The Whys

There are more people in this world that I can even feasibly imagine. There’s a number to it, it may be somewhere around 7.4 billion. Some incredibly high number that I have no idea how to conceive of wrapping my head around. As I’m typing I’m sure it’s gone up just a couple thousand. We will all have different experiences grounded in the same idea of needing love, food, shelter, and (for those of us who are lucky enough to not have to spend a substantial portion of our lives on the absolute necessities to allow our bodies to function at their most basic level) understanding of our own selves and what and who we are.

You hear that a lot you know, from these inspirational social media accounts, and jolly posters hanging on classroom and library walls, be yourself. Just be yourself, and the rest is history.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it’s not as easy as it may sound, not one bit. There’s a lot of times in life when being “yourself” keeps you from the things you think you want, or the things you may be conditioned to want. That’s when things get weird. Well, did you really want them at all? Who is right, the voice in your heart, the voice in your head, or the voice from your stomach that reminds you, “hey we need to eat every day”.

I’m at this point. This very point where I’m not sure if me being me is a detriment to my life, or something that is going to pan out to be amazing. The only thing I can do now is examine the why of it all to keep me from downright giving up.

So why do I sit here and type words on a screen and dump them into the great wide nowhere?

Because I have to, I literally go crazy if I don’t. Writing is a very basic form of human expression. We all write don’t we, in some sense, every day. So, what’s with wanting to share it, and have people read what I write? I think it has something to do with connection, with healing. When I read things that connect with me I feel like it’s magic. I want to do that. I don’t really care if other people think it’s good or if it’s shit. I don’t care if people sit in their offices and throw every single poem I ever send to them out the window. I can’t care, it hinders me too much. Caring about it makes me want to stick my head in the dirt like an Ostrich and give up. If I can just connect to a few people that need it, that need the friend, the sage, the advice, or just to feel that there is somebody else out there. Something else out there, a similar thread. We are all of one entity, going through the same basic experiences. It’s sharing, it’s talking, it’s expression. So why do we need a formula, or a measure of success from it all? Whatever that is. Is success selling a book, is it being able to do what you love for a living, is it buying a new house, or having people pat you on the back in a room while smoking cigars saying good job old chum you did it, is it getting a degree and hanging it on your wall then paying back your student loan debt for 30 years? Please don’t ask me, because I have no idea.

I started a twitter account where I follow mainly writing accounts. Today I came across this article, and it sparked this whole (above) train of thought in me.

It discusses some new female poets who seem to be catching a lot of heat from people who think their work is too commercial, amateurish, and lacks elements of what makes other poetry “great”. It’s all opinions, conversations, and yes there can be critics. It is allowed. But it really made me think about what I do, and my own feelings of inadequacy about what I put out.

These ladies tell their own stories from their heart, in their own individual voices. I applaud that. I haven’t read any of their stuff (we have it at the public but one copy is lost and the one we have has 2 holds) but I do know that I was asked for Milk and Honey by so many young women at the public that I had to investigate to see what it was. It’s been a commercial success, and some people may think that it devalues the work. It doesn’t. It makes it more valuable. People WANT to read it, people are seeking it out, people are connecting to it, it circulates. Digital platforms and social media are changing the way that creative writing is being shared and distributed. It’s not under lock and key anymore, there are no rules, and for some people that invalidates things. I see a parallel in information that is used academically. The internet is a breeding ground for incorrect and biased information, this is my job to help people determine good information from unreliable information. There is a dark side to such accessibility and openness in publishing.  I just, personally, can’t see how it stacks up when you are dealing with creative works, or art of any form.

The article can be found at the guardian.com  here

This all goes back to the WHY of it all. If the why is connection and having your true self be heard, accepted, and used for the good of others then I would say these ladies are wildly successful, and role models in fact. It encourages others to use their voices, and to spread their own truths. If the why is having your work praised by those that hold degrees from academia and have studied literature and literary analysis, then yeah, probably not as much. I don’t see how either of these whys are invalid, they are just different.

This is also where all my personal hang-ups about digital publishing appear. Am I just a tool bag with a blog? Maybe. Am I just spewing awful cringe-worthy poems out there into already abundant slush piles of literary journals that nobody probably even reads anyways? Perhaps. What about those things I self-publish, they don’t seem worthy of anything do they? Probably not to most people. I just have to stick to my WHYs and remember that they are as valid as any others.

