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)
I've been unearthing roots of current subconscious feelings a lot this week, like spontaneous psychoanalysis: "That's impressive," my therapist said, "you've done a lot of work!"

"Not really," I said, "I just ruminate about these things. I don't DO anything about it." I mean, it's all well and good tracing your self-denial and hesitancy to WANT anything back to a simple and understandable Ice Cream Incident at the age of six, but what can you do, go back to 1984 so you can tell that six-year-old "It's OKAY to be disappointed, you're NOT selfish, maybe we can try again to get ice cream later"? Being able to see clearly what had happened and knowing objectively that that six year old did nothing wrong and should not have been so harshly punished by her own inner demons, can't magically erase the layers of loathing and mental mechanizations those demons put in place to keep punishing that inner six-year-old whenever her 38-year-old self tries to even HAVE her own wants and needs.

They keep whispering, "Stop whining! You've got it good! You have nothing to complain about, you live a life of privilege!" Little white girl, comfortable middle class home, two loving parents, good at school (not counting homework*). You lived a sheltered childhood. Oh, sure, try to pipe up something about how lonely you were, start to mention "bullying," but we all know bullies have done much worse to OTHER people. Bullying is supposed to involve physical assault! Nobody ever hurt you. Never mind that when you actually look back and describe various situations you think, "Holy heck, girl, no wonder you have social anxiety." Didn't hurt you.

The irony is, the inner demons are doubling down on all the bullying that did, in fact, happen on the outside. They are being bullies, bullies you can't escape from because they keep following you around inside your own freaking head. That's why you still have anxiety dreams involving school cafeterias, where everyone is laughing at you, and everything you say and do just makes the laughing worse, and you literally blow up and start SMITING people and, well, they STILL point out that you're obviously a freak because normal people don't SMITE people and you're all worked up over nothing.

Note: I'm going to get into the current political situation again here, so, you know. But I'm still not talking about politics, per se, I'm talking about bullying. And subconscious roots.

And the fact that walking down a street lined with campaign signs for a classic psychological (as well as apparently physical) bully can be triggering.

I told you, when I devoted a whole post to this election, that I normally don't have strong feelings about politicians. They're all flawed, they're all skilled, it's just a matter of weighing their traits and comparing it to the job and deciding from there. I was very objective in that post. The FACTS favored one candidate far over the other. But the truth is my strong feelings about this election aren't completely objective, because one candidate literally makes me nauseous. Not hyperbole. I'm not insulting him here, saying "he makes me sick" because he's ugly or I don't like his ideas (although I don't). I'm saying he causes a reflexive stress reaction in my body that makes me feel sick. I am LITERALLY SICK of hearing his voice and seeing his smug, hateful, punchable face.

I saw an article on Twitter last month, see what I wrote:

And because the embed doesn't actually let you see the content of the tweet I was quoting:



And if you're like "On a site called 'Everyday Feminism,' yeah like THAT'S not biased," shut up and read it. Well, read it if you ARE like that. If you can just see the headline and are already nodding like, "Yep, absolutely true, I KNOW," then don't read it because it's freaking triggering. Or in my case, read it, discover it IS triggering but it EXPLAINS SO MUCH so you're glad you read it.

THOSE are the things I experienced at the hands of other kids (and in some cases, probably unintentional, from adults--not my parents I must add) as a child, and the things I saw other kids, some of them very important to me, experience and fill me with rage. THOSE are the experiences evoked in my subconscious when I have those cafeteria nightmares.

And, like the article said, it's incredibly triggering to see these behaviors flaunted by someone running for the highest office in the country. When I see his smug face, he reminds me of every kid who picked on me or my friends at school. The decades of simmering frustration bubble back up into the present and all I want to do is PUNCH HIM, and with him every other bully who has ever crossed my path. Did you hear about the guy who sledgehammered his Hollywood Star yesterday? Oh, say what you want about the evils of vandalism, I'm not condoning him, but I TOTALLY understand him. He just DID what all us victims/loved ones of victims FEEL. And, more kindly than sledgehammering the guy's FACE, which is what we really burn inside for (not saying we genuinely want it with our minds! We just FEEL that want).

This ISN'T political, this is primal gut instinct. Don't try to tell me his opponent is a bully, too. You may not agree with her, but if you think she's a bully then you don't understand what a bully is. It isn't just insisting that you're right-- that's called being assertive. A bully is something else entirely, and victims recognize it when we see it, if only subconsciously through reflexive stress reactions. I went into my therapy session on edge yesterday, and said I kept thinking about bullies, and my therapist kept asking if something had happened that had triggered it, and I said, "No, it was just seeing political signs along the road." She nodded immediately and said, "Ah, of course, you've been Trumped." She didn't know my political affiliations! I hadn't said anything specific! But I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one of her patients who has this reaction, and she knew EXACTLY what I meant. People are only getting bullying flashbacks via one particular candidate.

Anyway, to bring it back around, walking the kids to the bus stop along a street with sign after sign supporting the Bullying Poster Boy is... somewhat disconcerting. Even the kids think so. Of COURSE the kids think so-- not just my kids, SO MANY kids, not just parroting their parents' opinions, but genuinely their OWN: "Why do people like him? He's MEAN." Leave it to the kids to cut to the chase.

"Well," I say, "people like him... because... maybe they just believe his lies?" I don't know how to explain. I understand how many people in communities like mine have just had enough of the Liberal Elite, but to actually support this monster instead? THESE people are not monsters. These are ordinary folks who give me cheerful hellos, who have lent a hand on occasion, who have families and full lives.

Maddie's friend and her older sister run out of their house (one WITHOUT a campaign sign) to join my kids at the bus stop, their hair in cornrows, bright smiles on their dark faces, and I get another mental nudge. How does THEIR family feel, living on this street? Oh, maybe people are just as nice to them. Maybe they see them as "GOOD ones, not like Those Others." Or maybe not. But how would I know? Perfectly inoffensive white lady with Resting Nice Face? Nobody feels threatened by me. Who knows how many people who are perfectly decent to me aren't nearly as decent to someone else?

Bringing me back to childhood again. Or adolescence-- do you know how socially acceptable it was to pick on my best friend in high school? Kids I didn't previously think of as bullies would join in freely. Maybe they felt it was okay to side with the bullies when the person being picked on seemed so different from them, too. Maybe they felt it was safer. Maybe that's how the people on my street feel.

I'll admit: I wasn't completely immune from this behavior myself on occasion. The song "Hey Mickey" always kind of haunts me-- people in the marching band had made up alternate words for it, directed at this awkward nerd of a kid whom I didn't particularly like either, and although I knew I shouldn't find it funny, it WAS funny. But gosh, what was it like for that kid, when even I couldn't help laughing at that song?

But luckily for my retroactive pride, I was more often the kid in the middle. The one defending a friend to another friend who was saying terrible things behind--or in front of-- her back. "How did the others react when you defended the person they were picking on?" my therapist asked. I blinked a little. "Well... it was weird. On the surface they called me things like 'goody goody' or whatever, asked why I cared, told me to stay out of it because I was wrong," I said. "But on some level-- I think something in them kind of respected it? Because they weren't like 'If you're friends with them you can't be friends with us,' or anything overtly cruel. I think they KNEW that, with the situation reversed on them, I'd stick up for them, too, you know? So they didn't want to alienate me too much."

She smiled as if I'd finally hit on obvious proof that I didn't have to be so afraid of speaking up for myself. But it's so much easier to stick up for other people than for myself. Sticking up for myself against outside bullies (or even just nice people who disagree with me) would require me to first stick up for myself against my inner bullies, and they are super-persuasive.

But maybe that's why I'm so privileged. Maybe I can't handle any more to battle inside me. But outside me? I can keep standing up for others. And maybe people will actually, every so often, listen to me.

So that's why I keep speaking up, trying to get people to listen to each other.

My therapist suggested maybe I'd have better luck standing up against my inner bullies if I thought of it as doing it for my childrens' sake. Still really hard. But it feels right.

I have enough trouble dealing with internal bullies. I refuse to put up with outside bullies, no matter who they're picking on.



*Last night after I tucked her in and left the room, Maddie out of nowhere piped up, "Mommy, did you ever forget to do your homework as a kid?" HAH, girl, we don't have time to have this discussion right now! 
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
Summer Vacation hasn't been treating me well. Sure, I didn't always make the best use of my time while the kids were in school, but now that they're home I'm a zombie staring blankly and mourning my lack of alone time. Also they're addicted to YouTube and video games like Minecraft and Roblox which are only available two places in this house-- my computer and my Nook-- and since there's two of THEM they've been commandeering my online access, so I don't even have you all to whine to about it. Seems the only way I can get them to go out and play is if I go, too-- take them to the pool, let them hang out an hour after Vacation Bible School this morning because they were actually running around with other kids even though I really wanted to get back home and have lunch, whatever. I feel very impotent when it comes to actually running my own life-- everyone else is running it for me. And when they AREN'T, I sit and stare because I can't even figure out what it is I would do if I DID take charge of my own life. I'm not sure how long it took me to actually start typing this, once Sammy decided to go see what his sister was doing instead of playing Roblox and I realized I had my computer to myself and could finally type out all the stuff I've been wanting to put out there all week. Like, wait, what did I want to write about again?

My physical body has been a mess lately. My right knee has been acting goofy* since Disney World and really only getting worse over time. It doesn't like to bend. It doesn't like going up or down stairs, or getting in and out of the car, or bending down and standing up again, and will protest with a scream of pain if I try it. And resting it doesn't even help. It's still mad at me in the morning after a supposed good night's sleep. I finally went to the doctor last week, who determined that nothing was broken and it was something in the joint itself, either tendonitis or arthritis, and all I can do is take lots of ibuprofen and put ice on it occasionally. This past week it's felt like my whole body wanted to follow that knee, finding a million ways to creak and cramp and act up whenever I tried to move OR to stay still, and I was like, seriously? Is my whole body falling apart now? I'm supposed to get into shape but I can't because exercise hurts, but not exercising makes me continue toward entropy? The good news is the x-ray determined my knee issue is not arthritis, which means it's not permanent, supposedly. There's hope for me eventually.

For some reason I have gained 25 pounds in the past two years. Now, before I go any further, you have to understand that I, unlike far too many people in this fat-phobic world, have never had body issues. I was skinny as a kid, so no one fat-shamed me into hating my own body, so instead I devoted all my physical self-loathing to my face, my blotchy, too-square face with the crooked teeth and stupid-vague-EnneaType9 expression-- look okay I still have irrational issues with my face, so I'm not like some miraculously physical-shame-free person. But my body I've always been okay with. I thought my figure was kind of perfect when I was younger. When I was pregnant, while other mothers-to-be fretted about feeling fat, I was like HOLY CRAP I LOOK LIKE A FERTILITY GODDESS, THE EARTH IS MINE! Even now, I'm not disgusted by my figure: it feels properly womanly** to me. But lately the weight gain has brought other problems with it. GIRTH has become a problem vanity-wise only because dresses I made or bought-on-Modcloth-so-they're-expensive-and-pretty just a few years ago NO LONGER ZIP UP. I do not want to get rid of those dresses. Okay, but besides that, I've developed actual health issues that correlate with weight gain: the joint pain, as established. Sleep apnea. Heartburn, which for some reason always hits me at two in the afternoon no matter what I may or may not have eaten. I've never been in good shape, what-my-body-can-do-wise, even when I was skinny, but that's hardly improving now, either.

