This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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After the stress

I’m all done. If you follow me on Facebook, or just know me in real life, you have heard this already. I’m sort of shouting it from the rooftops these days. ALL DONE! No more homework, no more assignments, no more papers, projects, or discussions. Tomorrow is graduation, and though I have elected not to attend, I’ll be officially a Master of Library and Information Science. A librarian. For real.

20151215_121607It’s not like I’m not busy anymore. It’s Christmas, after all. That’s the main reason I chose not to attend the graduation ceremonies tomorrow. The thought of dragging everyone up there for a 6pm ceremony, then bringing everyone home overtired and late, just didn’t appeal. Plus there are several other things on the calendar for Saturday, including a piano recital for the two big kids.

But somehow my brain is still processing this lack of school thing. For almost four years I’ve been in the thick of studying, or preparing for the next wave of classes. I’m having trouble just accepting that there is no next wave. Sure, I have to get a job now, and who knows what challenges I’ll find next, but this challenge has been met. And conquered. I’ve reached the shore and climbed out of the water. There are mountains to climb, and jungles to explore, but I think I’ll just sit here on the beach for a bit and enjoy my cocoa and cookies. Okay, maybe that’s not the best image.

Christmas is shaping up to be as lovely as anyone could want here. Except the weather. Not that I want to complain about something nobody can change, but I could use a few flurries. Or at least weather cool enough to force me to close my window at night! It’s like being back in Georgia. We may have to turn on the AC to run the gas fireplace on Christmas Eve this year. That’s just wrong.

Still, we’re rolling in blessings and I’m determined to remember each of them when I say my prayers at night. Enough blessings to induce guilt sometimes. I pray every day for ways to show my children how blessed we are. May they never, ever be unaware of how fortunate they are. I can’t stand to spend any more effort participating in the social media drama of the political discussions this month. I also can’t imagine remaining silent forever on some of these topics. But for the rest of 2015, I will enjoy these blessings with my family. I’ll keep teaching my children how blessed they are and encourage their compassionate natures. We’ll focus on the lessons of a tiny baby born in poverty who brought divinity to mankind. There’s no greater blessing than that one!

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#ALAO2015

Screenshot 2015-11-22 at 10.00.36 PM - EditedI attended my first library conference on Friday! I’d like to tell you all about it, but I’m not sure anyone who wasn’t there wants to read that. Let me just sum it up for you.

I have found my people. There were all sorts of different kinds of people at the conference, but there was something the same. Something I can’t quite articulate. People were friendly and welcoming, and that was lovely, but it wasn’t that. There was just some intangible thing that made me feel totally at home. Confidently at home. Empoweringly at home. (Did I just make up a word? Maybe. But I needed it.)

I helped with the registration table, calling like a carnival barker, “A through L over here, M through Z over there. Did you download the program in advance? Step right up and find your nametag. Would you like a free lanyard? Please see Megan for you packet.” Most validating part of the whole day? Watching all these librarians say the alphabet out loud as they searched for their own name tags. Sometimes they even got confused and started over or realized they were in the wrong line, skipping back over to the A through L side. It wasn’t just me! It happens to long time librarians, too!

I was a student volunteer, so I got to go for free. What a deal. I collected evaluation forms at the end of each session, and got to attend. I learned about managing student workers, creating hybrid lessons, teaching information literacy to students and employees, and creating programs for students to act autonomously at the reference desk. I met about a million other academic librarians and other support staff. I gathered a ton of vendor loot. I ate a couple rather tasty meals. Just a lovely experience.

Perhaps most importantly, I left with a feeling of elation. I think that maybe I didn’t pick a career in my first four decades because I couldn’t stand the thought of choosing wrong. The ultimate in commitment phobic, I guess. Once I applied for library school, I was pretty sure I’d chosen wisely, and I think I’ve gotten more confident with each term, each class. But on Friday, it was official. It was real. It was CERTAIN. I am so doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve found exactly the career for me.

Now I just have to find myself some gainful employment. Stay tuned.


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The Log, to date

I should have been writing up what I’m doing each day at my internship all along. Instead, I’m just making daily notes to keep up with the log. Here is what we have so far. I’ll try to write up a more detailed account of each type of activity in the next week or so . I am nearing the halfway point of the needed hours! How is that possible?