Ask yourself why you do what you do. The answer may surprise you.

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Image obtained from: https://pixabay.com/en/users/ElisaRiva-1348268/

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New Year, New “Me”?

I love that saying, it’s so hopeful isn’t it? However hopeful, the prospect of the transformation into a new self at the stroke of midnight, or even in the span of 365 days, is just not the reality of it.  The very saying leads me to wonder, is there ever really a new “me”, or is it just the me that was already in there? That me that you always wanted to be, always knew you could be, but for whatever reason, were not?

I knew I had to do a year end post, because I’m a creature of habit and ritual, but since I’ve been off work for the last 10 or so days there isn’t much going on in the library realm. So, on this last day of the year, why not talk about me, or you, or us (you get the picture).

There’s a lot of versions of “me” I’ve met over the last 3 decades or so. But the one that I have managed to get to today is probably my favorite one yet. In my mind it goes something like this… When I was a kid I was exactly who I was. I didn’t worry about money, or beauty, or status. I had a great imagination and I wasn’t hung up, anxious, sad, depressed or addicted. I valued play and nature, and my own sense of wildness and wonder. I didn’t question my own instincts. As we grow up we have things happen to us. Some good, some bad. It seems like what we remember most is the bad, and that each time something just sticks with us that we can’t let go of or forgive or get past we add a layer of protection to ourselves. Again, for the sake of imagination, think of putting on another shirt, or coat, as to protect ourselves from the cold of the world. After the years this can pose a pretty big problem if we don’t remove these protective layers and just keep piling them on. If they get so thick it becomes hard to tell who or what is really under all our defenses, and makes it pretty difficult to move in any direction.

The tricky thing is some people get used to living under all the layers, it’s ok to even like it because it becomes comfortable and known. Some may realize they want out but become discouraged when you can’t get the shirts off all at once but only one at a time, and give up. I think that some people, when they get to a point that they have so much on that they can’t move or breathe, decide they must take it off it, one piece at a time because they have no choice. This takes months, years, an indefinite amount of time really, counseling, substances, mistakes, falling and getting back up. I don’t know if it’s ever finished because it’s a moving target. Maybe three shirts come off, but you put one back on because something new happened and you decide you still need it. It’s demanding work, and lonely work. Only you can do it, and you can’t take anybody there with you.

These versions of me include, but are not limited to:

The me I was

The me I thought I should have been to fit in

The me that said what others needed to hear

The me that didn’t stand up for myself

The me that stopped writing

The me that started again

The me that rebelled and hit my fists against the brick wall until they bled

The me that conformed for security

The me that was angry and blamed everybody but myself

The me that was impatient and unkind

The me that learned compassion

The me that was humbled by my own limitations

The me that demanded perfection

The me that allowed myself to fail again

The me that accepted and forgave

The me that I see in my mind and feel in my heart

The me that (I think) I’m destined to be

The me that I am today, which is well on her way to the above

 

In honor of being “me” this New Year’s Eve. I’m going to stay in with the cat and eat an entire bag of potato chips while wearing amazing cat pajamas that a dear friend bought me for Christmas. Am I even going to watch the ball drop? Eh, probably not. All I know is this year I’ll be right where I want to be, alone with myself. In honor of being alone with myself, I scheduled an hour in a float pod tomorrow, which is something I’ve always been curious about. What better way is there to be alone with yourself other than spending an hour sealed into a small egg like contraption, floating in shallow, body temperature, salinized water. I hope like Lisa Simpson, that I turn into my cat for at least a couple of minutes. Either way exploring my own inner world has been the key to finding that “me” that’s somewhere in there. I’m intrigued to see what comes up.

Happy New Year’s everybody!!

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Image obtained from:

https://giphy.com/gifs/season-10-the-simpsons-10×16-xT5LMsYaNsXlZuUrOU

On exes, Christmas, and people who apparently hate earphones…

I’m sure at this point I’m not alone when I say that 2017 can just be over already. Just end, be done, leave, bye…. I’m hoping that 2018 will be a better one for everybody, and the end of this one hasn’t been so bad so that’s a good start.

