This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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A DAY!

I’ve been writing about these MOMENTS, these snapshots of life in stokes that try to capture a piece of actual life, but seem light on details.

Well, today was ALL about the details! Such A DAY! Nothing traumatic. Everyone is still healthy and happy, and generally just okay. But SHEESH.

It started when I broke my shoe within five minutes of arriving at work. I guess I’d fallen into a bit of a routine, or a lull, with mornings. Most mornings the middle kid gets himself up and out the door before the other two get up. Then those two get up, get themselves breakfast and Chad and I each get one to school. It’s low stress and fairly calm. I have a half hour drive to work, but I listen to talk radio and catch up on the world. I get to work and make another cup of coffee before I hunker down to get some projects done. Fridays, especially, are great because I’ve got full student coverage on the Circ Desk all day. I can just hide in my office and get things done. Breaking my shoe was NOT in the plan.

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I kicked both sandals off, but going barefoot at work was just not going to work for me. Students often walk around there barefoot, but it’s my workplace. I just couldn’t pull it off. AmazonNow to the rescue! I ordered a pair of Teva flip flops and a frozen Amy’s Kitchen dish for lunch and had them within an hour. I guess I’m pretty blessed to be able to do that. The sandals arrived and they were a bit tight, but they got me through most of the day and they’ll be the girl’s pool shoes next summer.

At midmorning I got a notification on my phone that my Pending Fuel Purchase would finalize in 1-3 days. Well, since I was reasonably sure I was sitting at my desk and not standing at a gas pump, I shot a message to my bank’s support staff. When they got back to me, they said there had been an attempted gas purchase in Pompano Beach, Florida. If I was sure it wasn’t me (yup, still pretty sure), they’d put a hold on my account and issue a new account. Done. But I can’t use my card now until the new one arrives. Thankfully I have other ways to access cash until the it’s sorted out. What if I’d been a single parent with crappy credit and no access to any other account or credit?

When the too-tight flip flops started really bugging me, I emailed my boss and let her know I was bugging out of there to go find some better shoes. She told me to be gone and complimented my resourcefulness for ordering from AmazonNow. Well, she said she was impressed I thought of it. Same thing, right? So, I headed out and went straight to TJMaxx to see if I could score a pair to replace the broken pair. I bought a completely different pair, but got out of the pinching sandals. Yeah, but I locked my keys in the car in the process.

No sweat. I’ve got a phone, a smart phone even. And AAA. Opened the app and summoned help. Yeah, I had to shop a little more and then head over to Wendy’s for a snack. Found a great pair of pants, a couple cute tops to get through this transition to fall, and that pair of loafers I mentioned. It was annoying, but it wasn’t raining, snowing, windy, too hot, too cold. I relished a little alone time. My kids were all safe.

Picked up the youngest kid from Matt and Ray’s and headed home to feed the gang. We were down a kid since the middle kid went to the high school football game with the family of his buddy. Friday night means pizza, right? Of course. Tied to order from Papa John’s but apparently our regular store has decided not to deliver to this area. I’ll spare you the whole story, but 30 minutes, two online attempts, and four different phone calls later and I still didn’t have any pizzas on the way. Finally jumped in the car and picked up Little Caesar’s. Done.

There were a dozen other little mishaps, none of which amount to any real hardship, all of which are simply new twists on First World Problems. It’s so easy to forget that, though. My freaking shoe broke. How spoiled are we that these things seem like annoyances? I didn’t even have to go an hour without a shoe. The worst part was walking on the bathroom floor minutes after it had been cleaned. It was cold and damp, BECAUSE IT WAS CLEAN! What kind of whiner complains about THAT? And I locked my keys in my car. My working, reliable (knock wood) car that was unlocked in an hour and a half by the nice man from AAA.

And I couldn’t get the pizza delivered. I had to get in my (working reliable) car and drive two miles to the store and buy pizza for the family.

They all seemed like annoying things, frustrating things, obnoxious things when they were happening. Right now, though, all I can think is that none of that is a big deal. So what? It’s a pretty sweet deal I’ve got going on. I guess the thing to do is go make another donation to Hurricane Relief. Might as well spread the blessings, no?

