Monthly Archives: March 2013

Let The Stories Begin!

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I am home watching the snow fall. My bus driving lesson was cancelled and I am a bit disappointed, if you must know. Then I heard there was a twenty four car pile up on the interstate, and I am grateful to be curled up on the couch. It has been a wonderful week of adventures. Pulling books for story times, learning all the nooks and crannies of a new library, while inhaling that intoxicating smell of paper, aged by the loving strokes of hundreds of hands, hearts, and minds, overhearing priceless conversations. And that was just the first two days!

My first ride on BoMO concluded at a newer housing development. We were surrounded by cookie-cutter, beige boxes. That is where boring ended. We pulled up, Dave the bus driver set the break, then walked me through the opening of our library on wheels. We set upright, all the display books, and fired up the generator. On went the two laptops (one fore and aft) and the wireless, put a sandwich board sign out front, with neon orange cones around the exterior of BoMo, and we were ready for business.

Before a breath could be taken, the door gets flung open by our first three foot customer, an older sister following in her wake. I introduced myself (I’m the new kid on the block) and we were off and running. Girls do love to talk! Dave (a grampa type,) is a veteran of this stop, and he starts a familiar, teasing banter with both girls. I ask them what kind of books they like to read, as they wander from station to station, easily distracted, but ,you can tell this is a beloved home to them. They are both instantly drawn to the iPAD. But, then so am I. So much to experience in this small, cozy space.

This location has wireless issues, so one of our library tech guys shows up to test our connections. Dave and Tom Techie bury their heads in the laptops, so I’m on my own with the girls. Unanimously, the girls decide to make a yellow-chick craft project from a paper plate. All the pieces are pre-cut and ready to go, housed in a little tote, along with glues sticks, tape and googly eyes. A new girl wanders in looking right at home in her pajamas. It appears this is a current fashion trend. What other limits are there to push, besides going naked?

As I attempt to glue tiny yellow feathers on the plate, with a glue stick (it doesn’t work), I overhear banter between Dave and p.j. girl. They are having a conversation about her choice of clothing and with complete innocence, she says “You wear flannel boxers, to sleep in right”?

I can’t see Dave’s face, but I feel his horrified reaction. “Noooo!” he vehemently denies. I start to chuckle. At the other end of the bus Tom Techie quietly announces… “I have Star Wars pajamas.” I start to giggle with the girls. I am secretly impressed he would admit it in mixed company. I am giddy when I acknowledge I am actually getting paid very well for this! I pinch myself, as I realize this was just the first day.

I am loving a new book titled The Little Book Store of  Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch. It was a refreshing change from The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler,  which is a fictional, sad outline of the walking wounded after the Holocaust. People who find they can only limp through life and relationships, after they survive the war. It’s poignant, haunting, and a different view of the horrors of the Holocaust. It starkly explains the exhausted weariness seen in the eyes of the survivors. A life spent trying to stay numb while breathing, and it’s devastating effect on the ones who love them. Multiple generations of loss.

The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap is a charming, humorous journal of the work (and denial,) it takes to run a book store in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I fell in love with this town in Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series. If you haven’t read her books yet you are in for a treat. I adore the Italian spinster star of this book, who finds out she isn’t who she thought she was, while discovering passion beyond her dreams. These are wonderful books, but I thought Big Stone Gap was fictional. so I was excited to see this new title pop up. That it’s about a real book store is a bonus. I have to read it.

Having a harder time with Great Expectations, about the lives of Charles Dickens’ offspring. Mr. Dickens is the only one that I find interesting. Poor kids, I think they found that out too. More stories to come.

New Adventures Start Next Week

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I am finishing up my last week with my current employer and preparing to start my new job next week. I was told that I will be learning to drive the book mobile the end of the week. Normally I would be terrified by this kind of news but I am a bit excited, truth be told. No one is more stunned than I, at this revelation. I guess staring down one fear after another in the past year prepares you for adventures that you actually want. That hasn’t happened to me in a while. Bonus material.

We had a day of summer weather, warm and breezy. I was disturbed to hear a fire has started (already) in our foothills. It’s way too early for that, and the prelude to water rationing that is surely on it’s way. I wonder what the golf courses will do? I also wonder what drought ridden countries would think about the amount of water it takes to keep golf courses green, or swimming pools for that matter. The word drought changes how you look at water consumption, to be sure.

I have been catching up on some reading, I had five books come in this past week. I just finished The Orchardist and was sweetly surprised at how it pulled me in. Some of the chapters are only a paragraph or two, and I liked it. The story revolves around quiet and contained Talmadge.  He spends his life caring for his Pacific Northwest, isolated orchards of apples and apricots at the turn of the century. This book sneaks up on you. The author, Amanda Coplin, makes a stunning debut, with her layers of complex relationships, in this story of loss and redemption. Talmadge never really resolves the mysterious disappearance of his only sibling, off the mountain where they were raised. His need to care for two wild-child women, who seek shelter on his property, change the course of his quiet life forever. This story is disturbing, compelling, and one that I couldn’t turn away from, even though I wanted to at times. It has a meandering quality that makes you want to see what is around the next bend.

