Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Walking in the fog

It’s been so warm here, the kind of warm I remember from childhood.  You remember…when you were a kid before houses had air conditioning and you slept on top of your sheets with your pj’s sticking to you and the window of your bedroom open so that the hot air outside could mingle with the hot air inside and your skin felt sticky and your pillow was hot…well…that’s how hot it’s been here these past couple of weeks.

Yesterday morning we woke to fog, and it felt a bit cooler, though maybe that was just an illusion brought on by the gray light and the cooling droplets of mist that stuck to my face and in my hair.  Since I’m still “in training” for that big 10 mile race coming up at the end of the month I decided I’d take myself for a walk before the sun got too strong and burned away the only bit of cool we’ve had in a long time.

So off I went.  The first mile ended at an overpass where as I watched the cars I realized that I was lucky I wasn’t headed off to work when so many people had to, especially those that were getting ready for a new school year to begin.

I’ve been thinking that I need to find work somewhere, and that the odds of me finding it as a librarian are slim…and getting slimmer.  Maybe I’m going to have to start expanding the criteria of work that I’m willing to do.  Maybe I’ll have to defer the dream job for awhile.  Though it sure was fun to dream.

Deep in contemplation I walked further down roads I haven’t walked in a good long time.  Past the golf course which was surprisingly (to me anyway) busy for a foggy weekday morning.

I walked six miles in total, and as the fog lifted I came across my favorite photo of the walk – the side of a barn covered in vines and layers of paint.

Isn’t it beautiful?  It’s sat on the side of this road for many years and I wonder how many people have enjoyed it’s colors prior to me wandering by.  It spoke to me, as if to say; “I’ve been around a long time and I’m still here.  You’ll weather this economic downturn  fine… you may end up with a few surprising colors of paint, but you’ll survive…just like me.”

It was a good walk.


Second interview musings

I had a second interview today at the urban library I interviewed with a couple of weeks ago.  I have no idea how it went.  Once again there was a question that I didn’t handle well.  This one was about how constant media, the 24/7 news shows and available information changes outreach responsibilities.  I really need to think about this; I’ve never considered how the two might interrelate.  So I muddled through and I doubt that whatever I said made any sense at all.

Regardless, I did the best I could.   I’ve never asked more than that from anyone else, so I guess I can’t expect more than that from me.

But still.


An interview reflection

Most of you know that I’m a frustrated librarian–frustrated because I can’t seem to find work in the field that I love so much.  Today I had an interview at a public library in an urban setting.  It’s a place that I could really do some good work, but we’ll see if I convinced them of that fact.

Of course on the drive home  better answers for some of the questions. surfaced effortlessly to the top of my mind.  Isn’t that the way it always is?    Instead of  stumbling around trying to connect how to use technology and literacy to improve the community I should have just focused on the fact that I am, by nature, a collaborator.  Instead of trying to come up with an instant idea, I should have stated that  I can’t claim to be an expert in those  fields, but I do know how to research and find solutions.   I don’t think I made that clear.

Funny, one of my strengths with patrons is that I’m patient while finding out what the reference question really is…yet today I jumped at the first thought that floated through my brain rather than working with the interviewers to find out exactly what they meant by the question.

Another lesson learned.



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I had my whole day planned out yesterday.  The 2 mile run, some job searching stuff, then off to the grocery store for Aunt V,  deliver the groceries to her and visit a bit, then on to donate my old cell phone to a woman’s shelter, then maybe a bit of shopping just for fun.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

I got the 2 mile run in, and completed a job application for a library job nearby.  I was crabby because I had suffered a lack of sleep the night before.  I was hanging onto my plan somewhat desperately –  all I really wanted to do was head back to bed – when the phone rang and husband said it was my Ann Arbor Aunt.  For a moment I thought “DRATS!  I can’t fit anything else into my overly planned day!”

And it’s true she DID want to get together to do something.  In the beginning I wasn’t feeling very gracious, but reason overcame my illogical crabbiness.  She wanted to meet me and Katie down at our favorite park, which is halfway between where we both live.  And it was sunny out!  AND I’d been thinking I should take Katie to that park someday soon, it’s so beautiful in the spring.  So I revamped the plan and agreed to meet her.

I packed up Katie and all her stuff (you know the drill; water, bowl, leashes, treat bag, poop bag) and me and the camera and off we went.  I could feel the morning’s tension seeping away.  Especially when we crested a hill and I noticed the beautiful clouds.  I just had to stop and capture them.  Good thing I left the house early for our 2:00 p.m. meeting…lots of time for pictures!