Date Actual hours total hours activities
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 5.5 71.25 9:30-11, worked on withdrawals. 11-12, met with Ray about scheduling, 12-12:15 ate lunch, 12:15-1:15 focus group, 1:15-3:00 finished withdrawals
Thursday, May 7, 2015 2.5 12-2:30, coverage of front desk, general circulation duties. Answered one reference question for Director of MACM program regarding online periodical search.
Friday, May 8, 2015 2.5 9:30-12, Prepared periodicals for shipment to bindery.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5.25 9:30-10, practice with seminary choir. 10-11:15 Eucharist service, sang with choir. 11:20-12:30 Met with Ray about LibGuide building, discussed future meetings and how we will manage this project between schedules of myself and part-time emplyees who don’t cross paths much 12:30-1 lunch. 1-2:45, Pre-class introduction and then attended Church History II class taught by Dr. Huber. Enjoyed lecture about the church in North America from the mid-19th century through the early 21st century.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 5 9:30-10 Met with Ray, discussed plan for the day and future projects. 10-10:30 Chapel service. 10:40-12:00 Attended New Testament II class taught by Dr. Walter Taylor. Interesting lecture about the formation of the canon and the book of Revelation. Obtained full set of class docuements and lecture notes from Dr. Taylor. May be useful in thinking about library services necessary for these students. 12-12:30 lunch. 12:30-2:30 Met with Aija to determine plan for future book repair projects. Checked catalog status for those books determined to be in need of repair or rebinding. Pulled several books from reference for repair, primarily respining.
Friday, May 15, 2015 5 9:30-10:45 Met with Ray and then began gathering materials by speakers committed for the conference in June regarding peace in the Mid East. 10:45-12:00 Met with Carla and Ray to begin getting up to speed on LibGuide building. Got account set up, poked around, discussed plans for guides Ray would like to see built and timelines for such. 12:12:30 lunch. 12:30-2:30 Met with Ray and Kailee regarding LibGuides. Kailee is the resident expert on building these, and offered excellent advice. Spent some time poking around the system and also looking at other guides that might be “borrowed” or built upon to get what we want completed.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 5 9:30-12 Withdrawals – removed books from OPAL and OCLC catalogs. 12-12:20 lunch 12:20-2:30 respined on volume, repaired several minor spine tears with book tape.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 5 9:30-12 Experimented with setting up a LibGuide, gathering experience. Successfully brought in RSS feeds for Twitter and my blog 12-1:45 Staff meeting
Friday, May 22, 2015 5 9:30-11:30 Met with Ray to determine point persons for each day of the rest of internship. Plans are to get time with Kathy on periodicals and the ejournal systems, Joy and acquisitions, and Aija for cataloging, as well as some time spent working on the shelf read of the second floor. 11:30-12:30 Learned Inter-Library Loan system 12:30-2:30 Book repairs, respined three books
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5 9:30-12 Met with Ray and Carla and discussed the webpage for Hamma Library, possible changes, and motivations for these changes. Much content to be moved to LibGuides as they are built over the next few weeks/months. 12-12:30 Lunch 12:30-2:30 met with Ray and Kailee to discuss webpage changes decided with Carla. Kailee being the one who can actually edit the webpage, collaborated on look of the page.
Friday, May 29, 2015 5 9:30-12/12:30-2:30 withdrew 95 volumes from OPAL and OCLC catalogs
Monday, June 1, 2015 5 9:30-11 researched and withdrew some old volumes that had been gifted but never fully cataloged and found in storage1, 11-2:30 withdrew 95 Long Playing albums weeded from the collection.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 5 9:30-11:30 checked gift books for holdings in TLS and OPAL 11:30-12 lunch, 12:00-2:30 worked with Aija (cataloger) to catalog gift books
Friday, June 5, 2015 6 9:30-12:30 cataloged three more volumes unsupervised, processed ILL requests including one Article Exchange request for copies, and four books sent out. 1:00-3:30 Attended Rev. Emlyn Ott’s basic course on Healthy Congregations.
Monday, June 8, 2015 4.5 9:30-10 ILL requests and maintenance 10-11 Shelf read BS1-BS193 11-12:30 Worked with Aija to clean up cataloging attempts from Friday. 12:30-1, lunch, 1-2 :Worked with Aija to learn to import a record from OCLC to Sierra (OPAL) for an item that was not previously held in OPAL.


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This Spring

I let all of March go by without a post. Not sure how that happened, but it probably had something to do with our even busier than usual schedule. My two hardest classes ever wrapped up in the middle of the month, a week after an extra workshop with one of my favorite professors. I was single parenting while the Daddy was traveling for work for a total of two weeks, and there are two more three-day trips to go. The kids had spring breaks (separately, since the preschool follows another district’s schedule), and then there was all the usual busy three-kid-household stuff going on.