And my husband ironically makes it worse by needling me about it. He's equal-opportunity about it at any case, going on about how we BOTH need to lose weight, but every little crack he makes makes me feel more stubbornly like NOT doing anything to help improve my weight. I'm just going to NOT exercise now because he said that, right? And food. Food is a real issue. I've always wanted to eat healthier than we eat in this household, with salads and produce of all sorts, experimenting with all kinds of foods, cutting back on meat intake-- in summer, especially, why doesn't my family like SALADS? Why do they insist on COOKED food? But with my family of picky eaters, they're not going to go for it. But my husband, while he won't sacrifice his hearty meat-and-potatoes*** dishes, he thinks snacking is the evil we need to cut. No eating too late in the evening (even though when I work evenings I often CAN'T eat until, like, 9 PM). No eating between meals. Whenever he sees me get a snack he makes some snarky comment about it, and you know what? It just makes me want to eat MORE and WORSE. Whether it's out of spite or just a feeling of DARNIT I WANT SOMETHING FOR MYSELF, I WANT SOME LITTLE BIT OF HAPPINESS JUST FOR ME TO INDULGE IN, DO NOT DENY ME THIS COOKIE. With the objective observer part of my mind, I can see myself doing this, making an unhealthily psychological connection to food, STRESS-EATING. So obviously, the objective observer says, I don't NEED to eat when I feel that way, right? At which point the objective observer gets GLARED AT by the rest of my mind, more determined than ever that NO ONE, NO ONE SHALL TAKE MY SWEET-AND-STARCHY SNACKS FROM ME, INCLUDING ME! When I mentioned this to my psychiatrist she said, "so when you feel this way, how much do you eat?" "I don't know, a few cookies?" "So not, like, two pizzas at a sitting?" "What?!" "People do that," she explained. Well dang, surely I SHOULD be allowed my cookies then, shouldn't I.

But seriously, that's so psychological. I so definitely make sure I always have a chocolate stash just because it's MINE. I'm a grownup and I can have a dang chocolate stash if I want. Because it's nice to feel like SOMETHING is in my control, you know?

Completely psychological.

I was going to write about bigger, more important things probably, but I think this is all I'm getting to today.

*pun not intended
**not that skinny women AREN'T womanly! I do not wish to suggest there is any WRONG way to be womanly! But I do feel my body is in fact properly womanly. Not my face, though, it's still too square. :P
***Granted, I won't sacrifice potatoes, either. It's just, you know, the concept. Meat-and-potatoes. But potatoes are happy. I love potatoes. Shut up anti-starch people.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
1. I feel kind of guilty about expressing my discomfort with the We Need Diverse Books campaign in the past. I want to make it clear that my discomfort is COMPLETELY PERSONAL, not ideological. I never want to give anyone the impression that I think it's "reverse racism" or unfair to me as a really-boringly-undiverse writer in any way people have industry control over. IT'S NOT. IT'S COMPLETELY FAIR, AND AS A LIBRARIAN I AM ALL FOR IT. It's only me as a struggling writer with low self-esteem, every time I see it The Lone Power whispers in my ear "NOBODY NEEDS YOUR WRITING, YOU'RE BORING, GIVE UP TRYING TO WRITE NOW." And obviously, considering I'm attributing the voice to The Lone Power, I know it's wrong, I know it's a lie, but the part of me that knows this can't think of a good comeback. "I SO TOTALLY DO HAVE A UNIQUE VOICE AND AN OUTLOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE SHARED! I'M GOING TO WRITE...uh...okay I have no idea what I'm going to write." And the Lone Power goes "SEE?!" and I go waste my time reading TV recaps instead. So what I'm saying is DIVERSE BOOKS=GOOD. SUPPORT THEM. I DON'T WANT ANY SPECIAL TREATMENT FROM PUBLISHERS. I'M NOT AFRAID OF HAVING MY CHANCES TAKEN FROM ME BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE LESS REPRESENTED VOICES. I'm only afraid of having my chances taken from me by my own internal doubts.

2. ABC, you can't CANCEL Agent Carter. I'm not saying this as a rabid fan who doesn't personally WANT you to cancel Agent Carter. Well, I AM, but that's beside the point. No, it's just, and I've said this before, Agent Carter is a MINISERIES and theoretically you can bring it back at any time, stick it in anywhere you have a break. The word "cancel" is too FINAL for something so flexible. Just say, "Not in this next year, but hey, maybe some other time!" I mean it'll WORK, we've got YEARS to explore, with the exception offinding out what happened to Thompson

there's no reason we can't pop back into the history of proto-SHIELD several years later. Don't be all "CANCELLED" about it! Be "on indefinite hiatus!" COME ON, KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN!

3. Speaking of Marvel TV, Jason has decided he doesn't care about Agents of SHIELD anymore. Part of me's like, okay, I'm fine with that, I don't need to worry about making it to the TV every Tuesday at 9, I can watch on my own time the next afternoon or whatnot (I work Wednesday mornings), but another part of me is like YOU DON'T REALIZE WHAT A HUGE BLOW THIS IS TO OUR MARRIAGE. It was our DATE NIGHT. That's one of the few things we really enjoy doing together, watching superhero shows! And I have a feeling I want to see Civil War more than he does. Which if we could only get babysitting he'd be okay with, but his parents are in the middle of moving and my parents live farther away. Part of me's like, gee, I could totally go by myself some weekday afternoon, but then I'm like, "NO, AMY, THAT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF ADULTERY. Not just because your Imaginary Husband has a small part in it. IT WOULD BE SUCH AN UNCARING MOVE TO GO SEE A SUPERHERO MOVIE WITHOUT JASON." Seriously. There's more at stake here than watching a movie.

4. I'm kind of mentally cluttered at the moment. I've got gardening to catch up on, on account of being down with the flu all last week. I have a lot of GeekMom articles I want to work on, but I feel guilty sitting down to write long enough to do so. The house is, of course, a wreck. And I still have to feed three picky eaters and myself, which is still the bane of my existence. Sometimes I just want to shout "ENOUGH! FROM NOW ON I AM ONLY MAKING SALADS AND YOU WILL EAT IT OR YOU WILL MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD WITHOUT WHINING!" But I have a hard time cooking for myself.

5. Now I am running late for work, so bye. Excuse the lack of editing and links that I would have done had I had more time.

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: (portrait)
My kids' school has a "Don't send in edible treats" policy, and last year I posted a rant against the unintended side effects of this policy. Namely, GARBAGE. Junk FOOD is one thing-- you eat it and it's gone (usually. If you have a child's metabolism). Junk TOYS are something else entirely. They make messes. They eventually only get thrown out. But to be serious about it for a minute, I have a real problem with that much waste. I don't like to throw things out, not because I want them, but because WHY ARE WE DOING THIS TO OUR PLANET, IT'S JUST MAKING ANOTHER MESS IN SOME OVERSTUFFED LANDFILL IF IT'S NOT MAKING A MESS IN MY HOUSE. Not to mention all the waste that goes into manufacturing the crappy things. But if I'm honest with myself, I'm not really taking this stance out of noble environmental concern.* In the immediate present, my reaction is just a selfish "great, more clutter."

So anyway, the thing is, the school's policy is "Don't send in edible treats," not "Send in nonedible treats," so I'm just that grinchy parent who doesn't send in anything, BECAUSE WE WEREN'T ACTUALLY ASKED TO SEND IN ANYTHING, AND NOTHING IS BETTER THAN GARBAGE.** "But what about the CHILDREN?" you ask. And I say, they're at school, they're playing games, they're with their friends, they don't NEED treats there. They will come home and go proper trick or treating later, and then they will have PLENTY OF EDIBLE AND THEREFORE EXPENDABLE TREATS.

So I relinked to that post yesterday when my kids came home from school with a pile of plastic goody bags, and many people agreed BUT.

Of COURSE there are exceptions. Of COURSE there's a reason for the school's policy. So through further discussion I've decided to spell out the RIGHT and WRONG way to deal with what basically comes down to offering non-allergenic options.

First of all, the problem came from school parties, not from trick-or-treating proper. So number one, if there is no policy instructing you to AVOID edible items, here's how you can handle it:

RIGHT:
Offer options. In my house we are serious peanut butter cup fans, so we always offer peanut butter cups so we have leftovers. BUT peanut butter and chocolate are both big allergy problems, so we offer the choice: peanut butter cups OR Skittles.*** You could in fact offer candy OR a non-edible item, but please see below for further guidelines.

Granted, if you have more than one option, a lot of kids will immediately grab one of EACH, so if you're not okay with that you'll have to be immediately clear with your guidelines.

WRONG:
Deciding FOR your visitors. Offering only one type of treat increases the chance that really won't be a treat for someone after all (whether that's because the kid can't eat it, the kid doesn't LIKE it, or the mom doesn't want it in her house). But worse is forcing your ideals on everyone who comes-- if you're against sugar, don't put your porch light on during trick-or-treating at all, and don't you even THINK about doing what that one lady did last year and pass out notes telling kids they're too fat for candy. And you should also probably not use trick-or-treating as an opportunity to, as Kim Aippersbach suggested (jokingly!) in the comments of last year's post, pass out little cards explaining that, instead of spending money on Halloween treats this year, you bought a goat for a family in Africa and I'm sure everyone understands!

Okay, that's trick-or-treating. But what if you ARE under a no-edible-treats policy and you still want to offer treats? Here are some options that, the other people I've talked about it and I agree, do not suck:

RIGHT: Art supplies. Pencils, pens, crayons, markers, paints, coloring books, tablets. I personally would even be okay with Play-doh, but there are probably more parents that would hate you forever for that one, so I might grudgingly put that on the "WRONG" list instead, since I AM trying to give actual advice here.

WRONG: Pencils that don't sharpen. Crayons made out of way more wax than pigment. Teeny stampers. Small plastic stencils that are barely useable. Tiny tablets with approximately five pages in them. Coloring booklets that look like they were drawn by someone who is stuck in the 1950s.

I am undecided about stickers. Nope, I am decided about stickers. It's just stickers are in that nebulous category that kids WILL enjoy and use thoroughly, but probably in ways that parents would rather they not.

RIGHT: GOOD reading materials. My friend Megan recommends the Scholastic sales where you get five paperbacks for five dollars or whatever. It's probably just as expensive as all the junky toys in the long run. Samantha Fisher from the crew at GeekMom (which I am also writing for now, in case you missed it) also suggests bookmarks, and really, it's ridiculous, you'd think you'd eventually own too many bookmarks, but how come you can never find one when you NEED it?

WRONG: Buying dollar books at the dollar STORE. You really can NOT get quality literature there, and you may be of the opinion that the KIDS don't care, but either a kid WILL care, and throw it aside, or a kid WON'T care and will force an adult to read terrible, terrible prose or verses that don't scan right OVER and OVER again and THEY WILL CURSE YOU. Please, check out the Scholastic discount sales, instead!

RIGHT: Consumable toys. Obviously not in the EATING sense. More like bubbles, glow sticks, and balloons. These ARE all things that will be thrown away eventually, but they're only MEANT to be enjoyed for a short period of time, and IN that period of time, they will be enjoyed THOROUGHLY. My daughter actually just said, about a balloon she got yesterday, "This balloon makes me so happy, I love it so much." Personally I think balloons are a bit MORE fun if they're punching balloons, at least.

WRONG: Toys that are consumable only in the sense that they're so poorly made they don't last, not toys that are MEANT to be used up.

RIGHT: My friend Mandy gave out Lego Mixels as a party treat recently. There are other small building kits that are actually decent that you can buy in bulk around, too.

WRONG: Cheapo building sets that don't fit together, foam airplanes that break when you TRY to put them together, things that come in many tiny pieces but are stored in a thin cardboard box that never shuts again once the shrink wrap comes off. This includes tiny little puzzles. Tiny little puzzles SEEM like they'd be a cool treat, but usually you just end up losing pieces immediately because of the crappy box. Also, the puzzles themselves aren't much sturdier, so the pieces tend to warp and stop fitting, anyway.

WRONG WRONG WRONG: Plastic spider rings. WHO WEARS THOSE, anyway? And even those who DO, WHO WEARS AS MANY OF THEM AS GET ACCUMULATED EVERY HALLOWEEN?

Also wrong: gift bags. I mean if you stick with one DECENT nonedible treat, instead of several crappy ones, you won't need a gift bag, anyway!

If we all follow these guidelines, it's possible that EVERYONE, candy lovers and people with food issues and underpaid factory workers in third world countries and parents that just have to clean up, will have a Happy Halloween.****
----

*Though if I'm REALLY honest, that IS part of the reason I appear to be something of a hoarder. I really DON'T like throwing things out. Waste really DOES disgust me.

**In the sense of "#1 Good Stuff, #2 Nothing, #3 Garbage," of course, not in the sense of "Garbage is the undefeated #1."