It’s the last day before break here at the U and the library is a ghost town, most staff have already started the break, and I think I saw 1 person in here when I went to the bathroom just now, but he’s the brother of somebody who works here so I’m not sure if that counts. I’ll say it does, to beef up the door count. Earlier this morning I was recounting an interaction I had with a student who I thought, was being rather rude and listening to a movie full blast on his phone while at the computers where other students were trying to work.

Here’s how that went:

From my desk, which is a reasonable distance, I hear some phone stuffs. I see a kid working on the computer with his phone propped up against the side wall of the computer cubicle, he looks at the phone, then the computer screen, then the phone again. I give him the benefit of the doubt and think, OH, maybe he’s doing a tutorial in excel or something. I’ll let it go. So I do, even though it’s disturbing me, and I know as a general rule if I’m bothered then so are others. It’s on and off a bit for about 20 minutes, then I go in the back room to get some water. On my way back I pass the kid, and hear screaming from the phone, this is definitely NOT a tutorial. I look down and he’s watching a movie. A freaking movie, volume all the way up and no headphones. I stop by his station and look at the screen.

Me: “Oh, I wondered what that was. Don’t you think that’s a bit loud?” *

*My best passive aggressive, oh we don’t really monitor noise, but come ON your level of courtesy and general respect for those around you trying to work is not cool.

Kid: Blankly stares up at me with mouth open

I stand there in a silent standoff for about 15 seconds, then turn to leave, kid does not stop watching or turn down.

Could I have asserted my power more, and been like, HEY you need earphones, or turn that down? Yes, but I didn’t, and I don’t because like most introverts working in the library I hate confrontation and I just generally don’t like policing people. It blows my mind how much people just don’t generally know how to be courteous to others in shared public spaces. Earlier in the week I had a man clipping his nails and letting them fly all over the place at a table in the public. Gross. Stuff like that just riles me up more than it should, especially the newest trend of everybody just putting everything from phone conversations to their music or movies full blast on speaker in all the public places. When did we decide this was OK?

Regardless, my coworker gave me some good advice that I was able to connect to another event this week. He said just forget about it already, that kid has. Every time you talk about it or think about it you are just re-living the event and there’s no reason for that.

Hmmmm. What a sage.

This brings me to the story to something that somebody who showed up recently for me. The holidays always brings the ghosts out the woodwork and I know this, I expect it, but this one was a really old one. Begrudgingly joining Facebook so I could online date was going to bite me in the butt for sure, but I really didn’t expect it to this way. A very, very, very old demon of mine from almost 2 decades ago came up, one that I haven’t wanted to face for as long as I can remember but have been trying to take steps to work through it. Anyways, there were some messenger exchanges, which ultimately led to me giving this long (and rather unsolicited) heartfelt spiel about life and forgiveness and happiness and fatherhood and all the life things which I was proud of. It took a lot of courage for me to do. The response was like, yeah, well we were kids, I apologize too, we should talk more, etc. It looked something like this:

Me: Pouring my heart and soul out, standing up for myself finally and airing out all those old demons I’ve sat on for so damn long, while attempting to break my cycle of trying to fix tragically broken, yet beautiful men.

Him: Yeah it’s cool, same. Hey let’s grab lunch sometime if you want.

Wow. I mean I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess most people don’t know what to do when hitting up long lost exes but it made me realize that I was the only one that carried around this sordid past with him in my head. It was allll me, and I’m sure over the course of the years it’s mutated and changed like a sick game of telephone. It wasn’t the response I wanted, but it helped me finally to put everything to bed here for good which is what I really wanted in the first place. So that was it. The big face off, and it wasn’t nearly anywhere as scary as I thought it would be. We are the ones that have the power to stop reliving the past, especially the parts that hurt us. Like that big scary monster under the bed, all you have to do is tell it to go away and it does. Why? Because you are the one that imagined it in the first place.

Christmas is a season of forgiveness, and the turning of the calendar year is symbolic for new beginnings. Tell somebody that you have been at odds with you forgive them, for whatever reason, however you can. They might not even care, but it will probably make you feel a whole lot better. You might as well evict a ghost to make way for something living.

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Tell em Jasper..