So, there were big things and little things that happened in the last several weeks. Big things first, right?

The biggest news: Girlie took her First Communion on Thursday night. She was so excited. I was so proud of her. The instruction given at the church was pretty minimal, but she went through all the materials and then came to me with all her questions. She felt like the materials she was given were written for a bit younger audience, and I agreed, so we went right to the Luther’s Small Catechism. She read what Luther had to say and we discussed it at length. I am so proud of her blossoming faith. I am so thrilled to be able to share mine with her. She’s so smart and sweet. She works out her questions so carefully. Sometimes I can’t give her an answer, but she accepts that maybe sometimes the idea is to explore the question rather than find the definitive answer. When she stepped up and knelt at the Lord’s Table, surely no more humble or earnest heart has ever received the sacrament.

bThat Middle Kid is TEN! It’s astonishing to me how fast it’s going. Everyone said it would, you know it will, but there is no real preparation for the speed at which they grow. He was just a toddler and now he’s pushing his way toward teenhood. He makes me absolutely batty sometimes, but he’s the neatest ten-year-old I know and I can’t believe I get to be his mom.

Also of note, as mentioned above, I finished my hardest semester to date. Digital Preservation and Cataloging I. I knew they would both be rough, and that taking them together would be an enormous challenge, but waiting to take one of them might have postponed graduation up to a year. Had to be done. I got an A- in Cataloging, but the grades are still pending in Digital Preservation. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There were a lot of points left to be awarded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a B, though it would be disappointing. However it turns out, I made some good friends in the group project work, which I didn’t expect. I hate group projects with a passion, but I got lucky this time. All three other members worked hard and got along well together.

So, that leaves an internship this summer and just one class (Foundations of Archives) in the fall. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in the middle of December. It’s so odd to think of being done. It will have been a full three years of work, but it seems like it’s all I’ve ever done. The Baby Bird doesn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. Then, of course, it will be time to get a job!

The littlest kid is all registered for all-day kindergarten. Here in Worthington, half-day kindergarten is free, but full-day is available for a pretty reasonable fee. The curriculum is not expanded, but they get more time to spend on each learning target. The fee is by far the best value in childcare around here, and having him at the school with his big brother and sister is well worth it. The idea is that I’ll have a little more flexibility to get a job and work out additional childcare with him in full-day. It’s awarded by lottery, though, so it wasn’t a done deal until they drew names but we made the cut.

In lesser news, both big kids read and loved Harry Potter this winter. The girl is off on the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series) and trying to get me to read it. I want to, but discretionary reading hours are so precious, you know? And the Middle kid passed along a series he read in school, Brian’s Saga, that I never read. I’m most of the way through the first one and it is a quick read, but I almost never sit down. I will get through them all, kids. I promise. Having more reading given to you by your kids is a problem I’m happy to have.

So, tomorrow is Easter. I want to write about Good Friday. I’m so filled with emotion every Good Friday, and I always feel the need to write about it. It doesn’t seem right to tack it onto the end of a catch-up kind of post, though, and I haven’t really worked out exactly what I’m trying to say this year. I just read this post, a sermon by a friend of Nadia Boltz-Weber, and it’s good. It’s really good. I gasped several times at the sheer truth it contains. It’s painful. Good Friday must be painful.

For today, I’ll get back to deviling eggs and layering pudding and bananas. There are clothes to be ironed and kids to be bathed. We cut the Baby’s curls off yesterday. They can grow back, but for a while I’ve been thinking that he looked like a big boy with a baby’s haircut. No more. One haircut and he looks like he grew up by two years. I can’t wait to get everyone all dressed up tomorrow and take their picture.


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A glimmer? Could it be? #LightAtTheEndOfTheTunnel #MLIS #KentState #LibrarySchool

Just coming up for air. This semester is going to be the hump. I was warned to take both these classes alone, but I can’t swing it. Taking them together means I might graduate at the end of the year, trying to take them separately means at least another year. So, together it is. Classes started on Monday. I’m not drowning, yet, but I’m swimming hard.

20150116_221111Digital Preservation. I thought I had some idea what that is. Not so much. But it IS fascinating. It’s almost as interesting to me as the more traditional forms of preservation and archival work. I am not going to be sorry I took this class. I am beginning to panic about my own digital stewardship of family files. There isn’t likely one among us who have done a good job with this. I thought that I had a handle on all of it. No, no I do not. The more I learn, the more I find out what I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of digital preservation projects lining up for when I finish this class.

