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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goin' to the Ref Desk and We're Gonna Get Married

It's my guess that every unmarried woman over a certain age gets asked one or two million times in her adult life why she hasn't yet found a nice guy and settled down already. The subtext of this question is, of course, "What the hell is WRONG with you?" I've talked in previous posts about patrons being overly and inappropriately concerned with my marital status. Because I am happy with my life as it is right now, it doesn't bother me much anymore when people grill me at the reference desk on this topic. I don't get defensive, but I also don't engage (no pun intended) with the patron either. I give a humorously evasive response - "I'm saving myself for Robert Downey Jr.!" - and then I change the subject.

However, when the kids & teens talk about marriage with that incredulous, pushy, "this is the way it has to be and THAT'S THAT" attitude they all seem to have, it bothers me a bit more than when adults do it. Not that I see anything wrong with having the desire to get married, but when they view marriage as a absolute life requirement, the latent feminist in me kicks in. Haven't we moved away from the days when marriage was seen as the ultimate goal? Aren't modern females supposed to prize their independence, seek higher education, have a fulfilling career? Am I less of a woman if I don't choose to wear a white dress and walk down the aisle? Well? AM I?? (Uh oh. Sounding defensive. Better move on.)

Maybe I just watched Beetlejuice too many times as a kid.
I mean, look at the fear on her face. 
I realize that there are socioeconomic and cultural factors working behind the scenes with these girls and that a lot of them will probably relax their attitudes when they get older,  realizing that many women are unmarried by CHOICE. These young ladies will get to dodge their own bullets...I mean, have their own experiences someday. If they happen to tie the knot, that's great. If they don't, that's fine too. As a wise man once said, "Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you may not be right for some."

On good days, I am able to have poignant conversations with the girls about what they want their futures to be. This is always illuminating and interesting - they want to be teachers, doctors, designers. More often than not, however, the focus is on me and my loudly-ticking biological clock. Recently, one of the more loquacious teens was hanging out at the reference desk chatting to me about school and friends and, of course, boys. The conversation quickly spiraled into a discussion of how I am going to die old, alone, and surrounded by cats.

 A projection of what I'll look like in the year 2070. 

Teen: "Are you always going to JUST have a boyfriend?"

Me: "What do you mean?" 

Teen: "Don't you want to get married someday?"

Me: "Why do you always ask me that?"

Teen: "I just don't want you to be ninety years old with no kids. I can totally picture you as a cat lady."

Seeing as how I am allergic to cats, this prediction did not bode well for my future happiness. I talked to her about life circumstances, and how 30 really isn't THAT old, and how marriage doesn't have to be for everyone, which she didn't buy in the slightest. A bit later, she asked for a pencil and some paper and started sketching away.

Me: "What are you drawing?" 

Teen: "Your wedding dress." 

Me: "Oh BOY." 

As she drew, she described the dress to one of the part-timers, who (unfortunately for him) was standing nearby:

"Look, I'm making Rita's wedding dress. It's gonna be tight from here *guestures towards waist* and strapless." 

She said to me: "Do you want a long dress or a mini dress?"

Me (*looking down at unspectacular legs*): "A long dress." 

Teen: "Okay." She pointed to the paper. "THIS part is going to be lace. You know, the stuff with holes?"

Me: "I know what lace is, yes." 

Teen: "Just checking."

The final design. Get on it, Vera Wang!

After she finished the drawing, she returned to the topic of having children:

Teen: "How many kids DO you want?"

Me (*looking around the loud, chaotic children's floor*): "HAHAHAHA."

Teen: "Why is that funny?" 

(She's going to be working at the library next month on the children's floor. She'll learn. Oh, how she'll learn.)

