Are You What You Do?

One of my good friends teaches middle school English in South Central LA. She is one of the most caring, patient, and awesome people that I know. The other day I received a burnt out, one her last leg, ready to damn it all text from her talking about how she was re-thinking her choice of career after only 2 years due to being so over worked, over stressed, and underpaid. I sent her this response verbatim:

I’m gonna be honest with you here. That is just life. It’s always going to be that way. I’ve worked 2 jobs for 3 years running myself into the ground, subjecting myself to all kinds of various rejections and snakes in the grass and all kinds of crazy (expletive). BUT the silver lining here is that you do what you LOVE and what you are meant to be doing. Most people aren’t that lucky, they end up working in f’ing box factory or something dismal like that. Just keep your head up. Know that you are making a difference and meeting likeminded people and that things will get easier and better. Just focus on WHY you do it and keep moving forward. Life if good, and you my friend are doing awesome at it.

I re-read the text, and wondered why I couldn’t take my own advice. So, I didn’t quit the public, not yet anyways… Part of me wishes I had. I have my reasons and I’m still trying to push through it all. I think it must be the same with each workplace that you find may be a bit toxic, there’s talk, you see the things that are so infuriating and you share stories. At the end of the day I’m sure we’ve all been in workplaces that felt, after a while, to lose their “charm”. This could be for one, or many of these different reasons:

The relationship to the nature of the work that you do changes

The relationship with one, or multiple co-workers’ changes

The actual job duties and schedule of the position changes

There may be new hopes, dreams or ambitions that make you question the current position

Becoming bored with the same old same old and wanting more for yourself

Hitting that ceiling where you can’t move forward, or upward in your position

Change is inevitable in life. Institutions change, organizations change, libraries change, strategic goals and missions change, budgets change, and people come and go adding to or taking away from a work environment. This happens constantly, to everybody, but I feel like it may just have been a little more chaotic as somebody that has not only one, but two very different work environments (the part-time, multiple job epidemic). Either way, I’m trying to keep treading water where I am until it all clicks somehow.

In the meantime, I look up from the ref desk today and see… is it a sign? Yes, another sign from the library gods.. This book:

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How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope and Friendships by Annie McKee.

I don’t have a review for this yet since I literally just grabbed it from the shelf, but starting the first chapter, the author mentions that so many people are unhappy with their work situations, and that we often settle, or try to tell ourselves that work just isn’t a place to be happy. I mean that just sucks. I’ve been so rebellious lately saying NO, I will find that perfect place, but maybe I’m just stuck because I’m refusing to see something in myself that is being unwilling.

I saw another thing in Global Road Warrior that made me think this week too. While helping a student do research on verbal and nonverbal communication in Chinese vs. American cultures I cruised over to the stereotypes section of American culture to see what I came up with. There were a few good ones, and a few not so good ones, but this one caught my attention:

Work Hard, Play Harder

When Americans do play they devote themselves to it with an all-out ethic.

Americans like to work to get ahead, but we also know when it is time to relax.

Americans work more hours per week than their European competitors and have far fewer vacation days. Rather than regret this disparity, the Americans see it as an example of why Europe is in decline and America is still in ascendancy. Hard work is still looked upon as an ideal in the U.S., and play doesn’t start until all the work is done. When Americans do play they devote themselves to it with a similar all-out ethic. Americans define themselves by their jobs, and a standard conversation opener is, “So, what do you do?”

(Global Road Warrior, 2018)

This is under the “Stereotypes generally accepted by Americans” section. That last line is what I hovered over for so long… I am one of these people that defines myself by my job, clearly. I am also somebody who cannot separate myself from being emotionally involved in my work, nor do I wish to be. So, I’m still kind of stuck here. I will read this book, and sigh, and keep on drinking gallons of coffee and hoping for the best. I think a birthday weekend and a trip up to Santa Cruz may be just what I need to re-gather my bearings and reset. I like being a librarian ultimately, but nobody likes a librarian on the edge, especially not me.

Global Road Warrior. “United States: Stereotypes.” Retrieved March 20, 2018, from 0-www.globalroadwarrior.com.leopac.ulv.edu/#mode=country&regionId=156&uri=country-content&nid=20.08&key=stereotypes

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Some Darker Aspects of Librarianship

Another Monday another tech center stint, cataloging the children’s books I came across one that made me smile with delight. It’s a board book, meaning that it would be appropriate for the TK and under crowd It’s called: Clive is a Librarian by Jessica Spanyol.

