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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.

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.

 

Some quick updates.

We got a cat. Her name is Hermione, and she’s incredibly smart and sweet. However, it’s very true when they say that having a cat is one of the worst things a writer can ever do, re: distractions. I’m learning this all over again.

I got through season two of Daredevil and loved it. Was it perfect? No. Case in point: Asian and Asian American representation. Jon Bernthal kills it as the Punisher/Frank Castle (and I don’t watch The Walking Dead, so I really had no prior experience with his work as an actor). Foggy remains my absolute favorite character on the show. I also finally got to see the first season of Agent Carter, which is a delight. Peggy kicks ass across the 1940s, breaking limbs and stereotypes all the way.

I’ve been working on a D&D campaign for next month’s local game convention. It’s eating a lot of my creative energies, making it tricky for me to focus too much on anything else. I’ve also been reading a LOOOOOT. I knocked out V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows a few weeks ago, and I’m in the middle of Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, which may be one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I swear it’s like he sat in on some of my college D&D sessions and captured characterization from them. I love it. On a more realistic side, I also just finished reading Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. Holy god damn, this one was intense. Illicit love, murder, drugs, and a quest for the truth keep you turning pages non-stop. It’s not something I expected to pick up, but there was a great discussion of it during a Twitter chat about queer YA titles, and it hooked me.

It’s tempting to use some of what I’ve been reading for the D&D campaign. The magic system from Schwab’s work, for example, is one of the most clever presentations of elemental manipulation I’ve seen since Avatar: The Last Airbender. It would be fun to introduce some plot elements from books and then encourage the kids to go check those books out from my library, and would definitely boost the outreach factor. “Hey kids, if you liked my campaign, try these books!” We’ve already seen a boost in checkouts of our 5th edition manuals. Imagine what that could do for our fantasy literature circulation…

The 3D printer at work is awesome. I’m looking into utilizing it for some cosplay props, and I’m really exicted about the prospect of hosting a cosplay-themed program in our Makerspace soon.

Fireside opens for submissions this Friday. I’m going to be writing. More soon!

 

December is halfway through, and it has brought with it the special sort of self-imposed hell that comes from working in retail during the holiday season. As such, my writing on here has dwindled to almost nothing but apologies for not having written more. I seem to get to write a lot of those. I don’t like it. Two posts a month is unacceptable.

Thank you, Lemongrab.

Thank you, Lemongrab.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It’s not that I didn’t care, because NaNo is another special sort of self-imposed hell, and I’m rather fond of those, or so it would seem. I’ve tried before (and managed upwards of 33,000 words out of the 50,000 goal), and I probably will again, but this was not the time.

A little over a year ago, I introduced a character named Kidd Raven in a short story. Originally designed for a pirate-themed D&D campaign, Kidd Raven quickly took hold in my head as one of the most complex characters I’d ever invented. Now the campaign has stalled a bit, with some of the players moving out of town (and others out of state), and it may be that it only ever continues via something along the lines of Storium. However, when you’ve got a good character, it’s really hard to let go. So, I’m going to be repurposing Kidd Raven, bringing the pirate’s swordsmanship and spellcraft into a non-Wizards of the Coast world. A few changes here and there, obviously, due to copyright issues and whatnot, and this could shape up to be a damn fun adventure. This is new story number one.

New story number two is one that I started on in September, when inspiration struck during Nan Desu Kan. It’s very difficult to come across an image like this and not be driven to write about it.

the-white-door

I mean, look at it. That’s gorgeous. Who’s the figure in the photo? Where does the door lead? That’s new story number two. I like where it’s going so far.

And of course, I plan to continue working on what I consider to be one of my most ambitious projects to date. This one’s a novella, at least in its planned form. I don’t want to say too much more about it right now, but it’s also been in the works for a while. It may or may not make its way here to the blog, whereas the other two stories are slated to appear here for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, I’m working on getting some more short pieces, poems, and reviews up here in the very near future. Thank you all for your continued readership.