The Discomfort Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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/

 

Patron Muses

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Sorry, not sorry…

I have had two co-workers in the last week tell me that they are thinking of going to grad school to get an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) degree so they can pursue librarianship. Many people are surprised this degree even exists, but if you want to be a librarian pretty much anywhere in the United States you eventually will end up needing to get this degree. It’s one of the standard minimum requirements for a lot of places, but not all, especially the more private or special interest libraries or museums.

My two co-workers are very different people with very different interests, but the degree seems to fit well for both of them. One works at the public library, she focuses on children’s services, and the other works at the University mainly focusing on tech services. My advice to both of them… GO for it.

When I first decided to go to grad school about 7 years ago, it was a big decision. I didn’t know anybody who had been to grad school before; I had never even so much as volunteered in a library, so I wasn’t sure if it was a good investment. I didn’t get in my first year, since I applied late, but got in the next year for fall 2011. It seemed to start out well; I felt a bit underachiever-y compared to my classmates, some of which already had successful careers in libraries, with blogs and volunteer projects. All I had done up until then was work in a totally unrelated field of real estate investment and stone shipping. In 2012, after my first full year of the program Forbes magazine released their annual list of the worst master’s degrees. Guess what #1 was??  Yep, the MLIS. In fact, even last year in 2016 Forbes still thinks that it’s in the top 5, rounding out at #4. So, am I sorry I chose this route? Nope, not one bit, not at all. If I were to listen to Forbes I would be somewhere getting a degree in statistics and being miserable. It’s just not me even if it appears to be profitable.

2012 Forbes list here

2016 Forbes list here

It seems that the things that I love in life most won’t make me any money (according to these list and most people I talk to). The MLIS rounds out at 4 and creative writing at 12. But you know ,even though it can seem bleak at times; I wouldn’t trade pursuing my interests and the things I love for a bigger paycheck, or for something that seems more “secure”. Everybody is different, some people don’t find fulfillment through their careers, and they choose to just work to get money and support families, and find joy other places in life. Which also works, but when I hear that a student here is pursuing a particular degree just so they can make money, it just makes me a little sad.

So where am I going with all this? Well, number one; always follow your dreams people!  Two, as I’m having this conversation with my co-worker at the public I look up at the new bookshelf directly in front of me and find a book titled: This is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy.

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It’s a collection of pictures of actual librarians from all walks of life across the United States talking about why they got into librarianship and why they love it. It also includes excerpts about libraries by authors such as Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Obviously, as somebody who shares a passion for libraries it was great to read what like-minded professionals like myself had to say in defense of our libraries and how they affect the communities that they serve, so I get it, but if you are one of those people who doesn’t understand why libraries exist then maybe it could shine some light on it for you.

A while back I applied with the California Department of Corrections with the thought that maybe I would like to be a librarian in a correctional facility. After talking with some people in my life and researching online I don’t know if it’s a path I am interested in any longer, but something about being a librarian makes you want to help out those that need it most. There’s a Correctional Facility Librarian from Colorado named Sam Leif that put it into words that really touched me the most, he said:

“Libraries can help stop a generational cycle of abuse, victimization, or anger. They can rehabilitate, help people grow and change in life.” (p. 112)

One thing that I’ve noticed in this profession is since we don’t generate revenue we are constantly keeping stats on how many questions we answer. We need to generate reports that remind people that we are still relevant and to fund us (pleeeassseeeee??). As much as we have proof on paper in the form of tick marks or computer generated data from online sheets I think that our biggest success stories can be in the form of the lives we change and opportunities that we can provide for people who otherwise might not have had a chance.

Can you think of any ways that a library has changed your life, influenced you positively, or just gave you a place to hang out for a little away from it all?

 

Cassidy, K. (2017). This is what a librarian looks like: a celebration of libraries, communities, and access to information. New York:  Black Dog.

