The Friday Five Gets Nosy

In honor of Tracey's birthday (do go wish her a happy one & come back), we're gonna do a nosy survey (as she occasionally is wont to create). Below are your Five Nosy Survey Questions. They are all travel-related, as my mind has been wandering that way and building up the angst because circumstances like a used book sale thrust upon me (Um, hello? Helping out at the previous one a week or two into the job back in the Spring does not make me qualified to run it!) are conspiring against my having even part of a weekend in August to steal away to the beach. (Boooooo.) So offer up a little peek inside your blogreading noggins and help me do a little vicarious traveling:

1. Road Trips: Love 'em or hate 'em? Feel free to expound.

2. Have you ever done a spur-of-the-moment trip? (Note: Running for the Border does not count.)

3. True or false: I have mad packing skillz.

4. Name your favorite movie about taking a trip. I am fairly flexible about what that includes.

5. Sum up your worst trip ever or worst part of a trip ever in one or two sentences--or, if you're feeling up to the challenge, a haiku. There very well could be a prize for the best response, haiku or not. (This new job thing has me feeling a bit more generous than usual.)

TGIF and happy weekend, everyone!


Two Voicemails = Good Sign

You darling readers may have noticed I've been a little more on the quiet side lately, and mostly that's from freaking out offline about not having a full time job and my student health plan's imminent expiration and all that anxiety-inducing jazz. (Did I mention my mom's constant mantra of "Why don't you get on the substitute list?" Because they don't call in a substitute librarian for the day when they can get a classroom teacher to read to the kids instead, Mom. Please stop asking for advice from everyone and passing it along to me as if it were gospel.)

This morning, my schedule was a little mixed-up, as I'd been called in for a meeting with the architects working on the renovation. Normally I'm at the library in the afternoon so I can help any teens who come in (seriously, did you think they came in before noon in the summer? The ones that aren't working or at a camp, I mean) and then I head out to make it to pilates class. I went to the meeting, did some work on my summer program stuff--while witnessing several PC turf wars including one instigated by the Champ--and was done at 2:30.

When I got home, I noticed I had voicemail. "You have two messages!" said the automated lady's voice. There had been only one new number on the Caller I.D., and it was from the school district where I'd interviewed a couple weeks ago, so already I was intrigued.

First message: It's the principal. Would I please call her? Leaves the office number.

Second message: It's the principal again. She wanted to make sure I get hold of her, so here's her cell number.

Cell number!? I can't imagine she'd want to tell me bad news while she's at grocery store or whatever. Forget lunch--I had to call her immediately.

She wanted to know if I was still interested in the job, because they'd like to offer it to me.


They were forwarding their formal recommendation to the district today, and I should be getting a call to come in to sign paperwork pretty soon.

I'm not quite ready to declare JobQuest2009 officially over, because nothing's signed yet, but it's starting to hit me that I have a job for the upcoming school year.

I can't wait.

Except for the part where I have to tell my current employers I'm leaving.

Annnnd the angst is back. . .


Weird Convergence

So last night, after working till close at the library, I decided to pick up dinner, so I went for a bit of a drive. It was not a nice night--it has been hot and humid since the middle of last week--and I could see lightning in the distance. It made me reconsider the drive, but I decided to drive on.

The drive-thru was backed up, but it didn't really bother me. I turned up the radio as I waited, and a song came on that I recognized. It was "Not an Addict," by K's Choice. I think it was their only hit, and it made me think back to when it was burning up the local airwaves. I was in college, my second college, in Philly--it had to be, because there really weren't any radio stations that played modern rock in the area of my first college. (Yes, I transferred because the radio sucked. That's it.)

Then I realized that I'd had a conversation about the song with my late friend J. I can remember the exact place. We were standing in line outside of the fieldhouse, waiting to get in to a concert at my college. That was one thing we did a lot of together, even though we went to different schools--go to concerts. The school ones were great, because they were cheap. Anyway, I remembered part of the conversation was that I remarked, "It kinda sounded like Tori Amos."

At which point, the guy standing in front of me whipped around and snorted, "K's Choice doesn't sound anything like Tori Amos!"

I think both J. and I were a bit weirded out at that confrontation by a rabid Tori Amos fan. And later, amused. It was obvious he considered himself an expert on the topic, which of course excused him from the fact that we weren't talking to him.

