Thursday, August 16, 2007

Well, Yeah, As A Matter Of Fact, You DO Need YOUR CARD!

Truly, I am a bad, bad person: if one person told me today (I worked the window my entire shift) in response to "May I see your card?" that he/she didn't have his/her card, ten people did. I don't get it. I myself have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the....disorganized....among us, as I am the very definition of that term, but I myself was a library patron for many many years prior to becoming a library employee and I don't recall ever showing up at the library without my card and expecting to check out. One very nice lady in particular said that, well, when she'd placed the hold, all she'd had to do was tell the librarian her card number....over the phone. It was all I could do not to crack up: what, should the (no doubt long-suffering) librarian have asked her to fax in a photo of the actual card? I was tempted to ask for her card number then (even though, no, we don't allow people to check out simply by reciting a card number; we require a SOMETHING that verifies one is who one says one is) because I would've bet any amount of money that she had no idea what it was. She was definitely the most oblivious of the customers today (expected me to just....give her....her book) but not by much. I kept telling myself, as I try to remember to every working day, that they don't know________ (fill in blank with policies/procedures/rules/etc.) and I do. So when someone hands me an enormous bag of books and asks, "Are these late?" I can't snap, "How the hell would I know?!" because they....don't....know. I can't, when someone I've never seen before walks up to the desk and says "Are you holding a book for me? (Period. No "Here's my card." No "My name is_____") say, "Gee, let me get my magic wand and-" because they....don't....know. Theeeeeeyyyyyyy....dooooooooonnn'tttt....knnooooowwwwwww.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Am I Going To Do?

Sarah had a physical yesterday and it went very poorly. She's healthy enough (as far as anyone could tell, as it was impossible to either take her blood pressure or actually examine her, although our doctor was able to get her to let him listen to her heart and lungs and peer into her ears) but began to cry as soon as we approached the office. This is one of those areas where she appears to be losing skills she once had: I can't say Sarah's ever enjoyed seeing a doctor, but certainly hasn't behaved in the past the way she did yesterday, and what's really scaring me is how she was so obviously not manipulating the situation. It was as though her fears took over and she was incapable of controlling herself. Too: Sissy HATES to be poked, and had to have four shots yesterday for routine vaccinations. Hmmm. In retrospect....okay: she's not old enough to make these decisions herself, and I'm a firm believer in vaccination. Still. It was traumatic and horrible and degrading and I don't know if I'm going to get behind this in the future. Had I known what was going to happen, I would've swallowed my own fear of being thought overprotective and insisted on sedation (as long as it's not administered as a shot!) if for no other reason than to spare Sarah the memory of how she behaved. Even as she was still in full outcry, she was angry and miserable ("I made a fool of myself! I can never show my face here again!!!!! WAAAHHHHHH!!!!") about how she'd acted.

Thank God Sarah is not blaming me (yet) for having to see doctors....she asked recently (again) why she has to see the psychiatrist, and I explained (again) why it's necessary and talked a little about her medication again...which she is beginning to claim she doesn't need. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. What she really means is that she doesn't want her blood tested, which is going to come up Monday when we're at the psychiatrist's office...because I haven't had Sarah's blood drawn since the last time we were there. I just can't. I know it doesn't really "hurt" her, but the entire experience is doing something to her that goes deeper than mere fear, and as her mother, it's become one of those areas where the answer SEEMS obvious (what am I, insane? Get that blood drawn! Don't let her push you around! This is important! Etc.) but isn't. Oh, and- this just in- I've officially given up on getting Sarah's ears pierced. Uneccessary, right? Of course. Buuuutttttt.....girls do it, like they go to get haircuts (another thing I've given up on after the traumarama last fall at WalMart's salon) and __________________ (fill in blank with any number of perfectly ordinary things my daughter can't/won't experience.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

She's Baaaaack......

I never remember what summer's REALLY like until it begins. I have to wonder: what shape will it take once my kids are grown up and gone?

I went to work last night with just about the worst hair I can remember having. This is why I need to hack most of it off: once it grows longer than an inch or two, it develops an attitude. I looked like the wrath of God and was irritable all evening. We've put a mirror behind the discharge computer (cool. Permits us to see if a customer has approached while our backs are turned) and every time I ran some item past the scanner I'd see my furrowed brow, surrounded by this...fright wig. Things seem back to normal today, coif-wise, but my eyes are watering to the degree that I appear to be very upset by something (my hair! Ha ha) and my eyeliner is washing off as soon as I reapply. And reapply. And reapply.

We ("we." Ha. My husband said, several weeks ago, that he thought we should have some plants hanging from our porch. I agreed and threw out an opinion or two- ferns! Nice fluffy ones!- but he thought something with flowers blah blah blah. Long story short: after weeks of this just not getting off the ground, I finally bought two fuschias, then the hardware to hang them, then hung them) hung some plants from our porch and I must say they look nice. I don't seem to have that "house beautiful" gene so they're barely adequate ( e.g., still in the white plastic baskets they came in when I bought them, at a discount, from Giant Eagle) but nobody's pointed and laughed yet when passing by my house so I guess they'll do.

Had an incident or two last night which could've been avoided had the people in question HAD THEIR LIBRARY CARDS WITH THEM when the y came TO THE LIBRARY.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Back On The Chain Gang

Okay: I took a nice long break from formal work while raising my kids (ho ho: as if that job is done) so maybe I'm still in a honeymoon phase, but..... I'm surprised anew every day that I arrive at my current job and am still as excited to be there as I was the day I started. It's not like it's always easy/pleasant/fulfilling, necessarily, but I seem to've found my niche. I still can't believe I get PAID to service my addiction (that would be my PRIMARY addiction: books. Books. Boooooooooks) and was a bit unsettled to discover, during my vacation this past week, that I actually

I went directly from work to my brother-in-law's 50th birthday party tonight (I've become someone who has engagements IMMEDIATELY AFTER WORK, which isn't and brought my girls home not too long into the evening. What this family needs is some grandchildren. We seem to be in a holding pattern of blandness while our kids mature, though, God willing, not TOO soon. The granddaughter of a friend was there tonight (gorgeous little child; smart and polite, too. Her parents are divorcing now, after...I don't know. Yes, they were very young, but I can't convince myself that those marriages are doomed to failure) and it gives me an odd feeling to realize that while I'm anticipating that next step, some of my own peers are just starting their own families. Yeeeesh. I wouldn't want to start over again, but what would I know, if I didn't already have a half-grown family? Forty isn't considered "old" now, gestationally. Huh. I don't want to sound ageist,'s a young woman's game. In my opinion.

Sisyphus In A Dress

The standing tub (I wouldn't call it a "clawfoot tub" as it has no claws) in my bathroom is so old now that the finish is letting me down, appearance-wise. Wednesday (not coincidentally, the day after I colored my hair) I poured a gallon of bleach into the !@#$%^ and started the hot water running while I tackled the groceries Sarah and I'd just bought (goodbye, $200.) I'd covered for a friend at work that morning and was due back for a meeting in the afternoon, so I was attempting- as always- to make the most efficient use of my available time. I've been a bit overwhelmed since arriving home from vacation and the days are just flying by, with a handful of tasks that need to be completed just plain not getting done while I sprint through my house like a chicken with no head. So: I manage to forget that the tub's running until it was too late. Upon realization, I hoof it into the bathroom, where there's an inch of extremely hot, bleachy water on the floor and more spilling over the sides of the !@#$%^& tub. I- reflexively- wade in, burning the bejesus out of my feet. But wait! Even as I register the sensation of my feet being incinerated and try to levitate up and out of the area, straining something in my back, I crank the tap off and STICK MY ARM INTO THE BOILING, BEACHED WATER in order to pull the plug. It was a veritable trifecta of stupidity. Floor's really clean in there now, though. Or was until today- when I couldn't help but observe, while contorting myself in order to install the new toilet seat I'd just purchased this morning (I had no idea what a crisis it is when ones toilet seat breaks down) that the floor is once again hairy and grimy and disgusting. How does this happen????

