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A Day in the Life of a Teen Librarian

In the wake of the NPR story about reference questions before the internet, I’ve had a lot of people asking more specifically what I do as a librarian and if I still get these kinds of questions. And this was right around Christmas where many of the gifts I gave where things I made (or are in the process of making… my family has a long history of giving half completed presents) with skills/resources from my job, so I was bombarded with a host of “when did you learn all this stuff?” queries. To which I replied “umm… it’s pretty much what I do at work.”

This led me to remember how little people know about what librarians actually do.

So… let’s start the new year getting to know each other better, shall we?

I spend usually 2 hours a day on the adult reference desk, or on weekends sometimes I’m in the computer commons instead. In the computer commons I help people make charts in Word, navigate websites and compose emails.  I’ll be honest that working the adult reference desk is not my favorite thing. I don’t really like adults. For one thing, when they come up and bark “computer” or “Sun Times” at me without making eye contact, I can’t respond with a snarky, “I’m sorry, was that a question? Are you identifying this piece of equipment? I just don’t speak mumble, can you speak up a bit?” like I would with my teens. Adults get really pissed when you point out they’re being rude. Apparently. The other thing is that since I work that desk so infrequently there are so many questions that I still don’t know the answer to and that bothers me. Because I’m a know it all.

hermione being a know it all

That said. On the adult reference desk I do a lot of things. More than anything else I find books for patrons. Sometimes they know the title or author. Sometimes they just want “books on grant writing” or “books on nutrition.” I refer a lot of people to our urban fiction section. I tell a lot of people that all the copies of 50 Shades of Gray are checked out and the waiting list is 357 names long. I put books on hold, and do shelf checks for other branches and send books out to other branches. I direct people to websites and track down online resources for them to use.

And I answer the phone. Sometimes I look up phone numbers or addresses of businesses for people without internet or smartphones. I talk to people about upcoming programs. There is one lady who regularly calls with the most random questions. One day I spent 45 minutes on the phone with her explaining the difference between Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Theism. Seriously. I was just happy that was a subject on which I could speak with authority because it’s so much harder when I have to self educate while also explaining. One day I had someone ask me to look up the distance between Toronto and Vancouver and then Vancouver and Prince Edward Island and a bunch of other Canadian locations. Once a patron asked me to track down a Canadian Christian radio program to see if there was any way to listen to it in Chicago.

challenge accepted

 

I also have helped women download papers in order to file for divorce, directed them where to get a restraining order and told them how to apply for food stamps. I’m asked where the computers and the bathrooms are about 150 times a day.

But then, sometimes I am pulled over to a table to help someone create a Youtube account and upload their first video, so I guess it all balances out.

Then I usually get some off desk time in varying amounts. Not usually more than an hour or two, but on Mondays I get a few more. This is when I do paperwork and planning and reading. No I don’t get to just sit around reading novels all day, (though when I’m leading discussions or book clubs I will sometimes sneak an hour or two of reading in) I read reviews of books and keep track of upcoming releases and generally what’s going on in the library world. I’m a big supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks and I have a couple blogs I read regularly that tackle issues and have ideas for programming. There are always lots of emails and I’m on a few committees so there are meetings and planning of events. This is also the time when I teach myself Adobe Creative Suite, how to use the fancy DSLR camera that just arrived in my office, and how to work the 3D printer and make stickers with the vinyl cutter. I plan my workshops during this time and have a sample for most things we make. And eat lunch somewhere in there. Usually.

food is one of my favorite parts of the day

My Teen Space is part of the YOUmedia Chicago network which is is the raddest thing ever:

YOUmedia operates as a drop-in, out-of-school learning environment for teens to develop skills in digital media, STEM and making. YOUmedia applies the practice of connected learning to our programming model. We encourage participants to create rather than consume, and teens are encouraged to learn based on self-interest through intergenerational and peer collaborations. We see the library as a node on a teen’s pathway to lifelong learning, and we connect teens to other learning opportunities that will lead to skill-building as well as college and career development.

During YOUmedia hours I check out laptops and controllers for the Playstation 4 (I know you’re jealous) to the teens and register new teens for the program. Often the teens want to talk about what’s going on at home or school and I try to be a sympathetic shoulder and a source of useful advice. I remind them that getting into college is good and getting in trouble for fighting is bad. But if they do get in trouble, they can always come to me. I’m a safe space in all senses of the word.

I run workshops almost every day on lots of different things. I teach Garage Band to teens who want to be able to produce/create their own music. I help teens make stickers or stuff with the 3D printer. I help with homework whenever I’m able, and point them toward online help sites when I can’t (see also: geometry is dumb). I do workshops in computer coding and duct tape crafts. We have free art time for teens to just bring their creativity. And I have so much I want to do: open mic night, book clubs, FAFSA workshops, writing groups. There is never enough time and never enough duct tape.

the clock is ticking

While actively teaching and managing logistics I’m also the one doing the wrangling. Mediating arguments, keeping the noise level reasonable (I’m not a shushing librarian, but screaming across the room is a little much), making sure our fancy tech doesn’t get stolen. I’m the one who knows that [redacted’s] short fuse is about something at home and not about the kid who just looked at him ‘wrong.’ I’m the one who listens and doesn’t judge, who always gives them the benefit of the doubt and talks to them like they’re human.

You’d be amazed at how rarely teens encounter this.

I talk to teens about books: what they’re reading, what they’re forced to read, what they like to read for fun. I have no problem telling them that I hated Great Expectations or thought The Life of Pi was a piece of  pretentious, masturbatory garbage. Most often I’m asked to help them find “a book that isn’t boring,” for them to take to school.  We talk about what they changed in the latest Hunger Games movie (aka critical analysis) and why banning books is dumb.

Amidst all of this, I try to teach small lessons. Like when two boys come to sign in and one turns to the other and says “Ladies first” and the other kids giggle, I ask – with my serious face on – why that is funny? Not in a mean or defensive way, just pretend to be confused and get them to explain it to me, because that process makes them realize that the foundation of the quip is the belief that being a girl is bad, and since we all know that being a girl is awesome, that doesn’t really make sense, huh?

