Tag Archives: Library

Scrapbook: Sweeping at the Library

6 Nov

Last week my Mom and I took Isobel to the special Halloween program at the library. It was packed beyond anything I’d ever seen. A sea of toddlers and babies, bedecked in adorable costumes, squirming as we sang songs and motioned through finger plays.

Isobel normally loves interacting with kids at the library and wanders around gregariously among the children during story time. There were so many people that this time she stuck close to home and even sat on my lap. She kept saying, “I’m a little shy.” I’d conservatively estimate there were 75-100 people there that day.

While we waited for the library to open, she busied herself by sweeping up the leaves that had gathered by the entrance. She is such a clean, hardworking witch.

My SAHM Confessions

27 Jul

This is what my workspace looks like on any given day. He’s been doing this forever, and it’s kind of surprising my computer’s never exploded from the extra heat. Or the pressure.  Quite often Poppy likes to join us and annoyingly sit between my head and the computer monitor. Add to this the fact that Isobel is on my lap if I’m here and she’s awake (and sometimes even if she’s asleep–note below), and it makes for a full house.

Recently, I wrote about the SAHM gig and how it’s treating me. I wrote about our schedule and the logistics of staying at home, and I briefly touched on my deepening bond with Isobel. It’s been a few months now since I’ve left the library, and writing that post has made me think about how I’m different and the things I have learned.  I realized I have some confessions to make.

This is probably going to sound very obvious, but it wasn’t at all clear to me until I left my job and had some distance. You know what? I did not at all enjoy being a mother who worked outside the home. I loved my job and I loved working–until I had Isobel. Then my job just became another item to cross off on my list of unpleasant tasks. It became a never-ending chore.

There’s a lot of talk pitting moms who stay at home versus moms who have careers–parenting is fertile grounds for self-righteous one-upmanship– and as someone who has done both I can unequivocally tell you that there is little difference in my actual parenting. I was a fantastic working mother and I am still a fantastic stay at home mother. The vast difference between these two scenarios is that in this one I’m happy.

Staying at home doesn’t make me a good parent. I was a good parent before. I was a great parent, even. But I am an even better mother now because I’m happy.

I know incredible mothers who work outside the home because they have no choice, and I know some wonderful mothers who choose to work outside the home  for the same reason I chose to leave the library: happiness and personal fulfillment. I have no doubt that those working moms are just as capable, caring and wonderful as those who are able to stay at home. It was the right decision for me, but it isn’t right for everyone.

This new surge of happiness and well-being makes sense on a physical level. I try not to bore you guys by bringing this up repeatedly, but I have Crohn’s disease, and my health is rather delicate. Now that I’m home all day I can rest when I need to,  eat what I need to when I need to, and get sick if I need to. And that is okay! My new boss doesn’t care! Working at home has significantly relieved the stress on my body and my new routine agrees with it greatly. This alone has made a huge difference in my quality of life.

Aside from the realization that I really didn’t enjoy being a working mother, I’ve realized another thing about myself, too. One that’s almost embarrassing to share with you because it’s such a cliché: I have learned to savor the moment and to truly embrace my current limitations. As weird as it sounds, experiencing  PPD and all those struggles I went through really helped me realize this. I had internal levels of perfection that I would demand of myself, and I didn’t dare stray from those expectations.

Once I had Isobel and PPD kicked in, I had no choice but to let things go.  I found out it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t keep on top of the (non-diaper) laundry every day. Dirty dishes could sit in the sink and without blowing up. I could go weeks without vacuuming and the world still turned. Sure, all of this was a symptom of my illness, but I have come out of this experience a much mellower mama. I no longer strive for perfection–I strive for happiness.

So much of my former mindset was really counting on Things Being Perfect One Day. I’m no longer waiting till things are perfect. I’m letting go. And I’m realizing which things are worth holding on to.

Scrapbook: Library Visit

25 Jun

Visiting the Library for toddler story time with her good buddy Kingston.

Things I Will Miss About The Library

6 Jun

Things I will miss:

High-fiving kids on the last day of school.

Being called “Mrs. Liberry” on occasion.

Going on the morning announcements and talking about Happy Bacon and Sad Bacon.