This past Sunday, J. would've turned 34. I'd been thinking about her a lot lately. Last night, I was wearing a necklace she'd made for me. I'm not a frequent necklace-wearer, and the few I do have (and wear) have personal significance to them. Usually, they're gifts. So, for the song to come on--that was cool. It didn't make me sad. I think it's what my uncle would call a "visitation."

I've often thought she was DJ-ing from Heaven.


The Friday Five: Is Friday Over Yet?

It probably won't be Friday by the time I finish this. It's been a long day. Seriously, I got dumped on at work, and the time I spent giving a ride to a co-worker to pick up her car was spent venting about the serious dysfunction in the air. Every job has its ups and downs, to be sure, but this ongoing problem is ridiculous.

Anyway. . . on to better things. Had a nice dinner with my parents and my sister for my dad's birthday, which is (was) today. He's gotten some nice presents so far, like having a root canal canceled--dentist realized it wasn't necessary--and $25 in winnings from some scratch-off tickets. (I know, gambling, so scandalous.)

So what's hot for this week's Friday Five? How about some Red Hot Reads? I figured you might have blown through all those previous recommendations, so here are five more books I have recently read or will be planning to read (Warning: this may trend YA, but if the WSJ's Book Lover can recommend YA fiction to a woman in her 80s as she did a couple Fridays ago, then you whippersnappers might enjoy some, too):

1. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. I finished this one on Playaway (audio) last weekend, and as it's a YA book, I wrote a review of it for the teens in my online summer reading program. (O.K., my cat wrote the review. She's got an account as my test member. Well, she is twelve.) I don't know if Dessen ever was fat growing up, but she did a pretty good job nailing the feeling that everyone in your class is making fun of you, and how that feeling can stay with you even when you've started pulling your life together. Even if I think "Colie" is a stupid nickname for Nicole.

2. Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen. I'm #2 in the library queue for this one. I don't even know what it's about, but it's brand new and I'd better keep up with what's new to read.

3. Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick. A great co-worker at the library sent me an e-mail (from home!) about Thursday night's Talk of the Nation on NPR, involving this book and other stuff about the YA market. (Maybe by the time I wrap up the recovery/rewrite on my Novel #1 it'll be the perfect time to get it on the market.) This book looks interesting because it's about the books that spoke to the author as she came of age, and probably many of us can relate to some of them. I'm in the queue for that one as well, and in the meantime I'll be listening to the podcast of that show.

4. The Debutante Divorcee by Plum Sykes. I fell in love with Plum Sykes' writing in some personal article she did about a long battle with back pain for a women's magazine (can't remember which one but it was recent). I borrowed Bergdorf Blondes and blew through that in about a day. Not very deep, and definitely for adults, but a fun, light read.

5. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I think I'm #6 in the queue for this one. Saw it recommended in two different articles--one local, one in the WSJ--and I had to see what all the talk is about. The protagonists are twelve, but from what has been written about it, its appeal even to older teens and adults is the puzzle theme wrapped around the story. It's set in the '70s and the author has a thing for The $20,000 Pyramid game show. Cool.

Happy weekend, and happy reading!


I Have Two Things to Say About Today's Weather

First, there is no way it made it to 80 degrees here today--it poured most of the day and it was all cloud cover, all the time.

Second, the horribly humid weather is making some people a little crazy--like one of my favorite local weather personalities, who seems a little too excited that a certain actor is out of his teens.

What's up with that???


She's Twelve Today

She has regularly scheduled standoffs with a horrible patio rodent.

A slightly ajar filing cabinet drawer keeps her occupied for an entire half hour.

(You may have noticed how tall she looks in that picture. It's no trick of the camera; she is that long.)

Tonight, she and I shared a hamburger for dinner, and afterwards I set up her birthday present. She hasn't ventured a drink yet, but she did mention she'd like to make a toast to the memory of blogfriend Nina's recently deceased cat, Cathead.

Despite being poked awake at 5 a.m. to feed her breakfast every morning, I enjoy every day I have with my cat. We'll have been together twelve years in September, but I think she acts hardly a day over five. She's probably the best roommate, ever.

I hope we have many more years together!


The Friday Five: Take and Read

Sorry for posting so late--long, crazy day, but at least I got the haircut I'd rescheduled, and there's twenty more bucks in money orders going to the Commonwealth to prove, just like last summer, that I'm O.K. to be around kids. (You'll still read the Friday Five on Monday with your morning coffee, right?)

