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Category Archives: Real Life

It’s July, and I’m most definitely not actually in school right now. While I decided not to take summer courses so that I could work at the Colorado Renaissance Festival again, I am still doing some work toward my degree.

I’m taking LS600 through Clarion this fall, and building on the research project ideas that I started back in January. This will be the actual implementation of the plan I crafted during the Spring 2021 semester. I’d planned to ask local teens about their experience with COVID-19, and the impact it had on their use of virtual library services. However, there was some uncertainty back in April about whether or not I’d be able to distribute the survey to teens through my library.

Last week, I got the best news regarding my research. I’ve been granted approval to have 1.) physical copies of my survey available in our libraries and 2.) a digital version of the survey on our teen website. Additionally, I’m in the process of having the survey translated into Spanish for a wider reach. My utmost thanks to my coworker, M, for assisting there. It’s been a long time since middle school Spanish class, and even at my most fluent, I couldn’t have done this without help.

Now it’s time to submit my application to the Institutional Review Board for official clearance from the university to move forward with my research project. I’m really excited to be able to continue my plans for my degree, and also to be able to conduct some research that might be beneficial to my home library as well.

Classes will be starting again before I know it. I’ve got three left to knock out before graduation. Let’s do this.

CW: Pet death.

We had to say goodbye to Hermione over the weekend…

When V and I adopted Hermione (aka Miney/Mineycat/Miner/Not a Major Cat, Just a Miner Cat, etc.), we didn’t know exactly how old she was. We had an estimate. Her previous owner had only had her for a month, and due to circumstances, had to re-home her very quickly. V and I said that we could take her, and so in February of 2016, we officially had our first pet together.

Waiting for attention after my run.

It’s been five years since we took her in. Five years of the world’s most default cat (American shorthair tabby). She was smart, sweet, and loved to snuggle with the kids when they slept. We praised her for her ability to be a much better cat than her sister, Maria (aka Mimble, garbage cat, but decent hamster).

Doing her best meme impression.

She was my late night companion, curling up with me when I would be up watching movies, sitting on my text books when I was trying to study, and making cameo appearances during a lot of Zoom meetings.

“Reading? No. Only pets.”

In October of 2019, we noticed a pretty severe weight loss, and had her checked for feline leukemia and various other possible issues. We came to a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, and started treating it with a combination of diet and steroids. She stabilized. She was still underweight, but we were in the clear.

V made her a sweater to keep her warm that winter.

Later, she had to have multiple teeth extracted because of infection. Her appetite suddenly came back (amazing how little you want to eat when you can’t chew). Last month, she had additional teeth removed, and had bloodwork done again. Everything looked okay, but the doctor surmised that she was older than the roughly 7 – 8 years we thought she was, because her health issues wouldn’t have been uncommon in a cat 3 – 5 years older.

Last Thursday evening, we found a bite on her side where Maria had drawn blood, so we cleaned and treated the wound. She had some blood in her stool that night, and I said that if it happened again, I’d take her in to the vet. I assumed it was due to her injury, but it looks like that wasn’t the case. I made plans to take her in to the vet first thing Saturday morning. 2 AM, however, she didn’t make it from our bedroom to the litter box. I found that she was having trouble standing on her own, and her eyes had lost the ability to track movement. I wrapped her in a towel and placed her in a cardboard box so that we could move her as comfortably as possible.

My last photo of her on my phone.

V contacted the 24-hour emergency vet on the other side of town. I carried Hermione out to the car and said my goodbye, knowing that I would likely not have another chance.

The staff there ran additional bloodwork and concluded that it was most likely that Hermione’s inflammatory bowel disease had developed into an aggressive cancer that had also attacked her pancreas, leaving her anemic, diabetic, and blind in very short order. They could not recommend continuing treatment for her, and the decision was made to let her go. V told me that it was very gently done, and sent me one last peaceful picture.

One last photo of our girl.