I was thrilled to finally leave and get to work (no toilets to repair here!) but still. Sheesh. As I was crouching by the potty, all dressed up for the afternoon shift, screwdriver in one hand, clock ticking away, I couldn't help but think, "Someone else has MY life... and I want it back."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Back To......."Normal"

I tend to forget over the span of the school year what summer vacation is really like. We've been back from the beach only two days total and already I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown: I should not have had children, or rather, I should've stopped at two. (I remember how I felt back when making these decisions- ho ho, as though I REALLY "made decisions" regarding this area- that two kids wasn't quite enough, but three was too many. A dilemma, this.) Sarah (aka "The Barnacle") is draining all the life from me, one loony question at a time. Thank God for my job, which I'm delighted to report I still have despite the bizarrely irate customer I "helped" my last day at work prior to leaving town. To say that I worried about the impact this dude's over-the-top and completely unfounded anger would have on my career ("career!" Ha ha! Ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!) understatement. I obsessed so thoroughly about what had happened that I may as well have brought that nut along on the trip.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rodent-Free Zone

In the wake of my recent mouse dilemma (if he's still there when I get home, I'm giving him a name) I'm reminded of the only other rodent I was able to tolerate: Bob, aka The Mouse Saved From The Jaws Of Death. My daughter Sarah had come home from school one day when she was in the first grade and showed me her closed fist. "Susan (not her real name) gave me something, but I know you won't let me keep it," she said. Susan was a friend situation tended to make my hair stand on end, and I braced myself: what was it? Something that belonged to Susan's mother? A piece of her jewelry? Her crack pipe? "Well, what is it?" I asked, and Sarah opened her hand to show me a tiny black mouse. I screamed so loud that he shot up in the air like he was levitating, then collapsed back onto Sarah's palm.

Susan's mother kept snakes, and that morning Jessica had smuggled the mouse into school in her backpack to prevent him from being consumed. I don't like mice. In fact, I HATE mice. I have a physical reaction to mice/bats/birds when they appear in my house that I swear will one day kill me: my heart pounds painfully, I can't breathe...the sight of something scuttling/flying/swooping indoors turns me into a screaming, sobbing maniac, and this time was no different. Against my better judgment, I agreed to provide temporary foster care to the vermin. We named him "Bob" and made him a home in a mayonnaise jar. The first night, he fell into his water dish and I woke up to find him soaking wet and shivering. The next night, he moved into my room, where I could keep an eye on him. I plugged in the heating pad, covered it with a towel, and put Bob's jar on top of it. I touched the jar several times during the night to make sure it wasn't too hot, but the next morning Bob was stretched out on his back, limbs splayed, sweating and panting. So far he'd spent a day in a backpack, had been frightened out of his wits by a shrieking giant, then endured back to back nights of alternately freezing and roasting. I borrowed a cage from friends who kept rodents and Bob seemed visibly relieved to move in.

While I was fond of Bob (who lived to a ripe old mouse age and was charming and friendly to the end) he didn't exactly change my opinion about vermin as a whole. I'm not sure if our current mouse will, either, as I'm leaving on a long-anticipated vacation this morning and told my son that there'll be a cash reward if he disposes of the interloper while I'm gone. "A mouse?" he said when I filled him in. "I HATE mice." Atta boy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Velociraptor Girl

Sarah is being, so....kind to her cousin's velociraptor that it's alternately charming me and creeping me out. Like anything she does, it's just loony enough to make you kind of uneasy. It's not like she neglects her own dinosaurs (there's a sentiment you don't hear very often) but she doesn't exactly pamper them, either. Cade's misplaced velociraptor now has a sort of kitchen area set up alongside his bed, nightstand, plant and motorcycle. It has everything a plastic dinosaur needs, most of it borrowed from Barbie's kitchen. (I asked Sarah why she didn't just use Barbie's entire freestanding pastel kitchen and she looked at me as one might look at someone who'd asked a really, really stupid question. "He's too SHORT," she said. "He'd have to use a stool to reach anything." Oh. Of course. Silly me.) In addition to Barbie's various bottles and pots and pans are the items Sarah has crafted for this velociraptor's use: napkins. Towels. Wads of aluminum foil that I can only assume are....well, I don't know. I'm afraid to ask.

I left dinner (tacos) prepped and instructions for Sarah to do the last-minute things (heat bean dip. Get out salsa and sour cream) but I don't know how much attention she was paying me. I wrote instructions down then and slapped the Post-It right on the counter next to the Velociraptor Hostel, figuring she couldn't miss it there. In fact, the lettuce and tomatoes and taco shells, etc., were encroaching on the dinosaur's temporary headquarters (hey....does she intend him to live there until we leave for the beach and can return the damned thing to her cousin???? That's two weeks of an ever-increasing Chez Velociraptor ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER) which earned the prospective sustenance a few irritated glances while Sarah was earnestly tidying the dinosaur's bedding and straightening his kitchen. Sigh. I know, I know: I should talk. I myself walked past the counter this afternoon and thought, "I bet that velociraptor's getting tired of riding his motorcycle." I'd tucked him back into his bed and was slipping his teddy bear under his arm before I realized what I was doing.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Really, Now: Is This Too Much To Ask?

Please.....PLEASE....bring your library card when you come to the library. I swear: you would not believe how many people assume that no card is needed to check out/renew/look up their account/use the computers. Yes, we can use your license to check out (although I think we shouldn't: you can't hand your library card to a cop when he pulls you over) but the process is simpler if you have your card: your library card. After all, you're at the LIBRARY. Checking out LIBRARY BOOKS.

It's been a day for wacky transactions. We've started a "renew everything" policy when dealing with phone renewals, as these can be time-consuming ("...and I think I have something due on the 3rd but I want everything due on the 6th so I can keep track blah blah blah") if the customer has lots of items with different due dates. So when you tell the person, "Okay, I've renewed all your items and they're now due on th-" nine times out of ten they'll snap, "But I didn't want EVERYTHING renewed!" not? It'll save you from calling back two days from now.

Another interesting conversation I kept having today was the my-internet-was-down-so-I-couldn't-renew-and-I'm-not-paying-the-fine. Hmmm. I have a certain amount of sympathy, buuuuuutttttt......we really don't forgive fines for that reason. Or because your phone was disconnected and you couldn't call. Or you went out of town and assumed that since you weren't home to return your items, we would waive the fine. THEN I heard this today: "What, there's no grace period between when these were due and when you start charging?!" Why, sure there is! It's that two weeks you had the books out!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Holiday Curse

Busy day yesterday. I didn't start until four but could tell immediately what'd been going on: lots of business and the phone ringing off the hook. It continued until closing, when we had a classic scenario: group back in DVD who had to be told we were closed after multiple PA announcements, then when they came to the desk the one trying to check out (after a computer was turned back on to accommodate her)had a big fine on her card. One of her friends checked out instead and had a more reasonable fine (one that didn't block her check-out) and wanted to pay it, but we'd shut down the cash register already: it was well after nine pm at this point. I don't know what it is about a holiday that guarantees mayhem the next open day, but it seemed as though every transaction involved lengthy discussion/complications/oddball circumstances. I was on the phone so long with this one nice elderly lady that when I hung up my ear was sore. SHE wanted to know if the gift shop had a cart of hardcover books out for sale. Well, no. For one thing, it was 8:55 pm and the shop was closed, but I'd seen the cart and it's all children's videos right now, which she wanted to discuss in detail after I'd confirmed that there were no books for sale that day. She wasn't, like, trying to be impossible, but my word: the circular, endless conversation/speculation about the cart and when there'd be what she wanted on it and how often did it change and why wasn't the store open all the time: yeeeesh. She decided to call back today and find out if there were hardcover books on the cart at that time and will get to talk to someone who isn't me as I won't be there: I'm going to Cuyahoga Falls. Thank God.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


A little boy who apparently meets his tutor at the library has become more and more troublesome lately: in the building for hours on end; loud, hyper....he's obviously disabled in some fashion and is very, very odd. Creaky little voice. Bounces off the walls. Nice enough kid.... probably shouldn't be at loose ends, but that's really none of our business: we don't provide supervision to minors. At least he's here during the day and not after school, when I wouldn't trust our regular crowd to treat him appropriately. Yesterday the decision was made to ignore him unless his behavior was overly disruptive, then, if need be, we're to ask him for his parents' name/phone number. There was a certain amount of discussion about whether or not he'd be capable of relaying the information and/or becoming overly upset by being approached (truly, he is a strange child) but that's the plan.

