Why didn’t they mention this in library school?

One of the favored topics of conversation among librarians is the things they don’t teach you in library school. Some people focus heavily on issues that require on the job training. I took a collections class in my masters degree, but it didn’t cover the actual process for deciding what to keep and what to donate to the book sale. That’s something you learn once you already have the title, usually because every library and system has a different process.

The other subheading of Things I Didn’t Learn in Library School is the batcrap crazy stuff we see in our line of work. When you go to nursing school, you expect to see a man with a shovel through his chest or a light bulb lodged somewhere light bulbs don’t go. As a police candidate, you know you’ll eventually master putting a drug addict into handcuffs, despite his being slippery with his own feces. As a library major, you… shop for cardigans.

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There are some downright adorable surprises to being a librarian, such as the fact that we have a bird protocol at my branch. We have an actual procedure for what to do when a bird enters the library and can’t find it’s way out. I also wasn’t aware of the rising popularity of the Children Reading to Dogs program, until I started working in a library. Trained service dogs are brought into the library for little kids to read to, without criticism or correction. That’s right. My job includes puppies… which I’m reminding myself makes up for some of the more upsetting encounters.

Library school may stress the importance of serving the public without censorship, but it doesn’t prepare us for the number of mentally unstable homeless people and registered sex offenders we’ll encounter in a month. It also didn’t prepare me for the moment I’d find myself crying on the phone to a 911 dispatcher this morning.

The day started out normal. I was surprised things had been so quiet, considering I’ve called the police twice in my seven day stretch, having worked the weekend. I had just finished telling my coworker this and announced that I was going to do a walk-through to make sure that was correct. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

At the end of my walk-through, I had decided to use the public restroom, just in case another person was bathing naked in the sink. I thought I was alone, until I heard snoring. This isn’t normal behavior and my library has specific rules against prolonged sleeping in the library, so I knocked on the stall door… and then louder… and louder. Eventually, I was banging on the door and shouting. I went out to tell some coworkers that I wasn’t sure how to proceed. One of the circulation clerks followed me into the bathroom and repeated my actions. We decided the woman couldn’t possibly be asleep and must have passed out, so I called 911.

At this point, I had not wanted to open the stall door. I felt this would violate the customer’s privacy, but after calling me back on my cell phone, so they could direct me as to how I could help the customer, the 911 dispatcher insisted I open the door. I tried to wake the woman with a hand on her shoulder and she was unresponsive, though still snoring. The dispatcher told me to get her on her back to make sure she could breathe.

Me: “I just… she’s not wearing pants and I feel like moving her is a violation to her.”
Dispatcher: “You’re not violating her. You’re helping her. I promise.”
Me: “Okay… she’s coming awake now. Ma’am, are you alright?”
Me: “She has a syringe. There’s a tourniquet on her arm and she has a syringe in her hand.”
Dispatcher: “Is the syringe empty?”
Me: “I… don’t know? I think it has something black in it.”
Dispatcher: “Tell me, is she changing colors?”
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Me: “I… I can’t tell. Her hands are swollen, but I don’t think she’s changing colors. She won’t wake up, but she seems to be breathing okay.”
Dispatcher: “It’s alright, you’re doing good. I’m going to stay on the phone with you until EMSA arrives.”
Me: “Okay. I… I don’t know what to do. I’m just holding her head up.”
Dispatcher: “Okay, if she’s breathing, then she’s alright. EMSA will be there soon.”

When she woke, the woman tried to insist she was diabetic. Apparently insulin isn’t black and doesn’t require a tourniquet. Heroine is and does.

I sat in the lobby, trying not to cry, as the police questioned the man who’d been with the woman. I hadn’t helped the customer sooner, out of concern for her privacy and my hesitancy to bother someone on the toilet. I’d held a half naked woman up on a public toilet, hoping it was a good sign that she was beginning to wake. I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t called 911, partially out of a desire to not see another woman naked. I’d cried to the dispatcher, frustrated with myself because managers aren’t supposed to lose it like that. It was my job to control my emotions and be cool in a crisis. It’s just… they didn’t teach me this stuff in library school!

 

Textersation Tuesday

 

Halo 5 came out today. When you’re single, you don’t even know that more than one Halo exists.
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I interviewed for, and was passed up for, another full time librarian position. Gail tried to say the right thing…

10-27-15

I texted Jake the news, as well. He texted back once and called twice. I couldn’t bring myself to answer. I didn’t want to interrupt his video game fun with attempts to console his girlfriend in a dramatic mood, so I let it go to voice mail as I randomly wailed into my frozen pizza. Sigh. Here’s hoping that I’ll read this in a year and smile, because it all turned out okay, just as I’ve been doing with last year’s terrible date stories.

Surprising Realities of Being a Librarian

I’ve written about my career as a librarian a few times. Most notably, I battled some common misconceptions in my article Shelving the Stereotypes: When I say I’m a Librarian… mentioning such issues as the picture of a conservative, uptight older woman, what exactly it is that I do, and how the Internet is not putting me out of a job. However, even the positive assumption that I spend my days singing on rolling ladders, is pretty far off the mark. I have rarely addressed some of the more sensitive topics, because I love being a librarian and see them as little more than a penance. Recently, however, I’ve noticed some consistencies in the #LibrarianProblems Twitter feed, such as…

… BEHOLD: the sexism.
I’ve touched on this a few times, usually and most recently in my dating rants, but library patrons and people in general can be extraordinarily sexist towards women who work in libraries. In fact, I once stopped by the gas station on my way to work, not even considering the ID badge I had clipped to my dress:

Attendant: “A librarian. Niiiice.

Um, dude. You are at work. What. The. Fuck? Recently, one librarian on Twitter posted several examples of sexist remarks made by patrons, including the following:

5-21-15This fucking happens, y’all. I once had a customer raise his hand for help on the computer, despite being perfectly able-bodied and capable of coming to ask for assistance. When I looked his way, he snapped his fingers and pointed to the computer screen. That doesn’t even touch on the flirting. I am to the point that someone blatantly checking me out no longer phases me. It’s just a weekly occurrence. Yes, I dress nicely for work, in dresses and flats, but they are in no way inappropriate. Nothing is printed on my ass in glitter. Yet, I still get men who ask what I’m doing after work. While the pictured comment would be met with a stern “I’m sorry sir, but that’s completely inappropriate and you need to take your prints and leave,” this one doesn’t warrant such a harsh response. I’m left to awkwardly fumble through a rejection, while hoping I don’t offend him, which by the way, I fail at every time. It’s bad enough to be winked at and called sweetie, but it’s also intensely uncomfortable to have a man hand you his phone number and have to smile at him, because he is still a customer. It’s far worse when a patron asks you to help him in the stacks only to get in your space and tell you how beautiful you are, out of sight and earshot of your coworkers. It’s scary to have a known rapist catch you in his sights, because…

… being a librarian can be dangerous.
None of the above things are exactly specific to librarians. I’ve directly informed patrons that they cannot touch the staff, in general. Yes, “do not touch the staff” is a rule I’ve had to repeat, in part, because The Rapist isn’t just a pet name for one of our customers. It’s not always sexual, though. Libraries are open to the public and accept all kinds, including homeless, the mentally disabled, the mentally unstable, and the addicts. Most of them have their good days, but in every public library, there are regulars who sit and have lively, heated debates… with no one. They carry suspicious parcels. They get arrested on our property and we never learn why.

