Medieval thoughts…

Today I was doing some prep for a history instruction next Thursday and part of the instruction includes a library tour where I would show the class, generally, where to find the history books in the stacks as well as the reference section (for LCC that’s D-E-F) so easy enough. As I’m walking through trying to get a grasp of the natural progression I came across two very different but equally interesting books.

The first book I pulled is a true History style book called:  Life in Medieval Times by Majorie Rowling. I grabbed it partially because I was curious, and partially to make myself feel better about my own life as it is right now.

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The second book I grabbed is called: Put Your Best Foot Forward USA: A fearless guide to Understanding the United States of America by Mary Murray Bosrock. I couldn’t resist the dorky looking 90’s cartoon cover, and the urge to know how to better understand “basic” American Culture 20 years ago, written to inform people who may be visiting the USA.

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I had no idea what I was going to do with these. I did the flip open and try to find a passage, but nothing really worked. I flipped through the table of contents to see where and if there were any similar subjects and ended up with … Women. How different was it to be an American Woman in the late 90’s vs. a Woman in Medieval Europe? Let’s see…

Chapter 4 in Life in Medieval Times is entitled “Women and Wives”. Here are a few excerpts I found especially fun:

In the 14th century Goodman of Paris told his wife to “ copy the behavior of a dog who always has his eye and his heart upon his master; even if his master whip him and throw stones at him, the dog follows, wagging his tail…” (Rowling, 1979, p.72).

Doesn’t beating a dog eventually make him mean? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty happy that we aren’t being equated to dogs anymore.

In customary law in the 13th century a clause in the statues of a town in Glascony states: “All inhabitants of Villefranche have the right to beat their wives, provided they do not kill them thereby” (Rowling, 1979, p.72)

So there’s that….

As the chapter goes on let’s just say it doesn’t get much better. There are some sources in poetry and other writings that seem sympathetic to the causes of women, but overall it’s safe to say that women were just basically tools used by the men for their own gain at their own discretion. Which seems pretty dismal when you think about it. Most marriages were for monetary purposes and were arranged, but there were many accounts of happy ones as well. Marriage in the US today (even though mainly NOT arranged) probably fares no better than most unhappy some happy, but hey at least we get to make our own mistakes.

I’ve always wished that there was some sort of historical theme park like Westworld, not where you go to bang robots, but where you can go and actually experience what life was like back then down to what everybody smelled like. I wonder if this could be a thing for VR one day, but I digress.

Let’s take a peek at that USA “guide” book and see what it has to say about women in Chapter 21 named “Especially for Women” . It talks about how women make up half the workforce, the suffrage movements and other important events in women’s history. What I find the most interesting are the “tips” for working with women.

“Never call a woman dear or sweetie, or any similar terms in a business situation”

Well, that seems fair.

“The terms broad, dame, bird and chick are inappropriate in any situation”

Especially since it’s not 1950-something.

“Do not misinterpret American friendliness as a sexual invitation”

How friendly do some people get?

“Women do not consider it a compliment to be whistled at” (Bosrock, 1999, p. 244-5)

Yes, yes this is all pretty sound today. So what IS OK for men to do to women? The next section is called “chivalry” and lists these things as OK: Holding the door open, allowing women to enter or exit before you, walking ahead of a woman down stairs, walk next to a woman on the curb side of the street, remove your hat in their presence, rise when she leaves the room or a table, follow behind when walking down an aisle. (Bosrock, 1999)

I had an experience here at the U where I held a door open for a 18ish year old student that had his head down and his eyes glued on his phone. As he walked through the door that I held open for him he didn’t so much as look up to acknowledge my presence, or say thanks or anything at all. I yelled sarcastically at him like the sourpuss old lady that I am: “You’re welcome” but it’s not like he heard me since his ears were stuffed with earbuds. This was a bit shocking to me, as I found it to be so very rude that as I lady I held the door open for HIM and he didn’t even say thanks??? Some males of the generation right below me just don’t think about things like holding the door open for ladies or walking next to a curb to block a woman from traffic, they just weren’t taught these things. I only know this from casual observation I don’t mean to generalize but I do notice it walking around campus. Actually, it was kind of a show of equality that he didn’t think anything of a woman holding the door for him (still rude not to say thanks whatever gender you are) and today it is in no way thought of as weird for a woman to hold a door open for a dude, so really this lack of “chivalry” could be interpreted as a good thing. Chivalry may seem dead, but I’m even happier to report, so is the age of being treated like a dog or being beat (almost) to death by your husband and having it be totally legal.

 

Bosrock, M. (1999). USA: A Fearless Guide to Understanding the United States of America. St. Paul, MN: IES.

Rowling, M. (1979). Life in Medieval Times. New York: Perigee Books.

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A poet from down under…

Here we are in the first week of the new semester, which means I’m back on Sundays. Which also means it’s slow as heck today and I’ve already finished prepping for my two classes I have next week for instruction. The one I was just working on is a Business Comm class where I was pre-researching Disneyland (Tokyo and Paris), McDonald’s in China, and Starbucks use of social media. After all of that I have a sudden strong urge to eat awful cheeseburgers, drink a vast amount of liquid sugar in the form of a Frappuccino, and haul tail over to the Magic Kingdom for a spin on Pirates. Of course I won’t be doing any of those things, but I am certainly NOT impervious to advertising and have been known to do things rather impulsively and regret them later so I had to stop.