This morning as I was slumped morosely over a cup of coffee while my bath filled, regretting the decision to take a sinus caplet at bedtime the night before (always a trade-off: is it worth it to be able to breathe if I can't sleep?) Nate came in from his run and told me he was going to take the van and get a mile-check on how far he'd gone. Even though I was already pressed for time, I said I'd ride along. Ten minutes into the drive, I heard a familiar voice calling a dog, and who do I see out my window? Our unattended minor, standing on the porch of a little blue house. I made note of the address and was able to figure out his probable name and phone number....just in case. Poor lamb.

I was filling Nate in on why this little boy had caught my attention, and he asked what he'd looked like. HE'D stopped by the library Thursday night just in time to see our security guard (Larry. He's great) boot this smart aleck out and wondered if it could be the same kid. After I'd stopped howling with laughter and slapping my thigh- the same child! Well, no. That would be too much of a coincidence, and besides: drop by any time and you stand the chance of seeing some wanna-be delinquent mouthing off to Larry. This child is something else entirely. He's not deliberately doing anything "bad" (unlike the brat Nate observed being ejected. He had quite a bit to say about this child's behavior) and isn't trying to draw attention to himself, which makes it harder to know what to do. Too, there's an I-know-we're-not-providing-baby-sitting-service-to-this-kid-but-how-do-we-stand-by-and-ignore-the-obvious-benign-neglect-going-on-here issue: we run into this rather more frequently than we'd like. If this child were mine and I assumed he was behaving appropriately while out of my sight, I would want to know if he wasn't. On the other hand, I've put a lot of thought and effort into giving my own nutty child what I hope is an appropriate degree of independence and wouldn't want anyone else second-guessing my decisions....unless she was behaving imappropriately while I wasn't around. Hmm. Hmmm. HMMMMM. Well: not our responsibility.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday Again

Had a nice run of almost-too-busy last night: good. We've had some suspiciously quiet days lately but I figure people are just getting used to the decent weather and will return. Summer Reading's coming up, too, which brings in the hordes. We had our last Sunday hours until Labor Day this past weekend, which is great, free-timewise, but a bit of a blow to the budget. I'll miss that time-and-a-half.

I dropped the kids at school today, finally doing our part to conserve gasoline. My van is more efficient than the wagon and the kids can walk home. I'm still debating walking to work vs. driving: this seems obvious: my workplace is two blocks down the street from my house, right? But I have kids at school, which means that when I get that call ("Mom, I threw up." "Mom, I'm in violation of the dress code." "Mom, I forgot my _________." "Mom, my glasses broke. Again.") I have to return home, get my van, and THEN deal with the problem. I'd be more willing to roll those dice if this hadn't already happened to me more than once. At least then, I was paging and could leave: circulation's not like that. I've had a nice long streak of not having to deal with child-related "emergencies" while at work- knock wood- since I moved behind the desk, but I still worry.

Speaking of: Hannah was trying to bum a pencil off Sarah in the van this morning. That girl is going to be the death of me: a day late and a dollar short, all day, every day. Sarah didn't have one to lend (by "lend" I mean "never see again") so I don't know what Hannah's going to do. I keep repeating my Hannah mantra ("this is not YOUR problem........not YOUR problem......nnnnooooott.... yooouuuuuurrrrrrr........proooooooobbbbbblllleeeemmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...") but I can't help but be concerned and irritated: if she gets into trouble for not having a pencil, that's a moronic reason for being called on the carpet. HER problem, though, and not mine. Nooootttttt.....miiiinnnnneeeee...........

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tuesday Nights

I work one late night- Tuesday- and it's generally pretty calm. Last night, however, about 7pm, we had a run of wacky interactions that made the last two hours of work fly by: a customer insisted on filing an incident report (after a situation that she seemed to have engineered), another customer found something one of our staff had lost and was determined not to cough it up, another customer tied up one computer with an endless discussion of a fine that she wasn't contesting, necessarily, but refused to comprehend. Then one of our "slow" regulars came in, and...well, maybe you had to be there. (Poor lamb! While I don't particularly enjoy waiting on him, it's got to be better than BEING him.) The entire time, Toastmasters (who'd apparently left the door to Meeting Room B open) were whooping and applauding (after arriving way early and agitating to get into "their" room before the scheduled time. Yes, it did appear to be empty. No, that didn't guarantee that the Scouts weren't gone temporarily. Yes, we realized that they would need to set up. Yes. Yes. Yes! But no: no entry until closer to the time they'd reserved) and the phone was ringing with questions about voting. Someone came to pick up the overhead projector and wanted me to set it up first to determine that everything worked on it. I, only once, back when I paged, was a party to trying to figure out how that !@#$%^& thing functioned, and that time, I was bent over it with my boss and my co-worker Matthew, flipping switches and scratching our heads as the bulb refused to come on. When it did, it did so in a sort of Three Stooges manner, blinding us abruptly. I wasn't eager to repeat this maneuver at the front desk. There was a new bulb included with the projector and she kept saying she hoped she'd be able to figure out how to put it in if she had to. Further discussion had her asking if the machine needed to be plugged in to work. I was losing patience at this point- perhaps she wanted to check out a person to set up the projector as well?- but explained that there were directions printed on the machine itself and that if she really couldn't figure it out, she could call and we'd see if someone there could talk her through it. "I'm bringing this right back!" she insisted, repeatedly. "If it doesn't work, I'm bringing it right back!" Hmmm. You're able to check out- for free- an overhead, who cares. Overall it was a quiet night.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gee, Thanks For Volunteering!

I worked the drive-through (thanks, Trissa and Beth!) the entire shift today in order to avoid contact with the person heading up our Book Sale. I felt kind of sheepish- whenever I'm not in actual contact with her, I have a hard time recalling what it's like when I am- so my presence can't be blamed for her behavior today: she was demanding and argumentative. She was mean to one of our regular customers; a nice man who's.....challenged. She tee-d off on why the sale wasn't attended well (I have my own theory, backed up by what I heard at the grocery store tonight, where I- of course- went right after work. "_______!" I said, spying someone whom I know always looks forward to the sale. "Did you buy some good books?" "Are you kidding?" she replied. "Do you know who was running it? No way was I going there. No thanks.") which, as she loudly declaimed, was the fault of someone other than the Friends of the Library: it was the library itself. We apparently were in charge of publicity and dropped the ball. Hmmm. Hmmm. HMMMMMMM.

Book Hell

Second day of the Book Sale and it's worse than the day before: constant demands by the people running it, who aren't exactly being....concerned....that we have customers to serve. Yes, this organization serves a function, and an important one. BUT: as with every volunteer group with which I've ever had an affiliation, there are volunteers and then there are VOLUNTEERS. The first category seems to be able to keep things in perspective: they see their role as support for the parent organization. The second category....oy. There's a type of person who can't function in a "supportive" capacity and has to push continually to be seen as "in charge." I used to think, "Okay. So these people are annoying and rude. They get stuff done, though." I've since revised this assumption: these people (at least the ones with whom I've had the pleasure to serve) by and large are accomplishing no more than their non-pushy/mouthy/self-aggrandizing brethren: they just create so much noise and activity that they seem to be natural leaders. The end result, sadly, is that less aggressive members of the group begin to quietly resign, leaving only those who're hooked on the perception that they're "important." Pretty soon you're all chiefs and no indians, which isn't conducive to running much of anything.