We take those fines damned seriously.

Sometimes these people get frustrated. Sometimes they get angry. Sometimes they scream at us. Sometimes they grab us. Sometimes they threaten us. Sometimes, walking to our cars is scary. Sometimes, those cars have been vandalized. There are library workers who have had their tires slashed. There are lists of customers who have been banned. Some locations are lucky enough to have security guards, while others are just close with the local police and glad to know in advance when a gunman is loose in the area.

It’s also extraordinarily common for customers to angrily insist that library staff are being racist. Even in the most diverse areas, where 90% of the customers aren’t white, that is still the default for some people, because we represent The Man, and it’s infuriating. I wish I could say “I don’t care that your daughter is black. I care that she just shoved someone out of a chair and called her a bitch.” “No, m’am, I’m sorry, but we can’t tailor more classes to specific racial groups, because ‘Finance for Black People’ is not going to go over well. Please stop screaming. Yes, I would ask a white woman to stop speaking at that volume.” “Sir, you can’t insist the circulation clerks are just being racist when they don’t want to give you their phone number. Please don’t speak to the staff that way.” I can’t, though, at least not in so many words, and I’m just left with another angry customer.

Some days the issues are milder and we just have to inform customers that they cannot ask random customers for their phone numbers, look at porn on the library computers, bathe in the water fountain, carry around jars of urine, but we still have no idea if those patrons are having a good day or a bad day. We don’t know what kind of reaction we’re going to get as we walk up to them with our Codes of Conduct in hand. Even on a good day, though…

… being a librarian can be really gross. 
Once again, we have patrons of all kinds. A good library is a diverse library, because a good librarian can treat anyone with respect. It’s a little harder to make that respect apparent, however, when I scream and throw your materials across the counter as roaches pour out. It’s also more difficult to politely explain that we can’t check in items that are covered in urine.

“I don’t know if maybe a pet got to them or…”
“I don’t have any pets.”

Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew.

“You’re still going to have to pay for these.”
“The were like that when I got them.”
“They’re still damp.”

When people talk about how they love the smell of books, I assume they buy new, because I, most definitely, do not love the smell of library books. Too often, if I notice the smell, it’s because it resembles warm and fetid fecal matter and requires sincere effort to quell my imagination as it conjures images of a patron’s home. It’s not just the books, either. I once walked out the back door to see a teenage boy relieve his bowels on the fence around our trashcan and nearly vomited. That was actually better than the times I’ve had to clean up feces in the public restroom and really quite preferable to the aforementioned pests that can be found in the book drop. Folks, these are smells you cannot unsmell and sights you cannot unsee. Yet, we’re all still here and love our jobs. In fact…

… being a librarian is extremely competitive and not for the reasons you’d think.

 After men who lick my neck at the gym (exaggerating), my least favorite part of dating is explaining that I only work half time as a librarian. I shudder at what goes through a man’s mind, because I’ve heard it spoken out loud more than once. They assume that the reason I can’t find a full time position is that libraries are a thing of the past and eventually I won’t have a job at all. It’s not just them, either. I’ve been asked, by family…

“Do you worry that you won’t have a job in 10 years?”

Short answer: no. Libraries are one of the few remaining free resources equally available to all people and are adapting to accommodate modern needs and wants, with computers and WiFi, tablet rentals, movies, magazines, expensive database subscriptions, and even the occasional equipment collections that include shovels and cake pans. If the community needs it, a good and well-funded library will have it. I, myself, am fortunate enough to work in one that fits that description. The trouble in the job market, though, is that more and more people are going into this field. When I entered the graduate program, we were informed that we were the biggest class in history. The community needs librarians and while there are many retiring, they aren’t doing so quickly enough to leave the openings needed to satisfy all of the new graduates. Ultimately, working half time, at this point, is exactly where I should be in my career. I’m lucky to have a place in my system, as there are people who have been applying for years with no results. In 15 years, while I will have a position, it may be damned near impossible for anyone new to get one… because being a librarian is awesome, despite the challenges we face.

If I spoke to people about their careers, the way they speak to me about mine… – The Librarian

You’re an engineer? I hate trains.

You went to school to be a lawyer? Seriously? Why do you need a degree for that?

You’re an architect? I love Legos! It must be so much fun to build things with them all day!

Why would you become a teacher? Doesn’t everyone just Google everything now?

How old do kids have to be to be left at the bank?

Wow. I would hate to be a cop and just sit in a car all day. That sounds so boring.

Wait. Pharmacies still exist? There are still actual pharmacists?

A meteorologist? Isn’t there, like, an app for that now?

You’re a radio show host? Does anyone even listen to the radio anymore?

Nursing? Huh. Do you think you’ll still have a job in 10 years? I mean, everybody can just buy their medicine and bandages over the counter now.

Damn. You really fit the Sexy Logistician stereotype.

Accountant? Who even uses numbers anymore?

No offense… it’s just… what do you do all day?

Who gave Belle the talking stick?!?!

An older coworker heard me discussing my dad’s job with another coworker. 
Me: “He’s too old to be on poles. He’s 54.”
Coworker in Her 60’s: clearly offended, having not heard the whole conversation “He’s too old for what now?!?”
Me: “Climbing poles. No! He’s a lineman! He’s not like… too old for the planet.”

Discussing baby name acronyms at work…
“Well, I knew a guy in high school whose dad was in the police academy when he was conceived… there were less awkward ways to word that, weren’t there? Well, he was in the police academy when his mom got pregnant. Um… anyway. His initials spell LAW.”

“September 14, 1985? That’s so funny. That’s…” Riiiight here was when I realized how very creepy the statement was going to sound… “… um… that’s my best friend’s first boyfriend’s birthday. I mean, that was like seven years ago, but I doubt his birthday has changed. It’s a little weird to say that, isn’t it?”

::Text message with Malik after he told me about his efforts to combat the meth problem::
Malik: I can’t afford anything at the moment.
Me: I hope that’s because of the car and not all them drugs. #totallyjoking #sortof #iloveyou
Me: Basically, how’s the sober life going? Still fun? You should draw more. I like seeing your work.