I have just started The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler that is very promising, about a woman in the aftermath of WWII who steals someone’s identity and then, next, a wonderful book by Robert Gottlieb called Great Expectations, The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens. Mr. Dickens fathered ten children, but wasn’t the most ideal dad. His own childhood and notoriety (remember Norman Rockwell?) got in the way.  None the less, he left a priceless legacy of literature, full of unforgettable young characters. I couldn’t resist this one because of my thing for Mr. Dickens and his brilliance. His passionate, sexual nature make things more interesting. I’m enjoying it so far. It does however, take away some of the mystique and romance from the man, kind of like when I read the biography of Charles Schultz. Seriously. Do I really need to know that depression inspired Schulz’s altar ego Charlie Brown? Being the arm chair psychologist I am? Most definitely, and I think a bibliophile does too. We want to know everything!

It will be interesting to see how I keep up with blogging with my new job. Of course, I don’t have to spend hours changing resumes and applying for jobs. At my last library job, books inspired me to write regularly, but this will be a little more demanding. We shall see won’t we? Thanks for coming along anyway.

Do You Hear Fireworks?

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I do! That is because I just found out I got the library job I wanted, after a year of discouraging setbacks and working at jobs that don’t pay a living wage. In fact, I think I see fireworks too! I am humbled, thrilled and grateful! I was SO sick of looking for jobs, sending out resumes, designing cover letters and filling out applications that I know human eyes would never see. I was tired of selling myself, feeling insecure, and trying to convince myself I was not a loser because I was under-employed. And I was really tired of complaining about this!

Funny thing though… it wasn’t until I started believing I was valuable and letting go of outcomes, that things began to turn around. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it turned out to be true. In January I had gotten accepted into a retraining program with a generous grant towards a bio-medical certificate. I had done this type of work early on in my career. In the midst of this class I realized I was no longer willing to fake it, no matter how well it paid. It was an interesting  course and I loved the instructor but hated the culture and started to feel sick every time I looked at the syllabus. Finally I told my counselor/mentor that I had decided to drop the class. I wasn’t being true to myself. I made the decision out of desperation and fear but it was the wrong direction for me to take. The day after I dropped the course, and withdrew from the program, I was sent a job profile for the library district position (that just hired me), at almost double what I have been making, including benefits!

I decided to apply (on the deadline) and used a friend, as a reference, that I knew used to work for this library. It was an easy process and I felt relaxed and confident. I got an interview within days! After I received the job offer I called my friend to thank her for being such a great reference and she told me that she hadn’t had time to contact them. I had gotten this on my own merits. That is the real miracle.

It has been almost a year since I left Iowa to return to my beloved Colorado. My detour to Portland was part of this process and I couldn’t have gotten to this acceptance of who I am, with out my time there. I want to thank all my wonderful friends, family and bloggers who have encouraged me in the last year and cheered me on. You have inspired and challenged me, and I am so fond of you.

This is not the job I expected to end up with, but I am happy to experience another part of the library world. I am beside myself with excitement that I will be talking about books again with people of all ages. So I have to learn to drive a 25,000 lb bus?! This is my own little library on wheels, that I get to share with communities who don’t have one in their back yard. Something I take for granted. Think of the excitement? Think of the adventures? The stories you will hear?  Starting with learning to park said bus in it’s long, narrow garage. I’m trying not to think about that yet.

I know all my insecurities won’t magically float away because of this job. I have been healing old wounds in the past year and learning to look at myself in new ways- like giving myself a break, cutting me some slack. Geesh, women can be hard on themselves! This experience goes a long way in reminding me that taking risks is a good thing. Not easy, but good.

“The Wheels On The Bus”

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Remember bookmobiles? They aren’t as common now, but they still exist. I got a close up of one recently.

I applied for a job at a small library and actually got an interview! I made the decision to seek out library jobs, even though they are dwindling. It’s in my blood, and I feel too passionate about reading to do otherwise. I know there’s a library job out there for me. I  might have to get creative and work more than one job but it will be worth it. Heck, I am doing that now.

This turned out to be a job driving and working out of a bookmobile most of the time. I first thought it was a combination library/bookmobile support gig, but found out that I would be part of the outreach team, travelling to different locations to deliver story times and books. I won’t always be in the library. The one on a concrete foundation anyway.

I also was asked to audition. They let me choose a book from a pile on the table, and I picked “The Seals On The Bus”.  I’m an idiot! I picked it because of the cute cover (with seals) before I realized (with horror) that it was actually another version of “The Wheels On The Bus”.  Not only did I have to sing it, I had to make animals sounds! Geese and seals to name a few. I was really getting into the voices, when they interrupted me, to tell me I had to hold the book up so they could see it too. I felt like such a dork. We all laughed. You need a sense of humor for this job, hopefully I passed?

They were a four person team, of very nice people, and the interview went well, but you never know what they really want. This could be an adventure of epic proportions. Learning to drive (and back up) a bus full of books? Jumping, skipping and singing with little kids? Working in temperature extremes and doing bus maintenance? I found myself holding back a giggle when they asked me that. Not what I thought I would be doing, but I am game. If it’s books, or reading, count me in. I can always get one of those scarves with the sponge on the neck you can freeze. for the heat? I’m more worried about the heat than the cold.

During the interview they asked me if I liked talking about books. They found out when they asked me about the last two books I’d read. I had a hard time shutting up. One of them asked me to repeat the title of a book so they could write it down. I had to have passed that test. I’ve been learning a lot about myself, what is really important to me. It is easy to settle when you are fearful about the future. I don’t want to make decisions based on fear or desperation any more. It’s like sawing off the limb you are perched on.

This library named the bus “BoMo”. I love it. Whether I get offered the job or not, it was a wonderful experience. I had fun and it was a  reminder that I have a lot to offer. I feel ideas bubbling up as we speak. I wonder if they would be willing to back the bus up for me?