Tuesday, September 30, 2008

i slack off and inadvertantly stumble into genius

sometimes things come to us from on high. and when i say "on high" i do not mean a high power. i mean The Bureaucracy. we were told last year that we had to do one program a month about health. typically my assistant and i will put "health works" on the calendar and then hope to come up with an idea later. often this idea originates minutes before the program begins (like my healthy snack bingo game! oh how i love turning facts into bingo!) anyway, today we were supposed to do health works but my assistant and i looked at each other and without saying anything we mutually decided we would not be doing health works this afternoon.

instead we decided to do a program one of the kids came up with, called "poem day." now, i have the kids write poems all the time, so i was unsure how poem day would be different. but at the last moment i had a stroke of brilliance and i decided i would get some poem books and talk about them.

so i discussed shel silverstein, jack prelutsky, the graphic novel version of "casey at the bat," and langston hughes. i saved langston hughes for last, figuring i would read "i, too" for some wow factor that would get them inspired to write their own poems.

but first i decided on a whim to talk about what was going on in america during langston hughes life. so then we get into a discussion about the civil rights movement. now, they have their martin luther king and rosa parks facts memorized, but you ask them what the civil rights movement was about and they have no idea. so i told them about segregation and blacks being kept from the polls, and freedom fighters and people being hosed, et cetera et cetera.

after reading the poem, we went through several meaningful lines and i asked the kids what they thought these lines meant. and the kids came up with some pretty thoughtful answers. but it was at this time that my assistant and i realized that the kids have no idea about history and the chronological order which history took place in. several times i had to explain to one girl that the civil rights movement was in the 1960s and that the revolutionary war was in the 1770s. i mean, c'mon now. i'm no history buff. not by a long shot. but i think a child should be able to tell the difference between 1960 and 1770. do i ask too much?

so i made a timeline of the history of the united states, putting in such important dates as the end of slavery, the abolotionist movements, martin luther king jr. being shot, the first 4th of july, the birthdays of me and my assistant, etc etc.

the whole thing was pretty damned awesome. what was most awesome is that they actually listened to me and possibly even retained some of what i said. for a fleeting second i thought about joining the ranks of my enemies and becoming a teacher. but i immediately thought better of it. i could never wake up that early.

so after our lesson kid who hates hoboes asked me, "hey miss dewey decimal, how do you know so much stuff?"
and to this i felt the honest answer was best, "i'll be perfectly honest with you, kid who hates hoboes. i didn't like school much. but i like being smart. so i paid attention enough to learn the things that i thought were important and i went to college and then i got to learn lots of stuff. and now i am the very smart person you see before you."

and the kids oooohed and aaaahed at how i, a normal young slacker type white girl from the suburbs, had transformed into the super crafty smart gal they all know and love.

Monday, September 29, 2008

going for a hat trick

i made another kid cry today. would anyone like to place bets on when i will make a third kid cry?

Friday, September 26, 2008

let's play a round of fact or fiction (if this was hell's library you'd pronounce that friction)

woman: i'm looking for books on greek mytholody.
me: no problem, follow me.
(we walk to stacks and i show her the mythology books. found in the 290s in case you were wondering)
woman: i'm specifically looking for books with accurate information.
me: huh? what's accurate?
woman: you know what i mean.
(uh, no i don't)
me: well, none of them are accurate. they're made up
woman: what? they're made up?
me: well, yeah. i mean, unless you believe in women with live snakes for hair that turn people into stone.
woman: (shrugs)

ok, now one could argue that maybe the greek myths are not made up and that greek mythology is actually an organized polytheistic religion. but i am going to hazard a guess that this woman is not planning on throwing a lamb on the fire as a sacrifice to the gods.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

i hate to hate teachers, but i do

if my life we were west side story i'd be the head of a librarian gang, and we would meet a gang of teachers in the streets and rumble with them. grrrrrr. teachers. my sworn enemies.

so i get a call from a teacher a few weeks ago, asking me if she can bring her class into the library. sure! we love that! then she said she and another teacher actually want to bring in two classes, and that she wants all the students to get library cards. sure! we love that!

i explained two things to her. TWO. two important things:
1. upon hearing that each class had 25-30 kids in it, i explained that i absolutely could not have two classes in the library at once. the meeting room isn't big enough, we don't have enough staff, etc. so i suggested she and this other teacher bring their classes separately, one at 10:30 and one at 11:30.