***And yes, there are some poor souls who can't eat EITHER, but this is extremely rare and I'm pretty sure those souls will just avoid trick-or-treating period.

****We're not going to please the people who don't celebrate Halloween out of the conviction that traditions started to scare away demons are actually about worshipping demons, but there's nothing you can do about that. Except call it a Harvest Party. I do outreach at a super-conservative-fundamentalist school that was originally scheduled for an outreach yesterday, and I was like, "Oh, good, at least I know THEY won't cancel on me to make room for a Halloween party," but NO, they cancelled on me for their HARVEST PARTY instead. But as it turned out a couple of coworkers had called off so they needed me on desk at the library anyway, so I guess it's all for the best.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I've felt a bit of a fraud for a long while. I'm a children's librarian, you know. Part of my job description is "Encourage parents to read to their children because this will improve literacy, empathy, family dynamics, and their entire childhood!" There's a poster on the Youth Services office door of a Mafia-looking baby demanding "Read to me 20 minutes a day or I'll tell the librarians on you!" And reading aloud is one of my personal favorite things to do.

So why is it so hard to do with MY OWN KIDS?

I get jealous, reading online, other parents discussing all the chapter books they're reading as a family. Sometimes I think people DO go too far. When they're like "I'm going to read Harry Potter to my 4 year old now!" I'm like "NO. STOP. You're wasting it. Start with My Father's Dragon. Build UP for crying out loud! Sometimes age appropriateness has a point!" Besideswhich, people give up on picture books too fast. There are brilliant picture books that can really only be appreciated by school-aged kids instead of preschoolers, but everyone's in such a hurry to get to the chapter books that these get lost.

That's all true. But my kids could barely sit still for picture books, let alone chapter books. I DID start with My Father's Dragon, several years ago, when the girl was just a baby and so didn't get nearly as much out of it as her brother. We enjoyed that one. But the boy wasn't much into stories, really. He's a nonfiction reader-- give him a book about trains or Lego or Minecraft and he'll read for hours-- anything else, he's not interested. His sister enjoys stories more, but the same ones about her favorite characters over and over, and even more often she'd rather read what SHE calls "picture books," which are what I call photo albums. And that's great, too, she learns about her extended family and their history and her own past and it's every bit literacy-development.

But a CHAPTER BOOK? When there wasn't a picture on every page? How could they pay attention to that? They jumped around and talked through it so I couldn't read, and we'd try to pick up again a few nights later (a consistent reading schedule is hard, too, when I work until their bedtime several evenings a week) and neither could remember a thing that had happened before then.

When I said "hyperactive" in the title of this post, it wasn't hyperbole. They literally both have ADHD. They literally both CANNOT focus on one thing without interrupting with an unrelated thought, they both CANNOT sit still unless for some reason they're using my Nook and suddenly they're psychically shackled into place for hours without outside intervention. Maybe I was crazy to even THINK they could sit and listen to a long-form story.

So they're 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 now, and in the course of their lives we have completed only four short chapter books together: My Father's Dragon as previously mentioned, and Beverly Cleary's Mouse and the Motorcycle books. The last three I managed by reading during their bath, but since then they've been taking separate showers instead. And we've started and stopped several other Cleary books, and Lois Lowry's All About Sam because obviously, and my Internet friend Kate Coombs' very fun Runaway Princess books, and a lot of Disney fairy easy chapter books my daughter was REALLY EXCITED to check out of the library, but a few chapters in and we'd get distracted and not work our way back until the books were overdue or we'd entirely forgotten what happened and had to start again.

I was FAILING at this family read-aloud thing. How would I ever introduce them to my favorite childhood classics the way my mom had done for me? How would they DEVELOP PROPERLY without them?

But last week I was sorting a box of old paperbacks my parents had found in their house that hadn't managed to travel with me when I moved out because apparently my siblings felt they had a right to read them or something like that, and Maddie became fascinated with the cover of Edward Eager's Half Magic. "Can we read this one sometime?" she asked, and I said, "sure" in that offhand way that meant "Yes in that theoretical SOMETIME in which we read ANYTHING." But she kept asking, again while I was shelving the new-old books, and again when it WASN'T EVEN IN SIGHT. That's the most interested I've EVER seen her in a book that wasn't about Disney characters or My Little Pony. Somehow Katharine in half a suit of armor was nearly as good as a fancy princess!

So I grabbed it down and I sat deliberately in the room where her brother was playing, and we started to read, and by the end of the first chapter they were both asking questions. For the second chapter they both actually sat beside me for awhile, though there was bouncing involved and I occasionally had to stop reading to scold them down from walking behind me on the back edge of the couch. But that's all right-- they can't sit still, okay, but they WERE listening. When they interrupted, it was to DISCUSS THE STORY. If they were going to go off track, it was only to share what THEY would wish if they had a magic nickel. And that was the most I've EVER heard them engage with a chapter book.

Soon Maddie was coming up with all kinds of predictions and other theories, including the rather mind blowing observation that if she wished for two more magic nickels she'd get one more, or two total, and then if she wished BOTH coins would grant half the wish WHICH WOULD MAKE ONE WHOLE so she'd only need to make regular wishes from then on. And Sam? Sam was asking me to read to him.

HE NEVER ASKS ME TO READ TO HIM.

He'd rush to get ready in the morning so we'd have time to read before school! He'd get ready for bed without complaint to we could get on with reading! He'd even FOREGO MINECRAFT to read! What sorcery IS this?

Half magic, apparently.

They both started asking for a sequel even before we finished. Half Magic's the only one I have, in both my personal AND public libraries, but I got on the system's OPAC and ordered Knight's Castle from the next library over and it showed up the next day (that being today). Maybe this is the start of something. Maybe I WILL read them Harry Potter in a year or so and The Secret Garden next spring (that one has to be read in the spring), I'll read them Dahl now and try Cleary again, and eventually in a few more years we WILL sit down for a few months of Lord of the Rings so I can finally show Sam WHY he's named Sam, and THEN I will have succeeded at motherhood.

I hope.

But at least this was fun while it lasted.
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Checking in.

Still not writing much. Just jotting down my dreams most mornings. I do actively write stories in my sleep, while I'm dreaming, but of course I can never remember the details that REALLY MADE it once I wake up. Like last night's was about these two schools next door to each other (one was a middle school, one a high school?) one of which had a random pet goat and the other of which had Tony Stark as a teacher, only it turned out the pet goat was actually Tony Stark's illegitimate kid-no-pun-intended who had the ability to shapeshift into a goat and was also a cyborg, and then his (the cyborg-goat-kid's) long lost twin sister, now a social worker, showed up looking for him, and there was a happy family reunion, and this was ACTUALLY RELATIVELY AWESOME while it was happening but I have no idea what I was thinking now.

Truth is I've been having mental health issues lately but mostly they've all been me holding everything in and giving myself stomachaches and pretending everything is fine, like I do, so when, for example, my FBI fingerprinting clearance FINALLY showed up the other day, making me legal to work with children again, I was SO RELIEVED that I suddenly only then REALIZED the stress it had been causing me, because my stomach stopped hurting. Also I've got a muscle spasm in my shoulder that's put me on a weird cocktail of medications. Oh, also, the muscle spasm was partially caused by me for some reason HOLDING A GREAT DEAL OF TENSION IN MY MUSCLES. I also was not aware I was doing that. So right, I haven't been quite so well, which means I may have appeared to have fallen off the face of the earth there.

(If you are worried, I do have an appointment with a proper psychiatrist coming up to try to get myself back in order again. In late August. Because that's how soon people can get first appointments with psychiatrists. And I'm so grateful that I have experience, and a general support system, and am already on meds, because if I had to wait that long while I was truly at rock bottom and didn't know what to do or if there was hope? HOW MANY PEOPLE does that apply to. Please, support making mental health help easier for anyone who needs it to get, wherever possible in your life).

Also I've been having a hard time reclaiming my internet access from my children lately. It's been raining a lot here. Constantly. No just sending them outside. And at some point, I do not know how (WHO TAUGHT THEM THIS YOU WILL PAY) they discovered Toy Unboxing videos on YouTube. Sam watches people play with Thomas Trackmaster sets over and over. Maddie watches cutsie little toy animal plays by people who try WAY too hard to do cute voices. They both keep ASKING for new toys. And the other day they even discovered the existence of Kinder Surprise Eggs this way and DARN YOU FOREIGNERS. OR US CUSTOMS REGULATIONS. OR WHATEVER. Anyway, you'd think it'd be easier to pull them away from this steady diet of amateur infomercials but it's NOT. Today I figured out exactly WHAT was so sickening about this habit though. "STOP WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE PLAY!" I told them. "YOU go PLAY something YOURSELF!" :P

Meanwhile I finished a new dress today. It's kind of a fancy party dress, but definitely needs some poofy petticoat action to go for the full effect. I think I'll wear it to work tomorrow anyway.

Maddie told me the other day that I'm like Rarity the My Little Pony because I love to make dresses. Now, I am very LITTLE like Rarity, who is highly vain and image-conscious, I'm really much more of a cross between Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle (which has also been pointed out by my children), but I kind of Huh-ed when she said that, because it's TRUE. I DO love to make dresses, don't I? I always associated fashion design with, well, characters like Rarity, girls who were much more interested in being cool and following trends than I. I just like pretty dresses and flowy sleeves and my own hippie-and-occasionally-mod-if-I-feel-like-cleaning-up-a-bit (the one I finished today is definitely more Mod than Hippie. I'm pretty sure they sell something just like it at ModCloth) style. NOT trendy.* NOT caring what's cool. But I DO love it just for me, and I think being a grownup who's allowed to like whatever I like no matter what CLIQUE it might be associated with is wonderfully freeing that way. So yeah, I DO. I DO love to make pretty dresses.

At work-- now that I can legally do so-- I've been busy with Outreach programs. I still do readings at day cares-- which is a change this summer, previously I only did it during the school year; but earlier this spring I started bringing my Library Explorers program to the activity center in the low income housing plan. This gets a little wild but is quite fun, and I'm thrilled that I have so many regulars showing for it. The only IN-house program I get that much reaction to is Lego Club, and that's not so much me as, you know, LEGO.

It occurs to me I meant to run down all my spring program ideas for you several months ago, but somehow I lost that.

Collaborative Summer Reading is Every Hero Has a Story, and I have been almost ZERO involved with Summer Reading this year. But I am sticking with the theme for my Family Night storytimes, for which I consistently get the same small family every week. One kid, his baby brother, his mom. But they're enthusiastic!

Today the kids and I went blueberry picking, which was lovely. We missed strawberry picking this year, and the farm we were at was even out of its own already-PICKED local strawberries, so I was a little sad about that.

I dropped my waterbottle on my toe a few weeks ago and it STILL hurts to the touch. Luckily it's summer, because I can't wear shoes over it, only sandals.

And that's it, I think. That's my letter of update. That's what's up. How about you?

---

*Okay, ModCloth IS kind of trendy in a hipsterish way. But that's not WHY I like it, and if it stops being trendy, so what.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Well, after a day and a half or two do you have any idea how long it took me to finally finish typing this up?!?!-- well, I STARTED typing after a day or two of severe stomach issues, when I finally felt comfortable enough to sit at my computer long enough to type,* which is about time, because my brain was all like "I need to type up these reviews! I can't start the next book until I type these up!" Which is kind of amazing when you know how much trouble I've had SITTING DOWN TO RELAX WITH A BOOK over the past 5 years. I think the key factor in this is Diana Wynne Jones. Because if anybody can capture my attention, she can. And it so happens to be #DWJMarch again over with Kristen M, so I said, "Okay, going to finally read Islands of Chaldea, then," which turns out to be an Official Read-along book, and then I ILL'd another of the official read-alouds, The Spellcoats, which I actually turned out to have won my own copy of yesterday. But meanwhile the ILL copy is here, and I've been sick, and reading is such a nice thing to do when you can't sit up. But I didn't want to confuse myself with having too many different DWJ stories floating in my head at once before I wrote out a response!

So first I'll discuss Islands of Chaldea so that all you folks only interested in #dwjmarch can cut out on me right after, but then there's a couple other stories (both paper and film) I've wanted to respond to on here, too, so I'll get to those after.

