Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Out of the Closet

On my first day of graduate school, I sat around a table in a classroom with about 20 other students. As an ice breaker, our professor asked that we go around the room and tell each other our name and a little something about what brought us to library school. Let me tell you right off the bat, I SUCK at questions like this. What brought me there? The #43 bus, that's what brought me there.

So as we go around the room, 90% of people have some story to showcase their inner librarianness. Granted, most of these things are said in jest, but still, I'm floored. People laughingly confess that they used to play librarian as a child, checking books in and out to their friends with fake stamps and return slips. Others talk about their love of organizing things, creating databases complete with scannable barcodes to keep track of their reading lists. Really? Is this stuff really true? I don't/didn't/haven't done any of this stuff. Am I missing my librarian gene?

Well, this past week, I discovered my missing link. I was visiting my parents back in the Midwest, having a grand old time seeing some old sights (like the playground where I broke my arm playing tetherball) and some new ones (like the brand new branch library located in the mall right next to Sears). I was sleeping each night in my childhood bedroom with Nordic Boy, which made ridiculous There's-A-Boy-In-My-Room thoughts go through my head each night without fail. My third day there, my mom asks me to go through my closet, which is still full of clothes, and make up boxes of stuff to go to Goodwill. (An aside- I had enough Belinda-Carlisle-wear to stock an entire 80s fashion museum, seriously. It was so beautiful and cringeworthy). As I wrapped up this task, the last box in the back of the closet remained. I opened it, thinking it would be more lace gloves and day-glo sweatshirts with the collars cut out like Alex in Flashdance, but that's not what's in there. It's a bunch of notebook paper, each sheet folded up into tight rectangles that fit in the palm of the hand. Hundreds of them. As I open them up, one by one, I'm amazed. They're notes. The kind that get passed from one kid to another under the noses of teachers everywhere (or at least they used to, before IM and text messaging and alla that). Notes written to me from friends, and sometimes enemies, from my entire life. I'd saved them all, tossing them into this big box in the back of my closet. Why did I do this? When did I start? The oldest note that I found so far looks to be from around 3rd grade, and they go all the way up to my senior year in high school. I don't remember doing this, and can't imagine what kind of 3rd grader would want to archive "I like you, do you like me? Yes, no or maybe, check a box" for posterity. A weird kid, that's who would do that. A kid who has hoarding issues. But the librarian in me was LOVING this like I'd just found buried treasure. I taped that box right up and sent it to myself back on the west coast. There's an art project in this somewhere. I have visions of putting them in chronological order and binding them into a book. How would one index "Mr. Menard is a dick face"?

So I guess I did have those librarian tendencies as a child. It was just all in the closet.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, February 20, 2006

He's Crazy-Funny

Last night I stepped out on the town to see Dave Chappelle and it was so friggin' fun that I'm still having fun today thinking about it. He brought along Mos Def and Erykah Badu and so it was like two concerts and a stand-up show all in one. Dancing and laughing, these are a few of my favorite things.

I've already chronicled the fact that I feel like I am at the unique point in life where I am exactly 50% adolescent, and 50% geezer. Last night, I gathered more evidence to see how the scales are tipping.

Forever 21 or Cutter & Buck?

Forever 21...
*I was at a Dave Chappelle/Erykah Badu/Mos Def show and knew almost all of the songs.
*The hardest I laughed all night was a joke about someone getting hit in the nuts.
*My eye make-up involved glitter.
*We forgot where we parked the car.

Cutter & Buck...
*I was dead tired when I got home at 12:30.
*I didn't go out afterwards.
*I thought it was quaint to see girls smoking trees in the women's bathroom.
*We forgot where we parked the car.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Celebrate Yourself

When I was a kid, and I accomplished something that I could really be proud of, I felt like it was perfectly ok to outwardly celebrate that accomplishment. For almost any reason. Loud and proud. That's true for most kids, right? So if I was especially quick at tooling down the drive-way on my Big Wheel before cutting the breaks and wiping out, I would yell "Shazam!" to denote my pride in daring to go so fast. That's all it really took to pat myself on the back. "Shazam!" That was enough. Or if I was successful at crashing through the line in Red Rover, I would allow myself the pleasure of a little chicken-dance, to highlight the grace I had just shown to the world. Just for a few seconds. No one seemed to mind. Maybe it wasn't as articulate as "I celebrate myself..." as dear Walt wrote, but it served the same purpose. Maybe with a little hint of taunting-those-around-me-with-my-greatness mixed in, but hey, I was 8.

