Colleague: What are you doing?
Me: I’m looking up a president for a student.
Colleague: Can you look up James Madison for me? I’m listening to a book about him and want to see a picture.
Me: Sure. Here you go.
Colleague: He looks nothing like I imagined. I imagined him looking more like an uncle. He seems so kind and gentle in the book.
Me: Madison? Those aren’t adjectives I’ve heard used about him. Great man, sure. But gentle and kind? Nope.
Colleague: And don’t tell me. But I think someone’s going to try and kill him.
Me: Well, you can’t stop worrying. No one killed Madison.
Colleague: Not Madison. I meant Garfield.
Me; Oh. You might want to start worrying again.
This past week on My Cat from Hell, Jackson Galaxy worked with a couple. The woman had a cat; her boyfriend had a fear of cats. This was a huge fear. He was sure that cats wanted nothing more than to scratch his eyes out of his face. And it was a fear that he had been bred into him. Apparently, he was the latest of generations of family members who feared cats. He didn’t just not care for them; he was petrified.
Part of Jackson’s therapy was for the guy to have play time with his girlfriend’s cat and also to visit a cat cafe. At the end of the show, Jackson and the couple returned to the cafe and left the guy there surrounded by cats.
After the commercial, they walked into the cafe and asked him how he was doing.
“I kissed a cat,” he answered.
It was a happy ending, but it got me thinking about my own fears and how I’ve grown to accept them over the years. Perhaps it’s time I take out a couple out for a walk in the sunlight and maybe even kiss one.
Yesterday as I planned to go to lunch, I found that my sunglasses were broken. This was annoying since it was sunny, and I was going to walk to my favorite restaurant. But, unfortunately, it’s not an unusual occurrence in my life.
I blame my job. Library workers can’t help loving books and never want to be without a good read wherever they find themselves. So right now, in my purse, in addition to a wallet and some lip gloss, I have the following:
- a physical book that I’m almost done with,
- an iPad mini that holds several other books and magazines so that I have something to read if I’m not in the mood for the physical book,
- a pair of reading glasses that I only need if I’m reading a book with small print, which is almost never, but who wants to to take the chance?
- a rubbery implement called a BookBone that holds down the pages on the physical book, and
- a notebook in case I get some good ideas while reading.
Obviously, my sunglasses don’t stand a chance. But I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. No Sunglass Hut or designer frames for me.
I went to Target and tried on new sunglasses. One pair was lovely with gray rims and a shape that fit my face. I looked at the price tag: $20. I looked at my purse. I moved over to the $7.99 pairs.
The Great Dingo/Bingo Confusion.
Amy: “Look at this cute dog.”
Me: “Oh, he’s cute. And his name is Dingo. How perfect.”
Pam: “Do you guys remember that song, Bingo?” (Starts singing: ‘B-I-N-G-O.)
Amy: “But his name is Dingo. As in ‘the dingo ate your baby.'”
Pam: “They made a song about that?”
Pam: “Then why are you talking about it?”
Amy: “It’s the dog’s name.”
Pam: “What dog?”
Me: “We definitely need more students on Friday afternoons.”
I have so many areas in which to improve that I can’t choose. Probably the one that would help me the most would be to get up early each morning. But I failed at that one this very day. So I’m moving on.
Others I considered:
- 10,000 steps each day. I’m consistent at this, but on the weekends, I visit my mom, it’s almost impossible. So that’s out.
- Cutting out sugar. Ha! Just kidding. That’s never going to happen.
- Lifting weights to give my arms some needed definition and so I can lift myself up if I ever fall off a mountain.
- Writing everyday.
And the winner is: Writing everyday. I have fallen out of my daily writing habit. So it’s time to get back in the groove.
Send good thoughts my way.
I was searching for some material today for our freshman experience course when I came across this Ted Talk by Matt Cutts:
Try Something New for 30 Days
There are all sorts of 30-Day Challenges out there. You can improve your abs, your thighs, your chest, your arms, etc. You can write a poem, take a photo, clean some part of your house, even perform a random act of kindness each day.