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It’s brilliant, any book about being a librarian will hit us right in the heartstrings and we will buy it, I’m pretty sure it’s a fact. This book is part of a series called Clive. Some of the books in the series adhere to the Clive is a… format where the young boy goes on different adventures playing make believe that his is a certain occupation for the day. The series includes a nurse, a teacher, and a waiter.

Here’s a link to the series info on Goodreads.

Another thing about these books that hit me right in the feels is that Clive has a cat, a black cat, that he chills with constantly. Suddenly, it takes me away to a library full of cats, where instead of cranky patrons and social problems I can just have a cantankerous cat meow at me until I give it treats. What a life that would be.

This leads me to my thoughts on last week, where I had one of the hardest weeks in my entire existence at the public. In public libraries things tend to come in waves, where you may have a serious problem patron for a week or two, and maybe into months. This happens often because people move around, they show up, and many of them have no place to go for a bit, then they find one, or leave again.

This time we had a mother and her young son, who had just immigrated to this country. They understood English very basically and the child had extreme behavioral problems that the mother would not (could not) keep under wraps. Actually, none of us could. He would run around the library screaming and shrieking, he would grab other children and rile them up, he would take things out of random children’s hands, interrupt story times, set off the emergency exits, jump on and off tables, and finally, he started coming behind our desk and playing with the phones and computers. Parents of the children he was harassing, as well as every single member of the staff had it up to their eyeballs with this one. Look at mom, and all she did was say stop and he didn’t stop. I guess that is what we were all doing. Good cop, bad cop, he just wanted and needed the attention. When we all asked our management for backup they wanted to be “accommodating” and trust me, we all did, but they weren’t the ones in direct line of fire to this kid’s rage path. Have you ever tried to kick somebody out of somewhere and they just blankly stared at you? Said the same thing a million times to some brat kid who is a safety and sanity issue in a public building? I have, and it sucked.

Everybody on desk went through this for two weeks, even when it escalated and I grabbed a full timer they didn’t know what to do. At a certain point last week the kid grabbed me and shook me around and it took everything in me to not drag him back to his mother by the arm. I’m not a violent person, and as a city worker rule #1 is DON’T touch people, but people sure get to touch me. I guess the main problem was he was just a kid, who was bored because he was stuck here for 8 hours a day since they didn’t have anywhere else to go. I felt for them I really did, we all did, but mostly everybody on staff that had to be out on the floor was at our break point.

Which leads to Tuesday. I catch my boss on the phone with emergency folks as I’m grabbing my bag to head out for the night at closing. I think to myself well, this child has finally done it, he’s managed to fall off a table and break something or push a kid and now there’s just trouble. Turns out, it was something different altogether. When doing our closing rounds there was a patron slumped over in a chair, when my co-worker attempted to rouse her she found that the woman was unconscious, and barely breathing. They called the emergency workers, I watched my co-worker give this woman mouth to mouth and literally save her life, and then the EMTs came and took her away. There was an empty pill bottle around, and I really can’t speculate what the pills were or if this was an accident or what, but it shook me and everybody else that night. I do hope that person is OK today, but we have no way of knowing. I can tell you that I have a new found ultimate respect for first responders, because that is intense.

These things happen everywhere, every day and are in no way limited to a library. But it makes me realize that public problems and bigger social issues show up on a day to day basis in libraries (especially public) because are open to all, and we are often a space that people go to when there is no place else to go. Public health issues both mental and physical, addiction problems with drugs and alcohol, lack of resources for single mothers, immigrants, and the homeless population all bleed down into these systems because we don’t have solutions. I work in an area that is not a big city, and the library is in an affluent area, so I’m lucky. Librarians in more urban settings have even bigger fish to fry with the drug problem.

I found this article from CNN that talks about a teen-adult librarian in Philadelphia who has saved 6 patrons from opioid overdoses with the application of Narcan (the article is from June of last year so I can imagine that count has gone up). I am in complete awe and adoration of this woman. I can’t imagine the stress that administering Naloxone into people dying of overdose adds to her library duties. Other libraries in big cities such as San Francisco and Denver train library staff in the use of Naloxone for this purpose as well, it is both sad and scary at the same time.