Cataloging and Classification I. Yeah, I knew this one was going to be rough. Outside the library world, maybe folks don’t know how tough this one might be. Trust me, it’s a bear. It will likely be one of the most useful classes I take in the whole MLIS program. I’ve had almost no experience with the nitty gritty of this stuff, though. It’s pretty foreign. Wish me luck!

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for staying caught up this week. It’s just the first of ten, but I’m ON IT! I am beating my chest and feeling like I’ve GOT THIS. I’ll be panicking again tomorrow, but for tonight, I am in CHARGE!

Now, if I can arrange a practicum for this summer, I can take Intro to Archives in the fall and GRADUATE IN DECEMBER!

Good grief! Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?


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This week

Yesterday I went off on a bit of a rant. Sorry about that. I’ve been brooding over this Mommy Wars thing all week. Not so much the thing itself, but the discussions around it. Seems I just rambled and confused the few who read it. My apologies.

Let’s catch up around here, shall we?

This is the week that my husband joins his dad and uncle off in the frozen north for a few days of deer hunting. It’s not exactly great hunting land, he’s gotten exactly one deer in the nearly 20 years he’s been going, but it’s a bonding experience. It’s tradition. It’s just what they do.

This is my annual solo parenting week. It’s weird, but I don’t hate it. I am in awe of the single parents I know. I’m amazed at the parents whose partners travel regularly. But since it’s mostly just this one week, well, eight days, actually, I can take it. I almost look forward to it. Not that I don’t miss it, but there are some pluses.

I get a lot done, most years, anyway. I always have grand plans for getting the house cleaned and some years I actually do. This year has proven to be pretty unproductive so far, but I did have that eight page paper to crank out. I’m planning to haul as much away from the basement as I can tomorrow, but the weather may not cooperate.

wpid-20141116_212428-2.jpgI allow myself one late night meal of delivery garbage food each year. Tonight is the night! I just ordered an Italian sub and half a dozen boneless hot wings. I poured a neat bourbon and here I sit awaiting delivery. No, it’s not good for me. No, I don’t need it. Yes, I am going to enjoy every crumb.I’ll probably have ridiculous heartburn at 3:00 a.m. but I’m willing to risk it.

The kids really do miss their daddy, and that’s good for everyone. We all need a break from each other once in a while. They remember how much Daddy really does love them when he’s gone like this. They will be really glad to see him come home.

I got my paper done. Next, and last of the semester, paper due in two weeks. Then I gear up for Spring 2015, which, by all accounts, is going to kick my butt! Cataloging I and Intro to Digital Preservation, both at the same time. I was warned to take them alone, but I can’t swing it without adding a year onto this whole endeavor. Better to plunge in and get it done. Then I’ve got to figure out a practicum for summer, and there’s just one class to take in the fall. Then I’ll be DONE!

My food is here, you will have to excuse me. I’ll be back, of course, tomorrow. Good night.

 


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Heroin happens. Why we HAVE to keep talking about it!

So, here I sit in the middle of my not-so-clean house, not cleaning it. Yesterday was the final deadline for my summer class, it had been extended from last Friday. I really hate when the finish line gets moved, but there you go. I’ve been hanging on for this class to be over so I could get on with summer and all my grand summer plans, and this morning all I feel motivated to do is sit here. Gave each kid a bowl of oatmeal and now I’m just wallowing in the idea that I don’t HAVE to do anything. It will pass in a minute and I’ll get up and get on with my to-do list for the day. Wash the shower curtain in our bathroom, strip and wash the kids’ beds, scrub the upstairs bathrooms, go the grocery and pick up graduation gift for the last grad party of the season. Think about the fun the kids and I can have next week with no homework hanging over my head.

Life is good. My life is good. I am so aware of my blessings today.

Last week’s post about heroin lurking just on the edge of our world got a lot of hits. I am glad that folks are reading. I got feedback on Facebook, through emails, and even a comment here, about personal experiences of parents. My friend who wrote the piece I posted has written a bit more to share with you. I hope you will read it, too, and keep the conversation going. I can’t tell you how important I think it is to have this conversation. So many of us as parents are hanging on the idea that we can all somehow find the perfect book/blog/philosophy/guide/support group/whatever and we’ll be able to do this job perfectly. Or at least well enough that our children will be spared any pain, or bad decisions, or any of the pitfalls of life. I want to make the point again, with the help of my friend, that we’re all making mistakes and some of our children will get themselves into really bad places, whether it’s drugs, or something else. What I’m NOT saying is that it isn’t worth the struggle. I’m not saying that we should just accept the fact that some of our kids will turn into junkies and all we can do is hope it isn’t ours. I believe that talking about it will do two things. First, it will help remove the stigma felt by these kids who are trying to recover, and by their parents. Less judgement, more love, is always beneficial in healing. Second, it will increase awareness by those of us who don’t have a lot of experience with these things. A head in the sand never solved anything. Ever.

