Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

this is my costume for the day ... miss viola swamp! (from the book Miss Nelson is Missing) watch out! miss viola swamp is not amused! of course, this isn't much different than a typical outfit i might wear: dress, striped knee highs. i guess the only difference is my nails are black and i've got green eyeshadow on. it's a subtle costume. maybe i can find a legal pad as a prop.

oh, so i forgot to mention this part ... people who know me know that i scare really easily. i won't even mention how i screamed in horror on the williamsburg bridge because of some rattling doors (seriously creepy, on one of those more open areas of the bridge there are these spooky chained up doors. yikes!) anyway, i am a total wuss when it comes to scary stuff. so when i was a kid i loved this book. and i remember having the book on a table in my bedroom, but being so afraid of the picture of miss viola swamp on the back cover (shown right), that i had to make sure that whenever i lay the book down it was always the front cover that was showing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Y finally came in after being gone for several weeks. my assistant took her aside to speak to her, and then after that i wound up speaking to her as well. it wasn't very productive. she said that everything was fine and that the poem didn't mean anything. i said it must have meant something, but she maintained that it meant nothing and that she had written it with her friends just joking around. i said i didn't find the poem particularly funny. she shrugged, and then there was nothing left to say.

so that was that.

mas preguntas

no vamos a una isla, y no vamos a espana.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the answer to question #35

we will be going somewhere that is more than a 4 hour flight. curious. very curious. i must look at a map figure out what falls outside of a 4 hour radius.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 out of 40 new questions

today i learned:

1. i will not need a malaria vaccination. phew.
2. they speak spanish in this magical place that the bolshevik is whisking me away to

me pregunto adonde vamos. lo suspiro.

is your bathroom breeding bolsheviks? you should be so lucky.

i may need to get vaccinated! yay! no, not because of some rare hivey disease that is afflicting me. because i am going on a trip! yay! a trip!

you may be wondering, "miss dewey decimal, where pray tell are you going?" well dear blog readers, the truth is i have no idea where i'm headed to.

you see, when the boshevik asked me to block out several days for us to go on a trip i assumed that it was somewhere in the continental united states. you know, a long weekend at a b & b somewhere with horsebackriding and maple syrup. he told me i could compose a list of yes or no questions, and i could ask one daily until the day of our trip. so i compiled a list with such hard hitting questions as "will salt water taffy be available where we are going?" and "is the state we are going to one of the original 13 colonies?" and he chuckled along answering "no" to all of my questions, leaving me rather perplexed and intrigued.

but then. oh then, dear blog readers, this morning i get an email telling me that i may need to get vaccinated for our trip. vaccinated! now, i am a woman of the world dear blog readers. i have been to many a place. and when i went to study abroad i did get a bunch of shots. i also got a bunch of shots when i entered grad school to study my fair profession. so i think i might be covered. but my darling bolshevik mentioned that i may need a malaria shot. ooooh, that means we are going somewhere tropical, despite his aversion to sunlight (apparently he comes from a long line of vampiric bolsheviks). anyhoo, i cannot tell you how excited i am.

now i must go compile a new list of questions, as my original questions are null and void. yay! and of course dear blog readers i shall keep you abreast of any new developments. and i wil soon be posting my new and improved list.
miss dewey d.

Monday, October 27, 2008

why i heart fresh direct

so last night i sat at home writing my novel, patiently waiting for my groceries to arrive. those of you who know me are probably aware that i have a slight deficiency when it comes to food shopping and food preparation. but i want to get better at this for two reasons:

1. in these hard economic times i need to be more thrifty (it's been weeks since i had sushi! weeks!)
2. i must get back to the svelteness

so i ordered all sorts of healthy yummy food from fresh direct, including nutritious snacks i can take to work with me. but when i got my order one of my yogurts had been smushed and it opened and got yogurt all over my other stuff. so i lost one yogurt and then i had to clean yogurt off my other items. this actually wasn't a huge deal, but i decided that i would write a letter to fresh direct to tell them. usually when i've ordered from them everything is packed impeccably and there are no problems.