Saint Valentine (love lessons)

I’m feeling really, really, gushy tonight. (Can I blame it on the full moon that just passed, or the sappy songs I’m listening to?) I just got home from work at the U about an hour and a half ago, I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to clean, or read, or do anything really. I’m just in this mode where I’m thinking about love and life and all these deep things, this happens to crazy single cat ladies from time to time. Not brotherly love, platonic love, or the kind of love you have for your pet, friends or family. I’m talking about THAT kind of love, that love you spend most of your life searching for, dreaming up, seeing in movies, reading about in poems and novels. Romantic love has always eluded me in a sense, I don’t know if I really understand it, but for the first time in a long time I feel a slight bit of clarity in the matter of my own heart. Because of this, I felt compelled to write a love letter, to my past, present and future, and even more strangely compelled to share it here. Love is an important thing, love is life, and we all need it no matter who we are. It may even be what separates us from the machines that will one day run our world. (what?!) Ok here goes, if you are not feeling sappy, do not read on, because it goes there.

To all the loves of the past,

I hope that I haven’t done much damage to any of you emotionally, if I have I’m sorry and I hope you will accept my apology. For a very long time I didn’t have much love in my heart to give, I didn’t love myself, and I was sad and angry all the time, stifled by addiction and pain. I’m not blaming you, my happiness and emotional and physical health are all my responsibility, not any of yours. I wasn’t capable of love in the past, at least not the way that I think love should be now. Also, that’s not to say that I didn’t love you, I did, but just in my own fucked up, muted, and disillusioned way. Again, nothing to do with you but more to do with me. We had some good times, some milestones were met, the first 30 years of my life seemed turbulent and confused in retrospect. I’m thinking it was a time when we were all just trying to find out who we were and where we fit in this life. I hope you had some fun, and learned some things. I learned a lot from all of you, some were hard lessons, some were easier, some hard to decode and some clear. I wouldn’t be the person who I am today without all of you that’s for certain. I’m not good at being friends with past lovers, now that I think of it I’m not friends with one of you. I don’t ever plan on being friends with any of you down the road. We all didn’t end things so well, and I feel like now, the lessons we needed to learn from one another have been taught, and our karmic candles have been snuffed out. That doesn’t mean you don’t exist in my town, or even in the distant corners of my mind and heart. I see you, I know you are there, I’m not trying to hide, but I draw my boundaries for my own safety. As of today, you all are no longer an active part of me, just a whisper or slight breeze of you will cross my path from time to time but that’s it. You don’t define me, or the way any of my future relationships will pan out, the dysfunction and pain I faced in the past won’t be doomed to repeat itself because I have learned from it, and again, I hope that you learned from my dysfunction as well. I hope you are all doing better today than you ever have in your entire life. I hope you all find the grand love that you deserve. I hope you find peace, understanding, and stillness in your life and that all your grandest dreams come true. Thank you for loving me, knowing me, and ultimately sharing in this experience of life with me.

To my present love,

Hey you. I’m glad that you took this time out, away from the madness to pick up the pieces of your old life that shattered so hard around you. You are strong, you are amazing, and you are on the right path to being the best version of yourself that you can be. You are me. I am my greatest love at present, and I’m insanely happy about this fact. You hear about loving yourself, that it has to come first, you know you have to try, so you do, but self- love doesn’t come from merely saying the words. Just how you can’t force yourself to love a stranger. You have to fall in love with yourself, and it’s a process. First, get to know yourself. Listen to what you are telling yourself through your emotions and intuition. Feel all those fucked up and painful emotions that you have been trying to run from for so long. Feel every ounce of pain that you’ve carried around your entire life, that’s the only way it passes through you is to feel it all undiluted. Second, find all the dark corners of your soul, sit in those corners, alone. Even if you are afraid of the dark, sit there, and know them, know they will always be there, and be ok with this. Get help, go to therapy, find a spiritual guru, do it, it’s worth it.  Go and sit and cry your face off in front of a professional that you are paying to listen to you bleed out your soul, be open to them and don’t lie to them it helps a lot. Third, know that it’s alright to be alone. Understand that it’s simply because if you don’t love yourself as cliché as it sounds you know that you really can’t love anybody else. Not in the pure and true way that you’ve been craving, that you deserve. But you can’t get lazy, you need to stay in love with yourself. Like in any relationship this takes commitment. Continue throughout life to treat yourself like a precious object, and only surround yourself with people who do the same.

