There are no positive spaces on the Internet.

I’m sure I’m not only speaking for myself, when I say that 2020 was an isolating year. The shut-downs began in mid-March in my area and, despite my Gramma constantly quoting Trump’s claims that we’d be “wide open by Easter,” it wasn’t long before I was beginning to realize this wasn’t going away until we had a vaccine.

I worked the last Sunday the library was open, March 15th. We closed for two weeks, which quickly turned to three, then four, then six. Fortunately for my husband and I, my library system paid every single employee their full pay and benefits and didn’t even assign us any work, while we were at home. I was luckier than most in my field… than most in general. Regardless, this all happened on the heels of some really difficult personal issues and suddenly… I was all alone. Jake is an essential worker and never had a single shutdown-related day off, which was certainly for the best in the long run, but in the short-term, sort of just left… me, dealing with some really tough stuff during a pandemic.

Those days have mostly blurred in my mind. They were a series of Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart trips for presumed essentials, because the idea of not having access to something was freaking me out almost as much as the rising virus cases. They were hours of playing Netflix in the background, while obsessively reading the news. They were endless walks around the neighborhood, accompanied by audiobooks. They were pings from apps about the rising cases and paranoia that my job wouldn’t be there when this all ended. Mostly, though, they were lonely. I’d gone from seeing my teens three days a week, to not knowing when I’d ever see them again. I’d gone from having family nights and weekends, dropping in on Taco Tuesday with my pals from the West Side Library, seeing friends and coworkers daily, attending meetings and breakroom potlucks, to the occasional text message conversation and talks with my Gramma that always ended when it got political. Easter was spent at home, with Jake, attempting to enjoy a beloved family holiday with a Sad Ham for two and a Zoom call with my family. Not that the rest of the year was leagues closer to normalcy, but the solitude of those six weeks, even for a proud homebody, was devastating.

It’s been about three and a half years since I deleted my Facebook account, a decision I’d advocate for most and March of 2020 was the first time I’ve ever genuinely considered returning. At least with Facebook, I’d be able to connect with family, see their updates, message them, and maybe feel a little less alone during a pandemic. Then I remembered my previous social networking experiences and thought about all of the political articles, rants, and conspiracy theories I’d be treated to, by both my extremely left and extremely right family members, who have little to no understanding of basic social media etiquette.

I thought about the time my crazy redneck uncle told my high school friend that he wasn’t “no better than” him, just because he had a “two dollar degree”… without knowing that this man had no more than a high school education and was a former marine. I thought about the digital slap fights between women who didn’t even know each other in high school, let alone today and the family gossip based entirely on speculation from social media posts. I thought about the mommy wars and the inevitable comments about how women without children had no idea how hard all of this could be, the comparisons of busy schedules and stress. I noted how awesome it was that, after three years, my family had finally accepted that I was no longer on social media and every piece of news, from family parties to family deaths, was going to have to be delivered over the phone… as it should be, and I didn’t want to ruin that progress. It was already a difficult year and all of the above were not going to make me feel better. So, in lieu of social media, I clung to strangers like a lifeline, through various subreddits.

I started with a subreddit that I’d previously frequented in phases, one populated by somewhat traditional women, that focused on dating and improving your marriage. At first it was fun and I felt like I was socializing with real people. Then… it turned and comments were made about how women shouldn’t work if they have children and women who didn’t want them would live lives full of regret, so I wrote a snarky comment about how the subreddit was no longer for me and left.

Next, I tried to connect with my fellow librarians, since I missed interacting on a professional basis at work. This was probably my second to briefest attempt to connect through Reddit, because libraries can be politically toxic, ironic for a profession rooted in serving all. By ironic, I mean wildly hypocritical. After ignoring the inevitable politics in posts and comments for a few weeks, I saw one directed at teen readers advisory. That’s totally my jam… or so I thought. This post was from a straight, white man, asking for book recommendations that starred straight, white boys, who were progressive and inclusive and championed their minority friends, be they Black, gay, trans, what-have-you. The comments were filled with criticism about how boys should be able to look up to female leads and tangents about how books have historically only starred boys. Riiiiiight, but do we really want the only male heroes young boys look up to to be the kids from Lord of the Flies? Boys should make do with female leads, even though you’re arguing the reverse is a disservice? Are we not allowed to have role models that everyone can see themselves in, or is it just white males? Aside from these terrible arguments, there were entirely unrelated rants about the lack of representation of lesbians in YA fiction and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to talk about helping teens, all of them, not just the ones that made my resume look or gave me conference talking points. I just wanted to bond over the profession I’d missed and in just a few weeks, Reddit had made me want to leave it altogether.

So, I decided to try something a little lighter in the Gilmore Girls thread. What could possibly go wrong in sharing a fandom?!?!? Y’all, in 2020 I learned that all fandoms be fucking crazy. People wrote pages about how every single character was abusive or narcissistic or sociopathic or ::insert WebMD diagnosis here:: for fucking Gilmore Girls. They attacked me for saying I thought Melissa McCarthy’s modern-day projects were crass, for thinking Dean was alright in the early seasons, for liking Emily… and they fought each other over the exact same topics, viciously. Really?!?! Am I the only one who thinks that I shouldn’t have to thicken my 2020 raw skin to discuss Gilmore Girls?!?! But folks, I’ll tell you… it was nothing compared to the Harry Potter fandom.

I made it a day, y’all. I made it one day in the Harry Potter subreddit, before someone tore into more for a very mild defense about how Draco Malfoy was just a kid and a pawn to his family. The response was a half-page long and went on about how when this person was a teenager, they knew better than to do the things Draco did, that they weren’t bullies, because they were more self-aware. Instead of replying that they might not have been bullies as teenagers, but certainly were now, or writing a lengthy comparison to the Malfoys and organized crime families, I deleted my comment, left the feed, and never returned. Apparently the Harry Potter subreddit is moderated by Lord Voldemort, himself.

