Decisions, Decisions

This afternoon, I rearranged part of my living room. There's no coffee table, so there's a lot of space in between the TV (against one wall) and the sofa (against the wall, directly across from the TV). The armchair that had been positioned to the left of the TV got moved to where the sofa was, moving the sofa down a bit--it's a long wall--and angled away from the wall.

I like the new setup, and I'm going to like it even more once the rug I ordered (in chocolate) to go in the middle of the room arrives, but I'm baffled as to why it took so long to figure it out. I mean, I've lived here over a year. I seem to have a bit of a block when it comes to interior decorating. Odd, being that art paid some of my way through high school. Maybe it's all the decisions.

And I have more decisions to make. Another public YA librarian position, with nearly twice as many hours and about 15-30% greater hourly pay, came to my attention via a mass e-mail from the central branch in our system. It's in this same system--which could be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. Still not full time, but at least I'd be able to afford to buy my health insurance when my student insurance runs out in August.

I don't have much to lose by applying--except it could cause problems for me at my current library if words gets out that I applied. There's already this "You're gonna leave us" attitude toward me, though--and who could blame me? I'm working two jobs and barely getting by. The weird thing is that the assistant children's librarian brought me a copy of the job opening--apparently unaware I was on the same list--with a note reading, "This might be a good part-time job you could do instead of [the bookstore]. (Just don't leave us!! [smiley face])"

With a diplomatic smile, I explained that I tend to work about 8-18, maybe 20 hours at the bookstore. The open position is two to three times that amount. I don't know if she didn't do the math, or she actually does not know the amount of hours I put in at the library, but to do work for our library + the other library = nearly 50 hours a week. They're both YA positions, so odds are that they'd need me to work the same times of day.

Do I want to kill myself trying to be in two places at once?

Do I want to get stuck in a public librarian position?

What if I can't get a full time school position for the fall?

Decisions, decisions.


The Friday Five: Food for Thought

Sure, I might be feeling a little cranky about the problems with my job at the library, but for the most part. . . I feel really good today. Slept really well, finished the second disc for the first season of this show that I borrowed from another branch in our system (really great series--the last two episodes were so well done they brought tears to my eyes--must find the other seasons). I even thought I looked good today.

It was so rainy when I got out of work (later than I'd planned, of course) that I decided to put off errands to tomorrow morning and do my workout and make dinner instead. One of the errands was grocery shopping, so I had to do a little scrounging. And while I was assembling dinner, it occurred to me that there just might be five elements to the Bachelorette Kitchenette dinner:

1. Random: If I don't have a recipe in mind, I tend to fish around for stuff for dinner, or combine disparate things in a course-like manner, and call it "dinner." Tonight, it was the piece of salt water taffy from the library staff room that I'd thrown in my tote bag. It became the appetizer I paired with my citrus vodka-cointreau-cranberry-lime-cherry seltzer cocktail (random again) as I prepared dinner.

2. Leftovers: Especially when dinner is "a little bit of this, a little bit of that," leftovers come in quite handy. I threw in the leftover tomato (from Wednesday night's burger) and black olive slices (from when I made tuna last week, possibly?) into the tuna-nicoise salad I was making tonight.

3. Offense: If you've ever had a cat/dog/significant other/child underfoot while you're trying to make dinner, you know what I mean. I know Bingley sometimes has to say, "No!" to an interested and very cute party at times. Apparently all the catnip stoning the cat did fell away when five minutes later I put the can opener to the tuna can. I had to endure a din of begging until I set the empty can on the floor for her to lick out. At least it wasn't porkchops--those bring out the "big cat" in her to the nth degree.

4. Leftovers, Part II: I'm of the opinion that it's such a big deal to drag out pots and pans (like to boil and drain pasta) that it's a waste to do just one serving. Not to mention it's sometimes harder to calculate one serving than just cook two and cut the finished product in half. So I pretty much always have leftovers when I cook. Most of the time, that's a good thing. That means no cooking the next day!

5. Dishes: When you're the only one making dinner and eating dinner, you're the only one cleaning up after dinner. Man, that gets old. But I refuse to eat dinner off paper plates.

I'd have to take out the trash, then.

Have a nice weekend!


Hardly Any Time to Update

Exhausted from a wild weekend with Younger Sister. (Favorite part: Introduce myself to person at her party as her sister. Other person asks, "Older or younger?" Repeat with all the other guests. Hee.)

