether it was your ancestors or not. What are YOU going to do? Who are YOU going to follow? I've got a great-great-great grandfather who was a rapist, but my great-great grandfather was raised to be a good man by a good man, instead. You're not bound by the past, so you don't have to fear it.

What happens NOW, is the question. That's what Mrs. Obama was saying the other night, not "feel ashamed of your history" but "look back on history and how we have improved and how we can keep on improving!" Look back to look forward.

I think I've made sense here, it's hard to tell because I've been super distracted by our library Harry Potter party happening on Saturday and I've been making chocolate frogs all day, which involves a lot of back and forth while waiting for things to set. But anyway.


*I THINK I have the right number of greats
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
The Internet is very emotional today, which has made it hard to focus. Sure, I like both David Bowie and Alan Rickman a whole lot (and the former was JUST singing on my computer again a few minutes ago). But they don't hit a nerve quite as much as this NEW Star-Wars-Intersecting-With-My-Personal-Life post I wrote that just went up on GeekMom today,* and even that one hit the emotional wayside when I read my dearest friend Angie's post reflecting on the bullying she suffered in high school and how it's affected her since, because, I mean I can't remotely claim that her being bullied hurt me just as much, but it DID make me ragingly angry and determined to be an anti-bully a billion times more strongly than my OWN having-been-bullied had made me. If that sentence construction makes any sense whatsoever. So I've been like PEOPLE EVERYBODY JUST READ ANGIE'S POST and all emotionally-charged all day.

But basically it's been distracting me from something that's been bugging me for...months, really. I first thought I'd write about it, and my misgivings, last summer, but never got around to it. Then in the fall, I wanted to write about it again, but other topics got in the way. But now, while other topics are still getting in the way, I keep seeing reminders, and I know I've got to get it off my chest through more than just a long comment on The Mary Sue.

I don't know if you know this... no, I'm pretty sure you know it-- Exhibit A, B, and the number 3, as well as this blatant one: it's been my lifelong dream to work on Sesame Street? Okay, by "lifelong" I mean "since 11th grade," since before then I was actually kind of scared of Sesame Street. Don't ask.

But no, when I was far out of the target audience, I became obsessed with this show. It started with a research paper. When I was trying to come up with a topic for my next paper in my high school research writing class, a vision of Cookie Monster flashed through my head, and I wondered what I could do with the topic of Sesame Street. "What effects, if any, did Sesame Street have on early childhood education?" was the question I finally went with.

And boy, were there answers. I didn't know that kindergarten didn't used to be mandatory, and that what kindergarten classes existed were more like day cares. Kindergarten and preschool curricula directly changed as a result of kids learning from Sesame Street, and more and more preschools opened. Here, if you're curious, I've found and scanned my whole report-- it seems to be a next-to-last draft, with some editing notes and a couple unrelated reminders written in the margins-- and keep in mind it's written by a(n admittedly advanced) seventeen-year-old, but it's still full of interesting information and anyone who wants to double-check the facts can find even more in the "Works Cited" section. So if you want the nitty-gritty details, there you go and I'll get on with this post.

So, as other adults who didn't even watch the show complained that it "wasn't what it used to be," I rolled my eyes. No, Cookie Monster did NOT turn into a Veggie Monster. Yes, Elmo is annoying, but he wasn't the whole show: he co-opted the last twenty minutes for "Elmo's World" which was deliberately targeted at a younger audience than the rest of the show, because the heavy research indicated that the preschool-and-up audience tended to wander away by then and only the toddlers kept watching. I knew the show only made changes that they'd thoroughly researched, and I trusted it. And when my own kids started watching I was not disappointed. There was just that one falter, when Kevin Clash broke my heart, and I didn't blame the show for that, just him, like, DUDE, I totally dreamed of working for you, how could you?!

And then, last summer, they're handed off to HBO. "It's fine!" they assured us. "This gives us the funding to continue doing what we do! The new episodes will FIRST be aired on HBO, but after a 9-month hold, PBS will get them, too!"

Okay then. I'm willing to reserve judgement, because as long as the same people are putting it together and as long as PBS still gets the episodes EVENTUALLY (it's not like there's much of a timeliness issue involved), everything should be just fine! Except it just FELT wrong. The show was founded SPECIFICALLY to give a leg up to underprivileged kids. That wasn't an afterthought, or some kind of politically-correct posturing; that was the BASIC MISSION of the show. I was reading Street Gang at the time, and that point was made over and over. It was for underprivileged kids. Other kids could benefit from it, too, but that wasn't the point. So to have the show belong exclusively--even if only for 9 months-- to a premium cable channel that, heck, my family doesn't even have, let alone underprivileged kids? Just seemed... off.

But then, within a month, two of the most involved and longest-running writer-performers on the show, Joey Mazzarino (head writer behind the scenes, Murray and Baby Bear and a slew of other Muppets, um, UNDER the scenes) and Sonia Manzano (writer behind the scenes since the 80s, Maria on the Street since 1971) announced they were leaving. Could have been coincidence. Manzano is not only technically "retirement age," but her writing career has been taking off in the past couple of years so she's got plenty to occupy herself. Still, the timing felt... ominous. It didn't help when I found out one of my fellow new GeekMom writers had been a producer on Sesame Street until relatively recently. I was like "SQUEEEEEE HOW DID YOU NOT MENTION THAT OUTRIGHT, HOW WERE YOU NOT BRAGGING THAT EVERY CHANCE YOU GOT?!" but she seemed hesitant to talk about it...and that made me worry....

So now Sesame Street's first episode on HBO is Saturday. The New York Times covered the changes you'll see pretty objectively. The Mary Sue read it and had a few more questions. Vulture just jumped right into digging up the dirt, revealing, sadly, that Joey Mazzarino's departure was, indeed, not a coincidence (though apparently I'm a bad fan because I didn't follow him on Facebook so as to know this already. Hey, I DO follow Sonia Manzano on Twitter though and during the last Olympics we totally had a conversation about the gymnasts. I TOTALLY DID HAVE A TWITTER CONVERSATION WITH MARIA GUYS IT WAS AWESOME. *ahem*). And I managed to piece my thoughts together on the subject at last.

I don't like it. MAYBE it'll be fine, sure, MOST of the creative team is the same, and they're still relying on research, but it feels like they've relied on that research to sanitize it, make it safe for middle-class America, just like every other preschool show, instead of being that one safe-yet-familiar haven for lower-class kids. It's not like middle-class kids COULDN'T enjoy the show, even if its imperfect setting might have made them, God forbid, uncomfortable. But middle-class kids have ALL the shows, and THIS show was DESIGNED FROM THE START to be FOR the poor kids. It's like YA literature-- it's FOR TEENS. Lots of adults love it too and that's fine, I'm one of them, but it's FOR teens. Start writing it for the adults who love it instead of for the teens, and is it really YA anymore?

I think the real test is, though, not so much what the show is now, but what Sesame Workshop continues to do BESIDES the show. Will they continue to produce the show in other countries, countries where literacy definitely could use a boost? Will they continue to address just the right issues specific to each of those places? More importantly, will they continue to reach out to the underprivileged here in the U.S. with auxiliary programs like the ones they have for children with parents in the military or in prison? Will they serve the non-HBO-accessing kids through their outreach? Will they remember why this organization was created in the first place?

I wanted to work for them not just because the show is clever and has Muppets. I wanted to work for them because they made a real positive difference in the world. They weren't just any old preschool show.

But I realized recently that, whatever some TV-based organization in NYC is doing, I'm actually addressing the same goals right here, in my own little part of the world. I'm bringing literacy to underprivileged kids all the time. I bring them worlds in bags of books. I'm a public children's librarian and I'm proud of my job. Maybe I don't need to work for Sesame Street to be inspired to take up its original cause.

---
*Relatedly, every year I react to the Youth Media Awards on this blog (one year it was even on video), and no one ever seems to care one way or another. Well, THIS year I posted my reaction post on GeekMom, and still no one cares, but on the off-chance you ARE wondering where my reaction post has gone this year, here it is.
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
This format worked really nicely last year, so I'll stick to something of the same:
Long and Full of Pictures )

When I was talking about the GeekMom thing with some relatives on Christmas Eve, I said kind of bashfully that I shouldn't let my writing confidence be affected so much by how many people read and respond, because writers write even if only for themselves, but a couple of them said, No, it makes sense, because while that might be so, a written work technically isn't complete until it has an audience, because it TAKES A READER. So please, indulge me, and chime in in the comments with your opinions on any or all of the things discussed here, because I like being heard!
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
NOTE: I'm kind of unsure about my personal blog, now that I write on a MUCH LARGER PLATFORM over at GeekMom. I could kind of count on being mostly ignored here on my little corner of the internet, just talking to the few people who knew I was here, so I could just WHINE STUPIDLY to the universe every so often and no one would care. So I apologize. This is one of those whiny depressing unhelpful-to-anyone-else posts so if you're looking for something professional from me, this isn't it.

Well then, if you're still here, let's begin:

I couldn't figure out why I was getting depressed sitting at my desk in the library. I LOVE the library. I LOVE my job. Sure I have depression issues but I'm managing them and anyway it's just something about this desk that's weird. It's not all the time. It's not when I'm working on programs or booklists or specific orders or helping patrons (unless I'm already depressed, then my INTROVERSION kicks in). It's days like today, when I have to catch up with review reading and updating my Massive Spreadsheet Of New Books.

Right now I've got 1317 books on that list. 1317 books published for children through teens by a traditional publisher in the past two years that I HAVEN'T BOUGHT for the library yet, and considering I have just $37 dollars left in my teen budget for the year (at least I still have a thousand in children's) it's a good bet most of them WON'T get bought. But I'm thinking, "SO MANY BOOKS! WHY CAN'T WE HAVE ALL THE BOOKS?" And then I think how I'll never get around to reading most of the books I HAVE bought, let alone all the books from the past I haven't read, and all the ADULT books (as in, not children's or YA, not, like, "Adult"), period (disclaimer, I'm reading an adult book right now, the Bloggess's latest, Furiously Happy. But that's because I love her desperately and so have made the exception), and you add in self-published books and magazines and blogs and fanfiction, it's like SO MANY BOOKS! SO MANY WORDS! INFORMATION OVERLOAD! TOO MUCH TO READ!

