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.


Playcat.. one patron’s freedom from shame


So do you notice anything strange about this cat?

Yes, he’s hiding his private parts because he’s ashamed of them.

This is just the first cat in the series of drawings. The rest of them consist of a more shame free and open cat with his hands up behind his head, no longer afraid to show himself to the world. This series of drawings is called.. Playcat, like the magazine, and is brought to you by a new patron here at the public. (Sadly, this isn’t the real one, my co-worker redrew it for me when I told her I wanted to blog about her interesting Saturday interaction.)

It was much more than just the drawing, there was other oddities about this particular patron but , I really wanted to see what this shameful cat looked like so I made her redraw the one hiding it’s junk.  The fact that it’s standing on two legs well.. Me thinks that this is just a way for somebody going through a personal transformation to express themselves, while deciding to share it symbolically through low grade cat art to random library workers. Free yourselves from shame people, then come to the library and tell somebody with a name tag about it. It’s funny, it’s so random and completely off the wall, but at the same time open, and honest, and I understand it and think that it’s kind of nice despite itself. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think that we could all learn a little from this cat and not be so ashamed of ourselves all the time, or uncomfortable with who we really are. Sometimes it’s easy to find inspiration in the most unexpected places. I didn’t even know I had until I started writing this post.

Non-prostitute anger

In the public system I work for there are two branches, 1 that is located in a mall, and 1 that is a more traditional branch in the middle of town. This makes for two VERY different patron bases.

I’m stationed mainly in the one at the mall, here you get the more affluent side of town, more tech savvy population, which is nice, but this often comes with impatience and entitlement (not everybody just generally). Since it’s in a mall the whole vibe is customer service, customer service and often the whole thing ends up feeling like you work in a retail store anyways, bending over backwards to impatient and needy customers.

The second branch has a more laid back vibe, but here is where you get more traditional library feel, much of the population is older, we have more crime… Let me tell you about the coin box theft in another post.. But overall my favorite thing about working here is the weird comments and phone calls, so good.

Today I am covering because I’m desperate for money and I happen to get off early at the U on Wed. and Thurs. for the summer. It’s gone pretty good, I haven’t been at this branch for a solid 6 months, and I get to see some of my library folk that I don’t usually get to see, which is nice and I’m only here for 3 hours which is basically “stopping by”..But I had this interaction I just couldn’t put my finger on..

A well put together middle aged African American woman leaves the computer lab, approaches me at the desk swinging her purse down and asks in a semi-sarcastic tone:

“Do you think that every African American woman who comes in here with make up on is a prostitute?”

(In a very sweet and somewhat surprised voice I respond). NO! Why would you say that?

She jams her wallet into her purse, says “I’m observant” and leaves.

Now. I am confused. I ask my coworker, do you think she was mad at us? I don’t think so. Was there a man in the computer lab trying to pick her up? No, just one guy wearing headphones paying no mind. So now I’m left wondering…. But kind of glad I came tonight. People say the darndest things.

7 out of 9

It’s finals week….
And the University library is abuzz with students. Loud students. Doing papers, projects, reading, studying, all the like.  Getting ready for my summer schedule here, which is not so bad. I’m actually looking forward to this summer. Which I don’t really usually say, and I don’t know why it’s happening now. Curious optimism I suppose. Either way, things are about to slow down here. We will probably do some weeding, and I can continue to work on the digital stuff, which is time consuming and hopefully take more time out to write things.

I’ve been lazy on the blogging, and in every aspect of my life but there wasn’t much to miss. Same old same old. We got a new live one for the tech center at public, she is a mentally ill woman who harasses other patrons and accuses us of shooting laser beams at her with our computers. She had to be arrested last week, I’m sure she will be back. I only dealt with her once, which was more mild. Where she yelled at me her computer didn’t work, started repeatedly banging the mouse against the counter. When I was gone, she proceeded to yell at the guy next to her saying he hit her in the head with his mouse. My co-worker who took over for me dealt with the rest of that encounter, but I remember telling her to keep a look out for that lady as I was leaving. Things must have escalated for her, or maybe a change in medication? Lucky for me it’s Memorial Day and I took Tuesday off so I don’t have to be back there for 2 weeks. YEEESSSSS. And I’m not even going to Vegas anymore due to unforeseen circumstances but whatever.