 

Image obtained from: https://memeguy.com/photo/112398/they-always-yell-making-it-even-more-obnoxious

It’s OVER!

This NaNoWriMo bit ends tonight!

Here’s what I learned:

It’s possible to write 50,000 words in 30 days

It feels a bit more like torturous boot camp until you get into the habit

Dear God I hope I don’t fall out of the habit

Now that I’m here I think I need to keep doing this to stay sane

Books are hard as hell to write

Students don’t want to write 50K words on top of all their other finals they have to do (not surprised)

 

But, I did it! I put myself up to a challenge and I did it. I hit that old word count: 50,000.

Here’s the proof…

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My story has taken me some interesting places, ones that I didn’t even know I was going. I was worried I wouldn’t have anything so say, but here I am done with word count and nowhere near the end of the story. I would say maybe a little over halfway, and most of the meat hasn’t been dug into yet. But I have a promising idea of how I want to flush it out. So, what’s next with this strange little story of mine?

Next is printing it out and doing a read through this weekend. I know I’m sorry, it’s killing trees, but I need to go through it hard copy. I’m old school I suppose. Another part to this is that the story weaves through people over the course of some days, and it’s getting a little hairy lining everything up. On paper I can separate them and do them as long streams. It wasn’t necessary before, but I may have to write the second half this way, we’ll see.

Then the next part is just getting the rest out. I don’t know if I can keep up the pace of 1600 words per day, but I need to try to get something down at least every other day. I was able to put off some work goals and demands but now I may have to pay some attention to academic style writing. It will be a gear switch, but I won’t abandon my story. I hope that by my birthday (a little under four months) to have something more cohesive.

Something I didn’t realize is that you have to research a lot of things that you need to see to explain. Here’s my list so far. I need to think about melting metal, and how fires spread. I need to watch something burn. I need to talk more with the younger students (18 or so) to see how they interact with friends, how high school was for them. I need to go to Viva Madrid and watch my friend bar tend, see how she makes watermelon juice, watch her make a Spanish coffee, note the weekend crowd and takes notes on the owner. I need to learn about relationships between older men and younger women, my best friend suggested a movie and I already forgot it. But most of all I need to keep reading, observing, and ingesting words and images and keeping these characters in my head and close to me.

Another thing I plan to do is clean it up a bit and apply for some MFA fellowships, actually just one. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket and seeing if it works out. I may do more later, but for now I’m pooped, and not even sure this is a degree I want. All I’ve learned about grad degrees is that they open doors, but I may need that if I want to be “serious” about writing. Am I ever “serious” about anything? Do degrees really mean anything? All I know is I’m NOT paying for it.

I’m so tired of writing now, so this is a short one. I just wanted to brag a bit and hope that it inspires somebody, anybody, to try something they really want to do. It’s possible, anything is possible, but it’s always WORK. Well I guess that living without food or air isn’t possible, but don’t be a jerk, you get the point. Stop using your excuses and just get out there and do something that moves you forward, even if it’s a little step and nobody cares. I bet that nobody really will care, but you will, and that’s the most important care of all. I promise. It may even take you somewhere you never thought you could go.

I was so excited I wanted to celebrate, then realized that I have nobody to celebrate with and that I’m really tired anyways and just want soup. So, I made soup. *insert party horn here*

The end.

Love in the Upside Down

So you know how I mentioned I started using some online dating apps?

I quit. It kind of looked like this.

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I only lasted a week and a half and I just couldn’t do it anymore. If you watch stranger things you will understand this reference (If not, sorry and you should totally go watch it). I couldn’t help but feeling like I was in the “upside down” aka this odd version of reality that was kind of dark, confusing, and gave me nightmares. No really, it gave me nightmares.

So let me explain. It’s not that I make myself super accessible to the opposite sex but I’m out there in the world, and ringless. I work in two very public buildings full of all kinds of folks, I go out to bars with friends, or sometimes even solo. I attend weddings, and functions for both work and a vast network of friends from all walks of life and nobody even talks to me let alone asks me on dates. Every person who talks to me wants something, a book, an article, headphones, for me to help them edit their paper randomly at a Starbucks, you get the idea. Ok, I’m not counting the 2 or 3 weirdos that kissed my hand or slipped me their number at the public, sorry it just isn’t valid as being something worth pursuing on my end that could lead to anything.