Calling Susie at 7 a.m. and begging her to bring me coffee. (Though she probably won’t miss that as much as I will.)

Wearing bear ears while giving away scholastic achievement prizes.

Introducing kids to terrariums when they ask about the one on my desk.

The surreptitious dumping of obsolete consumable materials. Try it sometime.

Pimping the circulation desk.

Signing a hundred yearbooks with a cheesy “Keep reading!”

Recommending and promoting my favorite books to a whole new audience each year.

Turning into my Alter Ego, “The Laminatrix,” and getting drunk on the power to coat things in plastic. I HAVE THE POWER! (to laminate!)

Teaching kids how to use the computer. Cut, paste, and copy will change their lives.

Talking smack, UFC, and parenting with Carlos.

The presents kids make me every year, plus all the goodies I get at holidays.

Photoshop competitions with the IT dudes.

Being described as a “plucky, indispensable librarian with floaty hair.”

Being recognized whenever I leave the house. Obviously this isn’t always a good thing, but sometimes grocery shopping makes me feel like a minor celebrity.

Typing in a kid’s name into the label maker, telling them it’s an advanced computer scanner, then blowing their minds when I point it at them and their name pops out.

Finding the truly ridiculous library books.

Giving my student aides nicknames. They love that.

Looking every inch the librarian stereotype and wearing my Librarian pin.

Greeting the excited seventh and eighth graders as they come through the library on the first day of school.

Telling the kids,  “YOU HAVE TO WANT IT!” when the main door sticks and the students think it’s locked.

The shushing. I will totally miss the shushing.

Having conversations about books with kids who are excited to read.

Calling the library my home away from home.

Each year I have the opportunity to affect at least one kid’s life in a big way. Usually more than one. I still keep in contact with some kids who graduated eight years ago.

Giving up my Librarian Trading Card.

Coming up with creative ways to promote our surplus of book covers.

My free Pinboard account. Especially after what I did to get it.

The good substitutes. And the substitutes that maybe weren’t very good but at least made for good stories.

Telling patrons about my favorite library apps.

The dear friends I’ve made.

Things I will not miss:

Fielding a ton of telemarketer calls and telling them, no, I do not have a budget this year, either.

And, oh yeah, now that I mention it, the total lack of budget.

Getting laid off. Repeatedly.

Dealing with insane coworkers such as The Kracken, Harpy, and Withered Lich. And their dysfunctional department.

Signs on the vending machine saying it STOLE TWO DOLLARS FROM SO-AND-SO AND THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Chain emails from the Superintendant that read like email forwards from your Grandpa.

Kids who try to use their bus pass as a library card.

The Gray Space.

Lifetouch. OMG, the shittiest, sorriest excuse for a school photo company ever.

The fact that you will be Cc’d in any email complaining about you to your supervisor.

Textbook Collection Week.

The yearly safety/sexual harassment/don’t steal from us/don’t dress like a whore video.

The people who keep score at the potlucks, judging you if you brought something unworthy—or worse, if you ate three chips but didn’t bring anything at all.

The free, freshly-baked cookies that turned out to be leftover year-old fundraising cookie dough somebody found in the freezer.

The inappropriate questions about my reproductive future.

The lack of environmental control.

The Facebook requests from coworkers who are completely unaware that I dislike them.

The political maneuvering. It was necessary if you wanted things like, say, tape or light bulbs. I was horrible at it when first hired, became proficient at it by the end, hated it all the way.

The shitty substitutes. The racist substitutes.

Giva, the unbearable coworker whose ringtone was the techno frog and who used to eat two packages of powdered donuts and a red bull every morning. The resulting burps terrified both the children and myself.

Guest Post: Children’s Music Recommendations

24 May

I’m still checking in textbooks and performing inventory on my library, so today I have a post for you by Julie Jurgens, also known as Hi Miss Julie on the internets. Julie is a children’s librarian and a talented singer-songwriter, so children’s music is a topic near and dear to her heart. Also, here’s a video of her playing the banjo. No other qualifications necessary.