Thankfully, they don’t point these issues out in the Clive is a Librarian book I mentioned earlier, or people might look at librarians in a different light. All the librarians I know are the most compassionate and caring people I have ever met, but we are not trained for a lot of the things we come across in our day to day interactions. I’ve had people tell me they were suicidal, ask for help with serious problems such as medical stuff, or legal advice. You see the struggle you know, and the best thing you can do is try to help in the best of your capacity without losing your own mind. As for that family from the last two weeks, I heard they moved to Texas. I don’t know if it’s the truth or not, but in my head I can see him running around another library in his new state, angered librarian in tow.

 

 

One… is the loneliest number

Death cold has been going around at both the U and the public. What this means for somebody who is out there all day with these people who are sneezing, coughing and touching all the things that you touch it means, well. You are going to get sick. It’s inevitable. Just 10 minutes ago I had a kid cough directly into my La Croix, have to remember to NOT have them out on the desk when I’m on children’s.

With that being said, feeling that tired drag of the half sick working with demanding patrons is a drag. Then you are on hour 7 just thinking, I can’t wait to get home and just go to bed and eat soup and do nothing. Then you realized you have no soup because you’ve been too busy to shop. Then you realize you are too tired even now to do anything but go straight home, but dang, you really want some chicken soup. Then you realize there is absolutely nobody to call that will actually do this for you. Then you want your mommy. Then you realize you are an adult and your mom lives in a totally different state. Then you realize that wow, you actually ARE incredibly lonely even though you have been trying to fill that space with work, or self-improvement, or fictional characters in books and you think that if you just don’t do something about it now what if you look around and wake up and realize your 40 and nobody will even look at you anymore and your eggs have rotted out of your body and you’ll never have sex again and, and, well there it goes.

Another beautiful anxiety spiral. As I’m descending down, down and down I try to catalog books, which is a mundane task that usually keeps my mind away from that chatter. Then I come across this book:

Can I tell you about loneliness? A guide for friends, family, and professionals. By Julian Stern.

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This is a book for our parenting section, for a parent to explain what loneliness is to a child who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness or separation from friends and family. I thought, hmm, why not read it? It was very helpful, and I could see how it could be excellent to read to a child who may feel like nobody gets it. I think the worst kind of loneliness is the one that we experience when surrounded by other people. The author explains it like this:

“Sometimes I feel lonely when there are lots of other people around. Then, it’s as everyone is happy except me, and none of them like me.” (Stern, 2001, p. 13)

It sounds so simple in the language of a child, but truly, I do believe that is how so many of us still feel today as adults. I guess the point of my story is, how do we help ourselves feel less lonely? The author suggest playing with a pet, going on a walk, or listening to music in a spot where you feel safe, like your room.

Another thing that loneliness drives us to today, more so as adults, is social media and dating apps. I will tell you that after 2 years I finally broke down and got on some dating apps last night. There is no more stigma to it anymore really, but what disappoints me is just in the 24 hours or so I have been on it I already have 80+ likes and have had some men with very suggestive screen names say ask me if I like to be adored. Well, I guess?

What it has done for me so far, other than to offer a bit of mild excitement, and the opportunity to be judged on a picture and a few short lines of a blurb is that there are so many people out there looking for something. Yes, yes, there are the creepos but I really feel a lot of these people on these sites but some are just normal everyday people that are looking for some kind of love or companionship or whatever. 80 something likes? Nobody even talks to me in real life, unless they want a book or an article, or help with some sort of tech stuff. Can we now only ever communicate to one another in an online platform where we can hide behind filters and quirky one line icebreakers? Maybe. I mean as I’m typing this I just got a message from some guy that just says one word… beauty. Should I be happy about this, I mean I guess it’s nice and all but it just feels like some sort of game, and in a way it feels sincere and in another, more believable way, it doesn’t. How many girls a day does this guy message, does that make a difference? Isn’t this what I wanted some attention, well brother here it is but is it the right attention? Right or wrong it may be the only kind of attention that dating millennials are able to get these days. Well, wish me luck, I’m sure you will be hearing more of it here.

Stern, J., & Lees, H. E. (2017). Can I tell you about loneliness?: a guide for friends, family and professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley .

Dr. Seuss and the perils of age

I was talking with one of my fellow librarians here at the U about the state of health care, and all the woes and headaches and billing and whatever we had both had issues with in the last couple of years as part time workers that have no employer provided health insurance. I won’t get into it here, the rant would be boring and painful to listen to, and nobody needs that today. However, there was one really good thing that came out of this conversation. She pointed me in the direction of a Dr. Seuss book that troubled her that it was shelved in children’s because she always felt it was really more for adults.