The Islands of Chaldea, by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

This is the book she was working on when she died, leaving it unfinished; and, according to her sister's afterword, everyone sat around like "BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? HOW WILL WE EVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?" until they finally decided they'd have to write the end themselves. So the task went to her sister Ursula, who did a decent job, and you can't pinpoint exactly where she picked the story up. But to be honest? There IS a subtle difference between the first part of the book and the last. The characters and settings and details are just so much more VIVID earlier on. No offense to Ursula Jones, because the last part of the book was perfectly fine, even good, but who CAN compare to her sister Diana when it comes to making a story spring vividly to life?

It's a pretty basic fantasy-adventure, made special thanks to DWJ's way with details. Our herione, Aileen, is a Wise Woman in training who thinks she failed her initiation, but before she can worry too much about that, she's swept up on a quest to rescue a kidnapped prince from beyond a magical barrier, which can only be breached with the help of a few special folks from each island of Chaldea. But the characters jump out at you with only a few words of introduction, and their adventures are never straightforward.

The titular islands are basically your typical quasi-medieval British Isles, except perhaps more so: Skarr, the heroine's home island, is clearly this world's Scotland, and the next stop on this island-hopping adventure, Bernica, clearly stands in for Ireland. But I'm not sure about the final two islands, not knowing enough about Wales I suppose to tell if: a) the third island, Gallis, is meant to represent Wales, while the final, magically-barriered island Logra is England; or if b) Gallis is meant to represent Wales AND England while Logra is, say France (because sometimes it seems like Chaldea refers only to the first three islands and Logra is something separate, besides the fact that there's literally a magical barrier separating it from the others); or if c) Gallis is where Ursula picked up the story and she decided to veer away from the overt British Isles parallels entirely.

Actually, I'm pretty sure Ursula DOES pick up the story somewhere in Gallis. That's about when the details and new characters stop feeling QUITE as vivid as they did on the first two islands. Also I somehow feel like Diana would have thrown a lot more complications at her characters before the end!

But I didn't actually notice the break while reading, I just kept enjoying it to the end. The ending DID feel a little rushed and haphazard, but that's a pretty common fault I find with DWJ's books (as much as I can find faults!) so it's only fitting.** But I'm overcome with wondering where the story would really have gone, had Diana finished it. As I said, I'm SURE there would have been more complications. And who can imagine how SHE intended the characters to breach the barrier. Or what secret conspiracies were really in place. Or what if this is yet another of her stories that involve parallel universes and Gallis DOES parallel Wales and in fact they were going to meet Howl and Sophie in Gallis because only their magic/world-hopping knowledge could take down the barrier?!?!?! But WE CAN'T KNOW, SO WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT.

And that's really all I have to say about that one. I recommend it for any light-hearted high fantasy lover, and certainly any DWJ fan. It's not her most memorable work, but definitely is a pleasant, fun read. As long as you don't get too hung up grieving over how you'll never know what was REALLY supposed to happen.

So now it's time to discuss a completely different, but excellent, middle grade book:

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Remember how I said, in my Youth Media Awards*** roundup, that I COULD probably read the Newbery winners I hadn't read (I mean, THIS year's, not ALL of them) in no time flat? That was totally true, because I read The Crossover at work, in bits and pieces, picking it up here and there and only putting it down when I realized I had other things I was SUPPOSED to be working on. Because it was easy to get sucked into, and that might be what's so brilliant about it.

And I feel like talking about this book BECAUSE the brilliance may appear deceptive, at first glance. You have a narrator with a very strong voice, and that voice is a 13-year-old boy who likes to rap and is obsessed with basketball (granted, he's very GOOD at basketball, too). It doesn't SOUND like a stodgy and-incidentally-white academic's definition of "distinguished." But to be prejudiced by that is like believing an easy reader must be equally easy to WRITE (SPOILERS: IT ISN'T). First, it HAS a strong voice-- a strong, consistent voice. You believe this is Josh's story, that this is how Josh tells his story, that he thinks in poetry and basketball terminology. And yes, it's written in verse, which just highlights how carefully each bit of character development and each bit of foreshadowing is woven in-- a lot is said in just a few perfect words. And it grabs you emotionally before you even realize it, and you're aching with Josh as he and his twin brother are growing apart and their dad's health is taking a downturn, and you forget that, at the beginning, this SEEMED to be just a book about a kid who loves basketball.

I have absolutely no interest in basketball, but this book still grabbed me. But what really tickles me is the thought that a sports-lover who's a reluctant reader WILL want to pick up this book, and WILL get sucked in, and before they know it they'll have EXPERIENCED LITERATURE. HAH! And I'm really glad to see that trick recognized with an award for distinguished writing, because that's an important and underappreciated trick-- to be able to write so reluctant readers can get lost in the story. AND heavily-experienced readers can appreciate it just as much? That's a super-distinguished book, thanks. Big kudos, Mr. Alexander!

Moving on to Television, let's talk Agent Carter:

Announcing my favorite TV of 2015 already! Like I did with Fargo last year, I've saved this announcement until it's all over so you can (if you've missed it) go marathon the whole thing! Or I saved it until the end because I didn't realize exactly how badly I wanted to gush about it until it was over. Honestly, I prefer the miniseries format of storytelling-- or the BBC short-season (series) format for returning series, you know, like Sherlock. You can get the intensity, the solid arc-building, and the general quality of a movie with MORE TIME TO GET INTO IT ALL. And then you've got a complete whole there that you CAN marathon, as opposed to the average TV show which goes on and on indefinitely unless it gets cancelled, so you either are left unsatisfied because it ended with too many loose ends hanging OR it goes on and on and on and STILL doesn't feel like a complete whole. I like getting a story I can take as a whole-- but if I get another season about the same characters with a NEW story arc, I certainly won't complain.

So, while Agents of SHIELD was on winter hiatus, Marvel/ABC decided to fill the gap with an 8-episode miniseries about the woman primarily known as Captain America's Girlfriend but more PROPERLY known as one of the founders of SHIELD, Peggy Carter. Now, I love
Agents of SHIELD, and I was on edge at the end of the midseason finale, unwilling to wait two months to find out how things turned out, but now that it's back I'm kind of worried, because it just cannot live up to the complete awesomeness that was Agent Carter.****

This was a show that even LOOKED gorgeous. The colors, the lighting, the cinematography, the 1940s costumes and props and sets, all added up to something that felt slightly noir and yet very true to its comic book roots. It felt like a movie, which is something else you can do with a miniseries I guess, though "it felt like a movie" was my exact reaction to the first episode of The X-Files I ever saw years ago, too, so it's about something more than brevity. Anyway, you need substance to make style worth anything, and luckily Agent Carter had that, too.

The writing is funny and exciting and twisty and basically everything you could ask for in a historical espionage adventure with occasional sci-fi elements. And the character development is so smooth and well-rounded: EVERYONE is deeper than they first appear, everyone has both strengths and faults, even the most awful people sometimes inspire sympathy and the best people sometimes make you angry. Peggy herself is a fabulous heroine-- brilliant, funny, tough, yet sensitive, able to stand with (and exceed) the Men yet feminine, both a product of and ahead of her time, having epiphanies and making mistakes, thoughtful and sometimes rash. In other words, a fully-realized character rather than a Type, heroic and human at once. And her actress, Hayley Atwell, is absolutely brilliant at conveying ALL of it. I hope they recognize her come Emmy-time and don't overlook her out of anti-comic-book snobbery-- but the miniseries category pool is relatively small, she might have a chance.

And then when you TAKE a bunch of fully-realized characters, played well, and throw them together, you get brilliant chemistry, too. The chemistry is electric, complex, and refreshingly almost entirely not romantic (and the very small hints of romance are ENTIRELY complicated by the plot to the point that the farthest it ever gets is a turned-down asking-out-for-drinks at the very end-- but to be honest, I still ship it). See, Peggy's last boyfriend's airplane just went down in the ocean not too long ago, so she's not INTERESTED in romance at this point in time-- so it doesn't have to get in the way of the story! And for future reference-- you know I just possibly confusingly said "I still ship it" in the last parenthesis?-- yes, I totally ship Peggy with Agent Sousa, her cute sweet smart noble amputee-vet coworker with a crush on her, but SHOULD they ever get together, the romance shouldn't dominate then, either-- it shouldn't be one of those things where the couple is constantly BANTERING and having PASSION. Sousa's more of a steady rock type. Peggy gets to BANTER with everyone ELSE. Like her partner in crime/or anti-crime/or whatever, Jarvis, Howard Stark's loyal butler, who is happily married-- their totally-platonic chemistry is an absolute delight. I know, when characters have delightful chemistry, people want to ship them, and Jarvis is awesome and adorable and I go back and forth on whether I have more of a crush on him or Sousa*****, but in this case I cannot see anything other than a beautiful bantery friendship and it's so REFRESHING that way! And then you get Peggy and HOWARD, who is in fact a deplorable womanizer, but she won't stand for that and he respects her too much to resent her not standing for that, so you even have this wonderful bantery yet-totally-platonic friendship with a guy who tends to be anything BUT platonic. With all this platonic female-male interaction it's almost no wonder that a lot of people DO ship Peggy with her best girl friend, Angie, to which I say, hah, go nuts you crazy kids, but to me that's just yet another refreshingly platonic relationship. Angie serves as Peggy's link to "normal" life. She's a grounding character.

Anyway, people are all freaking out that the ratings weren't good enough to be renewed, but I don't really understand this. First, I don't really get how it could possibly have worse ratings than Agents of SHIELD, because I don't understand why everyone who watched that wouldn't also watch this, BUT Agent Carter is the sort of show that could attract people who not only gave up on AoS, but also people who normally don't have any interest in comic-book properties, because there's something just more mainstream about historical spy hijinks as opposed to superhero stories. Don't ask me why that is, but it is. As is, my mom watched and loved Agent Carter and the rest of the Marvel Universe loses her. Apparently the actual numbers don't support my theory, but I think I SHOULD be right. Never mind, my next theory IS evidence-based: Marvel and ABC are BOTH Disney companies, so it's all internal maneuvering, not some plucky outside talent begging the network to give them another chance. If they want to make more, they'll BROADCAST more. Agents of SHIELD keeps getting renewed even when ratings say it shouldn't. Thirdly, it's a SELF-CONTAINED MINISERIES. It's not like a show that can get CANCELLED or RENEWED. They can just make ANOTHER miniseries at any other time and show it again, whether during next year's AoS break or a few years down the line, like a BBC show. And sure, great ratings would make the network more LIKELY to buy another miniseries, but so will a devoted fan base, a lot of after-the-fact streaming or DVD buying, or future Marvel movie tie-in opportunities. Which I think this show is very likely to get if it doesn't have it already. There are so many individual opportunities for self-contained stories about the early days of SHIELD, and I will be thrilled to see Agent Carter tackle them at whatever schedule of recurring mini-series it's able to pull off. AND IT WILL.

SO I think it's about time I posted this, considering I've finally managed to type it. Seek these recommendations out! Enjoy them! Tell me about them in the comments! (Have I mentioned lately that I really like comments? I do. They let me know you're listening. Don't be shy!)

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A Large Mass of Footnotes:

*A story of fun times with stomach viruses! I wake up Sunday morning with a sharp pain in my abdomen, and moments later the boy bursts in to announce that his sister has thrown up FIVE TIMES all over his room-- including a rather impressive projectile-spraying of four feet of doorjamb. By the time I get that cleaned up, I'm feeling sick, too, but is it merely sympathetic or am I likewise contaminated? Clearly, it is the latter. Anyway, I finally feel like sitting upright long enough to start typing this monday evening, a time I normally should be at work, but that's not happening. Tuesday on the other hand, I and everyone else feels okay enough for work/school/whatever, which means I don't have all that much time for typing. Wednesday morning at 3 AM the boy joins the throwing up party. But that morning his sister is acting funny, too: "My HEART HURTS, Mommy, it's beating too fast, and my legs don't work," and she's drowsy and falling asleep where she sits. Aware that she did NOT take in enough fluids during her illness, I suspect dehydration and call the doctor, who-- well, the triage nurse-- suspects the same and says YOU MUST GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY, so I bundle up two sicky kids, including one who is still clutching the throw-up-bucket to his chest, and off we go. But by the time we get there, the girl has perked up, and her brother looks like death, so I take them up to the check in desk and point to the one that's bouncing around and say "Believe it or not, we're here for that one," and she explains to the emergency room doctor that she DID feel sick this morning but now just her knee hurts, while meanwhile her brother is nearly passed out on my lap. The doctor grins and says it probably WAS a little bit of dehydration but not enough to worry about now, so let's get the BOY home and everyone get plenty of fluids. She also writes a prescription for an anti-nausea med, technically in Maddie's name because she's the patient, but she (the doctor) says, "it's actually for HIM-- or anyone else in the family who comes down with it." By the time we're done it's too late for Maddie to go to school, so they're both home the rest of the day, and Sam goes to bed early with a mild fever. I figure he won't go to school today, too. But then school gets cancelled anyway. So here we are.