Sale seems to be drawing a pretty nice crowd, anyway. Yesterday was kind of slow.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Books I Have Known

I'm re-reading Torey Hayden's oeuvre (sp?) right now and have been pleased to see that my daughter Hannah is also picking them up. On her website, Hayden has some follow-up material on some of the (now grown) kids from her books and it's pretty cool to see "what happened" after the books ended. Today I flipped open a book to revise it ("Shelter Dogs") and it opened to a photo that could have been Pepper: ha ha! Ha ha ha! Old Dime-A-Dozen: that's my dog. We see Pepper dogs everywhere: Ms. Ubiquitous. Your basic hound. Sarah brought home this big book of dogs once and looked in vain through all the breeds for Pepper....until the very end, where there was a page on mutts.....and there she was. The illustration could've been her twin.

"The Eyes of the Amaryllis" came in for me today: I don't know how it is that I've never read this, but it's so. Someone returned the movie version of it the other day and I ordered up the book after reading the case. I'm re-reading "Delivery" by Jennifer Chrichton (sp?), which is a nice thick book about a nurse-midwife. I'm also reading "Elephant In The Playroom" and "Born On A Blue Day." Last night we watched the short film that eventually became "Sling Blade" and that was interesting. Molly Ringwald (who, frankly, I don't think is much of an actress) played the journalism student.

No "Friend" Of Mine

Hmmm. The book sale is going on right now and has proved to be....interesting. The person heading it up is abrasive and bossy and there's this climate hanging over it that's just sort of odd. It doesn't help that this woman is my neighbor and has had a long history of trouble with not only me but every person who lives in our neighborhood: what on earth is she doing running a book sale? It's obvious that she's not particularly well-liked by the other members of the organization, and her officious rudeness to the desk staff isn't going over very well, either. Huh. It's an odd situation.

The internet has been down all day today and the place is all but deserted. Spooky.

Friday, April 27, 2007

...And A Not-So-Funny Transaction

One day this week while I wasn't at work, a customer pulled up to the window poorly and got out of her car to get her books and locked her keys in her (running) car. Could happen to anyone, right? Tied up the window for quite some time before her husband came to rescue her and etc., but what are you going to do? Everyone does something dumb from time to time. But wait! I was at the window yesterday and the same woman (had to be her. Same type of car, same maneuver- not even attempting to get close enough to conduct the transaction from her car and getting out entirely instead) puts her car about four feet from where she should be (note: I had a lot more sympathy for these drivers prior to an experiment I conducted one morning while using the bookdrop. I wanted to be able to say something like, "If you pull forward at _____ point, you can line your car up right under the window" because so many people can't make that turn. So after dropping my books, I pulled around and placed my van at the window. First try, and no problem. I did it a few more times and left with a question mark all but visible over my head: HOW could so many drivers not be able to perform this maneuver????? Particularly those who use the window ALL THE TIME??????) and gets out, reflexively going to slam her door....with the engine running and etc. I yelped ("Hey!!") and she stopped juuuuuuust in time, but instead of looking, I don't know, sheepish or whatever, she just proceeds to get her big pile of stuff from the back seat and totes it over to me where she announces that I'm to discharge it immediately and then renew what's left on her card. I start to explain that a transaction of that length isn't done at the window (she must've had thirty things piled up in front of her and two of them were kits that aren't discharged downstairs) and she cut me off with "I know the rules. There's no one behind me, so you can do it." I let my expression make my point (I hate when a customer takes this I-know-your-job-better-than-you-do attitude) and began to discharge.

When I'd heard the keys/car story, I'd wondered: who would be so....well, as soon as I realized who the party in question was, it made sense. This lady is in the library at least twice a week and isn't.....present. She's vague and easily befuddled and is the sort of person that has you wondering, "HOW does she pull it together to drive and have children and run a household?" She has several kids and one of them is just vile: raps on the desk when she comes up to check out even when you're looking right at her, is rather self-important....anywho: I discharge the materials and start the renewal process while another customer (who was trying to park) sat behind this woman's car fuming. Mrs. I Know The Rules eyes the second car, seems to decide that since that person wasn't attempting to use the window, she's under no obligation to get moving, and starts badgering me: what was I doing? Could her items renew? What did I mean, one wouldn't? Which one? Why? Which is exactly the same way she behaves inside the building, but...the whole time, there's construction going on in the adjacent parking lot, so everything I say has to be repeated even though I was practically yelling my answers ("I'M RENEWING YOUR ITEMS. I'M RENEWING. RENEWING!!!!") and the Pepsi truck is pulling into the lot. She sees him, runs to her car, puts it in gear, and takes off like a bat out of hell. All I could do was stare, open-mouthed. How do you...what can....

Here's the thing: we attempt to service an awful lot of people who aren't quite.... average. This lady, while irritating and high-maintenance, really isn't all that bad. She generally returns her things on time, sparing us the need to deal with fines (for which she- predictably- has a big problem taking responsibility) and despite her confusion/rudeness/rotten kid manages to get in and out of the building without causing a scene. Probably shouldn't use the drive-up, though. There are quite a few customers like her, actually: the Vague Moms. There's something going on there, all right, but not enough of whatever it is to keep them from living fairly normal lives. They're irritating and can be difficult to handle but are basically tolerable.

Then there's a related category of customers that constitutes a real problem: how do you handle the adult slow-average population? We have about a dozen regulars who have cards but shouldn't because they just don't "get it." ALWAYS have fines that they can't understand. Lose their cards repeatedly. Are argumentative and needy. Are forever coming up to the desk with stuff and having to be told that they can't check out until they pay _____. They need to use the phone. They need a band-aid. They want to tell you all about something you really don't want to know......

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Very Funny Transaction

My buddy Trissa reminded me yesterday of this hilarious situation she handled a few weeks ago: guy comes into the library to get a card. She goes through the list ("Have you ever had a card with us before? Wayne County? Cuyahoga? Do you have proof of current address etc.") and the fellow is, all, "No. No. No. In fact, I've never been in a library in my life." So Trissa sets him up, and discovers that he does indeed have an existing account, which is blocked due to a lost book. He protests that this can't possibly be him, why, he wasn't even living in Wadsworth then: he was in the Navy when that book was checked out! He asked what the name of the book was, and when Trissa tells him, "Naval Ships of America" I all but wet my pants. Oh, man. We laughed and laughed after he (he was a good sport, by the way) left. "But I was in the Navy then! What's the name of this book, anyway?" "Naval Ships of America." Ha ha! Ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Word About Meeting Rooms

The fact that we are able to provide meeting rooms to the public is pretty cool: great service. It does, however, lead to calls like these: "I need to know if there's going to be a meeting for a group called ______ on either May 4th or maybe it was July 22nd. I'm the leader and I think there was going to be a conflict so I want you to tell me when I can set up my glockenspiel, which I will need someone to carry from the car for me," and (this one came in Tuesday night, which- thankfully- wasn't very busy, as I was on the phone a while explaining the various reasons why this likely wasn't going to work) "I need a meeting room for a soccer team on a night when it's raining." Me: "(Puzzled silence)....I'm sorry, did you wish to reserve a meeting room?" "No, I want to bring a soccer team on a night when it's raining so they can watch a DVD. You do have a DVD player, don't you? I'll need a room big enough for thirty and-" Me: "Ma'am, the meeting rooms book in advance. There's a chance that on a given night one might be free but-" "Well, how many rooms do you have?" Me: "Two." "I'll take one for the next rainy Tuesday night and I'll need a DVD player set up." Me: "Um...I don't think...why don't I put you through to the person who coordinates the rooms (forgive me, Janet!) and you can leave a message-" "Why can't I sign up now?" Me: "I can't guarantee that you'll be able to get a room if you don't have a specific date and time in mind." "Well, why not?" Me: "It just doesn't work that way! (Deep breath) Here's how we go about reserving the rooms: __________ __________ (elapsed time approximately five minutes)__________ etc. etc. etc." "So can I have a room?" Me: "Do you have a date in mind?" "Yes, the next rainy Tuesday night, and I'll need a DVD player." Me: "............Let me explain again how this works." She didn't end up booking a room, but I thiiiiink she understood that she couldn't just show up the next rainy Tuesday and expect a room and a DVD player, although it would be kind of fun to see her square off with the head Toastmaster, ha ha.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Heard a rumor that circulation has been down this year. Hmmm. I guess I'll have had to work longer at my ("my!" That's funny) library in order to have a more accurate idea concerning numbers and so forth, because right now....are we collecting the data properly? Interpreting it correctly? Because it doesn't seem logical that the volume of work isn't adding up to pretty decent numbers. ILLs, too, have just exploded: the amount of material that ships in and out ...yow. I don't get it. Hmmm.

