Are You What You Do?

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

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

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

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

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

The actual job duties and schedule of the position changes

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_3186

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

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

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

Work Hard, Play Harder

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

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

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

(Global Road Warrior, 2018)

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

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

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Crush like it’s 1999

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

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

book cover

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

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

book pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading Deprivation

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

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

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

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

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

Soapbox standing

I just got a chat question to help a student research information on the Cheesecake Factory. You know, strengths, weaknesses (SWOT stuff) and company culture and structure. I hit the usual spots, EBSCO, Hoover’s, company website for investor reports. Since it’s Friday and nothing is going on, I decide to read up on the Cheesecake Factory. I don’t spend too much time thinking about it in my normal day to day life so why not learn something.

Well, for the third year in a row, they were named one of the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune Magazine, exactly no. 98 in 2016. Well they believe that “people are their greatest resource”. That’s sweet. And apparently 97% of employees feel proud to work for this company. That’s pretty amazing.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160303006340/en/

But really, the more I think about it, look at their website, and reports, the more I hate it. I just do. I avoid chain joints like this at all costs. The interior looks like it is some sad version of a hotel room, or office. Something inside me tells me that this is where empty men and women in suits take the co-workers they have affairs with while on business conferences away from their significant others. These places have no soul. They get their money by serving food that is overinflated with calories, sodium and fats. Also probably some super sugary drink menu and obviously overindulgent sugar laden desserts. Do you really have to use the word factory in the name? This makes me picture some sort of conveyor belt type situation. OK, maybe I’ve only been there once and I’m being unfair. But honestly, if somebody took me out to the Cheesecake Factory I would probably never go out with them again. These places sell you garbage and call it food. It’s heartless, sad, food disguised by good marketing and ploys to trick the consumer into spending their money. WHY aren’t the nutrition facts easily available online? After searching the menu they are nowhere to be found, thought this was a law now. Anyways. They are probably a great company. Great company meaning that they are making money, and doing it at a decent enough rate to keep pumping this crap out and into your lap and your inner thighs.

I know that places are trying to do better, and trying to think about their consumers, and sustainability, etc. Which is good, people are becoming more conscious. But, things won’t change until people start demanding them to. The food industry sells you convenient, delicious “food” packed with salt, sugar and fat basically to the point that it’s really not even food anymore. Companies spend millions (billions?) of dollars in factories trying to scientifically manufacture a “bliss point” for the consumer with the perfect amount of sugar to light up all your pleasure sensors and get you hooked. It’s all about money for them. Money, no matter what the detriment to the consumer. I read this really great book about the whole food industry bit, check it out, it’s pretty interesting. Especially when you actually really get a look into the motives of these companies. I’m sure they will have it at your local lib. It’s called Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss, link below for more info.

http://www.michaelmossbooks.com/

By no means am I somebody to be on an all organic vegan diet. Nor am I in any kind of Victoria’s Secret swimsuit model shape. I like beer, and bacon, and yeah I just ate a pack of peanut M&M’s like 20 minutes ago. But, I was never educated about this, when I was younger I ate nothing but fast food and for a while had to reel it back when I realized that the salad I was ordering actually had more than 1200 calories and more than 3 days’ worth of sodium. How does that even happen? How does this all fit into these dishes, I have no idea. How did we let this get so far that people are now poisoning themselves slowly with the very thing that is supposed to be sustaining their lives? It’s crooked, and backwards, and maybe just a small portion of what’s wrong in this world. But I was just thinking about it. Since I was researching it anyways. So sorry if I offended any Cheesecake Factory lovers out there, it’s not a specific attack, just a general rant I guess. There’s something bigger at hand here, and it always riles me up.