So, here is the next installment of a conversation I hope will continue.

 

How Did You Know?

How did you know? I’m not sure I did.

Why did you go looking? My gut told me to.

You invaded his privacy? I saved his life. For now…

Heroin is seductive; it lures you in and makes you its slave. It does not discriminate and invades families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Heroin provides an almost immediate emotional and physical pain free escape from reality. It is as instantaneous as social media. RAPID RESULTS. Something our young people have become accustom too.

Statistics are showing that there is a terrifying trend. More people under the age of 21 are trying heroin. In fact, there has been a sharp increase in first time heroin use in the 12-17 age group. #Staggering

How did this happen? Ohio waged war and shut down illegal pill factories. Unfortunately, they created a climate that was ripe and ready for a heroin epidemic. Pills became less available and costly. Think $80 for a single pill. My son, since rehab, has shared with me that similar to his experience, most of the heroin addicts he knows, started on pills. For my son, his dealer struggled to get pills, so his dealer turned him on to heroin. Here is a

FAST FACT: Did you know heroin costs about $5 a hit. That is cheaper than pot and way cheaper than pills.

Guess what else? Heroin is more accessible and easier to obtain than not only pills, but pot.

The tiny blackish-brown square of black tar heroin, wrapped in foil, placed in a sandwich bag costs about $5. The physical and psychological relief this little mistress provides is reportedly amazing. Euphoric. It gives instant relief to anxiety, depression, mania, physical pain and everything else. You just don’t feel.

Regular use changes brain chemistry. Not only does your tolerance increase, so more is the only thing you desire, but your brain chemistry changes so you think being high is normal. And you will continue to use more, so you avoid any withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include, goose bumps, watery eyes and runny nose, excessive yawning, loss of appetite, tremors, panic attacks, chills, nausea, muscle cramps, insomnia, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, shaking, chills and profuse sweating and irritability.

So first, let me state, I am no expert, I am a mom. And my sons addiction, although I know it is not all on me, it feels like an exceptional parenting fail. So please, no need for you to judge me, I am judging myself daily. So there is no perfect science in how to tell if your loved one is using.

What I know is that my son was dealing with some pretty challenging personal SHIT just before his heroin addiction. I could see he was spiraling and he did not want our advice or help. I also knew he was not coping well with his stress. There was excessive pot smoking. I discovered he was drinking my booze. And although there were fights and consequences, I know he could have cared less and I felt helpless.

Then I noticed a couple times some seriously glassy eyes. It was weird and it was a look I had not seen before. I don’t remember the puddley looking eyes with the tiny pupils. I thought to myself, whoa, he looks messed up. So I would ask if he was okay. How do you think he responded? He’s 20 and he would become volatile if I pressed, so I didn’t.

He was also pulling away from us. Isolating himself, spending time with his personal shit problem girlfriend and became more private and more withdrawn.

In my gut something was horribly wrong, I knew it, I felt it and people around me would talk me out of

it. So I gave it time. I gave it about five minutes.

Then I did it. I invaded his privacy. I went in to my 20-year-old sons room and searched. It didn’t take much searching; I saw the baggie, syringe (sans needle), a small piece of foil, a spoon and a lighter sitting out on a chair. It was right out in the open.

(By the way, what this taught me was that there is no privacy in my house. If I suspect my child is in trouble or doing something troubling, I will search their things and be unapologetic because it could be life or death. It is not a betrayal, it is my house and my rules – I can search and I will search.)\So what were the signs? The signs sucked, I relied on my gut and his behavior. Did my gut tell me he was using heroin? No, but I knew something was happening.

What should you do? Every situation is different. Not every addict presents the same. There are some similarities though. They lie and they get really good at covering their addiction. They may bargain and make promises that heroin never intends for them to keep. They stop caring about everything, except heroin.