Finished library job at 3:30, leaving shortly for bookstore job which I will work from 5:00 to about 10:30. It's rainy and cold here, so I'm wondering if anyone will even want to come out for books and lattes.

I'd like them to. . . I got an e-mail from someone I haven't heard from in a year and last time we talked it ended awkwardly (and in fact I thought that was the end of the friendship) and I don't want to spend all tonight thinking about it. And about whether I want to respond or how the ^&$# to respond if I do.


The Friday Five: Rites of Passage

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm getting ready to head down to DC tomorrow morning to visit Younger Sister, who is having a combined b-day party/BBQ with one of her housemates, another "May baby" (just like our lovely blogfriend Lizzie this week--do go over and wish her a happy one!).

Some of you may relate to making a pre-travel list--what to pack, what has to be done beforehand. For me, it's a like a ritual, and if it's not on the list, it doesn't get done. The problem sometimes is that the list tends to grow even as I'm crossing things off. Yikes. And if you have pets, you probably would understand that on top of making sure I packed everything, I have to make sure that the place is presentable for the pet care coming in--in my case, my mom. That can tack on quite a few list items. So I give you, below, five weird things I have to do before I travel:

1. Turn off the clock-radio alarm. No sense in annoying the cat. Who has an internal alarm clock anyway. That runs fast (feed me at 4 a.m.! Get up get up get up!).

2. Run the dishwasher (and then empty it). Otherwise, Mom will do it. Even if I tell her she doesn't have to.

3. Leave room on the kitchen counter next to the sink and put out clean dish towels. Because Mom also will wash every single dish she uses. Including the ones for the cat. Even if I tell her it's fine to rinse them and shove them in the (emptied) dishwasher.

4. Polish my toes. Must have party-worthy piggies. Or just walk-to-the-bathroom-in-my-PJs-worthy.

5. Explain to the cat that I am going away but will be back in a couple days, and that Mom (actually, I use her first name with the cat--I have no idea why) will come feed her. Not sure if the cat understands, because I usually get an earful whenever I go away and come back, but I figure it's the decent thing to do.

Here's to our American soldier-heroes, and here's to the unofficial start of summer (if, like, you actually have seasons where you live). Have a great weekend!

Update: Forgot to mention that I also will be celebrating the arrival of my teaching certificate in the mail today! YAAAAAY!!!


So What If Laundry Machines Don't Take Visa?

4 loads of laundry: $5.00

5 dryer cycles: $6.25

Having all my laundry done so I can pack it up tomorrow for a weekend at my sister's: Priceless.

Now, who wants to help me pair up all these socks?


Interesting Recent Exchanges

Tuesday afternoon, outside of the polling place for the state primary. I try to avoid the people outside because it always seems that the wrong party approaches me (stereotype much?), and I usually have my own list of candidates with me anyway, but one guy in a nice oxford and dress pants called over to me and we happened to "match" party-wise. He brought over the sample ballot and explained things a little. It's a good thing he did, because there were a lot more offices--not to mention candidates--on the ballot than I'd expected. Something funny happened when he got to the judges.

Party Dude: O.K., so these are the judges endorsed by the party.
Me: Oh, O.K.
PD: Basically, these two--if anybody did something bad to a child, these two judges would be their worst nightmare.


PD: I mean, that's a good thing.
Me: Oh, absolutely.

I think I was stopped a little in my tracks at the thought of someone hurting a child that it took me a sec to get the rest of that. He kinda was, too, I think.

Today (Wednesday), I had to go to a workshop--it turned out to be really great. The presenters were good and it was nice being able to talk shop with some like-minded/like-purposed librarians. (Also got a wake-up call that I need to check the challenge policy at the library because we have never discussed it.) However, it was an all-day thing that took me a good half-hour drive down the Turnpike (where people were driving like weirdos) to get back, and I was tired on top of feeling a little under the weather. So by the time I got to my Turnpike exit and had to pay the toll, I was a little frazzled. I never know whether to make the toll-taker wait for me to read the ticket and determine my toll, or just hand the ticket to him and let him tell me.

Me: I don't think I read what the toll is. [Looks at it for a second, but as the grid blurs-] I can't read it. [Hands it to Toll Guy.]
Toll Guy: Let's see. That'll be One Hundred Ninety. [He's joking--it's $1.90]
Me: Uh, will you take $2.00?
TG: Well, if that's all you have on ya.
Me: Thanks. Oh, and could I get a receipt?
TG: Nope, no paper for you. [Again, joking]

He was such a cheerful guy--I love it when they're nice. That must be a frustrating job sometimes.