In the meantime, even the subs I followed for some light pick-me-ups, like r/interestingasfuck and r/aww and r/crafts became hostile. I stumbled on an anti-Catholic rant in comments, others about how people who won’t let their dogs sit on the couch were abusive, and when I shared a photo of an art project my library teens did, someone left multiple comments about how I could have done it differently and it could have been improved.

Finally, r/romancebooks, which had been a surprisingly fun and accepting space over the course of a few months, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Previously, tastes ranged from Pride and Prejudice to rapey drug dealer porn and all were accepted, if not shared. Then Bridgerton hit and newbie fans to the genre joined, lacking an understanding of how very many sub-genres it possessed, and the judgement sky-rocketed. Even authors only a few steps off the beaten path, like Kristen Ashley and Joanna Wylde, were being vilified for “romanticizing abuse” and posters were theorizing about how the authors themselves must have horrible personal lives and joking about egging their houses. Excuse me, but has anyone ever checked in on George R. R. Martin’s sister, to make sure she hasn’t been sold to rapey horse lords? How about Stephen King’s kids? Are we worried they might have been butchered by some ancient folklore creature? No? Then I guess it’s only women we judge for their art and men get a pass. After another poster began harassing me on my last post, I’d had it. I rage quit Reddit. I deleted every username and installed blocking software on my laptop, phone, and workstation computer, so I couldn’t even browse absent-mindedly without a username.

After the Reddit debacle, I searched for a replacement, but all of the less popular forums seemed just as hostile. I even messaged a friend and asked, point-blank, “Are there any good, supportive forums online, or is everyone a jerk?” Her immediate response was “Everyone’s a jerk.” This was the same friend who tearfully messaged me when someone called her a bad mom for working, on a Dave Ramsey Facebook post. I had to point out that this woman was clearly not spending her time engaging in interactive puppet shows, if she was tearing down other moms on Facebook.

Twitter was out, because I thought I couldn’t possibly care less about celebrities. Their Covid-19 Poor Little Rich People attempts to relate to the common man proved me wrong. Instagram is just as bad as Facebook, unsurprisingly as they’re both owned by Mark Zuckerberg and are notorious for causing FOMO and body issues and just general judgement toward all women. The only perk to Instagram is the lesser degree of political commentary and even that can crop up seemingly out of nowhere. Even BoredPanda, a feel-good site with articles about cute little animals, is politically out of control in the comments. Why can’t I look at pictures of kittens in peace?!?!

So, I finally accepted the truth, at 33 years old: there are no supportive spaces on the Internet. Adults will forever lecture kids and teenagers about cyber bullying, as they type out hateful messages to people they should be building up, on Instagram and Twitter and Reddit and Facebook.

I left Facebook years ago and I’m reminded that I had the right idea, as I not only feel less criticized and frustrated without any of it, but have more time to do the things I actually care about, like read and sew and work on my digital photo albums. Hopefully, that list will soon include interactions with Real Live People, so I won’t feel the need to grasp for human connection online. At the very least, however, I now have more time to entertain Future Belle and you people.

“Hunkering Down”

Coronavirus has arrived stateside, y’all. There are 10 confirmed cases in my state, one in my county that’s been declared locally transmitted. Whether your claim is that “it’s just the flu” or the end is nigh, it’s become apparent that, globally, we’ve all slipped into a game of Plague Inc., 80’s movie style.

The flu has a vaccine and has still killed 55,000 Americans this year, by the way.

It’s difficult to predict how bad things will get in the US, but I must say, I’m getting scared, especially with the start of spring break. As the zoo, museums, and all of the other obvious attractions announced their closures over the past week, I was growing increasingly worried that the libraries would be the only thing open and we’d get an even larger crowd than normal. Fortunately, however, all three major library systems in my state have closed their doors for a minimum of two weeks and mine is providing all employees with unexpected closure leave, meaning I get full pay and benefits, without draining my accumulated leave.

While working from home has been briefly discussed, there aren’t a lot of ways librarians can work from home. Facebook story times have been mentioned, but I’m not a children’s librarian… and I refuse to participate in social media. Program planning and calendar entry deadlines will likely still stand, but I have mine completed through October. That leaves program prep, so I suppose I’ll be practicing my balloon animals and contact juggling for June’s Sideshow Skills, along with following an online painting tutorial for an eventual Paint and Pop program. I could also further my research for May’s Norse mythology themed LARP… assuming we’re open by then.

While my library has officially closed for a tentative two weeks, schools statewide have announced their closure through at least April 6th and the CDC has recommended we hunker down for the next eight weeks (not verbatim). So it is that I find myself with a surprise paid leave of an undetermined length. Since Jake’s job provides pretty essential services, even if things get bad enough to make the Good Ol’ Boys take them seriously and limit his hours, he’ll still be required to go in and perform some tasks. I’ve done the shopping: procured frozen meats and vegetables, canned goods, treats like chips and frozen pizzas and brownie mix, dog food and cat food, toilet paper and paper towels, cleaning supplies and medicine in case we do get sick. I’ve refilled my inhalers and informed my boss that I am not willing to empty the book drop, since asthma puts me in the higher risk category, according to the CDC. I even gave blood last week. The prep is done, folks. What now?


The last time I had what felt like unlimited free time, I was in my mid-twenties and worked half time at the library, while substitute teaching. During school breaks, I only worked twenty hours… and I went stir crazy every time. There was the year I filled my apartment with art I created following YouTube tutorials; the spring break when I binged watched Sons of Anarchy to the point that I was screaming “Rape her with a billy club!” and realized that maybe I needed a time out; The Christmas I tried to teach myself the Single Ladies and Thriller dances; the summer I delved into string art. Zetus lapetus, I’m lucky my downstairs neighbors were always too high to murder me.


Once again, with appropriate respect for the lives lost and suffering yet to come, I have to figure out what to do with myself for the next few weeks… and I won’t even be working those twenty hours. I’m a planner, y’all, a woman of action… but I just made my last trip to Wal-Mart before parking my Kia Soul for weeks. I’ve done all I can do to prepare for this pandemic, checked off the final items on the list. So… I guess I need a new list. Goals are important, folks.