**SPOILERS: My only real disappointment with the ending is that Aileen's reunion with her father seemed completely glossed over. You'd think it would have a LITTLE more affect on, if not the plot, at least the character development, but besides the initial embarrassed recognition, he could have been any other rescued kidnappee.

***Random thing I just noticed today: YMA is my name backwards. ALL THE MORE REASON TO LOVE THEM.

****Having seen the new AoS since I started typing this, I'm pleased to report that I can enjoy it just fine after all, thanks. Agent Carter is in another league entirely, sure, but that doesn't make AoS NOT fun as its own thing. And I love Fitz so much, so there.

*****It's funny, one of accusations lobbied against "Fake Geek Girls" is they only know Marvel characters from the movies and they only LOVE the movies because they have crushes on the guys in them, but for all the Tumblrs devoted to Tony Stark and Thor and Loki and Captain America, Agent Carter is probably the FIRST Marvel show where I'VE crushed on anybody (except maybe a little bit on Cap because he's so noble-- Peggy and I share taste; and possibly James McAvoy as young Charles Xavier, if you count all Marvel CHARACTERS even if it's not technically Marvel MOVIES, and that's basically just because James McAvoy is a beautiful, beautiful man anyway), and it's given me TWO somebodies to crush on. Heh. BUT, yes, I do admit that I am a huge fan of Marvel movies, but I don't know squat about the comics. But this is only because I don't really like long-form panel-based reading, not because I'm not truly interested! I've actually always fallen on the Marvel end of the Marvel-vs-DC argument, mostly because I DID follow the Spider-man comic in the NEWSPAPER, oh, and I watched the Spider-man cartoon too that Stan Lee always introduced in voiceover, which absolutely fascinated me (who WAS this Stan Lee guy? Wait, he INVENTED Spider-man? And he's talking on the CARTOON? COOL!), so Spider-man was always my favorite superhero, and I watched other Marvel cartoons too. Then again, I also watched Batman, but still, I liked the Marvel characters more. I always found them more nuanced and interesting.
rockinlibrarian: (wwii)
I briefly considered trying NaNoWriMo since I don't have One Book to work on this year, but I had a feeling that would be like trying a marathon in my current state of fitness, so instead I said, "Okay, I will just get into the habit of writing every day." THAT hasn't been doing all that well, either. Granted, I spent the first week of November sleeping off a horrible flu-like thing that SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED BECAUSE I GOT A FLU SHOT A MONTH AND A HALF AGO DANGIT, but even that week I had moments where I thought "I don't have the energy for housework, so nothing's tugging at me and making me feel guilty for writing, so I should get lots of writing done!" But HAH. I barely got daily JOURNALING in.

Then I got distracted making a dress. I replaced my sewing machine a few weeks ago, and now it's just HERE ASKING ME TO MAKE STUFF. I've been looking forward to making this dress for a long time, with a pattern I'd made up myself based on this gorgeous dress I saw on a totally-out-of-my-price-league boutique site which I can no longer find a picture of, so I pieced the pattern together by mixing up parts of dresses and other patterns I already had. Then a month ago I inherited a huge pile of fabric from my grandmother-in-law's house, which included two swaths she'd already paired together which seemed perfect for the dress, and when I actually cut the pieces out it turned out to be EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT of fabric of each color. It was creepy! It was like it was MEANT TO BE! I love the results, but they're not exactly what I expected. I'd been going for a sort of retro feminine cocktail dress type thing, and yet somehow what happened looks EXACTLY like it should be a costume for The Sound of Music.
Picture 33*
Which I still love. I've always been slightly obsessed with all Maria's dresses in that movie. And though the green fabric is heavy and I'm pretty sure Mim-mim had originally intended to make something tableclothy out of it, I don't THINK it looks like it's made of old drapes. But it DOES look a bit like I intend to do some kind of Alpine dancing in it. NOT THAT IT ISN'T AWESOME. I'm just not sure that I could wear it to a hip cocktail party** without being mistaken for some sort of ethnic entertainment.

Along with the huge box of fabric, I also got a bunch of notions and wrapping paper and casserole dishes and Pe-pa's ties that I mentioned last post, and most remarkably, a little yellowed paperback from 1943, VOGUE's Pocket Book of Home Dressmaking. It's a treasure trove of tips, if you ignore the obviously dated stuff.

Of course, why ignore ALL the dated stuff, because this paragraph on the back cover is just plain interesting: "Above all, you will help the Government in its conservation program, by waging war on waste. And when peace comes, you will want to continue to make the distinctive clothes that you have learned to make with this step-by-step handbook." That's a sort of fun thing to read and go "OOO!" But that's OBVIOUSLY a product of history. Another line on the back copy struck me even more, even though it doesn't scream out its era so blatantly: "It proves that sewing need not be difficult, but actually fun."

Heh, I thought. Actually FUN? I wouldn't even think of sewing if I didn't find it fun. Who sews because they HAVE to anymore? Putting aside wartime shortages, though, there WAS a time when sewing ones family's own clothes oneself was considered a necessary chore. You bought material and patterns, not ready-made clothes, unless you were well-off enough to afford a tailor. It was something that was just EXPECTED of the lady of the house.

But everyone I know who sews nowadays does it as a hobby. Sure, it has benefits, they can make useful things usually cheaper and more personalized than if they just bought those things. Maybe they even sell some of their creations on Etsy. But none of them do it because it's EXPECTED of them.

I wondered what it would be like if I HAD to sew. If I was REQUIRED by my family, by society, by available resources, to MAKE everything my family wore. Would I still get excited finding particular patterns or materials? Would I still want to show off what I'd made when I finished? Or would I dread having to hem another pair of pants?

It's one thing to make it a gendered obligation. Sure, there were probably lots of women who didn't like to sew and didn't like being expected to sew merely because it was "Women's work." But if I, someone who DOES enjoy sewing, had lived in a time or place where I was OBLIGED to do it, I'm not sure I would have liked it so much either. For example, take the other most prominent half of Home Economics, the half that IS still usually EXPECTED of people (although not as OFTEN in a gendered way): cooking. I DO love cooking. I love eating even more, but I also enjoy pulling together a meal and substituting ingredients and generally making something scrumptious to share with others. BUT in my house I am THE COOK. The other adult, if left to his own devices, might forget about plant-based ingredients entirely. Oh, wait, ingredients? Forget ingredients, the less pieces, the better. All-in-one ready-made for him. So basically, here I am, the one that HAS to prep all the meals every day. The one that HAS to find a meal to at least partially satisfy four people with very different tastes, one of whom is extraordinarily picky to the point that he's bordering on underweight, one of whom is slightly less picky but is weird about Things Touching and, again, is even weirder about VEGETATION, and one of whom isn't THAT picky yet somehow doesn't like SPAGHETTI WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER. (I am the least picky eater, but admittedly I AM the only one in the family who doesn't like ham. What is wrong with ME). I get SO SICK of trying to please this crew. I get SO SICK of HAVING to come up with dinner every night. That's really the problem. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't HAVE to do it EVERY NIGHT.

It's funny how chores become such CHORES. My kids are still at the age where they think doing the dishes is the most fun thing ever, which would be great if they actually got the dishes CLEAN. But as soon as they're old enough to do it thoroughly and seriously, and I try to GET them to do the dishes, how long do you suppose the fun will last?

Life is full of obligations, but it doesn't seem fair that obligation should so suddenly and thoroughly turn things Not Fun. Really, what's the difference? What is really the difference between WANTING to and HAVING to? If people only did the things they WANT to, how soon would we fall into chaos? Or would we? Would the people who WANT to do all the usual obligations just step in and pick up the slack for those who don't? Anarchy isn't so bad because there's somebody who will do anything? Or will they? WHO KNOWS? How can we use this tendency to dread obligation to our true advantage?

I always say that about Christmastime, though-- that I wish the people who didn't enjoy the process and stressed out about their holiday obligations would just let their obligations slide and let those of us who DO love getting ready for Christmas take up all the slack, because we do it gladly and with joy and give it freely to even those who don't feel like giving it back. But Christmastime is one thing. The rest of the year, the drudge of everyday life... we may need those obligations too much to say "Only if you want to!"

OR DO WE? I'm really just confusing myself now. I suppose we never can know for sure.

---

*Also, my daughter mugging. After this picture on the computer are at least five more goofy selfies.
**because I go to so many of those
rockinlibrarian: (toothbrush)
I could begin with my philosophical arguments and generalisms, but let's not bury the lead: please stop giving my children a heap of Oriental Trading-esque junk in the name of good health.

That's it, really. It's ultimately selfish of me. I don't need more garbage toys cluttering up my house. I mean seriously, what do YOU do with all that crap they bring home from school parties now that bringing in birthday cupcakes isn't allowed? Do your children keep all their junk toys neatly in brightly labeled containers on shelves in their rooms? If so, please, share your secret! Or do you just pitch it periodically, because they're just crappy dollar store toys? If so, aren't you concerned about the environmental factors in making and shipping and disposing of all that, or aren't you concerned about the humanitarian factors of the low-wage workers exploited to make them? I mean, you're awfully concerned about junk food.

But let's bring it back to the philosophizing. Junk food's bad for you, right? That's why they call it junk food. But I'm of the everything-in-moderation camp (and yes, not EVERYTHING, don't be pedantic). There's a big difference between eating fast food every day and eating cake at a birthday party. When doctors talk about poor dietary choices they're not talking about an occasional splurge, they're talking about daily habits. And if a kid can't have candy on Halloween, when CAN they have it?

I've heard say that dentists recommend special occasion splurges over, say, eating one piece of candy a day, because you can brush your teeth just once, carefully, after a splurge, and all that horrible sugar is gone! Right, and you trade clean teeth for a bellyache, but I'm just saying.

I like sweets. Sure, maybe that's a vice of mine. But it's a much more controllable vice when I allow myself to have them on special occasions, and can say, "No, you don't need that" the rest of the time. Okay maybe I'm not actually that good about it. But in theory, I believe that's right. You don't turn down a dang piece of cake at a birthday party because you're "trying to watch your figure." Just don't be eating cake after every meal for no REASON. Birthday parties are FOR CAKE! EAT THE DANG CAKE! Unless you don't like cake, then, fine, don't.

The school has this policy of no treats. Combination of being "healthy!" and avoiding allergy issues. Okay then. I can deal with that. I just won't send in treats for holidays and birthdays. But other kids' parents have taken to sending in goody bags of nonedibles instead. For every kid. For every occasion. And not only does it make ME look like the crappy parent because I DON'T, but HOW MANY TINY ERASERS AND CHINTZY STAMPERS DOES ANY HOUSEHOLD REALLY NEED?

I'd prefer it, if people want to be HEALTHY! about their trick-or-treating gifts, if they gave out apples. Apples, the traditional lousy non-candy giveaway! But apples get USED. CONSUMED. And MY kids certainly like them enough. Curse that stupid razor-blade scare of the 1980s! Apples are SO much better than those pencils that don't sharpen properly!

But let's be honest. It's Halloween. It's one time of year-- one of two times if your Easter baskets take this pattern*-- when you're ALLOWED to amass a horde of candy. SO DO IT. FOR HALLOWEEN. LONG LIVE ANNUAL SUGAR OVERLOADS!

And that's all I have to say about that.