And the blogs and other review sources I use, they've got me on the We Need Diverse Books train. Because we do. But we always hear how putting diverse characters in books is good and all, but when people who aren't that minority do it they usually do it wrong even when they're trying, so what we really need is diverse AUTHORS, and I'm as un-diverse as can be. Books have been full of mirrors for me FOREVER. Maybe that's why I got into books. A white straight American mainstream-Christian able-bodied cis-girl who dreams and reads in her happy middle-class home with both parents, OH GAH THAT'S LIKE EVERY CHILDRENS-YA BOOK IN HISTORY. Well, some writers will reassure me, you can't please everyone so just do the best you can adding diverse characters and accept that somebody might say "Hey, you portrayed that wrong!"

But it doesn't MATTER, because it will take a huge effort to get myself writing fiction again, and how can I ever feel like I can start when I see ALL THE BOOKS and I know IT'S NOT MY VOICE that people need?

It doesn't MATTER, because I have so much to fill my time as it is. I share books with children, maybe that's my part, I can connect all sorts of books with all sorts of children and I will give them the windows and mirrors they need to grow and THAT'S ALL I'M NEEDED FOR in the world of story. I write BLOGS occasionally, ARTICLES, and now I have an even bigger platform for my articles. I have my journal, where I can do the writing I need to do to keep my head on straight, just for me, which when people say "writers can't stop writing," THAT'S the thing I can't stop writing, just my journals. I don't have any STORIES I need to tell. And I have two children and a husband who feel I never give them enough attention, and a house that I KNOW I don't give enough attention, and I have my sewing projects, which have been my major outlet of creativity lately after library programming which is probably my BIGGEST outlet of creativity, to be honest.

I just DON'T NEED to write fiction. I have no stories pouring out of me, and nobody would need to hear them even if I did. There are too many books, and my voice isn't needed.

So why does this continual realization of basic fact make me so depressed.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I have nothing but contented feelings toward this year's Youth Media Awards. It's a gut reaction I couldn't actually pinpoint, but I'm just pleased. Someone online pointed out that it's a very kid-friendly bunch of honorees this year: not just award-bait that teachers will push on kids for decades, but books kids will willingly scoop up on their own. Someone else pointed out how diverse in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks sense the winners are, but me in my privileged place HAD to have that pointed out to me, because everything and everyone is so clearly there on their own merit, which just makes non-diverse award lineups-- like the Oscar noms-- suddenly look like "Oh, yeah. That IS weirdly whitewashed in comparison to what could be." So perhaps these are factors that affect my gut satisfaction, but whatever the factors are, they're just all mixed in to make a general soup of "Oh, I like this!"

Which isn't to say I can't find anything more specific to say about the full list, which I will put under a cut for posterity's sake:
Read more... )
rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
Back in the day I could write an entire post JUST ABOUT THE BOOKS of the year. Not happening anymore. But I can write about the WHOLE year in small Top FIVE lists, so I'll do that instead:

Top 5 Real Life Things That Happened. In My Life. Not The Outside World. You Can Go Read About the Outside World Anywhere Else

1. A tree fell on our house. This isn't exactly a TOP thing that happened, as in "Best," but it was certainly the BIGGEST thing that happened, and we did end up with all new roof and siding, which insurance covered MOST of, though paying the difference did knock out our budget for the rest of the year. But now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move onto the actual GOOD stuff:
2. Seeing FREAKIN' SIR PAUL FREAKIN' MCCARTNEY IN FREAKIN' CONCERT, FINALLY! Just read the post if you don't understand.
3. I actually managed to complete an entire draft of an early-chapter-book. Granted, I haven't managed to get around to REVISING it yet. At all. But it's better than I've done in a long time.
4. I successfully Outreached to loads of small children, who excitedly pointed me out to their parents in public while squealing about the "library lady" and lots of their favorite stories. This is the best kind of famous, you know. If I'm going to be accosted by fans every time I go out in public, I much prefer to be hugged around the knees by a three-year-old than shoved about by paparazzi.
5. My son brought home a couple of guppies from the class fish tank on his last day of first grade. I never expected them to last as long as they did, but now they are officially our first family pets. Actually, one of them died a couple months in, but the other one turned out to be pregnant, and gave birth to eleven more. She ate all but one of these. The survivor got by on her (we think it's another her) speed, so earned the name Zippy. Her mother never actually got a name, so is now Mama Fish. We also have two snails now. One is growing. We think it might turn into a monster and take over the tank.

Top 5 Presents I Got For Christmas

1. A New Dishwasher. Our old dishwasher sprung a major leak that we weren't able to fix, and it never cleaned very well anyway, so our two sets of parents went in together to get us a new one. It's AMAZING. It makes things not only CLEAN, but SHINY! And it does so QUIETLY, and WHILE KEEPING ALL THE WATER INSIDE IT!
2. A Good Set of Kitchen Knives. While we were camping this summer, I went to chop up a potato only to realize I hadn't brought a knife, so J whipped out his hunting knife, and WOW could that thing slice. "It's not because it's a hunting knife," he said, "it's just because you're used to using those crappy knives that won't hold an edge." "Oh," I said. But this exchange inspired him, and he bought a set of GOOD kitchen knives actually made by the same company that made his hunting knife. THEY CUT WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO PUT PRESSURE ON THEM. Which means I really have to watch my aim.
3. A bunch of other kitchen supplies I never would have suspected, back in the day, would one day make me so excited to get. I got a big tub of storage containers, a couple of chopping boards, and a new spoon spatula. Granted, I bought that spoon spatula for myself and just stuck it in my stocking, but it was still exciting.
4. This scarf. Appropriate, no? Also a much cheaper leopard-print scarf from Old Navy that EVERYONE got-- okay, at least four people in my extended family-- so now we might start a cult.
5. My sister saved the day and got me Desolation of Smaug, because for some reason Jason didn't. Actually he didn't get a single thing off of my wish list. For me. I've had the complete set of Animaniacs on there for years, so he did get that, but he gave it to Maddie, our own Dot Warner. That was actually a very appropriate move on his part, though.

Top 5 Presents I Gave Other People For Christmas

1. My daughter wanted an Ariel costume. I looked it up: all the Officially Licensed costumes kind of sucked, so I decided to make one myself (note: sometime in October I also got a new sewing machine on account of my old one kind of breaking beyond repair. I thought of considering THIS a Christmas present, but Jason said, no, you just need a new sewing machine, you can have OTHER presents!) I found THE most PERFECT fabric at Jo-Ann's, so LOOK:
SAM_0538 I did not make the wig, though.
2. Also for Maddie: her artistic expression CANNOT be hemmed in by silly things like Personal Property. Not only does she draw in my journals, she's also always absconding with my camera to take pictures and video. Well, among Amazon's Cyber-Monday deals I spotted it: a kids' camera/camcorder. With Hello Kitty on it. For thirty bucks. It was MEANT TO BE.
3. The boy needed pajamas, and I found a pattern for boys' pajamas in his size among my grandmother-in-law's sewing stuffs, so I bought some appropriate fabric along with the mermaid fabric. Well, almost appropriate. It's a train print, and trains are still Sam's Favorite Thing Ever, but I didn't know if it was SLIGHTLY babyish for an almost-8-yo? But it was the most insanely soft material, so I figured, eh, he's just wearing it to bed, anyway. Then, the last day of school before break, they had Pajama Day. "Okay, Sam, I'm going to give you a present early, just in case you might want to use it tomorrow. But I won't be offended if you don't." Well, he did. He's pretty much been living in those pajamas ever since. He's only put on clothes when we've had to go someplace.
SAM_0536
4. In other things I sewed, I also found some insanely soft fleece, so made some cute sweatshirts. I'd tried making a sweatshirt for my brother last year but made it too small, so this year I tried again: SAM_0511
I was so paranoid about making the KIDS' too small that I actually made them too big, SAM_0542 but they'll grow.
5. I got J an Agents of SHIELD (see below for more) wallet as a sort of joke, because we started playing a SHIELD RPG campaign and I said this way he has proper identification. He loved it way more than I expected him to.

One Present Other People Gave Other People That Is Notable
A funny thing happened to presents people bought for Jason this year: they kept getting lost in the mail. Actually, ONE of those incidents turned out to be a misunderstanding: his sister, who lives in Spain, had bought him something and shipped it here under my name, but this happened to be one of the things I'd strongly considered getting him myself, to the point that I FORGOT I hadn't actually purchased it even though I bought something ELSE to go along WITH it, so when the thing from his sister arrived I thought I'D ordered it even though it came way before everything else in the order, so I wrapped it up for Santa, and... anyway, that's where that confusion came from. My sister ordered him a few things that never showed up, as well, and printed him a copy of the order which she stuck on a pack of beer. He would have been happy with the beer. My brother had bought each of us these little figure thingies to go with our Wii U which we don't actually understand yet, but for some reason only Jason's, again, didn't show up. So my brother called and asked if I thought it would be all right if he gave Jason something he'd originally bought for himself, only to decide he didn't really want it after all. "Does he like Back to the Future?" he asked me. "Uh, yeah, but... okay, whatever you want to do, Dan." So he ended up giving J this model DeLorean. Of the time-machine variety. And it's really detailed and awesome and kind of insane of my brother to buy only to decide he didn't want it and yet NOT send it back for a refund. BUT it came with a card with information about the real DeLorean Motor Company, which Jason looked up, and contrary to popular belief it actually IS still in existence, and now he won't stop talking about how he wants a real DeLorean. So the substituted gift was actually WAY more appreciated than the intended gift, in the end.

Top 5 Programs I Did At The Library
Because it's my calling and junk.
1.The Beatles Family Night!
2. Marble run!
3.The Spontaneous Time-Travel Program
4. Magic-- as detailed a bit toward the end of this post, because it impressed people, had a good turnout, and everyone learned something, so yay.
5. Rory's Story Cubes-- that wasn't the name of the program. It was just one of the Grimm brothers' birthdays, so I decided to do a storytelling theme for Library Explorers. And we'd been kicked out of our usual room for a special event, so we didn't have much space, so I grabbed these cubes I had never before actually tried, to see what we could make of them, making up stories in a circle. And they were such a huge hit I needed to write down what they were called for all the grownups there, who wanted to buy their own sets.
Bonus: Chocolate Covered Anything Day. There wasn't really anything all that creative about it as a program, and I didn't have any great tie-in books or stories, but WE GOT TO DIP THINGS IN CHOCOLATE, so surely this belongs among the top programs of the year, no?