Do I still love my job? I do.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lost in the Stacks

Tonight I had a very productive rehearsal with the librarian band I'm in, Lost in the Stacks. (Get it? Get it? Librarians are so clever.) I thought I'd shamelessly plug the band, because I am terrible at promoting it and really should do a better job. Also, I mention "librarian band" in my Twitter bio and no one ever knows what the hell I'm talking about. Here's the deal:

From behind the keys, I sneak a picture of some of the band members during tonight's rehearsal.
The band was formed in 2004, and I joined about a year and a half ago to sing and play the keyboard/piano. 'Stacks is comprised of librarians, save for our drummer Richie and our guest bass/harmonica player Kid Java. (Both of these gentlemen are amazing musicians, so we forgive them for not being librarians. Ha!) Everyone in the band is very talented and passionate about music and libraries and it's a lot of fun. 

The Lost in the Stacks members:

Jack McCleland--guitar, keyboards (the head honcho!)
Clyde Kerlew--vocals, guitar, bass, tenor sax, and a whole mess of other instruments (the brains and brawn!)
Rita Meade---vocals, keyboards 
Stephen Stickney--6- and 12-string guitar
Richie Araldi--drums, percussion, vocals
Sharon Tidwell--flute, percussion
Matt Cole--alto & bari sax, percussion (arrangement master!)  
Harold Stern--trombone, percussion

The best part is that we've kind of become the "house band" for library advocacy events in NYC. We are very happy to help spread the word that libraries are essential to communities and that librarians can indeed ROCK. *cue guitar riff*

Click here to watch a video of us performing at BPL's Love Your Library Day last year.

Me at tonight's rehearsal. This is what happens when you try to take a stealthy photo
of yourself while singing: you turn into an extra from "The Ring."

If you'd like, you can listen to some of our tunes on our MySpace page (see, MySpace IS still useful for something!) Lost in the Stacks has a CD out, and it's good, I swear. But we don't have a website, so....we don't really know how to sell the CDs other than at our rare gigs. If you REALLY want one, feel free to email me and maybe we can work out a way to mail it, but there's absolutely no pressure. We're not in it for the fame and fortune. (See what I mean about being a bad promoter?)

Lastly, feel free to click here for some pictures of our amazingly fun gig at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which I will never ever EVER stop talking about because Gordon from "Sesame Street" (aka Roscoe Orman) sang with us for one song. GORDON, MAN!

Lost in the Stacks in action.

And that, my friends, is the deal with the librarian band.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Send in the (Mildly Terrifying) Clowns

As you may have gleaned from previous posts, I suffer from a severe lack of artistic talent. I've come to terms with this and I do the best I can when the job requires it. Today, for example, I made - by hand! - a felt set of a clown's face for a future story time to go along with a cute little song that teaches colors. (I've used this before and kids like it. I swear. Why are you looking at me like that?)

I know what you're going to say. "But clowns are scary! They haunt my nightmares! I accidentally saw Stephen King's 'IT' when I was a kid and it scarred me for life!" Full disclosure: I don't always buy it when adults say they are scared of clowns. I'm sure some people have a legitimate phobia, but I tend to suspect that other people think it's trendy or cute or whatever to say they fear clowns. (That is just my unpopular opinion. Feel free to argue with me!)

C'mon! It's Tim Curry under there! Everyone loves Tim Curry.
Anyway, who knows. Maybe there IS something to be said about childhood clown-viewing trauma, so I was legitimately afraid of creeping out my story time kids with the clown face. In the interest of finding some cheerful clown pictures to use as a model for my felt set, I turned to Google. Big mistake. Clown phobia or no clown phobia: I stumbled upon some pretty frightening stuff. 

I saw many clowns that were, for whatever purpose, obviously intended to be chilling, hair-raising, or evil. However, the ones that made me understand the desire to rock in a corner while chanting "He can't hurt me. He can't hurt me..." were the ones that weren't even TRYING to be scary. Here is a sampling:

This is supposed to be a mask for you to cut out and wear. Have fun with that! You're sure to be the most popular person at the masquerade party! (And by popular, I mean arrested):

This guy can make you fear clowns AND astronomy: 

I've nicknamed this clown "The Leprechaun from Hell." Hide your Lucky Charms, folks, 'cause he's after them:

I wonder how his little hat stays on while he's CONSUMING HUMAN FLESH.