Here are a few comments I'm hearing repeatedly:

1) "Where are all your new books? There's nothing back there."

2) "Do you have a list of all your DVDs?"

3) "Do you have a copy of the 'One Book, One Community' book?" (Yes! This has been a pleasure to answer, as we generally do have a copy, and people seem to be taking a big interest in the program.)

It was book report time again this last week or so: countries, this time. The last one was famous people, and as those returns were pouring in (many very overdue) the country books were going out. What else....F. Scott Fitzgerald. We've had a run on "Gatsby."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

One-Armed Paperhanger

Busy, busy week at the library. I don't know if it's the weather or what, but there's been one heck of a lot of disgruntled people: why???? Same policies....same hours (although we were closed on Easter) doesn't make sense. I had a lady on the phone today at the window who's in here ALL the time: wouldn't you think she'd be civil? She certainly wasn't, even though what she needed (items renewed that would be due in a few days) wasn't an emergency in any sense of the word. I really don't get it. I think we go out of our way to be friendly and polite (even as we're telling people things they don't want to hear) so why the attitude? Do we have too many policies for customers to easily remember? Is it that there are so many libraries close by, each with its own set of rules, that leads to confusion? That we don't limit the number of items checked out (except dvds) which enables people to rack up big fines all too easily? Here's something that happened tonight: a woman came up to the returns part of the counter, where I could see her out of the corner of my eye as I made a family account for the customers I was helping. I answered the phone three times during that transaction. My colleague was also making cards (individuals, in this case, for a family) and a third colleague stepped out of the workroom to help with the long line of customers that was accumulating. After sighing and drumming her fingers on the counter, the woman waiting breaks into what I'm doing for the people in front of me and tells me- doesn't ask- that she needs Meeting Room A opened. I see a page come out of the back with his cart, barked his name despite his distance from me, and asked him to please open the room for the lady, whom, when I turned to say, "Bryant will be right with you!" glared at me as though being expected to wait- as everyone else was doing- was intolerable. Well, it's a library, not the express line at the grocery store, for pete's sake.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

...And Another Thing

Something that's a continual issue, circulation-wise, is the Customer Who's Using Someone Else's Card: we've had the policy for, what? HOW many years? You must have your own card to check out. Every day, though, there are multiple transactions involving cards-not-belonging-to-the-person-standing-in-front-of-the-computer. Last night we had two happen simultaneously: my colleague had an elderly lady attempting to pick up, with her son's card, her son's holds, and swore she's been doing it for years. At my computer, I had a grand-daughter returning (my pet peeve. I know, I know: I should get over this already but it does drive me nuts. I do NOT like being handed returns! Put them in the bins! Put them on the counter! Put them anywhere but DON'T HAND THEM TO ME IN THE CHECK-OUT LINE!) and checking out books for her grandmother with her grandmother's card. Claimed she'd been doing so for years. Hmmm. She- of course- could very well have been doing so (you'd scan her card, see a woman's name on the account...what logical reason would you have for doubting it was her?) but it is nonetheless not permitted as per our policy. I told her about Pelican Post, suggested her grandmother reserve holds to her granddaughter's card, suggested her granddaughter merely pick up books (none of them she wanted to check out was a hold) and use her own card (she said she had one in her own name) AND threw out the possibility of a family card if she resides with Grandma (no) but wouldn't do what she wanted me to, which was use her grandmother's card for her grandmother's books. She left with no books and is no doubt still angry about the "service" she received.

I don't doubt that a lot of transactions slip by us that involve check-outs not to the cardholder: it can get rather busy behind the counter, and you have to be continually on your toes. This issue expands to include renewals: we are to renew only for the cardholder, which can involve speaking to a three-year-old sometimes, and exasperation pretty much ALL the time. Someone has gone back to college and her mother wants to renew her books for her. Someone is traveling and his son wants to renew Dad's DVDs while he's in Antigua. We (well, not "we," as the customer is the person ultimately responsible for items he has taken out) run into another problem here as well: the item that cannot be renewed but is at someone's home merrily racking up a fine while the cardholder is in Tibet. THAT person is all but guaranteed to refuse to see his late fee as HIS responsibility.

Being consistent is the answer, but then there's the problem of using multiple libraries, many of which may very well have different policies. Why, then, wouldn't the customer assume it was his responsibility to know the differing rules? ILLs opens up a new arena for confusion: fines differ; circulation times and rules differ, and it's impossible to know every one of the different policies. The best we can do is say, "This item is from Madison PL and is due on ________; it may be possible to renew, but don't wait until the last minute, as there is no guarantee that this item can be renewed." Last night a very nice lady called up and needed a book right away, but we don't own a copy. I couldn't tell her anything about when her book would come in through ILL (impossible. Even a ballpark figure is pure conjecture, and I'd like to get hold of the person who assures customers that "it takes about a week") and she stopped being a very nice lady at that point. I hate having to deal with the exasperated customer who's been waiting for his hold to come in forever: I can certainly understand- there's stuff I'm waiting for right now that I placed holds on LAST APRIL- but can't adequately explain the many, many factors that go into making the ILL process work. It's a pretty complicated procedure. That said: I'd like to see my boxed set of "My So-Called Life" before I'm too old to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Don't Touch That Phone!

Very busy day behind the desk: one of our receipt printers kept going down, and a (large) family came in to get the family cards they'd registered for online, and when we established that, for whatever reason, we didn't have them, my colleague had to handle the transaction then and there: paying multiple fines on individual cards, etc. etc. It took FOREVER and the people just kept coming. I was moving them through as quickly as I could, which wasn't very quick at all: three people in a row needed cards themselves, the phone rang and was stressful and frustrating, and the bins were filling with materials that people would ask about and after saying, for the fourth or fifth time, "No, I'm afraid we haven't been able to discharge anything you've brought back yet" I was tempted to post it on a sign. In the middle of the mayhem I beckon another customer up to my computer, and he has a printout of his account from what I assumed was his home computer. This is never a very good sign, and sure enough, it wasn't this time, either. He wanted me to discharge his items while he stood there- to verify to his satisfaction that I had done so- and wanted me to explain to him why, if he had renewed his CDs online, he was being charged a late fee on them. I looked up his account and found that he had successfully renewed them, but that they were several days late when he had. I told him I'd waive his fine since he felt so strongly that he was being charged in error, but he insisted on paying....complaining the entire time that he shouldn't have to. I quit listening at that point, nodding and "hmmm"ing, as he went on and on about how many people he knows who agree with him that there ought to be a disclaimer on our webpages stipulating that it is unreliable and should be used only in desperation because "not one thing about it is satisfactory." Right about now- he'd already been served and really needed to move on- the phone rang, and I reached for it, still nodding and appearing to be sympathetic, and he says, "Don't touch that phone. I'm right here in front of you, and it's your job to serve ME first." Jerk.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Gee, Thanks! I Don't Know What To Say...

I went in to work early today and had plannnnned to be even earlier but home (Spring Break) was one crisis after another, so I found myself driving like a bat out of hell, then sprinting- literally- from my minivan into the building. I do NOT like to let anyone down, particularly my boss, who is a living saint, and was feeling a bit....flustered. As I went whipping through the workroom with a cart, headed for the drive-up, my buddy Tami all but ran into me: it was 9am on the nose and I had a customer: oh joy. This lady had a hold, and it was one of the ones with a blue stripe of paper and temporary barcode, with which I've dealt maybe once before. I- still clad in my coat, purse over one shoulder- start her transaction, and must've been positively buggy-eyed, because she leaned from her van, knocked on my window, and said, "I'm in no hurry." We kept up a running commentary as I sweated through her check-out (you add a temporary title, FYI) and she was nothing but kind and complimentary. I've always held a bit of a grudge against this patron (abuses her TL privileges) but we talked about my three kids, at home this week, and her home-schoolers, and I feel a tad sheepish now. She even complimented me on how "pulled together" she finds me: I love to hear this, as there's a stout little thick-glasses-ed, poorly-clad girl still lurking within. But wait!