On another note I’m going to go on a side rant advertising the book I’m currently reading:
As a single 30 something weddings and babies (other people’s babies) seem to be the theme and what take up a good portion of my time and money. And YES, there I am honored and happy to see those among me growing into wives, husbands, and parents, they are happy this is great. But today. OH today. Bitmoji has added a new “maternity” section where you can make your emoji pregnant. I guess this is nice for people who are sporting a bump, but I can see a lot of practical jokes played this way. Anyways, I feel like it’s kind of just thrown in a young woman’s face quite a lot, like a lot. It’s hard enough to have your internal clock basically screaming at you to fulfill your humanly duties and stick a baby inside of it you have to deal with the societal pressures as well. Or the people asking if you are married and when you say no, they will say something sweet like, you’re next, why not, insert well-meaning comment here. It actually almost kind of makes it worse. I guess the point of my story is being a woman today is much different than it was 50 years ago. My co-worker introduced me to this book, which I am not far enough into as I want to be, but it’s good, here’s a tidbit for you even if you don’t open up the link and look at the book. I’m not the only one, who is at the very least waiting, because now there is time…
Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal.”

Also, you know I had to dig around for this:

Either way. Maybe I’m on some feminist trip these days. But I have also picked up a new biography Zelda about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife who had mental issues, and eventually was committed to a hospital and died there in a fire. “Hysterical” women could be thrown into institutions by their husbands when they became too much of a nuisance and just get lost in the system never to see the light of day again. This is true for many more types of underrepresented people.  There is a very dark part of the human mind and where it can go, both for mentally ill AND “sane” folks. But those dark parts are worth acknowledging and exploring.

What is a regular monkey?

Today one of our patrons approached me looking for a book about “regular” monkeys. My face went blank, wheels spinning. What is a “regular monkey”? There is no book called Monkeys of course only specific species. Well, I can see it in my head. What it looks like this regular monkey, but really are they chimpanzees? I don’t really know.

I think many people would get a kick of out librarian’s google searches. I get to the web: “what is a regular monkey”? OK this gets me nowhere, according to Wikipedia Monkeys are dry nosed primates of which there are 260 species. OK think, like Curious George monkey. “what kind of monkey is curious George”. The first hit describes him as looking like a juvenile chimp. Bingo. Back to the OPAC and chimpanzee pulls the book with the picture of exactly what I was looking for.

One of the joys of working a reference desk is following the stream of your thoughts that leads you to the final conclusion. It’s like a chase. I used to get scared each day, not knowing how to answer the wide breadth of questions that you may get in a day. But honestly I’ve found I just say… Well what would I do if I were looking for this information? And I just kind of act like a friend that is helping somebody find something. I lend out my brain. And I think sometimes this is the extent of being a reference librarian. I enjoy the questions that formulate, and sometimes, think my google search history would make an interesting coffee table book.

Fric Frack

So, it’s been a while, maybe I’m not the greatest at the steady blogging. I usually catch up on Mondays when I’m stuck in this disgusting tech cave, but I had the death cold last week and was down for 3 solid days. It was so nice not having to come here though I’ll tell you that much. Either way, it’s Monday, I’m here now and here for a long time so let’s do this. Positivity today, only. Which is hard because the second I walk in the door its straight cynicism and annoyance. Have to try though, for my own sake.

I had a really busy week at the University. It may be because the semester is coming to a close, not many people do research during finals week, it usually happens about a month before. I do get some last minutes, but usually during 24/7 weeks most of my questions are about print cards, or change for a 5 or renting headphones. Which is nice, I guess it gives my brain a break.

Friday I had instruction for a new class, which to my delight was only about 15 minutes. It was just industry info, NAICS code and annual 10k stuff for business, which is pretty straight forward. It was pretty awesome that I didn’t have to ramble on to dead eyes for an hour, the class was nice and attentive. I think that I appreciate working with the adult students, they seem to be more in tune and  grateful to have the information than the younger ones, who are in another world most of the time.