Top 5 New Picture Books
My new regret in life is that I'm not a decent illustrator. Picture books are my new favorite kind of book and now I want to make them. I suppose I can still WRITE them, but my heart wants to be able to do it all! Anyway, here's my favorites of the stuff we got in at the library this year:

1. Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan. I WANT TO LIVE IN SHAUN TAN'S BRAIN. Have I mentioned that? I probably have, because it doesn't stop being true. Here's a nice interview about the making of this book, too.
2. Battle Bunny, by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matt Myers. Technically this came out last year but we only got it at the library THIS year. And it's just notable, because you would think it'd be a one-joke book and get old after awhile, but somehow it only got BETTER as it went, and it's ready-made for creative spin-off activities that really work with kids. That might have made my Best Library Programs list if MY kids hadn't been there that day to drive me nuts. ("I AM NOT YOUR MOMMY RIGHT NOW I AM THE LIBRARIAN PLEASE SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET.")
3. Quest, by Aaron Becker. I actually bought Journey for myself at my kids' book fair this year. Sure, kids, I'll buy you each a book, too, but this one's Mommy's. Anyway, I smuggled this out of the tech room as soon as it came in. I don't love it QUITE as much as Journey but it's still dreamy-perfect and we had fun exploring it together. I think my "Too bad I'm not an illustrator" problem is that WORDLESS picture books are REALLY my favorite thing.
4. Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd, speaking of which. Like on the surface this is so much simpler than, for example, Quest, but there's still so much going on, so much to see, so many little surprises. I JUST LOVE WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS SO MUCH GUYS I CAN'T DEAL WITH IT.
5. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett (again) and Jon Klassen. Barnett and Klassen came to speak at the Carnegie the other month, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long I fretted about having no one to come with me to see them, only to realize at the last minute that I HAVE KIDS IN THEIR TARGET AGE GROUP. It was great for all of us! And it was much more fun listening to the KIDS talk to them than it would have been for me to think of something halfway interesting to say. Mac Barnett enjoyed meeting someone with the same name as one of his heroes (both the BOOK'S "hero" Sam, AND the original Sam-and-Dave-the-blues-duo!)SAM_0329 And Maddie told Jon Klassen all about our cannibal fish! It didn't occur to me until later that this was fitting, as she WAS talking to the man who wrote This Is Not My HatSAM_0331 They were awesome. I've always had a crush on Mac Barnett, but in person I liked Jon Klassen best-- he totally seemed like a guy I could hang out with. If I was in the habit of hanging out with Caldecott Medalists.

Top 5 Older (than this year) Picture Books I Only Just Discovered Are Awesome for Reading Aloud This Year

1. Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett DARNIT MAC BARNETT STOP BEING SO ENTERTAINING YOU'RE HOGGING THE LISTS and Adam Rex. I just really like Meta. And Mac Barnett likes meta too, which is why he keeps writing books I like. But please let's not ignore Adam Rex in this discussion because the illustrations really make the book. And that's also kind of the point of this book. They're two great tastes that taste way greater together.
2. What Floats in a Moat? by Lynne Berry. Some very handy blog post about Books You Might Want For a Fizz Boom Read Summer Program Storytime alerted me to this fine title, which INDEED fit with a Things That Float program I had planned. Funny and clever AND educational! Thank you, fine blog post!
3. My Lucky Day, by Keiko Kasza. A different blog post somewhere named this a sure-winner for read-alouds, and it happened to be in one of my outreach bags, so I said, Hey, I'll read THAT one to this group! And guess what. It IS a sure-winner.
4. The Really Really Really Big Dinosaur, by Richard Byrne. I mentioned this one in the above-linked all-the-programs-I-did-in-October post. I just enjoyed me and the mom and the little sister cracking up while the older sister rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh while complaining that she wanted a SERIOUS dinosaur book instead.
5. The Buzz Beaker series by Cari Meister. It looks like there's also some older titles by a Scott Nickel but I haven't read those ones so as to guarantee their quality. These are, as possibly evidenced by their having multiple authors over time, leveled readers out of one of them there book packagers in Mankato Minnesota. Which means I wasn't expecting them to be nearly as entertaining as they are. Again I stumbled upon them for summer reading programs, because they're a treasure trove for actually-fun-stuff-to-read-aloud on STEM topics!

Top 5 Longer-Than-Picture-Books Books I Read This Year, aka The Only 5 Longer-Than-Picture-Books Books I Finished Reading This Year

1. Dangerous, by Shannon Hale. As indicated by my movie list (see below), I love a good superhero story, but I can't get into comic books. Shannon Hale, who is truly one of my very favorite people on the Internet btw, decided to address this-- people who read better in paragraphs than in panels-- by actually writing a great superhero story entirely in prose. It is EVERYTHING I love about, say, watching a Marvel movie-- and even better, solid female representation!-- but in novel form!
OH I FORGOT TO MENTION-- we'll make this 1.5, though it's not much longer than a Buzz Beaker book-- Hale's The Princess in Black, an easy-chapter book about a princess who sneaks out to battle monsters in her spare time, because this is SO MADE for my daughter, and that's why I bought it for her for Christmas:
SAM_0535
2. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. It's the Young People's National Book Award winner, which me being on top of things actually read before then! Mostly because Woodson's editor kept tweeting the most beautiful lines from it, so when it showed up with our Junior Library Guild subscription I said, "I've got to give this a try." It's a verse memoir, and it's LYRICAL. It IS dreaming!
3. A Corner of White, AND
4. The Cracks in the Kingdom, by Jaclyn Moriarty. Apparently pronouncing your first name like that gave you a better than average chance of getting your book read by me this year. But Jaclyn Moriarty gets special attention for being just so dang unique. She's done some crazy worldbuilding for this series (which in a dear-to-my-heart way is called The Colors of Madeleine, AWWWW) about a couple of kids who start to communicate through a crack between their two parallel worlds, and I have to say there have been several twists that I absolutely did not see coming, only to look back and find the evidence had been there all along, and I quite appreciate that. I think the next author would have appreciated that, also:
5. Dogsbody, Diana Wynne Jones. Only last because it's not new like the others. I did buy The Islands of Chaldea for the library, but I haven't gotten around to reading it, yet. It may be HER last, but I still have lots of DWJ to track down still, so that isn't what's keeping me away. More like my usual reading problems.

Top 5 Movies I Saw

1. The LEGO Movie: Officially my son's favorite movie, when the rest of us finally caught up (he'd gone to see it at the theater with his grandparents) we were utterly charmed, too. It really holds up to rewatching and quote-reciting. I don't know why the catchphrase this household has most adopted is "Honey, where are my paaaaaaants?" though.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier: We don't get out to the movies much, J and I-- when we do it's usually for a special occasion, like our anniversary (see below). But after seeing a certain episode of Agents of SHIELD (see further below) last March, we decided we needed to go see this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE just to find out what had happened. It was worth it-- I think this is my favorite of the Marvel movies now, and I do like Marvel movies (I think it was watching this that I realized I get a thrill of excitement when the comic-book opener comes on screen, like the opening notes of the Star Wars theme). I particularly like the themes of friendship throughout this movie, I love the friend-chemistry between all the characters-- particularly the platonic friendship between the Cap and Black Widow-- SEE? Platonic CAN BE DONE!
3. Frozen: I know this movie is technically from LAST year but we only just got it for Christmas. We figured we'd watch it as a family sometime this week, and I had a lot of other stuff to do Christmas morning, but my daughter insisted on putting it on, and I found myself sucked onto the couch beside her. I thought the characters were particularly great, and the themes hit on a lot of near-to-my-heart issues, so I was teary-eyed a lot.
4. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies: We went this weekend for our anniversary, natch, and I feel like I ought to do a longer review than most of the ones in these lists. :P Far from the best of the movies, but hardly a disaster, either. Having seen all three now, I DO think it would have worked better as two movies, just with really really long Extended Editions (with basically, you know, ALL the same footage of the current Extended Editions, just two proper movies for theater viewing). This movie felt a little bit arc-less in a way that I don't think it would have if it had merely been the long climax of a movie that started when they'd first arrived at Laketown. This movie is also made up of the chapters in the book that I always manage to completely forget about, which might be saying something. Still, like any Middle-Earth movie, it's gorgeous-- though this movie seemed to involve a LOT of high and precarious walkways that were making me QUITE nervous thank you-- and, like any Hobbit movie in particular, it features my very favorite actor/Imaginary Husband in the title role, and do I even need to mention anymore that he was brilliant? He was brilliant. As usual. The scene when he was saying goodbye to the dwarves was my very favorite. And I was really glad he spent a lot less of this movie unconscious than he does these chapters in the book. Not that the movie couldn't have still done with more of him.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy: we did slip out to see this one this summer while the kids were at their grandparents' for the week. I didn't think it was as great as a lot of people seemed to think, hailing it the New Star Wars or whatever, but it was a lot of fun, and I appreciate a storyline that weaves a great classic rock mix tape into the plot.

Top 5 Things I Watched On TV, Or At Least Things That Were Aired On TV That I Watched On The Computer

1. Fargo, The Series! GAH I LOVE THIS SHOW. WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THIS SHOW? Every time I think about it, I miss it. I suppose I could watch it again, considering I bought it on iTunes. I had the DVD set on my wishlist but I guess everyone knew I bought it on iTunes and doesn't believe in the power of Bonus Features.
2. Agents of SHIELD, which is formally called MARVEL'S Agents of SHIELD, but half the time we just call it SHIELD anyway so nyah. Jason and I started watching this when it first came on, and even though it wasn't brilliant at first we kept watching because we both enjoyed it enough and it made for a nice little weekly Date Night, to cuddle on the couch watching "our show" each week. Then suddenly, this past spring, it got GOOD. WHOA PLOT TWISTS and WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT WEEK?!?! and sublimely unhinged birth-fathers and heartwrenching brain-damaged Scottish nerds level-good. This fall I've finished each Tuesday evening with the loveliest sense of satisfaction, and a bit of pity for everyone who gave up on the show before it got to be SO MUCH DANG FUN.
3. "Crumby Pictures" on Sesame Street. It's "Monsterpiece Theater" for a new generation, and it's brilliant, and I really wish I worked in children's television yet again.
4. I almost forgot that Community season 5 happened this year, but it did, way back early on. I also always forget how much I love that show until I get reminded. And there were some brilliantly funny bits this season and some perfectly touching bits too. You're a monster if you didn't cry during a certain goodbye scene with a certain absolutely perfect celebrity cameo. Oh, that got me.
5. Okay, okay, Sherlock season 3, even though the fandom drives me crazy. I can't REALLY skip mentioning it out of spite, when "The Sign of Three" was probably my favorite episode of the show ever. And still, Martin. Because he's brilliant. As usual. Which reminds me:
BONUS #5.5. When Martin Freeman hosted Saturday Night Live. Was he awesome? Of course he was awesome. The "Office: Middle Earth" sketch was brilliant, and did seeing him play his two most lovably adorable roles somehow wrapped up in one character make me sappy? Yes maybe. But he was brilliant even in that dumb talk show sketch where he BARELY HAD ANY LINES EVEN, his expressions just made the whole thing. To be honest, though, he wasn't even in one of my favorite sketches of the night, the commercial for going-back-to-your-home-church-for-Christmas, which was so dead-on St. James that I had to love it. Perversely, another of my favorite things about that show was that they DID NOT MAKE A SINGLE REFERENCE TO SHERLOCK OR BUMBLEPANTS CUCUMBERSAUCE. I'm just a little sensitive. Hey, while we're at it:

Top Five Pics of Martin Freeman That The Internet Kindly Gave Me
1. Okay, this isn't the greatest picture of Martin specifically, but it's such an insanely mindblowing circumstance that it has to be #1:

WHO PUT THOSE TWO MEN ON THE SAME COUCH? HOW IS THAT METAPHYSICALLY POSSIBLE? HOW DID THE AWESOME NOT EXPLODE THE WORLD?
2. From that same talk show, here's Martin doing a Paul McCartney impression.

