Postus Interruptus

I was a few sentences in to a post this morning about feeling residual anxiety from a dream last night and how that is rare for me. I was already struggling to get the wording the way I wanted when there was a knock at the door. As I mentioned earlier in Destruction Day, are master bath is being renovated. The knock at the door was the person who is doing the renovation ready to start the day.  I am not going to attempt to restart the interrupted post(It wasn’t that great anyway) so instead I will just post some stray observations from my conference I attended last week:

I was spoiled that last two years at conference with multiple people from my system attending. I didn’t have to worry about eating alone or trying to join a random pub quiz team. This year went back to the old ways of me being one of only two non-admin employees at the conference. I did go to dinner once with people from work, but I had more times when I was eating alone. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about pub quiz. Two people from work showed up(including our new CEO) and I found people I played with last year.

I always struggle with mingling and networking at conferences. I’m really bad at it and, if given a choice, will eat alone if no friends are there and spend time alone in my room. This year, I made an attempt to spend more time actually talking to people instead. I’m not sure if those people appreciated me talking to them, but I feel good about my attempts to be a normal person.

I finally won a raffle in the vendor area after 20 some years of attending the conference. Multiple bottles of wine were won and then my ticket was drawn when they were giving away three childrens books. Even when I win, I am a loser.

Every time I leave the conference I feel like I’m ready to make a leap and do something new with my career. I never do. Even though I was better at talking to people this year I will not use it to try to move ahead in my career. I will continue to work for the same place in the same job until I retire. I do try to take back what I learn and use it in my job, so the conference does make me better at my job. I will never be the person who has the ability to use networking opportunities for career advancement.  So, sorry coworkers, you are stuck with me.

Is It Time to Jump?

I recently read For Every One by Jason Reynolds. It was very good and one of the messages of the book was to make the jump, whatever that might be. It even included the message that even if you are 50(I’m close) jump anyway.  I would love to be able to take his advice. I feel like there is a jump I need to take, but there are a few issues with this:

  1. Jump where? – It might be a midlife crisis. It might be stress over a few specific things that could be over soon. It might be any number of things, but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel less and less like I am where I should be in my life. The problem? I have no idea what a jump for me would be. Is it as simple as taking the time to find a new hobby or to try to write something more substantial than a blog post? Is it a little more involved and means thinking about a job change? Is it even more extreme and I look to changing careers? A scary thought at the age of 50, especially with some of the other reasons I will list below.
  2. College – In August, I will have two kids in college. One of them will be just starting and the other will be in the final semester of undergrad and then on to grad school. Two kids in college is not a time to make a jump. Two kids in college is time to be happy you have a good, steady job for the next 4-8 years.
  3. Retirement – I am almost 23 years in to my job and that means  I am just about 7 years away from the 30 years of service I need to retire. It seems pretty dumb to think about making a major life change this close to retirement. That would rule out the extreme of a total career change.
  4. Others – Making a jump is easy if you are the only one involved. Making a jump that would affect the life of others is not as easy. Even something as simple as a hobby or writing will affect those around me. It would mean more time away from home or alone in a room. A job change might mean a longer commute and a change in salary. All easier if jumping alone.  I would not be jumping alone.
  5. Fear of the unknown – I will admit that this is also a big one. I’ve been with the same employer for 23 years. The thought of going somewhere new is scary. The thought of going to a new career is even scarier.  Even if all of the above was not an issue, I would still hesitate to jump. I’m just not the jumping sort.

So, after all of this, I will likely not make a major jump. I might try the simple thing of trying to write when I am going to be home alone anyway. That will just mean sitting in a room away from the distraction of the TV and making an effort. It likely won’t go anywhere, but at least I will know that for sure. I likely will never have the courage to make the bigger jump and will instead focus on finding some peace with where I am. But, you should consider jumping if the desire is there.

The Retiring Type

I took the day off on Tuesday.  It was in the middle of what would have been my 7 day stretch at work. I’m old, tired and a little burned out and couldn’t deal with the thought of 7 days of work with no break. So, I did what I needed and took a break. This is unusual for me. I rarely just take a day off. I take vacations. I take time off at Christmas to spend time with family in Kentucky. I just don’t take time off otherwise. I rarely even call in sick. This time, though, I finally listened to my gut and took the day.

The problem with taking the day, though, is that it gave me a taste of what retirement will be. I had a day with nowhere I had to be. I went out in the morning to get gas and breakfast. I did a load of laundry. I did dishes. I watched DVR’ed TV shows. I went to the local library to return some books and for my daughter to browse. We watched a movie. It was a good day. Unfortunately, no one will pay me to stay at home, watch TV and post mediocre blog posts, so I have 7 years before this can be my normal life.