Goodbye, Hermione Cat. Thank you for an incredible five years. You are sorely missed.

The countdown to the end of the semester is on. We’re wrapping up the last few weeks now, and my focus is already shifting to this fall. My big capstone project is underway (sort of). I’m drafting a proposal for a research study that will have to be cleared by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it can officially move forward. As part of that, I’m pursuing clearance from my library to conduct a survey of a group of our patrons. If I get it, I can carry on as initially planned. If not, I’m going to have to rework pretty much my entire plan for data collection… So, fingers crossed that I get the okay from my library.

There’s still a lot to do this semester, but my cataloging class has me feeling a lot better about my understanding of Dewey and MARC. Even if I never end up in cataloging, I’m happy that I decided to dive a little deeper into it over the last few months. With basically one week left, I’m happy to be going into a review session.

So, what’s next?

This fall, I’ll be taking LS600, Research in Librarianship; LS588, Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials; and LS549, Genre Fiction and Reader’s Advisory. I’m pretty excited about these classes. They’re all with professors I’ve studied with before, so I don’t have to worry about getting to know a new teacher. I’ll also be applying to graduate in December. I plan to continue my work at my current library after graduation (I have to keep working here for a while, since they’re doing some reimbursement for my tuition), though I’ll be able to begin applying to librarian positions that open.

I’ll likely drop one more update here at the end of the semester, but for now, I’ve got to get to finals prep. I’m looking forward to a little more free time over the summer.

Today marks one year since my library first closed for the pandemic. We’d been working toward it for some time, cancelling in-person programs, ramping up our cleaning, and so on. My last day of work before the closure was Saturday, March 14th. I’d been planning to attend the last library event, a used book sale at my old location, that was scheduled for the 15th. I remember texting one of my friends who would always go with us, telling her that we had changed our plans and wouldn’t be going in that Sunday after all. Instead, I started a re-watch of the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring, with the intention of getting maybe a few days off while the country rallied.

Six weeks or so later, we came back to our building. We started putting things back together, getting ready to serve patrons via curbside service. We were using our makerspaces to produce masks and other pieces of personal protective equipment. We were installing barriers at staff areas, prepping cleaning supplies, and cordoning off areas that would be for staff-use only. After a month and a half or so, we started allowing patrons back into the building, albeit on a limited basis. Since then, we’ve updated our curbside procedures (and found a far better workflow thanks to our park & text system). We’ve closed and reopened our collection for browsing as local numbers spiked and dropped. We’ve slowly started to allow more access to library services other than checkouts and computers.

It’s too slow for most of the patrons’ feelings on the matter, and too fast for the comfort of many of my coworkers. Some people have quit rather than deal with the stress and uncertainty of the constantly shifting conditions. Many others have been trained to do tasks that were never supposed to be part of their job. It has been exhausting. We’re doing everything within reason to keep pace with patron demands, but it’s all a lot of change in a very short period of time. We’re still not doing in-person programs. Between that and the shift to online learning at local schools, I have only seen a handful of my regular teen patrons within the last year. By the time they’re coming back to the building, they may have aged out of the teen section. There are some that I may never see again, due to moving out of town (or just to the other side of the city) in the middle of the pandemic.

It hasn’t all been bad, mind you. My youngest child is walking and talking, and I’ve gotten to spend way more time at home than I would’ve otherwise. I’m making solid progress on my master’s degree. I got to build a new computer for myself (my first ever attempt at building a PC), and then one for V as well. I’m getting pretty good at it, really. I’ve ramped up my home bartending skills, adding a dozen or so new cocktails to my repertoire. We started a small backyard garden, and are still getting use out of the veggies from it. I started to listen to more audiobooks, since my ability to concentrate on non-academic reading was kind of shot. I kept up my weekly running (15 – 18 miles per week on the elliptical, or now 90 minutes per week on the treadmill), getting myself into better shape than I’d been in some time. And, thanks to work, I’ve gotten my first round of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Life looks a lot different on this side of 2020, and I can’t say that it’s what I was expecting a year ago. Regardless, I’m still here, and still pushing forward. Here’s to better days ahead.