Later, I had a patron on the phone, renewing items, and was feeling my blood pressure in my head: I had spent the morning (surreptitiously: I HATE for home to interfere with work) on the phone trying to get my kids out the door to the dentist with Isaiah providing transportation/finding out Sarah had broken her glasses. I was working overtime to be diligent and kind, and this very sweet person says to me, "I just love our library! Don't you? I can't believe we have such a wonderful library. I'm happy every time I'm there. The staff is so friendly and helpful." Awww..... I thanked her profusely and said I'd spread the word. Kind of makes up for the "What...If.....I....Don't......HAVE...A......Card?" fellow. I'm not, you know, stupid: I know that things tend to balance out, but it was sooooooo nice to hear the approbation today.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Elementary, My Dear

I may've come up with the solution to the mystery of why people are so....disinclined to be courteous at my place of employ. Here's my theory: so many customers no longer come to the library to browse. They're here to drop off items and pick up what has come in through ILL, so they make one stop at the end of the counter to leave their goods, then proceed immediately to the other end to pick up more. Far too many seem to feel that this is too time-consuming, so the transaction goes like this: person is in line with handful of stuff, hands it to you, saying, "I'm returning these and picking up holds for______." So then you have things that need to be revised and discharged and an order to fill. More and more frequently, too, I'm hearing an exasperated sigh when I ask, "May I see your card?" The "may I see your card" question seems to be getting under a LOT of people's skin: why??? It's THE LIBRARY. Maybe it's because of the proliferation of store-specific cards? Because you KNOW who the person is, as he/she is in here all the time? Then shouldn't they know to have their card ready?

I had a really nice example of this at closing last night: guy comes in with his daughter at 5:56 pm. They have two plastic bags of returns, which he hands us right over the check-out desk. He proceeds immediately into handing me his debit card and says he has to pay for a book he hasn't "lost" but doesn't know where it is. I ask if I can see his card, and he puts his hands flat on the counter, leans over until his face is about six inches from mine, and says, voice dripping with sarcasm: "What...if...I...don't....HAVE...a...card?" I blinked a few times, and said that I had to look up his account SOMEHOW and he cut me off by flipping his debit card at me and telling me to just tell him what he owed. I had the fun then of having to tell him we accept only cash or checks and to please hand me either a card or a license so I could look up his account. He was just launching into this seething "Why don't we... just... use... MY NAME?" approach when the customer behind him said "Excuse me" and stepped in between him and me and handed me his stuff, winking and making a can-you-believe-this-guy face, bless him. The angry guy backed off and sort of wandered away then. I ran into him at WalMart not twenty minutes later (gee, wonder if he was there shopping for Easter dresses, too?); lucky, lucky me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Read It In The Paper

There's a letter to the editor in today's Beacon Journal from the mother of an autistic child. She praises the Akron Public Schools, her family, etc., etc., but what caught my eye was her reference to the "Phil Donahue Syndrome," which made me laugh: I knew right away what she meant. We've been Donahued a time or two ourselves. Most people mean well. It's one of those situations where you can make a conscious decision not to be offended, on the grounds of "hey, they only think they know what they're talking about, whereas we DO know" and save your righteous anger for the rare occasion when offense IS intended, which, unfortunately, does happen. Not often, though.

Here are a few of the things that people have said to me that, at the time, made me fume, but now.... okay, depending on the day, I can still work up a pretty good snit. Mostly, though, I have to chuckle: HOW could you voice such....moronic....suppositions?

1) I love this one: "Didn't you have prenatal testing?" I laugh every time I remember the first time someone said this to me. I couldn't believe anyone could be so stupid. The next 500 times weren't quite as funny.

2) "You can't expect the public schools to deal with Sarah!" Well, gee, give me another option and I'll TAKE it. I don't know what people think is out there, educationwise.

3) "Have you considered home schooling?" THIS I heard at soooo many conferences/IEP meetings that I finally had to say something fairly rude in order to make my point: "You expect me to teach, in my dining room, a child that an entire school system can't figure out how to handle?"

Okay, I can feel my blood pressure going up. Maybe I'm not as well-adjusted as I thought.

Last weekend, when we had family here, we were looking at my niece's yearbooks and there was this one senior picture (this, I don't get. I think you ought to be required to have a standard head shot) where a boy was dressed as Superman. Believe me, he didn't look any loonier than most of the other seniors with their artfully crafted statements of individuality (my daughter Hannah told me last year that there was this popular tee shirt that said something like "Dare To Be Different" but that so many people wore it that it should have said, "Dare To Be Similar." I thought of that when I was leafing through the senior pictures, let me tell you) but my cow: the COMMENTS this kid drew from the crowd (all of whom are, yes, related to me.) Turns out the boy was in special ed. THIS cued up a replay of a story that makes me cringe, as MY DAUGHTER IS IN SPECIAL ED: my brother-in-law starts in with how there was this kid they went to school with who was in special ed and that's what they called him, like it was his name: "Special Ed." Ha ha. Really funny.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Longer, Less Amusing Version of the ADT Story

I added a comment to Mr. Nichols' blog today concerning ADT and my in-laws, and here's the unexpurgated tale of "ADT, Part II," or, "Why I Don't Particularly Admire My Sister-In-Law, Part MCVII."

The time ADT called here with the message that a smoke detector was going off at my brother-in-law's house, I was on my way out the door to one of my cleaning jobs. This family had an unlisted number, and I'd refused to give that number to both ADT and my sister-in-law, as I wasn't there consistently and didn't want my employers to be bothered by calls for me when I wasn't, you know, there. I- irritated (duh! ADT had long since worn out its welcome with me at this point: there had been HOW many calls, and HOW many actual emergencies?)- let the machine pick up. When I heard the "smoke detector" advisory, though, I started to obsess: okay. It really wasn't MY responsibility (both adults who ACTUALLY OWN THE HOUSE had work numbers AND cell numbers where they could be reached) but I didn't want the house to BURN, for pete's sake!) I left for my job but couldn't stop worrying. I fretted all day long.

When I returned home, ADT had called several more times, so I started to try and reach my sister-in-law, bracing myself for both how I would explain that I hadn't responded promptly, and the tongue-lashing that was sure to follow. She was working at a preschool run by a church, but the church and the preschool were unrelated, so I couldn't call the church and ask for her, and the preschool didn't have a number listed. I finally got through on her cellphone- after repeated attempts- and was all but wetting my pants as I tried to explain that I hadn't IGNORED the summons, exactly, sister-in-law (who'd had to take her phone somewhere that allowed her to get reception, and must've picked up something on the way to eat, as the conversation was punctuated by chewing and swallowing) said, off-handedly, "Oh, the battery's going in one of the detectors. ADT has to come and change it. (Munch. Gulp.)" Me: "Um...couldn't they, like," "I can't have them bothering me at work!" she snapped.

But wait! There's more: I haven't had a key to my in-laws' house in years (gave it back to them when they lost a set), but remain on the list of people ADT calls. One memorable episode involved a call to my home when I didn't know they would be out of town, but on a whim, I called their number, and got the dog walker: she was happy to hear from me, but wasn't so happy once she realized that I- like her- didn't have a current code to punch into the alarm box. My in-laws had told her a code that wasn't the one actually in use at the time. I called the most recent cell number I had (dog walker had a previous number that was no longer in use, ho ho), and reached the in-laws after an hour or two, only to hear an exasperated, "Well, it's ______ birthday! You KNEW that!" As though...oh, never mind. Let's just say that A) I had no idea when ____'s birthday was, and B) that it was the current code.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Donder and Blitzen

Sarah and I waited all afternoon yesterday for a thunderstorm but were shot down. A smallish one just blew through, but she's at school, where she was no doubt all but crawling under her desk. Sigh. I gave her a granola bar this morning for breakfast (runnin' late) and heard an "OW!" about ten seconds later. Me (no coffee yet: as soon as I get up it's girls-cat-cat-dog-fish before I do anything for, you know, myself): "What th- I mean, is something wrong?" Sarah: "I hurt myself with this stupid granola bar!" She was attempting to eat it in such a way as to spare this one tooth right in the front of her bottom jaw (getting pushed around pretty rapidly by her braces) and the granola bar slipped and scraped this gaping wound on her chin that started as a pimple and is now threatening to take over her face because SHE CAN'T KEEP HER HANDS OFF IT and yes, I've tried flaxseed oil and about 300 other potential remedies and am now at the point of ordering up an exorcism.