Saturday was super busy, I think I was with a student in one capacity or another for the entire 5 hours, mostly business stuff again but some tough ones. I helped a guy who wanted information on fracking in CA. OK first of all what is fracking? Hydroelectric fracturing, or some way that we put water and other crap into the earth to push up oil. Hmm, that’s interesting. So he wants to know how many fracking wells in CA, and how much water are we using? I found a good ebook that helped with the number of wells.  And a CA gov website that provided quarter reports.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, which is not that long of a period of time.. CA wells injected 94,602 acre-feet of water into fracking wells. What the hell is an acre feet? Well a lot. This number roughly translates to about 30,826,196,697.054 gallons. Fuck. It’s almost mind boggling the amount of water we put toward this, aren’t we in a drought? Don’t yell at me about eating an almond when you are driving around in your SUV because that is a shit ton of water for oil. But the things we value at the cost of our natural environment never ceases to amaze me.

Other than that I basically just learned about Herzberg’s dual leadership theory, public transportation and how it relates to poverty and unemployment, team work in the transportation industry,  just boring things, how do I find this article, how do I order books from another library. The printer is out of paper… etc.

I’ve been keeping myself busy trying to whittle down the item count in our digital collection for Gladdys. It’s working, but its tedious converting multi page TIF items into single PDF files and switching out. It’s nice to see the numbers go down though, I’m switching the bigger items first. I think there is something about seeing tangible results for your work. Sometimes that’s hard being a librarian many times you are just sharing information, I guess some students I help let me read their senior projects which is nice because I can see that result, I also guess I could look at my stat numbers, but that’s boring. Anyhow. There’s so many books to catalog here. I really don’t even feel like doing it, but I should be going. Until tomorrow when I’m back in the cave..

I’m looking forward to summer again. I hate hot weather (I really should move) but I like the fact that my day off switches from Wednesday to Sunday. This means brunch again. I’m literally just sitting here in an empty computer lab thinking about brunch right now.

Here’s the actual scene.

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Although somebody just came in and ruined my silent awesomeness. AH now there’s three. Like weeds these people multiply. You look up and suddenly it’s a room full of people clacking away, their odors and vibrations mixed with one another’s and your own until you don’t know where they stop and you start. Where their frustrations and troubles are inadvertently projected in your direction. Mostly gripes, Mondays, print jobs that don’t work and forgotten email passwords. Some are writing to their doctor, some facebooking, some watching young men do make up tutorials on you tube to make themselves look like young girls. Although this is NOT illegal its creepy AF, especially when you know the guy watching is a registered sex offender and he’s getting some sort of jollies of it somehow. I’d honestly rather see people watching porn that that, it’s just utterly disturbing. This IS the public, I remind myself, the tired poor huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. And to get some free internet. There is some positivity though. I need to figure out how to tune out that lower wavelength. Maybe that is my lesson and why I’m stuck here until I can. A hyped up nurse on coffee just came and talked with me. I like those people the most. The casual ones, that just talk, he had to go submit another drug test for work, and he liked the gigantic clock on the wall, I told him where he could get one. He called me dear. How nice.

Slow speed ahead

Sorry! It’s been so long since I blogged. Life things got in the way, one of which being laziness. I was actually inspired just now by somebody to write this. It’s my tech center Monday AM and my favorite thing.. complaints about internet speed.

This guy approaches me… Is your internet always this speed? It’s 1.5, I can get 10 at home.

As you know internet providers speeds can vary , but yes, we usually have the same speed SLOW, because we are a public library on a city network. If you can get 10 at home. GO BACK THERE. I actually did tell him, yes he should go back home then. I should have told him I turned down the internet speed with the dial here at my desk as soon as I saw him coming because I don’t like him much. But that probably wouldn’t have gone over well.

So not much has really been going on. The RC library is now officially a passport office, where we collect processing fees so the library can have even more money instead of us actually dealing with patron’s library needs. It’s fun. OH public. When can I get out of here.

What blows my mind is that people just most of the time feel a need to publically express their distaste for something because they are miserable inside and have nothing better to do.