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Another moment

img_0878.pngHere we are, another moment I don’t want to forget. As usual, it’s way busier than I imagined, and I don’t know how I’ll slow down enough to imprint the whole thing on my heart and remember the details. Maybe writing a few things down will help. Yeah, I’ve been having that thought for the last two weeks and there’s never been a second to stop and write. This is how I find myself standing at the kitchen counter cooking dinner waiting for the washer to ding, shouting directions to the oldest child who is gathering her school supplies, and wondering how I came to have three children in three schools.

That’s the current situation. I’ve got three in three schools. I knew the day would come, but I thought it would just be one year, it will be two. That’s okay because the opportunity for the middle kid is amazing. He’s not only going to be attending a smaller school with a different pedagogical concept that his teachers are wildly excited about, but he’s going to be going to a school that his sister has NEVER attended. He’s been one step behind her his entire life. This is his first opportunity to do something different. Besides Scouts, and even that she has been involved with, he’s never had this chance.

But three kids in three schools! I knew there would be three schedules to juggle, three school lists to deal with, three locations to manage rides to. What I didn’t count on was the managing of three sets of personalities. Three administrations. Three sets of fellow parents. Three PTAs. Well, two PTAs and one PTSA. Yeah, and I lost my mind and volunteered to be Vice President of the PTSA. Vice President means next year I have to be President. I can do this. Sure, I can. But MAN, that’s another ball to juggle.

And elementary school!? I’m kinda over it. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. The good friends I made when the big kids started, are all moving on to middle school, and I am, too, but there’s one foot still in elementary school because of the littlest Cucksey. He’s got FIVE years to go in elementary school. He deserves the same involvement and emotional commitment the other kids got. It’s just hard to maintain that level of excitement for fourteen years straight.

And this full time job thing? It’s great! It’s amazing! I LOVE what I’m doing, where I work, warts and all. But it is definitely complicating family life. The kids have mostly been troopers. The big kids have spent a lot of time unsupervised and the little guy goes to work with me. The grandparents have taken one or more on many occasions, and we’ve generally just limped along this summer without having to pay for any child care. That’s a blessing for sure. And now that school is starting, I’ve actually secured after-school care for the little guy from one of my very favorite families in the world. It’s gonna be fabulous. Thanks, Ray!

Yeah, this is a moment. I’ve been working full time since July, and things are going fairly well, but it’s controlled chaos. Tomorrow we add school back into the mix. Not just a dash, or a pinch of school. THREE DIFFERENT schools. I don’t know how things are going to turn out. I don’t know if we made the right choice to send the middle kid to Phoenix Middle. I don’t know if I can even keep up with it all. But we’re going to give it a go because that’s what you do, right? Plowing forward with confidence and prayers. That’s all I can do.

I’ve been writing as the kids ate dinner. I put a few more lines in after I tucked in the littlest guy. I cleaned up the kitchen and edited another paragraph. I’ve been working on this while going about the night before back-to-school things all evening. Now it’s nearly midnight and the kids are all quiet. The news is over and the late night comedians are going strong. I will turn out the light shortly and blink before it’s three or four o’clock in the morning, then suddenly the alarm will be going off at six.

This moment is passing before I can even record it. Tomorrow I will have an eighth grader, a seventh grader, and a second grader. Tomorrow will be a busy day at work, and then rushing around gathering children and feeding them, finding out how the first day went. I hope I’ll be able to take a second and breathe it in. If not, at least I’ve got this moment.


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This Liminal Moment

Before I go any further, let me just tell you that I spent nearly an hour writing this blog post on Friday, only to have it sucked into the ether because the page had never loaded properly and therefore wasn’t auto saving. My mistake, for sure, but the great frustration of it all made me put away the Chromebook and bag it for a few days.

I can’t just let it go, though. This is a moment that I really want to note. Thursday was a work day unlike any I’m ever likely to experience again. Today, these five days of holiday before the new thing, is a liminal moment if ever there was one, for me, for Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and for Hamma Library. “Liminal” is such a great word, isn’t it? The second definition in the OED says “occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.” It’s spacial, but also metaphorical. It’s the word for “almost, but not yet” or “what was is no more, but what will be is not yet.”

Thursday was the last working day for many at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Every single person who worked their last day was a good and faithful servant to Trinity and it’s mission. Every one of them had stayed to the end, even with plenty of notice that their jobs were ending. A few had small bonuses coming to them, for years of service, but others didn’t. Still they had stayed. That says something about these people, I think. I am not leaving. In case you haven’t seen my other social media posts, my job is secure for another six months, and even full time. I am now Interim Assistant Director – Hamma Library. I’d been so busy convincing them to let me stay, I hadn’t expected what it would feel like to watch the others leave.