This topic is extremely timely for me as Isobel is showing a disturbing preference for children’s music. Bad children’s music. The kind sung by children. (I blame my mother, who bought her CDs.) She is becoming scarily attached to it. Her other obsession is the Care Bears Big Wish movie, and music in that movie ranges from boring and saccharine to what you find here.  I’m pretty sure that song is the soundtrack to Hell. (Seriously. Check it out. It’s way more demoralizing that you can possibly imagine.) Also, this. There are no words.

On the bright side she’s so obsessed with this movie that she walks around telling people NO! MORE! WISHING! It’s adorable, if confusing to other people.

Miss Julie’s Music Picks for Children

And The Parents Who Have To Hear It

As a kidbrarian and musician, I make it a point to use a lot of music in my programs, and I like to expose my storytime parents to music beyond the usual Raffi and Hap Palmer (who are great, by the by, but sometimes you just can’t take it anymore, you know?) Here are a few of my current musical favorites for your enjoyment:

Pete Seeger American Folk, Game & Activity Songs
For parents who like Wilco, Justin Townes Earle.

It’s Pete Seeger, guys! How can you go wrong? He’s an American classic, like Levis, apple pie, and changing lanes without bothering to use your turn signal. Furthermore, I am hereby predicting that banjo will soon supplant the uke as the hispter alternative stringed instrument of choice, so you might as well get your kids ready now to ride the resurgent wave in twenty years. The banjo is also just inherently awesome and the twangy out of tune-ness of it will make up for the fact that you can’t sing in tune (which kids don’t care about, really, until they are seven or eight and capable of being embarrassed, so until that point, sing while you can, because before you know it little Jimmy will be plugging up his ears and screaming “MOM! FOR PETE’S SAKE STOP YOU’RE MAKING THE DOG FARTOUT OF FEAR.”)

Putamayo Kids
For parents who are into world music, Radio M, and Afropop Worldwide.

Whatever style or genre of music you’re into, there’s a Putamayo release for it. Animal songs, Caribbean, Zydeco, folk music, anything, and chances are high that 90% of each disc will make you just as happy as it makes your kid. This song is my current favorite, and it never fails to work its magic.

Human Tim + Robot Tim
For parents who like Star Wars, Red Dwarf, and Star Trek.

Do you have a love for all things robot but know it’s too soon to introduce your tot to Jabba the Hut?* Then play some Human Tim + Robot Tim for your kid and enjoy some age-appropriate science fiction fun. Human Tim is also a Wiggleworms staff member at the Old Town School of Folk Music, so you know he has some musical chops to go along with his super-cool sci-fi concept.

*Although for some people it is never too soon.

Super Stolie
For parents who like Neko Case, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, and Jill Sobule.

Super Stolie is super adorable and super energetic, and will give your little girls (and boys, hey, I don’t judge; paint little Jimmy’s toenails pink if you wanna!) a non-princess pretty girl to look up to, emulate, and admire. Stolie is always performing live, so if you live in the Chicagoland area, make an effort (you won’t have to try very hard) to see her in person and help create the next generation of live music supporters and show-goers.

Ella Jenkins
For parents who can’t stand treacly, sugary children’s performers, for parents who love(d) Mr. Rogers, and parents who need to learn what authoritative parenting sounds like.

No, seriously, I’m tired of wishy washy and permissive parents. Listen to the way Ella talks to kids, and follow her model. “Kids. I’m going to play the ukulele, and we’re going to sing a song together.” Bam. There you go. I love Ella’s simple and clear presentation. The children’s music equivalent of a scotch, straight up. In, you know, a wholesome way.

Hugh Hanley
For parents who were Classics or English majors in college, who want to be well-versed in classic children’s songs, who drink the house blend at Starbucks, who shop at Etsy.

Hugh Hanley isn’t flashy, but he’s a solid musician and he is on the Ella Jenkins end of the music spectrum. His voice is medium-pitched but bright while also being soothing (like your morning coffee). He has a strong background in early childhood education as well, so everything he does is perfectly attuned for your little ones to dance and move. Don’t be the only Mum or Dad at the block party who can’t bust out “Here’s A Ball for Baby” or “Open, Shut Them.” Hugh also includes handy booklets with lyrics and illustrations, so you’ll be sure to get the words right and you can smugly lord this fact over all the other parents at playgroup.