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Then about half way to the park I realized I had forgotten the poop bag!  And Katie ALWAYS does her job almost as soon as we start our walks in the park.  It’s like she saves it up for a public place.  SIGH.  So I did a little U-turn and stopped at the bank to get some cash, then a bit later on we stopped in at Colsanti’s, a little grocery store.  It’s kind of a plant nursery, gourmet groceries and produce market complete with a bird aviary.  I’d been there once before a long time ago.  My plan was to find something to buy that I actually needed and which would require them to give me a plastic grocery bag.  Which I could use as a poop bag.  Good thing I left home early….lots of time for grocery shopping!

As I was contemplating purchasing white potatoes or strawberries I heard a strange sound directly overhead.  I glanced up and saw a large toy train chugging along on a suspended track.  Strange I thought, but then as I looked around, the whole place was quite eclectic.  Mounds of fruit and vegetables, a gift store with cute little things, pots of plants, a wonderful deli, and a train circling overhead.

I bought some potatoes, a few scones and some crunchy cheese sticks and headed back to the car and Katie.  As I stepped outside something made a terrible screeching sound.  The noise was coming from a huge outdoor bird aviary.  Peacocks!  Dropping off the groceries, checking on Katie who was waiting patiently in her crate in the car, I grabbed the camera and went to investigate the birds.

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They were beautiful!  Several blue peacocks, and a giant white peacock who was showing off.  Plus some turkeys all puffed up.  I watched them for a few minutes then realized I needed to get to the park!  Good thing I left early…

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When Katie and I arrived at the designated meeting place deep in the park (at exactly 1:59) my Aunt was already there, and soon Katie, she and I were off on a walk.  The place was beautiful, swans out on the water, wildflowers tucked into the trees, dogwoods in bloom, the redbuds were splashes of bright fuchsia among the lime green new leaves of the larger trees, huge patches of wild purple violets smudging the ground.  Gorgeous.  You won’t see pictures of this because the camera battery died right about then.  So you’ll have to imagine it yourself, which in reality is sometimes better anyway!

We walked 2.4 miles, and Katie did really well.  And that poop bag that I went so far out of my way to acquire?  We never needed it.  Of course.

So the lesson learned is this.  When you’re crabby, when you feel like you need to get certain stuff done, when you’re not feeling creative or adventurous, let it go, take the road presented to you, keep your eyes open and I bet you’ll see some beautiful stuff.

When you’re least expecting it.

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Going to the library can result in a flu shot. Really.

Actually I have two stories about going to the library and getting a flu shot.  Imagine that!  The first was earlier in the fall when I planned on stopping at the county health department to get my flu shot while heading over to a library to drop off an employment application.  I found the health department after much driving around the huge county complex while muttering to myself about the lack of directional signs.  I traipsed up to the door only to find a sign that said “Sorry, no flu shots today, please check our website for next available flu shot dates.”  This really ticked me off because I had checked their website about an hour before I left the house.

So anyway.  I continued my trip out to the library to drop off the resume, employment application, cover letter and all.  And guess what?  There in the library’s community room was a lonely nurse giving  flu shots!  She had 15 more minutes till the end of  the program and nothing to do.  So I dropped off the employment paperwork and got my flu shot all at the same location!  Go figure.

Today, husband and I were somewhat bored.  So I suggested we go to our local library.  He sat there reading the paper and I looked for books.  When we were ready to go he said that he had read the county health department was doing the H1N1 shots for FREE and they were open today till 8!  Well!  We drove right over there and were the only ones in line.  Success!

Just goes to show what an integral part of community life public libraries really are!  I sure hope I get to work in one again soon.

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Another mountain

The Miley Cyrus song struck home this week…”Always gonna be an uphill battle…Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose…”  Though I’m not particularly a Miley fan, I thought it was an appropriate song to hear as I was driving home from work Monday.  Because Monday night I got let go due to budget issues.  Though it wasn’t a surprise, it still hurt.  I got to work the rest of this week, but today was my last day at the library.  Apparently it’s going to be an uphill battle for me to find the perfect place, to work the perfect job, to feel like I’m contributing in an environment I love.  Just another mountain along the way.

I’ve been in management most of my career, and I’ve done my share of letting people go, but I have to say I’ve never been let go before.  I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, and though I know I lost my job through no fault of my own, it still stings.  So I’ll take the weekend to do a bit of healing, and Monday I’ll figure out what to do next.  There’s a certain freedom that I haven’t felt for the past eleven months, and I think I’d like to enjoy that for a bit, but there’s also a sense of urgency hovering around the fringes of my mind that reminds me not to waste time or lose an opportunity that might lead me to that perfect Librarian position.