“If you liked Fifty Shades, though, you’ll love this one. I really preferred it. It had a bigger plot, just a lot more… I don’t want to say ‘meat’… depth. Wait! I don’t want to say that either!”

Them: “Has Gail lost weight?”
Me: “I don’t know. I don’t often… weigh Gail.”

Talking about an old kitten with a coworker, who happens to be overweight…
Me: “Mimzy was the sweetest cat. She was a little furball… like a blowfish.”
Karol: “That’s what my kids call me.”
Me: :: in horror :: “They call you blowfish?
No. No, in fact, they call her Mimzy.

The day I met Niki…
Me: “Ugh. I hate that bitch. She’s an awful person.”
Niki: “She’s actually a really good friend of mine.”
Me: “Huh. Well… there’s no saving that, is there? I’m sorry your friend is such a bitch?”

Coworker Janet: “Before you eat one of those cookies, there’s cheesecake in the fridge.”
Me: “Yeah, I tried it. I didn’t like it. It had a weird citrus taste to it. I mean… unless you made it. Did you make it?”
Janet: :: laughing :: “No. I don’t know who made it.”

Me: “Ugh. I hate those boots with no heels. They look like elfin slippers.”
Gail: :: makes a stretching noise and extends her leg out in front of her, showing her ‘elfin slippers’ ::
Me: “Well… huh. I hadn’t noticed those. There’s not much I can say, is there?”

:: talking on the phone with Gail ::
Me: “Okay, I’m gonna let you go, so I can eat dinner, since it’s been proven that eating while distracted causes weight gain.”
Gail: :: mouth full :: “MMMkay. I’ll talk to you later.”

:: my cousin’s 8-year-old son is begging her to let him stay with his grandma, after already having been refused ::
Me: “Ugh. You see, Delia, this is where you tell him he’s adopted, so he’ll be so upset that he’ll be too distracted to keep asking.”
Too late, I realize that her son’s father is not is actual father, so he is technically adopted and does not know.
8yo: “What?!”
Me: “I’m kidding, sweetie. You’re not really adopted.”
Thank goodness my cousin approved of the bold-faced lie. I totally threw him off the scent. You’re welcome, Delia!

Picking up my debit card, after forgetting it at the restaurant where Gail and I had dinner. She had accidentally tipped him $10, instead of $5.
Me: “Well, can you run the card so I can leave you a tip?”
Waiter: “No, that’s okay. Your friend actually left me a pretty big tip.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. She actually did that by accident.”
Waiter: “Oh, well now I feel bad.”
Me: “No, no. She tips everyone hugely…”
Ugh. That sounds terrible. JUST STOP TALKING.
Me: “In fact, you should probably be pissed she didn’t tip you more.”
Translation: Oh, don’t get the wrong idea. It was no reflection on your service.

Growing Up Professional: Mistakes I Can’t Believe I’ve Actually Made in Job Interviews

So, yesterday I had a job interview. It was sort of a big deal.

My best friend was positively useless. 

Me: I don’t think I could be more prepared for this interview, but I’m terrified they’ll ask some question I just haven’t considered.
Gail: “Do you fidget at work and, if so, is it a result of meth use?”
Gail: “Yes. I mean, I fidget. I don’t do meth. I don’t do any drugs. I mean, I’ve taken prescription drugs, but they were mine. I mean, they were prescribed to me for conditions I legitimately had. I don’t steal prescription drugs or do meth, but I sometimes fidget.”

Those who know you best, mock you best. Congratulations Gail. You’ve been replaced by a houseplant. You know, the one you gave me and I facetiously named Blaylock, after the redheaded gay vampire warrior from that paranormal romance novel, but now refuse to plant in soil, because I’m afraid I’ll kill it and cry, because I named it? That one.

Anyhoo. I was prepared for this interview, y’all. I created my own workbook of possible interview questions, filled it out, and quizzed myself for a week. That kind of prepared.


That kind of prepared.

I didn’t substitute teach for three days this week so I could obsessively go over everything from “What don’t your coworkers like about you?” to “Wait. Should I wear silver or gold jewelry with the pearls?” The latter was part of a text/photo message conversation with Jane, in Vegas, that started with “Good friends stay local for I Have Nothing to Wear! crises!!!!”

But why? Why would anyone prepare for an interview on such an extensive level?


No. Besides that.

Here’s why. These are mistakes that I have actually made in the past… and that I can thank the good lord I didn’t make yesterday.

That time I showed up with a mangled neck…
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was desperately trying to save my marriage. Certain that getting a teaching job would provide the finances and security to do so, I applied for every applicable job… including one 80 miles away. This was going to finally fix my husband, y’all!


It’s just that exorcisms are so expensive.

In hindsight, the whole thing was stupid, particularly the part where my ex-husband gave me a gigantic hickie the night before. Now, do not misunderstand. I know I exaggerate a lot, but this was hardly the kind of mark that could be covered with concealer. Seriously, it was like what Old Yeller looked like after the wild boars got a hold of him. At the time, however, my hair was nearly to my waist, and I felt I could hide it. So, off I went, for the two hour drive, to the high school in a town of 2,000, with no concrete plans as to what I would do about the distance were I offered the position.

Lucky me, that last detail was never something I had to consider. Halfway through the interview, the snaggle-toothed principal left me to write a short essay, and I heard him discussing the gaping wound on my neck, with his secretary. They were talking about sizeAt that point, there really wasn’t much to be done, so I sort of just blew off the essay and left. Not only did I not get the job, but I never got any kind of acknowledgement that I had even interviewed.

That time I wore a fairy princess costume...
Just a few months after I started working at my first library, I had the opportunity to interview for a 3/4 time position, as opposed to my half time one. Having recently lost a lot of weight, I really didn’t have many clothes that fit me. Even the dress I’d worn to my interview just four months earlier had been given to Gail. Not long before this, though, I’d bought a flowy, strapless, black dress with an uneven Tinkerbell-style hem. It was adorable and comfortable and sexy… and entirely inappropriate for an interview.

sexy fairy costume
I really wish this were more of an exaggeration.

In my defense, I did pair the dress with a black shrug, to conceal the fact that it was strapless, but I also referred to it as “not-much dress” when Gail wore it in Crawfish and Smarmy

Bee tea double ewe, Gail, thanks for taking my hand-me-ups. It makes me feel skinny.

In addition, I only had one bra, at the time. Seriously, y’all, losing weight is expensive. You have to buy new everythingand a black bra didn’t make the list, when I was in grad school and working two jobs. Unfortunately, the only one that did was a white racerback bra, that practically wrapped itself around my neck, so there was just no way to keep from repeatedly flashing bright white bra straps from beneath my black prom dress. I don’t know that the outfit was the sole reason for my not having gotten the job, but really, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have played a part. I would not have hired someone wearing that costume.