Follow Friday – Doomsday Edition

20 May

Awhile back when my friends and I took a trip to SF for my bestie’s birthday we happened to see a van, decorated with warnings about the apocalypse painted all over it. Strange, I thought. Isn’t the apocalypse supposed to be next year? I didn’t think this movement was very large or vocal until I started hearing snippets about it on Twitter. Tweets about the impending (and patently ridiculous) apocalypse flooded my timeline in the best way possible.

Today’s post is also dedicated to Inge, a children’s librarian who once quoted obscure Beck Hansen song lyrics with me when I was having a bad day thereby securing my online friendship for life. When Mayor Bloomberg proposed drastic cuts in NYC’s library services, a bunch of her kids wrote postcards asking him not to cut funding so the libraries remain open. Those appear throughout the post in bold. Take that, Mayor Buttface!


What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here. Learn more about it in my FAQ.

thesulk “I’ve got 99 problems and I’m not dealing with any of them.” (Lay-Z)

beaumartian Asked Gabi if she wanted me to go buy her Sprite. She told me what she needs instead is “a little bit more toys.”

Caissie Bad news: I just sneezed 23 times in a row. Worse news: The Today Show hasn’t booked me yet. Good news: Pelvic floor muscles held out!

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from kid: “Please don’t close the library. They got the best workers.”

eareeve I will henceforth refer to Google as “the Goog”. #hip

wordlust Better to jump the gun than hump the machete.

Irish_girlie I wish Urban Dictionary had a reverse feature, where you type in what you want to say and a cool word with that meaning pops up.

sarahbartlett 40 minutes of a full body cardio workout while wearing baby should count for more than 198cals burned.

colinsteele There’s a guy on my mbta bus with a cassette walkman. Apparently I’m on Route 1988.

paulapoundstone Remember when Scarlet O’hara gets sick of war? That’s how I feel about cat pee lately.

Sigafoos Just had a carne alotta burrito from Mighty Taco. It was like a rapture in my mouth!

letsgetgizzy Eating at Arby’s is the new cutting yourself.

palinode I’m glad I’m not friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger. They just don’t make cards for these kinds of situations.

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from a kid: “Listen. Save the library, you loser.”

chaddfoy Anybody know if this Saturday’s Rapture is BYOB?

VHStapes2 I’m too scared to get my nipples pierced so I’m getting clip-ons.

tommycm been using ‘bob dylan’ as a euphemism for going to the toilet for some time now.

OhHereWeGo Male friends: DM me if you don’t want me to date your ex-girlfriends and be specific about which ones.

mommywantsvodka Hmmmmm, maybe I’d better write my book: “Shhhhh, Baby, Mama’s Hungover,” before Rapture.

emilybilbrey being a mom = never getting to eat your own toast again.

JohnRossBowie Another L.A. Noire mission: You’re fucking starving to death but the line at In-N-Out is 20 cars deep.

telephase @exlibris When I’m raptured and you’re not on Saturday, you can have my souvenir crystal bell collection. #friends

theleanover I thought a Foursquare meant when you had 2 stars and 2 retweets all from different people on your Favstar page. Whoops.

MagpieLibrarian Another postcard from a kid: “They have books that we like and they have the best librarians. You have holes in your brain.”

badbanana I’m a nervous eater. I keep thinking my neighbors will wake up and find me eating all their food.

DaveHolmes When the holy folks get zapped up to Heaven on 5/21, I imagine they’ll immediately start arguing over who’s going to Superheaven, and when.

MeganBoley I almost just complained about being too full with sushi. What!? Dumbest complaint ever.

chickenscottpie @exlibris Seriously, nature. What kind of idiot thinks it’s a good plan to just dump water all over everything?

Ahm76After I smelled that flower, I got confused about my sexuality. Am I florasexual? It’s been a long time since anyone’s pollinated my stigma.

antigone_spit Passed a guy wearing a Spaghetti-Os shirt. I want to be his best friend.

KeepingYouAwake @exlibris We’re just old enough to feel like the world is going to shit, and everyone’s forgetting what’s important. Let’s go buy iPads.