Finish Vampire Diaries
I have been working on this series for the better part of a year, people. I am sooooo tired of Elena Gilbert and her confusion. It’s Damon already! It’s not a fucking Rubix Cube.

Take Up A New Terrible Teen Show
Maybe I’ll catch up with Riverdale or try I Am Not Okay With This on Netflix. It makes me better at my job to be able to talk to my teens about these shows. That’s totally the only reason I still watch them.

Reread Jodi Ellen Malpas’s This Man Series
I’m a lover of romance, but this is a terrible series, y’all. I mean, it is really bad… but the last book takes place 15 years later, after the heroine gets amnesia and the hero has to make her fall in love with him again, Notebook style. I can’t not read that.

Do This Yoga Thing
I bought the mat and blocks and checked out all the DVD’s we had on shelf, after attending one free session at work. I was pretty on the fence at first, but I’m willing to concede that yoga might not be all hokum.

Master Egg Drop Soup
I started thinking “Oooh, I could make a souffle!” Then I Googled it and thought “Woah… walk before you run.” Egg drop soup looked easy enough, though.

Play a Videogame
Jake always wishes I were more of a gamer, whether it’s Mario Odyssey or Skyrim. Maybe I can give one of these a real go now. At the very least, I finally have time for The Sims.

Complete That Afghan
It’s been sitting on the couch, ready to be worked on, since Christmas. This will not become a project I never finished.

Rewatch Every Nicholas Sparks Movie I Own
I’m a sucker for The Longest Ride, Safe Haven, and The Notebook.

Finish Lizzie Maguire
Oh my gosh, this show is still super relatable, but maybe that’s because I work with teens.

Complete That Painting
Last weekend, I bought the supplies to follow this tutorial. It seems I have plenty of time to do it now. I can even gauge whether or not my teens could follow a similar one.

Tackle That TBR List
Librarians have notoriously long To Be Read lists, but I promised myself I’d read 25 classics this year. It’s a lofty goal, but it seems I have the time to get caught up with this month’s selections, read that LGBTQ YA novel I downloaded, and start my reread of Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles before she releases the final installment this year.

Watch All Five Twilight Movies
Haters gonna hate, but at 20, I was Team Edward. Today, however, I’m definitely Team Jacob. He was hotter and could have given Bella a normal life, without her having to change.

Watch All Three Fifty Shades Movies
The books are horribly written and Jamie Dornan looks like he’s physically pained during all of the sex scenes, but I just love the “rich man saves poor, naive virgin, with a pretend degree” storyline. It’s just so relatable. I can’t figure out why…

Learn to Contact Juggle
This is surprisingly applicable to my job.

Learn to Make Balloon Animals
See above.

Work On My Tan
I own a 2,300 square foot home with a gym quality elliptical and a rowing machine. I’ll get plenty of exercise, but I’m not so sure I’ll get much sun, unless I make a deliberate effort. Social distancing shouldn’t be much of a challenge on an acre and working on my tan should help to minimize the cabin fever.

Teach Myself The Thriller Dance
That living room was really way too small. That’s definitely why I can’t do the Thriller dance.


The Time I Tried to Go Back to Apple

Y’all, I’m gonna be straight with you. I have not been happy with Samsung, lately. Having switched from an iPhone 4 in 2012, I’ve loved every Samsung phone I’ve had, from the S3 to the S5 to the Note 5… until April, when I got my Galaxy S8 Plus, the IT PHONE for Android users. Despite the rave reviews I’ve read online, I hated this phone. While I’ve always liked the slightly larger phones Android offers, the S8 Plus wasn’t just big. It was proportionately awkward. I’d carry it into the stacks to have internet access while helping a customer and it felt like I was roaming the children’s area with a paddle… which is admittedly a dream of mine, some days.



Combine the sheer screen size with the fragility of the absolutely pointless curved screen and I broke my new phone, within a month, on my honeymoon… when it fell three feet from a toilet paper dispenser. After years of throwing my Samsung phones down the stairs without a scratch, I assumed this was a fluke… until Jake broke his S8, despite the Otterbox. Add this to the beta test Bixby software and physical button and I was done. Samsung had finally pissed me off enough to convince me that I should go back to the only other smartphone I’d ever had: iPhone.

Y’all, I was convinced this was the simpler route. I just wanted a phone, without gimmicks. I researched phones that had physical keyboards, attachable projectors and boomboxes, edges that responded to being squeezed, and they were all huge, which was the thing I hated most about the S8 Plus. I desperately wished I’d never handed over my Note 5… but I still had to make a choice. Many of my friends and family have iPhones and other Apple devices and rave about how well they work together. They insisted that they no longer suffered the same restrictions (no Google Maps, third-party music apps, waterproofing, etc.) that I remembered. I was actually willing to forgo the ability to make all my apps look like Christmas ornaments, a bigger deal for me than most, because there must be something to it.


Folks, if I thought the size of my Galaxy S8 Plus made me look like I was using Zach Morris’s phone, the capabilities of the iPhone 8 made me feel like I was using Zach Morris’s phone. I could overlook the fact that the glass body so closely resembled the iPhone 4, that the LCD screen wasn’t even as nice as the one on my $120 Kindle Fire, that the style itself hadn’t changed since the iPhone 6, and even that it took three times as long to charge.

My first real sign that I couldn’t be an iPhone user, however, came with the photo gallery, which automatically organized my photos into little default albums, like Selfies, People, and Places. The only way to view them by date was through the Camera Roll, which showed every single thing I’d ever done, from selfies to screenshots to videos. I would have to thumb through every catty Facebook screenshot I’d ever taken (and that’s a lot) to find my holiday photos, unless I wanted to go through the trouble of creating an album. While I could download the Google Photos app, it was slow and buggy. A Samsung phone would provide just as user friendly of an experience to search Google Photos as their own gallery, which is also divided into similar screenshot/downloads/camera albums, but I can delete them. I’m not a 22-year-old barista! I don’t want a folder full of fucking selfies! Fine. Fine. I’d ignore the photo gallery and work on something that I knew was a new capability for IOS: free ringtones via the Zedge App… but only if I sync my phone to iTunes. WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS IT, APPLE?!?!?!