To my future love,

I’m so glad I waited for you. I’m glad that I get to meet you as a whole and complete being, full of light and love and ready to share. I don’t know who you are right now, or where you will come from. Maybe I already know you, maybe you run over my foot at the grocery store, you put my braces on, or rear end me while you are texting, maybe you work with me at a new job, or you walk straight into one of my libraries and ask me where the poetry books are. Life doesn’t tell you how these things happen. You may be the last person I expect, or the opposite of what I thought I wanted. That’s ok, it’s more than ok, it’s perfect. Here’s a couple of things that I wanted to share with you preemptively. I’m so glad you chose to hang out with me, life with me will never be boring I promise you. I want to get into all kinds of trouble with you, I want to play and dance and sing with you, jump in piles of leaves in the fall, get dirty, go places I’ve never been with you; geographically, physically, spiritually and mentally. I want to stay up with you when you can’t sleep, I want to look at the stars with you, I want to dream alongside you. I hope to create things with you, whether they be small humans, books, works of art, or just memories. Our union will be able to bring something new to the world, open doors that we didn’t even know existed. In this, we will find that we are much better together than we could ever be apart. I don’t expect you to fix everything for me. But I do expect for you to hug me when I’m crying, to sit with me when I’m depressed or anxious. I expect you to tell me when you need something, or when I’m not doing something that I should be. I want to give you everything and tell you everything, and I want the same from you. I understand there is a dark side, but I want all the parts of you. I really do hope that you like books, and to read them and discuss characters in these books and their motivations. It’s ok if you have a dog, but they should get along with my cat. This may sound like a tall order, but if things are as they should it will all fit together naturally. I’m not afraid to work, I know it’s work, all the best things in life are work. But I’m happily willing to do it for you. See you soon… (somewhere?)

Back in the library saddle..

I’m back from vacation!!! YES. It was wonderful and relaxing and everything that I hoped it would be. 9 whole days away from, well, library patrons. I was thinking before I left about the fact that I spent probably 70% of my waking life in libraries these days, it was nice to get back to nature and get away.

I will mention that I only visited TWO libraries on this trip. Monterey Public and Berkeley Public (I would have went to UC Berkeley’s but it was Easter Sunday and it was closed). They were both pretty cool, but the highlight was definitely Berkeley’s 5th floor, the music and art floor, where they had a large and well-conditioned vinyl collection that you could check out. YES, that you could check out. I had never seen that before, so it was a cool sight. As a plus we missed the civil disturbance up there by a day, there were still some trouble makers in the park downtown wearing all black and hoods and waiting for somebody to start something, but nobody did. We got some sour beers, and Ike’s love and sandwiches and were on our way unscathed.

It’s my second day back to reality, and I started my week here at the public. Having a fresh start has made me ultimately less impatient with people and things, which is good. Right now I’m in the tech center, observing the two bodies that are in here while I type away. Uneventful is good, right? In the public sector, yes, I would have to say so.

There are a couple of things I promised myself I would do after I got back from this trip. One of them was that I need to spend more time out in nature. I spent a day in Yosemite and it was so amazing that it literally brought me to tears. I wept just looking at the rivers, falls, and mountains. I also got a breathtaking cottage out in the forest where I just got to sit and hang out with the trees and frogs and bears (the latter of which I never did actually see). Then as a last stop, Lake Tahoe. That blue green water, pine trees that stretch up to the sky, and 5 foot snowbanks left on the street where our cabin was. It was a rough winter up there, but they really needed it. In a promise to myself to stay more in tune with nature in the middle of a city, I bought an annual pass to the botanic gardens up the street from my house. It’s not quite the move to the remote log cabin in the forest I’ve been dreaming of, but it’s a start.