2. if you are bring 50-60 children into the library, we cannot make cards for all 50-60 of them on the spot. can't be done. it's physically impossible. there's no time, and again we don't have enough staff. maybe if we had some enslaved elves in the back room we could swing it, but alas with budget cuts we have no enslaved elves. no fair. so i explained that she should immediately come into the library, get library card applications, give them to her students, and then bring them back one week BEFORE they visit. that way we will have the cards ready when the students get here.

tell me honestly dear blog readers, is any of this hard to comprehend? i think not. as i said, it is merely TWO things.

so when 60 children showed up at 10:30 am this morning, all with completed library applications in hand, assuming they would all be given cards before leaving, i was more than a little annoyed. the teacher explained to me that they thought they'd walk over together "as a group." (i've heard this before and usually it is a nice way of saying "one of our teachers is scared to walk here with the kids by herself," you know, because it's the hood) well, if you all walk over "as a group," then you obviously are not coming in two separate groups at two separate times as i had instructed. what did they think was going to happen with this second group?

i couldn't leave 30 kids in the library (or standing outside the library) without any activity so i dealt with all 60 at once. chaos ensued. i mean, it was good chaos. the kids asked lots of questions about the library and were pretty well-behaved considering that there were so many of them. but i was peeved. i like order. order is good.

less than half of them had library cards so only about 20 of them could check out books, but still 20 school children trying to check out books at one time is a bit insane. especially considering there are only 3 employees here today (i am in charge!). and then all 40 other kids were complaining that they didn't have cards and it took all my self-restraint not to say "well if your teacher had listened to me and dropped the applications off beforehand you would have a card." but luckily i didn't say that.

anyway, after 90 minutes they are finally gone and all is quiet now. ahhhhhh.

ko-ke ko-ko, co-co ree-co, and other nonsensical phrases

this is my new favorite picture book. i read it to the little ones today at storytime and they LOVE it. it's all about the different sounds animals make in different languages. like, in japan roosters say "ko-ke ko-ko" and in france frogs say "crew-ah, crew-ah." and apparently, according to the title, cows say "moo" everywhere. well, at least we can agree on that. you would not believe how much the kids enjoy making these new weird animal sounds. they were riveted. RIVETED! and surprisingly, it was easy to explain to them this concept of different cultures pronouncing animals sounds differently. i thought it was a rather complex idea, but they grasped it quickly. or maybe they just like making funny sounds. either way, this book is cool.

bike shelter update

today after picking up my dunkin donuts veggie eggwhite flat and medium tea (a new habit which is costing me $4.32 a day), i noticed something about my new favorite bike shelter ... there is an NYC cycling map on the side! a CYCLING MAP! what will they think of next?! amazing! sadly, i didn't get to look at the map as i was in my car (bad me, driving a car, i know. but alas i have no choice.) anyhoo, i am so excited to see what info is on the map. does it tell which streets have bike lanes? does it give suggestions for less-congested routes which are bike-friendly? i don't know, but i'll find out. yay, bikes!
(please note the accompanying picture is not of the bike shelter on graham ave, but of a very similar looking bike shelter)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

things i don't need (a short list)

1. your old encyclopedias - you don't want them, why should i? and no, there is no historic value in your semi-ancient reference tomes. it's not old enough to be interesting, it's just old enough to be highly inaccurate.

kids are funny

i admit it. i was looking at the facebook pictures one of my friends posted of this weekend's toga party. a 5th grade girl sneaks up behind me and gets a look at me and another girl, both in togas, hanging on mr. katz. she looks at the picture and asks, "oh, is that a jewish holiday?"

ahhhh, kids. gotta love 'em. maybe we should encorporate togas into the passover seder. did i ever tell you about the time i almost convinced my mom to throw a costume seder in which we would all dress up as our favorite jews? yet another brilliant idea that never came to fruition.

the only good thing about yesterday (at least yesterday day)

a little girl came up to me while i was sitting at the desk. she was very bored. this happens sometimes ... the kids get bored and they come over to me in hopes that i will entertain them. i love the kids, you know that dear blog readers, but usually this practice annoys me. i am not here to entertain children, except for when i am entertaining children.

anyway, she was so little and super cute and quiet and i couldn't help kinda liking her. it happens. first she was mesmerized by my new hair (black and purple! who would have guessed?) then she asked me if i was going to plait it. there was much back and forth before i understood what she was talking about. then she said that her mom plaits hers and that her mom could teach me if need be. i told her thanks, but that i would probably just keep my hair as is.