BE PRESENT, OBSERVANT AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

What should you look for:

Pin Point pupils

Droopy appearance like every limb, including their head is heavy

Dry mouth and extreme thirst

Behavior changes

Appearance lacks care altogether

Withdraws or other behavior changes

Baggies and foil laying about or in trash

Missing tablespoons

Understand that addiction is a disease. It is complex and your loved one will struggle. Relapse is part of this struggle.

Understand the difference between support, enabling and meddling. This is tough, so rely on help from professionals and friends.

TALK ABOUT IT – tell trusted friends and talk about it. This hardship is too much of a burden for you to carry alone. Go to a meeting like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Remember, there is no such thing as recreational heroin use, get them to rehab. Find a program. If they have a family component, go to every meeting, rearrange your life for your family. This is important. Embrace taking things one day at a time. You need to live during this time too. Live and find joy in every day. Look hard for it, because it is there, even if it is to be grateful your loved one is safe and in a facility.

 


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Jumping back in…

More than two months have passed since I’ve found the time to sit down and write a full length post. I’ve got a few drafts sitting neglected and growing more stale by the day. I’m sitting down with a blank page now and thinking about all the things I’ve meant to write about this spring. I am all over the place. I have thoughts to share on politics and current events, the graduations in my circle of friends and family, end of life issues as I watch the last of my children’s great grandparents live out their lives, food and diet thoughts, observations on my children and the wrap up of their school year, even a few insights on library school and all the great experience I’m gaining volunteering at the seminary. And the weather.

But it’s too much. I am having trouble boiling it down. Not an uncommon problem for me. And this time, I’ve let it snowball to a problem so big, I’m truly unable to figure out where to begin. I think the best solution is to just start writing and see how it goes. Tonight I’ll start with school stuff. Not because it’s biggest in my mind, or because there’s the most to talk about, but because I hope I’m wrapping it up for a few weeks.

I finished the rare book class and got my grades for that and the special library class. A and A-, respectively. I was so upset about the first A-, but I guess it hurts less the more you get. I’m thrilled to have not gotten a B, yet. That rare books class was such an amazing ride. It’s the longest class I’ve taken so far in the MLIS program, and it was by far the most intense. I learned an amazing amount. I fell more deeply in love with books, as objects. At the same time, I became even more ready to accept whatever path this career is going to take, whether I actually get to work with old books or archives, or end up doing something completely different. As long as I’m working with helping people somewhere find answers, I think I’ll be okay. Surprisingly, I found out more about my ability to do research in that rare book class than I had anticipated. Perhaps that is because the professor wasn’t just looking to teach us about old books, but how to find answers. I got into this field because I am that person, that know-nothing know-it-all who loves to find the answer for you. I’m thrilled when I can give you real answers to whatever question you have. It took me until I was forty to find out that there is actually a field for that, and that it’s not about being right because I’m not wrong, rather because I really truly found the answer and I’m right!

So, that class ended on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The next class started on the Tuesday after. In effect, I’ve been in school with no break since right after Christmas. Not so tough, I guess, if school is the main event in your life, but it was wearing thin for me. There’s still a week to go in this class, but then I’m done for the summer. A couple pass/fail workshops, but I think the pressure is off until fall. I need the break. I need the break bad. The kids need the break. The HOUSE needs the break. Oh, good Lord, my house is a wreck.

summer21We’ve got big plans for the summer around here. I’m gonna get this house clean for real. Stop laughing, it could happen. We’re going to spend lots of time at the pool and I’m going to read. For FUN! We’re going to go to the zoo. It’s gonna be a good summer, I think. The kids are playing ball, and going to a couple Vacation Bible School weeks, but that’s about it. The big kids can ride bikes to a few friends in the neighborhood and the park. The little one can swim more independently in the kiddie pool. The three of them can be way more mobile than they have been in summers past. I am hoping that they can experience some of the extra freedom and unstructured time that marked summers of most childhood for most of my generation. Wish me luck.

So, maybe tomorrow I can tell you more about all that other crap going on in my head. Today, I guess that’s enough. It’s something, anyway.

 


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Miss me?

I have a lot of things I’ve been thinking about writing. I have five or six separate posts I want to get into writing, and it probably just isn’t going to happen. One, in particular is languishing. Some friends in the neighborhood have a foster son they would love to adopt, and there’s all sorts of nastiness in their story highlighting how broken our system is, and I’d love to tell you all about that, and maybe even get some support going for them to try and reverse the most likely outcome of their situation. I won’t, though, because I won’t take the chance that anything I write, or share, or post, or tweet, or whatever, could put the tiniest chance they have of winning for the side of GOOD at risk. That’s a tough position to be in. Not as tough as this little boy’s situation and that of the foster family that loves him dearly, but tough. I’ll share their story when it’s resolved, and in the meantime, let’s all pray that it has a happy ending.