But he can't fool me. I've long suspected he's been doing an extended Paul McCartney impression for most of his life. I'M ONTO YOU, FELLOW MACCA GEEK.
3. Try not to swoon:

4. I love Martin being Martin, but there were lots of lovely in-character pics this year as well. I'm torn between the "Bilbo does Not Approve" shot:

5. ...and the "Lester is a Conniving Weasel" shot:

PLUS! One moving .gif to make your life happy:


Okay, what's left.
Top 5... Music? Um, maybe not a Top 5?

1. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY... I may have already mentioned that.
2. Honestly, I have no clue.
3. OH, this year DOES mark the discovery of the [Sarah's] Husband's Stupid Record Collection blog, which has continued to be fun. Also, Sarah-of-said-blog followed me back on Tumblr and sometimes she even Favorites stuff I reblog there, which makes me feel marginally famous.
4. I wish I was still a music geek who actually was on top of musical discoveries.
5. Well, I do find myself exposed to Hit Pop Songs nonetheless, and actually there were several Hit Pop Songs this year that I ACTUALLY LIKE. I'm quite fond of "All About the Bass" and "Shake it Off." There were many more Hit Pop Songs that I DIDN'T care for (and why the heck do Maroon 5 suck so much now? They were so GOOD ten years ago!), but this isn't really news. I think I spend more time listening to PBS Kids songs than I do the radio, anyway.

Top 5 Songs From PBS Kids Shows I Sing Along To Incessantly

1. The Dinosaur Train Theme Song
2. The "Splashing In the Bathtub" song on Peg+Cat
3. The Peg+Cat Theme Song
4. The "Problem Solved" song from Peg+Cat. I really like Peg+Cat songs
5. Anything from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which is sort of cheating because they were mostly all originally from Mister Rogers, anyway.

Anyway.

Let's wrap things up with a little bloggy retrospective.
Finally, Top 5 Blog Posts I Didn't Already Link To In This Post, Which Mostly Leaves The Philosophical Ones
1. In which I finally understand what it means to examine ones privilege
2. A tribute to an influential teacher
3. In which I examine the darkest depths of my soul
4. Humanity's only hope is to stop trying to change the subject
5. EVERYTHING IS REAL!
And bonus: I wrote a poem once.

So... have a lovely new year! We have no plans because we're boring. How about you? What were your Top Whatevers of the year?
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Sometimes I write blog posts about whatever's on my mind. Sometimes I THINK about writing blog posts but never actually do. Sometimes I think about writing ACTUAL WORKS OF THEORETICAL ART but never actually do (the bunch of you who read my early chapter book the other week? I thank you again. I'm thinking about your ideas. I still haven't actually put any of them to use yet). But I rarely even think about writing anything of PRACTICAL USE, which is a shame, because that's actually the only type of writing I've ever been paid for, until I was replaced with a SurveyMonkey. Also, it's, as I said, useful. And it OCCURRED to me the other day, as I was surfing the 'net for programming ideas, that sometimes I came up with ideas that were WAY BETTER than the ones I was finding, so maybe I should possibly share some of them myself?

I think maybe it might be useful of me to post monthly about what I've done at the library. Since this season's programming started halfway through September, I'll add on the first few weeks of that, too, this month.

I have two basic in-house programs: Library Explorers, which is a STEAMish sort of thing for elementary students, and Family Night, an all-ages evening storytime. This season I'm doing them both on the same night so sometimes I'll use the same topic for both and just mix up the activities a bit. Here's what happened:
cut for length and pictures )
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Yesterday afternoon I opened my 2nd grader's school folder and had a moment of smug hypocrisy. They'd done their DIBEL Reading Assessments at school, and here was a page announcing my new 2nd grader is reading at a 3rd grade level. NATURALLY, MY son reads a grade level ahead.

Never mind how it's kind of my professional mission to expose how READING LEVEL IS A CROCK.

I sat there staring bemused at the paper, trying to reconcile my strong, long-held professional opinions with my parental desires for my children to do well in school. I'd just brought home the latest Elephant and Piggie book from work with me, with the idea that it would be great fun for Sam to read to the rest of us, and then he could mark it down on the reading log he has to keep for school now. But he'd grabbed the book and rather excitedly pointed to the spine and said, "It has a red dot! That means it's a first grade book!" Luckily he didn't say that in a "that means it's for BABIES" way, which would have broken my heart, BECAUSE, ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE (I mean, what kind of idiot WOULD say that? ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE! The most genius easy-reader series of the past decade-or-probably-more!), but now I looked at the paper from the school again and thought, "But wait. Does that mean he WON'T get credit for reading this? Because all of a sudden it is two reading levels too low?!"

Now if Sam were like ME, that'd be no big deal. I read so much (pre-parenthood) that I could easily read whatever number of minutes my reading log required on my Assigned Level and read whatever I wanted the rest of the time. But Sam-- how to put this-- is not a, you know, "READER." Obviously he CAN read. He reads a grade level ahead. He's just not interested in BOOKS. Also not exactly true. He's not interested in reading through story books one after another like I did as a kid. He's VERY interested in, say, a nonfiction book about trains or LEGO. He pours over his Puzzle Buzz magazines. He reads to find out things, and he loves reading to find out things. He just doesn't love reading for the sake of reading. And sitting down reading every evening for a certain amount of time is just contrary to the way he likes to read.

So now the school is putting these restrictions on reading. He HAS to read at least ten minutes a night. Those ten minutes MUST be spent on Books With a Yellow Dot AR Sticker (and oh yeah, he has to take AR tests now). Before my own kids had reached this point at school, I'd bristled whenever a parent came into the library stressing about reading levels and colored stickers and no-you-can't-read-that-it's-too-easy-or-hard. And by "before," I mean "two hours before." Two hours before, I'd printed out this post by Jon Scieszka on how to encourage reading to keep copies of at the desk.

"Do not tell them reading is magical, or good for them, or important, or something they better do for an hour before bedtime or goddammit they will end up like shiftless Uncle Dave who is always asking to borrow money," Scieszka says. "...Do not refuse to get a book for them because it isn’t up to their reading level. Do not tell them (or me, or anyone) that they are 'reluctant readers.' ...Promise there won’t be a quiz or a list of ten questions after the book."

"THIS," I proclaimed to my coworker. "Everyone who comes in here needs to read this!"

Two hours later, I sat pondering how to help my own child meet those same restrictions.

"You should come to the library with me, Sam," I said. "I can help you find some Yellow-dot books that you'll like." It became a sort of challenge in my head, really. I KNOW there are Yellow-Dot books he'll like. We're just narrowing our options. Just for the school year. Just for the reading logs. If he WANTS to read others, hey, great. Certainly he can read whatever he wants during vacations. And it's not like we're NOT going to read that Elephant and Piggie book (but hey, maybe that means I can take a part again, right? I love doing Piggie's voice). But this is just for this homework assignment. It's just a long-term homework assignment. It's just like having to pick a biography or something for a different assignment. IT'S THE ASSIGNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS, not the requirements of reading in general.

I have to admit, I feel a bit humbled. I was blinded by my idealism. I wanted all my library patrons to just DROP all their worries about reading levels, to toss them aside as the nonsense they are. But it's not so easy as all that in reality. From a parent's standpoint, now, I understand better where the school is coming from. We DO want to challenge our kids' reading skills. It's COOL that Sam is getting poked to pick up something harder or more complicated to read than he'd be likely to choose on his own.

I still believe everything Jon Scieszka says in that post. I still hate Accelerated Reader. I still think reading level is a sham. But maybe there's a way to work with the system, to work around the system. To follow the directions of school assignments without squelching the notion that reading can be fun. We need to make sure we offer enough choice within the limits given. We need to make sure everyone understands that these limits are only the rules of a school assignment, not the be-all-and-end-all of reading itself. We need to, for gosh sakes, DRILL IN the notion that accumulating minutes and answering trivia questions is JUST A SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT, NOT what reading is all about, and your abilities to do or not do those things aren't what make you a good or bad or any kind of reader. Reading is bigger than school!

But maybe I only hope I can do these things. Maybe my mom side and librarian side will be constantly fighting each other. But I hope not.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
A friend of mine asked me for book recommendations for her 8-year-old goddaughter reading at a 6th grade level, and mentioned how her parents and teachers were finding it hard to find books that "challenged" her but were still appropriate for her age level/maturity. This is an incredibly common dilemma, judging by how many times I get this question, let alone every other children's librarian I've encountered online or in real life. "I always want to ask the grownups in these cases," I said to my friend, "is it really necessary that the kid be CHALLENGED by reading? Why not just read to enjoy? Obviously she's got the reading thing down pat, it's not like she needs to WORK on it." Maggie Stiefvater posted a nice take on this recently, that we've got this whole weird idea that Books Make You Smart And Therefore If Your Book Is Not Properly Challenging Your Brain Then What Is It FOR? Goes along with all the SHOULD ADULTS READ YA snobbery and the Reading Level Fallacy in general. Once you're a fluent reader, GREAT! HAVE FUN! READ WHATEVER YOU WANT. You don't have to keep pushing until you're reading scholarly papers at your leisure.

But this time I started thinking, maybe instead of continuing to try to find challenge in reading, maybe it's time to APPLY ones reading skills. Creating something new and bigger instead of just continuing to consume.

Like take a wordless picture book and write a (worded) story to go with it (any excuse to get people to appreciate wordless picture books). Or retell a familiar story in a new setting. Write fanfiction. Write blurbs to encourage other kids to read favorite books. Learn how to write a carefully-thought-out-critical review.