"do you have children, miss dewey decimal?" i told that i did not, and then she asked if i needed any children. "are you volunteering?" i asked her. she nodded quietly, and i told her that while in the library we could hang out, but that i wouldn't be taking her home with me.

"is this your library?" she asked me. then i stretched my arms out and said, "yes! this is MY library! mine! all mine!"
"you never leave?"
"of course i leave," i explained. "i'll go home later and eat dinner and maybe play around on my computer while eating chocolates." this upset her greatly, and she informed me that eating chocolates would make my teeth fall out, but i stood firmly that if i brushed my teeth afterwards i'd be okay. she didn't quite buy this.

then she told me that one day she would be tall. tall to the sky. like a power ranger.

and that dear blog readers was the only good part of my day. the rest was yelling and poor educational standards and stupid computer rules and me envisioning a beat-down using only the world book.

Friday, September 19, 2008

goodnight bush

even i make mistakes, dear blog readers. shocking, i know. i ordered this book called "Goodnight Bush." before i go on, i would like to say that i personally really like this book and i think it is great. however, it was somehow presented to me as a children's book when i ordered it, and really it is a political parody and is better suited towards teens and adults. so when i read it i thought, "this book is awesome! but totally inappropriate for the children's room." sigh. what to do?

so i handed it off to a different librarian, in hopes that it will go into the collection somewhere else (although i wouldn't mind if it magically made it's way to my coffeetable).

anyway, the book is a parady of the classic children's book "Goodnight Moon" except it is all about the Bush administration. it's very well done, i have to say. i highly recommend it for coffeetables everywhere. here's a little snippet. hopefully i am not committing copyright infringement.
in the situation room
there was a toy world
and a flight costume and a picture of-
a refinery plume
and there were war profiteers giving three cheers
a nation great
a church and a state
a pair of towers
and a balance of powers
a grand old party to war in a rush
and a quiet dick cheney whispering "hush"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

breakfast and bike racks

have you ever been excited by something, and when you wake up in the morning you remember this something and then you start your day feeling kinda good? i assume it's like christmas, but i've never celebrated christmas so i wouldn't know.
lately i've been waking up earlier than usual, and in this new found extra time i have added two things to my morning routine:
1. i email The Bolshevik
2. i go to dunkin donuts and get a flat bread egg white sandwich (have you tried one of these? i typically fear eggs from fast food places but this sandwich is pretty tasty. and only 260 calories!)

so while i was parking the fancy mobile on graham ave i noticed this bus stop looking structure on the corner of graham and metropolitan. i was immediately perplexed, since i know that the bus stop is across the street on the other corner of graham. upon further inspection i realized that this is no bus stop. it is a covered bike rack area! how awesome! so if it is raining your bike seat won't get wet! i was ecstatic (even though i don't typically ride to graham since it's so close to The Paradise. but maybe i will start riding there!). anyway i knew that i had to take a picture so that ms. bitchcakes could see it.
also, it makes me proud of brooklyn, being the trendy trendsetters we are, creating useful bike racks. unlike those stupid david byrne bike racks, which are actually quite difficult to lock a bike to (i attribute these to manhattan). last i checked that was kind of the whole point of bike racks: locking your bike to them. also, i like how the website states that these faux-arty bike racks are "installed throughout manhattan and brooklyn." there is one on bedford ave and that is it. i hardly consider that "throughout" brooklyn. but whatevs, keep your impractical unimaginative pop art bike racks to yourself.