We call these “teachable moments” and they’re perhaps the most important part of what I do.

obviously

And then I go home and I read YA books and I take online classes to teach myself photography skills so I can do workshops with the teens on that. I meet with other teen librarians and we talk about books, what we liked and didn’t like, and I’m reminded that even among us there can be widely different views.

And I think the best part of my job is that when friends or acquaintances contact me on facebook and ask for recommendations for themselves, for their parents, for their nieces and nephews and kids, I am happy to oblige!

And then some days, not many, but once in a while, I get to spend the day at a comic conference or a book awards discussion or play the new video games that just arrived. (You know, so I can talk about them with the teens that come to play.)

The days of the shushing, pre-internet librarian are done, but we are what we’ve always been – there to help you. And as a Teen librarian, I am here to help teens start to become the people they want to be.

And the rest of the time? I’m like this.

imreading get out of my room

 

 

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Ring Out Wild Bells

That’s right, it’s time for a nostalgic end-of-the-year post. You know you love it.

Looking Back

2014 – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’ve never actually read A Tale of Two Cities. Mostly because I find Dickens boring as fuck and I never had it assigned to me in high school. However, this super famous opening line pretty much sums up this year for me.

I started this year in one of the darkest places I’ve ever been in my life – and I’ve been through some shit, ya’ll. In general, the last 10 years have been pretty shitty. Partly because everyone’s 20s totally blow. Partly because I was figuring out who I was – coming out of the closet, working out what I wanted to do with my life and then trying to start to be a person. And partly because sometimes the world shits on your head and calls it a hat.

At the start of 2014 I was working a very part time job as a library associate in a small library in the suburbs of Chicago.  My lame ass job was not enough to live on and pay my insanely enormous student loans, so I was also waiting tables at the local Olive Garden. And I had another job doing data entry because it had flexible hours.

I had – count them – not one, but TWO masters degrees and the most common question I was asked from January to May was, “Can we get some more breadsticks?”

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I was constantly anxious. Anxious that I would get strep throat because I had no insurance, or god forbid break an ankle or something. Anxious that my car would break down since I had no money for repairs. Anxious that I had made the worst decision in my entire life when I left teaching even though it literally made me suicidal. Anxious that I would never ever get a full time job and would default on all my loans and would have to go back and live with my parents for the rest of my life like the giant loser I was convinced I was.

But I did the only thing I could do. I kept applying. I got better at applying. I got better at interviewing. But mostly I just had to wait until things lined up.

In April of this year, I had 7 interviews in the span of 2 weeks.

I was offered every position except one.

And in June I started my current position as a YOUmedia Teen Librarian at Chicago Public Library.

It’s literally the dream job. The Best of Times.

It’s the job I cited in a practicum presentation about teen programs and teen spaces that were leading the way in the field. The job I molded my library school courses around building my qualifications for.

The second half of this year could not be more different to the beginning. I live in a city I love and have made friends with a group of amazing, smart, wonderful queer women. I have coworkers that inspire me and make me want to hang out with them and talk about books outside the office (aka over beer).  I finally cut a totally toxic person out of my life and couldn’t believe the weight that lifted off my shoulders.  I work with kids who make me laugh and have so much hope and promise that shines through their faces. I care about these kids. I worry what the world will do to them. I can’t change the world, but I can teach them a few skills to take with them. I can tell them they are valued. That their lives matter.

I feel a sense of purpose. And I know, Mr. Feeney, that I’m doing good.

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Looking Ahead

I’ve found that being in a good place emotionally has drastically changed my perspective on the holidays. Where I’ve usually been a total Grinchy cynical Scrooge for my adult life, this year I found myself getting all kinds of in the spirit of things. I put up a Christmas tree and everything. So I guess it’s not surprise that as the girl who has always despised New Year Resolutions, I find myself looking to the future all resolution-y.

I still maintain that much of the hype around resolutions is crap, and that resolutions are so often framed in negative language. We resolve to “stop” this or that, to “lose” this or that. I just flat out refuse to cave in to that mindset.

So while I am an utterly fantastic human, there are things I want to do this year that will improve my general awesomeness.

  1. Apply for the ALA Emerging Leaders program. This in conjunction with generally becoming more active in the national ALA, YALSA, & GLBTRT organizations. I want to start putting myself in a position to be on committees, submit reviews to publish in VOYA and School Library Journal. I want to be part of the national conversation about teen services in libraries. (professional goal)
  2. Finish my novel. I completed 50,000 of a first draft for NaNoWriMo this November which is the longest I’ve ever written on a single project. It got me about halfway through the story, and now that I’ve worked out a lot of narrative kinks (I made some major changes to a major character) I’m starting over at the beginning. I want to have a full first draft done by March and a full revision done by October so that I can embark on a new project for next NaNoWriMo. (artistic goal)
  3. Exercise 2x per week. One thing about waiting tables was that I walked like 6 miles every shift. I walk a lot because I live in Chicago, but less so now that it’s cold. And in general I am a happier person when I am more active. I sleep better. I crave more healthy food. I feel better about myself. So I want to exercise more. Which can mean talking a long walk, or going to the fitness center, or doing my yoga video. Twice a week. Totally doable. The goal is to be healthy, not to lose weight or look like a supermodel. Just to be the best version of  me as I can. (health goal)
  4. Cook Healthy Meals 2x per week. Again, with the small goals. I cook a lot now, but it’s more along the lines of spaghetti, or chicken with pasta, or cheese quesadillas.  Carbs are cheap and filling. And delicious. So I need more fruits and vegetables in my life. I bought a steamer insert so I can steam broccoli and asparagus. Cooking complete meals takes planning, and I’m only cooking for one, but my goal is to cook two real, balanced, healthy meals a week. Because my plan is basically to live forever. (health goal)
  5. Pay off Credit Cards. I don’t know if this one will actually happen, but I would love to have all my credit card debt paid off by the end of this year. I’m budgeting like a maniac. And I hate having to say no to fun things, but I’m finally starting to work out this whole adulting thing and I’m trying to keep it up. (adulting goal)
  6. Blog. So I’m still kind of finding what I want this blog to be but I know I want to get back to blogging more than I did this past year. I want to review LGBTQIA+ and other diverse YA books. I want to talk more about my experience as a teen librarian. I imagine that occasionally I’ll rant about things not related to libraries or books, but I want most of the focus to be on those things. (artistic/professional)
  7. Read Diversely. For me this means something slightly different than it probably does for other people. I read a lot of YA lit, and a lot of Queer lit. This is partially because of my job and partially because I like it. So this year I want to try and branch out.  I want to read more adult books, more non-fiction, and more of the classics that I missed in high school. I want to read more books by/about people of color and by/about folks who are differently abled. I also want to read more books by people with whom I disagree. And I already read a lot by women authors, but even more so. (life/professional goal)
  8. Learn my fancy camera. So when I told my dad that part of my new awesome job involved teaching about photography and how I need to learn about that before I teach it, he loaned me his old but still super fancy DSLR camera. So I want to learn how to use it and how to take awesome pictures. (artistic/professional goal)