That time I couldn’t walk in high heels…
As I worked my way through school, I applied for each and every position that opened in the library system. When an associate librarian position was made available at my location, I jumped at the opportunity, even handing my boss a copy of my resume, personally. Although I wasn’t done with school and it’s rare to hire librarians without a master’s degree, my boss still gave me a shot… and I blew it. Desperate to look professional, I bought new shoes for the occasion: four inch heels.

Like every little girl who repeatedly wished someone else was her mommy, I never had a woman to teach me how to walk in heels. As it was, Gaily and a Youtube video taught me to apply eyeliner at 23. Not wanting to mess up my pretty new houndstooth heels, I didn’t walk in them much prior to my interview, either. I also wasn’t sure how heels were actually supposed to fit.

foot binding
Hint: not like this.

Not only were the heels too high to walk in, but they were also excruciatingly painful. Realizing, too late, how incapable I was of wearing these foot vices, I speed-hobbled into my manager’s office and tried my hardest not to have to walk in front of him. Zetus lapetus. I’m having hindsight embarrassment just picturing how I refused to move to the left or right to grab something and just leaned way over.

Beyond the shoes, I really just wasn’t ready to be a librarian. It’s a much more difficult job than people think and I’d yet to realize just how involved it is, so I don’t blame my old boss for not having chosen me. I also, however, wouldn’t blame him if he decided that taking off my shoes the second I left the office, and running through the library and the parking lot barefootwas an inappropriate exit. I’ve since sold the heels to Gail. Joke’s on her, since they’re filled with my blood. 

That time I didn’t know my boss’s name… or who was interviewing me…
Okay. There’s an explanation. It’s just lame.

Despite all of my panicked and tearful phone calls to Gail, where I insisted that I was going to have to join the armed forces, because I was “never going to be a librarian!!!!!”…

… just one day before my MLIS graduation ceremony, I received my first call for an interview. Unfortunately, said interview was given during a truly busy and exhausting time. I had been working about 55 hours per week, in addition to finishing up the last of my graduate coursework. I was also still coming down from the stress of presenting my portfolio, upon which the future of mankind rested. I was overwhelmed. I was just so very tired. Just parking downtown for my interview had me near frustrated tears during the elevator ride.

The woman giving the interview was my boss’s boss. I had read her name in print and had possibly met her in person, but I was mistaken on the pronunciation of her name. You see, a nearby branch manager was named Maria. The woman interviewing me was named Mariah. In my head, I’d been pronouncing them both Maria. Not only did I say this woman’s name incorrectly in my introduction, but I continued to mispronounce it throughout the interview. I corrected myself each time…

“Maria… I mean Mariah.”

… but it got to the point where the other interviewer was laughing. No really. That happened. My interviewer laughed at my awkwardness. That deserves a fucking trophy, not like that means anything these days, but come on!!!!! 

Aaaaaand, speaking of my other interviewer…

I wasn’t aware, upon entering the room, that Mariah was going to be the primary interviewer. She’s the manager of the managers, and as far as I understood, she was just supposed to sit in on the meeting. So, the entire time she was asking me questions, I was addressing my answers to Chuckles McGee. Only later, did I realize that Chuckles  was the interim manager of the hiring branch. He was supposed to sit in on my interview with Mariah, not the other way around, because he wouldn’t be the one making the decision. So basically, I turned the interview into a conversation with the ventriloquist’s dummy. To make matters worse, I started to get nervous, realizing that this interview was going horribly and my answers quickly deteriorated. Recently, an unstable coworker had yelled at me for not breaking policy for a customer.

Mariah: “What don’t your coworkers like about you?”
Me: ::to Chuckles:: “I tell everyone no.”

As I left the office, I did one thing right. I thanked my interviewers.

Me: “Thank you. It was nice meeting you, Maria.”
Mariah: “Mariah.”
Chuckles: ::laughs out loud::

“It’s just not a good fit.”

In the last couple of years, I’ve learned to deal with a lot of rejection. I coped when I didn’t pass my graduate portfolio for the first time. I’ve dealt with my mother hurling cookies at my door on my birthday. I’ve even gotten better at accepting the fact that some men just aren’t feeling it. Now, I have faced these things, but in all of the above cases… I did so horribly. So, it’s with little surprise that I’ve handled my very first professional rejection so poorly, today.

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I’ve worked with one library system for two and a half years. They have my loyalty and, luckily, I have theirs. Not only does termination in this library system require murder while intoxicated and an intricate system of strings and pulleys, but I just had my three month evaluation with my new branch. My boss informed me that I was meeting all expectations, she had no complaints, and I seemed to be fitting in with everyone. I’m holding onto that pretty tightly right now, because…

… my other boss just informed me that, after six weeks, I’ve worked my last day at library number two.

Yup. I was let go… for the first time ever. Why?

Boss: “It’s just not a good fit.”
Me: “I don’t understand. I’ve never been late. I do everything I’m asked. I jump up and help customers. I’ve made any changes you’ve suggested. Isn’t there a procedure for this?”
Boss: “You’re still in training and it’s just not a good fit, so we need you to clean out your locker.”
Me: “Did I break some kind of huge rule or something? I don’t get it.”
Boss: “It’s not a good fit. It’s time to get your things.”

So… that happened. I’d be lying if I said things were going wonderfully. After three weeks of working for this library system, the same supervisor told me that she was concerned about the “negative language” I’d been using.

Me: “What do you mean?”
Boss: “Well, when I asked how your training went, you said it was ‘okay.’ When I asked what you thought of staff day, you said it wasn’t what you expected. Those sound like backhanded compliments.”

tumblr_inline_mum0h5rgxi1rc3mra

Um… what?

I said the training was okay, because it was okay. There were things I found useful and things I didn’t. I said staff day wasn’t what I expected, because staff day wasn’t what I expected. We do staff day differently at my other library system and she knew that, because I clarified. Even at the time, I desperately wanted to respond with:

“Well, I’m sorry you’re choosing to take it that way.”

I also didn’t. I told my boss that I’d work on the things she suggested and I did, raving about the useful things I learned in training. But then…

Boss: “You’re not allowed to wear hoodies at the desk.”
Me: “What?”
Boss: “If it has a hood, it’s a hoodie. It’s just too casual and unprofessional.”
Me: “I’m sorry. I’ve just never had anyone express that opinion before.”
Boss: ::scoff:: “Uh, yeah… I guess that’s my opinion. I’m pretty sure it’s the opinion of everyone else in the system, too.”
Me: “Okay. I’ll wear a sweater next time. Just to clarify, it’s the hood that’s the issue, right?”
Boss: “Yeah. We like people to dress professionally. Think bank attire.”