There are various reasons for the popularity of these challenges:
- They are short enough to actually complete. The end is always in sight.
- They are long enough to establish a pattern.
- Maybe most important of all, to commitmentphobes like me, they don’t carry the same kind of emotional weight as a goal or a resolution.
So tomorrow I’m going to start a 30-day challenge. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet about what it’s going to be. (Stay tuned!)
Why don’t you join me by taking up a challenge of your own?
A student stopped me in the parking lot this afternoon and asked, “Is summer always like this?” She pointed at the few cars in our parking lot.
I nodded and said that summers are certainly slower than the other semesters.
She shrugged and said, “Well, it’s boring.”
I was tempted to yell after her, “You should have been here last week.” But that didn’t seem very professional.
Here, in no particular order, are some guidelines for graduates from the Jolly Librarian:
- Celebrate your accomplishment. It’s a big deal to earn a degree. Even if other people don’t recognize your accomplishment, don’t let that stop you from celebrating. Buy yourself a present. Eat a big piece of cake. Do something that makes you happy.
- Don’t celebrate forever. It’s easy after graduation to think that you need a break. But that break should have a definite endpoint. Then it’s time to start to think about your next step: a job, another degree, volunteer work, etc.
- Always be kind. In an age of social media, we have more than enough people who want to disparage ideas, ridicule people, and destroy others’ egos. We need more folks who take the high road.
- Check your sources. And not just on your research papers. People send out a lot of fake news, half-baked information, and twisted propaganda. If you don’t have time to check the accuracy of something, don’t resend, retweet, or share.
- Have fun. No, I’m not going to give you that old “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” speech. I don’t believe it. All jobs, all vocations, all choices require some work. I’m sure there are days that The Rolling Stones think they will fall over dead if they have to play “Brown Sugar” one more time. All jobs have tedious, hard moments. But jobs, no matter what they are, also provide moments for happiness and fun. Find those moments.
- Give back. No accomplishment is a singular achievement. When I wrote my dissertation, I was alone in a room, but I had help: the ILL librarians who managed to find books and documents from far way, the colleagues who gave me encouragement and support, even the guy at the car place in Pennsylvania who gave me a fair deal on a Honda when I totaled my Sentra the first week of my Ph,D. program. When I think about all the help I’ve been given, I can’t help but want to help others. I hope you will too.
Happy day, all you graduates out there!
A couple of days ago, I had a terrible day at work. Every decision I made was questioned, and by the end of the day, I had a headache and doubted my ability to get anything done. All I wanted was someone to be nice to me. (Or in lieu of that, a giant raspberry chocolate ice cream cone.)
As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw that a car with a student sticker had its lights on. (It had been a rainy day, and the student had probably forgotten to turn the lights off after parking.) I found one of our security guards,and he started the hunt to find the student.
As I was driving home, I realized I was feeling better. My headache had lessened, and I found myself singing along to my playlist. I had contributed in making someone else’s day better. A student would not come out after a long class to find that his battery had died. That made me happy.
And so I accidentally discovered the solution to a bad mood: It was not finding someone to feel sorry for me.
It was helping someone else.
Back in the fall, as our two gardening librarians were planning what bulbs to plant for our library garden, I mentioned that I like tulips. A few weeks later, Charles gave me some tulip bulbs.
After Christmas, I mentioned that I didn’t actually plant the bulbs until New Year’s Eve.
Charles asked, “You drove up to the library to plant tulips?”
I shook my head. “No. I planted those extras you gave me at my condo.”
He laughed at me. “Those weren’t extras. Those were for the library garden. I was passing off the responsibility for planting them to you since you were the only one who wanted tulips.”
I can’t even justify my position. My only defense is that I had never once planted anything in our garden, and Charles is known to give his colleagues gifts.
But the lesson is clear: Make sure you understand what the other person means and wants you to do. A simple question can often prevent tons of hurt feelings later.
Still, in our case, all ended well. The few tulips came up in my patch under the front window and then promptly had their petals blown away by the first March wind. And our library garden is lovely even without tulips.