The Underappreciated Keyboard

Seraphic Single, who is about to make a blog move now that she is single no more, posted some trivia about the letters worn off her computer keyboard. My list is fairly similar to hers as to affected letters, although not quite to the same degree:

  • Completely worn off: N, unless you count a tiny sliver. It's also the only one with scratches, almost like a swipe of tiny kitten claws. I'm not sure what happened there.
  • Half worn off: H
  • Partially worn off: E, O, D, B, and M.
  • Slightly nicked: U and F

That's what two and a half years of grad school and nearly a year and a half of blogging will do to a laptop, I guess.

Which ones, if any, are missing from yours?


Communication Breakdown

Or maybe I should say that the library staff is not Google. We are not required to give instantaneous information. Information, yes--and quality information at that. I will not sacrifice quality for speed.

I also will not sacrifice boundaries for information. What do I mean by that?

You might not agree with me, but my feeling is that unless something at my job is a life-or-death situation (which, um, at a library, never comes up), my job should not be calling me at times when I'm not on the clock.

Don't call me because you can't find something right away. (And most likely you didn't even bother checking the standard locations.)

Don't call me because you don't feel like doing a little deductive reasoning, like to find out the hours of the next teen event (hint: there's a calendar on the library's website; or you could, I don't know, take a walk over to the YA section where there are flyers posted? There's no anti-adult force field).

Don't call me when you are too passive to tell a patron, "I'm sorry, I don't have the answer right now. Let me take your name and number and I or one of the other staff will call you with more information as soon as possible." We may have a few patrons that are doozies, but most people do not get PO'd if they have to wait not even a day to get the answer they're looking for.

Don't call me about something I don't need to know right that minute. A note in my mailbox will work just fine.

I'm sorry for the rant; it just really baffles me that, for some reason, it is largely accepted at my workplace that I am on call for them anytime I'm not there. I am the only librarian who is not salaried; I am the only one who is part time.

I'm also the the only librarian who is not married, and I wonder if that's part of it, too. Even though they know I have another job (or two) outside of the library.

Additionally, I wonder if the do-it-all-myself attitude of my supervisor has conditioned the rest of the staff to regard me in the same way. The thing is, I wasn't hired for all this back-of-the-house stuff--I am very happy to delegate as much of the non-librarianship procedure as I can. I'm no micro-manager. Not at all. I will not complain that you're stepping on my toes if you take care of something yourself.

This afternoon I had a bunch of last minute minutiae thrown at me, and I have to go in even earlier than planned, ahead of tonight's event. I'm annoyed. Because (A) I had other personal things to take care of beforehand that now I don't have time for, and (B) it's not going to change.

If anything, I have to try to work within their dysfunctional paradigm, in order to get through to them--give them what they need in order to preempt that ridiculous impulse to pick up the phone.

And really lower my expectations, so my blood pressure stays down.

UPDATED 10 p.m.: The event went O.K. Slightly better attendance at the event than at the last one. Wondering about the kids who made total messes--including leaving a dropped/dumped soda in the middle of the parking lot (guess they didn't pay attention to the kid who read a "stop pollution" poem). Had a little conversation afterwards with a desk person whom I didn't expect to stay late tonight. Interesting perspective. Confirmed my sense of raging politics and that any change to the status quo isn't really welcomed (even though several really want change. . . she's on the fence). Praying that the new director, who was felled by illness right at the start of his directorship three weeks ago, will be able to come in soon and start easing this library into, I don't know, the late '90s at least.


For the You-Know-What-Flu Record

Spent last Saturday evening with my aunt who came on a plane from Mexico City. No ill effects whatsoever.

And she won a free scratch-off lottery ticket from the ones I gave her in her Mother's Day (godmother) card.

Take that, odds.

The Friday Five: Booking It into the Weekend

Sorry I've been a little scarce online this week. I was racing to finish this book because it was due back today (not renewable--it was on loan from another branch, and there was another patron waiting for it; I wasn't going to abuse my work privileges and override the renewal block). BTW, the book was pretty good. Even had some laugh-out-loud moments about both campus life and the perspective of a lapsed Quaker on an evangelical college. Even though I'm not an evangelical, the university did remind me a lot of the conservative college I went to for my first two years as an undergrad. With even more rules. Also, I think I got an idea of what my church might look like to someone almost completely outside of it. And that we actually could get along.

