List #211: What Not to Say to a Librarian

It's never easy to meet people when you're out and about in the city. I mean, we all know that bars don't make the best place to meet someone. And well, sometimes the circumstances inside bars don't make for the best conversation.

And most of the time, this doesn't bother me at all.

If I'm at a bar on a Saturday night, chances are I'm with a group of friends. We're catching up with each other, we're drinking, and though we are friendly and talk to people around us we're certainly not thinking that love connections will happen in between rounds of beer.

But somewhere in the course of the night, some guy will come up to me as I'm standing by the bar, and start talking. And just like any normal conversation people my age tend to have, he'll ask me what I do.

And I pause, for just a moment. Because when I take a deep breath and tell him that I am a librarian, this is what happens:

  • Eyes move up and down my body. "You don't look like any librarian I know."
  • Utter disbelief, "Librarian?! Is that still a thing anymore?!" And many other variations of the same.
  • Confessions of not having read a book in years. Really? This is what you think is going to get you somewhere.
  • Comments about how my job must be relaxing, easy, and of course, quiet. 
  • "I have fines. Will you waive them?" I mean come on, that's a lame pick-up line. And of course the answer is no.
  • "Are you a naughty librarian?" Either way, you're not going to find out.
  • "Oh, you must really like the Dewey Decimal System." Actually, I'm on the way of phasing it out of my library.
  • Laughter.
So men, here is a tip. We librarians are educated professionals. I'm not expecting everyone out there to know that in order to be a librarian, you have to have a Masters degree. I'm certainly not expecting everyone to know that the little old lady who scans your books is probably not your librarian. And I wouldn't dream of you understanding all of the ins and outs of my job, just like I don't know the ins and outs of yours. But really? Be a little more respectful. 

Just once I'd love to someone to even say "Wow. I've never met a librarian. What's that like?" Because let me tell you, it's entirely favorable over you mentally undressing me while putting down my profession at the same time. 

And if you happen to have a library card, know that librarians are more than people who read books all day, and actually seem interested in having an intelligent conversation? You're more than halfway there. 


List #210: Growing Every Spring

I've gotten to know myself by now. And at least once, every spring, I grow tired. My body starts to ache. My joints hurt. And I find myself sleeping in a rolled up ball that is painful to wake in the morning.

I'm at that point of my current spring now.

It almost reminds me of the growing pains my younger brother experienced with such force as he grew up. Screams in the middle of the night that his body hurt. Waking up with a tired and groggy face. Not having the energy to do anything other than grow.

A lot of things are contributing to this, I think:

  • 12+ hour work days.
  • Sometimes weeks packed with too many evening activities.
  • My in ability to calm my mind at night.
  • The perfectionism I battle each day.
  • The old tune of "what's next" starting to bubble from beneath.
  • Having so much of what I want, but still wishing for a few more pieces.
  • Breaking in new shoes.
  • Trying to figure out the minds of others.
  • A cat who finds 2:00 am a great time to show me how much he loves me.
  • Finding the balance between rest and too much lazy.
  • Not demanding quiet.
This is not to say I'm unhappy. It's quite the opposite. It's been a great few weeks and though my worries and stress are always there, I'm laughing a lot. but the unrest is certainly apparent. Nights spent in silence, with just a book and a lot of blankets are heavenly. I foresee a weekend with no plans on my horizon. Soon.

But what about you, dear readers, do you ever feel the growing pains even now?


List #209: A Busy Librarian During National Library Week

A few weeks ago I had to explain to a group of people that part of my job requires me to lift at least 50 pounds on a regular basis. I've been working in libraries for five and a half years now and explaining the physical and hectic side of my job is still something I do on a regular basis. So many people just don't understand what a librarian actually does and instead still subscribe to the notion that we're just scanning barcodes every morning and spend our afternoons with our nose in a classic book. And though I'm sure my non-librarian friends get tired of me talking about the library, because surely by now they get it, I still meet people who just don't understand why librarians even exist in this day and age.

Which is why, this time of year, I sigh heavy sighs. April and May are, by far, my busiest months at work. I barely have time to breathe right now and I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above the water. When I finally cross off a task on my to-do list the elation lasts only about 5 seconds, before I realize that there is still so many things left to conquer. There's summer reading, school visits, program planning, huge community events to plan, plus all of the other things that are always in motion: storytime, tackling eReaders, tax questions, pushy patrons, and more and more and more. I don't even feel like I have the energy to socialize after work and end up on my couch with a book and near-constant re-watches of New Girl and Parks and Recreation. Which, in may ways is terribly awesome. And in many ways, terribly bad.