craft crisis averted

i just wanted to show you guys the lovely hand trees we made on wednesday. see, you trace your hand and wrist on a piece of paper and color it brown. that will be the trunk and branches of your tree. then you cut out a bunch of leaves and glue them to said tree.
1. it's so easy
2. it doesn't involve any obscure materials
3. the kids love it
i got the idea here. the leaf template they provide is very useful, however i had to enlarge it because the leaves were kinda small and annoying to cut out, especially if you're using safety scissors.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

craftin' in the ghetto

as you know, i love crafts. love them! but typically i do not show you guys the long drawn out process i go through trying to figure out crafts to do with the children. i just let you all assume that i am some magical crafting faerie, creating masterpieces among a swirl of glitter and googley eyes. but that is not so! sometimes it is painstaking finding new craft ideas.

for instance, i was looking for crafts to do on wednesday and i specifically wanted to do a fall craft. you know, it being fall and all. so the first website i go to all the crafts are too babyish. then i go to this website saying they have "easy fun craft ideas." first idea was an "easy wreath!" all you need is a wreath base, some hay, and some indian corn! yay! so easy! i have all those things at my fingertips, being in the hood and all. hay? where the hell would i get hay?

the next five or so i looked at all involved having children pick a bunch of leaves. easy, no? where would children pick leaves around here? there are no leaves. and i'll tell you right now once those leaves hit the ground here i am NOT touching them. god knows what disgusting stuff might get on them.

other crafts involved multicolored stamp pads, corn kernels, melted crayons, etc. melted crayons?! are you insane?! do you think i am going to allow the children to be anywhere near a device which could melt crayons?! that is anarchy and first degree burns waiting to happen.

one day i was complaining to my roommate about how ridiculous some of these craft ideas are. as i went through my various woes she became kind of impressed that i am able to do any crafts at all with the kids. and then we decided that i should make a series of youtube videos called "craftin' in the ghetto" in which i would explain how to make simple crafts using only the most inexpensive and common materials. sadly, this project never got off the ground as i am still waiting for the roomie to compose the craftin' in the ghetto theme song.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

you know it's fall when ...

... miss dewey decimal points at a kid and makes him cry.

all my children left behind: a rant about well-rounded education

something just dawned on me ... i was reading up on No Child Left Behind, which i of course have been familiar with for some time now. and suddenly i noticed something i hadn't noticed before:

H.R. 1 will result in the creation of assessments in each state that
measure what children know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8.

reading and math. not all subjects, mind you, just reading and math. well, no wonder my kids don't know anything about history. no wonder they look at me all clueless when i ask them questions about such things as: the story of thanksgiving, the revolutionary war, susan b. anthony, the declaration of independence, et cetera et cetera. they are only learning about reading and math. and to be quite honest they're barely learning that. but it is now obvious to me that in the mad dash to measure up to the reading and math levels that NCLB has proposed, my kids are missing out on such things as science, basic geography, basic american history, art, music, and physical fitness.

thank you republicans! i will blame YOU next time i have to explain for the gazillionth time that Queens is a part of New York City, or that New York City is a part of New York State, or that New York State is in the Northeastern (top right) part of the United States, which is on the continent of North America. because my kids, typically grades 3-6, don't know any of that stuff.

p.s. the other day i had to explain to a 7th grader that there were SEVEN continents on the earth, and that the map her teacher had given her to fill out was incorrect because it only showed six continents. nice! antarctica ... apparently not important!

Monday, September 15, 2008

great debates ... they're grrrrrrreat!

today i had a lovely day with the kids. even though they got all retarded over the summer, they seem to be getting back into the swing of things.

so today we did great debates, in which i break the kids up into teams (they decided they wanted to do boys vs. girls) and make them debate issues. this actually goes better than you would think.

when we did this back in the spring i noticed that the kids had trouble coming up with multiple points for any given topic. so first we had a practice round where we brainstormed as many points for and against a topic. i let them pick a practice topic, and they came up with Animal Testing. of course they are all against animal testing and i had to explain that when you are debating, sometimes you might have to defend a point that you don't actually believe in. with some prodding from yours truly, they were able to come up with some good points for both sides.

then we decided to have our "real" debate, and i gave them the topic "should people eat meat," figuring that it was in a similar vein, and maybe they could re-use some of the same points. suddenly they're all up in arms shouting, "how could anyone be against eating meat?!" so then i admit that i am a card carrying vegetarian, and there are gasps and murmurs throughout the crowd. (okay, i don't really carry a card or anything, and i did start eating sushi a couple years ago. it's just SO good. and fine ... i'll admit it ... i ate a pig in a blanket at the bat mitzvah i went to last week. those things just call to me! i can't resist them! but i didn't eat meat, chicken or fish for a solid 8 years so i say i can do whatever the hell i want.)