I feel like I’m in a great place and I want to keep being in that great place. Developing the friendships that I’ve made these past few months. Doing the dating thing (I’m really bad at it). Being generally awesome at my job. I’ve been adulting so hard and I want to just keep adulting harder.  I have a lot of hope for 2015. I have a feeling it is gonna be

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Fantastic.

 

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Book Review: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Mini Review: Gabi!! Be my BFF! And then can we travel back in time to give this book to my 17 year old self!

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Title: Gabi, A Girl In Pieces

Author: Isabel Quintero

Published: Cinco Puntos Press, 2014, 284 pages

Recommended if you like: Books with Diverse Characters, Novels in journal form, Positive depiction of fat girls, Empowered teen feminist girls, Zines/Spoken word poetry

Read-a-Like: Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jellicoe Road, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Rating: 6 out of 5 Scotchmallows

First Line: “My mother named me Gabriela after my grandmother who– coincidentally–didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was not married and was therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many MANY times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story forms the basis of my sexual education.”

Oh Gabi, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

This book is basically perfect, y’all. I’m trying to think of something that could be better in this book and the only thing that comes to mind is that…. nope. Nothing. I can’t think of anything that could be better in this book.

So.

The whole book can basically be summarized by this quote:

“It’s probably hard for [my mom] to have been raised in some pueblo in the 1970s where being good at housework and being pure were seen as necessary traits for being married– because that is what you were supposed to aspire to do. So it’s even harder (I’m guessing) to raise a Mexican-American daughter in Southern California in the 2000s, a girl who thinks that being good at housework and having an intact hymen are totally overrated.”

Swoon.

Things I love.

Feminism

Gabi is the most/only outspokenly feminist character in YA I have ever encountered. She takes down rape culture with her poem Instructions for Understanding What ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Really Means. Makes a zine (a zine, y’all a FUCKING ZINE!) titled The Female Body about all the things teen girls need to hear about their bodies but no one ever tells them. She smacks the shit out of a boy who totally deserves it at one point. She supports Sebastian coming out without trying to make him her purse dog, and takes down people who say stupid shit about him. She actually uses the words “you do you” at one point. Gabi talks loudly and repeatedly about a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants, say whatever she wants and do whatever she wants and how it’s total bullshit when there are different standards of behavior for boys/men and girls/women. When she decides to have sex she buys condoms, because she knows she shouldn’t depend on the guy to be ‘prepared.’ She doesn’t fancy the ladies herself but comments that there is nothing wrong with that. She accompanies a girl she doesn’t even like to get an abortion and supports her through it. She is my fucking hero. Oh if ONLY I had read this book when I was seventeen!

Ethnic Diversity

Gabi is Mexican American. A light skinned Mexican American. She talks about how people are always surprised that she speaks Spanish and how she gets sunburned super easily and how annoying it is to be whitewashed when she’s totally Mexican American. Have you ever seen the word “whitewashed” in a YA novel before? Because I really don’t think I have. A word used about YA novels, but not a girl pointing it out along with cultural appropriation and racism and being like ‘this is bullshit guys!’

Fat Girl

Gabi is fat. She describes herself as fat. She talks about food. A lot.(And really made me want to eat some tacos.) She admits to being an emotional eater, using food to deal with her feelings, but in a *shrug*-I-really-like-Girl-Scout-Cookies-okay? kind of way and not a this-is-a-traumatic-confession kind of way. There are people around her who hassle her about losing weight, but she maintains a pretty well balanced self esteem about it,

“Sometimes I don’t want to see myself naked. Sometimes the mirror is my enemy. I mean, I would never dare ask it who the fairest of them all is because I know the response would make me weep. But sometimes I feel okay about how I look and even think, I’d tap that, why not?”

Fuck yeah, Gabi!

Tangentially– she simply is the weight that she is. The book is not about getting fat or getting thin. It’s about a girl who, among many other traits, describes herself as fat. And is as much okay about it as any of us are about any one attribute of our bodies at any one time.

Life Sucks

Gabi’s world is real and has real problems. She isn’t limited to just one problem novel scenario. At first glance the list of things that touch her in a year may seem kind of like a lot: pregnant friend, another girl in school who gets an abortion, rape, drug addict for a father, gay best friend gets thrown out, dad dies, brother gets arrested. It’s a lot. Except in many teens life ALL these things DO happen. Teens lives are not a problem novel. Sometimes you barely have time to get over one shit storm before another hits.That’s what happens to Gabi and it’s so good for teens to see that.

Martin

Gabi has a few boyfriends, and, like, yay for a fat girl having more than one boyfriend!!! But Martin is clearly the winner. He respects her as a person, as a writer, and he DOESN’T EXPECT ANY COOKIES FOR THIS! He respects her body. And again, he just DOES and he doesn’t expect any props or rewards for being a decent fucking human being. He has condoms for them on prom night, but is clearly all about enthusiastic consent. He cares about her feelings and he loves her for who she is.