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from a kid: “Dear Mayor Buttface, Please don’t close the library and defenity do not fier Inge. Thank you.”

brookbristow Donald Trump can now relax since he won’t run for President. Finally, he can let his hair down.

Caissie Trump ISN’T running for President? Was starting to look forward to rivulets of sweat/haircolor/bronzer dripping down his face at debates. 😦

kenrudin The fact that there was once serious talk about what “impact” Donald Trump would make as a candidate makes me question my entire existence.

sarcasmically In totally unsurprising news, I received 19 compliments on my Star Wars shirt in one 25-minute trip to Best Buy.

SaraJOY Let’s count the tweets I’ve deleted so far today shall we? ONE! ha ha ha. TWO! ha ha ha. THREE! ha ha ha. FOUR! ha ha ha…

slapclap I hear the theme song to JURASSICPARK whenever I see someone inNew York use a payphone.

stevelibrarian I was going to respond to that Seth Godin blog but I’m too busy stockpiling for the Rapture at the end of the week.

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from a kid: ‎”Mayor Bloomberg you smell like cheese. Don’t cut the libraries fund.”

corrinrenee I ironed my shirt with my flat iron and my hair is up in a ponytail. That should give you an idea of how my day started.

sarcasmically Let’s pretend I lost my voice while doing something super hardcore, and not while singing along to Boyz II Men loudly in my Subaru wagon, k?

JohnFugelsang I’d like to thank FamilyRadio.com for all the billboards telling our children exactly how they’ll suffer & die on Saturday.

MagpieLibrarian Hey Monday. Come say that to my face.

neiltyson Birds at the launch site are surely thinking to themselves: “These humans have come a long way with their artificial wings”

mammalpants I like to google things like,”when is the effing apocalypse because I’m burned out. do you hear me god? send a horse on fire soon”

theRratedBull There’s an old church hymn called “Angry Words.” I like to sing it to people every time I catch them playing “Angry Birds.”

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from a kid: “Mayor Batface (??). U suck.”

That_Biz Texting my husband from the ipod, but I don’t think I’m remember his phone number right. So maybe I’m NOT texting my husband.

neiltyson Would a NASA reality show “LunarShore” be more popular than “JerseyShore?” Civilization’s future depends on that answer.

ajthizzle It’s a bad sign that I got myself back to sleep early this morning by thinking of different ways to quit my job. This is how I relax.

John_M15 One in five Americans believe that Bin Laden is still alive. Let me guess, the same ones that think Obama is fromKenya?

th3jm4n I need to develop a super power. Villainy just isn’t worth it unless you’re destroying things on a global scale.

iasshole Trying to convince 6 y.o. that the purpose of medicine is not delicious mouth entertainment.

palinode I managed to turn my roasted garlic bruschetta ambitions into a bowl of mac and cheese tonight.

jillgengler Just had Words with my kitchen garbage can. Not going to lie… I think it came out on top in that exchange.

MagpieLibrarian “I can get a book with my library card. You suck at your job. Please don’t take the librarries money.”

lilpyrogirl It’s not the sunburned outline of sunglasses that makes me a redneck, it’s that I bought a moonpie & ran over an armadillo on the way home.

wishing4horses Today’s naptime dream: Me and Jamie Lee Curtis mom-paddling in an LA pool. Swear, no more gin at lunch!

emilyrm Mariah Carey wanted to make sure her twins were delivered to one of her songs AND they call them “Roc and Roe”. Excuse me, I have to barf.

ScrewyDecimal Telling me “Stop worrying or you’ll get wrinkles” won’t make me stop worrying. It will only give me something new to worry about.

davepolak Just re-heated some pulled pork in bacon grease. That’s how I roll.

theRratedBull “Jennifer Garner… I think she’s married to Affleck.” The Teen looked confused, so I added, “The actor, not the duck.” “Ahhhhhh!”

petersagal Elvis Costello tonight. If I keep going, one of these days he’ll look out in the crowd and notice me.

snickerswiggle I’m looking at a customer whose shirt, belt & boots are bedazzled. Coincidentally, I am questioning the lifechoices that brought me here.

eareeve harem pants are great for not flashing my gentles in public but still allowing me to be comfortable.