I'm a little low on substance lately, what with all the administrative stuff going on in the background, so this week I thought I'd point to five other places on the Web I've been enjoying lately:

1. Tests at Psychology Today. I took the "What Type of Smart Are You?" one (page 4) and it turns out I am the visual-spatial smart type. Neat.

2. OverheardintheOffice.com: Funny how a site about what's overheard at work involves a number of conversations really NSFW. Although these guys are kinda adorkable.

3. The Enchantment of Catastrophe, this past week's writing post by blogger/writer/writing coach Jen. Writing ain't all sunshine and rainbows, that's for sure.

4. Dave E.'s posts about Apollo 11. Now with cute b-day photo! (You at least have to go wish him a happy birthday, huh, please?)

5. Inside NASA--this was a cool look at NASA's astronaut training from a local perspective. (The astronaut in Part I spoke at my commencement.) The radio station had been broadcasting the audio of the segments every day, but I didn't catch one until this morning, the robotics one.

Well, the dishes need washing and I need to get some rest before supervising some teen volunteers at tomorrow's library event, so I'm on my way out for the night. Hope your weekend is outstanding!


Wednesday Interview Wrap-Up

I didn't realize how long that post was getting--below is Part II. Part I is here.

When the assistant returned, she said, "Oh, yes, Ms. HR Lady wanted to talk to you." I was almost prepared to be let down easy but I thought that was done on paper normally (and yes I did get one of those from another district on Tuesday!). I went out to the main lobby where Ms. HR Lady was waiting and smiling her lovely smile.

She shook my hand and asked if I could go to the school for a second interview today at 1:45.

Trying not to show my shock, I said, "Certainly," but then I asked if they wanted to see anything like my portfolio (which of course I had not brought per her instructions). She replied that ideally they would, but she said they wanted to do as many interviews as they could in one day and understood that I didn't have enough time to go home and get it. Very fortuitous that my schedule had changed!

I looked up at the clock. It was 11:45 a.m. At that point, I needed lunch, badly. I'd been too nervous to eat much for breakfast. Luckily, the school wasn't far from my old job, so after I called my mom to give an update, I went over to one of my former lunch haunts (one pretty much not frequented by former office mates, so they wouldn't see me in my interview suit). It's a great people-watching place, so I ate, texted a quick update to a galpal, jotted notes, and enjoyed the surrounding activity. It calmed me down.

So, on to the school for what they called a "building interview." I took it to mean an interview at the actual building (as in being let through the door, maybe?). I met the principal and assistant principals, and also the head librarian--who knew Dr. Red (or at least knew of her). I thought I'd seen notation of a head librarian when I'd checked their website the other day, and to be honest, it was really great meeting her. She seemed really on-the-ball and someone with whom I'd easily work. She had to leave partway through the interview, but I got to see the library afterwards. Well, why not ask to see it, having had to answer a bunch of hypotheticals somewhat blindly? I figured they'd say no if they didn't want me to see it. But they did say yes, and before one of the assistant principals gave me the tour, the principal said they'd be touch with me, either way--and that while they weren't sure how many other prospects I had, in the event I got an offer from another school district that I was seriously considering, please would I let them know first?

Sounds promising, doesn't it?

The library looked great. Lots of room and resources for lots of activity. In hindsight, I realize this would be a great first school library job for me and secretly I'd hoped for a situation like this, working alongside a seasoned librarian. This is a long term sub position, but it's for the entire year, and in the event the person on leave decided not to come back and I'd proven myself valuable, it has the potential to become permanent.

I can't count my chickens before they're hatched, of course, but I think it's O.K. to say that I am thrilled with how the day went and what I saw and experienced. Here's hoping, if this is what's in the cards, that they take a chance on the unknown kid.

Gotta get those thank-you notes out first thing tomorrow. First, however, will be sleeping. It's been a long week so far.


A Day That Kept Getting More Interesting

Sunday, I'd planned Wednesday to go like this: haircut in the morning, post office visit, work at the library, pilates class, cook dinner.

Monday, the library asked me to switch Wednesday afternoon to Saturday morning. No problem; more time to get things done in the afternoon.

Yesterday morning, it turned into rescheduling the hair appointment for Friday, post office if I got back in time to complete the paperwork I needed to mail, etc.

By 11:45 a.m. on the actual day, I rearranged once more.