Here’s the best panorama I took at Emerald Bay:

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I did return from my trip with a minor disappointment today. Some poems I sent out to get published were, gratefully and kindly deemed “not fit” for the publication. The road of writing I’m sure is paved with all sorts of rejections and try agains, and thanks but no thanks. It’s a building process I know it, but today it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would (I can actually FEEL my skin getting thicker). This is such a good thing, as I didn’t really know what to expect as a first try. It feels good that one small no isn’t the end of my world. I get kind of caught up in the rejections I butt up against, you know, job searching, relationships, friendships, etc. The fact of the matter is that these happen to everybody, we all have these walls to climb over and well sometimes you just don’t make it and there really is nothing else to do but try. Especially when it’s for a good cause, AKA something you love to do. Maybe everybody already realized this and I’m just last to the party. Anyhow, glad to be back, and working again. Let’s see what kind of library craziness comes my way this month. Finals are coming up, and we always seem to get some stories around here with the crowded study tables and all-nighters at the U. As I type this a drunk patron (one of my regulars in the tech center) walked in and asked me how to spell Mormon, he is yelling as he doesn’t have good hearing, he types the spelling into a text on his flip phone, then leaves my desk to sit down and log into the computer in the front row. Now, we will have to do the 30 minute long song and dance where he can’t remember his yahoo password for the 1,243rd time. But, he means well bless his soul, and we’ve been here before. Wish me luck.

Time..is..on my side

Today is day 8 on the current work streak, I feel like I’m losing it a bit. We are closed here at the U for Easter Weekend (Good Friday) included, and I am going on vacay for the next 10 days. I’m super stoked. I’m super excited, but excitement for me, leads to nervous energy, leads to bouts of anxiety.

I suffered a big one last night, and have a major emotional hangover today. Anxiety like this, to me, feels like going down a long staircase. You miss a step, and fumble a bit, grab the railing and gain your bearings. You think to yourself, good job self that was a close one. In congratulating yourself you miss another step, but this time, despite your best efforts grabbing out at the railing and thin air, you find nothing. You fail to regain your footing and start to tumble down and down and down, until finally you hit a hard numb floor which is the root of all your fears and obsessions. The top of the staircase is just the normal everyday things, like not being able to find rain boots. This is where it starts. Each step below the seemingly small problem goes deeper and deeper down into your psyche where all these demons live. I’m pressured, I have no time, I’m tired, this never ends, I grind my teeth in my sleep, I’m going to die alone, loans, bills, shitty job market, rejection, toil, my car windows don’t roll down anymore, will anybody ever love me, is the cat going to die, and finally, the best one:  What the fuck is wrong with me and how do I stop it? It escalates pretty quickly.

Well, I don’t know the answer to all of these questions, or how to stop worrying over everything. I think it all boils down, for me, to a couple of things; the need to have control over situations, and the lack of feeling safe. It’s not a panic attack, more like an anxious spell. Where, when presented with a small problem, that I am very capable of fixing, I become useless and freak out.  A big part of me sees that I am blowing things WAY out of proportion, but another part of me just isn’t able to stop it.

I found some stats on anxiety from the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s a big problem, and for anybody that has experienced it knows that it can be rather debilitating. The thing I found the most interesting was that the average age of onset was 31.

Here is the Fact Sheet if you are interested.

Here’s what I did to console myself last night. I ate dinner with a tiny fork and spoon that I stole from various brunches, binge watched friends, ate half a box of almond cookies that my bestie let me take from her house, put on a lavender face mask, and listened to Enya. Yes. Enya.

I’m a good meditator, and like to do it. But it just wasn’t happening last night. I just kept thinking who is this lady? So I started researching Enya and her life. She’s sold over 60 million records, never toured once, and takes around 7 years to make each album and lives in a castle in Ireland. She’s super private with her personal life and never married and never had kids. She’s one of the best-selling artists ever from Ireland, and the most popular artist in the new age genre. What an enigma of a lady. You know you’ve heard her songs before, in commercials, movies, just around. I put on her greatest hits and the first one was Only Time. I think I listened to it 4 or 5 times. It’s simple; time is the only thing that knows what’s going to happen. That’s it. Not you, human. Anxiety is a lot like living in all kinds of doomed predictions and frantic what ifs. All I’ve learned from life is that I have no idea what is going to happen next, I can take a guess every now and then, but usually I never see what is coming.  I’m trying to remember this Enya soaked lesson when I have my spells, the subject of time. I always thought it was my enemy but really, I think it might be a pretty good friend.