It's National Library Week. And because I'm an overwhelmed librarian, tonight's list are some recommendations you can do to make your (very busy) local librarian happy:
  • Please don't argue over your minute fine. It won't get you anywhere and it will just make your librarian sad.
  • Homemade goods are always a welcome treat. Cookies, cakes, we'll share them with staff. But maybe try something different and gift a savory versus a sweet. You'll go down in library breakroom history.
  • Tell your librarian how much they mean to you. Librarians are public servants. And public servants don't get paid very much, so a pat on the back means more than you think.
  • Even better, write a letter or call their boss and tell them how much they mean to you.
  • Tell your librarian a library-inspired joke. But keep in mind, she's heard the one about the fast-food restaurant.
  • Tell all of your friends about the awesome librarian you know. Send your friends to their library. Set your friends up with the awesome librarian you know who is single. Boost her program attendance. All of these things are good.
  • Check out more books than movies. Even better, add a magazine to your cart. Or an eMagazine or eBook.
  • Tell your librarian that you know they have a Master's Degree, and you respect what they do.
  • Send Ryan Gosling to the library. Have him wear glasses and ask him to check out a thick book.
  • Treat your librarian to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Well, only do this if the librarian is your friend.  As a rule, it might be creepy if you're not.
  • Just love the library.
Your librarian really should be one of the most important people in your life. Don't you think? 


List #208: Quiet Sounds

I took an inadvertent blogging hiatus the past few weeks. Not because I was depressed or very sick (though I did have and still have a lingering combination of allergies and spring cold). And not because I didn't really have anything to say, but mostly because my mind and body felt frenzied. I felt as if I almost needed a break from me. And since science hasn't given us a way to separate our mind and body yet, I just needed a lot of quiet.

How did I find it?

  • Going to bed before 10:00 pm.
  • Exploring the many varieties of sleep apps on m iPhone.
  • Hot tubs with bubbles.
  • Windows cracked on stormy evenings.
  • Burrowed under blankets.
  • Not succumbing to the constant need of sound.
  • Pizza. 
  • Limiting social media. 
  • Long conversations with friends. 
  • Waking up in the darkness and yoga breathing.
  • Showering in the dark.
  • Kitten snuggles.
  • Books in bed.
  • Long walks.
I'm still in search of quiet. And my computer screen is still flickering and causing me issues. And our country feels like it's been punched in the gut again. But I do think the silence is lifting.


List #207: Times You Think of Me

All of the times
  • You hear someone mention the library. Or when they talk about picking books up at their library. Or when someone says they know a librarian. You wonder if it's me, if I'm still sitting at the desk you visited, what dress I'm wearing, and if everything is still in its place.
  • My earring is found at the bottom of your dresser drawer. Lost years ago, soon after I started spending the night, it a lot of time and a shake of a sock to finally reappear.
  • You give someone space in the dresser I bought to match your bed. And left never to return again. 
  • Someone in front of you orders a chai tea latte. It was my drink and it will always remind you of the way I'd curl my legs underneath me and blankets on Sunday mornings.
  • After spring cleaning, when you find the book I loaned you at the back of your book shelf. A little bit dusty, but with the bookmark still in place.
  • You're packing up the old apartment and the notes I'd leave on your pillowcase, after you left for class in the morning, are found in a stack of papers by your nightstand.
  • Each and every time the Penguins win a game. The bar, the nights in front of the TV, the cheering, it all comes back.
  • You stumble into the kitchen, after a few drinks, searching for Coke, or water, or Diet Mountain Dew. And you see the little trinkets I brought back for you, after weekend trips away, scattered in nooks across your kitchen.
  • The song I danced to in your living room shuffles its way into your playlist. And you remember spring afternoons and the way I laughed when you laughed at me.
  • My friends see you at work. This one is impossible to avoid.
  • The first movie you made me watch is shown in the early morning hours when you can't sleep. It's easy to wonder if I'm not sleeping too, even if you have no clue where I'm sleeping these days.
  • When we pass on the street, heading in different directions. And I don't look back or you don't look back. And that's just how it is.


List #206: The Steel Trap

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone! Today on the blog, you're not getting a post written by me. But instead written by HGB over at The Steel Trap. This whole mix-up is coming to you as part of some blogging shenanigans courtesy of Pittsburgh Bloggers and was the brain child of my friend Alex at everybody loves you.... You can read my guest post on Prettyburgh and learn all about the people who are really worth your time.