You can imagine what it feels like to suddenly have people interested in you. Or, what they think you are or could be, or whatever. As I mentioned in my last post, is that the right kind of attention? Well, it may be the only kind we have immediate access to. I got asked a lot of questions, and the one that kept coming up was “What do you want?” I wasn’t trying to be snarky or anything but what I really wanted to say in my heart of all hearts was “To NOT meet a man online.” But that wasn’t going to get me anywhere, was it?

So I had some conversations with amazingly candid dudes that were looking for love. I appreciated the forwardness and truthfulness of it all, but at the end of the day it felt like more of a business transaction or interview, and it was not fun. Some people may have fun, I’m not knocking it for all but just saying for me there was nothing fun about it.

Let’s sift to my two actual (kind of) transactions. I talked with one guy for almost the whole time, and really it was good conversation. He seemed like a really great person, and had a good sense of humor and I kind of got all weird on him once about needing time before we met and he even talked to me after that, which was a major plus. But then, the meeting thing came up again, and I felt like maybe he didn’t really hear me the first time about needing time then said something kind weird that I thought might be one of those passive aggressive cryptic things so I just kind of cut it off there. I mean, I could have been wrong and maybe just jumped ship out of fear and my own personal issues, but I guess I’ll never know. That’s ok though I’m learning to trust my gut a bit more these days. We wished one another well and that was that.

And then, I agreed to meet up with somebody because something about them piqued my interest. Weird thing about this profile is there were 6 pictures that all seemed to look different. I actually on first instinct thought it was somebody that goes to my hot yoga on Sundays based upon one of the pictures and his description. But, who can be sure right? We made plans to meet for coffee on a Wednesday and guess who never showed? Yes, yes, my first actual step out of the box and I got stood the f* up. Ugh.

I waited 15 minutes, then took my coffee on a walk and actually was a bit relieved. I went home and thought, eh, I’ll give the app another night see if this guy actually says something about the no show. Crickets. I deleted that app, and the other one I had and have since been able to resume a semi normal but still rather lonely life. Well almost normal. After the great stand up I couldn’t shake the feeling that this guy is the same person that, two weeks ago, was half naked next to me in a room that was 105 degrees struggling through eagle, camel and locust pose right along with me. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but it was distracting and it threw off my practice. I told some people about my suspicion, and they said to check the sign in list and see if his name is on there. (From our very brief exchanges I do know his first name). I never got around to this, and honestly it seemed a bit weird to do. But this morning…

My regular yoga teacher is amazing, and she knows everybody by name, and will often talk to us in class. So when she was welcoming a certain suspiciously tall 30 something who came in late by first name I almost fell over laughing. Yep, I was right!! It’s the dude that didn’t show, unless by the biggest coincidence in the world this other guy just happens to have the same name. She said his name a couple more times during class and each time I wanted to laugh so hard I just had to hold it all in. I have no clue if he recognizes me, my bangs are back, and I have workout glasses on and horrible outfits and am covered in sweat, but he may…

I’m not mad. In fact this is one of the most hilarious and eye opening things to me about online dating and the “upside down” world. I don’t even have the idea of how I can communicate with this person and perhaps share a laugh about the whole thing. I wanted to but didn’t, what am I scared of? What if he just pretends it all never happened and I’m some crazy lady? What if I make him feel horrible? What if he tried later to hit me up and I was gone? AH! Who knows, we don’t really know one another and we don’t owe each other anything but it’s just so darn ODD. In the alternate universe of the “upside down” where neither of us ever really existed we could complement one another, make plans to meet up with the possibility and intent of seeing if we could actually have a friendly, and/or physically intimate relationship. While here in person, in flesh and the vulnerability of our sweaty yoga practice we are complete strangers. The plane we connected on disintegrated with the push of a delete button.

Online dating is a reality for so many people, and I’m sure there’s many more stories such as this one. I found some interesting stats on online dating in an article that cited a source called Statistic Brain. I’m a bit weary of the site, seeing as it has ads throughout but, the article that used it IS published in an academic journal so… anyways here’s some numbers…

According to this site, there are 54 million single people in the US. The total number of people who have tried online dating is almost 50 million. That is incredible. The online dating companies are becoming quite the lucrative business profiting about 2 billion per year collectively.