So as I sat at the reference desk yesterday, I thought about this and began to miss the social acceptability of this behavior. I mean, some adults get to do this at their jobs. Athletes and performers, mostly. Football players regularly dance around in the end zone, Tiger Woods does that fist-pulling-on-a-rip-cord motion when he does something great, actors get to take a bow. What about the rest of us? We all do some pretty cool things during the course of our job. At least I know librarians do. And man, I was itching to bring my inner 8-year-old out.

"Here is that batch of statistics you asked for, sir. It shows immigrant populations who entered the U.S. legally, broken down in an alphabetical list by country of origin." SHAZAM!

"Well, if your daughter really liked the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, she may also like Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which I happen to have right here." IN YOUR FACE, FOOL! IN YOUR FACE!

"That issue of Vanity Fair is checked out, but here is the exact article you wanted from one of our subscription databases. Would you like me to print it out for you?" SMELL THE TALENT, BOYEEE, SMELL IT!

"Derrida's writings on Foucault? Right this way, please." THAT'S RIGHT, UH-HUH, HAY-ELL YEAH. [insert pigeon-head Mick Jagger strut followed by the Roger Rabbit].

"Yes, I did just get the document that you thought you lost back on this computer." UH! UH! UH! [with pelvic thrusts here].

"Here's your book on the US Citizenship Test." [handed to patron after a Michael Jackson spin and a WOOO-HOOOO! SHAH-MONE!]

"Here's the tax form you asked for." [lick a finger and touch ass, saying "tssssss."]

See, once you start thinking about each kick-ass interaction you have with a patron this way, it's really hard to stop. That 8-year-old pride will rock your day. I say we start showing it. Anyone with me?

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, February 13, 2006

Keep It Real

So much reality tv, so little time. It's difficult for me to keep up with all the house-trading, Flava-dating, Bachelor-mating, celebrity-skating, Simon-hating stuff that's out there these days. But last night I was watching Dave Chappelle dance with James Lipton on Bravo, and the next commercial break featured a spot for "Top Chef," a show where chefs are given challenges to showcase who is the cheffiest of them all. It made me think a little more about all of these reality shows that are focused on finding the best person with a particular talent. The best singer, the best dancer, the best chef, the best model, the best designer, the best entrepeneur.

So what would a reality show about librarians look like? We ought to have one about us too, right? We are so reality worthy. We're oodles more interesting than people ever give us credit for. But what sorts of stuff would showcase who was the "best"? When I look at my colleagues, I'm impressed by a whole array of things. Do we have challenges to see who kicks ass all-around? Fast, yet patient reference service, plus mad reader's advisory skills, plus programming, outreach, etc.? If I try and list everything that we do, I start to think this show would have to be ridiculously long.

So maybe we need to mix it up a little. Maybe the show could involve some sort of reference relay race, where patrons bombard us with questions out in the stacks, and we have to run around, shouting out the proper Dewey number as we race to pull the exact right source for them as quickly as possible. Like the Amazing Race, with librarians. Or maybe we could have patrons switch places with librarians for a day so that we can torment them until they have to take a break in the backroom to shed a few tears: Librarian Swap. Or maybe we could have three library "experts" (say, perhaps, MLIS professors) come sit on a panel, watch us work, and then berate us with insults American Idol style (sounds kind of like grad school, come to think of it). Or, we could take a cue from America's Next Top Model and be coached on the right attitude, demeanor, and mannerisms appropo to a top librarian ("show me attitude, people, more attitude!"). We could make 6 young, hot, diverse-ish librarians live together in a swanky loft apartment during an ALA conference, and leave us to our wild and freaky selves, complete with night-vision cameras and a "confessional" booth ("Tiffany totally looked hot during that roundtable. I wonder if we'll hook up in the hot tub later?"). We could have "Librarian Eye for the Patron Guy" featuring makeovers given by librarians to their meanest, most ornery patrons ("socks and sandals for you, fool!"). We could take a cue from the Supernanny and put a librarian with a bunch of unsupervised kids in the library and watch them try and babysit without actually being legally responsible for anyone.