People think I’m weird for wanting to retire so early. They think I will be too young to retire when my actual retirement date arrives. I think I would rather retire when I am still young enough to enjoy it. I also feel like it is easier to retire when your identity is not completely tied in to your career. I generally like my job, but I don’t really feel like the essence of me is tied in to being a librarian. I could be a substitute teacher(and work only when I want to) and be just as content as I am now(am I ever content?) I would be happy to be home cleaning bathrooms and other housework all day.

I think it is more a “I don’t want anyone else to control my time” thing. I want to do something I enjoy without someone watching over me. I want to start and end when I want. I want to be in control of my own time. Since the odds of finding a job like that is low, I look ahead to retirement. Until that happens, I will need to learn to take a few more days for myself.

Some Short Wednesday Thoughts

I recently hit 200 followers on this blog. I would like to say welcome to the new followers and also I’m sorry for the inevitable disappointment you will feel when you read my posts regularly. There are some people I follow who start a blog and 6 months later they have a gazillion followers. I would like to meet all of these bloggers in person so I can punch them in the face.

I drove down to a local shopping center today to get lunch and buy a gallon of milk. Every single 4 way/all way/ 3 way stop was a practice in frustration as people sat and waited because no one knows how it works and so nobody drove. This includes the people who are coming in to the shopping center and are not supposed to stop. It’s really not that hard. Why don’t people know how to do this? I’m not sure what confuses people more a 4 way stop or a traffic circle. It is really annoying.

My library is about to announce who they have hired as our new CEO. I went to a meet and greet with the candidates where I talked to each of them in a group setting for 10 minutes. So, of course, I think I know exactly who they should hire. Why would I trust the people who have interviewed them all twice and have seen their resumes. My gut feeling is obviously better than actual work, right? I am trying to remind myself not to really think this way when they announce the CEO. I’m sure they will make the right choice regardless of who I liked best in a very causal, brief meeting(but I’m sure I’m right).

We upgraded our TV service recently and now I can record u to six shows at a time and twice as much can be saved as before. I know this seems excessive, but for someone like me who gets more excited about the network upfronts than they do the Oscars this is big. I can finally sample all of the random new shows that air without juggling my recording schedule. Maybe I will try writing a few reviews even though I suck at writing reviews.

That’s all for today. Happy Wednesday!

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.

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

I said in a comment yesterday that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. That’s not technically true. I want to be retired. That’s easy. I was asked if I had ever taken a career aptitude test, so I just took one. These are the jobs I was matched with  at last 4 stars with some thoughts on each.

our Top Matches

I have no musical talent, so while I might have the personality that fits being a musician, I do not have the skills.
Photo of Editor

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I can see this. I think I have the skills needed to be a decent editor. Now I just need someone to hire me.
Photo of Author

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I would love to be an author, but I don’t think I have it in me to write a book. I guess I could be a decent essay writer if I took the time to work on it.
Someone told me in college I should do this because I was a good listener. I did not listen to them and did not explore that career.
Photo of Journalist

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I think this one fits my writing skills more. I took a journalism class in college but did not pursue the career.
Photo of Copywriter

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I’m not sure what a copywriter does. I should probably find out.
Photo of Blogger

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I am already an unpaid one of these. Anyone want to pay me to do this?
Photo of Sociologist

SOCIAL SCIENCES
I did take some sociology classes in college and liked them. I could see this being a good fit.
Photo of Proofreader

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I’m really bad at proofing my own blog posts. I’m not sure this would work.
Interesting that librarian was way down the list as a three star match. I’m not looking for a career change. I’m too close to retirement for that. Maybe I should have done this when I was stuck in jail for 19 years.

College…Or Not

I recently read this article in the Washington Post –

Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees

A Trump supporter explains rising conservative anger at American universities.

I don’t agree with the people quoted that colleges are brainwashing young adults and turning them into liberal elites, but I do agree with the premise that college is not for everyone. Some people should not go to college and that’s OK. Some people should go to college and that is also OK.

I am the only one of my siblings to graduate from college. It doesn’t make me better than them. It doesn’t make me smarter than them(that happened naturally). I am better looking than them, but college had nothing to do with that. I needed to go to college to get where I needed to be in life.  They didn’t need to go to college to get where they needed to be in life. Both situations are fine. We did what was best for us. That’s what everyone should do.

Both of my kids will attend college. I hope they will both graduate. They have aspirations for careers that require a college education and the aptitude to be successful in college. Some kids have aspire to careers where a degree is not necessary. Some kids are not in a place where they would be successful in college. This is all OK.  I think everyone deserves a chance to go to college. I think we should continue funding for grants to help those in need attend college. I just don’t think everyone should go to college.