I know what professional dress is and didn’t need the clarification, hence the heels I regularly wear. I also know that it’s cold in libraries and the dress code said nothing about a fleece jacket in November. That makes it a personal preference or… wait for it… opinion I’d also worn it several times before this and she never had a problem with it. Regardless, I never wore the jacket again. I even bought a sweater without a hood, because she did verify that the one with a hood wasn’t acceptable. 

There you have it. I knew things weren’t going smoothly. Just last week, we had one of my boss’s weekly bouts of criticism, where she told me that she had expected me to be further along. I politely explained that I felt like I would be, if the desk time weren’t so spread out, because I was constantly at staff training. I mentioned that I had a lot of desk time coming up and I thought I’d catch on quickly in the next week. She said that would be great. The next shift we worked together was my last.

In retrospect, I’m proud of myself for how I handled our final conversation. I defended myself and made it crystal clear that this woman had no justifiable reason for ending my employment, which was witnessed and understood by the other supervisor in the room. While my boss couldn’t see her face, the woman looked horrified and supremely uncomfortable. I did not cry. I did not beg for a second chance. I made her admit, more or less, that this was a personal issue of hers, because apparently, it’s a thing for someone to let you go, because they just don’t like you… and it fucking hurts.

I probably could’ve done without burning my shirt and name tag in the kitchen sink, though. That was, admittedly, extreme. What can I say? I have two settings:

1. handling it with grace
2. fire

Fortunately, I deleted my old boss’s phone number, so I can’t do anything stupid. One month is a blip in time, not worth mentioning. A restraining order is not.

While I understand that not everyone is going to like me, this woman disliked me so deeply, that she was willing to go through the trouble to hire someone new. Furthermore, I was supposed to do a program in a few days. She’s been blowing me off every time I mentioned it for weeks. I’ve never been able to find her profile on Facebook, though I know she’s friends with her other employees, meaning I’m pretty sure she blocked me ages ago (I even looked through mutual friends… totally rational.) It’s mighty convenient that she only scheduled me for a few hours this month. She was plotting this. She never gave me a chance, because she disliked me that much. Fucking ouch.

Me: ::crying:: “What if this means I’m just a bad librarian? What if this isn’t for me and I never get full time?”
Gramma: “Oh, Belle. Stop it! You’re a good librarian! You just said a man was thrilled that you downloaded a book on his phone. They love you at your other job.”
Me: “How can anyone dislike me that much? I did my job! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

I once read an online article about the most crushing moments in a person’s life. One of them was the first time you’re punished for something you didn’t do. Here, here.

First and foremost, it’s the hurt feelings and unfairness. I don’t need everyone to like me, but you still have to work with people you don’t like. That is so unprofessional and inappropriate… and it sounds like total horseshit to say it was a personal vendetta. Every jilted ex employee plays the victim. I sound pathetic and I know it. Second, it’s the loss of security. I felt like a big girl. I could finally pay my bills and just knew there would be work, and therefore income. Now, I’m back to substitute teaching. I’m unsettled all over again, and in my pain, I was downright weak to my best friend, Rosie the Riveter.

Me: I’m tired of feeling so unsettled. I just want a full time job and a husband. I don’t care if that kicks feminism in its big hairy balls. I want a settled romantic relationship and guaranteed income.
Gail: I don’t think that reduces your value as a person at all.
Me: I’m tired of my twenties. I’m over it. Can I just have screaming kids in the other room and a boy who’s on my side at the end of the day? Can I do that now?
Gail: Other than “you’re allowed to want that,” I’ve got nothin’. You’re doing your best. It’ll probably come. 

As usual, the rest of the world thinks I’m overreacting.

Me: “What if I never get full time at my other job?!? What if this ruins my professional reputation!?!?”
Dad: “Belle, you are reading into this waaaay too much. You barely worked there for a month and you didn’t even like it. It’s not going to ruin your life. You’ve said yourself that the two systems don’t even talk. I’ll bet anything she has someone else she wanted to hire for this position and it has nothing to do with you. Calm down.”

Gramma: “Everything happens for a reason. This is just paving the way for better things. Calm down.”

Coworker at my other job: ::scoff:: “We’re not gonna think less of you. We’re gonna think less of them.” 

Other Coworker at my other job: “Just don’t put it on a resume. It’s not going to affect anything. You’re fine. I don’t know that anyone in the systems even talk to each other.”

So, I’ve allowed myself a limited amount of time to dwell, cry, pout, and be devastated, humiliated, and outraged. Tomorrow, when this blog will post, I will work to put the last month and a half behind me. I will work even harder to regain my confidence as a librarian and recover from losing a job for no reason.

There were no experiences from this position that I’m not getting from my other one. I never wanted to be full time with that system, because they pay significantly less and their benefits suck. My boss stressed me out to no end and I had fantasized about quitting anyway. She’d already made me cry twice and if she continues with this attitude, it’ll all come back to affect her professionally. The time I spent at that job allowed me to catch up financially and I’ve accepted two substitute jobs, just this week. My primary job is going better than I would have ever dreamed. I’ve already updated my resume. I’m set. 

Gail: “You know how, when you’ve made plans to hang out with someone and you don’t want to anymore, but you made the commitment, so you keep it? Well, then, that person calls and cancels and you’re like ‘Seriously? You’re canceling on me?”

Gramma: “Belle, you’ll get over this. You’ve been through a lot worse.” 

Damn straight.

That Time I Tried to Fake a Master’s Degree

I’m going to open with a secret. I’m a little high-strung when it comes to school.

shock
Jump back and gasp!

Growing up, my dear ol’ dad used to look at my report card and sternly say “Now, why do you have a 92 in math? You need to quit talking in class and get that up.” I was in the second grade. This resulted in two extremes. There’s my brother, Bo, who is constantly talking about the waste of time that is college, because he’s a successful electrician with no formal degree and… me.

Last summer, I had the assignment to create an online resource guide for my library over a subject of my choice. I chose sewing and hand-picked every title listed in the Wiki, including color photos matching the cover art of the specific copy housed in the library and an explanation of difficulty level. I screen capped shots of the online public access catalog, explaining how to use it and described, in detail, system requirements for a library card. This wasn’t part of the assignment. I’m just insane. All of my classmates told me they hoped I’d leave it up for their future use and how they loved the name: ”SewResourceful”. The professor commented to say she thought it was wonderful, creative, and appreciated the obvious extra effort. Then she gave me a 98.5%. A fucking 98.5%!!!! I read and reread that Wiki 15 times and added elements that went above and beyond the requirements and she gave me a 98.5%?!?!? Why doesn’t she just come over and personally shit on my computer?!?!?!

biting laptop
After this…

I’m going to tell you another secret. Being a little high-strung when it comes to school, occasionally makes me an exhausting friend. Gail and Jay were both recruited to talk me down from the absolutely devastating loss of that 1.5%. I couldn’t discuss it without my bottom lip trembling. I am not embellishing even a little, here. So… fast forward one semester to last fall.

