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Category Archives: Real Life

So, we moved.

Sold our old house and bought a new one across town (and it took a minute, too, because the housing market here is fucking ridiculous). Got more room for me, V, and the kids. Commutes are still well within workable times/distances. We’re in the process of unpacking, and it’s probably going to be a bit, but that’s okay. We’re planning to stay put for a while now.

It’s a little weird, honestly. I have a tendency to be very much a stereotypical Taurus and get very set in a place or a set of behaviors, and in the last couple of months I’ve been upending a lot of that. Now that I’m not in the same house I was in for the last five years, a lot is starting to change for the better. Granted, I’ve been doing new things in old ways, so there’s that. Old habits, etc. But I’ve been trying to get myself into some new rhythms. A new work schedule, more time at home with the kids. Time to get some yard work and other home improvement tasks done on the weekends.

Right now, it’s a lot of figuring out what goes where, and with my and V’s combined book collection, that takes quite a bit of doing. Not going to lie, this was the worst move I’ve gone through in the last fifteen years. This was mostly because we had two weeks of limbo between vacating the old house and getting access to the new house. I couldn’t just load one box of books, move it, unload it, and then reuse it. Stuff had to get moved into storage, then out again later in the month. It was a lot more logistically difficult, and quite frankly, I burned myself out really hard by doing 90% of the lifting/hauling by myself (my many thanks to my father-in-law and my friends who helped with some of the boxing of stuff and the lifting of my desk). V and the kids helped as much as possible too, but the timing made it difficult for V to take off of work when I was able to. I’m done doing the self-moving, though. Next time, whenever that may be, I’m hiring pros. Insisting on doing as much as I can by myself is another one of those habits I need to kick.

But hey, the house is coming together really well, and we’re all feeling much better about the whole thing. I’m getting some more reading and writing done, and looking forward to the years we have to come. It’s going to take some time to get decorations and whatnot in place, but it’s great to be building a new home for me and my family.

Final papers are submitted, and grades are in.

With a 4.0 GPA for my last semester, I’ve completed my graduate school career with a 3.83 cumulative average. My status has moved from “Graduation Pending” to “Degree Awarded,” and my actual physical diploma will be mailed out within the next few weeks. Now, I can rest.

You know. Sort of.

You see, yesterday was my first day back at work in almost three months. My parental leave/FMLA time has come to an end, and so I’ve begun the long process of getting back into the rhythm of the outside world. My Tiniest Child arrived in October, and I’m already missing being at home with all of the kids. It’s almost a month since the last school paper was turned in, and I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that I didn’t really do a lot other than take care of them during the last few weeks. I didn’t really need to do anything beyond just being Dad. It was peaceful.

So, what’s next?

I mean, ideally I’ll keep working in my current position in Young Adult Services until a titled “Librarian” position opens, and throw applications at them for the next year or two. I have no plans to leave the area within the next decade, so I’m perfectly content to keep working where I am. The shift in position would be nice, of course, and include a pay raise, so I’m not going to say no to an opportunity to move up.

This is the end of the Dispatches From Library School, but I’ll be able to return the blog to more of my standard content of book reviews and original fiction/poetry. I’m pretty excited about not having to spend every spare moment trying to carve out concentration time for school. Thanks to all of you for sticking around.

It’s November 30th, and I’ll be finishing my last projects for grad school within the next week. My final research project is due on December 8th, and that will be that. I’m conditionally approved for graduation, with the condition being that I pass my two remaining courses for the semester. As I’m currently sitting at a 96% or better in both, I think I’m going to be okay.

This is kind of surreal. Two years ago, I threw myself into this program with a heavier course load than I needed. I did it because I wanted to test myself and see if I could handle the full-time schedule on top of full-time work and a new baby at home. I made it, but it’s not been easy for me or for my family. I’m ready to see the end of that extra stress.

I’ve not written a lot about school this semester. I’ve been struggling a lot on my final research project. While I got approval from the library to poll my teen patrons, I didn’t get approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) until a few weeks ago. As soon as I did, I got my surveys printed out and set out in the teen area at my library, but it was almost a month after I’d hoped to be done collecting data. While I have had access to other data sources, the core idea behind my research was to see how COVID had impacted my teen patrons. Without their input, I felt like I was missing the entire point. I got pretty heavily depressed for a few weeks while I emailed updates back and forth, trying to get everything that the IRB requested. I was starting to feel like this whole thing had been a waste of time.

When I finally got the email containing my official IRB approval, the relief in the house was palpable. It was amazing how much better I felt, and I realized just how wrapped up in it I’d been. I hadn’t been able to focus properly on anything, and suddenly that block was just gone. I feel like I’ve been a different person for most of the last two years, and I’m finally going to get to be me again.

I’m still on parental leave, since Tiniest Child is almost two months old. I’m looking forward to a few weeks of vacation time to just hang out and enjoy the holidays with my family before diving back into work in January. Some day soon, I might start remembering what free time feels like.

Now I haven’t just been doing school work this semester. I’ve been doing guest work on the second season of The Sudden But Inevitable podcast discussing the classic anime series Cowboy Bebop (and I’ll be back soon to talk about Netflix’s live-action adaptation thereof). I’ve been working at my library (up until the beginning of October, when Tiniest Child arrived). I’ve been playing Metroid: Dread (two complete playthroughs at 100%, now learning some of the speedrunning quirks). I’ve not been attempting NaNoWriMo, because I do still have some semblance of sanity. I worked through a bunch of classic slasher movies (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Scream, Candyman, etc.) during October. I got my COVID-19 booster shot. I spent time with my kids, just playing with Duplos. It’s been pretty damn good, but it’ll be better once school’s done. Stay tuned.

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.