*Surprise, ours do.
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: (eggman)
For as infrequently as I actually post, my brain is often churning over blog-posting possibilities. Apparently-- I've come to accept-- blogging is my writing genre of choice lately, and even IT I can't always make myself sit and do. But I have that thing you get when you're writing fiction, where the story won't leave you alone, and you keep writing it in your head even though you're not writing it on paper... it's just lately I've been doing it with blog posts instead of fiction. Maybe it's because lately I've been READING more blog posts than I've read fiction. INTERNET, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY BRAIN?

Anyway, all these little posts get backlogged and I find myself stuck, when I actually have TIME to write, just trying to decide which I ACTUALLY want to write about most. Then it occurred to me that that never stopped me in the past, and I could just post them ALL AT ONCE, and nobody would read it because it would be So Friggin' Long, but it would all BE there as opposed to just theoretical. So HERE, with bolded subject headings, so you can skip to the parts you like:

On the Anniversary of US Beatlemania

...a topic I addressed slightly by describing my library program on the Beatles in January. And it's technically a topic I've addressed many times over. You all KNEW already by now I'm a serious Beatles fan, right? I've told you about the Paul McCartney tv concert that changed my life (and how badly I want to go to one in person). I've discussed all my favorite Beatles songs. I've written odes to Paul and George, who, if pressed, I will probably claim as my two favorites. And I've made so many off-hand references that I can't possibly go back and find them all.

But have I ever devoted a post to what being a Beatlemaniac MEANS to me?

It sounds like such a cop-out answer to say the Beatles are your favorite band. It sounds uncreative, like you couldn't be bothered to listen any deeper in the history of music so as to even FIND somebody else. I see the "Beatles are overrated" haters and they always try to argue the superiority of some other band (usually, for some reason, the Kinks. Which I have no argument with. I like the Kinks), but it DOESN'T MATTER. I can't help where my heart goes, and nothing makes me happier than Beatles music. Maybe not "nothing." But very little.

It also seems funny to claim that your biggest Geekdom is the most popular rock band in the history of the world. Aren't people supposed to Geek Out over NON-mainstream things? But no, my love for the Beatles is true Geekishness. I collect books about them. I absorb trivia about them. I am the resident Expert on the subject among all the people I know personally.

The comments section of The A.V. Club is widely regarded as one of the few places on the Wide-Open Internet (as opposed to nice personal blogs like mine) where reading the comments is not only an okay idea, but actually takes the article to a whole new level of awesome and/or fun. And I have to tell you how awesome I felt in the comments section of their review of the Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan retrospective concert the other week. It was a found my tribe moment, for me to contribute comments and get into discussions where I CLEARLY was on-par in the conversation, to have SO many of my comments upvoted. To be able to converse so geekily and appreciate and be appreciated! Eight strangers upvoted my desire to play drums in an all-girl Beatles tribute band, aka Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids nobody else is allowed that band name I claim it! I felt so accepted. :D

I really don't know if it would have been different in the '60s, if the Screaming Fangirl aspect would have put me off to the extent that I wouldn't have CLAIMED them so completely. So I'm glad I came in after the fact, when it could be just me exploring a band I (and my dad) loved, and worrying about how many other people loved them later.

But they're magic with a melody. With harmonies and countermelodies and chord progressions. With their sheer variety of STYLES. With the WAY THEY MAKE IT ALL COME TOGETHER. (RIGHT NOW. OVER... sorry).

Which brings me to my next little topic:

Sensitive Hard Rockers

Last time I mentioned my Highly Sensitive son, so I want you to start with that image of a timid, high-strung, quiet, shrimpy little kid... which is why it amuses me that he's becoming a Metalhead. His DAD IS a metalhead, but he doesn't really play his music much (or at all) at home (he's even the sort of person who can --*GASP*-- DRIVE LONG DISTANCES WITH THE RADIO OFF), so the kids' musical exposure has been my more eclectic tastes. And of my tastes, he's developed a clear preference for hard driving rock.

THIS IS FUNNY BECAUSE HE'S EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO LOUD NOISE. But IS it? Funny, I mean. Maybe it makes perfect sense. Music-- yes, even hard rock, old man-- brings order out of chaos. Maybe it's not the VOLUME of noise we're so sensitive to, but the RANDOMNESS of it. When that noise resolves into clear pitches and rhythms, it's like "OH GOOD, you made it all better." Part of my own fascination with/love for psychedelic rock is the way it outright acknowledges chaos-- harnesses it. It takes all the dizzying sensations of the world and thoughts of the universe and... SORTS it. And yet it's still all there, it's just organized! It's like a library versus a pile of books!

I did another video where I eventually started musing about how maybe my sheer lack of Being Rock and Roll was possibly WHY I love rock so much. It's an outlet for the wild side of myself. Which is funny when I just finished saying it's ORDERLY. Maybe that's what makes it a SAFE wild side!

... yeah, I know I started out talking about my SON and hard rock. But it all applies.

Anyway, now that I'm here, maybe I'll just stick to the music subject for today. The rest may work better tomorrow, after all.
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Well, darnit, folks. I've got two potential posts bubbling (and a couple more sitting in pots waiting for an open burner), and somehow I can't sit down and write them. I have this much trouble with BLOG writing-- no wonder my career in fiction hasn't gone anywhere! I spend most evenings watching the Olympics, because if I skip that I'm haunted by MISSING them, even though I spend most of the time reading with the Olympics just ON in front of me. But tonight I just want LESS NOISE, so I'll write a post instead. Only I'm so good at avoiding it.

The amazing thing is that that paragraph there actually fits nicely with one of the things I wanted to post about. Here, first off, you may have seen this Tumblr post from Melissa Marr floating about the other day, even if you're not on Tumblr-- that there's actually a link to my response, which contains the link to the full original post (oh Tumblr, how I loath thy complications)-- anyway, it's about the unassertive habit of apologizing before you ask a question, before you speak, as if your voice is a horrible intrusion that has to be softened over with sorriness. You really have to read the post and my response because I'm not going to reiterate it all here, but I'm definitely jumping off from there.

Anyway, being that it's the story of my life, I clicked the Notes to see what other people may have been adding to this post. There really wasn't a whole lot added, but I caught one guy starting off with a "This is so true, but it isn't just women, I get lots of this from men, too," and, with the discussions of privilege in last week's entry/comments section still in my head, thought, "Oh poor dude, you are going to get your privileged male butt slammed for that argument"-- but actually, I DID see only one response to his long and helpful though a bit clueless-to-privilege post, (that links to both his post and the response), and it was quite polite. Which is nice, because even if it might come across as ignorant-of-the-ingrained-patriarchal-women-silencing-of-culture... I actually agree with him. Sure, the patriarchy may increase the problem, but the problem's BIGGER and DEEPER than that. And to be honest, the INSISTENCE that it's all just a matter of subtle sexism feels, to ME, like it's missing the point, trying to change the conversation, avoiding the real problem. Well, for me, at any rate.

I may be weird, but I've never felt much sexism, myself-- maybe because I've always leaned to Traditionally Female career paths; and I've always looked at anyone expressing any "girls can't"-such concepts as being Just Mindbogglingly Stupid, and not anything more dangerous. But I HAVE felt second-class. THIRD class. Worthless. Whatever. I just didn't attribute it to femininity. An adviser well-intentionally handed me Reviving Ophelia in college after I tried to explain my self-esteem struggles to him, but it really just frustrated me. It was missing the point. It wasn't my girliness or lack thereof that bothered me-- that had anything to do with my self-esteem problems. It was the bullying from other girls that I heard in my head whenever I tried to EXIST in a social situation. I always felt girls judging me (Curiously, there WAS another response to that Tumblr post that mentioned how other girls always felt more judgmental than guys. Not just me, then). Guys couldn't care less about me, and I only cared what THEY thought about me if they-- if HE-- happened to be that One Guy I happened to be madly in love with at that moment. But the girls had the power to make me feel Totally Shut Out.

Which is not to say that maybe there WEREN'T any subconscious patriarchal attitudes involved in any of this. Maybe I wouldn't have become QUITE so withdrawn if I WAS a privileged White Straight Middle Class Male. It's just that I had so many OTHER psychological issues that affected me much more directly. There was the whole twisted situation of my sister's death when I was six-- younger than my son is now-- which I've only recently started to figure out. For years all I thought to think about it was the typical Learning to Deal With Grief process everyone focused on, which was all I HEARD, and I was like, "Yeah, I'm fine. Obi-Wan Kenobi and I had a good talk. Why do we keep talking about this?" But I was totally messed up, just not with grief. With Survivor's Guilt, maybe? Annie was funny and outgoing and brave-- and only three, but clearly already she was the Cooler Daughter than I was, scaredy-cat crybaby that I was. And Only the Good Die Young, curse you Billy Joel. She got all sorts of special attention that last year, and losing her devastated everyone, so CLEARLY SHE was the Angel and I was alive because I WASN'T Good Enough to be an Angel. Surely everyone would have rather had HER around still instead of me. I was just a six-year-old kid. I had no abilities to see the logical fallacies here. But the impression stuck, the impression that I WASN'T the chosen one. The imagery I've always come back to is that I am the Dark Princess, always in the shadow of some vibrant, sparkling Disney Heroine whom everyone loves.* Maybe that Bright Princess started out as my sister, but I soon started projecting her onto EVERYONE, every girl who got the leads and solos in the school shows, every girl who wasn't picked last for sports, every girl who actually GOT whatever guy I happened to be madly in love with. I would always be second-best, always forgotten.

Okay, that's the TRAUMATIC CATACLYSM, but I was already set up to feel like an outcast, just because I'm FREAKING OVERSENSITIVE a Highly Sensitive Person. In the comments of my "Invisibility Cloak" post, E. Louise Bates recced this book, The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, which I promptly requested through the library, along with another book by her about parenting the Highly Sensitive Child. I had to laugh at how much the memories of being a reclusive child that I'd written about in that post seemed to be taken directly from this book (no wonder Louise made the connection!). Even the Dark Princess imagery is apparently common among Highly Sensitive types with self-esteem problems-- not so much the "princess" part, but the sense of being the one in the shadows to the shining other ones (it's REALLY BUGGING me, but I can't find the place in the book where I read this to cite it. I KNOW IT WAS THERE). Anyway, it's spelled out, how many things I mislearned about myself and my worth just because I spent so much of my childhood overwhelmed, on edge, and misunderstood. It's hard to shake the deep-down doubts, but I do understand and respect myself so much better from at least a mental, objective standpoint now than I used to. The scariest thing for me-- and the reason I grabbed the Highly Sensitive Child book as well-- is trying to figure out how to raise my SON to not learn these same fallacies about himself that I learned. I already feel like I messed up just because I was in such a deep depression for so much of his early childhood-- that I didn't respond to his needs properly then, and he's already got ISSUES-- with imperfection, with temper, with giving up. And his dad just DOESN'T GET IT, doesn't get that the boy's got a different way of experiencing the world than he does and so you've got to deal with him differently; and because I'M oversensitive and lacking-in-self-confidence, instead of taking a stand when the two of them clash, I just shut down and hide in my pill-buggy way.

Bringing us back to gender differences: Sam's a Highly Sensitive Boy in a society that expects him to "Be a MAN," and his own Dad is just as bad at insisting on language like that-- I really think that's hurting him more than helping him to cope. On the other hand, his sister is... well, if she's Highly Sensitive, it's only in a few particular (and very different) ways. She's extremely observant, has a freakishly good memory, and is pretty empathetic. On the other hand, she's LOUD. She has a constant stream of WHATEVER tumbling straight from her brain through her mouth without any sort of filter. For those of you who are My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fans-- she's basically Pinky Pie. (During her QUIETER moments, she's basically Dot Warner. And she has Claudia Kishi's fashion sense, and there, I'm done comparing her to fictional characters). Which is hilarious and fun in small doses. But the girl's got a Highly Sensitive Mom, and sometimes-- or most of the time-- I feel like a tape loop going, "Maddie, hush, Maddie, quiet down, MADELEINE, you're INSIDE, PLEASE take it down a notch," and there are days I wonder if I should be wearing hearing protection. (They were both like that from birth, too. Sam's baby cry struck me as weirdly quiet even with no siblings to compare him to; Maddie had POWERFUL OPERA SINGER LUNGS). Then I hear about how You've got to be CAREFUL you aren't setting your children up to conform to unfair gender standards-- do you try to keep your daughters quiet but encourage your sons to speak up? WELL YES, BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER IS FREAKING LOUD AND INCAPABLE OF SHUTTING UP, AND MY SON IS TIMID AND THOUGHTFUL AND LIABLE TO MUMBLE.