So now, with my last hour here on my first Sunday back, I will resume the Sunday roulette. Today I decided to get crazy (watch out) and use the reference stacks, which I have never done before. After getting my random numbers I actually found myself in a section that I think I can work with. Today I Pulled Modern Women Writers: Volume 2 Falcon to Lynch from the library of literacy criticism. It’s big and boring looking since it’s a reference book, but here’s the spine for proof of my pick.

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The volume is, essentially, a list of modern women writers which has a short page or so entry for each person. The entries start with a general introduction of the writer, followed by a short description and criticism of some of their popular works. Today I opened up to an Australian poet named Gwen Harwood. Here’s her intro:

Those who study Australian poetry don’t agree on much, but they would all agree that Gwen Harwood is exceptionally adept at masking. Even those who have only read one or two of her poems know, of course, that she has written acrostics adroit enough not be recognized as such by the fragile skills of editors. A little more acquaintance teaches us that she has written under pen names such as “Miriam Stone” and “Francis Geyer,” poems that have excited many a talent spotter with the convictions that they have just discovered a coruscating new Austpoet (Robinson, 1996, pg. 277).

A couple things here. First, I feel like I am not familiar with any kind of Australian poets so this is exciting to be introduced to. Second, I don’t know some of these words so… acrostics= a poem or word puzzle / adroit= clever or skillful/ coruscating= flashing, sparkling or brilliant. There, now I know about a new market of poets I’ve never read, as well as some new vocab words. I like the fact that she uses pen names, and changes it up. Let me see if I can find some of her work to share.

Three of the poems mentioned in her bio are “The New Music”, “To A.D. Hope”, and something called an Eisenbart and Krote group, which I’m not quite totally sure of. We don’t have any of her books here at the U, but she is mentioned as a chapter in a larger book Nine Lives- “ch. Six Gwen Harwood takes on the poetry pundit”. I couldn’t find the poems they mentioned in Modern Women Writers but there are a couple found here at a site called poemhunter. “In the park” is written about often as one of her more well known poems, demonstrating Harwood’s interpretation of the struggle imposed upon some women in motherhood.

Well that’s it for today, I went ahead an ordered a copy of her collected works to catch up on this week. If you are into poetry, check Gwen Harwood (or Miriam Stone, or Francis Geyer) out at your local book depository. I performed a meme check and just so you know, there are memes out there about Gwen Harwood, probably made by somebody who wasn’t so excited about reading her in class.

GH

Robinson, L. S. (1996). Modern Women Writers: Falcón to Lynch (Vol. 2). New York: Continuum.

Sheridan, S. (2011). Nine lives: postwar women writers making their mark. Retrieved from http://0-ebookcentral.proquest.com.leopac.ulv.edu

Librarians gone wild

Summer is over. It came and went faster than any summer before it, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was the prep and stress for the job interviews that I endured that ended up ultimately going nowhere, the vacation to Oregon, or just the fact that the older you get the faster time slips by you. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that the kids went back to school for the public last week, and at the U, move in day is tomorrow for the new freshmen.

I won’t get too nostalgic on you, even though fall IS my favorite season (if you can call them that here in So. Cal).  It’s a new beginning, leaves fall from trees and shed their skin, and all that poetic jazz. There are new students to teach, and new books to read. It’s all so furiously paced and you can see it in the stress on the parent’s faces of both the young ones and older ones alike.

Not much has been going on, just letting go of the summer feels and getting ready to do instruction for subjects that I have never taught before. History and Anthropology are the 2 so far to prep for this week at the U, and here at the public answering 1,236 calls about the stupid study rooms, or fishing out the oh so sought after “Battle of the Books” titles.

I had been struggling lately to think of a topic to come back and blog about, when I remembered a run in I had with a friend’s father the other day. I’ve known this friend and her father for over half my life, and I ran into him while having lunch one day with my bestie who also knows them well and she’s way friendlier than me so we stopped to say hello. It was the normal small talk pattern. How are you? Fine. What have you been doing? Working. You seeing anybody? No. After we got all that out of the way, he said something that I can’t remember exactly, but it went something like this:

You know, librarians are all supposed to be quiet and mild mannered, but from what I hear you are actually the loudest most wild of the bunch. Is that true?

I thought for a moment. Well, I am pretty loud. I love to talk, and I have been shushed by patrons before, multiple times. But wild? Am I wild? What kind of weird fetish-y style comment is that? What did he mean by wild??  Does this mean I am promiscuous and impulsive, that I stay up all night taking tequila shots, dance on tables, and don’t pay my electric bill? I don’t think he meant it in any harm by the comment, but it definitely made me think for moment. I ended up telling him, yeah, I think I found my people. As I walked away I wasn’t even sure what I meant by that.

What does “wild” mean, Webster’s has quite a few definitions that pertain to forest life, or playing cards, but the ones I will take into consideration here are:

b:  marked by turbulent agitation :  stormy a wild night

c:  going beyond normal or conventional bounds :  fantastic wild ideasalso :  sensational

d:  indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion

(Webster’s, n.d.)