I wasn’t done, though. I was going to give this phone a fair shake. Maybe it was just the appearance. I mean, the iPhone 8 does look substantially more dated than the iPhone 7. There’s something about the glass and aluminum combination, especially with the home button, that looks especially 2012. The fingerprint scanner was honestly really cool and I’d never bothered to use the one on my S8 Plus, since it was enormous. Siri seemed nice and could definitely help me out of any future Gerald’s Game scenarios. I could learn to love this phone… but maybe I’d prefer one that looked a little sleeker… and maybe I’d consider the Plus, since I was so used to a larger screen. Hopefully the proportions just wouldn’t be as wonky. Of course there was no way my husband was right and Apple just fucking sucked and I’d made a terrible decision on a big ticket item again.


So, the iPhone 8 arrived on a Friday and there I found myself on Sunday, driving to the AT&T store to consider another phone, while I still had the 14 day grace period to confess my buyer’s remorse, with that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had once again committed to an $850 phone I regretted. I’d typed the address of the store in Google Maps, thinking at least Apple has Google Maps now and suddenly, on the side of the road, I thought I saw a dog playing… except…


The dog wasn’t playing y’all. The dog had been hit by a car and was clearly paralyzed from the waist down and was yelping in agony. I immediately burst into tears.

“Siri, give me the number for Metro Animal Welfare.”
“I found the number for Metro Animal Birth Control Clinic. Will that work?”
“What? No. Give me the number for Metro Animal Welfare.
“I found the number for Metro Animal Birth Control Clinic. Will that work?”
“What the fuck is ‘animal birth control’?!? Give me the number for Metro Animal Welfare!”
“I found the number for Metro Animal Birth Control Clinic. Will that work?”

Fuck Bing. Fuck Apple and Bing. That’s when I nearly ran a stop sign and was almost t-boned, because I was busy Googling (not from the home screen widget Android allows, I’ll note) something that I’d never have to actually Google on an Android phone. It would have been as simple as “Okay, Google. Call Metro Animal Welfare.”

I called Jake, crying hysterically, and told him about the dog. He promised he’d take care of it. I continued on my way to the AT&T store and walked into the store red-faced and teary-eyed and explained my dilemma to the sales clerk.

“I’m sorry. I saw a dog get hit by a car on the way over here. I’m not crying because of a phone.”


Ultimately, despite talking to sales people and browsing the other phones, I couldn’t decide on a course I was sure I wouldn’t regret and left, just as frustrated as before, without replacing the iPhone. On the way home, though, I decided I had 12 more days to change my mind and this was my day off and I needed to just get it done. There was another AT&T store in a nearby city.

“Siri, give me directions to AT&T.”
– a screen pops up asking me if I want to download Apple Maps again, after I deleted it for sending me to the wrong place earlier –
“Siri, use Google Maps to give me directions to AT&T.”
– a screen pops up asking if I want to download Apple Maps –

… and that was was it.

“Hi, welcome to AT&T. How can I help you?”
“I just got the iPhone 8 and it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I need to pay the $45 restocking fee and get something else, because this is the worst decision of my life.”


It all worked out in the end, when I bought the S8 Active and gave it to Jake for his broken S8. Because AT&T had a promotion going that said I could bring in any old phone for a $300 credit, we got three times the worth of Jake’s cracked S6 he’d been trying to sell since March, which covered the insurance claim to repair the S8. Jake got a heartier phone out of the deal and I got a smaller phone, the week Samsung released an update that allowed me to disable Bixby and finally found a wet application screen protector that clings to the edges and works with an Otterbox. I sold my S8 Plus to Amazon Trade-In and plan to use the credit to buy a new tablet, specifically not an iPad.

I’ve shared my story with my Apple Fanboy friends, much to their dismay.

“Why don’t you just scroll through the pictures?”
“But you can download ringtones from third party apps. You just have to sync your phone.”
“Why don’t you just type in the address in Google Maps before you leave?”

Why don’t I use 35mm film? Why don’t I roll out a paper map and write out my directions by hand? Why don’t I just type up my blog posts on a fucking typewriter? Because I’m used to the technology of this century! Yeah, I just wanted a phone that works, but my definition seems to drastically differ from that of Apple owners. When you’re used to verbally asking for directions, you realize how incredibly dangerous it is to type in a request for them while driving and/or how inconvenient it is to have to do so while in park. This technology not only exists, but it’s a staple of Android phones. We’re talking bare bones phone capabilities, but it’s not present on an iPhone. After some of their latest inconveniences, I won’t claim to be a Samsung loyalist, but I will claim to be an adroid loyalist after three days with IOS. Who knows, maybe there’s something to it I missed.


I’ll risk it and enjoy my Christmas ornament icons, hassle-free Zedge ringtones, headphone jack, fast charging, voice activated Google maps, and the plethora of uncomplicated, yet necessary, capabilities of an Android phone.

As for the dog…

Me: “Did you take care of the dog?”
Jake: “Yes. I couldn’t get a hold of anyone, but I drove over there.”
Me: “So, he’s not in pain anymore?”
Jake: “No.”
Me: “Do I wanna know why?”
Jake: “Nope.”