i figured they would refund me the cost of the yogurt, and maybe throw in free shipping on my next order. but today i got this email saying not only will they refund me $.99 for my yogurt, they will give me a $10 credit for my "trouble" and free shipping. a total retail value of $16.48. yay!

what have we learned here?
1. it is good to complain
2. fresh direct rocks

Friday, October 24, 2008

the kid formerly known as my favorite kid

so my favorite kid came in yesterday and as i mentioned he hasn't been coming in much. i had spoken with him last time regarding how important it is that he come to the library to do his homework. i had made him show me his homework, and it turns out he wasn't doing half of it.

so yesterday he comes in all proud, telling me that he gets a check every day for his homework, and that on his progress report it says that he always completes his homework. now, i know favorite kid. i know he does not posses the ability to do his homework on his own without serious prodding. so i am dubious of this progress report. i ask him to show me his homework and i see he has written out his times tables in his notebook, and there is indeed a checkmark. but i pry further.

"can you show me your assignment sheet?" i ask. and he shows me a sheet with a list of things he is supposed to do each day. "where are your spelling words?" i ask. he tells me he didn't do that part. "and where is this part where you are supposed to read an article and write about the who, what, where, when and why?" oh, surprise surprise, he didn't do that part either. he tells me he doesn't have articles at home.

"and where might you go to get articles, favorite kid."
"here," he groans.

then he argues with me that it must be ok that he is not doing all of his homework because his teacher is giving him checks everyday anyway. what the hell kind of teacher is this? so then i tell him that i think his teacher is being lazy.

"who is going to suffer in the end from you not doing your homework, favorite kid?"
"me," he groans.
what do you want to be when you grow up?" i ask.
"a lawyer," he tells me.
"well, lawyers need to do their homework in order to get to college. and they need to take a test. you can't be a lawyer if you don't do your homework."
"or a cop! i want to be a cop!"
"you still need to do your homework. there's a test to be a cop too."

then he tells me that he thinks his teacher is really tired, and goes on to do an impression of him. this impression looks very much like favorite kid's impression of our old teen tutor who was let go due to napping (maybe he was really a narcoleptic veteran! i am so insensitive when it comes to narcoleptic veteranss).

so then i tell favorite kid that i care about him and i want him to succeed. i tell him he needs to come in more and he needs to do his homework. he tells me he will, but seconds later he is goofing off. and then, dear blog readers, something dawned on me. i do not think that favorite kid is my favorite kid anymore. i think i have moved on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

fall is here ... read the newsletter

back after much popular demand, we have finished the fall edition of the library-in-the-hood newsletter! you may remember that at our last newsletter meeting i had the kids actually read the newsletter and discuss its strengths and weaknesses. now, although i had to pull some teeth to get the kids to write actual articles, i think that this new and improved newsletter is pretty damned awesome.

but with everything here at library in the hood, we must take the good with the bad. which do you want first? let's go with the good ... kid who hates hoboes has been doing much better lately. i got him inspired to write poetry, and you'll notice he is our most prolific poet. he even helped my fabulous assistant write a poem about the importance of african americans voting. (page 2) and it turns out that he is responsible for my favorite line in said poem: we are kings and queens / of any scene. very harlem renaissance. so we've got one kid back on track.
then there is Y. Y is one of our smartest kids. she's a bit precocious at times, but she's a smart cookie. we haven't seen much of her recently, and then she shows up for the newsletter meeting and writes this poem. well ... it is a very good poem (page 4). powerful. raw. emotional. disturbing. i think it's apparent from the poem that she is being abused in some way. my assistant and i discussed it and we decided that the next time Y comes in, we will have a chat with her and see if she will tell us what's wrong. but sadly, Y hasn't come into the library since our last newsletter meeting.

if i worked in a community in which the parents were more active participants in their children's lives, then i have no doubt a parent would read this newsletter and be troubled by this poem. said parent could even go so far as to ask me to remove it from the newsletter. and with good cause. however, no such parent exists. i've debated about whether or not to censor young Y, but i feel like it would be wrong. first off, it would be blaming the victim. it is not her fault she is abused and we should not rob her of an avenue to express her pain. and second, it is a damned good poem and the other kids could learn a lot from it. both about life and about good writing.