It made me think even further about this stereotype and where it came from. For those of you that don’t know, which is probably anybody NOT in the field that may read this, is that the American Library Association (ALA) has a bill of rights that most librarians use as pillars to the profession:

This Library Bill of rights from the ALA can be found here:

So where does the idea of the wild librarian stem from? Could it be found in the pillars of our profession? Is it the fact that we challenge censorship and believe in upholding the first amendment? Or is it because we believe in equal access to information and resources despite race, origin, sex, or socioeconomic status? Maybe it’s the promotion of free idea sharing, free resource sharing, and advancement of everybody in society as equals? Is that such a wild concept?

I can see how these ideals could be considered wild, but only in some sad skewed way to those who feel threatened by it. Access to information and resources coupled with literacy skills will always be important tools for the advancement of equality in society. We have come so far from the days when a large amount of the population was illiterate and only the wealthy had access to and control of books and other types of information. I am so thankful for that and the fact that this profession, and these ideals exist.

So, if that means I’m wild. Then yeah, I guess I am one of the wild ones.

 

Wild [Def. 3b-d]. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild

Librarian Friend OR Librarian Liability?

I have a lot of problems with things, rules, structures, hierarchies, authorities, etc. It’s not that I’m an anarchist or anything, there needs to be some sort of organizing factor to people, some baseline stuff so we don’t just rape plunder and pillage like the days of the pirates. But sometimes in libraries or more generally in life these rules/policies/structures don’t make sense to me, so I step around them. Why? Because I can, and because I think that helping people connect with the information they need to better themselves is my first priority here at the library. Connecting with people and helping them better themselves, in general, seems like an awfully sound purpose in life overall. The city government I work for may not think so, they have bigger interest in mind, themselves and their liabilities, etc. The eternal clashing of humanity vs. law suits vs. government vs. corporate interest, I feel this SO MUCH these days.

Today a very polite young man approached me rather shyly at the ref desk and asked if we give all kinds of information, not just about books. I said, sure, try me. He asked me if emancipated minors were able to get their Driver’s License. I said it was a good question, and we found the info on the DMV website on what he needed to have in order to get a license under 18 w/o the parental consent.

I dug a little deeper here to make sure everything was OK, like the stuff at home wasn’t getting too dark. He opened up a little bit, about his parents not allowing him certain freedoms, him paying them for things and not getting them, etc. Another case of teenage angst, so familiar.

Either way this boy was in a pickle. He needed to go online to search for and apply to jobs. Something that would be able to move him forward in life, problem is, he had a juvenile card that didn’t have internet access and the only way to add it would be through his parents, who he currently wasn’t getting along with. I thought for him, can you go to your schools library? YES, but its summer and he isn’t back until end of August. Sometimes academic libraries have free internet access, but he doesn’t have a car or a way to get around easily. Dang.

So, for today, I logged him into the computer using my card and let him search for jobs online. Was this against “policy”? Yes. Could I get fired for this? Um, maybe? (More likely a good write up, gee I hope my bosses don’t read this blog)  But do I stand by my choice? Yes. We make judgment calls every day here at the public, it’s all very situational to me. This kid had nobody to talk to about what he was going through and no way to access the tools he needed. I told him that I wasn’t supposed to be doing it, and that others would probably not let him, but he should try to make friends and see if they would too. I told him that life is all about having friends, and these friends will get you through the hard times when you feel like you are struggling and feel blocked in or trapped. I wanted to be a friend to him. I suppose I did give him some advice as well, about the fact that he was 16, so two years wasn’t too far away and that he was almost there anyways, and then some tips on where to look for jobs.

I was able to help him out today, at least in a very minor way. He left me a copy of his resume, and I’ll see if there is any place I could think of that may be good for him to apply. What really got me at the end was the note he left me. It reminded me why I stick my neck out to help people help themselves when they are in honest need of it, and why I will never stop doing so.

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Now, I do think that he has a lot to learn and some of that may come the hard way if he does go the emancipation route. I don’t think we will be roommates (that was adorbs), BUT sometimes it really can feel like you can’t find a friend, and man is that a feeling I know all too well. It’s a big world out there full of no and can’t and won’t and sorry I’d like to… but. It can make you feel really small.

How is this relevant to my life this week? Well, I ran into an instance where I asked my supervisor at the city for a reference for a job application. She denied it, saying she had to forward the request to HR and they would give a letter only stating that I was employed there and my dates of employment, nothing to the effect of my character. Basically, meaning that now my app would be incomplete, so I’ll have to explain myself on that one and find another reference. I’m very naive about these kind of things, I thought the point WAS to get references from your supervisors, but “city policy” won’t allow it? What if this were my only job, how else would I be able to get references to apply anywhere else? Well, it’s also up to the individual, she could have answered the email and nobody would have known, but I guess it just wasn’t worth it to her and I suppose. Which, again is fine, some people are policy followers and these kinds of things make sense to them.

I talk with my trusted friends here, and they tell me they have all been there before, it’s not news to them. I just wish we could change from a culture of being so afraid of one another and being so worried about covering our own behinds, to one that goes out of our way to help one another and not always assumes the worst. It just feels like butting up against a rock and a hard place in terms of change, but maybe slowly it will happen.