I wasn't INTENDING to make a great philosophical statement out of it. I was just coming up with alternative ways to challenge a young reader instead of just saying "NOW YOU MUST READ HARDER STUFF," and what I came up with was CREATIVE literary projects. But self-centered person that I am, I was thinking about ME, to be honest. I'd just read this article on productivity that Kristi Holl had linked to, pointing out how we can be very "productive" by getting all sorts of Necessary Things Done but how that's COUNTER-productive to creativity. The part that was sticking with me-- which wasn't even the main idea of the article-- was the difference between Reactive and Proactive tasks. Creativity is Proactive. It has to come from you. Reactive tasks are all the things other people ask you to do, or tell you to do, or you have to do because you need those dirty dishes to be clean so you can use them again. THIS is the problem with my LIFE! I realized. I keep trying to be a Better Person by keeping up with reactive tasks, but I won't SHINE as the truly unique individual I am unless I allow myself to be PROACTIVE. I'm... really bad at that. I sit there thinking, "I wish somebody would just tell me what I should do!" even though, naturally, when they DO tell me what I should do, I resent it. :P

I guess technically my literary challenge suggestions are "reactive" tasks too, particularly if they're assignments. But what they AREN'T is mere consumerism. They're making, doing, adding to creation. They're a way of giving a kid a little agency in the world-- and a sensitive kid like that, who's bound to be exposed to a lot of tough topics earlier than others just because she's reading more, is going to need to feel all the agency she can get. And, speaking from experience, the more out of habit you get at being active instead of passive, the harder it IS to act. So she might as well start practicing now.

Okay, this is good advice for ALL kids, not just advanced readers. But it's still going to be my go-to response from now on.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
The other night at the library I celebrated Arbor Day (-ish) with a Library Explorers program that basically amounted to "Tree Appreciation Through Art." I'd found this interesting thing for kids comparing famous paintings of trees and jumped off from there, gathering more tree artwork for inspiration, including a lot of drawings I've done. Because it turns out trees are a motif I come back to an AWFUL LOT when I draw, even when I'm just doodling. I'm actually GOOD at trees. Trees and flowers. As opposed to attempts at drawing most anything else that isn't mostly abstract psychedelia. Actually, the trees and flowers show up in the mostly abstract psychedelia. Anyway, so the point is, I was really in to joining in the tree-painting with the kids, and one mom said, "That's really good! You just keep being talented at everything we do here!" "That's why we never do sports," I joked. And I said something modest about how I like drawing trees so just them particularly blah blah blah. But it put two things in my head:

--why not make trees more often? Why not celebrate, USE my talent, even if the only visual art I DID have any talent at was trees? Heck, I remember an art show we had to study in college of this guy whose whole schtick was baking bread into inanimate objects to make sculptures ("His parents were bakers," our professor told us in an off-hand way after showing us about ten slides without remarking on the obvious bread thing).

--During one discussion in library school, a classmate had quipped, "The librarian: Master of All Trades, Jack of None." "Don't you mean--" someone started, and the first woman said, "I meant what I said."

I thought about how my Art in the Elementary School professor in college (NOT the same class as the bread-art show) had asked me why I wasn't an art major since I seemed to have a knack for it. "Um... it never occurred to me...?" Because I went from there directly to Music in the Elementary School, where I was also one of the more musically-skilled-and-loving-it students in that class. And I'd go to Teaching of Science, of Reading, of Math... whatever, I'd ace it. I'd even go to Physical Education in the Elementary School and think of all the things I would have done differently than my own childhood gym teachers to make it clearer to lumps like me that physical education was more than just competitive sports and opportunities for klutzy kids to get bullied. I wanted to do EVERY subject, not specialize, which made Elementary Education seem like a perfect compromise, until I ended up in the classroom and realized THAT was something I definitely did NOT have talent in. But then I'd go do my volunteer work at the public library, and knew that I'd found the perfect environment for me.

In the past few years, since I've had more authority, autonomy, and actual assignments at the library (the one I work at as a librarian, not the one I volunteered at in college), I've been thriving-- feeling that ALIVE feeling you get when you're using your talents to great success. It IS a place where I can be Master of All Trades, and where I'm helping people in a way unique to me.

...so why do I feel like I'm still not DOING enough with my life?

The next day was, according to Facebook, the anniversary of the death of the mother of one of my good friends. My eyes welled up as soon as I saw her picture. I don't pay ALL that much attention to the parents of my friends, but she'd been a particularly lovely woman-- kind and funny, the sort of person you feel instantly at ease with. She'd call ME up just to check in. What a truly special person, who'd touched everyone she encountered so deeply in her cut-short life. She was a Pastor's Wife and Stay-At-Home-Mom-- her social identity tied up completely in how she related to someone else. That's not what the world calls Living an Influential Life. But as small as her SPHERE of influence had been, there was a depth to that sphere that was-- well, enough to put a friend of her daughter's, little more than an acquaintance, in tears seven years after her death. My own mom is much the same-- presiding over a very small sphere of influence, but doing it so well, with intelligence and kindness and a variety of talents-- there's no way I could ever believe her life hasn't been SUCCESSFUL because she hasn't done Great Things In the Larger World.

I've got a bigger sphere of influence than both of them. I'm the public children's librarian. People recognize me at the grocery store. And yet I still can't shake the feeling that I'm FAILING because I'm not the author I expected to be. Because I'm not writing brilliant stories and sharing them with the world, making hundreds of tweens say "THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS BOOK, IT'S CHANGED MY LIFE AND I'M NOT ALONE!"

Why does it matter? Why does it matter when I could be leaving the world a better place for my having been here just by being a Good Person like my mom or Mrs. Sistek? Why does it matter when I'm obviously doing good work as a librarian, hooking people up with the stories and information they need and didn't even know they wanted? There's a social media campaign going on right now called #WeNeedDiverseBooks, which the librarian side of me is all about-- YES! MORE PEOPLE'S STORIES! WE NEED UNIQUE STORIES! --but the writer side of me cringes every time I see it, as this nasty voice-of-the-Lone-Power (I will never be convinced it's anything OTHER than the voice of the Lone Power, no matter how hard it is to disbelieve) takes every opportunity to translate that hashtag into "SHUT UP, AMY, YOU WHITE CIS-HET TECHNICALLY-ABLE-BODIED PERSON-WHOSE-STORY-NOBODY-NEEDS-TO-HEAR! SEE? NOBODY CARES IF YOU EVER WRITE AGAIN. YOUR STORIES ARE NOT NEEDED." I mean, though, SURE as it's the sort of thing the Creator-of-Entropy-Prince-of-Lies would say... but what DOES it matter? What difference does it make if I never publish a book? I wrote some great Lycoris letters, touching the lives of a few specific strangers-- to those people, that was enough, you know? Every time I recommend one of those stories to somebody at the library, that's enough. Every new concept I introduce people to at my programs-- it's ENOUGH. To my family, my very BEING is enough.

Why can't I focus on being the best person I can be in the sphere of influence I've got? The kind of mom who isn't constantly forgetting to sign her kids' school papers on time or to force them to brush their teeth? The kind of homemaker who doesn't let messes pile up until the very last minute? The kind of librarian who PUTS HERSELF OUT THERE more and gets the attention of more potential patrons and financial donors and board members? How can I even IMAGINE having a broader sphere of influence when I'm barely juggling THIS one?

What does it matter if I'm not an author? I barely write anything anymore than journal entries and blog posts and the occasional paper letter, anyway. Why can't I let it go?
rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
The other day as I was trying to teach my 5yo-on-Saturday the finer points of weeding (the garden. As opposed to the library. This gets confusing in certain circles), I remembered how, recently, someone (I forget who) had warned me, "You know when you weed dandelions, you have to get the WHOLE ROOT, or they'll come back," and I remembered feeling slightly bewildered and a little offended that they seemed to think this was news to me. Yeah. That's basics. I've known that since I was a kid. I'm teaching that to my five year old right now. I hadn't said anything at the time, just nodded politely in my usual way, but now I wondered, as I knelt digging contentedly as I've done every spring for decades, if that was part of the problem. I DON'T really say what I know, do I?

Which makes sense, really. Especially in that situation-- is there really any point to do anything other than nod politely? But there was now a voice in my head saying, "Hey, you actually DO know a bit about gardening, don't you? You're not a beginner anymore." Sure, I'm not an expert, either. I'm open to learning more-- excited, even. But I've so internalized how utterly ignorant I am-- in every aspect of life-- that even I have started to believe that I don't know ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING. And with the amount of stuff I hold inside in public, it's no wonder if other people have no clue how much I know about things, either.

I've been turning this over in my head since then, feeling like I needed to blog it, but even now I can't quite sort it out enough to explain it. In a sense, I've always known way more than I let on. When I was a kid it was social stuff, gossip, pop culture that I absorbed silently, going unnoticed by those who whispered around me and assumed I was just naive to it all. There were a select few, in marching band, in high school, who suddenly realized EXACTLY HOW MUCH STUFF I might have written in my ever-present journals, and they viewed me in kind of amused awe/fear, and I smiled in amused wickedness, and I let the implication of my blackmail power simmer there happily. But normally, I felt a little conflicted about it. I'M NOT CLUELESS! I wanted the world to know, but at the same time, what was I going to DO? I didn't want to take PART in the gossip, or FANGIRL over the pop culture I wasn't particularly interested in (but I KNEW about it, sheez). ACADEMICS, on the other hand, I couldn't hide. I was good at taking tests. That was pretty obvious. Teachers handed out assignments, I aced them, repeat as necessary-- I KNEW stuff. And I didn't care if people knew I knew THOSE things, because they WANTED me to. That's why teachers GAVE tests. To see if we knew those things. And I did.

But adulthood-- people don't give you standardized tests anymore. Nobody's asking what I know. So I'm not offering it up. Anything. Which IS a problem, because people ARE still grading you. It's just the test is so open-ended you don't even realize you're taking it most of the time. My work evaluations, consistently, for the past seven years I've worked at this library, have been low in one area-- communication. I've gotten better about it over time-- I keep better notes, report my schedule better, the basics of what I do are on the record. But when the director sends me and the other children's/YA programming folks articles about STEM programs and even for gosh sake One Book (a program I WRITE for, for ye uninitiated), and asks if we could be doing anything like such, and my coworkers sigh and say "Oh no, I have enough stuff to do," I blink. And then I say, "Yes, I'm doing that next week/I did that last Thursday/I do that every Monday." And it occurs to me that maybe I ought to be talking my programs up more...?