so there you have it. just another day in the life of ...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

here's to you, narcoleptic veterans of the world

you may recall that several months ago i wanted to purchase a book on veteran's day and found a review for this tome about a girl who was embarrassed of her narcoleptic veteran grandfather. there was much debate about whether or not this grandfather was narcoleptic, surely i had read the review wrong. it was even suggested that "narcolepsy" was most likely a typo meant to be "nationalism" or "neutrality." well, the book finally arrived and i have read it cover to cover so that i may report back to you, my beloved and devoted blog readers ...

vinni and emily are playing at pop-pop's house. vinni loves to play in leaves, but emily does not. pop-pop points out that people are different and like different things. he chooses veteran's day as an example to prove this (it is, of course, the obvious choice). people celebrate veteran's day in different ways: parades, flags, moments of silence, etc. pop-pop is shocked that the two second graders don't know what veterans are (he should come to library-in-the-hood and see that my 3rd-7th graders don't know what thanksgiving is or independence day). anyway, he is so shocked that his narcolepsy kicks in and he falls asleep on a hammock. while asleep he talks about puppies and honey flavored ice cream. mmmm, honey flavored ice cream.

we then learn a key plot point ... pop-pop was born with narcolepsy. he did not become narcoleptic from his time in the armed forces.

pop-pop is supposed to come into emily's class to talk about veterans, but emily is afraid he will fall asleep and embarrass her. but on class visit day, pop-pop arrives in uniform and wows the crowd. he then explains that although he was in the army he never fought in a war. but he is still considered a veteran.

so not only is his narcolepsy completely unrelated to him being a veteran, he didn't even fight in a war! what the hell is the point of this book?! i feel like kids would be so confused by this. he's a soldier but he never fought in a war. he has a disease, but it's totally unrelated to being a soldier. this man is the softest soldier ever. seriously, why not write a story about a veteran who actually fought in a war and maybe he has to walk with a cane or something because he hurt his foot in battle? at least that would make sense.


Friday, October 17, 2008

why i love my neighborhood (even though greenpoint is no longer technically my neighborhood)

so i just read this post from the greenpointers blog, informing me that cafe grumpy will be screening films the next four friday nights, all having to do with the topical subject matter of bicycling and hoodie wearing. before i even finished reading the post i said a silent prayer to myself, "please god, please let them be showing Rad." and lo and behold, they are! the other films are ET (obvious choice), Donnie Darko, and Goonies.

often when i tell people i live in the burg, i get the i-loathe-hipsters eyeroll. and sometimes i even get an outloud i-loathe-hipsters proclamation. i have even been the victim of random i-loathe-hipsters diatribes. but you know what? this neighborhood is damned cool. it ain't perfect, and there are douchebags a plenty here, but how can you not love a place where they are having a film festival based on hooded sweatshirts and bmx bikes? c'mon now people.

oh what a ridiculous morning(s)

this week has been my week to "do the papers." as much as i hate doing the papers i do enjoy having that extra ten minutes to possibly add in something extra to my morning routine. preferrably some little treat that will make me happy.

due to the economic downturn, i have decided i can no longer purchase my beloved #6 combo at dunkin donuts: veggie eggwhite flat with a medium tea. i also wonder if my beloved #6 combo may have played some part in my recent weight gain (please read: unsvelteness). it is on the heart smart menu ... how could it be bad?
moving on ... yesterday i went to dunkin donuts anyway, because i had to get the papers and my throat was sore and i thought that an eggwhite flat might make me feel better. here is how this should go:

1. park car, pay meter
2. run into Te Amo and buy newsday, ny times, daily news and ny post
3. cross street run into dunkin donuts and purchase breakfast
4. return to car and drive to work

i get ten extra minutes to do the papers, and i have found that i can do all these steps in said alloted ten minutes. however, it's tight and there is no room for any unforeseen events. no wiggle room at all.
so i return to my car to see a large tropicana truck double parked half in front of me, half beside me. i would have been able to maneuver around this had a stupid SUV not double parked behind me. now, i can accept that due to the nature of brooklyn streets and the need to deliver stuff, large delivery trucks often have to double park. but SUV Man, you are just an asshole.