Crush like it’s 1999

It’s Tuesday evening, and tonight in the tech center we are visited by the haunting drums of ancient Mexico. Yes, it’s the mall’s summer outdoor concert series featuring world music that takes place right outside the center’s thin windows. There’s chanting, a strong solid drum beat, and dancers with headdresses. The whole thing is quite hypnotizing and beautiful. I don’t know how the tech patrons really feel about it, but at least it’s drowning out the sound of RATT’s greatest hits, which the newest drifter addition to the tech center patronage is listening to loudly on cheap earphones in the front row. He does this really great thing where it takes him several minutes to settle into his computer, including banging the keyboard around, turning it upside down, lifting and lowering it on the base of the computer multiple times, shifting around his personal belongings in the small space, hanging his hat on different corners of the monitor. He’s actually listening to Iron Maiden right now while searching for telemarketing jobs on craigslist… Maybe he’s not as off as he seems….

Anyhow, I’ve been spinning my wheels so much on this job hunting spiel that I forgot to keep doing what I love to be doing, which is of course finding strange library books and talking about them. I was early to the public today so I went undercover as a patron with headphones on and cruised the stacks. Why have I never done this before in my four years here? I went up and down the adult fiction and non-fiction aisles just browsing like I had nowhere that I needed to be. Here at the public we have end caps where we turn some books cover facing out to “merchandise” or advertise them so that patrons may be more apt to check them out. We are told to put books with catchy covers, or relevant topics. So I was surprised to see this one from “The Need to Know Library” entitled: Everything You Need to Know about Dating and Relationships. It has a wonderful romantic stock photo from what looks like the early 90’s on the cover, and so many fun headings and pictures throughout, I had to pick it up and read it for myself.

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I’m no Casanova myself, so why not take in the ancient wisdom of this dating book while dating was still a real world thing and didn’t exist solely in some swiping app, or perverse supermarket of catchy profile names, bad pick-up lines, over flattering angles and cropped profile pics.

The first picture in the book says “Dating can be confusing and unsettling” (Hovanec, 2000).

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Well you got that right sister. Also, please note the amazing corded 90’s phone/answering machine. The one thing I have noted in non-fiction books is that the stock photos used are usually about a decade behind the release date, although there are many 90’s features, the book was actually released in 2000. Come to find though, 17 years later this caption is more relevant than ever.

The chapters include: To date or not to date? Crushes, flirts, and other scary things. Getting Started: making a date. What is a relationship, anyway? Dating smarts and safety. Getting serious: beyond dating. And finally, When it’s over: breaking up. So this book runs the gamut from dating start to finish.

Reading through it is the normal kinds of stuff, no means no, don’t get drunk or high on dates, communicate, and feel free to kiss on the first date if you feel comfortable with it. There are no rules! One of my favorite parts is when the author describes that moment, you know that moment when you undeniable have…. A CRUSH.

It always happens when you least expect it. There you are minding your own business, and you look up and see Him. Or maybe you’re hanging out with your friends and suddenly She walks by. Time stops, and the world around you fades away. That’s it—you have a crush. (Hovanec, 2000)

This book was for sure meant for a teenager about 20 years ago, the dramatic nature of the description of a crush says it all. Time stops, literally stops, the 14 year old girl in me is definitely enjoying this. I love finds like this, it allows you to take a peek into how much our culture and customs have changed in such a short period of time. If the people in this book only knew about bumble or tinder…..

Hovanec, E. (2000). Everything you need to know about: dating and relationships. New York: Rosen Publishing.

The Discomfort Zone

It’s Sunday, my summer day off, and instead of blogging from the library as I usually do I am blogging from the comfort of my own couch while I re-watch season six of Game of Thrones and have a series of mini heart attacks. Life has been quite chaotic lately, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting my self-imposed duties as a z list blogger. Well If I don’t give myself the job, nobody will, so I should keep it up.

What’s been keeping me so busy you ask? Well that Skype interview I had about a month moved me on to second round, which in the world of academic librarianship is a big to do. So what, a second interview, what’s the big deal? I already work at an academic library, but I’m only part time, I’m staff not faculty, and the hiring process for part time people is nowhere near as intensive as the hiring process for a full-time librarian.

Most Universities will do a national search, meaning they look at the best applicants from all over the country, and will usually select a pool for a first video chat or phone interview. After the first round (some may have more this is just my experience so far) they will invite a few to the campus for a second all day interview process. This is my first time doing the big all day one, although I have a couple of friends who have done it multiple times. There are even some horror stories of being picked up from the airport by other library staff and whisked immediately to dinner with everybody, no downtime to clean yourself up or take a rest. It seems intense, but I guess it’s what you make of it.