The book is called: You’re Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss and it’s hilarious. I see how she may think that it’s geared more towards adults as it takes you through a wild and unnecessary journey through a doctor’s visit including impossible tests, billing confusions, and a barrage of pills and prescriptions. Dr. Seuss was always one of my childhood favorites, and he’s just so good at disguising the fact that he’s addressing some pretty dark stuff with his use of silly phrases such as “Bus Driver’s Blight” or “Chimney Sweep’s Stupor”.  We don’t have the cover on it, but here’s a picture of one of my favorite scenes:

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I would recommend reading this to anybody who has ever been confused or angered by Doctor’s practices, insurance and/or medical billing. Which I can only assume is everybody. I did notice that the front inner page appears to have been signed by the author, which would be rad if it was true. I don’t have a way to authenticate it, but a google search comparison makes it look like it’s possible. Similar copies that are signed are listed online for $350 and up, maybe we can move this one to the archives.

What do you think, real or fake?

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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.

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

 

Cats and Buttered Toast

One of my best friends is having a baby shower early June, and in a clever twist, her sister in law has asked guests to bring a book for the baby instead of a card. OH, how perfect is this request. Build the little one a library with personalized messages from the ones who will love him and watch him grow. BOOKS, just books, I love it all.

Whenever I go to a kid’s party I’m that lady that brings books. I don’t buy toys, or clothes, or anything like that I bring books. If it’s a baby shower, sometimes I bring my go to Read Along Handbook by Jim Trelease –  as a part of the gift in an attempt to guilt the mother into reading to her child. Really, it’s just generally handy for book suggestions.  For kid’s birthdays its books, books and more books. The public has an awesome friends of the library where you can find, odd, offbeat, marvelous children’s books for .50 cents to a dollar. There’s really nothing like watching your friends and/or acquaintances open your gift to find such original treasures. I’m sure most kids would rather have a princess dress, or skateboard or something much cooler. If this is the case, then don’t invite me to your kids parties because they are only getting 5$ of strange literature out of me. So there. Am I being rebellious? Maybe a little, but I think the consumerism, especially for kids, is way out of control these days.

So what did I find today in the Friends?

A picture book called Mac Side Up by Bob Elsdale. I got it mainly because it has a cat wearing a backwards hat on a piece of toast on the cover, but as I read it gets better.

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The whole book is a play on the buttered toast always lands butter side down and cat always lands on its feet thing that was so popular like 15 years ago, you know, that thing.

Anyways. This cool cat decides that he is going to see what happens if he straps a piece of buttered toast with the butter side up to his back. With the help of his radical ferret friend (who wears sunglasses) he embarks on a stunt to try to get to the bottom of this hypothesis. Which is stronger, the fact that the cat always lands on his feet, or the thought that buttered toast always lands side down??? Well if you want to know, you will have to find a copy of this god knows where. I will give you a spoiler though, in the end, I think that felines may prevail.

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**Also at the end of this book there is a two page explanation of how there were no animals harmed in the making of this book, and how they position the model animals and surrounding images so that they are in no way distressed in the process (YES!)**

Another trip around the Sun..

I just got through with birthday week, and all I want to do is sleep for about 2 days straight. I love that I have so many people in my life that want to celebrate with me, and take me out, and do things for me, it’s amazing and I’m so grateful for it all. But I’m old now, and nothing proves that to me more than going out night after night for about a week capped off by the twelve hours I spent at Disneyland yesterday. If you want to remember how old you are, just do that for a day then see how you feel 10 miles and hours of line standing later. It was worth it to be exhausted today, it was a great time. Even with all the people in the park Disney just does such a good job of making you feel like you are in an entirely different world, which I think we all need every now and again. They certainly don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing, but I’m sure some people would argue with that.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel a twinge of sadness around my birthdays. It could be a couple of things, that old nagging feeling that another year has gone by and you aren’t exactly where you thought you would be by now, the fact that you are one year closer to death, or maybe your expectations for how the day would roll out didn’t exactly live up to your standards, somebody important to you forgot about it, or you just realize that as you get older that it’s just really another day that marks the passage of this construct we call “time”. A year, another trip on this planet making a rotation around a gigantic ball of gas.