what were we talking about? oh yes, children debating! so the boys win the coin toss and decide they will be for meat eating. then my assistant helps the boys come up with their arguments and i help the girls.

the girls totally demolish the boys, even though they don't actually believe you shouldn't eat meat. the boys only argued that:
1. meat tastes good
2. meat makes you full and gives you energy
3. animals will have babies because it is part of the cycle of life so it's okay if we eat them because they will just make more animals

whereas the girls were able to make the following points:
1. it is mean/cruel to kill animals
2. if we kill animals they will miss their families (and their families will miss them) and that is not right
3. meat gives you high cholestorol (i helped them with this one)
4. animals have feelings
5. animals could have a disease and if you eat them you could get the disease (note: when writing their points down the girls spelled disease as d-zeez. i nearly died.)

so after each team goes through their points, i ask them some questions, trying to see if they can get any more information out of them. so i ask the girls what diseases an animal might have that might make it dangerous to eat. (someone passing through had mentioned mad cow during our brainstorming session, so i was hoping one of them would remember this) one girl shouts out "HIV!" to which i reply, "absolutely not." then another girls shouts out, "AIDS!" to which i again reply, "absolutely not." cancer, diabetes, and rabies are all suggested. and then dear blog readers, i couldn't help myself. i had to educate these kids. damnit, why am i always doing that.

me: please tell me how people get HIV and AIDS
girls: (awkward silence)
me: i know this is strange to talk about, but please tell me
girls: well, you get it from doing bad things
me: what kind of bad things? killing someone? stealing? what bad things are we talking about?
girls: having, like, um, sex and stuff
me: yes, people get HIV and AIDS from having unprotected sex. so can you get HIV or AIDS from eating meat?
girls: no

do you see the amazing work i do?

so then it was the boys turn. i mentioned that the girls had brought up that animals had feelings and that it wasn't right to kill them, and asked them if they had anything to say in response to this. i was hoping they would say something like "how do they know animals have feelings?" or "people are smarter than animals so it's okay" or "animals eat other animals so why can't we?" you know, the typical stuff. they couldn't come up with any of these. but then ... oh then kid who hates hoboes stands up and says "yeah ... well ... they all eat meat! they say that it's wrong, but they do it anyway! they're liars!"

so i applauded kid who hates hoboes, telling him that if this was a political debate he would have totally exposed his opponents for being hypocritical (insert brief explanation of hypocritical), but unfortunately, in this debate you don't have to believe in what you are debating. i suggested that he consider entering politics.

damned, that kid who hates hoboes has spunk. sadly he is turning into a juvenile delinquent right before my eyes. but maybe he can be saved. ahhhh the power of debate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


here i am ... at the 'brary on a saturday. woe is me.

as i've said before, i am in charge on saturdays. so when my co-worker left for her lunch hour, not only was i in charge, but i was also left as sole employee. and of course as soon as she left our self-check-in machine stopped working, and a large crowd of people swarmed in. (note: we have all these very high tech fancy things like RFID and self-check-in machines and self-check-out machines. all of which are intended to save us employees oh so much time. and they do save us oh so much time, except for the fact that they are often out of order. but you didn't hear that from me.) anyway, i was doing all sorts of stuff at the circulation desk which i typically don't do like making new library cards, checking in books, trying to figure out why the RFID pads aren't working, etc etc. needless to say, a line of mildly disgruntled patrons was beginning to form.

i called the next person on line, and she was this woman with big fake nails airbrushed several different colors. would it be unfair to describe her as hootch? and even though she was next on line and i have clearly called her, she felt the need to make a big show of the fact that she was next, so she elbowed her way past the nice elderly gentleman who was behind her in line. elbowed him!

so he said, in a fairly calm manner considering he'd just been elbowed, "you could say excuse me."

then they woman went on this tirade, not exactly speaking to anyone in particular. "that's why i hate coming here! people acting all ghetto! they got not respoect!"