HGB is a Pittsburgh blogger who loves to read and has a dog. We've never met in real life. But I'm pretty sure if we did, we'd get along famously. 

So without, further ado, meet HGB.

Much like Brassy Librarian, I am a list maker, especially when I am procrastinating, or being bored, or not paying attention. And as a guest blogger* from The Steel Trap, I have like 800 ideas for lists that I could contribute to this lovely blog... books that I think you should read, books that I think you should not read, reasons why hipsters are so totally for sure mainstream, reasons why I think baby/bridal showers should be outlawed, the fast food restaurants with the best condiments, etc. Anyway, after serious contemplation and a thorough reading of Brassy Librarian’s work, here is what I have come up with as my guest blog post: my Mt. Rushmore of Awesome Compliments. 

Now, I know that Mt. Rushmore only displays four heads (and not just from pictures, because I actually have been there to see it for myself); but for the sake of this post, let’s go more with a figurative meaning than a literal one. Mt. Rushmore represents four images of historical greatness... so great in fact, that their countenances were painstakingly and laboriously carved into stone. Thus, the following compliments are the greatest that have ever been bestowed upon yours truly, so great in fact, that they are forever in my steel trap of a mind (and heart):

  • “And my darling, you look wonderful tonight.” Sure, this was stolen from Clapton. But when it was said to a 16 yr. old version of me at the Freshman/Sophomore dance in the Uniontown Fire Hall during a slow dance to “Wonderful Tonight,” it was a teen movie moment that I shall cherish forever (wink wink).  
  • “Your eyes are your defining feature.” I was just relieved that this person didn’t say that my defining feature was my big mouth.
  • “You have always made the best mixes.” I learned from the best (namely my father, JDB). And, if anyone wants me to make them a mix, I will do it as long as it’s via iTunes, youtube, or Spotify. You see, my dual cassette player is ahhhht of commission at the moment.
  • “Don’t frown. You are prettier when you smile.” I was lamenting over a break-up when someone told me this. It was kind, although I don’t exactly agree. I think I have a wicked “Blue Steel” face and my lip curl is unrivaled. However, I do think of those words whenever I am frowning and they still make me smile.
  • “That HGB can really wear a t-shirt.” Someone said this at a party at a cabin in the Fayette County mountains (no, we were not making meth) sometime around the turn of the century. I had never strived to be known for having great t-shirts, but this brought that fact to light for me. I still do have great t-shirts. Like the one I am wearing right now from 1995 that says “We stand out in a crowd” on the back.
  • “You accessorize really well.” Although my husband JTP was not the first (or last person) to say this to me, his statement was particularly memorable because he meant it honestly and said he spontaneously. Long before we were dating, I kept running in JTP on the Southside (most often at the defunct lounge Dolce). On one of those many nights, JTP complimented my accessories and it was then I that I started to pay attention to him in a more friendly (as opposed to a merely acquainted) manner.
  • “You are the only one who could find the most thoughtful, unique gift!” Someone wrote this to me in a thank-you note, and I have to admit that it means so much when I hear expressions like this. Giving gifts is something that I truly love to do, and when those gifts mean something to the recipient, it fills me with bliss.
  • “Without ever being in your classroom, I know that you are an amazing teacher.” A few people have said this to me, and I have taken it to heart each time. I believe that I inherited the teaching gene from my mother and all four of my aunts, and considering that my career is in education, it’s important to me that my daily work is my strong suit.
  • “I love reading your blog.” This is the yin to my yang because I love writing my blog. I never anticipated that people would look forward to the things that I write. Seriously. I started the blog because I needed a creative outlet and facebook status updates were not the right forum for my social media criticism. And here we are, over two years later with yinz still reading and me still writing. That’s pretty great.
  • “There are three kinds of girls: girls you want nothing to do with, girls you want to hook up with, and girls you want to date/marry... You are in the ‘date/marry’ category.” JTP is a bit of a philosopher and he said this casually in conversation after a week or two of hanging ahhhht with me. Clearly he didn’t know me well enough yet to understand that I tend to remember stuff like this forever, but he actually amended it when we got married to, “There are four kinds of girls: girls you want nothing to do with, girls you want to hook up with, girls you want to date, and THE girl you want to marry... you are that girl.” Love him... and his perspective(s).

Now that you’ve read mine, what are the best compliments that you’ve ever received? Leave them in the comments.

Both HGB and I would like to thank thank AFJ over at everybody loves you... for orchestrating this mass guest blogger extravaganza! We appreciate him. Very much. Even if he is better at yoga than at least one of us (ahem, he kicks the librarian's butt at yoga).