With all this brewing my dear friend recommended a book to me to read as a good and easy “birthday read”. It’s The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Now, I’ve heard about this book before. It’s some kind of new agey, connect with the universe, life quest, you are where you need to be type deal. I get asked for this book quite a bit at the public, and we have about 5 copies in storage meaning that it circulates a lot. I grabbed one, to see what it was all about. I took it into tech with me and started reading on a Tuesday night around 7. I read the whole last hour of work, then when I got home until about midnight, when I just couldn’t read anymore and I was nearly done with the book. I finished it up the next morning, making it probably close to about a three and a half to four hour read.

I really enjoyed the story, it was simple, it wasn’t filled with all the good things there was some plot and some hardships. It was realistic (for the most part) and relatable, and showed how life isn’t necessarily what you thought it would be, but it is what it is supposed to be. The main “hero” of the story meets some interesting life guides along the way and runs into his fair share of obstacles and epiphanies, but naturally these lead him to end up in a better place than he probably could have ever imagined himself. It’s easy. There is just one thing in life and that is to find your purpose and follow it, the rest just happens. I connected with it pretty hard, but even if you don’t it’s an easy read, and entertaining.

Here is a link to the reviews and book info on goodreads, just a quick glance shows that a lot of people didn’t really care for it at all, mostly people who thought it was drivel, or just self-help BS. Jesus, people have a lot of hate for this one. But, you know, sometimes it’s good to just read things for yourself, and if you check it out from the library you aren’t losing anything really, except a bit of time. I actually bought a copy to gift to one of my favorite student workers who is graduating, so hopefully he doesn’t think it’s as bad as those reviews and not want to be my friend anymore.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/865.The_Alchemist

While I’m on the topic of out there spacey kind of new age books you would find at some sort of vegan coffeehouse in LA, here’s another super cute one I just finished (mostly illustrations) and plan on re-gifting to a friend:

Your-Illustrated-Guide-to-ZBecoming-One-with-the-Universe-by-Yumi-Sakugawa-on-BookDragon

 

Sakugawa is an amazing artist/author from California who also blogs about health and wellness on top of her comics and books. I’m so glad I stumbled upon her, and plan to keep on following what she does, here’s her site if you want to check her out. You should.

http://www.yumisakugawa.com/

Bruuuuccee

As if you needed a reason to love Bruce Springsteen more? Well here it is…. The boss has released his autobiography and it’s amazing.

Born to Run is Springsteen’s account of his life and career, so it’s quite lengthy. At about 500 pages plan to set aside a pretty decent chunk of time to get through this one. However, it’s written simply and to the point using analogies for life and life’s lessons that are both interesting and humorous. Bruce has had a career that has spanned over 4 decades so there is a lot to cover and he covers all of it, in short well separated chapters. He focuses mainly on his work and music, but starts to delve more into his personal life when he gets to his early 30’s and starts to suffer from depression and anxiety that he sought professional help for. He mentions at some time the emotional issues one has become too hard to run from anymore and you have to own up to them, they come scratching at your door and you have no choice. Yes, this all sounds familiar (cough cough everybody). Another reason why I adore reading biographies of people that we cast the spell of celebrity on is that you get to see them for who they are, and see into the other side of what fame is, and how people get there. Many of us will never know this phenomenon, and some may be sad for that but others may think themselves lucky. Many people who end up in the spotlight had no intention to wind up there and the weight, scrutiny and pressure of it can be enormous.

There’s this great monkey suit analogy he uses to describe his avoidance of life that hit especially home to me. Like this grand moment of clarity he comes to about the realness of things somewhere in his early 30’s:

Robert De Niro once said he loved acting because you got to live other lives without the consequences. I lived a new life every night. Each evening you are a new man in a new town with all of life and life’s possibilities spread out before you. For much of my life I’d vainly sought to re-create this feeling every… single… day. Perhaps it’s the curse of the imaginative mind. Or perhaps it’s just the “running” in you. You simply can’t stop imagining other worlds, other loves, other places than the one you are comfortably set in at any moment, the one holding all your treasures. Those treasures can seem so easily made gray by the vast open and barren spaces of the creative mind. Of course, there is but one life. Nobody likes that.. but there’s just one. And we’re lucky to have it. God bless us and have mercy on us that we may have the understanding and the abilities to live it… and know the “possibility of everything”… is just “nothing” dressed up in a monkey suit… and I’d had the best monkey suit in town (Springsteen, 2016, p. 274).