The problem is, without anyone pulling what I know and can do out of me at the end of every unit, I've even started fooling MYSELF into believing that I don't know anything special. I didn't even notice it was happening-- well, I DID notice that I felt utterly incompetent, but I believed it unquestioningly. NOW I'm AWARE that, hey, my brain has been playing tricks on me, and I'm muddled trying to sort it all out. Where is the line, I ask myself, between Owning What You Know and Acknowledging That You Don't Know Everything? It isn't a line, myself replies, it's a freakin' plane, there's tons of variation on this spectrum that you can hang out in. Really? I ask myself again. I can't find the plane. When I think of what I know-- "Hey, I am highly knowledgeable about children's literature!"-- this other voice pops in and says, "But there are other people who know MORE about children's literature than you do!" and instead of accepting this as an inevitable truth and moving on with what I DO know, I use this to negate whatever I knew instead. Who am I to claim that I know ANYTHING?! So I end up paralyzed by self-doubt.* It's writer's block, but it goes beyond writing into the rest of my life. LIFE BLOCK.

But it's also cheating. Laziness. Dodging responsibility. Don't get me wrong, I don't do it CONSCIOUSLY. It's such a deeply embedded Type 9 psychological tic that I never would have found it if I hadn't been trying to sort this all out. The OBVIOUS problem is the lack of confidence in my own competence. But when I dig deeper, that lack of confidence comes from this part of me that says, "I DON'T WANT TO! I DON'T WANT TO ACCEPT THAT I HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE DECISIONS, TO ACT RESPONSIBLY, TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! I WANT SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING! I DON'T WANT TO BE A GROWNUP!"

But I'm NOT incompetent, and I know that very well. I have a working knowledge of many things-- WORKING knowledge. Meaning I should be able to work with it. But I won't ALLOW myself to work with it, claiming that I don't know ENOUGH because I don't know EVERYTHING. But I'm just dodging the work I'm perfectly capable of, the work I was put on this planet to accomplish, whatever that is. I know I'm dodging it even if I'm not entirely sure what I'm dodging. I'm pretending my gifts don't exist, or at least don't exist anymore (I was pretty smart back in the day...), or may exist but are meaningless and of no use to anyone. But it's an act. It's all an act because I'm afraid to face whatever Great Responsibilities might come if I acknowledge that I really DO have Great Power.

So what next? I'm not used to it. I'm not used to acknowledging that I've got Skillz. I haven't the slightest idea how to start. Heck, I still have to talk myself into WANTING to, into WANTING to be the person I'm capable of being. It's so comfortable being lazy, being invisible, letting the world just happen around me. How do you get OUT of that comfy little rut?

---

*this is an old private joke with myself. It's a line from an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy about how snakes are never PARALYZED BY SELF-DOUBT even though they don't have legs, so I always say it in my head in a Bill Nye voice, and will use it wherever it works. Like here.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
Last week, a tree fell on our house. I was in the upstairs bathroom, the room directly under the point of impact. My initial reaction was to burst out laughing at how this had been immediately preceded by one of the guys cutting it down saying "Uh-oh." A few yards and an attic crawl space from being beaned to death by a falling tree,* and all I could do was appreciate the comic timing of that loud "uh-oh," followed by the smack of a huge bunch of branches right outside the window.

A bit later I was able to expand that reaction to laughing at the irony of the entire situation. We have a series of very old, very tall, very rickety pines right on the property line-- on one side or the other, but all a threat to either our house or the neighbors'. So when said neighbor came over to ask permission to work in our yard so as to remove one of those trees that was on their side of the line, I said, "Oh yes, we're concerned about those trees falling on our house, too." So when the first tree being removed instead falls DIRECTLY ON OUR HOUSE IN THE PROCESS... seriously, you have to admit that's funny!

"How are you laughing?" people would ask me later as I tried to tell them what had happened. "How are you TAKING this so well?" Well, no one got hurt. Insurance is handling all the repairs. Sure, we're going to have to pay a lot more, to take this opportunity to replace the entire roof that needed it anyway; and to replace ALL the siding because they don't make the kind we have anymore to match; and to take this opportunity to get the house properly insulated because it turns out it ISN'T (and that will save money in the long run). And that's kind of exciting. Sure, we probably WON'T get to fixing the retaining wall or painting the shed as per the original plans for this summer of having-more-money-than-we-used-to, but hey.

And you know what? We've never been as friendly with those neighbors before as we have since they dropped a tree on our house. The guys at first cowered in terror from my husband, and took some time to get their heads around that he HADN'T come out screaming-- or shooting, everybody knows about his hobbies-- at them, but instead just expressed concern about no one getting hurt. "What good does getting mad do?" he said. And, as it turned out this had been our neighbor and his buddies themselves trying to do this tree removal instead of a professional company-- and they were definitely not going to try again WITHOUT a professional company, J said, "When you do, let me know, we can go in together on it and get the other trees done, too. Talk to you later, we'll have some beers and barbecue!"

All the personality type descriptions of me that come up feel the need to point out that, as an optimist, I need to be careful not to ignore problems or refuse to acknowledge that there's Bad Stuff about even the things and people I love. That was even TODAY'S Type 9 "Enneathought for the Day" in my inbox: "As average Nines accommodate themselves, they idealize the other person, who can do no wrong. Values and beliefs are seldom questioned. Watch for this tendency in yourself today." I snorted. Well, it's true I'll tend to go with whatever anybody else says rather than stand up for what I want, and that IS something that's been on my mind since yesterday evening, when the hubs and I had an argument about what colors to go with for the new siding and trim. He wants grayscale for easier repairing. I want the exact opposite-- even our current blue-with-white-trim is too bland for me. I want COLOR. Sensible color. I'm definitely leaning toward this particular shade of green, which looks lovely with some browns and a touch of red. Last night I spent a great deal of time dreaming I was studying green houses, and how to compromise with roof color. I also dreamed I was trying to unlock these pictures I couldn't access of the Time I Swear I Really Did Meet Julie Andrews and She Said She Liked My Gardening (note: I have never actually met Julie Andrews), and this lady kept wanting to give me acupuncture in the shape of India. But anyway, my point is I'm sticking to my guns on this, and we ARE going to have SOME color in our new house covering.

And, okay, I do tend to ignore problems, either hoping they'll go away or waiting until I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DEAL with them, which could be dangerous especially in medical situations (but you know what happens every time I go to the doctor, after trying to rassle up babysitting or some other rearrangement of schedule? "Oh, you just have a pretty bad virus. Get some rest and drink plenty of fluids." AAAGGHHH!)

But refusing to acknowledge the bad or thinking loved ones can do NO WRONG? I kindly disagree. I am all too aware of The Dark Side. I'm probably MORE aware of the Dark Side than the average person.** That's why disasters and tragedies and horrors seem to SHOCK other people more than they shock me. Not saying bad things don't make me sad, or angry, or slightly sick. It's just that they're so common. If I was expected to cry in outrage EVERY time I encountered a tragedy, I would never stop. So I choose to focus on the beauty or the humor or both.

A common refrain of those who take a pessimistic view is, "We're just being realistic about it!" Dude, let me tell you about being unrealistic. Do you know what goes on inside the head of a person with chronic depression? It's utter negativity. And it's utter BS. Choosing to focus on the positive allows me to actually TAKE ACTION in the world. Focusing on the negative makes me give it all up to hopelessness. Now, I can see where acknowledging as opposed to ignoring problems comes into this. Ignoring problems is not taking action, either. But there's a difference between "HERE'S A PROBLEM. LOOK AT THIS PROBLEM. GASP IN SHOCK AT THIS PROBLEM. OH NO, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!" and "Well, THAT'S something we need to fix. How are we going to do that? I'm sure we'll find a way."

As for idealizing people... I AM very good at seeing the good in other people. I AM inclined to Not-Hate people everyone else can't stand-- and often I DON'T see what their problem is until it's pointed out to me. But usually, I do. I just don't care unless it's actively causing a problem. Like there's a book vendor who has a history of coming to our library. I do not want to work with him. I wish they'd stop letting him come in. He's a horribly pushy salesman. Last time he showed up, unable to find anyone who actually orders books to talk to, he just asked some of the others to look and see what they might be INTERESTED in, and then went and ordered them all for us anyway. I don't like him. But only as a book vendor. I'm sure his family is very proud of what a good salesman he is, how he supports them and all. Just because I don't want to work with him doesn't negate his worth as a human being. It doesn't give me the right to insult his fashion choices or make assumptions about his politics. It doesn't mean I'm going to start a campaign to have all my followers find his Twitter handle and bully him online-- "well HE'S a bully, serves him right!" No, not really. I just don't want to deal with him trying to sell me books.

In one of my childhood books-I-wrote, there's a line at the end where I said (I'm the narrator of that book) something like, "The others have been treating so-and-so better after I told them that she makes a very good book character." Maybe the whole empathy-from-reading-fiction thing is what's kept me realistically-optimistic about people, instead of idealizing them or hating on them. I've always liked looking at people as potential book characters. Imperfect characters are way more interesting than perfect ones. I like quirks. I like wondering about the pain and/or hopes beneath the surface of people. I like comparing the different ways people react to the same situation.

And so I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.

And what's wrong with that? Is it really better to say "This person is a jerk because they have this terrible fault," than "This person is wonderful in these ways! Oh yes, they're not perfect, but I wasn't talking about that right now"? I mean, sure, if someone has done something reprehensible, they ought to be punished for it if at all possible, and it's wrong to let them get away with it (for example, on one end, Justin Beiber's DUI issues, or Woody Allen's sex abuse thing on the other). And I admit when someone gets a lot of praise whom you know has been, to put it mildly, Imperfect, there's that urge to say "...but!" It's my John Lennon problem. It bugs me when people talk about him like he WAS the Beatles, like he was the genius behind it all, because he wasn't. He was only a so-so musician, particularly compared to Paul. And that whole Icon of Peace thing... excuse me, John? Who mistreated his wives and girlfriends? Rude, crass John? GEORGE would make a much better Icon of Peace-- or Ringo. From a personal day-to-day standpoint, Ringo embodies living a life of Peace better than any of them. DARN IT, PEOPLE, STOP IDOLIZING JOHN. And yet... John. Funny, clever John, who would have made my life by writing either "Across the Universe" or "Julia" alone, and he wrote BOTH of them. I can't not love John, warts and all.