LmaoAtThisGuy I just read an article on the dangers of heavy drinking… scared the hell out of me. So that’s it, after today… no more reading.

inktwice Denny’s is for winners.

himissjulie “Wow, you speak French?” “No, I just know enough to pronounce things with a lot of *hwaough*.” #reference

MagpieLibrarian Postcard from kid: “Stopp pllease. You are cutting libraries. Stop firing librarians. You suck. Give me a job. I need food.”

theleanover Saw some dude with a tattoo of Calvin pissing on a scorpion. I, for one, welcome next Saturday’s end times. #rapture

joshjs Potential Nerd Rock Band Name: Academia Nuts

shinyinfo Oh em gee, Party In The USA is on at the deli. I not-so secretly love this shitty song. It’s likeWhiteCastle in music form.

rolldiggity I know social media is supposed to replace newspapers, but I’ll never get used to draping myself across homeless people while they sleep.

theleanover I’m always devastated when I raise my arms and make the “whoooosh!” noise and it doesn’t make me fly like Superman.

massagebyted Oh, yeah, I suppose I would let a female Klingon do me with a strap-on. You know, if it was for the good of the Federation and stuff.

MeganBoley There comes a time in a young boy’s life when he must be dressed in jorts and paraded around his dad’s office at lunchtime.

trumpetcake Free coffee at Starbuck’s today, if you ask in a robot voice! OH WAIT. Never mind. The robot in front of me had a coupon.

MrWordsWorth When I see that ad that says ‘what’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen, I instinctively say ‘a naked woman!’

helgagrace Why does my hip hurt? I’m pretty sure I haven’t been exercising without my knowledge.

nicpiper @exlibris Wow! Your blog looks space age on this iPad. It’s like the future had sex with a typewriter!

letsdiefriends Question: “Will I hate myself in 5 years for wearing a tiny sombrero?” Answer: no way.

goodinthestacks I finally hit it big! @Franklin the Turtle is following me. I hope he knows what he’s getting into.

shinyinfo For all the people who will undergo an Assumption on Saturday: Don’t be a dick, leave your keys in your car. #RapturePSA

notthatkendall I want to thank the makers of Nintendo for making me believe I have the power to fix household objects by just blowing into them.


What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here. Learn more about it in my FAQ.

Guest Post: Saturday Mornings

16 May


I’m gearing up for a busy week: textbook collection. I need collection 5 textbooks from 1600 students and I’m never given enough time or manpower to do it. And no one is willing to follow instructions. The end of the year is simply a clusterfuck for the library and I’m so looking forward to never doing this again. Ever. Since this is such a hectic time for me, I’ve asked a few talented friends to step in and help with posting. First up is Bridget Callahan, a writer who lives in Cleveland who sells her amazing photography on Etsy. All of the photos from today’s post are from the now demolished Madison School in Youngstown Ohio.

Saturday Mornings

Dad used to take us to the library downtown on Saturday mornings. He would somehow find parking right next to the building, or behind it. Maybe there used to be more parking back then, maybe there was no one downtown ever on the weekends. These days, I can’t park anywhere near it, might as well just take the bus cause I’ll end up paying for a parking garage 5 blocks away. But he used to do it, and now maybe I understand why it seemed he was always getting parking tickets.

The downtown library in Cleveland, what’s known now as the old building since they built the “new” building over a decade ago, is a massive stone place in that great tradition of stone ledges, WPA murals, and brass chandeliers. It was always “the” library to me, because the local branches in comparison were so tiny and modern and lame. To get to the children’s room, I had to do several very important things. First I had to walk past the huge round intimidating reference room, which had be where allClevelandlegislature was decided, because of the rows of reference books and dark wood desks. Then it was up the wide slippery marble staircase, which was a pain in the ass to go up because my tiny legs had to do it two steps at a time. But it was much more fun to run down, hand securely sliding down the banister as thick as my waist. Up past the giant rotating globe, painted in muted blue and greens, and then past the Special Collections room. Special Collections was a mystery to me, since it seemed to always be gated, a tempting doorway into places where I knew they must keep the very important old books, the kind of books that would teach me about how 16th century witches were burned and blueprints to the very first original star machines. When I was older, I finally went into that room, and it was basically where they kept their chess piece collection and some tiny books you could only read with a magnifying glass. I would have been more impressed if I had ever gotten in as a child. As an adult, I just wanted to go there with dates and make out.