The interview itself involves meeting basically everybody in the library, campus tours, library tours, a workshop or presentation that the applicant gives, a sit down with the dean and the associate dean (the higher ups), a short talk with HR and what I can only assume is a whole lot of repeating yourself, smiling, and just hoping that the day would end. There is an actual interview schedule which I got emailed a couple of weeks ago, times, places to be. Think of how nervous you are in a job interview (most last an hour or so) then stretch that out to 8 hours, then add to the mix that you are in a strange place, a city far from home and probably sleeping in a hotel with no knowledge of the city. At least here it’s in my very own home town, so I feel like I have a bit of an advantage. Not in the sense that I think I stand a better chance of getting it simply because I live close by, but in the sense that I know the turf, I know the city and the campuses like the back of my hand because I’ve lived here my whole life, so that aspect of the nerves gets to fall away. It’s a smart process because if you are going to choose somebody to join your team you really need to get to know them, especially for distance candidates, you only get one chance to hang out with them, so you should cover all bases.

So I guess long story short, I’ve been a nervous wreck, prepping my workshop, practicing my workshop. Fine tuning my workshop, researching the library vision plan, yearly report, the staff they recently hired and pretty much just freaking the heck out about the whole thing. It has disrupted my world completely, but mainly only because I have let it. From experience, the best way I know to combat nerves is preparation, so it has been getting all my energy. It all goes down tomorrow so at the very least, it will be over and done with and I can return to my regularly scheduled program, at least for a bit. There is a welcome dinner tonight, which shouldn’t be too bad, I think it’s just with 2 ladies from the search committee.

In the meantime, lots has been going on at the U as well, there is a summer lull with the students, but an influx of donations I’ve been copy cataloging and a surprising number of reference questions through the email and chat functions. Over in the public it’s the same old song. So many patrons, not enough staff, a million passports and carts and carts of cataloging for children’s. Busy, busy and more busy.

On the writing front, I’ve obviously NOT been blogging. But I have been trying to submit to more lit mags, so far 2 more rejections, one was a short story and one creative non-fiction, I have one other poetry submit out, so just waiting on that rejection to come through shortly. Had an interesting talk with a friend who is an artist (in sense that he draws, went to art school and has recognizable, measurable talent) and he really said what I did wasn’t poetry but more of a “writing”. Instead of saying I wrote a poem I should just say I wrote something.  It was well intention-ed and a way to change perspective of what it is that comes out of me and lands on paper, but it discouraged me quite a bit. I think I’m seeking validation from others, but I don’t think I will ever get it. Not in the sense that would ever make me feel comfortable anyways. Maybe really putting out your “art” should make you feel uncomfortable, maybe it should make others feel uncomfortable. Discomfort could be an indicator that you are on the right track.

Seeing as how I try to make these entries part life experience/part research I threw a quick google scholar search using “comfort zone” +personal growth to see what was out there. Most of the stuff talks about social justice, and cross-cultural immersion which is very interesting, but what I’m thinking of for my situation focuses more on individual experiences we seek out that can push us into new realms of existing that are less governed by fear. I came across an article Musings on Adventure Therapy by Alvarez & Stauffer which caught my eye. I’ve never heard of adventure therapy, sounds amusing. Reading the article doesn’t give me much so I thought I’d get a background on it.

Turns out that “Adventure Therapy” is a technique to explore both group and individual outcomes after being given challenging tasks in which the outcomes are based on the choices made by the person or group of people making them. Adventure therapy often takes place outdoors, in nature, and consists of games and challenges that are meant to be metaphoric for things we may encounter in everyday life.  According to the Encyclopedia of Counseling most of the evidence to support adventure therapy is anecdotal and there is no well-defined or widely accepted method to implement adventure therapy. (Martin & Ashby, 2008)

I would do it, it sounds interesting. Although I’m more attracted to individual kinds of therapy it may just be because group stuff is new to me. But getting in touch with nature, problem solving, challenging yourself, all sounds good to me. I also found another new concept called ecotherapy in my digging which is equally interesting, but that’s for another day.

It kind of reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer tries to teach Ned how to “live” and they end up marrying cocktail waitresses in Vegas. Reason number 1,432 why I think Homer Simpson is one of the best characters in the history of characters.

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Martin, J. & Ashby, J. (2008). Adventure therapy. In F. T. Leong (Ed.), Encyclopedia of counseling (Vol. 4, pp. 13-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412963978.n4

http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Las_Vegas

Get confident, stupid

I had a job interview this week at a place that I’ve been applying to for years that I really want to work at. On top of this, I haven’t had a formal job interview for about two years or so AND I’m dying to get out of working at the public, it was all so IMPORTANT I don’t mess this up.  Was I nervous? Yes. Could I probably have done better on some of my responses? Yes. But all in all do I think I presented myself decently? Also, yes.

Stuff like this is hard for me, I get so wrapped up in the thought of being judged by strangers I’ve never met. But we all do, don’t we? Then I get the fear of what happens if I don’t get this job, or what if I DO get it then I suck at it and nobody likes me. It’s like I’m screwing myself on both outcomes and the anxiety, oh the high anxiety waiting for the day and time of the sit down. Interviewing is part of the game if you want to get a job that you don’t create yourself. If we have to make a living out there in the world, then we just have to do it. I meditated a bit on it after I was done, attempting to get to the bottom of the fear and anxiety that surrounded it all. What scares me most about interviews, and even deeper down what scares me most about new situations and changes in life?