If you’ll recall from A Chronicle of My First Failure Since the Driver’s Test, back in November, I “did not pass” my graduate school End of Program Assessment portfolio for the Master of Library and Information Studies program. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to claim that it was the greatest tragedy in the history of time. Had Nostradamus foreseen this, he’d have just destroyed the earth preemptively, himself. As it was, there was a mushroom cloud over the campus, when I delivered a completely off the mark presentation. You know that scene in Legally Blonde where Elle Woods dresses as a Playboy Bunny to attend a Halloween party, only to discover that it wasn’t, in fact, a costume party? That’s pretty much exactly what happened.

elle woods
Wait. This is conference room B, right?!?!

What actually happened was that I had a program advisor who was on her way out. She retired without telling her students and had never given me any clear constructive criticism on my portfolio progress, instead giving me a semesterly thumbs up. This woman was tough to pin down, particularly for a student who worked two jobs and took every class (save for one hybrid course) online, never really trying to meet up with her advisor. When I got a new advisor, didn’t take the opportunity to make sure I understood the portfolio requirements. Dr. Black’s gentle criticisms went ignored, because I didn’t have the time to change things that weren’t important enough to strongly emphasize. The same attitude was employed when she suggested I practice my presentation beforehand. I’ve always done well in school, pretty much without trying. I thought I could wing it on the End of Program Assessment. So, it was ultimately all my fault when I showed up to the party in a corset and plush ears.

I’ve exaggerated a lot here, for the sake of hilarity, but I truly think that the presentation I delivered in November had to have been one of the worst the committee members had ever seen. I wasn’t even completely sure what I was supposed to do. I actually told my Gramma that I was sure they wouldn’t fail me, since I’d completed all of the coursework. I somehow just missed the dire importance of the entire assessment. Approximately one minute into my presentation, however, Dr. Snyder’s expression gave away that this was not at all what was expected. I didn’t have a change of clothes, though, so I had no choice but to continue with the party in my cotton bunny tailed panties. I plowed through, becoming more and more flustered and by the time I got to the Q&A portion, I was just grateful I hadn’t thrown up.

Dr. Black: “Well, what was the reason for removing the reference section?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Dr. Black: “What is reference?”
Me: “… I don’t know.”

“Books is neat, y’all. Give me a master’s degree.” I’m embarrassed just thinking about it. As the committee deliberated and scratched their heads over how in the fuck someone made it this far without being able to define reference, I texted Gail about how my life was over. She told me she was sure it would be fine and I didn’t respond, because I was certain it was not fine. Reference, by the way, makes up the books filled with specific tidbits of information that can be difficult to find without the help of a librarian. Included in this are almanacs, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. I knew that then, but when I tried to explain it, I fumbled and used the word “obscure” instead of “specific.” Hellz yeah. Tell the reference librarians that their position is pointless, because the information they’re finding is “obscure”. Maybe just jump to “murky”, “unintelligible”, “vague”, “ambiguous”, “doubtful.” When I walked back into the conference room, the first words spoken were “We’re disappointed.” My first thought was “No shit. Can you pass me anyway?”

elle woods eating chocolate
No. The answer was no.

I was so excited to graduate last semester, that I purchased a class ring and a t-shirt and sweatshirt that read “Alumni.” I even sent out graduation announcements. There are not a lot of things that are more embarrassing than sending out graduation announcements only to respond to the congratulations with “JK!” I think the only thing more humiliating would have been that time I married a crazy person and got divorced at 23. So, having failed my graduate portfolio, I packed away the ring and the shirts and told myself I could have them back when I deserved them. Just like when I burst into tears in the third grade over my first B on a midterm, I didn’t even need my dad to shame me. Only difference is, this time he didn’t. Regardless, I was absolutely inconsolable at dinner with Gail, but as always, emotions are icky and I coped by making exaggerative and somewhat offensive jokes.

“They kicked me out of college and made me ride the short bus home!”

“My dad’s going to hate me. I’m the slow child now.”
He, in fact, thought I was being completely unreasonable and told me he could never be disappointed in me. Today, he regularly tells me it doesn’t matter what the grade is, so long as I graduate. How fucking ironic.

I would sometimes start with a joke, only to convince myself that I was speaking the truth and end up in tears.
Me: “I’m going to have to buy World of Warcraft! I can’t afford World of Warcraft! It takes a monthly subscription and I don’t even pay for my gym membership!”
Gail: “What?”
Me: “My life in the real world is over. I’m never going to be amazing or impressive here, so I’m going to have to establish an influential presence in the virtual world. It’s either that or I have to join the military!”
Gail: “Why the military?”
Me: “Because I could be impressive and have a real career in the military, even though I can never be a librarian! I don’t want to join the military! I hate being yelled at and I’m an indoor girl!” :Legitimate tears:
Gail: “What the fuck are you even talking about?!”

To fully grasp how irrational I was being, it’s important to remember that this is a master’s degree. I have a bachelor’s degree. I could easily teach and just have no desire to do so. That’s hardly World of Warcraft status, y’all. Thank God, himself, for Gail’s patience and insight.

Gail: “You have a semester to fix this. It’s not over. So get out your laptop and fix it.”

elle woods moping
Advice I did not immediately take.

After Gail dropped me off at my apartment, with my promises not to harm myself, I cried myself to sleep. I hid in fiction for a couple of weeks and then I put on my big girl panties and got to work. In the MLIS program, at my University, you get two tries at the End of Program Assessment, regardless of whether you choose comps or portfolio. You just have to be enrolled in two hours to present, so I took a one-on-one course with Dr. Black… and went full-on Emily Dickinson hermit for six months. I deleted my online dating profiles, only to recreate them out of procrastination and boredom, but completely gave up any actual dating. I didn’t shoot my guns. I continued working out, because getting fat again isn’t going to make me a librarian. I worked both jobs… and I studied. I reread several textbooks, along with every assignment I ever completed. I wrote my required essays for my professor, read books on leadership, and rewrote my portfolio from the ground up. I practiced with Dr. Black twice before my actual presentation. I did not sleep for six months. That’s not true, because I’m not from Krypton, but the only way I have been able to crawl out of my own head in the last six months has been by reading for pleasure and even that was often interrupted with “homework breaks”. Sleep just allows for nightmares. I have had to talk myself down from numerous panic attacks, usually taking place sucking my thumb while fully clothed in an empty bathtub. They all went something along the lines of:

I guess I could be a mechanic. I don’t know anything about cars. I’m good with my hands, but that’s really technical. I don’t like grease or getting dirty. This is a terrible idea. I want to be a librarian!!!! I don’t want to join the Air Force!!!!!

sitting in empty bathtub
It looked just like that.

Even Dr. Black told me I was overdoing it, when I presented her with my course by course evaluations. In these, I found the syllabus to every course in the program, copied the description and objectives, wrote a paragraph of where I was before the course, a paragraph of where I was after the course, and one to two paragraphs about what I learned from the specific assignment I chose to reference.

Dr. Black: “It’s really not necessary to do that for every course. You’re overthinking it.”

Gail: “What’d your professor say?”
Me: “She called me a rabid pit bull and told me to calm the fuck down.”

pit-bull-growling
My graduation photo…

Gail was the only one who knew that I was presenting my portfolio yesterday, just in case I failed, because as Donnie Darko taught all of us Mellenials: “Every living creature on Earth dies alone.” This time, however, I delivered my final graduate portfolio and the first word I heard after the committee deliberated was “Congratulations.” Dr. Snyder told me he enjoyed attending a presentation where he actually learned something. Dr. Black teared up and hugged me. The committee member from a public library gave me her card. I called my Gramma afterward.

Me: “Guess what.”
Gramma: “What?”
Me: “I just passed my graduate portfolio presentation!”
Gramma: “Really? So that’s why you’ve been so secretive! I thought it was closer to the end of the month.”
Secretive” to my Gramma means not talking to her three times a day, because that’s how close I am to her.
Me: “Yeah. I purposely led you to believe that, because I knew you’d stress out and then say shockingly unsupportive things to stress me out and I couldn’t deal with it.”
Gramma: “Well, you’re probably right. That was probably for the best.”

I wore her pearls to the presentation and I’ve been asking her to give them to me for graduation for months, but she’s said no every time. When I asked if she wanted them back, she just told me to keep them. See. My Gramma won’t even give me her prized pearls with any kind of ceremony, because emotions are inappropriate, y’all. That’s where I learned this shit.

old woman
This is her proud face.

Gail bought me a congratulatory dinner and a mall cookie. We both made fun of my initial presentation and the fact that I actually had a nightmare about the zombie apocalypse and failing my portfolio, only to wake up and hyperventilate over school. I did it and it was totally worth not sleeping for six months… which is awesome, because it has suddenly hit me how incredibly overwhelmed I’ve been and I am absolutely fucking exhausted from working two jobs and finishing graduate school while researching Air Force recruitment requirements. I keep reminding myself that substituting is almost over and in a month, I’ll be lounging by the pool, only working at the library in the evenings. I’m not even going to consider a PhD. I’m gonna go T. Swift on this and just say that college and I are never, ever, getting back together. This seven year adventure, complete with abusive marriage, miscarriage, divorce, Gail’s dead daughter, losing 90 pounds, dating, moving ten fucking times in four years, and accidentally creating a secret identity at work has just worn me the fuck out.

passed out studying
My other graduation photo. It’s all about the lighting.

Not so sure these thoughts are worth your penny…

Scene: a dressing room. Insert intermittent laughter.
Me: “What size are these bras?”
Gail: “36 D’s and DD’s.”
Me: “You have enormous areolas.”
Gail: “That might make me self-conscious if I hadn’t had hundreds of men compliment them.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.”
Gail: “‘Ooooh, look. It’s a full moon.'”
Me: “Did any of them actually say that?”
Gail: “No. But who do you think would?”
Me: “Cam. Definitely Cam.”
Gail: uncontrollable agreeing laughter
Me: “Do you ever lick your own nipples during sex?”
Gail: “No. I can’t reach them.”
Me: “Seriously? How?”

Only now do I realize that there were probably other people in the dressing room to hear that exchange. We tend to overshare.

I once sat quietly at the vet with tears endlessly rolling down my face. I lost three pets in a day years ago and blame myself (though the ex-husband with the matches might be a better target) and that day my Judybug was hurting and I couldn’t fix it. Gail rubbed her hand over my back as I tearfully joked about how we definitely looked like lovers. We decided we could pull off sisters, both being white and brunette, so we said it like 11 times when no one had asked. It was super convincing. We should be spies. Codenames: Flamingo and Whore.

sexy flamingo whore costume

When I was 5 years old, my grandpa died of lung cancer. I thought it would be a nice idea if we just propped his body up and pretended he was still alive. I think I suggested it, because someone told me it was illegal. I decided I’d hide him in the hamper, because that’s where I hid during hide-and-go-seek. Gail hears super-human skills for denial at a young age in this story. I hear the tale of a selfless child who would break the law and give up her favorite hiding place to keep her grandpa near.

I have three different customers who look astoundingly like Levar Burton, Vincent Van Gogh, and a chihuahua. I want to tell them so, terribly. I don’t. None of those are compliments. I kind of want to hum the Reading Rainbow theme song just to see if he joins in enthusiastically. I get told I look like Velma from Scooby Doo all the time. I’d be thrilled to hear someone randomly exclaim “JINKIES!”

A coworker once yanked my Kindle from in front of me (THE HORROR!!!!!) to look at the print, exclaiming “Wow, I wish I could read print that small!” I don’t. I had an explicit sex scene on the screen at that very moment. We’re talking key terms like “errection” and “tight sheath.” I once tried to show the same coworker a picture on my phone, only to have forgotten about the picture of Black lesbian sex I’d sent one of the guys as a joke. Let’s hope she couldn’t see a thumbnail picture that small either.

A woman recently declared that her son did not have a library card, though it was in her name and had the correct birthdate. I tried to suggest a situation in which someone may have used her name.

Me: “I really don’t know. It may have been an aunt or maybe dad’s girlfriend or something.”
Customer: defensively “Okay. I am dad’s girlfriend.”

She was clarifying that she was indeed with the father of her children. I understand that I work in a lower income, highly diverse area, but this was not a sterotype. I suggested two random situations we’ve had repeatedly. I did not say “I don’t know. Why don’t you axe yo’ baby daddy?”, though the look on her face said differently. I can try with all my might to be P.C., but people have really got to try and meet in the middle by not taking everything so damned personally.

When I was married, I would ask my ex-husband to clean, since he wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t do it no matter the methods I used (leaving him alone, nagging him, screaming at him, encouraging him) so I’d do it myself. Then, he’d grab the trashbags from my hands yelling that I never gave him the chance and was just manipulating him. I just wanted a clean fucking house. For the longest time, after the divorce, my house was spotless. Today it’s clean enough, but clothes are scattered everywhere. I think it’s a sign that I’m healing. Then again, I went to sleep cradling my gun in its sock like a stuffed animal a week ago. Maybe not. LOL my pain!

Coworker C was trying to be friendly last night as I read a paranormal romance book. I’ve shared this interest with a couple of the female employees, but that’s all. I’d just finished another and he asked:

Cowork C: “What’s the name of that one?”
Me: “I don’t even know.” I did fucking, too. It was Pleasures of a Dark Prince and I was not saying that.
Coworker C: gestures for me to turn it over. I do and there’s a receipt taped to the front so no one can see the cover art.
Me: “I just… uh… it’s part of of… um… it’s just some series… the uh… dark immortals… or immortals dark… or uh something… um Immortals After Dark. Yeah that’s it. It’s paranormal romance. Not something you’d be interested in.”

It was the verbal equivalent of tripping over a chair and I rocked it.

I’m sorry I ate your Christmas candy, but I’m joining the Marines.

If you’ve spent five minutes either with me or reading my blog, you know I’m wound as tightly as a fucking slinky, when it comes to school… and lots of other stuff.

Yesterday was the last day to substitute teach before Chirstmas break and the end of my three week Perpetual Work and Homework Kill Fest. It was also the day I awaited the opinion of my professor on the first essay I wrote for my Directed Reading course, which focuses on preparing me for my re-Portfolio.

So, I anxiously substituted 6th graders who were super mega-on-crack excited that Christmas break was coming. Their teacher received several Christmas gifts, which I paid little notice and set to the side. I glanced at the ziplock bag with chocolate in it and wasn’t even sure what it was.

The day wore on. I checked my e-mail. I checked my e-mail through the internet instead of the app, in case all apps were broken. I checked to make sure my original message had sent. I made sure my follow-up “I really did try to find more supplementary literature” e-mails had sent. Yes. That was plural. I re- read my essay. I re-searched for supplementary literature and verified that it wasn’t available. Then the third class of the day hit.

Student: “That candy’s probably going to go bad. Are you going to eat it?”
Me: laughing “I’m not going to eat your teacher’s candy.”

Is that chocolate covered peanut brittle? I didn’t even know that was a thing. I guess it makes sense. It sounds good. Well. Maybe just one piece. It’s not like she’s going to notice.

So I did it. I stole one piece.

I checked my e-mail again. I read my book, which was about a woman who was an ex-marine. I say that as if it wasn’t just more werewolf porn with  a tertiary plot, so you’ll think I read deep literature.

Text Message
11:33 Me: My professor has had 13 hours to read and respond to my essay. I so failed it and will never be a librarian.

Perhaps she hasn’t read it. No, no. She always responds early. Likelier, she’s grading it. If it’s taking that long, she must be pretty unhappy with it. Oh, God. What if she hates it? I didn’t find any supplementary literature. But there wasn’t any! Maybe there was. Maybe I’m just implementing poor searching tactics. That’s what a librarian is fucking FOR and I can’t find anything?!?!?

I quietly comforted myself with a miniscule piece of peanut brittle.

Text Message
11:41 Me: She so thinks I’m an idiot with no knowledge of information theory.

Oh, God. What if she’s trying to properly phrase her e-mail explaining that I’m really just not cut out for this and should probably consider another career path? What if she wants to give me my rejection over the phone?!?! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. What would I do? I could teach. Teacher’s do get Christmas candy. This peanut brittle is really good. I wonder if I could make peanut brittle. I’d likely end up in the E.R. and I can’t afford that. I only have healthy insurance for son long, though. May as well try now. Oh my god, what if I can’t be a librarian?!?!?! I won’t have healthy insurance, either! I could join the military. I could make a career out of that. I already own guns.

11:42 Me: Oh my gosh, I’m making myself sick over this.

But we’re at war. What if I join the military and I get hurt in some kind of fire fight? I don’t even know what a fire fight is, but I read it in that book and it sounded really bad, like it involved flame throwers. I doubt that’s the case, though. It’s a little irrational to assume the U.S. military employs flame throwers. I doubt that would be a sanctioned fighting tactic. It probably wouldn’t be terribly effective. It could maim me, though. I could lose a leg or an ear or they could have to fashion me a new pair of lips from my groin skin. I wouldn’t even have a vagina anymore! You can’t have sex without a vagina. No one would ever date me or marry me and I would die alone!

12:08 Me: It’s been 13 and a half hours!
12:13 Gail: Chill! She is running late!

Summary: It’s been 13 and half hours since I sent my paper. I am legitimately concerned that this means I’ll lose my lips in a horrendous accident and therefore die alone.

Oh, my god, I’ve got to calm down. I’m going to throw up or cry and I’m working… sort of. Substituting is really undemanding. One more piece of candy won’t make any difference.

Another excruciating two hours passed, where I looked up several peanut brittle recipes, read a little, and was just about to Google the U.S. Marines requirements. Ha. Like I could pass the psych tests? I noticed I had an e-mail. It simply announced that her comments were attached, along with the suggestion for my next paper. No encouragement, no defecation. The attachment, however, began with “Well done!”

Oh, fuck. She’s using the sandwich method. She’s going to offer a compliment and then criticism and then another compliment. This is bad.

Gail: mocking me “You have really nice hair. You should never be a librarian. I really like how into your computer you are.”

One: that was an odd compliment, there, Gail. Two: I was wrong, of course. She loved the paper and appreciated the literature I did include. There was no criticism at all, just a few recommendations for databases I could search next time. Finally, I could breathe easy and enjoy my piece of peanut brittle.

Fuck. I just ate 3/4 of her candy. It’s really unlikely this teacher is going to think a student left her 3 pieces of peanut brittle. Should I throw it away? No. Then she won’t thank the student. It doesn’t say who brought it to her, though. But what if they ask her about it? She’s probably not going to notice how little is in there. Besides. Her name wasn’t on it. I mean really. It’s unlikely she’ll notice and more unlikely she’d blame me, because who the fuck eats someone else’s Christmas candy!?!?! Maybe I could leave her a note saying there was some, but I spilled soda on it. Maybe I could make her more and sneak it in here on the first day back.

Gail: “Okay. If you just happened by and saw this bag, would you think it was new or that someone had been snacking on it?”
…..

…..

…..

Me: “Yeah… I should’ve just taken it.”

I did, indeed try to make peanut brittle.

becca convo
When it turned out poorly, I put it in bags and gave it as gifts to coworkers. I may as well get a pat on the back for the consideration behind my crap cooking skills. It was so chewy, you had to pick it off your teeth. My gums are literally still bleeding.

peanut brittle

My coworkers won’t be getting any of my second batch. I suppose they won’t be taking my vagina away just yet. At least not before my military fire fight days.