Belle of the Book Blogs


I claimed the reason I never started a book blog was that I’m just too opinionated. That’s not strictly true. It’s really because I was too lazy. About a year ago, I set one up. I chose a name, formatted it, even made a custom header. I just never did anything with it. You see, my favorite book bloggers, they’re just so… wordy. They go on and on about their favorite titles and how the characters made them feel and what they liked and didn’t like and who they’d choose to play the roles and what they hope to get out of the next installment and for the most part…. I’m just skimming. Also, that was an intentional run-on sentence to create a feeling of endlessness. Anyhoo…

As much as I value the opinions of my favorite book bloggers and appreciate a good review before I spend time trying to get into a story… if I wanted to read that much on the subject, I’d just read the book. Why can’t someone create a book blog where they just tell me whether or not the book is worth my time and give a brief description of why? I mean, if you didn’t like the story because the man was too bossy, step aside and give me a copy, because I love a good fictional alpha male. On the other hand, if you wanted to cut the heroine, because she was so obnoxious, thanks for saving me the time and pennies. Regardless, those sentiments can be shared in very few words and we can fangirl in the comments. Which brings me to my final point: If I wanted to make a book blog, why would I spend hours reviewing a title, when I admittedly skim everyone else’s reviews?!?!

So, I invited y’all to follow me on Goodreads, which I do maintain, but any reviews I might write quickly get lost in the sea of clever, GIF filled, three-page-long critiques. So, alas, I am going to be the change I wish to see in the world… cuz that’s where Gandhi was going with that. He wanted me to review smut and such… in 250 words or less, at Belle of the Book Blogs. It’s the Twitter of book blogging.


So, today is not just my 26th birthday. It is also my blog’s first birthday. That’s right. One year ago, the night I turned 25, I wrote my first blog post since my Myspace years. The goal was to find something to occupy my time once I finished graduate school, but also to work toward the long-term, vague goal of maybe, possibly, becoming a writer one day. Oddly, I only really read fiction and only really write non-fiction; so I had a David Sedaris/Jenny Lawson style in mind. Over the past year, I’ve changed my blog title numerous times. There was The Babbling Bibliophile, but I was one of an apparent 80. In December, I moved to wordpress and became Atypical Aryan Librarian. Though I was referring to myself as a white chick of German origins, this name had some pretty negative connotations to it. It was eventually clear that the really cool assonance and rhyme didn’t quite combat the implied racism, particularly since Gail was no longer my only follower, as she was September through early December. Blogger sucks, by the way.

No, no! You misunderstand! Wait!

For awhile, I was Atypical Southern Librarian, which totally ruined the rhyme scheme and was quite the mouthful, but I had to choose something besides Librarian of the Lynch Mob. I briefly wished I had the self-control or any desire to be a vegetarian, just because it would also rhyme, but that’s not even atypical of librarians. It’s an exceptionally liberal profession and vegetarians and vegans are quite common. Finally, I became Belle of the Library and even bought the domain name, developed a theme, and applied pseudonyms to every single blog entry I had written. That was a pain in the ass, by the way.

I realized that my blog wasn’t just a place to to receive feedback or “Big Girl Grades” as Gail calls it, but a space to stress and vent sarcastically and receive support and laughs. I wrote about my heartbreak after failing my graduate portfolio, my bad dates, the stress of finishing my degree, the continual recovery from my divorce, and my struggle with whopping mommy issues. I ranted about that funny sexist ad, quoted a hundred conversations with Gail, and shared my exhalation over passing my portfolio, graduating, and getting a Librarian position. It’s been a terrific year for me and for my blog. I’ve developed a unique writing style and received validation that I am, indeed, fucking hilarious as I get to discuss whatever the hell I want. In the last month, I was even Freshly Pressed and developed a goal I thought was out of reach. It didn’t matter, though, because I love goals. I wanted to get 500 followers by my birthday.


… and I did… just hours ago. So, in the next year, my personal goals are to get a full time Librarian position, actually have a healthy romantic relationship, and get Freshly Pressed again, ultimately increasing my readership by 1,000. I know, I know. It seems out of reach. I’m sure, however, that if I just keep trying, I will eventually date someone who is not a bag of dicks.

… and oh yeah. Remember that series I was writing? The final installment of The Week of 1004 Dates has not been forgotten. I will be posting it next.

Pinterest, I’d like a word.

Two years, y’all. That’s how long I held out on Pinterest. Two years free of the social pressure to somehow turn a stack of old notebooks and card stock into Barbie’s Dreamhouse, the materialism of IWANTTHOSEBOOTS!!!, the insanity of IWANTALLTHEPUPPIES!, and the addiction of tabbing link after link after link and organizing them into perfectly alphabetized and labeled boards while fretting over the fact that you can’t organize them by the Dewey Decimal System!!!!! Ahem… maybe that last one is just me.

Two glorious pin free years. That’s my guesstimate anyway. According to Wikipedia, August 16, 2011 was when Pinterest hit Time Magazine.* Since this is the Midwest and we just discovered Blu Ray and stopped wearing ties as belts, I’d say it’s fair to assume that’s when it hit mainstream Tumbleweed, USA… and I held out… until Jane.*

When we were in the ninth grade, Jane and I were walking down the hallway with our friend Nathan. With no prior planning and no warning, I turned to Jane and screamed in a horrified voice “ABORTION?!?!?! HOW COULD YOU?!?!?” As she stared at me, mouth gaping and eyes full of bleeding bunnies, Nathan implemented his own improv, screaming “THAT WAS MY BABY, TOO!” The teachers in the hallway eyeballed us, I assume trying to decide whether we were kidding or needed a group visit to the counselor, as Jane’s head began to pulse. Ten years. It took her ten years to plot her revenge… and she did it with Pinterest. Kudos, Jane. Kudos.

plotting revenge

The ploy was innocent enough, when I received the following text the other day.

Jane: Do you have a Pinterest? 
Me: Nope. I hate Pinterest.
Jane: Why?!?! 
Me: I don’t like the social implications and none of the crafts ever work.
Jane: False. Like 90% of them work if you follow the directions.
Me: Gail and I tried that writing on dishes thing. That DID NOT work. Honestly, though, I’ll probably get one soon since I’m not allowed to Facebook at work.