i'm sorry ... you elbow a senior citizen so that you can be next in line to reserve a bunch of books with titles like "a gangsta's wife" and "pimp like me" and you have the nerve to complain about people 'acting all ghetto.' oh yes, we should all respect you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

narcoleptic veterans unite

as we've previously discussed, the children have a bit of a problem understanding popular american holidays. but i will fix this! i've ordered videos on holidays such as columbus day, memorial day, thanksgiving, fourth of july. i WILL NOT have another upset like last year's horrific story of thanksgiving.

so when i saw this book on veteran's day i thought to myself, "self, i should buy this for the children so that they will understand veteran's day." but if there was any doubt that i might order this book, i was then completely sold by this brief description:

"INTERMEDIATE -- Series: 2nd-Grade Friends. Book tackles Veterans Day and narcolepsy. Reccomend moderate."

narcoleptic veterans? count me in! i have so much to ask! is the veteran narcoleptic due to his/her tour or duty? or did this narcolepsy come into play later in life, for reasons unrelated to being a veteran. oh, i can't wait for this book to come in so that my questions can be answered.

fall is here, hear the yell ...

fall is my favorite season. i love the cooler weather, the fashion opportunities, the excitement of halloween. good stuff. so this morning i witnessed some sure fire signs that fall is here:
1. i got to bust out my boots and knee high socks (yay! oh boots, how i love thee. let me count the ways)
2. there was a woman walking down graham ave wearing a PLO scarf, and not because she is a terrorist nor was it because she is a fashion-challenged hipster ... it was because of the chilly breeziness.
3. i've been thinking about knitting (i find it quite difficult to knit when the weather is warm. who wants to be submerged in yarn when it's all gross and humid out)
4. the library is filled with insane children. now, you might be thinking to yourself, "but miss dewey decimal, didn't you whip the children into shape over the last year?" and you would be right. i totally whipped the children into shape over the last year. but sadly in their short 2 month summer vacation, they seem to have forgotten much of what i had taught them, and have now regressed back into hooligans with poor reasoning skills. grrrrrr.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

i do it for the books: a rant about librarians and sexuality

i met this dude at a party a couple years ago, and unfortunately i had several drinks. let's just say that my antics at said party made me quite memorable for years to come. what can i say? sometimes my id takes over. so i was at another party recently and i ran into this dude again. and he was all caught up in the idea that i am some wild and untamed chick, which i am not. i just like to have fun. sometimes. and on my own terms.

so we were chatting and i could just see all over this guy's face that he had the absolute wrong idea about me. (i am sure this will inspire a well-deserved lecture from my mother) whatevs. moving on. as he is leaving he asks for my number and i give it to him, even though i now i have no interest in him.

he writes me a text message the other night. i politely respond. at this time there has been no innapropriate or suggestive communications. then he writes to me, out of nowhere ... "you are a naughty librarian."

and thus ends all communications i will ever have with this man. what kind of thing is that to say to someone? did he think i was going to enter into some hot and heavy text sex session with him? give me a break.

yes, i am a naughty librarian. we all know that. duh. so obvious. i'm also a very committed and hard-working librarian who busts her ass trying to save children from their own bleak futures. trust me if you saw me at work, you'd see there's nothing hot and bothered about what i actually do. and contrary to popular belief, i did not enter this field because i wanted to fulfill the sexual fantasies of men. shocking, i know. i do not merely exist for men to enjoy me, whodda thunk it? i mean, if that's all i wanted i could have become a french maid. or a dominatrix. neither of those careers requires me dishing out $38,000 in student loans for a masters degree, and as a dominatrix i could've made a nice bit of change. i could've made my own hours, got to wear cool clothes, et cetera et cetera.

but i did not go into these fields. why not? because i have a genuine interest in books and the pursuit of knowledge and helping people. crazy, isn't it?

if you are friends with me, by all means, keep those sexy librarian comments coming. you know i love it (coming from people who appreciate the many aspects of me). but if you don't know me, please keep your creepy comments to yourself.

and here, for your edification, is a list of things you shouldn't say to librarians you just met, assuming you want them to respect you (mind you, i have heard all of these)
1. you need a masters degree to do that?
2. i thought all librarians were old and ugly ... but you're not!
3. you're a naughty/hot/sexy librarian
4. do i need a library card to check you out?
5. what do i need to take out a librarian?

and so on and so on and so on and so on ...