How good is that? There’s so much in that one little paragraph. That moment when you stop shooting for some unrealistic fantasy of a future and realize that everything that you ever wanted was really right in front of you the whole time. We have so much in our lives and within ourselves but often we miss out on enjoying it reaching for some future, past or both. It’s good to strive for great things, but if you are living in your imagination and the stories in your head you will miss out on what’s real and in front of you. So, take off your monkey suit and enjoy it while you got it and check out this read if you are so inclined. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page:

Born to Run

Springsteen, B. (2016). Born to Run. New York: Simon & Schuster.

5 more days of this?

This Is hard.

Dear lord it’s only day two without reading. I’ve noticed a few things though. Especially when I’m out on reference desk I am sure observing a lot more when I don’t have my nose stuck in a book or fixated on reading something on the computer screen. What did I do to pass the time today? Coloring, walking, yoga, cutting pictures out of magazines, organizing things, staring into the sometimes empty and ever so shiny floor on “main street” in the library between mini rushes. I made up stories about the minions in the display case, although I didn’t write them down. I took my time more with people, since there was nothing for me to get back to other than chatting, which even that become tired after doing it all day. I guess I didn’t have much to say. I think I may be cheating by using social media a bit.

I kind of feel like there is something missing. I guess that happens when you cut anything out of your life. It’s harder in this case because I’m surrounded daily by books. Words. All these words, all the time in my face and I can’t read them! AHHH. OK that’s enough of my rant for the day. WAIT. I did cheat. I read a children’s book about a fluffy cat that floated because, well I guess I didn’t realize I couldn’t. It was a really good book anyways, if you like cats that are fluffy, or have a kid that might, it’s worth checking out.

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Link to Goodreads review

 The tech center is finally up and running after being down all of yesterday from a server update. Yes, it was annoying for some patrons, but not the monumental catastrophe that others made it out to be. In the grand scheme of things look we all lived. What wonders of the universe? It’s always interesting to me to watch the panic that ensues when technology isn’t working properly. I kind of am trying to remember for me personally that nobody promised that store wouldn’t be crowded, or it’s not a certainty that your day will go the way you want but that’s ok. Follow the flow of it and it might end up somewhere better than you expected. Or maybe not, but really you don’t have control so just go with it anyways.

 

Reading Deprivation

At the advice of a friend’s boyfriend who is a musician as well as a recommendation from my life coach I am currently in week four of the book “The Artist’s Way: A spiritual path to higher creativity” by Julia Cameron. This particular book was structured from a workshop held to help blocked creative learn to regain their sense of flow and creativity. It says that it’s a spiritual path, but it doesn’t shove the idea of organized religion down your throat so that’s a good thing.

So far it’s been good I’m almost a third of the way through the 12 weeks. There’s the fact that you commit to certain things, like writing at least 3 pages a day in the mornings, and keeping yourself on track each week with the readings and exercises. OH, and taking yourself on one date a week that encourages you to explore old loves and habits, a way to re-connect with your inner self and voice. It is kind of a lot to commit to, but in the end it has to be worth at least the fact that you are taking steps to open things up within you, and that yes, you are a person who completes things.

Either way, this week one of the rules or “exercises” is reading deprivation. Wait what? What the hell is going on here? The rage inside. I can’t read? Well what the hell else am I supposed to do? This is a lot. Anybody who relies on reading on a daily basis will tell you take that away and it’s rather unnerving. She writes about this being the hardest reveal in the class and knowing the negative reaction she will get initially, but, that it’s worth it in the end for anybody who is able to get through it.

I understand in a way what she’s getting at. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about not going on social media for a week or longer. Take a break. Maybe I can do both of these things at the same time, but I think it may be too much for me all at once. Sometimes we bombard ourselves with distractions of all sorts of forms, social media, novels, television, gossiping. Anything to direct ourselves away from what is happening inwardly. Escapism. It’s one of the most difficult things to do to be still and really listen to yourself away from all these distractions, opinions, words, images, situations. So my anger subsides. I mean I’m still kind of shell shocked and confused about what I’m supposed to do, and isn’t reading a good thing? Well yes it is generally, and being connected is also a good thing, but it’s also good to be able to disconnect. Unplug for a bit before you lose the ability to understand how important real quiet time is. Maybe the sweet spot is in the balance (it usually is).

I’ve never been on any kind of religious retreat, although I have been toying with the idea of one of those non-speaking Buddhist retreats. The idea seems so crazy but maybe if we all just shut up a bit we will be able to have more clarity. Maybe if we stop filling our heads so much with the words of others and the situations that our own words can bring something can happen. I’m about to find out. So I’ll try this whole non-reading thing this week. As with any addiction, one day at a time. Wish me luck.