Another Birthday Post

“Is he really writing a post about his birthday for a second year in a row?”

“How narcissistic is he?”

The answers to those questions are yes and very.

It is my birthday. I am 49. One year away from 50. What am I doing for my birthday? A whole lot of nothing. I’m off work for the next four days. Today I’m watching Everything Sucks on Netflix(pretty good so far) and getting one of my various free sandwiches I’ve received for signing up for emails from restaurants. At some point this weekend my son will come home and we will all go out to lunch. That’s about it. I’m not a very exciting person. Maybe next year for 50 someone will throw me a huge birthday bash(that would have to be me. No one else will do it).

Last year I talked about goals of being less boring. Instead I think I’m even more boring. This year I will make no proclamations. I will resign myself to being the same boring person I’ve aways been. I’m too old to change now.

So, feel free to send me gifts. I will now go about the business of having a boring birthday day.

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A Short Rant

The Youth Media Awards were announced this week. The book Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Award. I saw one person on Facebook comment that the one review of the book mentioned that the r word is used a lot in the book. I don’t now what review that was, but I found one on Amazon with the same complaint. Is the r word used in the book? Yes, but you have to look at context. It is used multiple times by the bully against a kid who goes to the resource room for special help. I know that we would rather not see the word, but if you are writing realistic fiction you have to be realistic. I guarantee you kids are still calling other kids retarded no matter how many times we tell them the word is hurtful. It is real for the bully to use the word. Nothing about the book makes it seem this is OK.

In the fall there was a big controversy over the book The Black Witch. There was a review online that pulled several racist comments out and used them to say the book was hurtful and should never have been published. People piled on and posted negative reviews on Goodreads without ever reading the book. I read the book. What they fail to comprehend is that those racist statements in the book were said by racist characters. Some were said by the main character, but the entire point of the book was to see the growth in a character who was raised to believe her race was superior only to realize how wrong that was once she goes to school with other races. Context matters. It was a very good book.

I keep seeing over and over again how books are being pulled from schools because parents complained about language or other content without thinking that this language and content is what makes the book real. Why do you want your kids to read sugar-coated realities? Why are we judging books on a few words instead of on the entire content of the book? Why can’t we read challenging and difficult stories anymore?

Also – there was another school shooting today. We seem to be more active in removing “dangerous” books from schools than we are in keeping actual danger out. Maybe we could fix that?

The Time I Talked to Bruce Pearl

Kentucky basketball is playing Auburn tomorrow night. Auburn is really good this year. Auburn is coached by Bruce Pearl. A little Bruce Pearl background for the non-sports people. Bruce Pearl was the coach at the University of Tennessee. While he was the coach he invited a recruit and his family to a cookout at his house while the recruit was on an unofficial visit. Pearl told people at the cookout that the recruit was not supposed to be there and asked them not to tell anyone. When the NCAA investigated the incident, Pearl lied about it. He eventually acknowledged that it happened and that he lied about it. He was fired by Tennessee and due to sanctions was not a coach for a period of time. While not coaching, he was an analyst for ESPN, but also Vice President of Marketing for Knoxville wholesaler H.T. Hackney.

His position at Hackney is where I come in to the picture. My brother works for a company in Kentucky that did business with H.T. Hackney. This put him in position to meet and work with Bruce Pearl. We stay at my brother’s house when we are visiting family in Kentucky. One year around Christmas we were at his house and he took a work related phone call. After the call he told me that it was Bruce Pearl who called. I told him he should have let me talk to him since I was a huge college basketball fan and always liked Pearl. My brother called him back and said that his brother was visiting, was a UK fan but also a fan of Pearl’s and wanted to talk to him. Pearl was happy to do so and I was handed the phone.

I would like to say that I wasn’t awkward and weird on the call, but honestly, I can’t remember much of what I actually said.  Pearl asked me what I thought about UK’s team that year and for my thoughts on their upcoming game against Louisville. He actually listened to my basketball analysis even though he was the one who was paid to do that. He was very nice and friendly and I was the one who eventually said that I should let him get back to work. He did not seem to be in a hurry to stop talking to the random guy who happened to be related to a work associate. I came away from the call very impressed with him and his willingness to spend time talking to me about basketball. I will now always be a fan(unless his team is playing UK)

While My Face is Numb…

I am home after a trip to the dentist. I am still partially numb. I had some gum lasered off and a tooth filled. I am afraid of what my mouth will feel like when I am no longer numb. I’m hoping it won’t be as bad as I think.  While I am killing time watching women’s luge some random thoughts that aren’t enough for a full post:

The 2018 Youth Media Awards were announced today. Click here to see the winners. I’ve read The Hate U Give and The Long Way Down. Both excellent books. I’ve checked the Newberry and the Printz winners out and will read them soon. I’ve placed holds on several of the Alex Award winners/ This is perfect timing as I was about to finish the last book I had from the library. I’m looking forward to some good reading.

I stopped at Target on the way home today but bought nothing. I stopped to look at some products like facial wash for men, beard balm, generally things that aren’t necessary but might make me feel a little better about myself. I looked at prices and didn’t buy anything because I wasn’t sure it was worth the money. Basically, that I am not worth the money. Some day I will learn to not walk away from buying something for myself. Today was not that day.

Continuing my bad sports year. Braves were bad. Ravens were bad. Kentucky basketball is bad. Libraries on the are where the Braves play might close, possibly because they wasted so much money on a stadium when the existing stadium was fine. I can take a bad team if they are lovable losers. I loved watching the bumbling Braves of the 80’s These teams are not lovable losers. It’s not fun to watch.