For me, it boils down to feeling inadequate or like I am perceived as foolish or stupid. Do I think that the four lovely ladies who panel interviewed me turned off the Skype cam and talked about me a little, absolutely you know they did, that’s part of the decision process. But, were they making fun of me, talking about how stupid I was and that I was in no way qualified for the job I was applying for? No way, I was just like anybody else they talked to that day. A long, tedious day of asking people the same old scripted questions. Worst case scenario is that they were saying that I was a complete idiot, even though the chances are narrow, if they were then at the end of the day who really cares?

Society sets us up to perceive failures, or rejections, or any kind of “imperfection” as a bad thing. Just recently I have stepped back and examined myself to realize that I am totally and utterly a perfectionist. I have been for so many years, and the only person that was really judging me all that time was actually me. Don’t mess this up, don’t fail, don’t look stupid, have perfect skin, teeth and hair and make sure that your outfit matches, and that you say the right things to not upset anybody. Get good grades, look good on paper, impress those classmates you run into that you haven’t seen in 10 years, do it all and don’t mess ANY of it up.

When did we get so serious about ourselves anyways? Lately, I’ve been trying to loosen my grip on perfectionism and just have fun with things. We all get caught up in our own heads and think, I’m so weird, but really most of us are very similar because we are these imperfect humans, made up of the same organic materials who function in very similar basic ways. We all think, breathe, eat, produce waste, have bodies, seek love, need shelter, and participate in intimate relationships with ourselves and others in many different forms.

With that being said, I follow this super cute YouTube channel called The School of Life. They have short shorts narrated by an amazing sounding English guy that sum up lots of important life lessons in under 5 minutes or so, accompanied by a cartoon. I have no idea how I stumbled across it, but I have been watching all sorts of them before I go to bed at night. Last night I came across this one called: How to be Confident, which I will post below. It’s short, I think you will laugh if you watch it, and you may even become addicted to the channel like I am.

 

So yeah, basically that’s it. People are idiots, I’m an idiot, you’re an idiot, and so are all the other people in the room with you right now. We are all in this ridiculous boat together, but at the end of the day are the ones that give concepts of appearing foolish a good or bad connotation, so if you think of it as not being a bad thing and just accept it, it’s easier to deal with. Some of the best moments in my life have happened because I gave up the fear of looking stupid and just did what I wanted to do. Those are the moments that have moved me forward, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. We forget as adults too we need to play, and play requires imagination, creativity and the ability to be silly.

Another good thing about the video is I found a new book to read! I got it here at the U, but for those of you who like to e-read and want the book;

In Praise of Folly by Erasumus can be found for free HERE.

Courtesy of public domain and the good people at project Gutenberg. Read what somebody had to say about the foolishness of human life in Europe in the 1500’s, it’s probably insightful and applicable to the same aspects today.

If you are looking for a more contemporary non-fiction style read on the subject of embracing your imperfections, here’s a great one, it’s called:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are by Brene Brown.

Find the Goodreads reviews HERE

Brown is a shame researcher who has written multiple books on the subjects of shame, vulnerability and imperfection. She is also pretty well known for her TED talks, which I have also seen a few here and there. She’s worth checking out, I read the book many years ago, but it sticks with me today, and I often recommend it to patrons that are looking for self-helpy kinds of things. So if that’s NOT your bag, maybe dip your toes in by watching one of her TED talks.

And I know, if you have been following for a while I feel like I talk about failing a lot. But, it may just be a common theme to take into consideration, sometimes in life we just fail and fail and fail, until one day we don’t. And if you think haven’t failed yet in life, then do something off Pinterest. Get an idea of how the rest of us feel from time to time. In parting, here’s my ultimate favorite Pinterest fail, I laugh hysterically every because mine wouldn’t even look at good as the fail ones.

cookie-monster-fail

Image obtained from: https://iowameetnyc.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/pinterest-fails/

 

Misery? We got an index for that…

After having a particularly trying couple of weeks, I decided that I needed to brush up on my data searching skills. Lame? Maybe…But insightful? Always… I never fail to learn something new and random when browsing data and statistics. Not everything in this world is collected and measured by an institution that can be considered “reliable”, but there is some pretty strange stuff out there that is collected. Institutions collect data that they feel is important to them in some ways, and many of the big places like the CDC, DLS and Census can provide a pretty interesting picture of our history in many different aspects of the human realm. Seeing as I’m grumpy and all, I came across something that caught my eye. Something called, ironically enough, The Misery Index.

Misery index pic

Data Planet provided information about the United States Misery Index number from 1947-2017, and surprisingly it looks like “misery” peaked sometime near 1981. I wasn’t sure what these numbers even mean though. What does a misery index score of 5 mean? Where did they get this information from?

Here’s the background from Data Planet:

Reports the Misery Index, a calculated measure of economic health based on the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. The Misery Index was created originally by economist Arthur Okun in the 1960s as the Economic Discomfort Index. Ronald Reagan is attributed to its renaming. The index is a calculated measure of economic health of a nation that sums the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. Data-Planet utilizes Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate the statistics presented here. (Data-Planet, 2017).

Basically you add the unemployment rate to the inflation rate and there is your index number. When I look at the numbers, I’m kind of surprised that the recession of 2007 didn’t match the misery index numbers of the early 80’s. Looks like that one was worse than the one that I had experienced. I hear a lot about these things being cyclical, markets, money, inflation, etc. I’m not very well studied in the area of economics, but it’s important historically to understand the basic premise for why these things happen, so we have a better chance of avoiding or preparing for it.I guess the Misery Index only deals with “financial” misery, which I suppose IS the overall cause of misery for many of us out there, even though we try to remember that money isn’t everything most people I know struggle with it, myself included.

