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Category Archives: Real Life

“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.

It’s October, and that means that it’s spooky season. We’re getting ready for Hallowe’en, stocking up on decorations, getting a queue of horror movies ready, etc.

I’m done with one of my three classes for this fall. I’ve completed my Integrated Technologies class, which runs only during the first half of the semester. It’s been intense, and I don’t know that I’d take another half-semester course, given the stepped-up pace of this one. I did okay with it, but not as great as I would like, and that’s pretty much exclusively due to the rate at which things have to get done.

I’m glad to be done with this class. I’ve learned a great deal (and now I’m sorely tempted to start seriously learning HTML), but it’s going to be way less stressful for the rest of the semester, being able to focus better on my two remaining classes. It’s going to be really nice to be able to be less visibly stressed with school, too. This semester hasn’t been easy on me or my family, due to the aforementioned stress.

Now it’s on to my various other library tasks for the remainder of the semester as well. Most of these are going to be digital, but I’m still excited about them.

I neglected to take something into account when I started semester two last month. Namely, that my youngest child would be roughly nine months old, and that his sleep schedule would be complete bullshit. Which means that mine is too.

It’s 11:45 as I’m writing this, and I’m wrapping up Labor Day Weekend. While most of the weekend has been spent recovering from being sick (not COVID, thankfully, but our second scare in the household since the beginning of August), I did manage to get some stuff done today. I got some veggies harvested from our garden beds and got the rest covered with a tarp to keep the predicted snow of of them tonight.

That’s right. Snow.

Because like my sleep schedule, Colorado weather is bullshit.

We’ve had damn near record high temperatures, wildfires, smoke-filled skies, and so on, so naturally we’re going to have a major snow storm right in the middle of it all.

I’ve got The Breakfast Club to distract me, at least. I’d somehow not seen it until this weekend, when I got to watch it for a class I’m taking on young adult literature. It’s something I’ve had a mental file on for years, but had never actually viewed. It was quite enjoyable, in much the same fashion as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (go figure, John Hughes).

Anyway, the first few weeks of this semester are going to be rough. Not just because of sleep. One of my three classes is a half semester class, so it’s double time on that while still balancing the other two. It’ll be much nicer after the midway point, when I only have two to focus on.

Anyway, I’ve got some classic teen literature to get to, and maybe snow to wake up to. Night, y’all.

It begins.

Again.

Soon.

My next semester of library school is about to start.

I’m sitting at about 2 1/2 weeks before my second round of classes kicks off. I’m grateful to Clarion University for providing me with the opportunity to take a course that’s 100% online (I mean, it kind of has to be for me, since the school’s in Pennsylvania).

I’m better prepared this semester than I was at the beginning of the year. I’ve already gotten my financial aid paperwork completed, and my textbooks are already being shipped. I’m not scrambling to get anything ready.

I’m taking three classes again this semester: Administration and Management of Libraries, Integrated Systems in Libraries, and Library Literature and Young Adults. I’m especially excited about the YA literature class. It’s my first elective of my grad school career, and is right in line with my current library job.

I’m nervous, though that’s more to do with the current global situation more than anything with school. Regardless, I’ll move forward as best I can.

It’s done, y’all. I made it through my first semester of grad school.

At this point, I’ve actually been done for over a month. I turned in my last assignments during the first weekend of May, and I’ve already received my grades. Despite the anxiety brought on by COVID-19, I managed to power through my online classes and secure an A in each of my three classes for the semester.

I’m registered for my next round of classes, beginning this fall. I’ll ideally have knocked out all of my required classes (aside from my capstone) within my first year, leaving more room for exploration through elective classes next spring.

Right now, then, it’s just a matter of getting through until the fall. Hang in there, y’all. It’s been a wild year so far, and it’s not even halfway through.

I can see the finish line, y’all.

I’m a week (roughly) from the end of my first semester of my MLS. Two big papers, one little paper, and it’s done. I’ll be 1/4 of the way to my Master’s degree.

It’s been odd doing this in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, since the library closures have meant that I’ve had way more time at home than I would’ve initially expected. On the other hand, though, it’s given me great insight into how libraries handle a pandemic, both good and bad.

I’m trying to decide if I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Because I’ve worked in libraries for 14 years or so, there was a lot of overlap with my existing knowledge base. I’ve learned stuff about specifics of library science that I didn’t know in the same way before taking these classes, though. I’m glad that I’m pushing for this degree right now. I know that the working world I’ll return to after COVID-19 is not going to be the same one that I left. Still, I want to be striving for something by way of professional development. I look forward to advancing my career, and I look forward to my classes that I’m registered for in the fall.

Time to wrap this up.

In which I am supposed to leave my home only for the essentials.

I’m in the 4th week of not working, and it’s more than a little surreal. My library has been closed since the middle of March due to COVID-19. In the last few days, I’ve played on the backyard swing set and slide with my kids, shoveled 4 – 5 inches of snow off of my and my neighbor’s driveway, read a couple of books, re-dyed my hair (thanks, V), participated in a couple of games of D&D online, soloed the last few missions of Halo 4 on Heroic, maintained my elliptical running schedule, and done some baking.

But I’m keeping up with my grad school stuff, first and foremost. 

It’s kind of fun, because a lot of the information from my classes has places where it overlaps. At this stage in the semester, I’ve been able to cycle through some material faster because I’ve already covered a form of it in a different class. 

Oh, and I’ve registered for classes for the fall, too. Right now, I’m signed up for a library admin/management class, a class on integrated systems in libraries, and a course about literature and young adults. I’m pretty psyched for the YA class, because it will be my first elective! If all goes well, I’ll have knocked out all but one of my required classes within my first two semesters. That’s pretty exciting. Oh, and the integrated systems class is a half semester course, too. It’ll be a front-loaded semester, but once I’m halfway through, it’ll ease up a lot going into the winter break. On top of all of that, one of my classes is supposed to be with a professor I currently have. It’s shaping up to be a really good semester. 

Our governor has ordered residents to stay home whenever possible until at least April 26th, so I know that I have at least two more full weeks of quarantine ahead of me. I’m going to try to knuckle down and get through the last few weeks of the school year. My semester ends on May first. Holy shit, my semester ends on May first… Uh… Anyway…

After that, I may have some free time for whatever again. I’m trying to read/write more, but I always say that. I always mean it, too. 

But tonight, it’s late, and I’ve got to help teach/grade some homeschool stuff for my stepdaughters in the morning. Gonna go curl up in bed with a non-textbook and fall asleep. 

I have made it to mid-semester.

Seven weeks down, seven to go, with a few glorious days of breathing room in between. I’m going to try to get some early work done for next week, but I’m also going to be reading some stuff for fun.

So far, so good.

Good afternoon, everyone! I promise that I am, in fact, still alive, despite the best efforts of parenthood, full-time employment, and grad school.

I’ve almost made it to my mid-semester break, and I’m honestly feeling pretty good about this whole thing. It has, however, made it more difficult for me to keep up with my usual pace of writing for fun. I’m still working on a full review of the other best book that I read in 2019, Tamsyn Muir’s beautifully dark Gideon the Ninth.

But fear not. These things and more will arrive for your reading pleasure in due time.

Meanwhile, I’m taking three online classes through Clarion University. Organization of Information, Information Sources and Services, and Intro to Information Professions. It’s a pretty solid introduction to the whole job that I hope to be doing when I’m all done, and a decent refresher course on a lot of what I currently do.

For now, though, I must go. I’ve got a presentation on Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to complete.