The wise woman would be folding laundry and running to the store right now.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's All About Me, Me, Me

My co-worker Janet said something I agree with whole-heartedly regarding the Mr. Rogersization of childrearing: the "you're special just the way you are!" stuff goes only so far toward producing a well-behaved, or rather, an appropriately-behaved child who will eventually become an appropriately-behaved adult. Self-esteem is something that needs to be earned, and is not an end in itself: your self-esteem probably ought to be based on something other than the fact you exist. Janet was alluding to behavior at our workplace, but could just as well be addressing society as a whole, and while I'm easily frustrated when considering "big" issues, I have a few things to say about this one.

The behavior you're willing to tolerate from your children in your home isn't going to be met with universal praise, and it's YOUR job to educate YOUR kids about manners. All too often any more there seems to be this "my kid, right or wrong" attitude that has replaced an expectation that your child has a responsibility to his/her parents to behave decently both at home and in public. It doesn't seem like that big a deal when talking about little kids, until you realize that the first generations of children raised with this l'aissez faire approach to behavior are now adults and are rather more disinclined than not to behave in an adult manner. When I say "adult" I mean well-mannered: I'm continually baffled by how little value my peers seem to place on treating other people with respect. So many of them have this: "me first, second, and last" thing going on, and I just don't understand. Don't you WANT to get along with other people? Don't you WANT your neighbors and co-workers to like you? It goes along with this...this....this vile assertion that I've heard about 5,000 times too often: "I say what I think." Huh. I know what that means: it means, "I care so little about you and so much about myself that I see no need to temper my opinions with grace and/or politeness, and if you don't like it, I don't care." THAT pretty much sums up what passes for "self-esteem" in adults.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fashion Tips for the Disturbingly Puffy Woman

I am SO rotund today! Like a barrel on two legs. I know why, too: too dang much salt these last few days. I look like a buddha. I should know better: last night I was lying in bed eating (mistake #1) Sour Punch Straws (green apple: my favorite!) and washing them down with a big glass of iced milk (mistake #2. I'm too embarrassed to reveal what I'd eaten for dinner, which would be mistake #3) and even as I was motoring through them (what on earth is WRONG with me?????) I was kicking myself. I woke up in the middle of the night with my ears thrumming from the blood racing up to my head: some day my heart is just going to explode. Aaargh. Aaaargh. AAAAARRRGGGHHHHHH.

AND I get to see my freakishly petite sister this weekend (and her wee little children. One would think....we married brothers, right? So why are MY kids these big galoots- even their feet are enormous!- and her's are these dainty little...oh, who cares) so I'll feel even more bovine than usual. Sigh. Where's that muumuu when I need it?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We Eat Again

Big grocery trip today. Last night Isaiah painted the doors (dog scratches: lousy hound) and touched up the trim upstairs (he's doing the floor/banister tonight) while I was erranding and starting dinner (Thai green coconut chicken curry) and when he went to make himself a hotdog we were so low on condiments that it wasn't funny. When I was a child that was the kind of stuff I was oblivious to (and my husband still is, actually): you opened the refrigerator and catsup was just THERE. I need an ironclad list today or I know I'll forget something that will be the first thing someone notices ("You spent $___ at the grocery store today and didn't get _____???") Sigh.

My sister's family is coming up for the weekend. She's a better person than I am: stopping to see my dad on the way. Just reading the email exchanges she forwards here about trying to choose a place to eat dinner while in best to describe my dad? Hmm...where's the thesaurus?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Night and Day

I worked the late shift last night, which tends to be less stressful: not so many angry people, or maybe that's my imagination. I did handle a phone call that had me wondering: a mother called from her workplace: she was supposed to pick up her son but was running late. Was he there? Me: puzzled silence. She asks again: is her son there? She hadn't even attempted to provide a name or description at this point and seemed to think what she had said....I began to explain: "I'm very sorry, but we can't track down children for you. If you tell me his name and he comes up to check out materials and comes to my terminal, I'll tell him you called." She persists: he's supposed to be there using the computer but he's grounded and isn't supposed to be using the computer to play games; can't I just check for her? Hmmm. Gee. In a word: no. She, at least, was amenable throughout the conversation: usually the is-my-kid-there call ends with a phone slammed in ones ear, a la the time- also a Tuesday night!- when an irate mother called: her son had taken the family car (with permission) and she needed it back immediately. She wanted me to find her son and tell him to go home. Well, the place was awash in kids that night; I could no more have picked this child out of the crowd...even after she'd supplied a description, which went like this: I heard her ask her husband or whoever, "What was ______ wearing when he left? Did he have his black jacket on?" Irate male voice: "HOW THE !@## WOULD I KNOW?? KID LOOKS LIKE A !@##$%^&* RETARD EVERY TIME HE LEAVES THIS HOUSE!!!!!!" Well, that describes an awful lot of kids, including my own....

Speaking of: Isaiah was downright chatty when I got home last night. He missed two days of school not long ago (boy's had strep three times this winter) and has had to work like a beaver to catch up. I wouldn't be that age again. No way. I was immediately suspicious (kid has hardly spoken to me in so long that any time he antes up a few consecutive words I brace myself) but...but....maybe.....I shouldn't get my hopes up, but MAYBE he's coming out the other side of this teenager thing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Why did my last post print out as some goofy hieroglyphic-esque font?

What we need here is a Rosetta stone......

Monday, March 19, 2007


Found out today that we'd incorrectly claimed our oldest child as a dependent when filing our tax forms this year. Yow. Big hit to the budget. Oh, man. A mystery, this: our kids get MORE costly as the years go by. Why does the tax credit end just as the truly expensive years begin? The money we spent getting Isaiah licensed to drive (necessary for him to get to the very snazzy full-time job he held last summer, and will hold this summer as well) cow.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mother of the Year

A good mother wouldn't be grouchy on her day off. I, however, am ready to tear my hair out. Sarah is driving me insane (roaming through the house bumping into things) and our water heater needs replacing, preferably today. Nate's shopping for a new one on his way home from church, which means he'll be gone about twelve hours as he comparison shops and shops and shops. Mr. Thorough.

Last night's closing at work was a repeat of Friday night's: way too many customers still in the building despite repeated announcements. I went to lock the doors and a mom/daughters combo, who'd been told to leave through the stairwell door, ignored this instruction and pushed past me and out the handicapped door with this "I'll do what I please" smirk that had me scratching my head. The waiting-until-we're-closed-to-come-up-to-the-checkout-desk thing makes me wonder: maybe we should shut down regardless, and after a time or two of being denied materials, people would learn. I don't know. The balance between following procedure and giving good customer service is a delicate one. We want people to patronize our library, but the overall demeanor of far too many of our customers is just...I don't think it's the library that elicits this surliness: it seems to be universal, but why? And why does it drive us so crazy when people wait too long to check out? Probably because it's not that one instance: it's the day-long accretion: no, you cannot check out unless you have your card or a license. No, you can't have more than five adult and five children's DVDs. No, you can't use our phone. No, we don't have bags. No, you can't use your husband's card to check out. No, you can't pick up your child's holds. No, I'm very sorry, but I can't renew this for you. You have a fine in excess of ______ and it must be below ______ to check out. No, I can't just issue you a new card: you have to pay your fine, and no, we don't waive payment because you were on vacation/have been busy/had a cold/lent your movies to your neighbor and she didn't return them. No. No. Six pm. No.