No matter what the competition is, I think the prize should be an all-expense-paid vacation, because isn't that what we all want? And the set should resemble the Price Is Right, because that is the best set ever made. And the host of the show should be David Bowie. No reason, just because I like David Bowie.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Secret Life of Me

Librarians are not born, they are made. What I mean by this is that I would bet some Celebrity Poker Showdown amount that almost every librarian has come to the profession after being trained in or being employed in some other career that is totally unrelated to librarianship. (An aside- how much do I love the word "librarianship"? It's so nautical, so Star Trek, so Shirley Temple). I would guess that not many of our ranks seriously dreamt of, planned for, or plotted to become a librarian as a child. As a matter of fact, I sat on the Admissions committee for an MLIS program, and not ONE of the hundreds of applicant essays that I read spoke of a lifelong dream to some day become a librarian. Time after time, I hear stories from other librarians of their "former lives," where they were trained to be dancers, journalists, computer programmers, whatever. This is what makes us, both collectively and individually, such interesting jacks-and-janes-of-all-trades. It also makes for really funny exchanges with people from our pasts that would have never, ever pictured us as librarians back when they knew us.

On the other hand, maybe we all have trouble picturing those people from our childhood as adults who are making choices that we never thought they would make, doing unexpected things and living lives that we never dreamt they would have.

So this was all brought home to me the first time I re-connected with Luscious J, whose present life is as different as mine is from our shared past together. Luscious J was the guy in high school who gave me that Say Anything moment of playing a love song to me outside of my house when I was 16, only it was If Only Tonight We Could Sleep by the Cure, not In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. Please don't mock me for the song, it's still a good memory, ok? Ok, you can mock. I can take it.

We started talking again a few years ago, about once a year, over the phone, long distance. As great as our conversations are, there invariably comes a point in the conversation where it goes from Say Anything to Say Whaaaat, because we just can't get over where the other has ended up. We just can't. Maybe it's because we haven't seen each other in person since high school, and we just can't picture the future that we now both live in. This makes the conversation somewhat less articulate.

"You're a librarian? A librarian???? YOU???"
"Yeah, I am!"
"How did THAT happen? Where did that even come from?"
"Honestly, I don't know. It just did."
"YOU? A librarian? Really?"

I'm guilty too. Luscious J was a bad boy, sweet but kind of dangerous. Lots of his friends came to unsavory ends. But yet, there he is, happily married, kids, steady job and coach of the high school basketball team.

"You have a minivan??? YOU???"
"Yeah. Funny, huh?"
"And you're a dad. Wow. I can't get over it."
"Check it out- we even took a family vacation to Disneyworld!"
"Shut up! You're killing me!"

Each New Year, he sends me a card with a photo of him and his family enclosed. He still looks the same- same young face and I guiltily can't look at it without thinking about what a great kisser he was.

And I send him a letter each year in return, regaling him with librarian stories, knowing that on some level, this new grown-up me just will not compute for him either.

Despite the mutual incredulity of this situation, I still think librarians as a group have a really high ratio of Secret Past Lives. Almost everyone I work with has such a story. I'm guessing you librarians out there reading this have your own back story that not a lot of people would guess that you have. We're a bunch of Sydney Bristows, overflowing with secrets. Look around at your co-workers. Hard to believe, isn't it? But trust me, it's true. Ask one.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Monday, February 06, 2006

Yay Bride Parade

Yesterday I spent the day helping Jenny pick out a wedding dress. In all my years of extensive shopping/fashion expertise, wedding dress shopping has yet to come across my path. I know about Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier, but when it comes to actual, real-life bridal attire, I am far from well-versed. However, my friend Jenny called upon me and I am never one to leave someone in a fashion lurch.