Monday, September 8, 2008

slathered in hand sanitizer

a man approaches the desk and tosses a CD down in front of me. "i found this in the machine," he says, "it belongs to you guys."
"what machine?" i ask. i ask this politely and without any hint of accusation. i'm merely trying to get an understanding of what is going on. i am not a technologically saavy gal, per se, but i'm going to make a stab in the dark here and say that there are many many machines out there in the big scary high tech world.
"it was in the machine," he says again, growing impatient with me.
"well," i ask, "was this item checked out to you? what machine are we talking about?"
"what difference does it make?!" he begins shouting as he backs away from the desk. "you want it or not?! it belongs to your library!"
"sir," i say calmly (i love calling crazy people 'sir'), "i am merely attempting to understand where the CD came from."
and then he walks off muttering to himself. i also like it when crazy people walk off muttering to themselves.
at this point i look at the CD and i notice it is very dirty, specifically in that i-don't-know-where-this-thing-has-been kind of dirty. so i pick it up by the edges and bring it to my assistant manager, since he is in charge of CDs. i retell the story and when he takes the CD from me he notices how dirty it is. as i'm walking back to me desk i hear him shout to a nearby coworker "eww, it's covered in that roach .... "
now, i did not hear the end of the sentence, nor do i want to. was it covered in roach droppings? roach hairs? roach saliva? i don't care. i have pretty much poured an entire bottle of hand sanitizer on myself, so i think i'm okay. i hope.
but if anyone was planning on surprising me with a thoughtful gift ... hand sanitizer. i've now run out.

miss dewey decimal: on tour

you know i've always fancied myself as a bit of a rock star librarian. well, this saturday i decided to tour some of the other libraries in The System. yup, that's how i spend a saturday afternoon, touring neighborhood libraries. i'm that cool.

i decided i would do this all stealth like, acting as though i am not an employee and seeing how i get treated. i would be rating the libraries on:
1. cleanliness
2. organization
3. friendliness of staff
4. knowledge of staff

the first library i went to was ok, but nothing fab. the employees seemed basically content to be there, but the building itself was a little worn. and it didn't have a huge amount of space for seating and gathering. i view the modern library as a community center, and although the library was bustling with people, i didn't quite feel like i fit in with the "vibe" of the place.

the second library was much larger and had lots of tables and chairs with people doing crazy things like reading books and flipping through newspapers. have you ever heard of such a thing?

sadly, i couldn't help but notice that they had a little bit of a shelving problem. ie: shelves were a mess, books everywhere. this may have been because people were actually reading the books and using them, but still ... get it together people! then i asked a librarian if she could help me find the new augusten burroughs book. i pretended that i didn't know the title and she was very helpful in figuring out which book i was referring to. then she said that their copy was out. she didn't offer to reserve it for me, but when i asked if they had it in audio she was very happy to tell me that the CD version was in. then when i walked over to the audiobooks and i couldn't find it (i couldn't find it because it was mis-shelved), but then she walked over and helped me. i hadn't even asked for further assistance! excellent work. (i'm totally going to rip that shit to my iPod)

overall, i liked the library. if i were there i could whip their staff into shape and get those books in a neat meaningful order. also, i heard through one of the friendly clerks that they'd be going through a renovation soon. one thing about this System is that they actually renovate their libraries, keeping them in decent shape and updating their technology. as opposed to hell's library where they just let their older libraries crumble into various stages of ruin, and then spend millions of dollars building new branches instead of fixing the one's they already have. but i digress.

the third library i went to was very nice, obviously renovated in the not-so-distant past. it was packed with people and the one librarian who was there was running all over the place trying to help people. but he did this in a strange alien way. his mouth was curved upwards ... i believe it's called a smile ... and he appeared to be genuinely enjoying helping people. crazy. and then at one point when i was explaining how the computer reservation system works to my tour-mate, the librarian approached us and asked if we needed help. even though he was super busy! yet again, excellent work.

then the fourth library was in this cool old building, and although the inside was a little run down, it had a lot of character. and i saw a sign advertising all these fun teen programs like a wii tournament and a dance dance revolution night. very cool. i approve.