Also, if you have a minute, here’s that video (over 60 million views I guess people have caught on before me), it just might be impossible to not have it calm you down just a little:

 

Vacation pics to follow. HOORAY!

National Institute of Mental Health. (2017). Generalized Anxiety Disorder Among Adults. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/generalized-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml

Projections and Reactions

Tuesday…

Today a couple notable things happened here at the public, within about 10 minutes of one another.

1) I go to wake up a man who is asleep snoring in the quiet reading room. I know he is snoring because people have politely and reasonably come to complain about it. I approach the reading room and find said man in front of the window with his feet up (shoes off) slumped down snoring in a chair with earphones in. I touch the chair next to his head slightly to try to rouse him without touching him. Nothing. I touch his shoulder just once, and he jumps out of sleep looking at me and yelling about how rude I am that I did that. That he wasn’t sleeping. I said well, we are getting complaints about the snoring. Well I WASN’T asleep, that’s rude you can’t just do that. I left promptly before I said something like…

OH so you must snore when you are awake and also just resting your eyes at the same time. How interesting. Also, put your GD shoes on, this isn’t your f*ing house you are in a public space and literally I’m rude? Go f* yourself. (Look at me I didn’t curse at all!)

At least 2 other people in the room smiled at me as I left. Smiles of condolences. Smiles of YES. I understand. Smiles that say, really? WTF. My people.

If I ever see him again, you can believe I’m not going to help him with anything. Crap I say that today, but I totally will. I’m such a pushover.

Makes me think of projection though, and everything I’m learning about it. I use it to try to understand the very strange reactions I get from people at times. Maybe he was feeling rude or embarrassed for being asleep like that in public? He’s probably sad and lonely and frustrated, which in and of itself sucks. He could feel that people are always being rude to him because of his attitude. Maybe his dog just died, or he has to take care of a sick relative, or nobody ever told him that they loved him, I have literally no freaking idea. I’ve had encounters with him before when he rambles on for 30 minutes about how horrible our fantasy selection is and why don’t we buy all the books that he thinks we should buy, etc. I can only guess, maybe he has everything he’s ever wanted in life and he’s just a jerk. That’s the thing about this whole game of being a human, appearances don’t mean much at all. The inner world and exterior package can be so different.

2) The tech air isn’t working again and its 80 degrees in here with about 20 people. I know usually it’s not a big deal in mid-November to not have your air work, but here in so Cal it’s still 90 degrees every day. So it smells in here, again. And it’s hot af in here, again. It’s hard to concentrate. I was supposed to help a lady email herself the resume she spent hours working on. After helping to save to the desktop and letting her know it had to be closed out in order to attach, I walked away, assuming that she was going to email it to herself (she seemed savvy enough). Then another patron who tends to be quite manic comes in, talking in a yell, leaning over people to grab paper and slamming her plastic bag on the keyboard so hard everybody turns to look at her. She manages to make the screen shift to vertical view, and I have no idea how so as she’s freaking out about it I had to reset the computer. Now she’s yelling about how she has to pee and swinging her bag about again. OK ok, I have to turn back to the lady I’m helping, and for some reason, I think that she’s already emailed to herself and now she wants to delete from the desktop. So what do I do? Delete it. Not even recycle bin delete, I Shift delete the darn thing because when I do something I just can’t do it halfway.

Then the realization hits. OH crap. She hasn’t emailed herself yet. AAAAAND I’m a humungous screw up. I had to look her in the eye and apologize and take full credit for being an absolute mess up here. At least we had printed it out so I offered to scan it and email it to her, which is usually something we don’t do but I would literally bend over backwards to make this up to her. She was so nice, and so gracious, and understood completely and didn’t freak out at all. I wanted to high five her, then go buy us both a very stiff drink, and give her a sash that says most awesome library patron with a small trophy. I wanted her to get all the good things in life such as kittens, ice cream cones, and a satisfying partnership.