I’m a crafter y’all. I actually feel fortunate that I busted a bucket of purple paint in my storage closet two years ago, because it was on that day that I made peace with the fact that I’m not getting my deposit back. That makes the wax on the carpet, the gold paint on the counter, the blue paint on the kitchen tile, the hammer indentations on the patio, and that time the dog attacked the bathroom doorframe far less stressful. I am also, however, not all that coordinated. The last thing I need is an addiction to a website that encourages me to buy a heat gun (only $20!). I once cut my forehead with my own fork. Just last week, I gouged a piece out of my shin when I ran into the watering can on my patio. I LIVE ALONE! I’m the only one who could’ve left the watering can there! Also, I can barely keep the dog and myself alive. Why the hell do I have a watering can? Speaking of which, I realized last night that I…. well, I might have forgotten about the hot glue gun… three days ago. It’s been plugged in and hot ever since. In my defense, my apartment didn’t burn down and the last time I wasn’t living alone, my ex-husband did burn the house down. I’m still in the plus column. Anyway, not only does Pinterest literally encourage me to play with fire, it truly is terribly addictive… and we’ve been over my obsessive personality and projects.

elf eating spaghett

And, oh yeah…

Stop encouraging me to act like a crazy person!!!!

I once tried to explain to Gail how organized I wished my kids’ rooms could one day be, intentionally exaggerating.

Me: “It is going to be perfectly clear where things go. For example, the Legos go in this box, the Lincoln Logs in this one, and the Mega Bloks in this one. There is no “building toys” box. You know, like have a place for the white Barbies and a place for the black Barbies and…”
Me: “Wait… that’s not what I meant.”

I’m a Librarian, folks. I majored in organization. That’s not even an embellishment. I took a class titled Organization of Information and Knowledge Resources. We studied different ways to organize shit. That’s a syllabus quote. Gaily is the only person I can stand in my kitchen, because she knows where the red plates go. My dishes are organized by type and color!!!! She also knows that the DVDs are organized by format then alphabetically. She had to listen to me fret over whether or not I should put the Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2 Blu Rays with the Blu Rays or the other Twilight Saga DVDs. Just a few weeks ago, I spent an entire day organizing my yarn by color.

crazy yarn
I used zip ties to connect those baskets to medium-sized eye hooks that I screwed into the studs. I am so not getting that deposit back.

Keep in mind, I came up with this shit on my own, long before I even had a Pinterest. Two weeks ago, I organized all of my writing utensils by type and color. I have a bucket for the permanent markers, one for the highlighters, one for the colored pens, and one for the black and blue pens because I’m crazy. I do not need pictures like this fueling me:

organizationWhere can I get that board?!?!?

No one knows what words mean. 

Word: easy

There are entire websites dedicated to Pinterest fails. I think the problem arises when people with basic skills in a craft, give tips to people with NO skills. For example…

cupcake icing
A beginner can do this.”

“Easy hairstyles…”

“It’s so easy!”

Word: recipe
I’ve seen people sharing recipes on Facebook, after finding them on Pinterest. I may not actually be capable of cooking many things (unless you count salting Easy Mac), but I did get my bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, or home-ec as everyone knows it, so I can say the following for certain: adding cream cheese to the directions on the back of the box is not a recipe!

fat people in wall-e

Word: repurpose
There are some really cool repurposed items on Pinterest, usually furniture.

car pool table repurposed piano

Both of those fit the definition of:

Adapt for use in a different purpose

Even if that crib still totally looks like a crib, if it’s being used as a writing desk now, it’s been repurposed.

repurposed keys lol
These keys haven’t been repurposed. They’re still keys. They’ve just been painted.
repurposed dresser lol
This dresser is still being used for storage. There’s just a T.V. on it now.
repurposed t-shirt lol
This t-shirt isn’t being repurposed. It’s just old.
The words they’re looking for are:
Renovate and redecorate (something, esp. a building).


1. Convert (waste) into reusable material.
2. Return (material) to a previous stage in a cyclic process.

Oh, the judgy.

You know how Gaily’s head explodes if you mention that men and women are different or dare suggest they have any varying skills or capabilities? Well, if you’ve been following my blog long, you know I have my own rage-inducing button and when I searched for “divorce” on Pinterest, it was pressed, as it was preceding the writing of Toasters, Marriage, and the Good Ol’ DaysDivorce is not an option… you know… until it is, and my personal favorite Your ONLY marriage? Why didn’t I think of that?

offensive divorce quote 1 offensive divorce quote

Oh, em jingles. Aren’t you the blessed martyr for never wondering where your grandma’s jewelry went or waking up cuddling a .357 like it was a fucking teddy bear? Also, what exactly qualifies The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to give marital advice?!?!?! One of the leading causes of divorce is financial strife and I’m pretty sure the man’s bank account looks like the vault of Scrooge McDuck. 

Divorce is not an option until it fucking is and you don’t know anyone else’s pain, bitch.

Kelly Winter assault case child abuse

How’s about you pin them apples? How’s about you pin a picture of my baby beagle’s blood-soaked paws when I came home from vacation and my ex-husband had him tied to the wall in a puddle of his own waste without food or water and he tried to dig through the fucking floor?!?!?!  Also, um, while your mouth’s flapping open, could you do me a favor and suck my big fat furry dick?!?! 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I WISH I had married Lord Voldemort. I did’t get a divorce. I got a fucking exorcism and don’t you dare talk down to me about that fact after four days of wedding planning.


until it is

Feel free to follow me, Belle Roquemore, under the email address

I’ll be busy hammering nails into a wooden plank for string art in the meantime.

elephant string art

Fucking Jane.

jane on pinterest

“It’s just like that episode of My Little Pony!”

As a teen, I could talk until I was blue in the face about my favorite book series, Fearless. Gaia was born without the ability to feel fear, so her CIA agent father trained her to kick ass since she wouldn’t have the common sense to not confront the super villains of the streets of NYC.