So, right, my point is, there ARE a lot of factors involved in developing a Sorry-For-Intruding personality type, and saying "Hey you should stop that!" is easier said than done. MAYBE it's phony etiquette enforced by people who think women should be seen and not heard, or MAYBE it's a REALLY INGRAINED SELF-ESTEEM PROBLEM with quite complicated roots.

It's funny, while I was composing this post (over the course of about 28 hours), my dearest best-friend-from-high-school-and-college, the Illustrious Angie, posted this note on my Facebook wall-- Timeline-- whatever it's called: "Amy is awesome. Just feeling appreciative," and it was promptly Liked by seven of our mutual Friends. How funny is THAT? JUST as I'm writing about my life of feeling like a second-rate impostor person, 8 people are, for no particular reason, Acknowledging their Appreciation of my Awesomeness in another browser tab. It was like you could all see me writing this, and all had to pipe up, "YOU'RE not second-rate! You're our FRIEND! WE LOVE YOU!" all at once there in retaliation.

Which just shows how warped our little minds can be. It's still really hard to NOT feel like you're intruding just by existing, sometimes. Angie herself-- she's brilliant, but she has trouble seeing that, too. Much of our friendship has consisted of exchanges boiling down to "YOU ARE SO AWESOME." "I'M not Awesome, YOU'RE Awesome." "No, no, not me, YOU, YOU are Awesome!" Look at her comments to my most recent post, which, even as she acknowledges that she's "a composition teacher and someone whose academic specialization is quote-unquote minority literatures" and has to divide her thoughtful reflections into two separate comments just to make them fit, she still titles "Possibly Useless Ramblings" and concludes with "This probably came out sounding awful; I mean ABSOLUTELY NO criticism of YOU by ANY MINUTE PART of it -- I'm just expanding on some dialogues I've been having lately about this type of thing, and if it's utterly unhelpful then please delete it -- I promise I will not be offended." IN OTHER WORDS, this highly intelligent feminist with a whole lot of knowledge of the topic in question is doing the whole apologizing-for-the-intrusion thing in the comments of the blog of one of her best friends. Oh, us. Poor, confused people blind to our own worth.

I even do it in my own posts sometimes-- that whole opening paragraph here contains an air of "gee, sorry I'm writing, but I didn't feel like watching the Olympics tonight," and if I was writing something Proper, For Real Publication, I'd cut the whole thing. The funny thing about the Internet, though, is even though anything I post COULD be read by anybody with a connection, I feel like a drop of water in a particularly remote and uncharted part of the ocean. I feel so easily IGNORABLE... and so I don't usually feel like I'm intruding by posting anything. So I'm actually a whole lot more assertive here than I would be other places!

That said, I don't MIND knowing that what I post is being read. And there is never any need to apologize for commenting, whether you're my best friend or I have no idea who you are even online. Whoever you are, you have worth, and I like to hear from you.

Particularly because I'd like to have your permission to continue posting things. Just in case my posting is a bother.

---
*I just realized this is possibly a factor in my swooning over Faramir.
rockinlibrarian: (toothbrush)
My first grader is in there reading a Magic School Bus book to his sister, and I'm bursting with pride.

I don't know why it is, but I honestly think this has been the greatest reward of parenthood so far. I'm not even sure "reward" is the word I want. But you watch them grow and learn and experience so much, and it's all exciting and new, seeing the world through their eyes. You get their excitement, vicariously, when they learn to make their legs take them places (and they RUN, JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN), when they first taste a favorite food. But somehow THIS-- knowing he's decoded this SECRET LANGUAGE-- is a bigger thrill for me than anything else he's done.

Everywhere you look, there's print. Road signs and advertising and junk mail and cereal boxes and menus on electronics and instructions for toys. Even if you never open a single BOOK, there's so much to be READ. For the first five, six years of his life, he was surrounded by these seemingly random symbols, like decorative trim, and now suddenly they MEAN something. "This cereal has a Hint of Brown Sugar!" he announced this morning. Well, sure. Maybe he could have said that just by tasting it, but that's not the point. The point was that the cereal box had been telling him that ALL ALONG, and he'd only just noticed.

The world has opened UP for him in the past year! Everywhere he looks, there's a new story to discover! A few months back his dad and I were about to discuss something using the traditional S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G method, when I looked at Sam and laughed. "There's no hiding it from you, anymore!" I said, and we all laughed. It was like he'd been inducted into the club. HE KNOWS THE PASSWORD.

Sure, you say, I'm a children's librarian, it's my JOB to encourage kids to read, of course I'm happy about it. But it mostly drives home that this is about more than books, stories, school research. This is a WHOLE HUGE NEW WAY TO GATHER INFORMATION FROM ONES ENVIRONMENT. And it's just cool.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
Funny, I was way more enthusiastic to write this post this morning. Naturally, LIFE got in the way and I didn't get around to writing it (unless you count me gushing the basic details into my journal this morning) until now, when, LIFE having gotten in the way, I'm no longer floating on the bubbles of joy that I was.

No, I don't have any sort of huge good news. It was just the building up of little beautiful things. And THAT, in itself, is why I wanted to post about it!

Yesterday evening I wasn't in any particularly good mood. It was evening, which meant I was tired, and my husband was at work, so I had two whiny overstimulated kids I was trying to get settled down for bed by myself, which isn't exactly a party; but I wasn't feeling particularly bad, either. In fact, my son was doing all right. He'd earned, through chores and good behavior, some time to spend on something he wouldn't normally be allowed on-- in this case, my computer. He was drawing several variations of his usual "beach" picture in Paint (he draws a line down the middle, then paintbucket-fills one side with yellow, the other with blue, and that's his beach picture. He has at least five of these saved on my computer) while I struggled his sister into bed. But when I came back, he was saving a new picture to my computer. This was it:

I mean, let's stop right there. That alone could make anybody's day.

So I put him to bed (after thanking him thoroughly), grabbed my Nook and a bowl of corn chips, and flopped on the couch. (Okay, the title isn't accurate. Most of this was actually my NOOK exploding with beauty. But it was still the Internet, so it still fits). I set out to catch up with almost a week's worth of blog reading.

There was one post I was most anxious to see. Those of you who are already familiar with Hyperbole and a Half know what I mean. It was such a joy to see brilliant webcartoonist Allie Brosh back online after months of hiatus, particularly when we all knew she'd been very depressed last we heard from her (and by "we" I mean "a shocking variety of people. Like, everyone from all walks of life"). And she came back with the most perfect summary of her dark experience of the past couple years: seriously, if you HAVEN'T seen this yet, GO DO IT NOW. CLICK. Actually, do it again if you already have seen it because it's that wonderful. What she has done is given us the most dead-on heartbreakingly accurate description of depression that somehow also happens to be laugh out loud hilarious.

It's part of the "Clowns of God" concept again. When you mix happy and sad together, heartbreaking and hilarious together, it makes each of those emotions THAT MUCH STRONGER. And it's especially refreshing, to know so completely what she's talking about, but to be able to LAUGH at it... in the face of it... there is possibly no stronger force for battling the Darkness. I drew the connection between Allie Brosh and The Bloggess, how two of the absolute funniest people I've found on the internet are also two of the most broken. I don't think funny makes you depressed. I think being depressed forces you to find the funny. Humor is a gift given to those who need it most!

So now I'm buoyed up on that (that last picture and final sentence still do me in, even just now scrolling past to link to it), I continue reading through blogs-- or, to be honest, scanning them for the most interesting ones-- and I nearly skimmed right by this next one at Fuse #8 because, at first glance, it seemed to be a review of a picture book (which I don't get much say in ordering at our library) and I had a lot of other stuff to read, but then I noticed it was really an anecdote written by the author, about how, as a frustrated young immigrant, she found a library and a librarian who changed her life. OH LORD. A BEAUTIFUL IMPORTANCE-OF-LIBRARIES STORY. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time AGAIN.

So then I finished the blog-scanning and opened my Twitter app, where I immediately ended up retweeting the ever-so-wise Shannon Hale: "How can we build up instead of tear down? How can we make each day better for our presence? Our words are powerful. We can be superheroes." And even though, in context, she'd just been lamenting some cyberbullying her friend was going through, I was too high from the other things I'd read and seen this evening to get pulled down by those bullies. Instead, I saw we can be superheroes. YES! With wonderful, positive, sensible and sensitive people like Shannon Hale leading the way! All I saw was the light piercing THROUGH the darkness.

And close below that was another picture from Commander Hadfield aboard the International Space Station. If you haven't seen Commander Hadfield's pictures, please go, do it. Each picture of our troubled planet from far above is a quiet moment of Zen. It's like something I've always remembered from reading Joseph Campbell: that if you look at Creation stories from across cultures, they are almost always violent and traumatizing when told from the POV of the people of Earth, but when told from the POV of the gods, they suddenly become beautiful dances. That's what the pictures from the ISS are like, and last night's picture of the Alps in the clouds was no exception. Except I was already feeling lovely and positive, so it was that much more awesome.

Then I did something that might have dragged me back down into my own brain, my own self-conscious self-pity-- I went to YouTube to see if my particularly awesome if-I-do-say-so-myself but-that's-because-it's-about-one-of-my-favorite-topics vlog post of the week had got any more likes or comments. Eh, it had only been VIEWED four times, and I was pretty sure two of those views were me. So I was all set to start whining to myself how "NOBODY CARES WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!" (which we all know is a stupid thing to think and ones self-worth should absolutely not depend on how many people respond to your Internet postings, BUT YOU ARE STILL WELCOME TO COMMENT ON THIS POST! GO AHEAD! I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! IF YOU ARE EVER WAVERING BETWEEN RESPONDING OR NOT RESPONDING TO ANYTHING I POST, GO WITH THE RESPONDING! IT'S NOT ENABLING, I SWEAR!), but then I caught sight of YouTube's little "Recommended for You" column. You're going to laugh at me, after all these heartwarming philosophical transcendent things I've been talking about, but face it, this is me. And YouTube had found me an old interview with Martin Freeman I'd never seen before. SHUT UP. It totally does fit with the rest of these beautiful things. Look, I've never been able to truly explain (no matter how I've tried) exactly why I adore him so much, but I can't watch him without smiling. I am unable to even look at a friggin' Hobbit DVD cover without smiling. And he was SO utterly lovely here that I very soon found myself just bubbling away in a hot spring of joy.

And then I caught sight of my list of YouTube subscriptions on the side, saw a little "1" beside Collective Cadenza. I think I'm late to the game on the CDZA thing, and everyone else discovered them a long long time ago, but I only discovered them a week ago, and the fun they have with music is possibly the greatest thing ever. Even the videos that aren't so good are still the Greatest Thing Ever, just because Fun With Music is THAT AWESOME. So I watched their new video, where they took their "History of Wooing Women" routine (which I hadn't thought was a particularly great one) on the road. It was basically them serenading random people on the street. And the longer the video went on, the more wonderful it felt. The more I was LAUGHING AND CRYING AT THE SAME TIME again.

And that was it. I didn't read or watch or look at anything else. I just sat there with my Nook on my lap, FEELING JOY. I popped onto Twitter just because, somehow, I had to share this feeling: "I've been reading and watching one lovely, beautiful thing or person after another here this past hour. I'll go to bed now filled with joy." It was all I could fit into 140 characters. But the feeling was, basically, the exact opposite of Depression-as-Described-by-Allie-Brosh. I've been there. I'm all too familiar with the hopelessness, the wishing-I'd-just-die-so-it-would-all-go-away. But THIS feeling was... well, this is basically the thought that came with it: I am so glad to be alive in a world where such beautiful people doing so many beautiful small things exist.