I have the same tormentors week after week. Last Tuesday, Some children were licking lollipops in the tech center, and tormentor #1 took it upon herself to ask “Excuse me are we allowed to eat in here”  .. I look around confused.. who’s eating? She points to the lollipops. (this is technically the rule, but use your discretion. OBVIOUSLY no fried chicken or tuna sandwiches, but candy, OK gum.. Is gum eating? How about a mint?) Yeah I think those are OK, why are they bothering you? No.. I was just wondering. (smug look and turns back to screen where she is printing coupons and facebooking mind you not doing anything of importance)  NO you were just being a jerk and wanted me to kick small children that were being appropriately watched by their mother out of the computer lab because they had lollipops.

Ok that rant is over. Only 2.5 more hours in here today. Then 3 hours on reference, then 1 hour processing passports. Yes, this is what a librarian does. At least I was able to help an Iranian doctor with proofreading, he tried to pay me. I could take the tip and nobody would know. But I just can’t. I won’t do it for everybody, just the people that really need it that are nice to me. You can really get places in life by being pleasant with people. I don’t understand why people don’t try it out more often.



My lenghty absence..

Due to a long 3 day weekend in Palm Springs, and slow spotty internet at the public on Monday, I have been neglecting my biggest fans I see. So here’s an update on what you have missed.

So yesterday I was in the tech lab for the AM, telling people every 5 seconds “our internet is slow and spotty, city IT is aware and they are working on the problem”. “no I can’t do anything to speed it up”. AND “no I mean it I can’t do anything to speed it up”. For a solid 3 fucking hours. How dare our FREE internet service not be performing to your speed standards I know its a crime against humanity. But somehow we all got through it. I helped a lady who tried to tip me 5$ and my favorite homeless drifter tells me on his way out: “I’m not your slave, I don’t work for you”.  Which made everybody look at me funny, in which I just shrugged.

I also did about 4 hours of desk time after tech lab.. Passports, standard questions. Where is this or that? Can I have a book about the wixels? The what? The wixels??? Took about 10 solid minutes to figure out this kid meant the Lego Mixels. Nobody really knows what they want in this life do they?

Well, I did notice though while cataloging they wrote a book about how to better examine my current life status:


Maybe I can learn a thing or two from this.



Monday, Monday..

Mondays and Tuesdays are my least favorite days, when I work at the public. I start Monday with 4 hours in the tech lab, which means essentially glorified babysitting. Currently there are 5 Mormons in the middle row, 2 folks in the back, and 1 in the veranda on his cell phone basically screaming into the receiver.

People don’t really understand what please silence your cell phone means, actually I think he may not even know how to do this. Anyways, I’m cranky anyhow so my tolerance for this usual crap seems low. I know him anyways, and he needs work, I assume it’s for a job, because of the rate he jumped up. He sits in the tech center almost every day, looking around for jobs, and makes noises every so often, throat clears, sighs, I think he’s just trying to project himself out into the human race, reminding himself that he is indeed, real after all these years.

Public is a sad place sometimes, and it is there to be open to all kinds of people, for the benefit of the whole human race. But, public libraries are often where the downtrodden go, look around yours. Outside and around it especially in big cities, take note of the homeless and elderly populations, it is a place for the public, we are all part of the public. As I type one of the homeless men who comes in an listens to metal has decided to strike up a conversation with the 5 Mormon kids, speaking at the top of his lungs in an otherwise quiet computer lab, makes sense doesn’t it? So as usual I have to go over and ask that if they are going to have a conversation to please take it outside, although the kids have no intent on talking with him and just want him to go away. At least he’s nice and stops. Now, I will have to overhear Rammestein through this guys earphones for the next 2 hours, peeking every so often at his screen to see that he is researching string theory or some other weird cosmic or religious crap. Apparently today, he’s watching Taylor Swift interviews, that’s a new one. He calls himself Lionheart. I don’t know if he’s crazy or know something I don’t, today he has a sign. I didn’t read it though, but now I’m curious as to what it says. His account says he’s from another state, I think Idaho. I call him the drifter, although I know his real name I won’t say it here. Thank god for that 2 hour limit, he laughs to himself loudly and often, and the tech center, not having much in terms of ventilation is now full of his musty dank odor. Another plus.

I pass the time in here mainly by cataloging the children’s material. Today it’s been music CD’s. And I’m almost done. Nobody has asked me for much today, how do I log on? Is there something wrong with my card? How do I print? Are these things working today? Just the normal questions. Boring, old questions.