In which it begins again. Or middles?

Grad school semester #3 (out of hopefully only 4) is well under way. This semester’s classes include an introduction to cataloging, web technologies in libraries, and research methodologies. The research course is useful because it will build into my capstone class for this fall. The web tech class is building on one that I took on integrated library systems last semester. The cataloging one is honestly the toughest to wrap my head around, because there’s so many little intricacies within the creation of MARC records. It seems like the answer to the same question can always be different. I’ll get there. Web technologies is technically over at this point, actually. Yay for a more positive experience with a half semester course!

In the meantime, we’re coming up on a year since the initial COVID-19 shutdown here at work. Today is the one year anniversary of our last regular day of operation. It’s kind of amazing and kind of terrifying to see what changes have occurred. Since then, we’ve gone to curbside pickup for materials, and opened, closed, and re-opened access to our physical collection for our patrons. It’s chaos, and it’s exhausting, but it’s still good to be helping people.

Anyway, I must go study for my cataloging midterm. Be well. Get the COVID vaccine as soon as you can.

Good morning, internet. This morning, I received a notification that I first started this blog just over ten years ago. That’s a hell of a long time to be writing a bunch of stuff mostly to myself, but here I am, one decade on. Life has changed a great deal since 2011. I’m still writing, albeit less frequently for creative purposes than I would like. I have a little family of my own, and I’m making progress in my career. I’m about to start year two of my Master’s degree, and I hope to carve out a little more time for writing for fun after that wraps up.

In the meantime, I’d just like to say thanks to those of you who’ve been around since the beginning of this, and welcome to those of you who are new.

It’s done.

Grades are in. I passed all three classes, with two As and a B. Considering the B was in a class that was compressed into half a semester, I can’t be upset with that.

Now it’s time for winter break, some unexpected (in a good way) vacation time, and a whole lot of catching up on my for-fun reading.

I’m looking forward to taking some time to get some non-blog writing done too. There’s at least two magazines that I’m planning to submit to in the next few weeks, plus an upcoming opportunity to submit work to Tor’s Nightfire imprint. All of this means that I’ll keep decently busy over the next few weeks between now and the spring 2021 semester starting.

That’s the halfway point, though, folks. If I can keep this pace up for another year, I’ll have finished my Master’s degree. Let’s do this.

It’s been a bit since my last grad school update, but I’m nearly done with my 2nd semester. Right now, I’m pushing through on some final assignments, getting ready for assessments, and planning for the spring semester. I still need to check in with my academic advisor and look at what class options are ahead of me.

Right now, I’m looking at some coursework that will lead me toward a position in collection management. I’ve gotten registered for my classes for the Spring 2021 semester, with an eye on what requirements are needed for the fall. My goal is still to graduate within two years, and I’m well on track for that. I’ve gotten signed up for LS502: Cataloging and Classification, LS550: Research Methodologies in Library Science (and a pre-req for my Fall 2021 Capstone course), and LS589: Applying Web Technologies in Libraries.

It’s all looking good so far. Now I just have to knock out my finals for my library management and young adult literature courses between now and Friday afternoon. Wish me luck.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

A man has died, and I am undone.

On Monday morning, as I was preparing for work, I received notice that Clark Ginapp, my high school English teacher and theatre director, had died. I had been told that he had at most, a few weeks left, and that was less than 24 hours before. I’d been drafting a letter to him that I intended to mail. I didn’t feel it was my place to try to call him, despite some reassurances that it was. Now that letter, an update on how my life had gone in the years since our last class together, remains unwritten.