Now that I’ve depressed you with talk of the financial struggles, recession, and overall misery, here’s a fun fact… 55-64 year olds in the US appear to be taking better care of their natural teeth in in recent years. In 2001 the % of 55-64 year olds wearing dentures was 15.8%, by 2010 that percentage decreased to 10.5 %. That’s more than a 5% decrease! What great news, and what a time to be alive with all this modern dentistry.

Dentures

In other things that are awesome in the US it appears that we have done a good job in nearly eradicating the Sexually Transmitted Disease Chancroid, which peaked at 5,000 cases a year in 1987 then shrank substantially sometime in the early 2000’s clocking only 25 cases in 2008. I don’t even think we learned about this one in school, I’ve never heard of it. (Not that I’m an expert in STD’s or anything but…)  This may be another one for another day, but if you are interested in what the hell Chancroid is take a peek here:

Chancroid Fast Facts- CDC

Chancriod

 

 

Data-Planet (2017-05-06). Misery Index: Misery Index, 01/1948 – 04/2017.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:077-003-001

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013-01-15). Dentures: Currently Wearing Dentures | Age: 55-64 years | Race/Ethnicity: All | Gender: All Genders, 2001 – 2010. Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID: 005-044-001

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-10-18). Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Rates: STD Count | Gender: All Genders | Standard Name*: Chancroid, 1984  – 2008.Data-Planet™ Statistical Datasets by Conquest Systems, Inc. [Data-file]. Dataset-ID:005-020-001

Patron Muses

There are times when I feel a bit lost, or bored, or just lacking some sort of hope or direction.

When this happens, I often like to play this game with library patrons (I use them because they are the most random and know the least about me personally), but the same can be done with anybody really in your everyday life. Ask for a message, some encouragement, some direction, and wait for it.

I often find these “messages” in situations that entail something that I normally wouldn’t do or in a place where I go out of my way to be especially kind to somebody. I have 3 such occasions this week after thinking over the weekend that I needed some sort of “shove” in a direction or a reminder of something

One: An older man comes into the public often and gets study rooms. I am usually salty with him a bit because he is annoying and weird. But, Monday I moved his room around for him, changed his name on the paper because he said it was spelled wrong, and talked with him about his ex-wife a bit. When our conversation ended he looked at me and said, “You’ve been such a good girl, this is for you.” –yes I know that sounds a bit creepy and I didn’t agree with being addressed as if I was a dog, but the oddness of the remark made me realize this was my first thing to pay attention to- He reaches in his bag and pulls out a fortune cookie from panda express. I waited until later and opened it in tech where I didn’t eat the cookie but found this fortune:

IMG_1393 - Copy

 

I’m not crazy and I know that fortune cookies are so generic in nature and only say about 5 things, but seeing this just reminded me that I am on the right path. Today is not forever, and things will change for me, as much as there is frustration today, life is a turning wheel, and tomorrow can be success and happiness. Keep at it me, keep at it.

 

Two: Yesterday at the U a lady who often comes in approached me and told me that her headphones weren’t working. I went over to the computer, messed with the volume and tried a different computer. Turns out her headphones were shot, and I told her I could check her out a pair with her ID. She then told me that she’s not a student so I let her know I couldn’t do that without an ID. I could have just been like, sorry, but I felt like helping her so I went to the lost and found, got a clean looking pair of cheapie ear buds, cleaned them off for her, and told her that she could borrow them for the time being. She was so grateful and looked at me and said: “You know it’s all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.” I smiled and walked away, but the message stuck with me.

Sometimes it is just that random. Some act of magic that can happen when these things line up and you can’t really force it, just try to notice when it does and capitalize on the possibilities that con come of it. Most magic moments, I think, are accidental in nature, and come from mixing the right amount of place, time and people.

 

Three: A month or so ago I had one of those seemingly random interactions when a person sits with me for a long while and talks with me about life’s purpose and our passions, and all that fun stuff. This particular person was somebody applying to be a professor here, and she had just uprooted her life to do so based upon some signs she had received. When we first met she was just checking out the University while trying to make the move up here from San Diego. She was inspiring, and intelligent, and just all around great to talk to. We ended on a hug and kept loosely in touch with emails. When I got into work yesterday she had stopped by and left me a nice note with her phone number:

IMG_1394 - Copy

 

 

I did smile, and I called her, and we have plans to go on a walk next week. I’m going to be all ears to what she has to tell me, because it’s what I asked for, after all.

Listen and Sell

It’s summer time here at the U, so we have some time to breathe, and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere. This also means my schedule shifts, and no more Sundays until September.  I like having the Sundays off because it’s more aligned with normal people, but also because I get to brunch again with real humans at a place, not just making a large late breakfast and drinking champagne on a Wednesday by myself at home. I’ve been ignoring my roulette, and to some degree my self-appointed blogging duties for a while due to other projects (more on that coming soon). But that means I can just shift my roulette over to Friday and keep on it.