So for all you readers out there that enjoyed the library stories, well, you’ll have to settle for more stories about Katie.  Or the weather or the fall colors or other contemplations.  I’ll try to make those entertaining.

Meanwhile, as Miley says…”The struggles I’m facing, the chances I’m taking…sometimes might knock me down but I’m not breaking.”

And Katie says -“WELCOME HOME MOM!  Wanna play?”

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Saturday night at the library

Seems lately I’m scheduled often for the late shift at the library, working 5-9 p.m. on Friday or Saturday nights.  There are good points and bad points to this.  The good being that I can get a lot done during the day when I don’t have to be at work until 5.  The bad points generally revolve around being at work on a Friday or Saturday night!  But then again, working such a random schedule, different hours, different days, no two weeks the same has caused me to lose all sense of time or dates or days of the week.  The weekend is no longer something to long for, it really has no meaning for me at all anymore.   And almost every day I have to stop and think seriously about what day it is and where I’m supposed to be…and when.  Time seems to flow by seamlessly without the start and stop of a more classic work week.  Suddenly we’re in the middle of October..yesterday was  May and tomorrow will be Christmas…it’s all a blur to me!

Tonight was a slow night at the library, slow enough that I got to do more people watching than usual during my four hours at the mall branch of our library.  Here’s a few of my favorite observations:

It must have been homecoming for a high school somewhere nearby.  Several very young looking couples wandered by our door, hand in hand, girls dressed up in fancy outfits, hair done up, the boys in suits looking spiffy.  I noticed the flash of a camera, glanced out and saw a parent taking pictures of a cute couple dressed in their finery.  But I wondered…why take pictures at the mall?  Come to think of it, why were any of these dressed up couples at the mall?  Aren’t there  other places that are much more cool to hang out?  Then again –  sadly maybe there aren’t, especially here in  this recession worn out Midwestern, smallish town.

A couple of times during the evening middle-aged couples came in just to say “Hi” to the regulars that work this branch.  They were scoping out the new release movies and best seller books, but it was clear that they really stopped in to visit with the staff.  One of them even said enthusiastically that “this is  my favorite place in the whole mall!” as he left after his visit.  Made me smile, because it’s mine too.

And in another chapter in the continuing saga of “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” I realized that sometimes I do judge people by what they look like.   An elderly gentleman was comfortably ensconced on the sofa, reading.   I noted his gray hair, and the two big hearing aids.  He reminded me of a more elderly version of an uncle of mine, who was a farmer most of his life.  I wondered briefly what he was reading over there, so intently, for such a long time and I happened to notice him put the magazine back on the rack as he was leaving.  Turns out he was intently reading Cosmo.    And a woman stood in front of the DVD rack in a cropped leather jacket, tight black T-shirt and leggings that ended just before her knee high black stiletto heeled boots.  Huge gold earrings dangled from her ears and her hair was jet black and teased high.   She looked like she could be in a trendy urban magazine.  After much study of the available movies she came up to the desk to check one out.  It was “Marly and Me,”  the family movie about a dog.  Go figure.

A mother stopped by the desk asking if we had anything about squirrels.  Squirrels?  Anything special she wanted to know about squirrels?  No, she said, anything at all would do.  Turns out her first grader has to write a paper about squirrels.  Due Monday of course.  Good thing we had one elementary level book about the pesky critters on the shelf tonight.

A little girl, maybe 4 or 5 waited impatiently for her mom and dad to finish using the public computers.  She’d played with the kiddy computers, looked at some books, and wandered over to the  movies for children.  But what she really wanted to do was “GO PLAY ON THE PLAYGROUND!”  As she waited she got more impatient, until she just couldn’t help it; as her parents began to pack up their stuff to leave the library she started to bounce up and down and chant “LET’S GO PLAY ON THE PLAYGROUND!” over and over…and over, getting louder each time.  She was so cute that no one really got upset, even though the parents were embarrassed enough to “SHHHHHH” her on their own without us even having to ask.

And just ten minutes before close an adult college student stops by asking if we have any scholarly information about unions.  I wonder silently if she’s tried her college library, as this particular branch is filled with more popular items, as befits a branch of the library in a mall.  But we check the catalog.  Sure enough everything in the system is located at other branches and  I ask when the paper is due.  You guessed it; Monday.  We end up making a list of some of the available items and she’ll stop at a couple of the branches tomorrow afternoon. I also showed her the data bases she can research tonight at home.   I used to think there was no need for libraries to be open on Sundays, but I’m rethinking my opinion now.  What would students do if we weren’t there for them on Sunday afternoons so that they could get started on all the homework assignments due the next day?