I can’t overstate the importance of Mr. Ginapp in my life. I grew up attending almost all of the high school theatre department’s shows. When I was in high school, I leapt at the chance to take part in them. As a director, Mr. Ginapp guided me through seven shows (three plays and four musicals):

The Wizard of Oz – Munchkin Lawyer/Winkie/Jitterbug
The Wind in the Willows – Clerk of the Court/Weasel (The British/Gay Weasel)
Little Shop of Horrors – Radio Show Host/Chorus
The Egg and I – Hi-Baby
State Fair – Harry Ware
I Remember Mama – Peter Thorkleson
Grease – Kenickie Murdoch

Each year, he cast me in bigger roles (with the exception of The Egg and I, because I was going to be out of the country for two weeks in the middle of rehearsals). Each show, he put that much more faith in me, put me under that much more pressure to be better. He believed in me, and I, in turn, came to believe in myself. We learned about proper blocking, and how to project our voices. We learned that the average human being is a dull-witted slug. We learned that “nobody’s cool, everybody sucks.” When I delivered Harry’s final farewell to Margy during dress rehearsal for State Fair, he said that if I could do it with that much emotion on opening night, that I wouldn’t leave a dry eye in the house. During Grease, he told me that if I ever grew into my feet, I’d be a giant. These sort of stories just stick with you. More and more have come back to me this week as I’ve tried to write this.

As a teacher, he was my instructor for sophomore English, as well as AP English during my senior year. He introduced me to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I can now quote along with in my sleep (I have witnesses). He showed me the surprising depth of The Simpsons, and made me memorize Marc Antony’s soliloquy from Julius Caesar (and he had all of the cues prepared to help students remember the next lines). He taught me Macbeth, and that we should only refer to it as “The Scottish Play” while we were backstage (note that this reading was assigned while we were in the middle of a show). He is profoundly, and terrifyingly responsible for my sense of humor.

In college, I majored in English. I took a theatre class, and continued to support the local arts community in Colorado Springs. I further developed my love for literature and poetry, and made that my career when I began my work in libraries. I’m not a teacher, but I hope to have as much of an impact on the teens that I work with as he had on me.

This week, I have seen the beautiful notes left to him by my fellow students. I have shared in the grief of my community, and I have reflected for many hours on my time with him. I would not be the person I am today without Mr. Ginapp. Clark taught me that there was a bigger world beyond the city limits of Holyoke, and more importantly, he taught me that this was not something to be feared, but to be embraced.

I haven’t been able to decide which Shakespeare quote fits best now. On Monday, after first hearing the news, my mind immediately went to Hamlet’s speech, which I shared on facebook at the time. Several others have arisen since, and I think I’ll share each of them with you here. Mr. Ginapp, I hope, would be proud that so many of his lessons have lingered.

*********************************************************************

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

-Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II

*********************************************************************

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I

*********************************************************************

“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.”

-Prospero’s Epilogue, The Tempest

*********************************************************************

You have taken your final bow, my friend. The stage is dark. The curtain falls.

Farewell.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to visit my grandparents. My dad’s parents lived just a few miles away from us, and so I saw them frequently (once a week, if not more).

Both Oma and Opa loved to watch Jeopardy. I quickly fell in love with the show as well. I couldn’t wait to see the list of categories appear across the top row of screens, hoping to see something that I might know. I was elated on the occasions that I could answer before the contestants.

When I was in high school, there were two occasions where I participated in the regional academic bowl. The first year, I was on the second place team. I’m only a little bitter that we lost on the final question to a lucky guess… The next year, though, I was the captain of the first place team. Fast forward ten years, and I was on a first place team at my first-ever Geeks Who Drink trivia contest, an event hosted by my library system. All of that love for trivia comes back to one thing: sitting on the couch with Oma and Opa, watching Alex Trebek host Jeopardy.

My grandmother died last November, and my grandfather back in 2010. Now Mr. Trebek has passed away as well. I still love Jeopardy, though I haven’t watched regularly in years (not having network television will do that). I’m grateful to Alex Trebek for instilling a love of knowledge (useless or otherwise), and for helping me to forge that bond with my grandparents. Thank you, and farewell.