There was to be a gathering at someone’s home on Thursday evening, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Though I was scheduled to work just until 5:00 p.m. I figured I’d just hang around and then go to the gathering. What I hadn’t counted on was that that put me at the library, as each person finished cleaning out their office and left.

I spent most of the week accepting hand-offs. My office is littered with little piles of things handed to me with words like, “Hang on to this you’ll need it when…” or “Better file this somewhere. It’s important for…” Each hand-off carrying the weight of making this library run by myself, or at least “in collaboration with and under the direction of” Capital’s new library director. I CAN do this, of course, but it’s a pretty big bite for this new librarian to chew. I’m not ALL by myself, though. Late in the week we found out that one long time staff member, one who knows all sorts of important things about how things are done, one who can only be described as “the guts of the place,” will be staying part time. We’re both only contracted until December, but maybe by then we’ll be so efficient, and so smooth that the new director will see no reason to change anything but to keep us both as full time.

In early 2014 I showed up at Hamma as an enthusiastic library student. I’d completed just one year of my three years of course work. I was so welcomed, so nurtured by the wonderful people I found there. I cannot imagine that I’d be as prepared to take this on had I not had those very people around me, teaching me, encouraging me as I volunteered, then interred, and finally found employment there. I can’t ever thank them enough.

So, Thursday. Yeah, that was surreal. I watched as people left carrying boxes by the library doors and out into the parking lot, or stopped by to borrow a library cart to carry things to their car, cleaning out offices that had accumulated personal items for years. I helped the rest of the library staff finish clearing off computer drives, and sorting through file drawers. Then I walked each one out. When the last library staff person was leaving I met a regular patron at the door, though we’d been closed almost half an hour. He handed me a couple books he wanted to return and asked about the jobs. I told him I was staying, accepted his congratulations, and then turned back to the dark library. Thanks to our conscientious student who’d worked Thursday, the lights had all been turned out, the doors locked, things put to rights for closing. It was just quiet, still, and startlingly lonely.

20170629_174521.jpgThe late afternoon sun in June is plenty to see by, but it didn’t take away from the strange, eerie feel of the place. They were all gone. Only myself and one more would be back. My first inclination was to get to work. To set about cleaning out my office to prepare to move it, to get the files straight, to begin the work. No, it was time to go to that gathering, to feel the community that had been built around this place, and to share it again with these wonderful people. So, that’s what I did. I walked back to my office, which seemed garishly lit with the fluorescent bulbs, shut down my computer, turned out the lights and locked the door. I walked out of the library knowing there would be these five days of standing in the threshold before I can really get to work.


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A letter to the other Trump supporters

Let me just tell you a few things I’m NOT saying. I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, or any other kind of phobe/ist (though, many of you are saying you aren’t and just saying it doesn’t make it so). I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a threat to the safety of any American. I’m NOT saying that Hillary was my first choice for president. If you continue reading and you come away believing I’ve said any of that, you are simply wrong and you have not really listened.

That said, there are a few things I want to say that I’m not seeing in the social media conversation. First, I want to validate the fear of my LGBTQ+ friends, parents raising LGBTQ+ kids, minority friends, parents of minorities, and anyone else who feels afraid today. We aren’t afraid of all the Trump supporters. That’s ridiculous. If you aren’t a threat, you don’t need to say it every time someone posts their fear. If you feel the need to show that you aren’t a threat, GREAT. One simple thing you can do to show it is to wear a safety pin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about with the safety pin, here’s some resources from Huffington Post and The New York Daily News.

So what are we afraid of? That tiny percentage of Americans who are simply horrible. We’re afraid of a tiny percentage who think that Donald Trump’s words (and words ARE important) about Muslims, gays, special needs people, women, and immigrants were not just okay, but great. There are Americans who think it’s not just okay to beat up that effeminate middle schooler, but needs to be done. There are Americans who think that those who have less muscular control of their arms or legs should be made fun of. There are Americans who have long wanted to be able to openly call out those with different ethnic backgrounds in their neighborhoods and schools, to harass them until they feel unsafe and leave, to run them off. If my description of these Americans disgusts you, than you might not be one of them. Chances are NONE of you reading this is one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Not only do they exist, but they have been empowered, emboldened, and ENDORSED. It may not have been your intention when you voted for him, but it is the result nonetheless.