Next was the walk down the hallway, past reading rooms and large glass windows with exhibits I never stopped to read. Sometimes I would go into another room first and choose an adult book for myself to take with me to read at the small tables in the children’s room, a place that was just what you would expect, miniature furniture and bright colors. I was well beyond reading the insipid hardcover crap they tried to push on small minds. I knew the difference between pulp and quality. For instance, The Hungry Caterpillar and Hay for My Little Ox, that was art. I never felt ashamed reading those. Richard Scarey was always always acceptable, because it was original. Where’s Waldo was boring and mundane, and I patently hated anything featuring little witches or animals that talked to people. Animals could talk to themselves, or they could be silent partners for humans, but to have children talking to animals was tacky. I was very particular about illustrations, and turned my nose up at things that resembled generic tv cartoons. For actual reading, I preferred Roald Dahl and Daniel Pinkwater books, the John Bellair mysteries with the Edward Gorey illustrations. When I ran out of those, I loved to bring an adult book in there, even if it was boring and hard to read, because I felt so grown up and superior concentrating on it while the other children were “playing” around. In other words, I was an insufferable snot, even as a child. That’s what happens when you’re a dorky fat child who read Tom Wolfe off her parents’ bookshelves before she even understood what adolescence really was. My poor sister read Madame Bovary ten million times before she hit 7th grade. One time, Carrie tried to pick grass from the lawn, roll it into construction paper, and smoke it, because she had read about “smoking grass”. We were “that” family.


But that was the great part about the Big Library, there were no nuns or stern faced middle aged women telling us books were too old for us, like they did to us repeatedly at school and the local branches. In the Big Library, they just wanted you to not run, stay quiet, and not touch the exhibits. Dad would go off to get his history books and Michael Crichton novels, and we would sit quietly at the tiny tables, waiting for him and trying to decide what would be our allotted three books for the week. When everything was picked out and decided, we would go downstairs to the intimidating check out line (intimidating because I consistently lost my library card at least twice a summer),  and Dad would pay his fines and then we would go. There were always fines, there were always parking tickets, and there were always the same the paintings and statues and oh that globe. Right by the checkout desk were the staircases that went downstairs. I was never allowed downstairs, I think they were closed to the public before the new library building was built next door, and while waiting for him in line, I would stand at the very top of the stairs and look down into the mysterious bottom hallways and wonder. The library was treasure place, I was sure of it, just like I knew there were extra special dinosaur bones in the back rooms of the Natural History Museum, and diamond crowns in the dusty corners of the Art Museum. Little 9 yr old me was equally certain that if I could just sneak down those back stairs, I would find old things and rare things and I would somehow be labeled an adventurer and grow up to fame and fortune, because every great character I read about was a risk taker and didn’t let stupid things like security guards stop them.

The Gray Space

19 Apr

I feel like I’m living life in a gray space. An intermediary space. Ever since we made the decision for me to leave my job at the library and stay at home with the baby, I’ve been going through my normal routine with only half of my brain engaged. Part of me is already making plans, updating the etsy shop, and enrolling Isobel is summer activities. The other half sits behind a desk, helps students find research material for home work, shelving books. I’m undeniably distracted.

I’ve always been this way: impatient to get on to the next thing when I know a change is coming. I’m not good at these temporary situations; I become consumed with anticipation for the Next Thing.  It’s hard to focus on my job and what’s worse is I’ve done it so long I can actually function well without being fully present. I’m doing what I need to do, but my heart’s not in it. I’m miles away, deep into the summer, going to swim lessons and story times and working on craft projects and cooking.

Everyone at work has been supportive (so far, the wider population doesn’t know yet), but I’m asked repeatedly, Are you sure? Is this final? I can tell they don’t want me to go. It makes me feel guilty.

Things are changing in education. Especially in California, where the district budget has been riding on fumes for several years now, the new structure isn’t supporting the old models. Earlier this year I came to terms with the fact that librarians in our district will probably be phased out. The database that will eventually replace me is still in the works, along with other money-saving ideas meant to cut costs and slash staff.