the man in the tropicana truck tried to back up so that i could squeeze ahead of him, turns out there was another delivery truck double parked in front of him. and as though i was watching in slow motion, i see the tropicana truck back right into the SUV. but damned, that SUV just bounced right back. for the most part. then one of the drivers came out and he gave all sorts of hand signals, directing me and the tropicana truck and eventually i got out of my spot. during this time, SUV Man returned and was not pleased to see his car had been dented. although, given how hard the tropicana truck hit him he really is lucky to still have an SUV at all. and miraculously i made it to work on time.

so that was yesterday.

then this morning i leave the house an extra ten minutes early, giving me a total of twenty extra minutes, and i decide to go into greenpoint so i can stop at my bank and not pay an atm fee. i go to my bank, then i stop at the polish newspaper shop and buy the papers. and then my little treat for myself was that i went to this bagel place that has a breakfast combo of oatmeal and a medium drink. i happen to love real oatmeal (not the stuff that comes from a packet) . so i got an oatmeal with honey and raisins and a tea all for like $3 and change. (this led me to the crazy idea that i could go to a food store and purchase oatmeal, honey and raisins and actually prepare this in my own home. shocking.)

but then i had my little upset. since i had no quarters on me this morning, i had to park kind of far away. this was my big time killer. so i speed walked back to my car with one bag of hot tea and hot oatmeal, and another bag of newspapers. then all of a sudden my foot slips out from under me and in order to save myself from falling (and to save my super cute dress from getting dirty) i do a sort of split, one leg going behind me and one leg crashing down onto the asphalt in front of me. of course several people witnessed this and everyone was asking me if i was okay, and i tried to brush it off as suavely as possible. oh yes, i'm fine. this is just how i walk. i like to do a little split every so often and then go about my way.

i had a sense of some sort of unfairness at play. as proven before, i do in fact know how to walk. so why did i suddenly lose control of my legs? then i look down and i see the culprit. a large piece of smashed pumpkin lying in the street, slicking the surface for innocent pedestrians. that's right, i slipped on a pumpkin and skinned my knee.

so when i got to library in the hood i was five minutes over the alloted time for getting the papers. however, people were very amused by my pumpkin slipping story and didn't seem to notice my tardiness. phew. getting the papers is tough work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

too good to be true

last night after punking some rope, the gang and i went to our favorite watering hole to watch the debates. i have to say i was actually moved by how well obama did under pressure, and how miserably mccain did. i mean, the man cannot make a point to save his life. and there was one moment when he seemed so flustered that he was actually shaking a bit. i even heard someone refer to him as appearing to be suffering from dementia.

now, i don't want to go and get my hopes up that obama will win. i mean, after the ridiculous kerry/bush debates where bush was rolling his eyes and yawning i thought for sure we had it in the bag. but alas, it was not so. despite that upset, i am starting to feel this uplifting feeling (is this what they call hope?) that maybe we've really got a shot at winning this thing.

so this morning when i came into work i made a lovely book display about such timely things as the electoral college, presidential elections, democracy, and a couple of our biographies of barrack obama (our one john mccain book is checked out). then i printed up this "kids" election crossword puzzle from the new york times. this puzzle is actually way too hard for my kids, and i've had no takers so far, but i'm offering a prize to any person(s) who can get 10 or more correct answers. all in all i was feeling energized.