We need people to become tradesmen. We still need plumbers, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, etc. These are good jobs. These are good jobs that do not require a college degree. Unfortunately, these are becoming jobs that are considered “lesser” and parents try to push kids away from them and into college. There is no shame in these jobs. We should stop trying to force kids into college just because we have all decided that everyone needs a college education.

We should let kids go in the direction that will allow them the most success. Why pressure a kid into college if that is not where they will be successful? Why not guide kids toward the path in life that is best for them instead of the path that makes the parents feel good about themselves?

 

Living With a Ghost

There was a line in Grey’s Anatomy this week that prompted this post. I can’t recall exactly how it was phrased but the character says he “doesn’t want to live with a ghost — who he might have been if he had been brave enough to try.” That line struck a chord with me because I feel like that describes me in some way.

When I went away to college I went in thinking I wanted to be a teacher. I started on that track from the beginning of my college career and only once did I consider anything else. I took a journalism class with the thought of possibly changing my major. I liked the class, but I took the easy path of sticking with my major I chose as a high school kid. I muddled through my education classes and then when I actually went to the classroom, I realized I hated teaching. My advisor saw that and advised that I change my major. I was working at the university library at the time and enjoyed it. It seemed the easy thing to do was to follow my advisor’s advice and work toward an MLS. I changed my major to communications and worked toward a BS for the sole purpose of going to graduate school for the MLS. I really enjoyed my communications classes. I mostly took classes in small group and mass communications. I especially liked my mass communication classes. I should have considered moving forward in that field, but, once again, I had tunnel vision and went straight on to the MLS program after graduation. While getting my master’s, I worked at a market research firm. I was very good at my job. I didn’t, however, consider that as a career either. I stayed focused on the library thing and when we moved to Maryland I applied for multiple library jobs. Now, here I am 23 years later working in a library in Maryland.

I don’t hate being a librarian. I like my job and I’m at the very least adequate at doing said job(most of the time) but I think a lot of my dissatisfaction over the years has been the side effect of living with that ghost. The ghost of Alan who didn’t go into college with an open mind. The ghost of Alan who didn’t at least take a 2nd journalism class. The ghost of Alan who didn’t consider a career in communications. The ghost of Alan who didn’t look in to market research careers in Maryland. The ghost of Alan who would never attempt to write more than a mediocre blog post. The ghost of Alan who has always done what is easy and safe.

I like my life. I just feel like I missed out on some opportunities by playing it safe. Learn a lesson from me. Don’t spend your life living with a ghost.

Tater’s Weekly Wrap Up 9/1/17

Dogs – I have a dog. I love my dog, but I don’t need to take my dog everywhere with me. I don’t understand why people want to take their dogs everywhere. There are dogs in bars, dogs at outdoor concerts, dogs on vacation and even a Ravens football practice where bringing your dog was encouraged. Why are we doing this? I barely want to take my kids places with me and I don’t have to pick up their poop with a plastic bag. Why would I want to take my dog? I don’t get it.

FLOTUS’s Shoes – I don’t care what shoes the First Lady chose to wear while walking from the White House to the plane to fly to Texas. I’m not a fan of Trump and think he is a disaster as president, but this need to pick on everything his family does is ridiculous. The shoes she wore on the plane mean absolutely nothing. There was an entire article about it in the Post. That’s really, really stupid. I know horrible people said horrible things about the Obama family when he was in office. That does not make it right to pick on the Trump family at all. Take the high road when it comes to the family.

Customer Service – Two instances this week of really bad customer service. My daughter and her friends went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. The person at the window was not very friendly and when they got home they discovered that the box for the chicken nuggets was filled with tartar sauce packages instead of food. They had to go back to get the nuggets and apparently got free apple pies in apology. Had I been there, the entire order would have been refunded. I’m also once again dealing with poor delivery service with the Washington Post. I still like to read the print edition, but will likely switch to digital because the carrier does not care if I get my paper on time. Delivery is getting more and more inconsistent lately. This happened last year and no one cared until I tracked down the head of customer care on Twitter. Once he was involved it got better. It looks like I might need to talk to him again. Good customer service can be hard to find.

Mini-Career Rant – I managed a one person branch of a library for 19 years. It was in jail, but I still managed it. I did all of the day today, supervised volunteers(inmates) and purchased the collection. No one seems to consider that real management because I didn’t officially supervise a staff and didn’t write evaluations. Somehow writing evaluation is now equated with management and leadership. You can teach anyone to write a decent evaluation. Real leadership is much harder.