Maybe it’s better I say goodbye to this job before it says goodbye to me.

But hopefully not. Hopefully there will be librarians in this district by the time Isobel is enrolled in school. I don’t know, but I hope so.

Quitting my job to stay at home has long been a fantasy, but there’s a part of my brain that rails against the idea. You idiot. Give up a full-time librarian position in the middle of the largest recession since the Great Depression? What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?

Anthony reminds me that I’m giving a wonderful job opportunity to someone else. Some other soul who wanted to be a librarian as badly as I did will have the chance to step into my shoes, shake things up, and call this place their own.

I am wildly excited to stay at home. My reservations are not strong enough to keep me from embracing this opportunity. The challenge for the next two months is to focus on what I need to do to get there, instead of what I want to be doing.

It’s Time for New Adventures

13 Apr

Last Friday I told my principal that this year would be my last year as school librarian.

I want to stay at home with my daughter.

There are many things I love about the job, and many things I’ll miss, but I’ve been feeling stagnant and ready for a change. I will work through June.

I love domesticity and at heart a part of me has always wanted to stay home. A larger part of me wanted to be in the library, of course, until Isobel came along.

We are so lucky that Anthony found work in this dismal economy. We are going to be taking a huge pay cut by going down to one income, but we can mange. We’ve managed all these years on less. While home I plan to develop my etsy business, do more portrait sittings, and sell more photos to Getty. It won’t replace my income totally, but it will help. When it comes time for Isobel (and any possible future siblings) to start school I’ll have that foundation to grow my businesses further.

By going now I’ll leave this job knowing the district will have the funds to replace me, unlike when I was laid off last year. Big changes often come with mixed emotion, and I am sad about leaving at times, but at other times I’m jubilant with anticipation.

It’s going to be an interesting summer.

After: The Library

2 Feb

I have to admit I find the library’s transformation to be better than the after shots of Isobel’s room. (Go ahead and click here to see the before shots. We’ll wait.) I have a lot of things I’d like to change in this room, as well, but it lacks the transitional clutter of the nursery had has somewhat less chairs!

Oh wait. What the hell am I thinking? This room has more chairs. When I went through and photographed my house for the Thrifted Home Tour I noticed all the random Scandinavian things and thought I had a mild Viking theme going on, but do you know what? If I had to sum up my decorating style I guess I’d say Chairs, chairs, chairs!!!

I should rename this post “My office chairs: A Memoir.”

You’ll notice from the before pics that the desk was covered in crap. I’m not sure if I had the presence of mind to clear the cups and plates away from the computer, but when no one’s home I eat there on my lunch so there’s usually some, er, remnants. Damn. I really hope I cleaned that up for you guys. Now, however, it’s all cleaned off and shiny and I even organized the library card catalog file on my desk.

Oh, and I fit as many of your Christmas cards as I could on my bulletin board. The rest on are the fridge. Thanks again, I love getting mail.

For the most part, my Secret Shame is gone, but you’ll notice Isobel’s car seat in the corner. It’s back in Anthony’s car now, where it belongs, but I took this photo while he was in LA.

I like to call this area “Nerd Corner.” Kind of like Pooh Corner, except its for nerds and not for er, Poohs, I guess. You’ll notice the nasty carpet I keep harping on. (It was nasty and old when we moved in.) In the Olden Days I’d have edited it out using Photoshop. But let’s face it, internet, our Honeymoon period is over and now you have to endure me and all my flaws. Oh, and not tonight. I have a headache.

Here’s why we call this room the library. You’ll notice our book situation and how it has gotten out of hand. I’m eventually going to end up giving some of these away to friends and blog readers so stay tuned. I tried to do some weeding and it as largely unsuccessful. I found about five books I’d be able to part with. And let’s just say that Anthony and I are planning on buying more than five new books in our lives.

(It suddenly occurs to me–I should have a CHAIR giveaway!)

(Or maybe I should just have people over more to justify the amount of chairs.)

The additional shelf we are planning on getting will be added to nerd corner. Anthony’s already dibbed it so I’m sure it will be full of Manga and Pathfinder books.)

Aaaand here’s the desk, so we’ve come full circle. What do you think?