10:05 a.m. The school district office I visited for my screening interview was located in an office complex. Even though I had to park at the far end of the section (which later I understood about--there were faculty workshops going on), it was early enough in the day, and milder than usual, that I didn't get too sweaty hiking over to the office.

When I checked in with the receptionist, she told me to take a seat. There were only three chairs, the outer two of which were occupied. By two men. I had a moment of sexist panic where I thought, "I can't compete against two men!" (I also was a little panicky when I saw they had portfolio cases and I'd been told to bring only a filled out application.) It was already 10:15 a.m. and I took advantage of the fact that the interviews were running late to calm myself down.

They called in the man to my right. The man to my left, who had gotten up to talk to someone, came back and asked if they wanted him to go back, too. I told him no. He took a seat again. After a couple minutes, I thought I'd break the ice, mostly to start talking and get my mind off anxious scenarios.

Turned out he was applying for another subject (as was the other man), and that he had been a long term sub for them this past school year. (No wonder everybody was saying "Hi" to him and commenting on the suit.) So I got a little bit of a rundown, and he had really great things to say about the school and the district--good information to have.)

When it was my turn to interview, I met some administrators and talked about hypothetical situations, also joked that my ideal library would have a coffeemaker. (I think that finally got the one serious person to smile.) Then I wrote an essay and took what looked like a Scantron version of a bipolar disorder exam, but I think it was just some sort of personality inventory. I'm a librarian, so I hope there's a curve for introverts.

After I had completed those two items, I thanked the assistant who administered them, and was about to leave when she told me to wait a moment, because she thought there was something else Ms. HR Lady had to tell me. I stood there, not sure what to expect but thinking I'd hear there was some other paperwork I owed them besides my undergrad transcript (which to me is practically ancient history but apparently that's more interesting than my graduate work).


Prospective Job Interview Alert!!!

There was a phone message when I got home from work today--one of the applications I mailed out on Friday has garnered me a "screening interview." I have to call to schedule it, but it could be as early as Wednesday. Stay tuned, and please pray/think positive for me!


The Friday Five Wants Its Two Hours Back

1. Music and Lyrics: Once did it way, way better.

2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Older Brother was fired up about it and convinced me and Younger Sister to go, his treat. We walked out a bit shaken up.

3. Grease: I dunno, it just didn't do anything for me.

4. Matchstick Men: Maybe the book was better? Not that I feel particularly motivated to read it after having watched the movie. . .

5. The Truth about Cats & Dogs: My mom made the mistake of taking my two great-aunts to see it, after which my one great-aunt declared indignantly, "That movie was not about cats or dogs." At the same time, in another part of the country, I had to handle the awkward post-movie question from my college boyfriend: "Was that, you know, phone. . .???" Red flag. Maybe I knew too much at 19, but he knew too little at 26. He's out of the picture, but I'm still enjoying the great soundtrack CD.

Hope your weekend is two thumbs up!

Yet Another Surprised eBay Customer

A couple of weeks ago, my mom was lamenting the loss of the lid to a two-quart pitcher, said pitcher being almost as old as Younger Sister and having spent summer in, summer out dispensing batch after batch of homemade iced tea. (Every try Half&Half? That's close to what Mom's iced tea tastes like.)

To show her I did learn something in two years of grad school, I coached her on searching eBay for gently used duplicate, and then I placed a bid for her. We won, and I paid for it.

We both promptly forgot about it, until I got a phone call shortly before leaving for work this afternoon.

Mom: Just wanted to tell you there's a package here for you from [out of state].
Me: Oh, that's yours. You can open it; it's your pitcher.

Pause. I start to worry she's having memory problems.

Mom: (puzzled) It can't be my pitcher. This package is way too small.
Me: Well, do me a favor and open it and take a look at it. If it's wrong, let me know and I'll
take care of it.

Mom: I just don't think-

By now, it's 12:59 and I had planned to be at the library at 1.

Me: Mom, I gotta leave for work right now. Leave me a message about it, O.K.? O.K., bye.

I locked the door and hadn't even gotten to my car before my cell phone rang. It's Mom.

Me: So, what did you get?
Mom: (relieved) It's the pitcher.
Me: It's the right one?
Mom: Yes, it is. I just can't believe it fit in there.

It's from a famous line of fairly indestructible (except near heat sources) plastic home goods. I don't think it needed a whole ton of bubble wrap to go in the mail.