I just don't see the point on dwelling on problems that can't be undone. There comes a point where you realize what a crapball the world can be, what idiots humans are, what atrocities and injustices happen at every moment, and you give up on it-- or you notice the good things that keep on happening, even among all the bad. You notice the wildflowers that have overgrown the tracks at Auschwitz, the strangers sharing supplies with each other in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the smile on the person you pass on the street, just acknowledging you, just saying, "Hi, I see you're there, and you're a person who could use a smile today."

Focusing on the good is not the same as refusing to acknowledge the bad. It's just not letting the bad win.

----
*one of my grandfathers was killed by a falling tree, this is serious business!
**seriously, "The Imperial March" is playing on my computer right now. I'm not even kidding.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
So when someone at the library says, "I'm typing up the calendars for the next two months; can you send me all the topics you're doing so I can put them on?" I think, "REALLY? But what if one of these topics is WRONG? I MIGHT NOT KNOW UNTIL TOO LATE!" (Note: I pick the topics. I do the programs. It's a totally internal miscommunication problem). So I look at my own calendar-- "I still need something for Library Explorers on March 10"-- then I, usually, look at the calendar at Brownielocks to see what obscure or at least slipped-my-mind holidays might be going on about then-- "Oh that's the first day back after the Spring Ahead time change"-- and then I see if that gives me any ideas-- "So something about changing the clocks, OH, TIME TRAVEL, that's a cool topic"-- and I type it in and send it off, and then a couple weeks before the program in question starts I finish prepping everything else that happens before then so I check the calendar to see what I'm working on next and say, "...what?"
tweet
cut for pictures )
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
So, hey, non-librarians, were you aware that this morning was THE biggest awards show of the entire awards show season? Who needs the Oscars when you have the ALA YOUTH MEDIA AWARDS!!!!

We have a bit of a stomach bug thing going 'round in this house this morning, and I kind of feel like lying down, but THIS IS TOO IMPORTANT. I must respond immediately!

My overarching response to the whole of this year's award announcement is: I LOVE THAT I'M IN CHARGE OF ALL THE CHILDREN'S/YA LIBRARY BOOK PURCHASING WITH ALL MY SOUL. I love that I can look at this list and say, "With very few exceptions, I have either ALREADY purchased or HAVE ON MY WISHLIST nearly every one of these books for the library!" It's truly a gloriously smug feeling.

But as for WHAT won, specifically, I have much less feeling about. I honestly, I realized a couple weeks ago, did not read a single new middle-grade book last year, and I only read about 3 YAs. Most of my book reading last year was self-help books for grownups, and that was about 5 or 6 books. SORT of pathetic, I admit. Decent for your average American, but sad among book people. This would be why I didn't write a Best Books of the Year post at the end of the year.

BUT I can still be happy as a librarian, that my collection is SO up on things this year. Here's the official press release on the ALA website, which is prone to crashing since so many people are clicking, so here's the whole list so you don't have to click:
but I'll make you click to expand just because, LONGNESS: )

And that's it! If my stomach calms down in the next few hours, my Library Explorers tonight will be making posters announcing the winners and watching the stream if I can get it to work. Meanwhile, I'll try to figure out what to eat for lunch.

PS: Today's my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday to my mom, everyone!
---
*So did I ever mention how this one time Virginia Hamilton was two people in line behind me for the restroom? That's a rhetorical question, because I mention it EVERY time Virginia Hamilton comes up in conversation.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
So back when I was trying to come up with themes for this semester's library programs, it occurred to me that this winter is the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania hitting the United States. So thrilled was I that I immediately scheduled a Beatlemania Family Night story time for our very first week back after winter break,* tonight, even though after the fact I realized that while January 9 sounded perfect in my head, I'd actually been thinking of FEBRUARY 9 as an actual significant date, but oh well, we're still close enough, and this way all of YOU still have a whole month to plan your proper 50th Anniversary programs, yourselves!

Here's our calendar description: "It's the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first tour of America. How does this old rock band that broke up over 40 years ago keep gaining more rabid fans in every new generation? We'll learn about the most influential rock band of all time tonight, make our own psychedelic album covers, and YES, there will DEFINITELY be music!"

I mention the "rabid fans in every new generation" part as justification against those people-- you know they're out there-- who say "I'm not from that generation/kids don't know who these old bands are/it's nice to see you remembering these bands from My Day/yadda yadda yadda." Because yes, it's been 50 years. My dad was one of the original U.S. Beatles fanatics (I can't quite call him a Beatlemaniac. That would imply he used to scream and throw himself at police barricades to get through and stuff, wouldn't it). I wasn't BORN until 8 years after they broke up, but I'm an utter Beatles GEEK-- and so are more than a few of my same-generation friends. My kids' 17-year-old babysitter and bunches of HER friends are Beatles nuts. And my kids-- NATURALLY my kids-- they were identifying Beatles songs on the radio not long after they could TALK.

It may be the Yellow Submarine cartoon that gets kids first. My kids still prefer songs-that-were-in-the-movie to other Beatles songs, with the exception maybe of "Here Comes the Sun," because they know that's my favorite and love to point it out to me whenever it's on. I got them a Yellow Submarine Lego set-- no, K'Nex, not Lego, so you don't get confused futilely searching the Lego site-- for Christmas, even. I did not bring it to the library tonight though because it's in pieces again. Some of the Beatles themselves are missing entire limbs.

So what DID I do at the library? I'm glad you asked.

First order of business was a soundtrack. Rather than using any particular album, I made a mix CD of the most Kid-Friendly Beatles songs, with my own kids' picks. Since what they picked only totalled about 15 minutes (they DO get stuck on the Yellow Submarine songs), I added my own ideas of what counted as Kid-Friendly-- everything from "She Loves You" to "Octopus's Garden," and then narrowed it down to what would fit on an 80 minute CD. This step excited me, so I did it as soon as I finally finished all the stuff I had to do around here for Christmas.

Now, what SOME people would CONSIDER the first order of business when it comes to a library program, the second step was rounding up a book selection. I borrowed some books from other libraries in our county system to get a little more variety in my display-of-related-books-you-can-check-out. They were mostly chapter books and longer. For story time PROPER, I was pretty much limited to The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny), by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer.** It's a little long for a Story Time read, but the only other semi-related picture book we had in our entire system was John's Secret Dreams, which is just too John-centric, obviously. Somewhere out there in the world there are apparently picture books of Yellow Submarine, and it looks like there's a picture book of "Octopus's Garden" due out next month. Also this, due in March, which looks like it COULD possibly manage to be short enough for a story time, as well, maybe?***

It worked, even though it was long. The group I got was pretty enrapt. They laughed a lot, too.

So next up, activities. Had a hard time coming up with them at first. Found a Yellow Submarine coloring sheet. Then I stumbled upon this: it turns out Mr. Harrison of Dan Gutman's Weirder School's Mr. Harrison is Embarrassin'! is actually named GEORGE, and the whole book is FULL of Beatles jokes. Whodathunk. So that was a pretty good kid-appropriate activity, too.

THEN I hit on the winner: Make Your Own Sgt. Pepper-esque Album Covers. This was so fun and took up so much time (it's technically a one-hour program. Most of the group stayed longer) that we didn't need anything else, after all.
cut for large images )
As we were finishing up, a worn-looking grandmother on a ventilator who'd been sitting disinterestedly in the corner suddenly perked up and said, "I saw the Beatles in concert, in Cleveland."

Suddenly everyone took notice. "Did you hear any of the music over the screaming?" I asked.

She smiled, then said, "I was screaming." Everyone laughed. It was a perfect capper.

___
*we're a public library, not an academic library. We just run programs on a rather semester-like schedule.
**when looking up this link, Google autosuggested "the Beatles were overrated." Seriously, who SEARCHES something like that? And WHY, Google, would you ever suppose I would be searching that?! It's like you don't know me AT ALL!!!
***This is also coming out next month, and while it is definitely too long and complex for story time, we're getting it from Junior Library Guild and I am KIND OF EXCITED ABOUT IT, thank you.
****I'm pretty sure One Direction has been on the cover of J-14 for the ENTIRE PAST YEAR.
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
I knew there was something significant about today's date, and now I remember: it's the 95th anniversary of the birth of the woman who wrote my favorite book and the 12th anniversary of the death of the man who wrote my favorite song. That's a lot of significance for one day. (Just listened to the latter sing the words "All the world is birthday cake" which could be for the former. IT ALL TIES TOGETHER).

Nowhere I have to be for a few hours at least, nothing I have to do except get the kids in the shower once they're done with breakfast (they got into my cousin's cologne yesterday. This will require a serious soaking), and I have a horrible cold, so don't really WANT to do much. Don't really want to SIT here, even, except mentally I'm in a place where I just feel like talking to you today. It's been two months. (Have you missed me? If you missed me, tell me so, it will make me feel useful. Then again if nobody missed me then I'll be more depressed than if I hadn't bothered to ask, so maybe not. But now I won't know whether you didn't miss me or DID miss me and are just trying not to enable my neediness).

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so of course it's proper to start out by being thankful for Madeleine L'Engle and George Harrison. And for once I feel like telling about personal events, as if this was a journal again more than a blog. My aunt had hosted Thanksgiving, and, well, pretty much everything, for many years because she had a house for it, but this spring she moved to a place more suitable for Just Her and a Cat or Two. But her son manages/lives above a restaurant/bar/thing, so he offered the run of the place for all of us for Thanksgiving this year, instead (I'm sure he didn't intend to offer the run of his cologne in this package, but what's a holiday with small children without the makings of a holiday with small children?). It was a maze of rooms, so quite easy to lose yourself/ small children in (they had themselves a surprisingly difficult game of hide and seek. Don't think they'd ever played in a place with so many good hiding spots before). But everywhere you went, you ran into someone else, so you never were COMPLETELY lost. And they certainly had the facilities for feast-preparation, although in our family no one is ever in charge of ALL the cooking. I brought bar cookies that I overboiled the ingredients for, making them ROCK HARD (I actually broke one of my best knives trying to cut them!), but luckily there were enough other desserts. We had pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, a REALLY DELICIOUS pumpkin trifle made by a woman we just found out is the fiancee of one of my cousins so YES MA'AM WELCOME TO OUR FAMILY YOU MAY ALWAYS BRING DESSERT, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin dip, and pumpkin ice cream. Also a few other things that weren't pumpkin.

I simultaneously love holidays and get infinitely frustrated by the way other people react to holidays, too. Every so often this week there's been someone on the "Thanksgiving is offensive because that whole Pilgrims-and-Indians-happy-feast-myth is so PROBLEMATIC" train. Which is not a fault of Thanksgiving at all. It's the fault of people who insist on having preschoolers make feathered headdresses for a Thanksgiving craft. CANADIANS have Thanksgiving-- in October-- and it has NOTHING TO DO with Puritans at Plymouth. It's what it IS-- a harvest feast to give thanks for being able to eat and all. And I'm pretty sure that's how most people celebrate Thanksgiving, anyway.