but then the greatest thing happened. i was doing some reading on the internets and i came across this piece citing that the infamous "joe plumber" that mccain mentioned ad nauseum as some tragic american folk hero, is not actually a practicing plumber! he doesn't even have a plumbing license, nor has he ever held or applied for a plumbing apprenticeship! and then, it turns out, that even if joe plumber got his plumbing license (maybe he and joe six pack can be study partners) tax analysts project that he would actually get a tax break under the obama tax plan. oh, it just doesn't get much better than that.
but really i think the larger issue is what will the obama biden campaign do for all the "miss dewey decimals" out there who can no longer afford the basic comforts like sushi and alcohol? and where is my six pack? if mccain is elected will i be able to apply for a voucher to get this six pack i hear so much about?
p.s. "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in the United States in 2007 was $47,350." (from a far cry from the 250,000 salary that would necessitate an increase in taxes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

pure as the cold driven snow

i have today off! poor bolshevik had to leave for work oh-so-early this morning while i relaxed in bed watching episodes of the office. he he he he. anyway, once well rested, i decided to do a massive and much needed cleaning of the paradise bathroom! yay! it's super clean and shiny in there now. and while i was walking to the closest laundromat to wash my bathmat a man yelled "snowflake" at me. what is this? library in the hood? i am home, damnit! keep your racist remarks to yourself! i only take that shit at work!

now, i realize i went to the "project side" of the street to do laundry, but shouldn't i be able to walk around the block without it being brought to my attention that i am in fact white? the other laundromat is several blocks away and more expensive. the worst part was that instead of actually saying snowflake to my face, he waited until i had walked past him and then he said it loudly like he was coughing, but he was obviously saying "snowflake." and when i looked around i was the only snowy colored person in the vicinity.

i didn't say anything to him. i just kept walking. but i want to know, what is the point of that? does it make you feel good about yourself? do you feel more like a man? oh, you win big tough black man. i'm just a fragile little snowflake. i'll stay on my side of the street from now on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

you heard it here first

that's right. and if it's written in dry erase marker on the white board then it must be true.
today we did multiplication challenge, which is when my assistant and i call out multiplication problems and the kids race to solve them on the board. even though many of them aren't good at multiplication, they all love this. they just love to compete at stuff. but today i had two new ideas to expand on this program:
1. i would make the children watch a boring 20 minute educational film about multiplication, in hopes that they might learn something since i am not actually a qualified educator and have no idea how to teach math skills.
2. i actually printed out multiplication problems from the internet so i wouldn't have to figure out the answers myself (this might seem lazy but doing lots of multiplication is not my idea of fun)

the kids weren't happy to be watching the film, but i promised a small prize for everyone who sat through it. and although there was much giggling and eye-rolling i think the film might have been slightly helpful.

anyway, afterwards our big multiplication challenge winner, super smart girl, was helping clean the boards and she made the above drawing. super smart girl is the older sister to cute little girl who likes to visit me at my desk.

as the two of them were leaving for the day, cute little girl waved to me and said quietly, "i love you miss dewey decimal." i told her i loved her too.

and that was my day.

my clever cleverness

another thing i have not mentioned about my pal mr. heart lotus, is that he loves my patented phrase, "clever cleverness."

and now without further ado i will give you the solution to this mystery ... it's complex. hold on to your hats ...

if you make a post and simply click "don't allow comments" in the post options section, then when readers see it there is no option at all to comment. readers will have nothing to click on. HOWEVER, if after you publish your post, OR you save it, and go back to edit it later, if you go into post options again there will be a shiny new option which reads "Don't allow, show existing" which will show any comments made but will not allow any new comments. this option is only available after the post has been saved or published. it is not available upon first creating the post. very curious. if this option is chosen when readers go to leave comments the following message appears:

New comments have been disabled for this post by a blog administrator.

so heart lotus, fear not! you are not being censored by the man! as i suspected, if you go into your "post options" on the bottom of the post in question, you will be able to select "allow comments" and this problem will be eradicated.

yet another mystery solved by our devoted neighborhood librarian. no need to thank me. i'll be here all week.

this is only a test

sorry guys, please don't get all excited thinking this is a real post. okay, maybe i'll chat with you a little bit. most of you don't know that i am a blogging guru to my friend heart lotus, aka the vegetarian who feeds me. not only did i convince him to start a blog as a means of recording his month long trip to northern africa, but i also give him advice as needed whenever he comes into any blogging trouble. so the entire purpose of this post is to see why mr. heart lotus is getting this message when people try to comment on his latest post:

New comments have been disabled for this post by a blog administrator.

ominous, no? is he being censored? is he oppressed? or did he just accidentally click something weird. well, i'm on the case and i won't rest until i find out!