So all those people who feel fear are absolutely justified in feeling that fear. If you still disagree with me about that one fact, you are probably one of the few still denying that white privilege exists, and frankly, I’m not sure that our discussion can go much further. We’re speaking different languages and since that is such a basic tenet of my beliefs about this country,  I’m hard pressed to find common ground. We can certainly disagree about how much of a problem it is, how to fix it, even how it came about, but surely you can agree that it exists.

There are dozens of reports today, and over the last few days, about why that fear is justified. There are middle schoolers chanting hateful things at ethnic minorities, graffiti with obvious hate messages, people beat up for appearing to belong to the LGBTQ+ community, women harassed on public transportation. Is there an actual increase in these incidents, or is it just being reported on more often? I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter. It’s happening. The fear IS justified.

I’m not going to hash out the issues that made me choose to vote for Clinton over Trump. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to assume that most of you who voted for Trump made your decision carefully, perhaps prayerfully, and simply chose different legitimate priorities. Clearly we disagree, but Trump has won the election fair and square, so we have to move from there. I consider America’s endorsement of Trump to be a challenge, and I am up to it. I have the beginnings of a plan. Would you like to know what it is? I  bet we can find common ground there.

wp-1478965011446.jpgFirst, I’m going to show all the love I can. On Wednesday morning, when my children were sad and disappointed, I instructed each one of them to dig deep within themselves and find all the extra kindness and love they could muster and show it to everyone they came across. I want us all to double our efforts in that area every single day. If hate and fear have been endorsed and even ONE person feels more comfortable spreading that, than I want to be part of those who will smother that hate everywhere it springs up. The news will cover the hate faster than the love, so we’ll have to patient and steady and back each other up with that love, but I want to be part of that movement. I’ll wear a safety pin every day as an outward sign. I will continue to teach my children that this is the most important thing they can do, and that God demands it of us.

 

Second, I will try to hear the rest of you. You Trump supporters who are angry at the liberal reaction to this election, if you can express your feelings without anger, I want to hear why you chose him. I will try to squash my own confirmation bias and read even-handed pieces from reliable, authoritative, non-biased sources about the issues you find most important. I have several articles in the queue already, and Hillbilly Elegy is already ordered and on its way to me. I will engage in rational discussion with anyone who is willing about which issues should be most important, how they should be handled, and what the consequences might be of those solutions.

Lastly, I will not endorse or be part of protests that involve shouting “Not my president.” I will not threaten to move to Canada. I will not feed the hatred of “the other side.” I will give Trump the respect of the office he was legitimately elected to. I will likely disagree with MANY of the decisions he will make as president, but I will find productive ways to express that. I will maintain my faith in the democratic system, and work harder within it to effect the change I believe in.

 

 

 


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The Sweet Spot

It doesn’t feel like a sweet spot. I’m swamped with homework, and laundry, and meal prep, and more daily drudgery than pre-Mom me thought was possible. These days, with all of that, are still a bit of a sweet spot.

Today, in 2015, we have no babies, no teenagers, and no aging parents requiring our care.

I registered the Baby Bird for kindergarten today. It’s the end of an era. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, bit it’s still something to make me think. I’ve known it was coming, this whole Master’s Degree saga is a direct result of my knowing that it was coming. In the fall my baby will start school and I’ll complete my degree in December. Then I’ll have to get a real job.

So the last decade has been full of pregnancies and diapers, ABCs and 123s, learning to throw a ball and ride a bike, constant supervision, and minute-to-minute-in-the-trenches parenting. The next decade will bring a whole new set of challenges. Working mom life, learning to drive, teenagers, college choices, and more and more letting go. Our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives will all look pretty different in the next decade.

But it’s all good. I wouldn’t change it. It’s going fast and I just want to take a minute to look around and take it in. I want to remember that this IS a sweet spot.

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A good thought.

You Never Know
by Helen Lowrie Marshall

You never know when someone
May catch a dream from you
You never know when a little word
Or something you may do
May open up the windows
Of a mind that seeks the light—
The way you live may not matter at all,
But you never know—it might.

And just in case it could be
That another’s life, through you
Might possibly change for the better
With a broader and brighter view,
It seems it might be worth a try
At pointing the way to the right—
Of course, it may not matter at all,
But then again—it might.

 

I pulled that directly from another blog.  It is just such a good thought, I had to share it.  You JUST NEVER KNOW.  Live like you know for sure.  🙂