In other, happier news, I finished my ten week course this semester. Final grade looks like an A minus. Still an A, but not a four point A. I’m disappointed because I lost a couple points for some careless mistakes. I can’t believe I’m beating myself up over an A minus, but I am. A little. Just a little, just for a minute. Now I can focus on the sixteen week course I’m taking in Rare Books. I’m having such a great time with this class, even though I’ve fallen behind finishing the other class. This week was “Spring Break” which just means I didn’t have any NEW work for that class. I’d meant to spend most of the week catching up, but it didn’t work out quite that well. It will be a busy weekend. I’m not terribly worried. I have a lot to do, but I’m confident that I can get it done.

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Photo by dbking, flickr

This class is so engaging and so fascinating to me. I’m working on a virtual exhibit of Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass. On Wednesday, I went out to the Rare Books room at OSU to see a first impression, published in 1855. It was a little thrilling to just be able to sign in and then HOLD the book. I could handle it, and read it, and smell it, and examine it. I could not, however, photograph it, but that’s okay. I pulled up the The Walt Whitman Archives and compared the book in front of me to the digitized version of a first impression that they have online. Wow, that was awesome. Those two books might have come off the presses RIGHT next to each other. There were only 795 copies of this edition printed, and even fewer with that lovely green cloth cover. And this one is in wonderful shape. It was such a privilege to play with it, and it ramped up my love of the rare books and archives part of this profession. I wish I could count on finding a job in that particular area, but it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, I will be looking for more opportunities to volunteer in the field, even if just for the fun of it.

Speaking of volunteering, I’m thrilled to be starting my first official volunteer gig with Hamma Library at Trinity Seminary next week. I will likely just be doing some general helping out and shadowing, but I’m excited to be spending some time in a library as something other than a patron! I interviewed the director of Hamma for my Special Library class that just finished up, and everyone there was wonderfully helpful and lovely. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and to gathering some experience from them.

20140328_072828MIDDLE BIRD IS NINE! My second kid is NINE YEARS OLD! Somehow, I’m feeling like the capital letter scream is just not conveying how knocked out I am by this. My oldest turned ten in January and I celebrated a decade of motherhood, but somehow, this kid’s ninth birthday is heavier! Perhaps it’s that he’s the kid requiring the most attention and general parenting challenge acceptance lately, but I just can’t believe he’s halfway to eighteen! He’s such a wonderful, amazing, sweet, brilliant, thoroughly infuriating kid! I’m so proud of him, so in love with him, and so blown away with how fast he’s growing up. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about parenting and little boys. He’s fighting every day to be the person God created him to be. Even when it doesn’t look much like he’s fighting, I know he’s struggling, and I’m proud of him for sticking with it even when I’m exhausted with frustration. This kid was a total surprise, as much as that third kid four years later. When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical chord. Though of the three kids, his birth was by far the easiest for me, I will never forget hearing Dr. D’s first words after, “It’s a BOY!” He said, “Whoa, you don’t usually see that with a live birth!” Jarring, but there he was, screaming his little heart out, announcing his giant presence with all the gusto he still brings to each day of his life. Oh, he’s a live birth, alright. Maybe more alive than the rest of us. He is a challenge to parent, but I pray every day that his dad and I can be up to the task, because that giant presence will serve him well someday. I’m certain that he has work to do on this planet. We all do, but he has something special to accomplish, and I’m so excited to watch him do it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

 

 


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Perfection. It doesn’t exist, but the story DOES!

364_29718079747_5941_nIn 1978 I started second grade at William H. Blount Elementary School on Princess Place Drive in Wilmington, N.C. I liked school. I liked books. I liked the library. I remember being in the space with lots of short stacks and paint-stirrer sticks used to mark the spot on the shelf where you removed a book. I remember going into the library for storytime. I don’t know how often we students were herded into the library and seated on the pea soup colored carpet to listen to a teacher or librarian read a story, but I remember one particular story so clearly.