I REALLY like my job. I believe in the importance of libraries and the services they provide to the public, but am starting to agree with my husband's point of view: he's of the opinion that when people are getting something for free, they're less likely to be polite/conscientious/respectful of what they receive. Huh. Hmm. Food for thought.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wish Fulfilled

"Trans-Sister Radio" was waiting for me when I got to work today. Dig! I won't have much time this weekend, but anyone who knows me knows that won't hamper my intention to absorb more of the printed word than many people do in a year.

We're hosting kindergarten registration and I'm surprised at how it's making me feel. I don't believe in over-analyzing and/or dwelling, so the misery that's dogging my usually sunny demeanor (ha ha! I crack myself up!) has been a bit unwelcome. I barely recall taking Isaiah or Hannah to registration, but I could write a book- okay, a novella- about taking Sarah. I'd dressed her in this gorgeous y ellow dress (she wore a dress every day back then) and wasn't exactly expecting anything in particular: sure, I knew she was a handful, but.... she all but flat-lined the testing, from the simplest physical feats to whatever the heck else they were looking for. Not that this seemed to raise any eyebrows: she was included in the preschool that fall, but it wasn't until kindergarten when her teacher (who'd had my older kids, and had heard my "heads up, there's a real live wire still at home" speech multiple times) was willing to go out on a limb and be blunt about Sarah's issues. Not that that was the "aha!" moment: that was still several years in the future. It's funny: autism, and its related syndromes, seems to be EVERYWHERE now, but I can't say I've seen a potential kindergartener here yet who's struck me (and I've gotten pretty doggoned good at picking them off) as being very Sarah-esque. Good.

Is There Nothing New Under The Sun?

Brought home the new Chris Bohjalian book last night and will be returning it today. I can't seem to find any new fiction that catches my interest these days. I've been disappointed in Bohjalian's last few works (my favorite, "Trans-Sister Radio," may be the least well-known of his novels; "Midwives," which was much more popular, was pretty decent, too) so can't say I was surprised, exactly, to find this latest ("The Double Bind") unsatisfactory. Sigh. I ordered up (ILL, mon amour! My one true friend!) "Trans-Sister" and a sort of companion book I like to read along with it, "She's Not There" by Jennifer Finney Boylan (I think. This is a memoir, and a truly fascinating read. I've been intrigued by a six-degrees-of-separation thing that has Jennifer- once James, if memory serves; I haven't read "She's Not There" in a while- at its center. Richard Russo, who wrote one of my favorite books of all time ("Nobody's Fool") figures prominently in "She's Not There" (he taught with Boylan at - memory's getting a workout today!- Colby College....I think) and J.F.B. pops up in another memoir, just in passing, when she/he visits the author of-I THINK- "You Make Me Feel Like An Unnatural Woman," which is a pretty good account of an older mother's first year or so with her twin boys. (Note how I don't know how to underline titles. I cringe every time I put one in quotation marks.)
After chugging through as much of "Double Bind" as I could, I abandoned it in favor of "East of Eden," which I read with one eye while watching "Breaking Away" with my husband and Hannah. Was somewhat startled to realize that the parents in this movie are probably younger than I am now. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Nate drove the girls to school this morning (Isaiah doesn't go in all this week until 10: OGT) after debating whether it made sense to take them before the weather cleared a little; he had to retrieve his car from the school lot across the street anyway (fills up fast starting at about 7:15, though not- ho ho- this morning) and was pacing around the house like a lion, waiting for a break in the icy rain before attempting the drive into Cleveland. I called the middle school to alert them as to Sarah's potential tardiness (she gets all weirded out if she's late, or even thinks she might be late, which leads all too often to having A Very Bad Day Indeed) and was taken aback AGAIN by how rude the person answering the phone was. If I were to answer the phone like that, I'd fully expect the caller to bite my head off and possibly ask to speak to my supervisor, but instead, I used my best charming-and-a-little-confused voice to explain that Sarah might be a bit late and could someone make sure she wasn't marked tardy? Or if she were, to please not let her know until after school? After all, the weather blah blah blah better safe than sorry etc. The receptionist cuts me off with an abrupt "We don't excuse tardies due to bad weather." Big pause. Pause. Paaauuuussse as I waited her out. "But since you called beforehand...." Uh-huh. Streets are iced over... cars are creeping along.... my husband, Mr. "I Wouldn't Miss A Day Of Work If My Head Were Lopped Off" actually goes in LATE....and the school isn't cutting anyone any slack. Good thing I called (although Sarah was, in fact, on time.) I've never known a child to be so concerned about being late to school.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day Off

Took Sarah to the mall to spend her essay gift certificate: she bought two of these sparkly Barbies at Claire's, where the salesgirl had this BEAUTIFUL hot pink '50's kind of dress. She'd bought it at Wet Seal, so we high-tailed it over there, but they were all sold. Drat! That was MY dress if I ever saw one.

I made a kind of a big deal out of the excursion to honor Sarah's triumphant prize-winning essay and bought her both an Orange Julius and a Subway sub for her dinner. Yes, I know: rewarding with food (it wasn't the food so much as my willingness to buy it: anyone who knows me knows how frugal I am) isn't smart, but I don't care. I wasted how many years...oh, never mind. Sarah is, and is going to be, a grand, big individual. So far, she has none of the weight/appearance consciousness that has warped my life so thoroughly. She ordered a Spicy Italian on white, no jalapenos. God bless, you sweetheart! Eat it in good health.

Rainy Wednesday

My very favorite weather: warm and rainy.

I must be a fool for even attempting another blog; how much rambling does one person have in her? Quite a bit, actually: as I sail through my kids' teen years ("sail." Ha. There's a misnomer) I'm finding a certain amount of tension relieved by the ability to vent, and as I'm not much of a chatterer, writing (okay: typing) fills that bill nicely. (That "sailing" reference brings to mind a quotation from a- of course! - book I read titled "One Small Boat." The author takes in foster children and wrote about a child in particular who was eventually placed with her natural father- who hadn't known about her- after being approved for adoption by the author and her husband. It was a very good book: different from other foster-children-adoption-etc. in many ways, AND had what turned out to be a happy resolution. Anywho: the "One Small Boat" refers to the author's [aargh! What was her name????] prayer: "Oh, God, be good to me: the sea is so wide and my boat is so small." These teen years have my husband and me riding a sort of poorly-assembled raft across the kind of waves that were used to illustrate Sebastian Junger's book (and subsequent bad movie) "The Perfect Storm." And our kids aren't even "bad" (knock wood): they're just teenagers!

What's For Dinner: reubens. Like a fool, I bought this enormous corned beef flat, forgetting that 2/3 of my kids aren't likely to eat a reuben. I myself didn't care for corned beef as a child: it may be one of those adult-taste food products, particularly when you throw in some sauerkraut and rye bread and so forth. I can't recall the last time I saw one of my kids refuse something to eat (too well-mannered, for one, and possessed of distinguished palates, for another. I've never made a separate "kid dinner" here) so they may surprise me. It's not as though you can break down a reuben into more palatable parts: the corned beef seems to be the main issue, so what's left? A sauerkraut sandwich? Hmmm. Grilled swiss on rye. Why am I even thinking about this??? All three of them are more than capable of fending for themselves. (Note to self: buy big dill pickles.)

What I'm Reading Now: dry spell. I have stuff on hold, but it's slow to arrive. In the interim, I've resorted to some old favorites: Tom Perotta's "The Wishbones," "....And Ladies of the Club" (Helen Hooven Santmeyer. I'm post-it noting the references to the Civil War in it for my husband, whom I KNOW would love this book if he could get past the slow first chapter or two. It begins just as Reconstruction is starting and takes place in Ohio. I can't tell you how many times I've blurted out a line from this excellent novel in response to something Nate's said about the war) and "Pearl" by Tabitha King. I started reading her books after having discovered "Midlife Confidential," which is a sort of compilation of essays written by the authors who make up the literary band "Rockbottom Remainders." Her husband- Stephen King- was in the band (wrote a very nice essay, too.) Ms. King writes pretty well herself, although "Pearl" is the only book of hers that I read again and again.