Work demands also had me all over the place this week. Spent one day at the middle school doing booktalks for half the seventh graders. I sound like a freak when I say that it feels sooooo good to be in school. I can't explain it. It really does.

The seventh graders weren't quite as engaged an audience as their sixth grade compatriots were. Both experiences were very revealing, though. So I offer you the five things I learned about sixth and seventh graders from doing booktalks:

1. They do judge books by their covers, but it's not always the flashy covers that get their attention. For example, the sixth graders often asked me to talk about this book--that's an uprooted tree flying across the cover.

2. Along the same lines, it's really hard to predict which kids will ask about which books. I was a little surprised when a seventh grade boy in the back row asked me about not one but two very obviously chick-y books. (Then again, maybe he thought the girls on the covers were hot. . .)

3. Some kids will groan when you mention one of Sarahk's favorite books.

4. Others, however, will come up to you afterwards for a copy of our list of books and series related to that very "sucky" topic.

5. Sharks and Bigfoot just might win a few of them over to the Nonfiction side.

And there's more--I get to booktalk to the other half of the seventh grade on Monday. I'm taking a nonfiction book on Amelia Earhart, because she is a major character in an upcoming movie--curious to see if anyone picks up on that.

Have a nice weekend! And hey, if you're reading anything good, pass it along in the comments if you want.


The Friday Five: Pause for Gratitude

I'll admit it--being positive sometimes doesn't come easy for me. In fact, sometimes I'm way too cynical for my own good. (Although whipping out the perfectly-timed snarky comment on occasion can get a good laugh out of someone.)

I'm also not the most gung-ho person about fitness. Exercise for exercise's sake isn't really fun for me--seems more enjoyable as a side benefit, like checking out some neat trail along a creek and hey, we walked a couple miles--but I'm making a concerted effort to do it more, anyway. I joined a fitness challenge where you get points for how much you exercise. There's pretty much no way I'm ever getting MVP of the week, any week, but for my own personal gratification, I get to see my numbers improve.

(I promise I'm getting to the gratitude point soon.) In case you don't live on this side of the country, let me tell you how bad the weather's been for nearly the past two weeks. RAINY. MISERABLE. DOWNPOURS and THUNDERSTORMS. Ones that make your cat cower in the powder room. Not exactly conducive to getting outdoors to work out. So I've been doing exercise videos. I won't name them, but I have a set of tapes (yes, tapes; I bought them for cheap on eBay a few years back). The instructor's a little goofy (aren't they all, at least a little?), and I believe she comes from a pretty strong religious background. Not that there's a whole lot of that during the workouts. . .

. . . but there is one point on one of the videos where she's making us poor slobs stretch our arms up and hold them there for a moment before whatever muscle-killing move starts, and she wiggles her tan, slender fingers and says, "Now this is where I count my blessings."

Corny, I know. But after a lousy week where I've disowned my academic advisor, dealt with conflicting job schedules, felt horribly guilty about asking to be let out of a $7-an-hour work obligation the day before (because I couldn't get hold of anybody sooner), mourned the loss of a classmate, and just generally spent too many minutes crying ('cause that's what I do) out of frustration/annoyance/anxiety with whatever life is handing me right now. . . that's what I was thinking about, as I was lying on the living room floor, listening to the stereo, waiting for the laptop to boot up, and hearing songs I really love--as if finally something was going right. Virtually throwing my hands up--and then realizing I could be wiggling my fingers.

So here are five things for which I feel gratitude today (or felt, as it's pretty late):

1. I mentioned it earlier, but I'll say it again: good music. Especially when the radio seems to be picking it out for me. Practically 30 minutes straight of Killers songs back-to-back? Radio, I never knew how much you cared before. (About an hour or so later, they're playing one of my favorites again. Love it.)

2. A slew of great comments and e-mails from good people yesterday and today. I have nice innernetz friends.

3. A correctly calculated paycheck (albeit small) today. (That would not be from my main job, as we know from past experience.)

4. News of good interviews for several job-seeking friends. I'm really excited for them and hope they all work out.

5. Lip gloss. It comes in all sorts of pretty colors and tastes good. (Men, you are excused from agreeing with me on this point.) I have Champagne Fizz on right now.

***Bonus*** a train ticket to see my sister Memorial Day weekend. Kind of a birthday-BBQ bash for her. It's really cool of her to want me to come and hang with her and her friends.

Some of them probably seem trivial, but every little thing counts. Hope you have some moments of gratitude this weekend. (And no rain so Bingley can cook out!)