Do you remember any of the stories you were read in the second grade? How about any of the stories that you never heard again? I mean, sure I remember the Dr. Suess stories. I remember the Madeline stories. I remember Eloise and Curious George. I’ve been reading those, or hearing about them, or watching them be turned into children’s programs, since I was a child. We read those at home and read them over and over. But this one time, this one story, that I would not hear again for 36 years, I remembered. And I spoke of it sometimes to friends. We would laugh about how ridiculous it was. Who tells kids a story like that? I often wondered over the years if I had made it up in my own memory. Or perhaps I just remembered it differently.364_29718084747_6150_n

The story, as I remembered it, was about a perfect little girl and the devil. The devil was, of course, unhappy that a little girl could be so perfect and began trying to get her to be angry. If she were to get angry, he reasoned, she wouldn’t be perfect. So he gave her the chicken pox, but she didn’t scratch or complain. He had a cow step on her favorite doll, but (and I always used this exact phrase in retelling the story) she forgave the cow. He tried all sorts of other tricks that didn’t work, but in the end he did win. He let her have her perfect life, a perfect husband, and a perfect house. And a less than perfect child.

When I started thinking again about becoming a librarian, this story kept coming back to my mind. I knew that I had to find it. I had to find out if it was even real. It seemed like an excellent wannabe librarian challenge. I Googled and Googled, and eventually, I figured out that it was a real story and it appeared in The Devil’s Storybook, by Natalie Babbitt, first published in 1974. At the time, that was fine, I only needed to know that some story about a perfect little girl and the devil was real. I probably twisted it around in my head anyway. I probably didn’t remember the story just right. I’d only been seven, after all, and I have never heard the story since.

364_29718094747_6354_nThis week I happened across an article about my old elementary school. It doesn’t matter much what it was about, so I’ll spare you, but it made me remember those storytimes when I was little. I decided I needed to get hold of a copy of The Devil’s Storybook. It was time that I actually READ the story and compared it to my memory. It only took a couple days for my library’s consortium to get it delivered to my local branch. It’s a really short story, so bare with me while I share the whole thing.

“Perfection,” by Natalie Babbitt

There was a little girl once called Angela who always did everything right. In fact, she was perfect. She had better manners than anyone, and not only that, but she hung up her clothes and never forgot to feed the chickens. And not only that, but her hair was always combed and she never bit her fingernails. A lot of people, all of them fair-to-middling, disliked her very much because of this, but Angela didn’t care. She just went right on being perfect and let things go as they would. 

Now, when the Devil heard about Angela, he was revolted. “Not,” he explained to himself, “that I give a hang about children as a rule, but this one! Imagine what shell be like when she grows up–a woman whose only fault is that she has no faults!” And the very thought of it made him cross as crabs. So he wrote up a list of things to do that he hoped would make Angela edgy and, if all went well, even make her lose her temper. “Once she loses her temper a few times,” said the Devil, “she’ll never be perfect again.”20140307_073628

However, this proved harder to do than the Devil had expected. He sent her chicken pox, then poison ivy, and then a lot of mosquito bites, but she never scratched and didn’t even seem to itch. He arranged for a cow to step on her favorite doll, but she never shed a tear. Instead, she forgave the cow at once, in public, and said it didn’t matter. Next the Devil fixed is that for weeks on end her cocoa was always too hot and her oatmeal too cold, but this, too, failed to make her angry. In fact, it seemed that the worse things were, the better Angela liked it, since it gave her a chance to show just how perfect she was.

Years went by. The Devil used up every idea on his list but one, and Angela still had her temper, and her manners were still better than anyone’s. “Well, anyway,” said the evil to himself, “my last idea can’t miss. That much is certain.” And he waited patiently for the proper moment.

When that moment came, the Devil’s last idea worked like anything. In fact, it was perfect. As soon as he made it happen, Angela lost her temper once a day at least, and sometimes oftener, and after a while she had lost it so often that she was never quite so perfect again.

And how did he do it? Simple. He merely saw that she got a perfect husband and a perfect house, and then–he sent her a fair-to-middling child.

I was stunned at how perfectly I’d remembered the details of the story, but at the same time, how different the story really was. It was essentially the same story I’d remembered, but in Ms. Babbitt’s words, now it was about the concept of “perfection”  and the idea of perceptions, and parenthood, and life. Now, with my 42 year old, mother’s sensibilities, I read this story and cried. Not because I’d ever, EVER been perfect, or even aspired to perfection. Not because my husband, or my house, or any other aspect of my life, is perfect. Not because I have any fair-to-middling children. 364_29718099747_6555_n

My mind is still wrapping itself around this little story. I don’t suppose there are a lot of K-12 librarians reading it to school children these days. Why did I remember it so well? I wonder why it made such an impact on my seven-year-old mind. Regardless, I feel so satisfied in having tracked it down and found out that I DID remember it correctly. I feel so vindicated.