Also on board were Neighbor J, another tres chic hot chica with no wedding dress experience, and Sassy K, Jenny's friend and ex-roommate with great taste, but (surprise) no wedding chops either. So, all in all, it was the blind leading the bride. First stop, a Bridal Superstore. Did you know that such things existed? I didn't. Here's how it works: the bride gets a bunch of dresses to try on, and tries them on in the mirrorless dressing room. With each outfit, she comes out and stands on an ELEVATED PEDESTAL on a stage-like platform in front of a three-way mirror, as the three of us sit in a row of chairs looking on. It was awesome, and I kept secretly wishing that the pedestal would start to revolve. Do you know how the three models in How to Marry A Millionaire did their thing? It was like that, only with bad canned synthesizer wedding music in the background. As Jenny tried on her first dress, the three of us perused the accessories section, and found three bridal cowboy hats with rhinestone tiaras glued onto the brim, and decided to sport them for the rest of the session. My hat was black and sparkly (urban cowgirl), Neighbor J's was white (very Shania), and Sassy K's was pink (a touch of Dale Evans). We looked like a Coyote Ugly ad. Jenny tried on a bunch of dresses, all of which were of the non-traditional, non-white, non-veil-y train-y kind. She was heavenly in all of them.

The three of us did our best to help her out, which mainly entailed a sort of sports-commentator-discussion, complete with the play-by-play, some predictions on outcome, and a complex ranking system. I don't know what came over us, but things like these actually came out of our mouths:

"The black and white one is tied with the champagne one for first, although the brown one may pull ahead later when she tries that on. I'm waiting to see the powder blue halter dress, which seems like a dark horse now, but could surprise us all."

The only thing missing was an instant replay that we could draw on to illustrate our points. The strangest thing about this (and the whole day, really), was that our little group seemed to be the only group having any FUN. There were other brides shopping with friends, moms, boyfriends, and none of them looked happy. There were a couple of meltdowns that happened right in front of us. There were glum frowns, irritated voices, stressed out faces. I'm certainly no expert, but brides seem to be a somber group o' ladies.

Next stop, Macy's department store. We went into the Special Occasion section and Jenny started trying on a ton of stuff there. Jenny's not having any bridesmaids, and so the three of us decided to show her what she's missing. We each tried on a black and white strapless floor-length evening gown that felt suspiciously like spandex, and seemed like an evening gown that Sporty Spice would wear. They were hideously funny, and looked something like this
Horrid, right? Next, we decided to try on a matching set of lavender, beaded, polyester dresses with matching blazers over the top equipped with two-inch shoulder pads. Something like this, to make Rue McLanahan proud.

At the end of the day, Jenny had a cute dress to day "I Do" in, and I got to have an experience that was the closest thing to being a bridesmaid as I think I'm ever going to have. I know there are many of you out there that bemoan the bridesmaids' experiences that you've endured, but count yourselves lucky to have been there, done that. Being there for your friends with unconditional love is the best thing there is. Love, honor and cherish it. A rhinestone cowboy hat is just gravy.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Saturday, February 04, 2006

That Pine Fresh Scent

Last night was one of those awesome windy, rainy nights where I am almost guaranteed a great night's sleep. I have insomnia off and on, and so I have spent many years studying the conditions that make for a good night's sleep, and a windy, rainy night is near the top of the list for me. And last night was a doozy. It was enough to make me want to whistle "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit as I got into bed. I drifted off to dreamy land, feeling as calm and sleepy as the whispery tone of the Bionic Woman who's always talking about Sleep Number beds, except not as creepy as that. So I went ahead and hooched it up with the Sandman. Until...