I guess what I learned from today is… Try to be like person number two. The large range of people you can be and experiences that you can have in one day in the public sphere can be quite eye opening. We have every single one of these reactions within ourselves, and most reactions that are negative are due to underlying causes not the actual occurring event. We have all done something like this, we have all been person number one and person number two. Just remember, the more you are like person number two, the more likely you would be to receive a kitten or ice cream cone for just being a downright good reactor.

All work and no play..

Some days kids can just drive you crazy. Ok, most days working in children’s they DO drive you crazy. Other days they are literally the best source of entertainment you can find. One of the most fascinating things I’ve found about children is the unlike adults, they don’t have chips on their shoulders. They won’t go out of their way to be dicks, they just kind of are what they are. They just have this sense of honesty and wonder about the world around them. The connections that they make can be surprisingly wholesome and intuitive.

Here’s 5 solid child interactions that happened today that shone some light on a day otherwise filled with a string of barely tolerable events starring helpless, confused and agitated adults.

Interaction 1. We have a Harry Potter program at the public this weekend. As part of the display there are beakers behind the info desk filled with water and food coloring of all different colors. This girl passes and looks at me and asks “Are those real potions?” I gave my best creepy YES and lifted my eyebrows a bit to look like I was up to something. She shuffled away kind of freaked out, and the next time she passed on her way back just straight stared at me. I love to mess with them. What I really wanted to do was splash some on her and tell her it was some sort of good luck potion so she would feel all awesome, but something like that may have gotten me fired.

Interaction 2. Three young cousins gave us their art at the desk. One drew a camera that looked suspiciously like the Instagram app icon, and the other 2 gave us hearts. There was also stick figure a picture of them at the library in a pink cloud. Pink because they love the library. I taped them to the wall and ensured them they would be on display for the rest of the day in their own personal gallery. *Tears up from the freaking adorableness*

Interaction 3. I handed a young boy a storytime ticket. He paid me in turn with a cheese it from his bag, not leaving until I accepted said payment. (Thank god he didn’t ask me to eat it in front of him).

Interaction 4. Two rambunctious brothers come in with a baby sitter and a baby in the carriage. The baby starts crying as the sitter is trying to put together a bottle. One of them looks at me and asks quite seriously: “If the baby is going to cry in the library, do they have to do it quietly?” I let him know that yes, that would be ideal and we would all prefer that but that’s not always the way it works. He seemed satisfied enough with that answer and bounded off to read his book about football. (Before this interaction one of the boys was looking for sports books. He figured it would be best to literally run up to the information desk and shout loudly where are the books about sports repeatedly to my co-worker that was helping somebody in front of him. Then when she didn’t respond he shouted this at the actual person she was helping before I intercepted him).

Interaction 5. This one was not experienced by me, but by a co-worker. Two young boys were exchanging books at the checkout so they could read the one that the other had just finished. One boy handed the other a Superwoman book, and to that boys delight he realized aloud that: “Wow, Superwoman is in her underwear.” What an epiphany.

I’ve been trying for some time to get back to that state of childlike wonder and excitement. I don’t know when, how or where we lose it as we get into adulthood. I know it could never work if we were all like the obnoxious yelling sports kid, but I think we could all use a bit more questioning and curiosity in our adult lives. Maybe learn to not get so caught up in narratives and our perceptions of what’s possible and what’s not. Take more time to focus on things that we really want and what interests us instead of what will make us the most successful monetarily, or what paths we have been pushed down by others. We should all take more time to play and be happy and less time getting mad over trivial things like study rooms, then expressing your rage at the illogical workings of the universe on the poor woman behind the desk who has no control over any of it. That could be a good start, one adult at a time.

Motivations

I did the life coach session yesterday and I must say it went very well. I’m feeling excited again, for the first time in a couple of months, and ready to face even more difficult things in order to dissolve them and be able to get on with building my happy little life. So I signed on for the three month. There is one thing that bothered me though. She asked me a pretty straightforward question that stumped me:

“What motivates you?”