Today I chose a random book from our book sale here at the U. Sometimes professors or other people affiliated with the University will make large donations, and every now and then there are multiple copies of the same book. I looked over at the sale shelf and saw about 40 copies of a new book, so I had to go and see what it was all about.

The book for this week is called:

Masters of Sales: Secrets from Top Sales Professionals That Will Transform You into a World Class Salesperson by Ivan Misner and Don Morgan.

IMG_1392 - Copy

I flipped through the book and noticed that each little section is written by different folks from the profession sharing lessons and advice, etc. I opened up randomly to this excerpt:

Earning the Right to Be Heard by Stuart Mitchell

Two of the strongest criticisms about salespeople are:

  1. They are only interested in selling me something
  2. They don’t really care about me

By contrast, I listen to my prospects and clients and win national sales awards year after year, while consistently doubling my sales targets. My claim to fame is that I actively listen to my prospects and clients. “Active listening” is like a bank account. The more active listening deposits you make, the more sales withdrawals you get. It works this way. When you listen to your prospects – AND THEY KNOW IT- they will, in return, listen to what you have to say about your product. This leads to more sales.  (Misner & Morgan, 2007, p.103)

I’ve always had a tough relationship with sales people, I always assume they are up to no good. I often avoid them when I see them approaching me at a mall, or try my very best to never have to change phone plans, or bank accounts or whatever.  I usually tell them what I need, but they don’t really help me with that. Often times I end in programs or plans that are more likely to help them hit their “numbers” while putting me in a less than ideal situation. Maybe I’m too much of a pushover; maybe I just give everybody the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t. I don’t know but me and the idea of sales have just never mixed. This isn’t a blanket statement; there are good sales people out there. I worked in real estate forever ago, and in the many loan officers I met there were actually a couple of decent ones, they were good at what they did, and looked out for their clients. I don’t know if the field has changed much, but these good seeds were pretty few and far between.  But what makes a salesperson “good”?  In business they usually see your numbers, not your client satisfaction, which may be where the trouble comes about. I wonder how much the world would change if instead of money/revenue/numbers/ products sold companies actually paid attention to customer satisfaction as the rating for sales people and made this the gauge for if they kept their jobs or got bonuses. How well people were treated by salespeople and companies in general would definitely change, for the better.

There will also be times in your life when you have to “sell” yourself. As much as this makes me cringe it’s true, there’s job interviews, writing resumes and cover letters, online dating, even friendship s sometimes begin with trying to convince somebody that you are indeed cool enough to hang out with. So maybe let’s take deeper look into this “active listening” and see what it’s really about and how it can be used to benefit a situation.

 

Here is one definition of it:

 

Active Listening: An approach to interpersonal communication that requires sensitivity and open-mindedness on the part of the listener and a willingness to share information and opinions on the part of the speaker. Listening actively allows the one who is hearing to comprehend the underlying message beneath the content of the words voiced, to evaluate fairly the speaker, and to reconsider previously held attitudes. Being heard in a nonjudgmental manner gives the speaker the confidence for self-expression without fear of criticism or intimidation and a sense that what he or she has to say is of value. Active listening has been used successfully in the workplace and in other social settings, as well as in health and mental health practice, to bring about changes for the better in both the listener and the speaker. Learning the art of active listening takes practice. (Sullivan, 2009)

 

So basically, it’s allowing the person speaking to say what they need to say without judgment in an open minded setting. One of the interesting parts of this definition it says active listening allows the listener to find the underlying message in the words of the speaker.  When I hear underlying I think of reading between the lines, so it feels to me like a way to decipher something and get a meaning that may lie deeper than the surface.  Maybe somebody says “I want dessert, and I really haven’t had ice cream in so long” you could actively listen and get that person some ice cream. Even though they didn’t say, “hey I want ice cream, can you get me some?” This allows you to understand what they are trying to get across on a deeper level. That may be a really bad example, but I kind of want ice cream right now so, sorry, but you get the point. I could see how this could be useful in many aspects of life, business, friendships, and most definitely romantic relationships.

 

I meet with a group of women each month, where we practice active listening with one another, and the way she describes it is like the speaker is a rock being dropped into the water. Her words are like ripples in the pond. Let her say her truth, and sit silently, absorb it, don’t respond to it or say, “yes I agree” or “me too” because that lessens the value of the words being said, also, if you are busy trying to formulate a response then you aren’t really listening. You lose what the person is saying because you are somewhere else in your own head formulating a comment. Once the ripples are gone, a few moments of silence, and another woman can start in. I don’t practice this enough to say that its life changing, but I should more often. As the definition says it takes practice. As much as I don’t like sales people I’ve also never liked to listen to others so this post is all about those hard things. I do feel the excerpt is pitchy and  sounds like it’s written by a salesperson, there is much value to what is being said there. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of this book, but if you are interested, consult your local library. Or, just come here we have like 40 copies for .50 cents each.

 

 

Misner, I. & Morgan, D. (2007). Masters of Sales: secrets from top sales professionals that will transform you into a world class sales person. New York; Entrepreneur Press.

 

Sullivan, L. E. (2009). Active listening. In The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences (Vol. 3, pp. 6-6). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412972024.n33