71% of the people surveyed believe in love at first sight (yes!), blonde is the most desired hair color for females at 32% followed by brown and black both at 16% (I’ll call that a half and half since those add up to 32) and guess what, 38% of women prefer “nice guys” and the top kind of preferred lady is the “modern career girl” at 42%.

(Statistic Brain, 2017)

For the full site and more info click here

Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2017, May 12 Published). Online dating. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/

 

NaNoCryMo

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I’m eight days in, one thousand words behind, and I kind of want to cry. I don’t really want to give up, but this challenge is no freaking joke. Even for somebody who likes to write and has a pretty regular journaling habit.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every November there is a semi-gimmicky writing program that urges aspiring writers to pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November towards a novel draft. Check out the website here:

https://nanowrimo.org/

It’s totally free. You can sign up for a region, go to local meet ups and find inspiration and possibly some writing buddies. If you are doing it friend me…

LRyhs is my name, and please don’t judge me my title and synopsis are not the best, no picture either I’m basically just signed up to be buddies with the works peeps that are also writing this month.

50,000 words doesn’t sound so terrifying when you break it down its roughly 1600 words a day. Well, here’s my first word of advice…

Don’t get behind.

Just don’t please don’t it makes the whole thing too daunting. I took one day off yesterday while already 1,000 words behind. That meant today I was supposed to write 4,000 words. Which I didn’t do in fact, I only wrote about 3,000. It was easy to do though, as I had the day off and was able to hole up in a coffee shop for 3 hours mid-day, that helped. Tomorrow I’m still at the 1,000 lag plus my new 1600 for the day, and guess what, it’s almost tomorrow. Tomorrow just doesn’t stop coming in this challenge. There just comes a point in the day where your writing and attention turns to crap and you just should stop. I think I wrote a line to the effect of Lydia had large brown eyes, the gentlest eyes Nora had ever seen. This made me gag ever so slightly, and I made sure to highlight it and remind myself to go back and rework it later , and hung up my hat for the day.

That’s the thing, you can’t get in your own way here, and as much as you want to hit a number you should try at least, to not just be pumping out trite BS. I know what you are thinking, that’s not writing, that’s not creative, that’s encouraging people to just write garbage so they can hit an arbitrary number and convincing them that anybody can and should write.

Let’s look at it in a slightly less cynical light. NaNoWriMo is a great way to help people get started, to give people a glimpse into how much work the writing process is and to get them in a habit of writing daily, even when they don’t want to. Like starting a gym routine, it’s work, and unless you are some big name person, or a professional novelist this is work you are NOT getting paid for and there may be no external rewards for doing it, ever. But if you want to do it, do it, go for it. Do the work, don’t let anything stand in your way and find others who support you in this.

There are so many layers to writing a novel. The planning, research, mapping, outlining, then the actual writing. I mean the most I’ve ever written was in the 35,000-word range and not only did the writing of it take about four months, and the attempts at self-editing that followed the writing were just atrocious. There’s all kind of consistency issues, voice issues, syntax errors, jumbled grammar, notes to self I forgot to take out, so many things. Which direction was the store? What was that street name again? Do all the timelines match up and make sense? I think that I had like 3 different names for one character at some point and two different names for the same street. These are things that you don’t really think about if you’ve never done a long piece of fiction. I tried to get some pals to look at it for me, but that’s just asking way too much of somebody who already has way more important things to do than read your silly novella. But hey, you have to learn somewhere, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to do just that. To practice, to learn, and to DO something rather than just talking about it. There’s much respect in that.

The reason I committed to this one is that we are trying a pilot program at the U to see if the students are interested in something like this. We put everything together kind of last minute and it’s a bit all over the place but it hasn’t been shall we say “successful” as a program. There is a ridiculous amount of signage in the library, a display case, and a sign with upcoming events. A couple people came to the kickoff party, I wasn’t there to see it I had my job at the public that day, but so far, we have had 0 people show up to our drop-in events. I mean there’s myself, and my co-worker who showed up to write but we were staffing the events so does that count? I say yes, but only to beef up our numbers to 2. Sigh. I mean, it’s tougher in an academic library to do these kinds of programs. These students are already reading tons for their classes and working on midterms and projects and papers and all sorts of things. Maybe asking them to write in this crazy boot camp style just isn’t appealing to them. I thought that maybe we would have a taker or two, but not so far. Oh well, we learned and maybe there will be a next time, maybe not. I suppose the month is only about 1/3 over and anything can happen.