And then there's this clown who is inexplicably wearing ill-fitting lederhosen. Side note: why is the concept of oversized pants supposed to be funny? It's not funny - or always legal - when REGULAR adults wear them.

Also, what the hell is he doing? Clownrobics? Is he an air traffic controller who does kid's parties on the side? Is he the "Y" in a horrifying version of "YMCA"? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, CLOWN.

Alright. I'm an equal-opportunity clown-hater. Here is my clown face masterpiece. Yes, this is what I will be using to teach the colors of the rainbow to the youth of Brooklyn. This is how I intend to promote literacy and encourage children to come back to the library for years to come. I am proud of my work. I AM NOT ASHAMED. 

Just kidding, I am totally ashamed.
My coworker/friend Ally was in the office when I was crafting this monstrosity. She told me she was the art director of a summer camp many years ago, so I asked her what she thought of my artistic skills. She replied: "You'd do well in the 'Mommy and Me' class. Of course, you'd be the 'Me.'" Thanks, buddy. 

In conclusion: if you tell me you're afraid of clowns, I might believe you now. (But only if you attended my story time.)

Edit: my friend Sean Ferrell sent me a study on why children fear clowns, which makes total sense. And I was informed that my mother also has an alleged fear of clowns because she once threw up at the circus as a child or something. So, yeah. I'm still not convinced that EVERY person who has ever said they're afraid of clowns actually IS afraid, but I am finding the stories to be interesting. Share yours if you'd like!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good News, Sort Of

I'm a little late in posting this information - it's been a busy couple of weeks with summer reading and reviewing and confiscating vevuzelas from kids in the library (true story) - but we got some pretty good news regarding the library budget: as of now, there will no library closures and no layoffs. This IS good news, and it's a huge relief. 

Welcome to blogs.villagevoice.com

In a fun turn of events, The Village Voice followed up on their blog post about MY blog posabout "Tara," the kid who wrote the awesome and vaguely threatening postcards to Mayor Bloomberg. The very nice Village Voice blogger thought it would be fun to get a follow-up quote from "Tara," so I talked to her the next time I saw her in the library. Here was my response as it appeared in the Village Voice's post:

I saw Tara as she walked up the stairs to the children's floor. She was eating Doritos and staring intently at her Nintendo DS (or whatever the kids are playing these days). I went up to her and said, excitedly, "Hey, remember those postcards you wrote?" Tara looked at me blankly and chomped on a Dorito. "Huh?" She said. "You know, about the library budget being cut?" "Oh...yeah," she said, looking down at her DS.
"Well, they worked! They didn't cut the library's budget! We're not going to close," I said.
At that point, she finally got what I was talking about, and she looked at me, smiling, and did a little neckroll/fingersnap thing.
Then she said: "Bring it ON! Let's see this mayor. If he comes here, I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind." I couldn't help but laugh, even as I explained that the Mayor and City Council voted to restore most of the library's funding. (Although, truth be told, I wouldn't mind someone giving the Mayor a piece of his/her mind for doing this ridiculous budget game every year.)
Kids are the best at cutting right to the point, aren't they? I hope "Tara" never loses her edge. 
HOWEVER (there's always something), the library is not completely out of the woods (we're NEVER completely out of the woods). We did get cut this time around, and we face another potential budget cut in November. If it's high enough, there's a chance of layoffs then ("rightsizing, they're now calling it. Nothing right about that!) 

But for now, we're open, we're there, and we're plugging away at those little jobs we do. Thank you for your support, and please keep using your local library. 

*Edit: I've learned that "rightsizing" doesn't necessarily mean layoffs, but rather, a reshuffling of staff around the branches. We'll see!