“No judgement here, Gabi. None. I love the person you are and wouldn’t want you to pretend to be something you’re not”

Poetry

She writes some really awesome poetry. She compares love to a geranium rather than a rose. She deconstructs her father’s drug addiction. She analyzes why sometimes a grandparent dying after forgetting everyone is partly a relief. She also has the coolest teacher ever who encourages her to write about things — even things that she is not technically allowed to encourage Gabi to talk about because policy in public schools is dumb. She introduces them to Maya Angelou and Sandra Cisneros and ee cummings. When Gabi’s dad dies, she is the only one to address the elephant in the room.

 “She tells me to write about it, that writing helps…She breaks the school rules– and hugs me as I cry all the tears I’ve been trying to hold back at school.”

(No, YOU’RE crying at that line that brings back all the feelings you had as a former teacher in a rough area.)

Palabras en Español

Gabi is Mexican American, so it makes sense that she speaks Spanish, right? She talks about how her poetry teacher told them they could put Spanish words into a largely English poem and she was surprised. Likewise, the author has Gabi write sometimes in Spanish. Sometimes she recounts what people say to her, and sometimes it is her own commentary. Now, I’m not a Spanish speaker. I know just barely enough which, cobbled together with my opera singer Italian, gives insight to a few words. But even so, I never felt lost. Even so, I always understood what she was saying. And also it is very good for me as a privileged white person to have to look up a word or two, to have jokes that I’m not in on. ITS OKAY IF NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT WHITE AMERICAN CULTURE Y’ALL! And for a Spanish speaking teen– what a validation it must be to see both halves of your cultural identity so clearly represented.

In Summary

Gabi feels real. She is walking contradictions. She is emotions and hormones but also a careful and contemplative person. She is a fiercely loyal person. She is a generous and protective friend. She has a realistic view of the world while still believing that it can be wonderful.

I want to be her BFF. We can sit in my apartment writing poems and eating Girl Scout Cookies FOREVER!!

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It’s Almost NaNoWriMo Time!

My boss ran the Chicago Marathon last week. Apparently she does this every year. I learned about this astounding feat of athleticism a day or two after the race, and told her how awesome I thought it was.

“Oh,” she said,” I run it in like 6 or 7 hours, though. Not very impressive.”

“But you finished!” I said, still amazed to learn this information.  “You ran a marathon! You ran 26 miles. I couldn’t run 26 blocks.”

“Oh, it’s not a big deal,” she said modestly.

But I was still floored. It IS a big deal. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t make the cut for the Boston Marathon, or the Olympic team. She RUNS A FREAKING MARATHON!!! THAT IS BOTH A BIG DEAL AND IMPRESSIVE!

I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Not because the act of running that much over that length of time necessarily seems super fun to me, but mostly because the act of completing a marathon seems utterly impossible.  And I like the idea of doing something impossible.

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The other thing that has always seems utterly impossible to me is writing a novel.

And because I’m better at words than sprints, I’ve decided to conquer that one first.

So.

I am going to write a novel.

I’m going to write the first draft of this novel in November for National Novel Writing Month. There is something terrifying about saying “I am writing a book.” The few times I have uttered this phrase I feel pretentious, ridiculous, like a total faker. I have a HUGE case of Impostor Syndrome.

I think this comes from my Scandinavian background. My rural (ish) midwestern mentality. Dar Williams said it perfectly when she sang:

 “Back where I come from we never mean to bother, we don’t like to make our passions other people’s concerns.” ~Iowa

And even while I encourage my teens to participate, while I support my friends with their own creative self-expression, there are these vampires in my head that say “you don’t have anything interesting to say,” “what makes you think anyone cares?” and, of course, “who do you think you are?”

The vampires in my head, the perfectionist in me, the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ mentality I have, the part of my brain that says ‘it’s no good playing if you can’t win’ tells me that that unless it makes the best seller list I’m just another loser who claims to have written a book.

However, the rest of my brain knows that the vampires are just telling me that because they’re scared. Scared of failing, and scared of succeeding.  And as Sara Bernicasa recently wrote, when things scare us we should just DO IT ANYWAY.

I agree.

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It’s equally as impressive to me that my boss finished the Chicago marathon in 6 hours as it is when people finish it in 3.

It is equally as impressive to finish a manuscript of a novel that is never widely published as one that makes the best seller list.

And the only way to get better at things is to start doing them in the first place.

So I’m writing a book for NaNoWriMo.

A book about friendship. About performing. About failing. About succeeding.

Maybe it will be shit. But I’m going to write it anyway. And after November I’m going to rewrite it and rewrite it until it’s the best I can get it. Because WHY THE HELL NOT?

And maybe in there I’ll start running, a little, too.

I like the idea of being an Impossible Girl.

 

 

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Why I don’t have internet at home

**I want to preface this by stating that I know the importance of regular access to internet for living in this modernize world. The digital divide is real and is a major problem and if I had a magic wand I would FIX THAT SHIT immediately. I am NOT saying that home internet access is a luxury for EVERYONE. For many, and especially for the working class and poor that can’t get access to the internet other places, home internet access is a NECESSITY. The point I am making is that I discovered that home internet access is not something I need to survive. Me, personally, and not anyone else. But that maybe others in a similar situation to mine don’t need it as much as they think they do.**

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am a big fan of living in a world where I can google questions like “how big are Monopoly squares” and learn the answer immediately.

I am a big fan of paying minimal amounts of money for access to huge amounts of entertainment.

Oh, and there’s that other thing…

(you know)

But after moving into my new apartment and being in between paychecks and not having the money for all those start up costs and so just going without having high speed internet at home for a while… I discovered

I kind of like not having internet in my apartment.

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INORITE?!!

Here’s the thing.

I spend between 2-6 hours a day sitting at a computer, depending on what day it is, how busy we are and how much non-computery stuff I have to do. And even then I have a lot of flexibility. So I can check Facebook every hour or so.  I can spend a while in the morning reading articles.  I can watch an episode of something over my lunch break.

(I will reiterate that I am aware how fortunate I am that this is the case. When I was waiting tables I had no time to do anything but run shit all over that damn restaurant. I am very lucky now.)

And when I have days off (because again I am fortunate to have days off) I can walk a few blocks to my local public library branch, or to the neighborhood cafe if I’m feeling fancy, and sit and watch OITNB or pay my bills through a handy bill payer thing on my bank website so it takes 3 minutes, or download books on my ereader or WHATEVER while I sip my white chocolate mocha with whipped cream (because, seriously if you’re going to get a drink that is pure calories and caffeine at least COMMIT to it amirite?).

And I have an iPhone (another luxury, I know) and so if I have the IRRESISTIBLE URGE at 3am to know why that witness on NCIS that I’m rewatching on the DVD’s I own bc I have a huge crush on Pauley Perrette  looks so familiar, I can IMDB it on my phone and satisfy my curiosity.

And I can check twitter to keep up with the latest time warp fuckery that is currently consuming our nation. (Seriously, did I accidentally get sent back to 1945?)

AND I’m not in school anymore and therefore don’t have homework. It’s impossible to do school without internet access anymore. For anyone. I swear Pre-Schoolers have online requirements.

So what am I really missing out on by not having internet in my apartment?

  1. A tiny bit of convenience
  2. A continuous stream of television

Seriously. That’s it.

For me. That’s it.

And it’s amazing the shit you can get done when you don’t spend 18 hours a day watching netflix and scrolling down tumblr and watching stupid Youtube videos or reading articles that you know will make you mad but what the fuck else do you have to do and the urge to click is just SO DAMN STRONG.

Seriously. It’s amazing.

I make my bed. I do yoga videos. (mental note, buy new yoga video.) I cook actual meals. I even occasionally BAKE y’all.

WHO THE FUCK AM I??

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It’s crazy! I have all this time!

I read even more books than I used to. I started working on a cross stitch project I hadn’t touched in years. I’m learning more about photography. I take walks in the park. I

I just got a book on fonts from the library.

My journal and I are getting reacquainted.

And I’m starting to run again.

It’s amazing. Seriously. I had no idea how much time I spent falling down the rabbit hole of the internet until I had to go without it.

Now instead of getting sucked into clicking on everything, I walk into the library/coffee shop with a list of things I need to do: pay bills, order that book, google this question, email so and so. And when it’s done I go home. I’m much more focused now when I’m online, instead of jumping from one thing to another. (Unless it’s slow at work and I have 20 tabs open like right now)

Yeah sometimes I feel like I miss things, but if I don’t remember it the next day to look at it IT’S PROBABLY NOT THAT IMPORTANT!!!

So that’s #1.

And as for #2, it turns out that not having endless access to television is good for me. Emotionally. Spiritually. Grammatically.

Seriously.

Maybe this sounds like the weirdest thing ever, but when I watch a show for too long it really alters my mental state. Especially dramas– which is what I tend to watch most. I go to this melancholy ‘what does it all mean’ ‘nothing means anything’ ‘everything is SO DRAMATIC’ place and it can take me a while to snap out of it. When I get into a show I will ignore the entire rest of the world, and not in a ‘that’s kind of quirky’ way, in a ‘seriously kind of unhealthy way.’

I’m not saying tv is bad. I love tv. I am saying that I am a happier, more mentally stable person when I have limitations on my tv consumption. I am bad at limiting myself. I am bad at actually turning it off after 5 hours and going and doing something else. So only being able to watch 1 episode a few times during the week over my lunch break is good for me.

I have to DECIDE to watch a movie and what movie I want to watch, which is actually kind of refreshing alternative to the vastness of indecision I usually feel. And if I decide that I don’t to watch any movie enough to go down to the Redbox and get it, then I decide to do something else instead of spending 5 hours online looking for a movie to watch.

And instead of spending 2 hours finding that perfect gif I spend 20 minutes and CALL IT GOOD.

It’s this making a decision thing that is the biggest change. Instead of just taking the first thing that pops up on my screen I make conscious choices about how I spend my time.

The other thing is that being away from social media is actually really good for me. I love me some social media. I find it useful and interesting and amazing the way it connects people. But I can only be angry at the state of the world for so long before I just have to go gather some rosebuds while I may. I can only take so many reminders of the rape culture/patriarchy that we live in, so many frustrations at social injustice, so many voices tweeting in my ear before I have to get away and clear my head and remember that not EVERYTHING is going to hell in an actual handbasket.

Sometimes you gotta disconnect, y’all.

When I tell people that I am choosing not to have internet at home they look at me like

images

It’s actually a relief.

Turn off your internet, friends.

There IS life, it turns out, outside your apartment.

Go experience some of it.

 

 

youth-cannot-know-how-age-thinks-and-feels

Teens and Tough Love

I had to kick out my first teen last week (well, my first in this particular job). And not just for the day. From the Teen Space, pretty much forever. He’s allowed in the rest of the library and he can come in and check out books quickly and then leave, but he can’t hang out in the space during Teen hours and he can’t check out any of our equipment.

Because he stole something from us.

He actually stole something from a different YOUmedia site, but after two days of emails between myself and the other YOUmedia staff we concluded that since we are a network, consequences should be enforced network wide. And we don’t want kids to think that they can steal something from one site and then just start going to another with no consequences. It’s a privilege to have the tech we do and it needs to be treated accordingly. We need them to get that, and the vast majority of them do with no problems. But this one thought he could take advantage of us, and that just doesn’t fly.

I know it’s the right thing to do. But still, it was hard to sit down and tell him this.

Because he is, in general, a pretty good kid. He clearly has some issues going on at home. He’s super needy, and not good at interacting with other teens. And part of me wanted to give him a second chance. I want the teens to always know I have their back. But in this case, having his back meant making sure he understands that actions come with consequences.

And what made it harder was sitting him down and confronting him, watching him continue to try to lie to me. He didn’t get volatile, or violent or anything. But he kept lying to my face, even though I had proof of the truth. I can enforce rules and consequences, but I can’t make him learn that owning up to our mistakes is the best thing we can do. Some people never learn that… too many. I hope he isn’t one of them.

I work in an area where crime is almost a given, a way of life. These kids face violence, dodge gang recruiters, deal with home situations that I can barely imagine. And they’re teens, so they think they’re invincible.

Sometimes it’s my job to give second chances. To be understanding. To be forgiving. But sometimes its my job to say “this is the line, and when you cross it there are consequences you can’t talk your way out of.” Hopefully he won’t steal things anymore. Hopefully he’ll learn his lesson. Hopefully this behavior won’t escalate.

Hopefully.

The hardest part about my job, the hardest part about working with teens, is letting them make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. Better here, now, with me than somewhere and when with life altering repercussions. The hardest part is knowing why they do what they do and not being able to pour what I’ve learned into their heads. They have to learn it themselves.

My favorite Dumbledore quote is from The Order of the Pheonix, “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”

It’s because I understand, because I remember that I chose tp work with teens.

But that doesn’t always make it easy.

no one needs to know

Book Review: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

no one needs to knowTitle: No One Needs to Know

Author: Amanda Grace

Expected publication: September 8th 2014 by Flux, 240 pages

Recommended if you like: Sarah Dessen, LGBTQ stories, twins, realistic fiction, non traditional love triangles

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 smuggled xanax pills

Mini Review: Sometimes the cliché of opposites attracting has more to do with differences in socioeconomic structure than in attitude, life goals or gender.

ARC provided through Netgalley

Summary

Olivia and her twin brother Joey have been BFFs their whole life. Their rich parents have never spent much time with them, and now that they’re old enough, they’ve been left basically alone in a fancy condo with an ocean view. They’ve only ever had each other (and a lot of money), and that’s always been enough. But now they’re juniors in high school and Olivia can feel Joey pulling away from her. New interests, new friends… they don’t seem to have anything in common anymore.

Until  Zoey.

Zoey is the girl from the other side of the tracks. She attends Olivia’s private all girls high school on scholarship and is mercilessly bullied by Olivia’s best friend. When the two girls are partnered together on a project, Zoey finds herself spending time with Olivia… and with Joey. Olivia doesn’t expect it to last—Joey’s flings never do—but just as Joey admits to deeper feelings for Zoey, Olivia starts to realize how much she cares for Zoey as well. Olivia must decide whose happiness is more important: her brother’s or her own.

The Good

Lesbians!! Who doesn’t like queer women falling in adorable love amirite? This is a good example of a coming out novel that’s not a coming out novel. The main conflict arises from Olivia’s not wanting to hurt her brother, not from self-loathing or angst about being queer. In fact there is almost no discussion of labels at all. Zoey and Olivia simply find themselves falling in love. And while we certainly need stories that explore the “coming out” journey because those stories are still TOTALLY RELEVANT it is also nice to see books where falling for a girl isn’t that big a deal.

Olivia’s best friend Ava is a bitch and it takes her a while, but Olivia finally stands up to her. How many of us – beautiful, smart, talented people—spent high school feeling like we weren’t quite worthy to hang out with someone in our friend circle? How many of us kept our mouth shut when our BFF said something mean about someone else? How many of us have had to break up with a toxic friend? Watching Olivia finally say “enough is enough” was super gratifying for the seventeen year old girl inside me who was too afraid to do that in high school.

The Great

This book does an excellent job of showing the stark divide between the haves and the have nots. Olivia has a new car; Zoey works double shifts at the local fast food joint to help her mom pay rent. Olivia has a beautiful condo; Zoey lives in a small, run down rental house. Also Zoey’s mom works hard. Yes its important to have books that spotlight the poor where drugs and/or abuse play a factor because it is so common (read Eleanor & Park if you haven’t for a brilliant example) but I love the presentation of life where there doesn’t have to be drug addiction or an abusive step-father in order for the poor family to be poor. They’re simply poor due to all the myriad of factors that make a significant portion of our country’s population poor. And they’re all honestly working as hard as they can to make better lives for themselves but ITS SO DAMN HARD.

Olivia isn’t inherently greedy or mean spirited, it’s just never occurred to her that not everyone has what she has. And because she’s a teenager that is not entirely her fault. The key thing about Olivia is that when it does occur to her that life has dealt her and Zoey different cards she starts to unpack her privilege rather than getting angry and defensive. I mean she does get a little defensive, but she gets over it.

Okay, I realize I’ve barely talked about the main plot of the story which is the love triangle when Olivia and Joey both fall for the same girl, but honestly that – while well written—was less interesting to me than the social justice stuff surrounding it… cuz I’m like that. But I will say that I loved Joey’s reaction when he finds out about Olivia and Joey. He’s not mad or shocked or betrayed. He doesn’t feel like less of a man because Zoey picked his sister over him. He’s just like “I love you and I want you to be happy and if you’ll be happy with her than… dude… go for it.”

The Mildly Trite

There is a bit of the cliché of the poor little rich girl whose parents don’t understand her, and while I am sure it is based in fact I feel this could have been handled more complexly. The thing that ALWAYS gets me is the epilogue where the couple is still together 2 years later. Moving into an apartment together and going to the same college. I know that a teen reader wants to imagine that happening and I know that optimistically happy endings are here for a reason I know I know I know. But seriously almost NO ONE stayed with their high school Significant Other. And that’s REALLY OKAY!! We grow and change as people. The end of high school isn’t the end of the journey– it’s just the beginning. I get it, that’s another book and stories have to have an ending I get it I really do. But that doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes.

Conclusion

A good read and a good addition to the slowly growing collection of LGBTQ literature. I’d recommend it to any teen looking for a romancey book.

Pantomime-

Book Review: Pantomime by Laura Lam

 

Pantomime-

 

Title: Pantomime 

Author: Laura Lam

First Sentences: “’Well, boy,’ the ringmaster said, ‘What can you do?’

Publisher:  February 5th, 2013 by Strange Chemistry, 392 Pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 Magic Vestige Artifacts

Recommended if you like: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, realistic fantasy, Victorian era stories, Steampunk, magic, and if you ever wanted to run away and join the circus

Mini Review: BRB JOINING THE CIRCUS TO HANG OUT WITH MICAH!

 

Summary

*Warning, minor spoiler but it gets revealed about 100 pages in and it’s impossible to talk about this book without talking about this thing*

Gene was raised as a proper young lady in a wealthy family. With her brother/best friend by her side she climbed trees and scaffolding and behaved more like a boy than a girl.

Which makes sense, in a way, because Gene is both a boy and a girl- physically and emotionally. When Gene realizes his parents have plans for him that she wants no part of, she runs away and joins the circus. He LITERALLY RUNS AWAY AND JOINS THE CIRCUS. He takes on the name Micah Grey and begins to live as a boy, hiding the female parts of himself, both physically and metaphorically.

As the story unspools we learn more about Micah’s life as Gene, and what led him to her decision, as well as the mystical world Lam has flawlessly created. Micah trains to be a trapeze artist with beautiful Aenea and the aging Arik, and becomes tentative friends with the clown Drystan. Micah’s family is looking for him and it seems that other people may be looking for her too. Meanwhile strange events begin to persuade Micah that he is part of some bigger and mysterious chain of events which are, like everything else it seems, out of his control.

The Good, the Great and the Completely Awesome

I literally have nothing bad to say about this book, so everything goes in this one section.

Let’s start with the writing of an intersex character. An intersex character as protagonist. AN INTERSEX CHARACTER AS NARRATOR!

All the yes!!

Micah is wonderful. Flawed but brave. Utterly authentic. His identity — physical, mental, emotional and sexual- is an integral part of him and so is key to the story, but not used in any kind of “token” kind of way. He is so REAL. This is hard enough to do for any author, but to take something so misunderstood and make it feel completely normal once we start to see through Micah’s eyes is amazing.

It also leads to wonderful confusion as Micah is attracted to a boy, and later begins to fall in love with a woman. It gives him a secret to guard, though it isn’t his only one, and makes him special. But it’s also just who he is, as much as his love of heights and the stubbornness that serves him well. We learn that while Micah has been sheltered, homosexuality is not so uncommon in this world. Drystan and Arik both prefer men and the two female strippers of the circus , prefer each other.

The description of life in the circus is detailed but not boring, and makes me want to go join them in spite of the hardships described. To soar through the air! To know the magic behind the tricks! I mean, seriously, who didn’t at some point want to run off with the circus?

Pantomime also, a bit sneakily, shines a light on privilege and social inequality. Micah comes from a wealthy home where, as Gene, she wanted for nothing and then joins a group where most of the members have been poor their whole lives. As Micah becomes aware of politics, inequality and the reality of life for the poor it reminds us that our world is equally as unequal. As we get to know Drystan we see how his decisions have also been influenced by money and power.

The secondary characters are as intriguing as the main one. Drystan is shrouded in secrets. Aenea is sweet and wonderful but with her own share of mystery. I kept waiting for Micah’s brother, Cyril, to betray Micah because that is the “plot twist” used so often in books, but Cyril remains unwaveringly loyal– the kind of brother anyone would be lucky to have. Even Gene’s parent’s remain a bit sympathetic even though we are still mad at them for the plans they almost carried out against Gene’s will. Bil, the ringmaster of the circus, is terrifying and pitiful and the cruelly ambitious boss so many of us have had at least once in our lives.

And the magical world is one we just barely begin to understand. Micah encounters an artifact, one of many small pieces of technology called Vestige that were left by the Alders– an ancient and advanced race that, legend says, just picked up and left one day. The piece Micah finds is a hologram of a Human/Damselfly called a Chimaera. This hologram speaks to Micah, and no one else hears her words. More and more mystical things happen to and around Micah. Things he doesn’t understand and things that we don’t understand. It is clear that Lam is slowly cooking mysteries to be revealed later in the series.

The events that end the book are tragic and completely change the course Micah must take, and had me frantically downloading the sequel– unable to wait to find out what happens next.

In short put everything else away and read this book yesterday.

fuckthis

 

 

 

 

jon stewart

No, I do not respect your opinion about homosexuality or women’s rights

I’m sure I don’t have to tell anyone about the clusterfuck of a minefield that SCOTUS opened with this Hobby Lobby case. And I’m sure no one is surprised that some people are already trying to take advantage of the ruling to discriminate against homos.

And the conversations that are spreading across the internet like wildfire make me livid.

I’m so sick of the talk about “respecting a diversity of viewpoints” on homosexuality and women’s rights.

I’m so. Fucking. Sick. Of. It.

If your viewpoint is that you don’t have to treat me as a citizen of this country and an equal human on this planet because of who I have sex with (not to mention that fact that I have ovaries instead of testicles) I do not respect that.

I DO NOT RESPECT THAT.

I respect your right to follow whatever religion you want and to believe whatever you want to believe about the things you should do or not do while following that religion.

I do not respect your opinion that you can take any action that affects other people’s rights while you are following your religion.

I respect that I am not allowed to control what goes on in your head.

I do not respect your opinion that you should be able to control what goes on in my bed.

I respect your right to believe that I am going to hell.

I do not respect your opinion that your beliefs are more important than my beliefs.

I respect your right to enact whatever criteria you want when deciding who to have personal relationships with in your personal life.

I do not respect your opinion that this should extend to deciding who to employee, how much to pay them and what benefits to provide.

I respect your right to want to only to interact with people who share your beliefs.

I do not respect your opinion that you can/should impose your beliefs on everyone around you in an attempt to find this magical bubble where everyone agrees with you.

I do not respect your opinion that existing in the world as I am and as I choose to imposes my beliefs on anyone or infringes on your rights.

I do not respect your opinion that we should all be the same and believe the same things.

I do not respect your arrogance in thinking that if you discriminate against LGBTQIUAP folk that is religious freedom, but if a law was passed saying that since Muslims don’t eat pork that they have the right to not employ anyone who eats pork you would obviously have a problem with that.

I do not respect your opinion that you have any say in what I do with my body short of using it to harm another being.

I do not respect your opinion that existing in the world as I am and as I choose to harms anyone in any way.

do not respect your opinion that men are allowed to enact laws that control women’s bodies and their right to properly take care of those bodies, while maintaining that any law made to control a man’s body is a breach of privacy.

I do not respect your opinion that you are entitled to wield financial power over others to force them to follow your personal beliefs.

I do not respect your opinion that some people are more equal than others.

I do not respect your opinion when it is rooted in such obvious hypocrisy.

The source of your objection to treating people equally, you say, comes from your religion which follows the Bible. So let’s take a look.

The Bible says:

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts.” (Deuteronomy 15:1)

So I’ll just stop paying my student loans now.

“Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death” (Exodus 35:1-2)

Did you check your work email last Sunday? Because you know what that means…

“and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you. ‘You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you” (Leviticus 11:7-8)

No more pork for you. Ever. Or bacon. Let’s make a law forbidding bacon. Also we’ll have to end all football games because footballs are made from pig skin.

“you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (Leviticus 19:19)

Are you wearing a poly-cotton blend shirt? Guess we’ll have to burn you.

And if you’re about to counter with the argument that all these examples are Old Testament which was made unnecessary by the New Testament I have news for you:

What Jesus said about Homosexuality:

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right. Nothing. Not one single word.

 

You know what he did say?

He said:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

 

Now, I don’t believe in god, in any god at all. But according to your own religion, your own “sincerely held beliefs” your arguments are hypocritical.

And once you stop trying to hide behind religion you will find NO legal or logical reason to discriminate.

So if your opinion is that it is okay for you to treat me as if I am lesser than you in any way—

 

No, I do not respect that.

 

jon stewart

server problems

18 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Server Seriously Contemplate Spitting in your Food

As someone who up until very recently worked as a restaurant server to supplement my PT library job, I can honestly say that I’ve seen pretty much the worst humanity has to offer.

So if you want to be the world’s biggest D-bag, here are some handy tips.

  1. Demand that your party of 11 people be seated immediately even though only 2 of those people have arrived and you have no idea when the other 9 will show up.  Make sure that the rest of the party show up no more than 2 at a time in 15-20 min increments. Each time a new person shows up be vocally irritated that your server doesn’t appear within 2.5 seconds. Periodically order appetizers while you’re waiting. Order half the entrees at one point and the other half a hour later once the rest of the party has finally showed up. Your server has nothing better to do than make 27 trips to your table and has no problem with you camping out in their big top for the entire night.
  2. When your server introduces his/her/their self, cut them off and/or talk over them. It’s not like they’re a human with a name or anything.
  3. Never say please. Or thank you. Obviously.
  4. If you have children with you, let them push their chair in and out while your server is walking by and run around the restaurant. Then get super pissed when anyone else comments that your kids should really stay in their seat.
  5. Everyone on the table should be on their phone or tablet. Don’t look at your server when speaking. Alternately, be talking on the phone when your server approaches and then get super annoyed that they are interrupting your conversation.
  6. Order water first. Then about 50 seconds after you’ve ordered your food, decide you want wine. Ask for the menu back. Take 6 minutes deciding and then order a cheap Moscato because you actually don’t know anything about wine. Be vocally annoyed when your wine doesn’t immediately appear.
  7. Order coffee with your meal anywhere other than a breakfast restaurant.
  8. When provided with a free carbohydrate such as chips or breadsticks, continually ask for more and complain when you have to wait 5 seconds.
  9. Stop your server when they are walking by you with an obviously heavy tray. Have extended conversation.
  10. Never ask for more than one thing at a time. When one person asks for a different drink, wait until your server brings it to the table to ask for another bowl of soup, then wait for the server to bring it to ask for more napkins. Repeat throughout the meal.
  11. Order something without really knowing what it is. Then complain that what you got isn’t what you wanted after eating over half of it. Send it back so you can get a free meal of something different and half your bill comped because you were too lazy to read the fucking menu.
  12. Order something and then modify everything on the plate until it in no way resembles the dish described on the menu. Be really pissed it takes longer than other food.
  13. Be sure to speak to your server in the most condescending way possible. Either call them “honey” in a tone that makes their skin crawl or just snap your fingers until they notice you. When they ask you clarifying questions like “that dish is very spicy, is that okay?” reply as if they’ve just asked you “what color is the sky?” because they’ve definitely never had a guest go completely apeshit because the dish is too spicy and they just want to make sure everyone is going into this with their eyes open. They’re clearly trying to be an asshole because they want to deliberately ruin your night.
  14. Make some inappropriate comment about your server’s appearance. You’re currently in a position of power, what with the deciding how much money they’ll make off you today and that whole “the customer is always right” horse shit, so take advantage of the situation by making them as uncomfortable as possible.
  15. Ask for boxes. Watch server carefully box up your food. Leave boxes at the table.
  16. When your server tries to check in on you send all kinds of signals that you want to be LEFT ALONE, stay and talk for 30 minutes after you’re done eating, then get really pissed your server doesn’t psychically know the instant you want your check.
  17. Speaking of checks, definitely put your server in the middle of your argument about who is going to pay the bill. Each of you try to hand them a credit card and say “No take mine,” “No mine!” because that’s a total win-win situation.
  18. Choose one or more of the following:
    • Don’t tip
    • Tip 10% or lower
    • Tip exactly 15% to the cent
    • Leave a note saying you don’t believe in tipping
    • Leave a note welcoming the server to come and meet Jesus
    • Make not a single complaint during the meal and then leave no tip along with a note about how terrible the service was now that it’s too late to do anything to correct it
    • Pay in cash, ask for exact change, leave coin change the server carefully counted out for you as part of the tip

Any others you want to add?