And I woke up this morning determined to LIVE, to BE one of those people who make the world a better place just by our being here. I don't think the day went quite like I hoped. But there are more days. And every little bit of beauty helps.
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Hi folks. It's been awhile, mostly because I had the flu last week and the week before and OH MY GOSH... wait, never mind. I keep forgetting it's only the beginning of February, because I'm planning library events for the end of February, and keep forgetting my events in the middle of February haven't happened yet. Even though it should be fresh in my mind, since I was forced to change my Hobbit movie calendar today, which was very sad, because Mr. January was Bilbo and now it's February, which should delight all the Thorin fangirls but just does NOT fill me with irrepressible smile bubbles every time I walk by the calendar the way Mr. January did. Even Maddie is disappointed in Mr. February in comparison. She said, "He's scary." You know what she said, unprompted, about Mr. January? "That's my favorite guy!" Good taste, that child.

SO ANYWAY, it hasn't been QUITE as long since my last entry as I feared, because I have NOT actually DONE my February library* programs-- WAIT, I NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT MY NEW LIBRARY PROGRAMS! I picked up some regular weekly program spots because we needed more programs aimed at elementary aged kids. So I'm doing what I call "Library Explorers" on Monday evenings, which is where I pick a fun topic and we find books and do activities and stuff around that topic. The first one is a Mardi Gras party. Elementary-kid-appropriate. Then Thursday evenings are Family Night Story Times, fun for all ages! Stop by!

So, I've been planning programs at work, recuperating at home-- until last weekend, when I started going on Cleaning Sprees. I'm typically blind to clutter, and ignore housework until it becomes Problematic (in my opinion, not the opinion of other people), but every so often I go into BERZERKER CLEANING FRENZIES and dive into thorough, day-long projects of it all (this is actually fairly typical of Type 9s. I AM NOT A FLUKE). That happened this past week. Oh, and I've been reading fiction, occasionally! I bought Terry Pratchett's latest, Dodger, on a whim on my Nook because it was on special, which I was enjoying right and dandy; but then yesterday a girl returned Code Name Verity (by Elizabeth Wein-- look at how "Wein" is just like "Weir" with an extra little line down the end! That's a good name for a writer) and I decided "I said I'd like to read this, but I think I want to read this NOW," so I checked it out and dove right in. Dodger is good, but it can wait. Both those books just won Printz Honors though. Good year for the Printz! Books I'm actually interested in!

But SPEAKING of the Youth Media Awards, that actually brings us to what I was going to tell you about all along. Sort of. See, I was going to get out of blogging by introducing you to my VLOG! but now I've already typed four full paragraphs so I suppose I haven't actually gotten out of anything.

Anyway, a month or so back a few of my Lycoris-Project friends decided to start a group video-blog, just to chat with each other. Or spew opinions at each other. I thought, that sounds crazy! Why would I ever do that? until I said Heck with it and did one. A video I mean. And I said "That was fun! And didn't take THAT much time! And is a new and exciting creative endeavor, and I need to START a new and exciting creative endeavor so as to remind myself that I can, indeed, create! And I am AWESOME when I can edit out my ums and terribly-long-pauses-when-I-can't-think-of-words! It's like WRITING, only out loud!" So I was added into the video rotation and have so far created four videos.

So getting back to speaking of the Youth Media Awards, that's what I did in this week's video. The topic of the week was supposed to be "Movie, Music, and Book Recommendations," but because that seemed like such an endlessly broad topic, I stuck to talking about the Youth Media Awards instead. And reading Elephant and Piggie books out loud:


Isn't that amazing, actually seeing ME in PERSON? YOU ARE DROOLING ALL OVER YOURSELVES WITH LOVE OF THE REAL ME, NOW, AREN'T YOU? Well, assuming you are, my other videos are here: in which I introduce myself, in which I blather about FANDOMS, and in which I respond to questions in what has been erroneously labeled a "Nerd Survey," even though the questions lean far more to "geek" than "nerd." You can also see the videos the others have made, assuming you would want to look at anyone who is not me after this.

So that's how I give you a blog without blogging! Although I blogged anyway! Thank you. Thank you very much.

---
*I keep spelling "February" wrong, and I only just realized that's because my fingers keep wanting to type "library." Well, February IS Library Lovers' Month. Probably due to spelling.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
It's been very hard to get anything typed lately, maybe because I don't get a lot of typing time to myself-- COMPUTER time, yes, but only enough to check things in short bursts, while people are running around demanding my attention or just distracting me. THAT LAST SENTENCE, for example, has taken 45 minutes to type, what with the kids deciding naptime was over and I needed to be talked to, and their dad coming home and attempting to get them to clean up their mess, and them arguing about how they COULDN'T POSSIBLY clean up their mess, and him coaching them step by step on cleaning up their mess, and now they're in here alone chanting "I'M TOO TIRED TO PICK UP!"

--Later, they've gone out to the sandbox and J is busy with his own stuff: RIGHT, so as I was saying, it's DANG hard to compose anything on the computer (I have a LITTLE more luck on paper, because I can do that in a broader variety of locations and don't feel as guilty for spending time on it), which may explain why I haven't posted in forever. Or, many other reasons, about all of which I'll hit on in the following post.

Anyway, one of my teammate-friends on the Lycoris project (which, by the way, another of my letters is up on the Tumblr, in case you only like to read stuff I write-- by the way, "Busy Writing Letters" is Excuse #2 For Why I Haven't Blogged) sent me this link to a personality test a few weeks ago. Now, I love me a good personality test-- not the random-generator ones, but actual personality tests (similar to how I loved blog surveys back when that was a thing), so, sure, I gobbled it up right away. And I followed the directions and read the descriptions of all the types, or at least the types I'd scored highly on (I nearly had a three-way tie), just to be sure.

But I only HAD to read the description of Type 9, my top score by one point, after all. Well, I DID read the others to be sure, to discount the possibility that this was just the sort of general description that could apply to almost anyone, like fortune cookie fortunes and horoscopes and such, but there was NO QUESTION about it. That was the most FREAKISHLY ACCURATE personality test result I had ever seen in my life. This description was much more ON than I'd ever got out of the more-well-known Myers-Briggs (maybe because I always score so close between Thinking and Feeling and Judging and Perceiving that it almost seems pointless to make the distinctions between them), let alone from What-does-your-favorite-snack-food-say-about-you quizzes or astrology (astrology I discounted many, many years ago. It's not that I don't think the cosmos ISN'T connected in ways we'd never understand, so that the stars COULD affect us, it's that, SERIOUSLY. I was born under ARIES. Now go read the subtitle of that Type 9 description and explain how someone with that result on a personality quiz based on WHAT SHE ACTUALLY DOES could POSSIBLY be affected by the DATE OF HER BIRTH in the way the astrology descriptions say). I think what makes it so dead on is exactly that it ISN'T general. It is VERY SPECIFIC, which makes its Freakish Accuracy all the more fascinating.

Maybe it's great because it isn't about dichotomies. It acknowledges that I can be an introvert who likes people, an optimist who's extremely pessimistic about herself, someone who loves beautiful things but can't keep house or pay attention to her own looks for anything. And yes, that's all in the description of Type 9, if you didn't read it. SOMEHOW, all my quirks, for good (peace and love and FLOWERS!) or for bad (the Deadly Sin associated with Type 9? SLOTH, obviously), are accounted for here (it's possible, if you disagree, that you have never met me in person. My written personality tends to lean a little closer to Type 4, which was indeed my second-place score, but me in real life? Completely that 9). I obsessively kept reading about this ("Obsessive Enneagram Reading": Excuse #3), on the web (here's a longer, more interpretive description of the Type 9, too. Still dead on), in library books. It only became MORE CLEARLY ACCURATE (there's more nuances you can add to the types, too. If you want to be specific, I'm actually a 9w1 with a sexual/social/self-preservational instinctual stack, at approximately a Level 5 health/development level on Zoloft. Dear lord, I was bottoming through Level 7 before the Zoloft-- it was scary, y'all). The other night, after reading a particularly in-depth chapter, it struck me that I felt like the woman Jesus met at the well: "He told me everything I ever did!"

Seriously, if you know me and want to understand me better, go read those descriptions. I'M NOT KIDDING. It EXPLAINS me. I could write on and on about the amazingness of this, how clearly I can see why I do the stupid things I do, and how joyfully I see that the person I WANT to be is actually who I am already deep inside, if I can just work through my HANGUPS and move from that Level 5 up to a Level 3 or so (Also, "I Am A Not-Particularly-Healthy-and-Enlightened Type 9, Currently Enslaved By My Tendency Toward SLOTH": Excuse #4). But I'm not going to do that for you. Instead I will write this very Type-9-ish thing I realized: THIS (all 9 basic types, I mean, not just mine) EXPLAINS WHY PEOPLE MISUNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.

It's so clearly spelled out there, how people really do have completely different ways of experiencing and therefore reacting to the world. So this is why people give each other advice that seems so obvious to the adviser but is completely useless or at least frustrating to the advisee! This is why people have such completely different views of what religion and/or spirituality is or ought to be! This is why we judge and misjudge each other, because we all have such different standards, and our own standards are oh-so-important to us! This is where the communication breakdown comes from. (Also from Led Zeppelin, but that's the GOOD kind of Communication Breakdown).

It makes me think, in a typical 9ish fashion-- WOW, if everyone only really LOOKED at themselves and why they do what they do, and looked at all the other ways OTHER people do what they do, THERE WOULD BE WORLD PEACE. (The folks behind that enneagram site suspect Jim Henson of being Type 9, too [and they totally spelled his name wrong in the description]. I can see that. Obviously he was at a higher level of general EFFECTIVENESS than me, but still). Again I say, it's the lack of dichotomy in this view. It's a range of DIFFERENT ways of seeing that isn't about either/or. It's about ranges and spectrums and parts of wholes. IT'S ABOUT WHOLENESS! And again, that's a very Type 9ish way of looking at it, so maybe I'm just biased and other sorts of people would look at this and not see it at all.

I also decided that it's very likely Madeleine L'Engle was a 9, and that it comes out in Wrinkle, and that probably why I identified so much with Meg is the 9-iness in her. Though she's more of a 9w8 than my 9w1. I almost considered writing a Year of the Tesseract post about it. But maybe that's overdoing it.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
Our town, as I've mentioned, time and again, likes to go overboard for the 4th of July. This year I decided I'm posting some pictures.



This, for example, is a horse-drawn hearse:

Because you need a picture of a horse-drawn hearse. It was the coolest thing in the parade, after all.

But what you really need is video of my daughter dancing to a polka band:

Click, I can't get it to embed without it ERASING HALF THIS ENTRY for some reason

--

Okay anyway, so remember when I went to my friend's house the other weekend and it was awesome? I'll give you some pictures of THAT, too!

Here's my crab cake sandwich meal:


And here's the frog that had to be rescued from the pool while "Rainbow Connection" was TOTALLY PLAYING:


There. Now your day is made. Carry on.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
Just quickly here, I'm bursting with pride this morning in the light of the last post I wrote. This morning the kids burst into my room in effort to either wake me up or get into all the fun stuff we keep hidden from them in there-- probably the latter, because that's what they DID. Anyway, my three-year-old picks up her dad's emergency flashlight and shines it on the piece of paper sitting there, and begins, with a dramatic flourish, to "read."

"Once upon a time, there was a Madeleine walking to the park with her Mommy. They were going to see Sammy at school. Sammy... Sammy again. THERE'S my name! There's my name AGAIN!" because at this point she'd gotten distracted trying to find words she knew on the page (neither of those names were actually on the page, incidentally).

Then she got back on track, but wasn't pretending to read anymore: she was just excited to tell everyone her story. "Madeleine and Mommy went to the park with THE EASTER BUNNY! The Easter Bunny wrapped up EGGS for them for a surprise!" And then her speech dissolved into gibberish while I quickly grabbed my paper journal to write this story down for posterity.

Meanwhile her brother, the future engineer, was systematically deconstructing my sewing machine, so I realized I'd better get moving and herd them out of there.

Look, I'm not trying to force my kids down any particular career paths here. I'm just making the observations.

Anyway, so I was mightily impressed with the structure of that story, made up off the top of a three-year-old's head. So that's my brag for today.

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