The struggle is real, but so are dreams and goals. There’s leg work, work and work, and more work. There’s mistakes, rejections, doubts, and breakthroughs. I think the trick here may be enjoying the journey, allowing yourself to be a beginner, and having fun while you are at it. I’ll keep you updated on the progress, god bless it if I finish I’m going to throw myself a party. Honestly, a party, even if it’s just me that shows up. I’ll invite the cat, who knows maybe he’ll wake up.

Wait, I just wrote my 1000 words. So what if it wasn’t part of the story, I’m giving myself the W for today.

image obtained from: http://andimjulie.blogspot.com/2012/06/camp-nanowrimo-laundry-popsicles.html

 

Ways to become a better Librarian Product…

I received news on Friday, after a very positive annual review that I am NOT going to be moved forward as a candidate for an open position here at the U. *Insert sting here* And let me tell you it hurt, a lot. I am convinced that truly, there is nothing worse than being an internal candidate.  This time, it was the fact that I wasn’t a strong enough candidate, and that I didn’t really “sell” myself, and that my application materials weren’t the best. I get it, I mean I really do.

After the news broke, and I sat in my boss’s office holding back tears because nobody wants to be the one to cry at work,  I went through my stages of internal grief. Sadness, anger, denial, hopelessness, back to anger. All the things that happen to you when something you were really hoping for falls through, or an opportunity or person leaves your life. But finally, this morning, after sweating it out and finding my inner buoyancy in hot yoga, I have reached.. acceptance.

Another big part of finding this acceptance, was writing out a semi-sarcastic, slightly passive aggressive list of things that I need to do to make myself for marketable so that I may “sell” myself on this job market that seems to not take well to me in these last couple of years. I will post it here to remind myself of the things that I can control, and how I can have fun and still be myself while navigating the “system”.

Things to do so that you can become better Librarian product/package and make that sale

  1. In December or January when things calm down, meet with archivist and write the article about the Digital collections. Hope to god it is good and gets published somewhere so that you have something you can write down on paper under your “publications” heading.
  2. By March 15th– Apply for the SCELC first time conference grant. First you have to choose which one you want to attend. This is for 7/1-12/31 so find something that is somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and that has good beer, maybe Colorado? Pray that somebody has mercy on you and gives you the award.
  3. Re-do everything because your resume is not academic, use the CV format. Think of how you will fill in all the parts that say conferences or committees since you have not been on any because you are too busy working two jobs to even scrape by and barely have enough money to live let alone spend 500$ on a conference that people go to just so they can have something to complain about (see above #2 might be the solution). Think about signing up for an online committee just so you can get your name on one (CARL was suggested). Once there, be apathetic about what you discuss, however try to ACT interested. Maybe you can get this done by March 15th as well.
  4. Find some class for LCC numbers OR metadata. Maybe both. Get the U to send you. This could actually be enjoyable so take your time and find the right ones.
  5. Maybe read more of the 30 weekly emails you get from the CALIX listserv, remember to add co lib-1 and lita-1 google ALA or CLA listservs and see how many emails you can flood your inbox with. At least 1 or 2 of them might lead somewhere that can make you more marketable on paper.
  6. Focus on the “goals” you set for yourself on your performance review. But remember, even if you hit them, nobody really will care but you. Get it through your thick skull that hard work within an institution doesn’t make you a stronger candidate if any positions open up.
  7. Stop taking it all so seriously and/or personally, and be happy with the jobs that you DO have and the people you have formed relationships with and how you have grown and can continue to grow. Remember why you are here in the first place. To help people, to connect them with the information and resources that can help them better themselves. Although these items 1-5 may seem forced and part of some gigantic game and sales pitch that you hate, you may have to do them anyways because they will make a better you in the long run. So chin up, shut up, and get going.

With that being said, now I think I can enjoy the rest of my Sunday, and I hope you do too.

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.

IMG_2337 - Copy

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 .

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.

Las_Vegas

 

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/