I’m pretty happy that I don’t have any homework due Monday or any other day.  It’s a lot more fun to work at the library than it is to study at one.  You just never know what interesting people you’re going to see while you’re there.  Tonight was a pretty calm evening, all things considered.  Just another Saturday night at the library.

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Analyzing anger

This past Monday the library was closed while all the staff attended an “in-service day.”  It was a day for us to communicate with each other, to share thoughts on policies and procedures, and to listen to a guest speaker.  This year’s speaker was the “Blackbelt Librarian” who travels the country talking to public library personnel about safety.  You’d think libraries are safe – right?  Well, think again.  After all we are public, with all the good and bad that goes along with being available to everyone.

Part of what he talked about was how to determine the level of anger in a person who is unhappy with some policy, fine, procedure or rule.  The level of anger dictates how we handle that person while maintaining our personal safety.  So it was with this information in my head that I headed out yesterday morning to confront my grocery store management with the fact that some items of my grocery order had not been placed in the bags that I took home with me.  I was already upset because I was working on a rebuttal to a critical blog entry focused on the Truck Safety Coalition, a group I passionately support, and I was worried that the store might give me trouble over replacing the missing items.

But suddenly, midway to the grocery store the Blackbelt Librarian’s words pushed their way past my increased heart rate, my rising blood pressure.  Which level of anger was I?  Was I moving beyond anxiety, heading toward belligerent?  Well, yes I was.  And why?  Because I had been shorted items worth less than $10?  And would it be the store manager’s fault?  Probably not.  So I calmed myself down, figuring I could at least give the store the chance to make me happy.  And guess what?  They did.  No argument–no apology either–but at least no argument!

Lessons learned at work applied to my personal life.  Now if I can just use the same strategies to stay calm while I argue with the American Trucking Association staff person who writes that we at the Truck Coalition have some sort of alternate objective and are  “mindlessly criticizing” the nomination of a trucking industry lobbyist to head the agency that regulates the trucking industry.  Oops…there goes my blood pressure again.  Missing you Dad.  Trying to stay calm while I fight the fight.

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Listening to an author

This evening I attended an event hosted by the library I work for.  Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite authors,  was in town speaking about her life and her writing.  What a wonderful thing, to listen to her heartfelt words about her work.  So much of what she said resonated with my own internal writer.  The thing that struck me most was that she has a physical need to write.  She said that writing was a release, something that had to be done, that she’d write even if she wasn’t published.  I agreed – so much so that my eyes teared up as she was talking.  Because that’s exactly the way it is.  Sometimes there are things that just have to be put on paper, that keep me up at night, the words rolling around in my head, words that distract me from my work, that worry at me until I can’t stay away any longer and I sit down and let it out.

A painter has to paint, a dancer must move.  And a writer?  A writer has to let the words flow.

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Books can spark memories from waaaaay back

A definite benefit of working in a library is watching books come and go.  Lots of times books coming in end up on my “to read” list.  Sometimes, though, I’ll see a book coming back over the counter that instantly puts me back in time.  Suddenly a faint memory will tug at the outer most reaches of my brain and I’ll recognize a favorite book from years ago.  Most of them have been picture books my folks read to us over and over.  For example, today I ran across Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey,  copyrighted originally in 1948, the story of a mom and her daughter Sal picking blueberries on one side of the mountain while a mama bear and her cub were enjoying blueberries on the other side of the mountain.  And then…jackpot!  Someone turned in the Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Miline.  This book included two books I had as a kid and I’m pretty sure I still own; When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six.  I immediately looked for my favorite poem, “Halfway Down the Stairs.”  The book opened almost directly on that poem, must be it’s a favorite with youngsters even today.  Or maybe their parents and grandparents are reading it!  I’ll share it with you.

Halfway down the stairs

Is a stair

Where I sit

There isn’t any

Other stair

Quite like


I’m not at the bottom,

I’m not at the top,

So this is the stair


I always


Halfway up the stairs

Isn’t up,

And isn’t down.

It isn’t in the nursery,

It isn’t in the town.

And all sorts of funny thoughts

Run round my head

It isn’t really


It’s somewhere else


This was my favorite poem, and I used to sit on a stair halfway up the stairs as a kid while I watched TV with the family, especially if we were watching something scary!

Today I think it describes me in other ways, working part time, halfway to a position as a librarian, still not quite there.  Makes you think what funny thoughts are swirling around my head in these halfway times.

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