And some of those eBay sellers? They are shipping wizards.


The Essay Sucked up All My Words!

The deal (with myself) was to hold off on blogging until the essay I had to finish was done. So here I am, having kicked essay butt.

And, um, I don't have much to say at the moment, except that I have been loving the Movie Mob. Vote Meowzers!

I promise I will have more interesting things to say once I get some of this darn paperwork done for these job applications. Yeah, yeah--I'm grateful there are even any job openings, but it makes absolutely no sense to me that I have to apply online and then fax or mail paperwork repeating what I just put in the application. Senseless. Illogical. Expensive. Ooooh, I just heard my mom's voice in my head: "Welcome to Academia!" Hmmmph.


Talk Amongst Yourselves

Man, it's really rough when I've got a bunch of family drama (nothing too bad, just silly) going on in the background and the frustration of having met Mr. Great-Conversation-but-Totally-Off-Limits (not for really moral or legal reasons, lest anyone's thoughts head in that direction) this past weekend, and I really can't talk about either situation here. Or just about anywhere. Sigh.

So I'll give you a discussion topic: Boundaries. Specifically, what to do if some of the really nice teens in the teen group you oversee (say, at a library) invite you to come with them to a post-meeting movie next time around. Most of the group going is girls but there are a few boys, if that matters. Does it violate an authoritative boundary to go? Or any other kind of boundary?

What say you, blogfriends?


A Friday Five in front of the Fourth

Well, for those of us in the United States, tomorrow is Independence Day--yippee! Apparently, this year I will be celebrating my status as a public servant by walking as a fairy tale princess* (carrying a large foam-board book I made) in the local community's parade. I'm hoping it's not un-American to be thankful that this year's 4th is not one of our usual blazing hot ones. . . because I will have shorts and a tee on underneath the dress and cape, thanks to the diaphanous skirt. Oh, and serious makeup. The Board doesn't know my performing background, and probably wouldn't guess that I have "work makeup" and appropriate makeup for many other occasions. Hilarious.

Gotta say, though, I do like parades. Here are five reasons I do:

1. July 4th's parade is neat because we get to see all our firefighters in their freshly washed trucks (instead of racing down the street to some emergency on any other day). Sometimes they have their families with them, and you can tell the kids who are having a blast being on top of the truck.

2. The other cool thing about the July 4th parade is that there are community ones going on all over, from the next town over to the states on the other side of the country.

3. Community ones are great because all the residents are lined up along the main street--some neighbors who don't normally see each other get to chat, and even some former residents come back for occasion.

4. I think a lot of people across the country would agree that spectacles like the Rose Parade and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are interesting to check out, even if it's just to see how they're going to top themselves each year.

5. Having grown up in Philly, I gotta say--it's just not New Year's Day unless the Mummers are strutting.

Now, I'm off to do some princess-librarian primping. Have a great weekend!

*Yes, I'm linking to the commercialized version, because that's the costume the Board bought. And YES, I do get the "Someday My Prince Will Come" irony. . .


Word Search

The state's education job site makes an applicant (such as myself) jump through all sorts of hoops in order to apply for jobs posted on the site. It would be far too easy to allow applicants to post their resumes--noooo, they want the bigger picture, so let's make everyone post about themselves piecemeal. Where did you go to school, and when? Let's see all your certification test scores! Here are six mini-essays to answer in 300 characters or less!

And the big one: We want to see if you can use full sentences and write coherently about a topic we give you--3000 characters or less!

I've had the worst writer's block in trying to answer the Big Essay Question--even trying to decide which of the topic choices I want to use--or about a week now.

There has been stalling. There has been staring. There has been purchasing of inspirational background music (from the local used CD shop) for writing, which may or may not be a veiled attempt to call upon my late friend who was my main writing support in high school/college and is probably too busy hanging out in the DJ booth of Heaven (with St. Cecilia) to hear my pleas.

Final desperate act: Change of scenery.

Before I went to work at the bookstore today--the first time I've been there in two weeks--I packed a snack. . . and the printout of the BEQ, folded over, with my official writing pen (blue ink for creativity) clipped to the page.

Maybe I didn't complete my response to the BEQ, but I did get outlines done for both of the two topics I thought I might choose. That's the other problem: too many choices.

But I think I'll just let that work itself out when I sit down to flesh out the outlines.