warning .... this is only a test.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

on the naming of twins ...

i am not a twin, thank god because i don't know if the world is ready for two of me. and as a non-twin i cannot speak from personal experience here, but i am going to go out on a limb and say that twins are actually two separate people. so parents, when naming your twins can you please give them two distinct names? i mean, you have 9 months to think about it. i will even accept stuff like jesse & jessica or brenda & brandon, if your twins are of opposite genders. but if you have twins that are of the same gender, i think it is only fair to give them two separate names, as they are two separate people (or so i've been led to believe)

let me give you some real world examples of what i'm talking about (names have been changed to protect the innocent). first we have the bully girl twins. one is named Bully May and the other is named Bully Ann. seriously, you couldn't come up with anything better than that? but at least May and Ann are notably different. as opposed to the Bad Attitude Twins who are named Clarisse and Clarene. you might think this difference is large enough, but these Bad Attitude Twins have a tendency to mumble so i'll ask them something like "are you clarisse or clarene?" and one will reply "i'm claree ..." and kind of drop off at the end so i have no idea what she's saying.   and that dear blog readers, is why my assistant and i now just refer to each of them as "twin." as in, "hey, what's up twin?" or "how's it going twin?" or "twin, if you suck your teeth at me one more time you're out of here." nice.

but the last straw was yesterday at my story time when two twins dressed in the same outfits (i always wanted to be a twin in matching outfits. like the parent trap!) were named Alyssa and Elyssa. seriously? that's the same name. granted, one letter is different, but they're typically pronounced the same way. how am i supposed to differentiate between the two? i ask you.

a message to parents ... give each one of your kids their own name.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

miss dewey d: successfully crossing the street since kindergarten

as one of the only two white women in the neighborhood (the other being at least 35 years older than i am), i am easily recognizable to just about everyone. i am the white woman. i am the librarian. it's cool. no big deal. but sometimes people come up to me and ask me library related questions, as they know exactly who i am. i typically have no idea who they are, and suggest politely that if they come into the library i can look them up and all their problems can be solved. all of their problems. all of them.
so as i am walking back to the library from lunch today, a woman moseys (yes! she mosied!) up to me, standing beside me in the crosswalk. i don't want to get into the habit of calling people crackheads willy nilly, but i think she might have been a bonified crackhead. thus making the official crackhead count at library-in-the-hood now stand at two. there are two crackheads. (this would make for an excellent children's book about counting)

anyway! this crackhead moseys up to me and she asks me how i am and other social niceties. i am polite back to her, assuming she is someone who must know me from the library. then she suggests that when the light changes we should cross the street together. what fun! i have never crossed the street with a crackhead before! at least not intentionally. so i say sure, that's a fine idea. let us cross the street together.

but then dear blog readers, as the light changes something goes awry. this crackhead turns to me and offers that i should give her $.50 for her "services" of helping me cross the street.

well! i never!

i am perfectly capable of crossing the street on my own. and i am highly insulted that anyone might think otherwise! now, maybe if i was in a foreign country and cars were driving on the opposite side of the street and it was one of those complicated 5 or 6 point intersections and there was a gang of gypsies on the other side of the street ... then maybe, just maybe, i might need some assistance. but probably not. i'd probably still give it a go on my own. but i definitely do not need assistance crossing the street in the hood. i do it everday. usually 4 times per day.

so i tell her thanks but no thanks, i will not be needing her help. and with that the little walking man lights up and i safely crossed the street. all by myself! amazing.

things i shouldn't have to say to parents (a short list)

"is this your child?" (referring to an abandoned two year-old i found wandering the children's room)
"yeah," the young woman says, somehow tearing herself away from her myspace page.
"you can't leave her alone by herself? i just found her here? eating crayons? you have to watch her."
and as i walk off into the sunset, back to the children's room, the little girl pulls a soggy white crayon out of her mouth and hands it to her mother.