I was so much worse about Roswell, watching the same episode every morning before school all week. Max, the brooding teenage alien saves the life of small town girl, Liz, and all hell breaks loose in the form of FBI car chases and alien teen pregnancies.


At 20, there was no better way to escape that toxic marriage (shhhh… don’t say divorce) than by immersing myself in a world of sparkly vampire teens who hadn’t made the biggest mistake of their lives by marrying sociopaths before they were legally able to buy alcohol. For realz, I read those books like eight times.

Gaily bought an NRA membership for me in support of gun rights. They sent me a smushed hat in the mail. I have more sexual chemistry with that hat than these two had.

These titles sound so much worse when described, but didn’t write them. No, my fiction always got me one-on-ones with the creative writing teacher. It’s not like I actually made a preacher kill his daughter with a shot-gun for engaging in premarital sex. Jeez. Calm down.

If you think I’ve forgotten talking your ear off about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gail, you’re wrong. Five foot nothing Sarah Michelle Gellar saves the world from power hungry high school geeks and giant snakes, flanked by her outcast sidekicks and badass Librarian mentor. That’s right. Librarians: We get shit done. No, I didn’t forget. It’s just still awesome. 

wwbd shirt
Don’t think I won’t.

So, you’re seeing a trend here, right? I’m an obsessive person. I never grew out of that phase, because it wasn’t a phase. I’d like to say I control it better, but I’d be lying. Honestly, I credit this personality trait with having my master’s degree at 25 and losing 100 pounds in a year. I get something in my head and I won’t quit, be it a graduate degree or deciding to make all of my Christmas presents by hand. A couple of months ago, I decided I’d make custom photo albums for all of the pictures I’ve been taking since my life really started after my divorce in 2010. I am very much of the Mellenial generation, y’all. I sleep with my phone next to me. I carry my Kindle in my purse at all times. I bought my Gramma a Nook and taught her to download library books from home. Translation: I take a shit ton of pictures. Some are frame-worthy, some were taken to embarrass Gaily the day you could totally see her two granny bras under her spaghetti strap dress, some are screen caps of Facebook posts that I send to Gail so we can be catty. There’s a lot to sift through, but I finished two whole years worth of albums in one week.

This is me on a project:

elf eating spaghett
“Great. I got a full forty minutes… and I had time to build that rocking horse. “

Additionally, when I get on these tangents, failure is not an option. I’m pretty sure I can blame my daddy for that one, after he sternly asked the ten-year-old

“Now, why is that A so low? You need to get that 93 up, before it drops down to a B.”

On the one hand, thanks for the 4.0, Dad. On the other, Gaily would like to punch you in the head for the time I called her crying because I got a 98.5% on that project…. less than a year ago.

For this reason, when I set a new goal, instead of sharing my enthusiasm, Gail’s response usually goes something like this…

Me: “So, now that I’m a Librarian, after I get full time and do that whole boy thing, I’d like to publish a book one day.”
Gail: “Motherfucking damn it! You’re gonna call me at 28 crying hysterically” ::begins hyperbolic impression of me freaking out:: “‘… and I’m not even published! My life is over, because I’m too stupid to get published and now I have to join the Air Force!!!!'”
Me: “Okay. One: I can’t join the Air Force after my 27th birthday and I was only talking about it if I failed my graduate portfolio, because I couldn’t do anything else…”
Gail: “You have a bachelor’s degree in education! You could teach!”
Me: “AHEM! Two: This is a long-term goal. It’s after I get full time and maybe even get married again. I don’t even have an age attached to this. It’s just one day in the possibly distant future.”
Gail: “Uh huh. I’m sure.”

Gaily’s impression of 28-year-old Belle:

Soooooo, it is with this… determination… that I took on a new project this week: genealogy.

As a Librarian, my job is research. People call and ask questions like “Did James Dean have one wife or two? Who was the mother of his children? What was his highest grossing film?” or “My neighbor is selling his condo, but the price he’s given me is really high. Can you tell me how much it’s worth?” I’m not kidding. Obscure research is my gig, yo. Soooo, between customers, we’re encouraged to surf the Internet, as long is we stay off Facebook. Since the library has free access to and two of my coworkers are really into genealogy, I figured “why not?” When I told my dad about some things I found, he was really excited… like oddly so for a conversation that didn’t include the words “ammo” or “holster.”

So, I decided to look further into things that night at work. I figured, if I could get enough information on Grandma Kay’s family, then I might be able to form a Christmas present out of it. My daddy may be a blue collar guy, but he’s a hard working one and when it comes to gifts, if he wants it, he can pretty much buy it himself. If he can’t, I sure as hell can’t. It was beyond sweet the day he wore his college dad shirt, just for me, when it had clearly not be been worn in the year since I’d given it to him. Even better, he pretended he didn’t even realize he was wearing it. Still, I’m always trying to find something I can give him that he’d actually like.

Me: “Well, I can show you how to look this stuff up.”
Dad: “Now, why would I wanna do that, when you can do it for me?”

So, with nothing to go on but my great grandpa’s name, I spent my shift tracing my ancestry, with the help of another Librarian. I found a lot, too. Despite wanting my Christmas present to be a surprise, I decided I’d call my Grandma Kay and ask for some names to assist me. She’s a night owl, so I knew she’d be up. That was when she told me that my great great grandfather’s name was indeed Clayton, as I’d thought, but his middle name was Harold… not Preston. I’d traced the wrong family back to the 1700’s and had nothing on my own. I’d also already told my grandma that I found a lot for her and felt terrible about the prospect of disappointing her after she’d been so excited, not to mention, idiotic for making the mistake in the first place. Even the small piece of information that my dad had been so thrilled about was false. So, after I hung up with my grandma, at around 11:00, I signed up for the free international trial. I figured I could match at least what I thought I had found.

black man white child
Look! I found a picture of great great great grandpa!


Though the names my grandma had given me were misspelled and she wasn’t even sure of the relations, I found a wealth of information, this time verifiable with U.S. Census documents. I was even able to trace one branch back to the year 1660 in France. It was probably about 1:00 in the morning by this point, but I decided to keep going with another branch, so I could say I’d actually found more.

elf eating spaghett

That was when the last name Barron showed up and the leads kept coming, all verifiable with Census documents. You see, the way family trees work is that you trace back until the information runs out, because the common folk had no reason to record their families. Apparently, however, the last name Barron was used, because my great X 8 grandfather was an Irish baron, or the lowest class of British royalty, so they did keep records. At this point, it was just names and dates, but I kept recording them until about 4:30 a.m. I was in the 10th century when I finally went to bed, still not finished, exclaiming to the dog “Whatev. They’ll still be dead in the morning.” I woke the next morning and sent my dad the following text.

Clayton is the descendant of a baron, or the lowest class of British royalty and the names and dates go back to the year 10,000. Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass that was to research and record?!?!?!

Having had about 5 hours of sleep, I got up and continued to research while drinking coffee… and was not paying attention to the amount.

It was about the time I started roaring at the dog and praising God that my downstairs neighbor moved and could not hear my stomping, that I realized I probably could’ve done without the second pot of coffee.

It was also at this point when I sent Gail the following text…

Me: I’m a descendant of low British royalty. It’s just like that episode of My Little Pony!
Gail: …? I didn’t watch My Little Pony, your highness.
Me: Capitalize that, peasant.

This also led to a text argument with Jane over whether or not it was fair to claim she and Gaily had no childhood for not having seen My Little Pony, including the following:

Jane: I never had any interest in ponies. I wanted a whole horse.
Me: Ponies are not HALF a horse. Geez, I’m glad you aren’t a vet.
Jane: Ponies aren’t horses. They’re ponies. They have a different name for a reason. I wanted a horse. They kinda are half of a horse. They’re bitchy too.
Me: No. They’re colorful and they have special powers. You’d know this if you weren’t raised in a Nazi boot camp. 

So, not only has my tunnel vision focused my genealogy efforts for one thousand years, it’s also stimulated intellectual conversation and quality pet time.

Win. Win.

fist bump dog

“What are you reading?”

“What are you reading?”

As a future librarian, this is the one question I, ironically, detest above all others. The fact that this is generally asked while I’m reading, yanking me from my imaginary world for an impromptu quiz, is a valid enough cause for the internal growl that meets this inquiry. However, it is not my primary motivation.

I’m a graduate student working two jobs. I read plenty for school and refuse to pay for cable television. As far as my understanding goes, all television is now comprised of sexy M&M dances and Liquid Plumber ads that make you horny. It just doesn’t hold my attention. So, when it’s time to settle down and relax, I read… the literary equivalent of Jersey Shore. As a general rule, I try to keep at least one classic novel on my Kindle. If I sense someone is going to rudely pry, I’ll open my copy of Little Women and claim to be engrossed in the tales of Amy, Beth, Jo, and the one that wasn’t interesting enough to remember. Sure, I could just claim I’m reading The Great Gatsby, but I take issue with lying. I’m terrible at it, probably because of this discomfort. Carefully negotiated truths and omissions, however, are not lies.

My mouth isn’t the only place I’m salivating…

No. Today, after reading chapter upon chapter on Children’s Literature and Collection Development, I want to read something that will slowly rot my brain, countering all that intellectual growth. For the same reason many women read Nicholas Sparks, I read… wait for it…

paranormal romance.

Yes, indeed. When I’m lost in my Kindle, I am likely reading about sexy winged men or hot vampires. Screw Fifty Shades of Grey. I want to read about controlling men who turn into dogs. I’m not making this crap up. I loved Beauty and the Beast when I was little. Sexy werewolf novels are apparently just the grown up application. Remember when you were five and you loved magic and witches, secretly wished you were Tabitha from Bewitched and spent obscene amounts of time staring at items in hopes they’d fly across the room Matilda-style? Yeah, that’s apparently still a thing amongst adult women and it’s manifested in paranormal romance. Only, you’re fighting the telekinesis and losing control until some hot telekinetic man comes and helps you get it under wraps. I’m not quoting any actual plot here, but I’m not exaggerating either. I’m floored that this is even a genre and I read it, myself.

While I’m just now realizing that there is this huge following and demographic for such storylines, I’m also realizing that many of us wisely lie about it. It’s one thing to read a PG romance where everyone has cancer, supremely mild daddy issues, and there are terrifying amounts of geese. It’s not deep either, but the cover art on that is a picture of a rowboat. The cover art on The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a half naked man sucking a woman’s neck. How does one explain that to their coworkers? While I have had a customer assure me that she’s only interested in the plot and doesn’t intend to use it for masturbation, I didn’t believe her. I washed my hands after talking to her. Furthermore, as a graduate student and library worker, people expect me to have a better literary range than Eternal Hunter and The Mating. Web 2.0 for Library Professionals, however, isn’t it. I need to spend my downtime, the time most people spend absorbing some popular T.V. show I can’t actually name because I refuse to try new things in the television world after the aforementioned Liquid Plumber advertisement, reading more mainstream fiction that is just as much pretend as werewolf porn. I should do this solely so I can make myself sound as though I have any right to this Master’s degree I’m earning.

No, really… lots of plot.

In addition, I tell no one about my Good Reads presence, fully aware that my reading list is made up of memoirs, young adult fiction, and warlock smut. It’s never impressive, because I feel I get my real growth from my classroom reading and my brain hurts once I’ve done so. My point here is that reading material doesn’t reflect intelligence. I’m no less smart because my pretend stories involve sexy magic. It’s just entertainment. But I’m not going on that rant with a coworker. This is one of those situations where I have the uncontrollable urge to respond to the question with something entirely out of character and inappropriate. The sort of thing I could easily deny saying, because WHO SAYS THAT?!?

“What are you reading?”

“Why’s your mom so horny all of the time? Mind your own fucking business!”

They won’t ask again.