Ummmmmmmmmm. (Followed by dead air for at least two minutes passing as I stare at the corner of the room where the ceiling meets the walls). I don’t know. I really had no answer to this. We moved on eventually, in the effort to not waste too much time. But then came back around to it. Maybe I didn’t understand the question. I eventually asked her:

“What motivates me to do what? Wake up every morning? Do my adult chores? Go out and socialize?”

She shrugs, it’s up to me to figure this one out. But it’s something I’m going to have to think about right now. So what do I do today? Of course I turn to the internet and Google “what motivates me” looking for tests, quizzes, advice?

I find the first test at:

Random Google generated online motivation quiz

According to them I am motivated by emotions. Well I KNEW that. Of course family, love and friendship motivate me. Maybe they motivate me to want to be a better person and that’s where all this soul searching is coming from. OK I guess that’s helpful. But I don’t really know the validity of this test or Psychologies magazine from the UK. Emily Blunt is on an advertised cover, and there is some really bad stock art with a business lady and a headset on the quiz, I’m going to group this being about as valid as Cosmo magazine, maybe the quick Google isn’t going to be the best place for this. Let’s redo this a different way…

I put together a Library guide a while ago about career services. I have self-assessment tests on there and I’ve taken probably all of them a million times. I can revisit those and see if they give me any direction, even if they are geared towards finding a job that suits you I think that it will probably line up pretty well with passions/interests/motivations…

Myers-Briggs is always a fan favorite. I have taken this test probably at least 25 times in my life, once or twice I think I got INFP, but about 90% of the time I score INFJ so we will stick with that. This score reminds me I’m extremely empathetic and an idealist. I value beauty, art and truth. Which I assume could be things that motivate me.

Myers-Briggs Test

Strong Interest Profile, this one tells you your interests, which I suppose could be the same thing as your motivators. I got artistic= 14, investigative= 11, and social=9 as my high points. My closest job match came up to be music therapist. That’s kind of interesting. But then of course I do see library sciences, post-secondary institution. WOOT, it’s right. That’s what I do. And creative writing, which I’ve been trying to do more of lately. Go to assess yourself, then interest profile and rate a bunch of tasks on whether you like or dislike them. It’s kind of interesting.

Strong Interest Profile

What about the Life Values Inventory? This one is a bit more involved. I had to actually create an account, then go in and take a 4 part assessment. Which only took about 10 minutes, but still seemed like a lot of work. Then it generated me a 13 page report about it, which took a while to get through, but turned out to be generally insightful.

Life Values Inventory

So what have I gathered from all this, what motivates me. Independence, creativity, lots of time for myself, and the need to feel belonging to some kind of social group. That all seems so basic though and I feel like those are just things that may motivate everybody. So let’s go back to these questions above again, the first three that came to mind

Why do I wake up each morning? Because I’m glad to be alive and each day could bring something new and awesome. (Gratitude or spirituality)

Why do I do my adult chores? Because I love living on my own in a space I love that I keep according to my standards, including décor and cleanliness. (Independence and privacy)

Why do I go out and socialize? AKA participate in other’s life events and occasionally go to concerts, or bars on a random Tuesday: Because I need to feel like I belong to a social group or body of peers and need love and acceptance. (Family, love, friendship, etc.)

I think it’s all starting to make a bit more sense to me now. Of course these assessments are just for educational purposes, they are in no means supposed to substitute for a therapist, career counselor, life coach, etc. But they are fun. Self-discovery can be prompted by almost anything, and assessments like this can be tools that give insight into yourself that was otherwise unclear, or maybe unseen. Maybe it’s easier for some people to just instinctively know what makes them tick and what motivates them. For me it’s been more of a challenge, especially these days. Maybe one of these tests can help you, even if not it will kill some time, and allow for some light reading. Life is really about just finding your own truth, and that may sound super simple and straightforward.. But it’s pretty complicated. This discovery brings to my mind a Keats poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, which was once so brilliantly incorporated into a Simpsons episode where Lisa enrolls in military school:

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Meme courtesy of Frinkiac.com. If you are a Simpson fanatic (seasons 1-10 only disclaimer) like myself you should really go and check it out.