On Monday nights at the library

Monday night at the library. Staff gathering books, I am reviewing schedules and programs and making sure we have all the people we need to do the things that we promised to do. People come, people go. Books and movies come in, books and movies go out. The sound of money being counted in preparation for closing. The quiet consultation for people’s problems, and the hum of the machinery in the background, the thump of books being sorted to delivery for the morning, and the wheeze of an old self-check machine whose CPU fan is fighting the last good fight. Every Monday, pretty much the same.

Phone ring tones break the silence, and even when it is a classical music selection, it just creates  quiet annoyance. Ring tones are the bane of libraries.

Phone answered, peace returns, the quiet sounds of staff tired out by the day, and the departure of one of ours, gone for new opportunities in the Southwest. Another snowstorm is coming.

First Monday in March.

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On 2015 – moving on to the 47s

New years seem to bring me a sense of survival and renewal. Made it through one more, here comes another one. Intermittent writing has left me with a feeling of fragmentary reality, my public persona is just what I remember to throw out there every time I remember I should be trying to cultivate a public persona. So, not a resolution but an idea of bringing more of my life to the forefront.

I love my iPhone 6+. Love, love, love. Possibly to the point it is distracting me from my real life.

I want to watch more movies this year. In theaters. Eating popcorn. Like that a lot too.

Health and weight control seems to be an on-going concern for me and my partner. So aiming for a healthy weight for my 50s. Remember this, future you, you really want to be in better shape.

On the Definitions of Work

So, recently I came up with a way of thinking about what it is that I do.

I work for my organization.

While I am pretty sure my organization would like me to use the words “with” but for a while now, I have been dropping quickly down the chain from “with” to “for” and touching every now and again on “at”. This is a pretty significant turn for me, as I have long though of myself as a “with” person, merging the goals of the organization with my own, working for mutual advancement. Sometime in the past year, I have moved to “for”; the organization has need of my particular skill set and I am currently willing to provide it.

I think a combination of disillusionment, an awakening to the changed priorities of the organization, and a failure of the organization to deliver the change they expect to be seeing in us has resulted in my great disappointment with the organization. It is not unique, I find myself disappointed in a great many things these days, and I am not unaware of the maxim to examine one’s self if there is a series of difficulties that seem to be centered on yourself.

The new year brings change, and maybe a more personal change for me.  I don’t think I have time to spend simply being “at” a space. I want more than this.

On Getting Back to the Writing

There have been a LOT of changes in my life since I last wrote here. Some I will revisit and reflect upon, some will remain shrouded. Some things were mundane, some were fantastical.

I changed my job location in July, I got a new iPhone, I discovered two Rachels in my life have the same birthday. I observed 10:11 on 12-13-14, a phenomenon possible only with the United States peculiar to them calendering notation.

I observed the events in Ferguson at close hand. I read the torture reports. I saw an election swing the country in a more conservative direction.

Life continues, events occur. How we react, how we internalize is what makes us the people we are.

On watching “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

This is a pretty deep dark show. No shying away from the death and killing, the loneliness of command, the choice of clones as a fighting force. Then, behind everything is the knowledge of what is to come, the fall of Anakin, and the corruption of the Republic.

Working my way through the series, almost done season 1.

I don’t have anything deeper, but I feel a deep sadness in knowing the future of these characters, and learning the lesson that you can only be victorious in the moment, and that it all can be wiped away while you did everything right. Odd to feel that from a animated show, but I think that is my expectations clashing with my reality.

On Sundays at the Library

Busier day today with a lot of traffic and some issues with the front door coming off the rails a little, after being pushed by customers. More people than usual waiting on computer time, and some are getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. Everyone is working steadily, people are behaving, mostly. 

On Learning Deeper Truths

Someone scheduled doesn’t show up, you are mildly inconvenienced. Learning that the absence was due to the near fatality of a family member, and even in the face of it, made provision for missing his job, leaves me a little in awe. The deeper truth here is that some people are supremely dedicated to their job, and will be extraordinary in the pursuit of excellence, even in the face of crippling fear and anxiety.

Some days I count myself lucky to be served by such dedicated people, and am reminded that the stories go deeper than we ever know in the moment.

Be patient with people, because there are depths that drive us, that sometimes make the surface stormy and annoying, but are fundamentally changing a person’s life. 

That’s really what amazes me about life. How much we don’t show to the world, and how it shapes what we do show.

On the Quiet Indignities

What is the cost of getting along? What is the sacrifice for harmony, or at least the absence of conflict? What is the price of silence in the face of injustice?

Listening to a radio show on a contested adoption, I am reminded how complicated life can get, and how self-image can be stronger than the labels that others try to apply to make you fit their world view.

I sometimes think that the human life is lost in the mechanics of law and justice. What is that child thinking as she is fought over in the legal system. What do kids in an orphanage think seeing so much effort expended on one kid, when they have been living there for years.

What does the adult think with that in their past?

Since my mom told me about the circumstances surrounding my birth, I realized that the not-knowing privilege I had over my other siblings made for a very different life. I always strove for difference.

In customer service, the goal is to have a successful transaction every single time. When it requires a simple apology in order to make someone feel better, does not the apology diminish the caring of the individual? I don’t think so, because successful customer service requires empathy with your customers, treating them as people with needs rather than tasks to accomplish and get out of the way.

Most people’s needs in the library are modest in comparison to the rest of their lives. Why not be the best that you can be to make their day a bit brighter.


On the Gatekeeping of Public Spaces

So, I’m a librarian. Among my many duties includes the policing of the public space of the library in an effort to make sure everyone has equitable access to the space and facilities. That is sometimes harder to accomplish when personal likes and dislikes come into play.

We are all human, we all have preferences, and many of us go to some lengths to keep our surroundings harmonious with our expectations. Thus, there is the perennial “Teens are too loud”, “Young people dress badly”, “Kids should stop playing on computers so I can get some work done.” One man lost his shit over a perceived jumping of the line to the network printer.

Expectations differ so, that libraries often have codes of conduct that lay out the MINIMUM acceptable behaviors that are to be followed while in the library.

I was listening to a podcast of a security operator for a large social network, and how he took it in his own hands to delete accounts of the people he thought were being bad on the internet. And while he might have been correct, it is that same kind of “I know better than anybody” attitude that I have to guard against all the time. We never know the whole story, we never see the circumstances that led to the decisions that prompted the behavior. I see family power struggles play out in public, I see grudges being settled, I see people getting on each other’s nerves because for that brief moment, they were seen, they mattered and they had to be responded to.

I don’t live in the district my library serves, sometimes I feel I have less call to referee public situations, but it is part of my job, to settle the disturbed, to listen to the slighted and the wronged and to apologize for life not working out to people’s expectations, no matter how high and unrealistic those expectations were.

I guess the short answer is, people can really tire me out.

On Getting Back to Sharing

I am just a bad blogger, I need to admit that up-front again. There is always the desire, but the follow through is the difficult part, because I lose track, get caught up in the day to day, lose the signal in the noise.
I read an interesting story about the human frequency, and how it can be measured. I have been trying and failing to quantify myself. It’s like I don’t want to know what I might be doing wrong. And that’s the point isn’t it? When I take the time to think, like when I write, I can order the thoughts, cut through the noise of justification and see what I should be doing.
So, re-commitment is the process of knowing you should be processing, and realizing that you have fallen off somewhere. Time to shake the dusty pixels off, and sharpening my desire. Change happens, we can only choose the form, and I don’t want no Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man following me.