while on tour i had another one of these "forest for the trees" moments ... first, all these libraries were filled with people on a saturday, and they were all using the library properly (for books, the pursuit of knowledge, and general infotainment). second i noticed that in the immediate areas surrounding the libraries they had things like shops and banks and cafes and restaurants. so a person working at said library could possibly walk to a dining establishment during their lunch hour, get a quick bite to eat, then maybe pick up a few items at a duane reade, deposit their check at the bank, and then go back to work. i kind of forgot that most people get to live like that.

curious. very curious.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

we just call him god

why have my posts become so religious? or are they anti-religious?

the other day i was standing on the sidewalk, waiting for the lovely man at the autoshop to patch my flat tire ... a young man walked by and said good morning to me. i hate greeting strangers in public. i am a friendly person. i love meeting new people. but i do not want to talk to unknown people when i'm out and about trying to run errands. much like my strong feelings against getting to know one's neighbors. it's not that i'm rude, i just enjoy minding my own business. anyway, i was feeling generous so i smiled and said good morning.

a few minutes later he returned, smiling at me and saying that he hoped that everything was okay with my car. at this point i assumed he was trying to hit on me, so i went into defense mode.

me: it'll be fine thanks (please read: leave me the hell alone)
guy: is there anything i can do to help?
me: i think these autoshop guys have it covered
guy: i think i have some reading material that may interest you
me: i'm sure it won't
guy: well why don't you check it out
then he rummages through his bag and gives me a leaflet entitled "Being Saved by Jesus" or something like that. as soon as i see the word "jesus" i put my hands up and back away like he's trying to hand me molten lava.
me: no! sorry! i don't believe in jesus! (then i shield my eyes from said pamphlet)
guy: jesus is the only one who can save you. god wants you to accept his son as the one true savior.
me: god likes me just fine thanks.
guy: god loves everyone, but in order to be saved by god you must be baptised.
me: no, my god doesn't care if you're baptised. my god only wants you to be a good person.
guy: who is your god?
me: huh?
guy: what is your god's name?
me: we just call him god.

i can understand how back in the good old days of preachin' and convertin', missionaries could use all sorts of magic tricks and brainwashing to get innocent tribal people to fall for this stuff. but really, an on-the-street conversion? in brooklyn? does that ever work? what is the success rate of this practice? does your average jew-on-the-street ever denounce their faith after reading a short pamphlet? do heathens ever see the error of their ways because some complete stranger told them that if they didn't, they weren't going to get to bounce around on clouds in the afterlife? please. behaviors like this just reinforce my strong feelings against interacting with others.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the forest for the trees

sometimes you get so used to something, that you can hardly tell how messed up it is anymore. and then one day, it just dawns on you all over again.

when i got to the hood this morning i passed by this little church near the library. it's not what i would call a "real church" it's one of those storefront type churches, housed in a regular building. you city folk know what i'm talking about. anyway, this church has a summer camp and the kids from the summer camp have been coming to the library for our programs. i always assumed that coming to the library each afternoon was probably the most fun they had each day. i mean, how boring must church camp be? especially if you're just hanging out in a building in the hood. it's not like they get to frolic in the woods or anything.

anyway, today i passed their building and i noticed that there were no windows on the first floor. both sides of the building are completely made of cement and then the front of the building just has a door. on the second floor there are a few windows in front, but nothing much. suddenly, i realized just how dark and sad it must be in there. what could they possibly be doing in there all day?

then, as i was leaving for lunch, i passed by this barber shop i had never seen before. i realize now that i typically look forward whenever i am here, never really looking around too closely. the facade of this barbershop was all wood, painted white and fading badly, the wood splintering and breaking off at random. it completely stuck out from the other businesses, with their plastic signs and neon lights. i wanted to take a picture of it because there was something about it that was very moving, but then i realized that i absolutely could not get my camera out and take a picture of anything. there is absolutely no way that i could ever photograph anything i see here. that type of behavior would be completely unacceptable.

all of a sudden, i saw all the broken down store fronts and boarded up buildings that i've been passing every day for the past 14 months. i had somehow forgotten exactly what i'd been looking at day after day. suddenly, it occured to me that this is the most depressing place i've ever been in my entire life (and i've been many places, dear blog readers). then i remembered my trip to the 9th ward, post-katrina, and i decided that this is the second most depressing place i've ever been in my entire life.