KA-SLAM! I was awakened by the loudest, freakiest, most gawd-awful sound. It was shake-your-innards loud. I mean, seriously. Heavens to mergatroid. Nordic Boy sat up, and in the next few seconds of silence, we both noticed that although it was almost 8am, the room seemed kind of dark. Kind of filtered, underwater light was seeping through the windows. Had the house been transported to Oz? (The Judy Garland Oz, not the penitentiary Oz). Nordic Boy and I both lifted the curtains and peered out the window. Branches. All we could see were branches. And the window doesn't normally look out onto any nearby trees.

"Get out of the bed, now!" Nordic Boy yelled at me as he pulled on his clothes. Nordic Boy never ever yells at me. And I mean never. And certainly not about getting me out of bed. I figured out later that it was because he thought I was about to be royally smooshed. I jumped out too, and he pulled me out of the room.

We went into the next bedroom over, and the lighting seems fine in there. So I pulled the blinds and looked out the window. Well, lordy lordy, Weezy's forty. There is a forty-foot pine tree (owned by our neighbor) that has been blown by the wind so hard that its roots have been completely pulled out, and it has toppled right over across my back yard. The top of the tree has clipped the side of my house! On the corner right above my bedroom! Had it blown over THREE FEET to the left, we would have had a librarian pancake, flattened in her bed!

But it was three feet to the right, which meant that it clipped the side of the house, taking down the gutters and part of the eave and a whole mess of shingles. And it left dear Librarian Girl in one luscious piece, with Nordic Boy flawless as he should be. Shee-yott. That was a close one.

So now I have a friggin' dead Ent in my yard. Bettah him than me.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sweet Faces

To me, the true test of friendship is being able to do the most mundane things together and somehow still have it be a blast. Whenever I go visit BFF Biology Girl, I admit that we do the glitzier types of things: we go out to dinner, we sightsee, we throw or attend parties, stuff like that. But what's even better is the random stuff that ends up happening in between all of those things. The Harold and Kumar moments. Case in point, the cupcake facial.

Last Sunday we had a few hours to kill before going to a party later in the evening, so we drove into Carmel for the afternoon. I know Carmel is mostly known for being the ritzy seaside town that Clint Eastwood used to be Mayor McCheese of, but I prefer to think of it as the town where Doris Day owns the doggie-and-kitty-friendly high-end hotel, the Cypress Inn. In my world, Doris Day beats out Clint Eastwood in a who's-more-awesome smackdown, no contest. Anyway, we strolled around a bit, and ended up in that fancy soap store, Lush. It's one of those places that has soapy products made out of organic, natural ingredients, displayed as big, pretty, colorful slabs off of which you cut yourself a piece and feel conflicted about whether you should wash with it or eat it.

An hour later we were back at her apartment with a tub of home-facial called Cupcakes, which, in the store, looked like a generous helping of muddy, fudgy goodness. Yes, we had decided to claim the girly-girls that we are and do a facial before getting fabulous for the party. And no, we didn't get in our underwear and have a pillow fight- there just wasn't enough time. As we started to spread the concoction onto our faces, it became decidedly less glam. Since it's basically made out of, well, food, it had been refrigerated to the point of being slightly uncomfortable. And smearing chocolate mud on one's face starts out feeling decadent and sumptuous, but quickly takes on the look of- how can I put this delicately- poo. Sweet smelling crap, but crap nonetheless. So we lube up in this chocolatey doo doo butter, and then sit for a chat to wait for it to set. We looked like Klingons, seriously. As the masks dried up, and we continued to talk, pieces of our poo-faces started to crumble off and drop all over the apartment, unnoticed. As we walked over these pieces, they smeared across her floor, creating the unmistakable appearance of skidmarks everywhere. Does Queen Latifah have this problem in her Beauty Shop?

We washed off the masks to faces that were even more glorious than we started out with, so it was all good. Why exactly was this fun? I have no idea. It's a mystery even to me. Why did we decide to do it? Why was it exciting? I don't know. Yet it was the best thing about the weekend. It was stupid, silly, kind of pointless, let's face it. It had all of the excitement of My Dinner with Andre. But it was awesome, memorable, and makes me love my friend even more.

The power of the poopy klingon cupcakes. That's love, people.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl