Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friend(feeder)s

Dear Wonderful People,

Last night immediately after posting the plea for folks to help out for Otto's surgery to help with his bilateral entropion, you all seriously blew my socks off. I have never, ever seen such an outpouring of generosity, and I can hardly believe that you would do it for my pup & I. Most of you who have donated, I've never met in person, but I affectionately refer to you as my "invisible internet friends." You made yourself extremely visible.

The donation total are at $900 and counting.

Nine hundred dollars.

Please forgive the epithet, but I am reduced to my father's blue collar way of showing affection, reduced to tears and repeating "You fuckin' people" over and over. (Note that this was the highest form of "thank you" in my house, when "thank you" just wouldn't do.) I spent last night bawling my eyes out because of your generosity, and because my two-year old bassetboy will not be going blind anytime soon.

I could go on, I suppose, about how Friendfeed is a great social networking tool - some of the folks who have donated aren't followers of mine (or followed by me), but heard from a friend of a friendfeed. I just don't have it in me right now. I am all full up with gratitude for the generosity of friends and, if not strangers, then benevolent intarweb acquiantances.

I dropped off Otto in the wee hours of the morning at the vet (after many bellyrubs and morning hugs). He is currently being prepped for his surgery, and I'll get to bring him home tomorrow. The reason I will get to bring him home instead of being in prison for robbing a bank is all because of you. I cannot thank you enough for all of your help.

A note: I'll be removing the Paypal button once we get to within a few hundred bucks of the total so that there's no overage. The donation that will be made to the ASPCA will be the total of what's collected, and will be made in the name "Friends of Otto." I'll make sure you guys know when that's done, as well.

My pupster means the world to me, and I would have been devastated if I hadn't been able to give him this surgery - he's only 2 years old, and too young to go blind. You all have given me the greatest gift ever, and I appreciate your friendship. We now return to your regularly scheduled program of Colleen weeping in gratitude at her desk.

All of my love to all of you,


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Helping Otto (and I) Out

Hey, all. Those of you on Friendfeed have likely heard that while I was away interviewing at NC State, my Otto my basset hound was boarding at the animal hospital, and somehow his mild entropion (a turning in of the eyelids) got severe practically overnight. I just picked him up from the vet, and his eyes are ulcerated. They've scheduled the surgery for tomorrow which was, to say the least, horrifying and unexpected. Someone on FF (Kaia?) suggested CareCredit, which offers financing for medical type stuff, including vets - and happily, they have offered me a small credit line to use on the Ottopuss. Unhappily, it is nowhere near $1500. (Which is less than I thought the surgery for both his poor eyes would be, but is still beyond me by quite a bit).

So another bunch of awesome friendfeeders mentioned I could use tipjar or Paypal from the blog and let the beneficence of the webworld get showered on Otto's snooter. Thanks to Bobbi, there is now a PayPal button on the top left of this blog for the Save The Otto's Eyeballs Fund, for those of you who have a few extra pennies and were wondering where you should toss them.

I feel utterly ridiculous posting this on my librarian blog, but for those of you with pets - or those of you with children who remember how you felt about your pets before the kids came along - he is my sole companion. I lurv him more than anyone except my mom. If you understand and have some spare change, I'll beg on Otto's behalf. See the pic? how can I resist that face?

JMS had a great idea (because I felt like such a skeez asking for help) - whatever is donated to help out the Otto, I will donate an equal amount to the ASPCA (or we can take a vote for charities of choice for animals) once I make that moola back. So you're not just helping Otto, you're helping all of our furry pals. Dear JMS: you are an excellent idea-haver. And I love all of my friends for not thinking I'm ridiculous for getting teary over my pup.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The "How I Became a Librarian" Meme

I didn't get tagged for it, but there's a "how'd'ja becoem a librarian?" meme running around the blogosphere. Figured I'd toss my hat in the ring. If you haven't already done this one, consider yourself tagged and tell us your story.

I wasn't going to be a librarian, despite my early and obvious love of books. I worked at the Brentwood Public Library on Long Island when I was in high school. In college, I worked at the Centre College Grace Doherty Library for my first two years, adn spent my second two years as a research assistant to my favorite professor of all time, Nayef Samhat. I wanted to be a diplomat...until I realized (after receiving death threats for an opinion article I wrote in the college paper) that I likely wasn't diplomatic enough to avert war. Scratch that career.

Professor Samhat encouraged me to stay in academia, and helped me get into Emory's PhD program in Political Science, where I spent two years completely submerged in STATA regressions and JSTOR. Health issues and some personal questioning as to how useful writing a dissertation was (in the wake of 9/11) made me feel adrift, and I moved to Lexington to stay with friends and get healthy.

I worked at CompUSA which was A-W-F-U-L, and lamented to my pals "What should I BE when I grow up?" Everyone who helped me move my personal library of around 3,000 volumes immediately said, "Um, Librarian." (My friends are wise this way, and often know me better than I know myself.) I became the Circulation Night Supervisor at the University of Kentucky's Young Library, started my MLS, and a year and a half later had my MLS in hand, my health back, and had moved to 2nd shift reference & instruction as a parapro.

Feeling antsy with MLS in hand and no likely professional position to open up at UK, I moved home to NY and worked in Graduate Admissions at StonyBrook University, where I helped them move to digital dissertations. Hating NY, I job-hunted and came to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for my first professional position as a reference & instruction librarian in August of 2007. I'm still here, and loving it.

My considerations were that I knew I didn't want to be in public libraries. I love academia - you can't beat the atmosphere, the free classes that are usually a benefit fit my nerdly needs to a 't,' and I feel I contribute to the student experience in a great way without having written a dissertation on something I wasn't in love with. For me, this is the best of all worlds. I believe in what I do. I think I'm a good teacher and make the students more comfortable. And I love that no two days are the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Of Personal Failures and Health

As I got home tonight and was thinking about how run-down I feel, how busy we're going to be this semester with an (at least) 15% increase in instruction schedules already scheduled, and the work that'll be involved in my critical theory class (not to mention the MFA), Allison posted this piece about food an issues. The reason I bring this topic onto my 'professional' - or at least my library - blog is that the spheres of my life intersect. I'm a librarian, but I'm also a student. And a woman. And a mom to a dog. A daughter. And myriad other personalities. I came home and Allison's post was in my gmail inbox, and it hit me pretty hard, for a number of reasons. (Go read it, she's a very good writer.)

Allison talks about unhealthy food issues, and how we convince ourselves - if society doesn't give us a few nice shoves - how we should look, act, eat, and physically *be.* I'm particularly sensitive about talking about this issue for a number of reasons. I'm a zaftig woman, for one, and talking about the thin model of beauty as a societal standard (for now) is something I find disturbing on a personal level. I also spent a number of years violently ill - for a period, the only thing I could eat without getting sick was white rice. I lost a great deal of weight and (I thought) looked great - but I couldn't have a life. My friends took very good care of me during those difficult years, but I remember how great it felt to watch the sizes shrink, even if it was for all the wrong reasons. Now that I'm healthy again, I still occasionally find myself wistfully thinking of my svelte (if sickly) former self, even though I know better.

I bring this up because I'm tired. I am belatedly realizing that I can only be me. My mother worked two jobs until she got hit with hyperthyroidism, and she's still recovering. By extension, of course, I figure I should be able to work two or three jobs just fine. I'm younger, right? Mom instilled a great work ethic in me, right? In my head I know that I have to be careful to balance my stresses, because it throws my health out of whack if I get too crazy, but another side of me doesn't care, and needs to prove I can do it.

Only I can't. Not and stay sane. And polite. And my cheery normal self. With all I've signed myself up for, I find I've slipped from my gym schedule, which was keeping me motivated and healthy. With less time and energy, I've also slipped from preparing my meals, and I can tell by my complexion going downhill, my energy going through the floor, and feeling generally crappy for falling back into bad eating habits. I spend zero waking time with the dog (oh, he gets walked, but we don't play much since I collapse once I get home). And I just got my syllabi describing the 25 page papers coming due.

I am not worried about the papers. I am more concerned that I am losing the good feel of being active and eating healthily (is that a word?). And I could do that mostly because I had downtime both after work and on the weekends. (Yes, yes, I can hear the choir of "I Told You So." I know you did, and you were right.)

Not quite sure what possessed me to think I can do it all. Because I *wanted* to be able to, I guess. And having kept up a similar wacky schedule before, I know I can do it, but that it comes at the expense of my mental and physical health. *Not* doing it makes me feel like a complete lazy ass because those hours haven't been filled with something "official."

Allison's post made me think about personal health, and how our perceptions of ourselves can really hurt us. It also made me think about myself at my healthiest - which was this summer, as I was gymming and cooking and resting and working, even if I wasn't at my thinnest. And this route is not going to lead to healthy. So now I just need to decide how long I can do it before I have to go ahead and drop the third shift and get my weekend rest time back. *sigh* I hate being a quitter. But having lost it before, I value my health, and I'd like to keep it awhile longer. I do not need to prove my superwomanhood. I do not need to prove my superwomanhood.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Meme: Unofficial Librarian Bios

During a friendfeed-slash-Twitter discussion started by Iris, I commented that we should start the Unofficial Librarian Bio meme - a brief bio of yourself that you sort of wish you could send out, but you know the official venues really prefer the stuffy, boring version of you - stripped of all personality, dressed up in your Sunday best, and trying very hard not to be caught picking your nose or smacking your little brother.

Bah to that, I say. Time to let our awesomeness shine. I dare you to write up your unofficial bio. I've actually done this before, in this post, where I said:

"Colleen is a chunky library sort who stays at home and writes with her bossy dog on her feet when she's not teaching ungrateful ghetto kids how not to plagiarize their shit or use Wikipedia & Google as scholarly sources. When in doubt of her prowess, she distracts onlookers with her fierce bosoms."

I feel like I should rewrite it a bit, since re-using is cheating, so, here goes with a new one:

"Colleen (widely known as WarMaiden on the intarwebs) is a heavily tattooed, mostly jovial librarian with a mean shushface. When not spilling her awesomesauce on the conference presentation circuit or writing poetry, she spends her time teaching people why they should pay-the-hell-attention, and spices up her instruction by using the G-spot as a research example. Her fanbase is large, but she welcomes new admirers, as long as they cite their sources properly."

Hm. not sure I like that as much as the first one, but it's just a first cut at it. I see revision in my future....

So, what's your unofficial bio? Make sure you link in the comments!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Impressions & Customer Service Failures

We all know how important first impressions are, right? It's sort of like how Anne McCaffrey's dragons "impress" on new dragonriders-to-be. (Yes, I'm feeling nostalgic with a new herd of freshmen on campus.) First impressions are essential, particularly when you're talking about freshmen, wet behind the ears, completely disoriented and overwhelmed by being at a state school for their first college experience, and stressed out by trying to find their classrooms and last-minute add/drops on their schedule.

I usually don't think of them this way, because I'm not a fundraiser or in the alumni office, but the University at large should also think about the fact that these are the kids we hope will call this university 'home' even after they leave. (That could be my small liberal arts college experience shining through, though.) If nothing else, due to UTC's abysmal retention rates, you'd think the entire university would be bending over backwards to help out this fresh crop of new students.

You'd be wrong. About the "entire" part at least. Oh, yes, this is going to be a call-out on customer service suckage.

The story begins: I could not find my jeans this morning. My apartment is not that big - but seriously, an hour of looking, no jeans. No biggie, except they have my university ID in the back pocket. Gah. Oh, wait - ID located. Mangled by my chompity Basset Hound of Doom. *sigh* So, I need a new ID. Easy, right? No, not right. ID office opens at 8 at teh University Center, but you cannot get new ID until you go to the bursar's office (other side of campus), pay, get a receipt, and *then* you can go to ID office. Bursar's office, of course, does not open until 8:30. Very convenient for all involved.

I truck over to the bursar's office and wait outside the door, beside a young woman growing hysterical on the phone. Obviously a new freshman, obviously upset, I ask her if I can help. Turns out she had a last minute drop/add, knows the class she's supposed to be in is in this building, but doesn't know where. No computer terminals for her to log into the student system and look at a copy. She, near tears, asks a woman walking into the bursar's office (whose windows are taped opaque - nice welcome, that), and the reply is a brusque "Sorry, honey, can't help you. Looks like you're out of luck." Woman walks into office, and locks door behind her.

Bucket. Of. Fail.

My reaction (which was likely obvious on my face) was a giant WTF. I tell now-crying girl she can call Valarie at the reference desk and give her instructions on how to log into the system for her, if she doesn't mind giving up her password. Girl thinks this is too complicated - so do I. Hmm. The freshman now decides at 10 minutes past she is too late and will just skip the class. I barge into the Disbursement office, and ask if anyone can give this poor girl computer access or look up her schedule, and a nice woman says yes. Girl soon dashes off to class with a wave and a "thank you so much," so, yay, my job done.

Not really. Did I mention I was already in a mood when I got over there?

Bursar's office opens up and lo and behold, who is chitchatting with her bursarial comrades than Rude Lady. I walk up to Rude Lady's window and inform her that I was appalled at her treatment of an obviously new and upset student when it would have taken 2 minutes of her time, and that as a faculty member, I thought she set a really terrible example for anyone who might have seen it. I told her that her customer service was an embarrassment to every UTC employee and that I was glad I worked at the library where we take our influence on students seriously. (I was already cranky about a number of other things. And I realize it was not my place to chastise a staff member I don't supervise. But I really was horrified at her callousness.) I paid for my card replacement and left, still steamed.

Now, I understand the stresses of working at an office like the bursar, or the registrar, or admissions. People come in making demands you can't help them with for a variety of reasons, most of them the customer's fault. I've been there, I know all about this. But in addition to actually doing the work of bill collecting and such, customer service is also part of your job. Feel superior to people later when you're off work, or on your lunch hour. But if someone has a simple request that it doesn't hurt you to help them with, why wouldn't you? It makes you look like an ass in front of any other faculty or staff that see you, and you upset a brand new student who is still trying to find her way around.

UGH, people. If you cannot be civil and help, get out of the service position you are in. You're not doing us as an institution any favors. And you never know if someone who sees an exchange like this is going to blog about it, and mention that while the one lady in the bursar's office is a complete witch, the disbursements office seems to be filled with friendly, helpful folks. Mental note made.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Great Big Dose of Completely Inappropriate

I would like to report a great big fat FAIL on the part of's so-called "career coach." If you read the story "Grad School Juggling," here, you'll note a desperate single mom wondering about how to deal with her newfound singledom and her grad schooling while dealing with a three year old child. The advice from the so-called 'career coach' Tedra Osell includes such snippets as allowing a child to run around the classroom and throw confetti while she lectures and leaving her toddler in the hallway to run up and down to burn off his energy, and calling professors who don't like you bringing your tot to class on a regular basis "assholes." No mention of fellow grad students who might be miffed at this set-up.

Um. Yeah. Seriously, read it.

It's really fantastic in a way. I mean, who ever thought you could fit *so much* bad advice into a single post? Since apparently they're vetting comments on the actual post, I'm going to give some reaction here, like you were hoping I would.

  • "If he’s the obedient type, as my son was, you can let him leave the room and run up and down the hall if he gets antsy". Um, lady? I wouldn't leave my purse unattended in the hallway, much less my three year old son (if I had one). Also, this is great - if you ignore the fact that in most universities there will be other classes going on down that hallway, as well as administrative offices and faculty offices. You don't think having an unattended three year old tear-assing up and down the hallway would be distracting, not to mention calling-of-child-protective-services worthy? This gets two fails: Parenting FAIL and Member of Academic Community FAIL.

  • "Ask the professors if you can bring your son." Needless to say, any prof teaching graduate courses worth his/her salt will say no. Unless it is an emergency and other arrangements simply cannot be made, bringing your toddler to class is disruptive and distracting, not only to the professor, but to other students who have the right to the distraction-free education that they signed up for when they entered the program.

  • "If he can entertain himself with crayons and paper or quiet toys, then let him. If you have a laptop (or if a classmate does and is willing to bring it to class), you can plug the kid into a set of earphones and let him watch a DVD during class." Unless your three year old has a better attention span than most 18 year olds I know, this is not going to work. Also, what self-respecting GRADUATE student (who generally, by definition, is poor, poor, poor) is going to let some sticky-fingered 3 year old goober all over his expensive (or, more likely, clunky, outdated and barely performing) laptop? Dream on, lady.

  • "Find out which profs aren’t assholes, but feel free to impose even on the assholes once or twice—it’s good for them. If the chair is a good sort, enlist his or her help and backing. Ditto your advisor. With them behind you, the asshole profs will have to suck it up. Hoo, doggy. Yes, this is excellent advice if you want to finish up your degree and get the recs you need to get a job. Any professor who says no to a toddler in the classroom is an asshole? Lovely. Yes, I'm certain it has nothing to do with their concern about the quality of the class, the distraction an energetic child makes, and that sort of thing. No, they're just crochety assholes who prefer their stuffy graduate classrooms to have a sense of decorum and professionalism. How dare they! We may as well call them sexist, too, since they are apparently against the plight of single mothers everywhere. Please see bullet #2. Also, a quick note: as not only a faculty member but a constant grad student, I would be VERY suspicious of the quality of any graduate program where the director allowed this sort of thing, really.

  • "If you’re teaching, same advice: obviously you don’t want your son there so much that he becomes a huge distraction, and if he can’t behave reasonably well — not perfectly, but reasonably — then don’t bring him, but I brought mine and let him run around behind me tearing up paper and throwing confetti while my students and I sat around the seminar table" - Um, no. No no no. I don't know what sort of Mickey Mouse college Osell was teaching at that allowed this, but no. If a child running around behind you tearing paper and throwing confetti is not a distraction to your students, I have a comment on your teaching: UR DOIN IT WRONG. As a student or colleague, I would also have some really great video captured on my phone that i would immediately upload to YouTube and send to the department chair, dean, and university president, with a note that asked whether this was why my tuition got hiked 6%+ this year.

  • Feel free to bring your son to ANY meetings you do have to attend. If he gets antsy, take him out of the room, just like you do at restaurants. Anyone who doesn’t like it can kiss your full-time grad student single-mama ass, and anyway, it might help keep meetings short." Way to be professional. Walking out of a meeting multiple times with your rugrat is *not* just like at a restaurant, unless the folks at the table with you are also the ones judging your worth as a future professional and writing your recommendations. And no, it won't keep meetings short - "to-do" lists do not get shorter because you bring a child with you, you'll just force everyone else to stay longer and talk about your complete inappropriateness as you go outside to lecture your child. Who is 3 and will in no way internalize or understand said lecture.

  • "you’re being a great colleague and a good teacher to all of us by not hiding away." No, no you most certainly are not, if you are following Osell's advice. You are being a completely inconsiderate colleague to the folks who are rolling their eyes at your child rambling alone and unsupervised up and down the corridor. You are being an awful teacher, allowing severe distractions to disrupt your teaching space and your student's (supposed) learning. (Likely they are learning the increased importance of prophylactics.) Following Osell's advice is a death-knell - she should be told that if she decides this is the way to fight the feminist battle for single working/schooling moms, that they would rather she stayed home and kept her awful opinions to herself.

Interestingly enough, Osell makes no note of the many graduate schools who have implemented special leave programs for grad schooling parents who hit times of hardship and need some time off to deal without getting dinged by the program (which will usually have a time limit). Many students and faculty have worked hard to get these policies implemented so that parents don't have to feel like it's either/or, kids versus schooling, and so they can have the necessary time to take a breath, make arrangements, and stay sane. Shame on Osell for promoting the idea that academia is not a profession to take seriously, for promoting neglect and unsupervised travels by toddlers, and most of all, for giving awful advice that will actually harm the academic career of whomever listens to her. Academia is a world where word-of-mouth is paramount, and if you become known as a serious troublemaker or "that kooky lady who brings her screaming kid to both the classes she takes and those she teaches," good luck ever finding a decent job.

Of Alphabet Soups

Today the topic is: the pretentiousness of advertising your degrees. Discuss.

One of the hotter topics on Friendfeed lately, sparked by Christa Burns, was the discussion of whether or not to include the MLS in your signature line or on business cards. I found this very interesting, for a number of reasons. Working in academia, there is a certain overwhelming snobbery that happens when academics get together and discuss themselves (as they inevitably do). People toss out their pedigrees and are measured and judged to be found wanting (or not) depending on those academic family ties. it's the way the world works, and from what I've seen, many librarians simply don't engage when other faculty do this, or they join good-naturedly into the fray. Most librarians I've seen in these scenarios do the former. Because I firmly believe in the value of having librarians as full faculty (okay, and because despite my lack of a PhD, I likely have far more hours of graduate school under my belt than they do) I often do the latter.

The MLS is different than many other degrees. I have never engaged in a pissing contest with other MLS-holders over who went to the better school - that just doesn't seem to matter much to us, since we primarily judge each other on the work we do. I find this attitude to be similar among teachers, who I've rarely noticed comparing M.Ed. degrees and battling it out. We share a camaraderie without much acrimony or competition. On the other hand, in my former life as a polisci graduate student, there was (and remains) a very rigid pecking order of schools and institutions, and God help you if you were the one from an inferior institution, because it was like a stain on your soul, or the smell of dog poo on your shoes - everyone else just wrinkled their nose at you as you were shuffled aside.

What this brings me to is a discussion of *my* opinion on the subject of alphabet soupage. In the interests of full disclosure, I do not use "MLS" in my sig line or on my business cards. To me, the MLS is a requirement to even apply for the job of being a librarian, so referring to myself as a reference & instruction librarian (which is in both my signature line and on my business cards) is, I assume, enough to put forth my credentials as a professional librarian. I understand that the MLS is not *always* a requirement for the title of 'librarian,' especially once you move out of academic leagues, but in my environment it just seems redundant.

Another reason I don't use the MLS is that touting a master's degree when I work primarily with PhD holders seems a bit silly to me, and (as those of you who know me can attest) I am not one to readily admit to being inferior. You can tell me until you're blue in the face than an MLS is not inferior to a PhD - and I understand they qualify you for fundamentally different things - but a doctorate trumps a master's every time (given that we're talking accredited degrees and not the shady ones). I do note in my email signature that I'm an assistant professor, since faculty I speak with - including those semi-familiar with using the library and librarians - seem to still think we're staff. There's nothing wrong with being staff - I was there for a long time. But I am very proud of my faculty status - I worked hard for it, and want it recognized.

Which brings me to this: if you feel the need to put "MLS" in your tag (wherever that may be), then DO it. No one begrudges a PhD his/her ability to put their earned degree on whatever they wish, and if you earned the MLS, I say wield it as you wish. I tend to agree with Steven Bell's ACRL blog post where he writes "But when we’re amongst our own, let’s drop that stuff." If you're presenting at ALA, or your local or state library association, tossing "MLS" after your name just seems like overkill. You're at a library conference - it doesn't distinguish you. But, I would argue, in other venues where those presenting are *not* all librarians - in those instances where you hit an interdisciplinary conference or one where those from private industry may also be on the docket - I say use it, since it denotes that you possess the qualifications of your particular profession.

All this said, it's a personal decision, and I, for one, don't think it is pretentious or snooty to advertise that you are proud of your professional qualifications. I know a bevy of lawyers who use the "J.D." or "Esq." in their regular correspondence. (If librarians had a cool tag like "Esquire" or something similar that we could use, I'd be all for it.) I fully plan to utilize my alphabet soup once it is impressive enough, and I don't begrudge those who do.

Mainly, though, I think this is a silly argument. Don't we have much larger issues to worry about? With budgets the way they are, who cares if you have an MLS if you don't have a job? There are tons of Philosophy MAs out there working at Starbucks (I know this because I worked in graduate admissions processing PhD apps.) Your degree isn't terribly impressive to me if you're not actively using it and augmenting your knowledge base past when you received your diploma. What we should be focusing on is bettering the position of the profession.

So yes, in essence, this is the long way of saying "Who cares?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do You Have A Schedule, or a Life?

Talking to my good friend Allison (humorette of last post), we were discussing being exhausted. As in, tired beyond to-the-bone, and no end in sight unless we drop something which, as overachieving twenty-somethings, we are loathe to do because tv and magazines and our own fickle brains tell us we must do it all. Allison, for instance, not only works full time as a higher education PR pro, she is also a member of the Junior League and helps run their Horse Show in Lexington, which is a BFD, has graduate classes two days a week, goes to a knitting group, has a book group, just hit her 17-month anniversary with her man (congrats, by the way), has family commitments (her fam lives semi-locally) and is generally on-call for work as well. (I am sure there is more, but you get the idea.) And just where, may I ask, is she supposed to fit in fixing nutritious (or even semi-nutritious) meals, grocerying, general errands (like yarn-purchasing!), general cleaning of her living space, blowing off steam, and other life-enhancing stuff?

The answer is likely to drop something so she can remain sane.

I find myself much in the same boat as Allison, where we believe in the equation (and I am stealing this from one of our IM chats where Allison stated this):

achievement = winning = happy

And I think she's right. I feel utterly 'unproductive' and like a drain on the universe if I'm not 'doing' something, crossing something off a list. Why? I can freely admit my mom is not like this. Now, my mom remains wickedly busy, but she doesn't choose to schedule her life to kill herself.

I decided to take a look at what my own personal schedule looks liek for this semester, starting, um, Monday. And I'm a little taken aback, despite my love of being busy:


  • 12:00am - 6:00am: 2nd job at gym

  • 6:00am - 7:30am - work out


  • 3:00pm - 7:00pm: MA and MFA coursework

  • 8:00pm+ I predict: vegetation


  • 8:00am - 5:00pm: Work

  • Run home to feed/let out dogster

  • 6:30pm - 8:00pm: Gym workout


  • 8:00am - 5:00pm: Work

  • Run home to feed/let out dogster

  • 6:30pm - 8:00pm: Gym workout with trainer


  • 7:30 - 5:00pm: Work

  • (On lunch: Run home to feed/let out dogster)

  • 5:30 - 8:00pm: Graduate English class 1 (MA)


  • 8:00am - 5:00pm: Work

  • (On lunch: Run home to feed/let out dogster)

  • 5:30 - 8:00pm: Graduate English class 2 (MA)


  • 7:30 - 4:30pm: Work

  • (Run home to feed/let out dogster)

  • 5:45pm - 7:30pm: Gym workout with trainer

  • 10:00pm - 12:00am: 2nd job at gym


  • 12:00am - 6:00am: 2nd job at gym


  • 12:00pm - 3:00pm: Errands (groceries, etc)

  • 4:00pm - 7:00pm: MFA work, MA homework

  • 10:00pm - 12:00am: 2nd job at gym

Rinse. Repeat. Shoot me in the face.

Now, the work stuff is a little flexible on certain days where I don't have class - I may need to come in earlier or stay later on occasion, since it looks like instruction is going to be wicked busy this semester. Also, I am well aware that it is my *choice* to go to the gym (though I would be a wreck without that chance to blow off steam), and that it is my *choice* to have a second job (though some of my credit card companies might dispute the "choice" factor there). I manage to slip in reading after 8:00pm on class and gym days, so there's more homework and coursework going on that's not actually in the schedule, since I usually stay up until about 10pm.

Hrm. I am coming to the conclusion - as a woman who sort of knows my limitations, and those of my dog who requires attention - that this schedule may be slightly untenable. Kee-rap. Well, we'll see. If the gym asks me to do more than 2 nights a week, I am going to have to decline, and they might be mad. But I'm not sure I could physically do it. (Note: I suck at saying no because I hate to disappoint.)

Never mind all of my complaints about not dating, y'all. I wouldn't know where to pencil him in. And I don't have a knitting group. Or a book club. *sigh*

Edit: Gym job schedule has been rearranged so that I am only working Friday and Saturday nights, which should be some relief.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

I have to share this as quote-slash-conversation-piece of the day, because it made me snort my water. Chatting with my good pal PinkandChocolateBrown, she came out with this gem (which is one of the many many reasons I love her):

"so first day of public school here"

"kids are back where they belong, locked up"

Bwahahahaha. Yes, this is what years of service in academia do to a person. There are also mitigating factors, like getting older and crochetier as we watch parents not discipline their own crotchfruit, and remembering the good old days of beating misbehaving children and telling them to get jobs in mines. But school is an okay alternative, I guess.

Thank God for all of the teachers out there willing to put up with little kids. I, dear, underappreciated friends, salute you.

But please do not go about letting them out early, mkay?.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Fuck Yeah! Um, Hooray for Funding. With Decorum.

On random occasions, I feel the need to check my Outlook's junk mail folder. Mostly because everything that ends up in there is, indeed, not junk. Only I rarely check it because most important things make it through, and it's usually the odd listserv junk that gets in there. I've been meaning to check it for a couple of days, and I'm very glad the bug bit me today to actually do it. What did I find in there, you ask? Oh, nothing much. Just an email note that I won another faculty development grant. Like the one that saved my financial bacon for ALA. The gist:

Congratulations! The Faculty Development Committee has approved a grant of $1000 to provide funds for travel expenses related to your presentation of "Dance, Dance, Library Evolution" in Monterey, CA, October 18-22, 2008. An official award letter will arrive in a few weeks, but I wanted to let you know as quickly as possible that your proposal had been funded.

So, yes, I would have received an actual paper letter, and it will likely be here before the week is out, since this email was sent on the 6th. Either way, this is a really great way to start out the week (if you follow my other blog, you'd know this has been a big few days, poetry-publication-wise already). So, no thanks to Outlook for eating my email, but yay for the Faculty Development Grant Committee, who gave me much needed moneys despite my having gotten a grant in April. I applied because I thought presenting at Internet Librarian (with Rudy as well as for the pre-conference mentioned in the letter - both were mentioned in my application) was important enough that I'd throw my hat in the ring again, despite knowing that recent winners are sort of pushed to the back of the line.

My first reaction (having just bought expensive plane tickets) was to holler fuck yeah!!, um, something completely inappropriate to yell in a quiet academic library. But this is a real boon, and deserves a yell, because even with InfoToday covering the registration, it's still a prohibitively expensive conference, and as a po' professional in the early stages of my career, I have to say that my university - as well as my Dean and my colleagues - have been enormously generous with funding and time so I could pursue this sort of thing.

Yay, supportive University faculty colleagues! Yay, awesome conference (this will be my first IL)! Yay!!

LibraryThing Most Unread Meme

Courtesy of Rudy, this is my version of Library Thing’s most unread books. The key is below, and like Rudy, I’ve asterisked the titles that are sitting on my shelves, but I haven’t ever started.

This is a list of the top 106 books most often marked “unread” by LibraryThing users. The rules: bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish. Give me a link in the comments if you've done this one. I don't think I've done too poorly, and I have to go ahead and admit my complete and utter loathing for all things written by the Brontes, so those books will never get finished. I also hate Dickens, so I'm not likely to read David Copperfield in this lifetime, either.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
*Anna Karenina
*Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
*The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
*Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
*Memoirs of a Geisha
*Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise) (read all of them)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Friday, August 08, 2008


As I was driving him to the airport this morning, a colleague of mine from the history department asked me what my day looked like. I told him that (per department agreement about the disgusting status of the computers) I'd be scrubbing some grody computer stations, working on a proceedings paper, planning an instruction session for a graduate English class, working a 2-hour refdesk shift, and fitting in some odds and ends before I had to leave at 3 to take care of some personal business. And then, of course, after that, I spend my Friday evenings nowadays with my personal trainer and sweat buckets of icky goodness in my pursuit of an Angeline Jolie-like body, followed by a shower and limp-bodied exhaustion splayed on the couch with the dog at my feet.

Now, to me, other than the whole leaving-early thing, which isn't usual, that sounds like a perfectly respectable Friday. I mean, I've got both research and bona fide librarian work at the refdesk listed! Plus teaching prep! That doesn't happen all the time, particularly with various projects and meetings that can really sink their teeth into my day. Just saying the day-plan made me quite pleased.

So, I was a little surprised when my pal was utterly horrified at the thought of scrubbing computers. "Don't you have cleaning staff?" Well, sort of. In the technical sense that there are some bodies who wear uniforms and carry cleaning supplies, but there's very little evidence those supplies are ever used. "So instead of doing research, you're going to go around bleaching?" Um. Well, I mean, research is also on my list for the day, but yes. One, the computer bank really, really needs it. As Toni, a librarian colleague pointed out, they're utterly gross, and we've got the new students and their parents coming through in preparation for the Fall. Two, the cleaning folks don't go near the computers. Apparently at some point in the distant dinosaur-y past, they did something they weren't supposed to and messed up some of the machines, so now they get to avoid the whole area. (Thinking about this, it's sort of like telling a child he's not allowed to wash the dishes after he breaks a plate. Um, of course he's going to continue breaking your dishes.)(Yes, I was raised without a dishwasher.)

Anyway, so the cleaning staff avoids the computers totally. A few of the librarians are neatfreaks (in a good way) and encourage us to pick up the slack. It gets brought up in a department meeting, we do it, and we go on about our merry way until it comes up again. Coming from Access Services like I did, this is not strange to me. You pick up whatever slack needs picking up, you drink a great big glass of suck-it-up-atine, and you move on. I'll admit I'll grumble about it as much as anyone, but it gets done.

On my way back from the airport alone, I thought about this. The guy I was with is very good at his job, but I can in no way see him ever agreeing to scrub, say, the history computer lab computers. (Not that they have a lab, I'm making that part up for demonstration's sake.) He would likely point out (loudly) that the University pays cleaning staff to do that sort of thing. I could very much imagine him sending a snarky email or three to his superiors, commenting on the issue and pointing out that he is judged on his research, service, and teaching, and any custodial duties will have to come with a pay upgrade. And so on. And I can't see any other "real" faculty member accepting this and moving on.

So it makes me wonder - as librarians, here we are 12-month faculty. We work 40+ hour weeks, but that time doesn't really include research time, since we're very much tied to various tasks. Publishing isn't really emphasized to the exclusion of everything else here like it is in many other departments, but that may be one of the reasons library faculty are an afterthought to the university. And from the reaction I got this morning, it appears to others that we obviously don't take ourselves seriously as scholars if our paid time is spent scrubbing, blowing, vacuuming and cleaning instead of, say, teaching. Or writing articles and books.

I'm in the middle on this one. As a public venue, we have a responsibility to make certain that we present the best possible appearance to our patrons. (No one may say anything about a nice clean library, but you can bet people will mention the "sticky keyboards.") And if it needs to be done, well, then, if the people responsible for doing the job don't do it, the librarians do. It simply comes with the territory of being a service-oriented profession. But I'll totally admit that I gave the hairy eyeball to the maintenance crew this morning, because I damned well do not have to be pleased to do someone else's job while they while away their time at the microfilm machine. Kudos to my colleagues for being full-on cheery as they scrubbed and vacuumed this morning, and my apologies for being so dour - my smile doesn't appear until 9am at the very earliest, even on the best of days *grin*

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Family Shout-Out

If you know me at all, you likely know that my sister and I don't see eye to eye on a great many things, and so we don't speak much. Other than our appearance, which is totally different (she is a tall, thin, gorgeous cross country runner, whereas I am a rather short chunky on-my-butt-with-a-book type), I usually can't decide if we're too much alike, or too different. It makes me sad, but that's the way our cookie crumbled.

But talking to my mother on the phone the other night, she reported that my sister finished her master's degree. (She is a high school math teacher back home in New York.) I am just about busting with pride, despite the fact that I had zero to do with it. I'm proud of her for pursuing a career I could never imagine. (Really? Teaching calculus to high schoolers?) I'm proud of her for deciding to stay in New York (I often think that I took the easy way out, running away to someplace new and starting over fresh). I'm proud of her for getting her master's while working full time, for living the healthiest lifestyle I've ever seen, and for generally being an all-around bad-ass in terms of talent and smarts. If I ever have a daughter, I want her to have my sister's drive and endurance. My sister has made it through some really crap times where she shouldered the burden of supporting people, and she always does it with strength and grace, and I admire that.

I'm proud of my brother , who is just recently off his 4 year active duty tour as a U.S. Marine, where he was stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only is he an elite member of the Corps, he never lost his sense of humor and has grown up to be a truly wonderful man. (Which is a wee bit weird, as his older sister by 6 years, to say.) he is good humored, down-to-earth, and a wonderful writer when he decides to put pen to paper. For a guy who was trained to kill, he is noticeably less rage-y than I tend to be. He's positively mellow, but also happy to offer to beat up the latest boy who has made me cry. If I ever have a son, I hope he turns out just like my brother.

Thinking about this a bit, I'm proud of all of us. I'm proud of my mother, who raised three good kids, who has supported all of our choices and never once brought up what life would have been like if she had never had kids, and who has the best work ethic and most loving personality I have ever seen in a human being. She taught us right from wrong, made it to every single one of our concerts/awards ceremonies. etc., and never once gave us a hard time about dragging her every which way but loose. Mom has raised an eyebrow once or twice, but never judged me for school-hopping (I'm currently on my 4th and 5th master's programs), career-hopping (I started out in a PoliSci PhD program - no librarianship in sight), or for moving home after a really difficult personal time to get my shit together. And when I judge myself harshly, Mom is the one who puts things in perspective and sheds a kinder light on life.

I am filled with the warm fuzzies for the people I come from. None of them actually read this *grin* but I wanted the world to know what wonderful people I have in my fam. Yay me!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

One Year Anni-librarian-versary

Today marks my one year anniversary an an official professional librarian. I started working here at UTC on August 6th of 2007, and it has been quite the whirlwind of a year. I am surprised at the "year" marker - mostly because it both feels like I haven't been here that long, and that I've been here forever.

Let's do a mini-catalog of what I've accomplished since getting here:

  • Had small article published in InfoCareerTrends;
  • Had over 14 book reviews published;
  • Peer-reviewed two book chapters;
  • Peer-reviewed three articles;
  • Elected to 2-year term on the University's Faculty Senate;
  • Joined 2 ALA RUSA committees;
  • Won a $1000 professional development grant from the University;
  • Had poster session at ALA Annual;
  • Wrote 3 book chapters (all still pending publication);
  • Scheduled to co-speak at a preconference and a regular session at Internet Librarian in October;
  • Expecting to have co-written conference proceedings paper published for IL08;
  • Completed 2 semesters (32 hours) of MFA work;
  • Completed 6 hours of MA work;
  • published more than 15 poems in literary journals (not really librarian related, but not bad for a 12 month span).

Learning how to be a better teacher and librarian goes on this list, of course, since I work with some really great and talented people. I've jumped into social networking - a year ago, I wasn't on Twitter, Friendfeed, and barely had a presence on MySpace and Facebook. I now semi-regularly post to two different blogs (this one and my other one, can use a wiki pretty handily when necessary, and have made quite the cadre of libraryworld pals that I've never actually met in person, but contribute enormously to my life as a support system and stress reliever (I'm looking @ you, Chadwick!).

I've learned a great deal about teamwork and *gasp* effective committee work from my colleagues here at Lupton Library. (Note: I found this so surprising that it nearly always comes up in conversation if you ask me about my workplace.) I've learned how pleasant a healthy workplace environment can be when everyone has the same goal and a boss who backs them up to the highest levels.

I'll admit, all of this feels sort of puny, since I know there are folks out there (and right here in my own library - lookin' @ you, Griffey) who are writing books and heavily researched articles, who get speaking gigs across the country, and are going like gangbusters implementing the newshinyfangled stuff. But I'm very happy. I like my people. I like my place in things. I think there's a lot of good work to be done at this University to help students and faculty, and I'm pleased I can be a part of that improvement. I don't want to be a Rock Star Librarian so much, but I do want to be able to say that my contribution is worth something, and I want to be able to say, when the time comes, that I have earned tenure. I think this was a decent enough start at it.

So yay, anniversary. And a big shout-out to my colleagues who not only hired me, but make this a job that i actually enjoy coming to every day. You guys, you're the best. Group hug?