Monday, October 6, 2008

a page from the book of life

god has this book, see? it's a book of life. and in the book he/she writes down all the good things and all the bad things about each and every person.

even though one could make an argument that i "am not very jewish," i think we can all agree that my jewish heritage is important to me in my own way. so even though i was trapped ... ahem, i mean working ... at library-in-the-hood this rosh hashanah i still celebrated it in my own way, thinking about my own book of life.

i decided to have a program with the children and discuss what rosh hashanah is about. when asked the kids knew the following points:

1. rosh hashanah is a day they have off from school
2. rosh hashanah is a jewish holiday
3. people pray on rosh hashanah

well, i'll give it to them. all those things are true. but i decided to elaborate on those things, telling them that rosh hashanah is the beginning of the jewish new year, and explaining how the jewish calendar is different from the regular calendar. then i told them that on rosh hashanah we think about how sweet life is, and about eating apples and honey, and how we remember all the good things we've done in the past year, while also thinking about what good deeds we can do in the future. i told them about mitzvahs, and how mitzvahs are good things you do for others (not for yourself). then i told them about how we also think about what bad things we've done, and we think about how we can make up for these bad things. oh and i talked about the shofar, which is always exciting.

then we did a craft. oh how i love crafts. we each made a book and colored in rosh hashana pictures. then we wrote all the mitzvahs we had done in the past year, and wrote a list of anything bad that we did that we would like to improve on or feel sorry about.

i made a big point of telling them that it is okay to have done something bad. everyone does. no one is perfect. but that we need to realize when we've done something bad and try to apologize for it, or do better next time. i also emphasized the importance of forgiving others when the apologize to us, and also forgiving ourselves. not that i'm trying to convert anyone, but i like for people to understand that judaism isn't one of those burn-in-hell type religions.

we went around and said some of the good things that we've done, and some of the things we feel sorry for. there were a couple of kids who do community service, so they discussed the volunteer work they're involved in. this led to a discussion about the community here, and what type of problems it has. a few kids mentioned domestic violence (and even used the term "domestic violence"). it was a bit disturbing. they went around the room citing examples of domestic violence that they had witnessed. one kid said that he was walking down the street with his friend's mother and a man approached her and began to beat her in the street. someone else confirmed that they had seen this happening from their apartment window. although the kids were clearly upset by these incidents, they also accepted them as a typical part of life.

after my friend rasha died, i had this epiphany that just being alive and well is a pretty amazing feat, and should not be taken lightly. our day-to-day problems, although they seem monumental to us, are not really a big deal. most things will be solved in due time. and if they aren't, then in due time we will learn to live with those problems that cannot be solved. but listening to these kids tell countless stories of domestic violence, i was overwhelmed with both sadness and fear. they have real problems to overcome. problems the rest of us will never know.

be thankful for what you have dear blog readers. be thankful.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

the kids: an update

one of my devoted blog readers mentioned to me the other day that she missed hearing about my favorite kid and kid who hates hoboes. so here is a little update about what is going on with them.

favorite kid: something is amiss with favorite kid and i don't know what. he didn't attend our summer reading programs, even though he was here in the hood all summer. every so often he would come in late in the day after our programs were over and he would seem sad that he missed it. then i'd ask him what he had been doing and he said he was home playing videogames all day. have i mentioned that i found out where favorite kid lives? turns out he lives down some shady alleyway between the bodega and the c-town. not the type of place i'd want a kid spending their summer. anyway, he's been back now that school has started up again. but he's been distant. my assistant and i were discussing it and we both think he's hiding something. if i see him today i might ask him what's going on.

kid who hates hoboes: i don't know if i mentioned it, but over the last six month we've seen a serious decline in kid who hates hoboes. he's had a poor attitude, refuses to think or try ... several times we've kicked him out of the library. i had found out he was having some trouble at home, but even though i had that information it really didn't help much. it was so sad because when he first starting coming to the library he would hang out with me and ask me if i needed help with anything. he was so good. now, i barely recognize him. well, except for his love of my hand sanitizer. when the kids came back from school we found out that he had been left back. so it seemed pretty dismal. but in the past two weeks i think he's gotten a bit better. i've caught him thinking and trying even though he wants to have this gangsta attitude. so maybe there's hope for him yet.