Nothing Like a Tuesday Full of Lovely Surprises

My academic advisor e-mailed yesterday to tell me that my application for teaching certification came back to her (coincidentally only after I asked where it was, since the state bureau told me they didn't have it even a month after it was supposedly sent out) from the education school because "you were missing a form."

I was missing a form?

I'm sorry--I was?

The only way I could be missing a form is if you didn't tell me to fill it out, advisor extraordinaire.

After I left a very, very sad message on her voicemail--because of course her phone always goes straight to voicemail, the outgoing message of which states her philosophy that she will respond faster to an e-mail--I called up my former professor of my last class, Dr. D (formerly Prof. D). I got her voicemail, too, so I left a brief but exasperated message with her.

She returned my call minutes later, at which time she expressed her displeasure with my advisor (who at the time of this posting had not responded) from recent experience with her on other matters, and told me (A) I can get around the certification requirement with a letter of explanation, (B) she would write and then e-mail and snail mail me such a letter, and (C) the name of the person at the education school who forwards the applications to the certification bureau.

Feeling somewhat reassured, I looked up the education school person in the directory, sent him an e-mail, and pulled myself together enough to go work at the library for the evening. When I checked my school e-mail midway through the evening, I had a response from him letting me know my application was sent out yesterday. Meaning the same day he'd gotten it from my advisor. Wow.

I felt a little better about that, but I didn't feel like celebrating. Partly because I still have another six or eight weeks to get the actual certificate, and partly because at the end of my conversation with Dr. D., she told me some bad news: one of my classmates had died in a car accident shortly before Easter. I spent part of the evening looking up her obit (and even found the article about the accident--cause unknown). So sad. She was one of my project partners in my second-to-last class, and we were in the last class (student teaching) together. Such a bright, bubbly personality--she was going to be a great school librarian, and (probably the saddest part of the story) a great mom. The world feels a little colder when two innocent lives are cut short. I need to send a donation in her name to her library.

So what have I learned from all this? #1: Your advisor screws up on you once, never trust her again. #2: Perspective. Things aren't great, but they could be way worse.

#3: When all else fails, say a prayer and call on a good professor.


She Flirts. . . She Fails. . .

The scene: Sunday evening, the parking lot of the tiny shopping center near my parents'. I'm sitting in my car which is parked in the alley between the Chinese restaurant and the grocery store, waiting for my mom to pick up takeout.

A young man comes out of the little Italian place next door to the Chinese place. (I know, weird placement, but it works in this town. Case in point: I'm parked in the alley because the lot is full. Amy G. knows where I'm talking about.) He's got a small pizza box with a paper bag on top and he's walking to the passenger side of his red jeep which is just on the other edge of the alley next to my car. He's cute. He looks my way and looks even cuter, so I smile, a little shy smile. And thank God I'm still wearing my church makeup.

He puts the stuff on the passenger seat of the jeep and starts walking toward me a little bit. I'm thinking, no way. Not too long ago, I told myself that the man who's really meant for me would cross a room (or an alley) because he had to talk to me.

At the same time, I notice out of the corner of my eye that my mom is walking across the alley with the bag containing dinner for her, Dad, and me. So as she's reaching the front of my car, he gestures with a smile, and says. . .

"Your coat's caught in your door."

I look down and realize the belt from my little black raincoat, the annoying belt I'm constantly losing, is indeed stuck in the door.

I'm sure I'm blushing as I say, "Thank you," and open the door to fix my coat. He laughs, too, and then he's gone.

Well, actually, my car's behind his jeep at the traffic light on the other side of the shopping center lot, and when the light changes and he turns left and I drive straight, then he's gone.

Maybe he backed off when he saw my mom. Maybe he was just being nice on his way to bringing dinner home to his girlfriend. (Or boyfriend--he did turn left and that's toward Philly.)

Or maybe I should go for Italian next Sunday around 6:15 p.m.


The Friday Five: WWWWW

1. Who isn't sick of sa-whine flu updates by now?

2. What can I do for fun this weekend (once I'm finished with the laundry)?

3. When can I finally put my winter clothes away, without the chance of one last cold spell?

4. Where should I go for the mini-vacation I'm taking after commencement (yay!) next month?

5. Why am I so tired? (Wait, I know this one: my co-workers at the bookstore invited me to go to the 12:01 a.m. showing of Wolverine after work last night. My thoughts? Good cast, some good dialogue and comic book feeling moments, but kinda. . . superficial, for want of a better word.)

Have a great weekend!