Now I’m off to walk the dog and hope that my face doesn’t start hurting. Happy Monday!

 

 

A Cluttered Mind

For the past week I have been dealing with a mind cluttered with pessimistic and negative thoughts. I can’t seem to shake them. The first couple of days of this they kept me awake at night. I’m finally sleeping again, but I’m still in a spiral. Since I can’t declutter my brain I have tried decluttering other things.

My email inbox at work is empty. I finally went through and deleted old emails I no longer need and sorted the ones I need to save in to folders. Now I just need to remember what folders I used. That might be a challenge. My goal is to continue to keep control of my inbox so emails I haven’t answered don’t get pushed down to the point that I forget they exist. I think I will be successful for about a month and then it will get out of control again.

I did the same for my desk. I went through all of the stuff on my desk and got rod of everything I didn’t need. I put papers in appropriate files and stored them away. I am enjoying my cleaner work environment and hope I can keep it this way.  I will likely be as successful at this as I am at the clean inbox task.

I’m hoping the uncluttered work environment will inspire my brain to unclutter itself. So far, that is not happening.  Until then I will keep listening to my really loud music to drown out the thoughts in my head.

Do you ever get in one of these funks? How do you deal with it? Any tips?

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Library Fight Club

As I promised in the last installment of “My Life as a Jailbrarian” today I will write about the fights I saw while working in the library. This is not going to be as exciting as it sounds. There were rarely fights in the library. I can really only remember two actual physical fights inside the library. There were numerous arguments that could have turned in to physical altercations had the officers not responded to my call and stopped it before it started, There were times that I was threatened, but that also never turned physical. I saw the aftermath of fights in other areas of the jail. I think the library had fewer fights because they didn’t want to lose library privileges. I had the law books, so they were nicer to me. So, now that I’ve told you that this post is boring – here are the two fights I remember.

The one common theme of both fights is that they started fast, with no warning. There were no arguments, no yelling, nothing that would indicate that something was about to happen. Just a sudden burst of violence.

Fight one was the oddest one. I was at my desk answering a question when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a chair raising up in the air. The library went from relative quiet to violence in the blink of an eye. People who had been sitting quietly were now in a physical altercation and one of them was about to go after the other one with a chair. I have no idea why or how it started. It’s possible that this was a continuation of an argument that happened in the housing unit. It’s possible there was a quiet argument I missed. All I know is that I had an inmate going after another one with a chair. Luckily, it was not my job to intervene. I called for officer assistance and they stopped it before anyone was injured.

The other fight also happened quickly, but I know the reason for behind it. The county jail is a co-ed facility. The library was one of the place in the jail where the female inmates were allowed to work.  At the time, I had a woman assigned to work in the library. Apparently, she was also writing notes to two different male inmates at the same time. These notes were not allowed, but they were passed all the time in a variety of ways.  One of the guys she was writing also had a job within the jail. One day he was cleaning the halls outside the library and the other guy was in the library looking at books.  I was at the desk helping someone find something in one of the law books. Suddenly, the guy cleaning the call charges in to the library and jumps the other guy. The officers arrived quickly again and broke up the fight before anything too extreme happened. It wasn’t until after the fight was over and I was cleaning up the library that I found the shank(homemade knife) that had been dropped when the officers arrived. Someone had been prepared to stab the other guy over a county jail pen pal.

That is the extent of real fights in the library. Not too exciting. There was plenty of yelling, plenty of me yelling over them to try to calm things down and plenty of times I felt the need to call the officers because it was past the point I felt I could intervene, but really only two real fights. It could have been much worse.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Life on the Inside Leads to Life Online

It’s been a while since I’ve written a “jailbrarian” post. It’s hard for me to decide where to start with my life in the county jail. As I mentioned in the last post, many days in jail are boring and uneventful and that is what you want. Boring and uneventful, coupled with the job being a very solitary job can make for a very long day.  At the beginning if my time as a jailbrarian I was in jail 8-4 four days a week. I only worked with other librarians one day a week. It was a very isolated life. There was also a lot of down time during periods when the inmates were locked down for count, lunch or emergency situations as well as times when only a couple of people attended library and sat and read magazines for an hour.  It was a small library, so tasks like shelving, weeding, etc didn’t take a lot of time.

All of this lead me to find ways to connect with other librarians, readers, and other random strangers. I joined email lists for librarians and book lovers. I joined one email list for book lovers that soon lead to me joining other outcasts in a new book lovers email list with fewer rules. This was The Book Barn and was my main escape from the monotony for a long time. I made several friends via the Barn and we are still friends today via Facebook. I even went to Pittsburgh for a weekend to meet some of them in person and survived. I joined bulletin boards, the best being the Christopher Moore board where I again made friends with whom I am still friends today.  I joined a site called FriendFeed that was eventually bought and killed by Facebook. It was my favorite social media site. There were a lot of librarians who posted regularly, so I felt more connected to the field.  It was perfect for actual conversation on a variety of topics. I’m still sad Facebook killed it. I did eventually join Facebook and Twitter as well, but they are not nearly as good as Friendeed. I actually started this blog with the thought that I would use it to post about library stuff, but decided early on that I didn’t really want to post about library stuff and also that I didn’t want to worry about what my employer thought about my thoughts on library stuff.

This may sound like I spent my time in jail doing everything but work, but I did all of this on breaks, at lunch and during times when I was watching two guys read magazines and couldn’t do anything else. It helped make a solitary librarian feel a little less alone.

Next time on My Life as a Jailbrarian perhaps I will talk about the handful of fights that occurred in the library.