Then there's the "Thanksgiving is early Christmas" thing, which was even more tricky this year since Thanksgiving WAS also Hanukkah, and "Hanukkah is Jewish Christmas." Look, I love Christmas more than ANYBODY.* ANYBODY I KNOW, at any rate. But I'm not ready to get in the mood for the holiday season until NOW. People always laugh about how early Christmas stuff comes out in STORES, but this year I saw SO many Christmas lights out on PRIVATE HOMES TWO WEEKS AGO. Of course, maybe they celebrate Hanukkah and were only prepping for THIS week. I guess we don't really know. I just hope they KEEP those lights up until at LEAST January 7th. Come on.

But on the complete opposite hand, a couple weeks ago my coworker who "shares" social media duties with me (okay, anymore SHE does most of it, and I just pop on whenever I have an idea) posted a picture of the decorated tree we have up in the library with the message "Our holiday tree is up and decorated in Dr. Seuss characters thanks to our local girl scout troop." And on our Facebook page, someone commented, "Don't you mean Christmas tree?" Since our Facebook page is linked to my personal Facebook account, I got a notification as soon as this comment was posted, so I responded, "Well, it's a little early for Christmas-- Thanksgiving and Hanukkah aren't even for another two weeks! We have a lot of other holidays to celebrate before Christmas!" This turned out to be the Exact Right Answer, earning both an in-person thumbs-up from my coworker for handling the comment so well, and a Facebook thumbs-up from the commenter for an explanation she could live with: her response was "I was really just hoping you guys weren't going the way of (what seems to be) everyone else, by not acknowledging Christmas at all...glad to hear you're just trying to extend the joy. ;)" And I'm like, really? That's the whole POINT of using the term "holiday season," not to cut OUT Christmas, but to extend the joy to ALL the OTHER holidays and traditions of this darkest-time-of-year. Christmas is December 25! But Dewey Decimal Day is December 10, and that's an important holiday, too! Okay, maybe not important, but worth celebrating (the last thing I did at work before leaving on Wednesday-- we were closed yesterday and today-- was making a "December" sign for our monthly holiday books display. There's a LOT of holidays this time of year! And it so happens Dewey Decimal Day is one of them). Worrying that there's a War on Christmas because it's acknowledged not to be the only holiday in December is like worrying making gay marriage legal will destroy straight marriage. Wait, that's usually the same people doing the worrying.

Then there's people who get stressed out about holidays. I just want to say "WE DON'T CARE! Let us people who DON'T get stressed out about holidays handle everything! We'll ALL be happy!" I was angry with my husband yesterday because HE'S one of the grinchy types, and he said, "Are you okay? Is this just your usual holiday depression?" "MY holiday depression? I wouldn't be depressed a bit if YOU weren't so grumpy." Luckily he mellowed out by the time we reached my family's party and he had a couple superb German dark beers. But anyhoo, I really think that. Holidays would be so much more pleasant for everyone if the people who got stressed out over holidays would just sit back and let the holiday-lovers take care of stuff.

So, I hope tomorrow we can do the Thorough Once-a-Year (or close to that) Housecleaning that must take place before the Christmas decorations (and Advent, and New Years, and St. Nicholas' Day, and Dewey Decimal Day, and Jane Austen's Birthday... you know, the HOLIDAY decorations) can come out, but I do have this awful crappy cold and want to go to sleep. And now it is much later at night than when I started this, so going to sleep would be a pretty good idea.

I'll get back to you again SOMETIME before Christmas (I refer here to December 25): I've been meaning to tell you about the book I'm reading/working through. For one thing. Also, who wants to go see Catching Fire with me? Jason says he'll go to the theaters with me for Desolation of Smaug (even if that IS the one with my Imaginary Husband in it), but he doesn't care to see Catching Fire in the theaters... which is just a shame that he didn't care for the first movie, because I KNOW if he read all the books he'd REALLY appreciate the worldbuilding of Panem. But ah well. Girl date! Or boy date! I don't know of any boys who read this who actually live near me though, so never mind them. Whatever-gender-you-identify-with non-spousal date!

---
*That links to a post that links to almost every OTHER post I've ever written about Christmas, so it seems most convenient. Except for the post I wrote last year, since it hadn't happened yet.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
OR...not really. I mean wouldn't it be great if I got paid to keep a household fed and clothed and generally functional? Well, maybe I do, if you count Jason making more than me (he makes more in two weekends than I make in a month SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY AND EARMARK IT FOR EMPLOYEE WAGES *ahem*) and say maybe he's technically paying me for that? It sounds so chauvinistic when you put it that way though. But so far no one's paying me to read blogs, do yoga, indulge in inappropriate daydreams involving Martin Freeman, or sing loudly to the radio and/or the DVD the kids are watching and/or the Muzak in the grocery store (which technically isn't Muzak, but that's easier to say than "streaming light rock/adult contemporary playing over the loudspeaker"), at all. I even have to pay for the yoga twice a week.

NO, I just mean I feel like MYSELF doing the things I DO get paid for, possibly At Last. I was originally hired at our local library as a very-part-time reference librarian/circulation clerk (which, if you ask most of the board, translates strictly as "just plain circulation clerk which anyone off the street can do"-- which is totally not true! You'd be shocked how many volunteers find even circ and shelving duties beyond them!), and I've gradually wormed my way into more hours and much more time and a bit more influence in the Children's Department, but my specific duties there were never quite made CLEAR. I occasionally did programs, but pretty much on my own whim. I suggested books to be purchased, then waited for them not to actually be purchased. I put most of my librarian skillz into book displays, and those joyous moments when people actually asked me for help beyond "where's the bathroom?" and "can you put me on the computer?" Because dangit, I'm an awesome reference/reader's advisory librarian (at least in the children's/YA sections).

But lately I've gotten Duties-- CLEAR YOUTH SERVICES LIBRARIAN Duties. Two mornings a week I drive around to various area daycares with bags of books, read a couple, tell them about the rest, bring the bag from two weeks ago home. To the Library, not my house. Two evenings a week I lead programs-- the same I did last spring, an elementary-age hands-on STEAM program basically and a Family storytime-- which have been getting bigger turnouts all the time. And in between I am IN CHARGE. OF THE CHILDREN'S. AND YA. COLLECTIONS. I control the Weeding AND the Ordering! I am officially NOT scheduled for circulation but I help there anyway, especially with reference questions. Just this week I realized I need to start delegating tasks-- asking OTHER people to work on the displays, make copies, do some basic weeding, things I would have done myself before but now I no longer have TIME.

Is there anything that makes you feel more like a grownup than being able to tell other people what to do and have them take you seriously?

Actually, it's just been working GREAT. Since I've gotten clear job duties that happen to be in my areas of expertise, I've been thriving. My insecurities, immaturities, and slothful tendencies melt away when I'm working. Except the telephone. I still hate calling people on the phone. But I'm way more likely to make myself DO it at work! (Also, ANSWERING the phone at work is not a problem at all. I am ALL about professional reference librarianness THERE). I sweep into the daycares with confidence and greet a sea of excited faces calling my visit the highlight of the fortnight (assuming any of them would USE the word "fortnight"). The in-house programs end with laughter and joyful thank-yous from parents and children. I'm professional and open and pointedly questioning with book vendors, I find the best options for our library and our budget, I've GOT collection development DOWN.

Gracious, folks. Could it be I'm finally living MY VOCATION IN LIFE?

But what does that mean, says the quiet, worried confused voice inside my head, for the vocation you THOUGHT you had, from way back in your childhood? Maybe your story-loving has found its place in your life, and you don't need to be a writer after all? But it's kind of a silly worry, when "librarian" has to be one of if not THE most common day jobs of authors everywhere, and has been pulled off spectacularly by everyone from Beverly Cleary to Megan McDonald.*

And SECONDLY, as I mused in my latest Lycoris letter, on the topic of "Why do we write?" -- it's only my FICTION that I haven't been writing. And even then I still chip away at this bit of Firefly fanfiction** I've been working on for years, and there's a draft of an early chapter book I managed to come out with a few months back, and the other day I at least started PONDERING how to turn an interesting dream I'd had into a SF story with Deep Social Commentary, which isn't the same as WRITING but at least puts to lie the voice in my head that says I don't even have anything to write ABOUT. But I was WRITING A LETTER. Right now I'm writing a blog post. I write EVERYTHING in my journal.

AND, to get back to the title of this post, I've started again on my annual Actually Getting Paid to Write project, the activities for Pennsylvania One Book Every Young Child (which you will hear me refer to simply as "One Book" in everyday speech, but there are many programs called "One Book" so I'll be more specific this once). This is my ninth year working on it, but I think it's finally sunk in that, YES, I am writing professionally, and I'm quite capable of it.

So the tl;dr of this is: I'm writing this post to let you know that if I seem to fall off the face of the Internet for the next few months-- not posting here much, trying to avoid Twitter (which is hard!), missing your own fascinating blog posts until weeks later if I see them at all-- it is only because I am SUPER BUSY being Moderately Successful In My Professional Life for once. And the usual hanging-in-there busyness of my home life, still. So, come visit me at the library! Or at least feel free to occasionally comment on old posts here, send me hellos or things-that-remind-you-of-me on Facebook or Twitter, or email me if you do that. Or REAL PAPER LETTERS! I'm all about them. (You can even TELEPHONE! Just don't expect me to ever call YOU). Just don't forget me, and know that my apparent absence is in no way related to me being tired of YOU.

---

*If you haven't heard me mention it before, Megan McDonald was the children's librarian at my big public library growing up. But I TOTALLY DIDN'T KNOW IT until after she stopped working there. Or I just never saw her because she never worked Saturdays, which is the only time I was there. Or something. Anyway, the young budding author that I was never got to take advantage of the THEORETICAL MENTOR RIGHT THERE because she wasn't.

**Speaking of which, guys, I just saw this news last night, a week late, and... do you know how STUPIDLY RELIEVED I am to hear about Zoe? Obviously it's just something to make the fans feel better, I mean WHAT A COINCIDENCE, but I don't CARE, it EASES MY SUFFERING to know that at least one little "at least" is canon! ALLOW ME TO FEEL FEELS ABOUT FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, thanks.

Profile

rockinlibrarian: (Default)
rockinlibrarian

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 12 3456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
2829 3031   

Get Me In Your Feed Reader!

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 06:39 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios