Adjustment Anxiety

I am now over a month past my last day at my job. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time adjusting to things at first. Two days after my last day both of my kids came home for the holidays. We then had Christmas and New Year’s to distract me. My son went back to his house, but my daughter was still home. My afternoons were reserved for watching TV with her. I just had a few hours in the morning to fill and then I was good. She moved back to her apartment Thursday night. Friday I picked books up at the library and drove around dropping late gifts on friends’ porches. Saturday we finally took the tree down and vacuumed. Sunday I cleaned bathrooms and watched the football games. Then came Monday and the first real test of our adjustment to the new reality. Here are some of what I’m struggling with this week.

Inadequacy

My plan for the interim between leaving my job and the eventuality of going back to work was to work on writing. Improve the blog, look for other writing opportunities, and try to see if there is a book in my jail experience. The blogging part is relatively easy. I’ve been doing that. I have a decent amount of readers. I never really expected to make money with it. The other two make me feel inadequate. I have written about 5000 words about working for the state prison system. Most of those over the past two days. I am going back over it today for editing and such and I know I will find that the writing is bad and simplistic and not good enough for more than a series of blog posts. I don’t feel like I’m good enough to even try to do any freelance work or write anything to submit to any sort of real publication or website. It makes me lean toward just trying to get another library job even if I would hate it. At least I know I can do it.

Guilt

I know I can’t fill up the entire day with writing. I start around 8AM or so, sometimes later if I sleep past 7. Even on a good day, I am pretty much done with any productive writing before noon. I eat lunch. I walk the dog. Today I will sweep and mop the kitchen. I still feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. I’m not making money, though technically I have a few more weeks before we reach the end of my vacation pay out so I’m not officially not making money yet. If I take a few minutes to read my book I feel like I’m wasting time and the guilt creeps in. When I get to the point in the afternoon when I feel like I can quit and watch TV until my wife is finished with work I feel like a slacker. If I’m not doing something that I think others will view as productive I get really stressed out and think I should have just stayed at my terrible job. I was miserable, but at least my time was somewhat productive.

Fear

Fear that when I do decide I need to get a job that I will be unable to find one. Fear that my family will see me as a disappointment. Fear that my wife will decide that a “retired” husband is not making her happy. Feat that I will eventually be doing this alone. Fear that I have hurt us more financially than I expected. Fear that I’ve made a terrible mistake and that everyone is judging me harshly for it. Fear that I will never figure things out and I will feel like this forever.

Depression

I spend a lot of time alone now. I wake up early and go downstairs. My wife works upstairs with the door closed. I only interrupt her if it is very important. I don’t talk to another human for 12 hours. Add this alone time to the feelings of guilt, inadequacy and fear and it does not make for happy times.

It is a big adjustment. I judge myself harshly for not being what I think others would consider productive and then assume everyone is is judging me harshly. I need to find some sort of regular volunteer work to do so I get out of the house to do something at least once a week. I spend way too much time alone with my thoughts and it leads to bad places.

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Politics and the Vaccine

I was going to avoid this topic, but since it is mostly what is in my head this morning, here we go. I will begin by saying that I am on the very bottom of the list of who will get the vaccine. It makes sense. I don’t have to leave the house to work. I’m 52 years old and relatively healthy. Even when I did go to work, I didn’t work with the public. I worked in a building with a small group of people with masks and distancing with an administration who has no plans to open to the public until the virus is gone. None of this is about me wanting to jump the line(though I would get the shot today if someone offered it to me). I’m not mad at the people who are getting the vaccine. You should definitely get it when it is offered.

I am tired of all of the politics involved in all of this. Constant fighting over who should be first in line. People in certain professions declaring that they should be considered essential. Pushing and shoving and shouting about being more important than others so you can get the shot first. Local jurisdictions complaining that the state won’t give them enough vaccines while the state complains that the feds are giving them enough vaccines while the feds are justifying a very low vaccination goal that is basically status quo. If we are depending on politicians to save us we are all doomed.

If we base vaccinations on what jobs are declared essential we are saying industries with the most powerful lobby get to jump the line. My former industry very loudly say they are essential during funding, then very loudly said they weren’t essential when it came to opening during the pandemic and now are very loudly proclaiming they are essential again now that they want the vaccine. Can we have a rule that if you closed to the public in March and never even considered reopening regardless of the numbers that you have sacrificed your claim to essential? Especially when you even refused to consider curbside pick up of printing or any expansion of services past online programs and curbside pickup of books? Now, this might all be bitterness about how all of the issues I dealt with while there were ignored and swept under the rug. It might be me being mad that I would leave a job because of the issues and thus sacrificed a chance at a vaccination. I think most people would agree, though, that if you don’t actually work with the public and have no plan to work with the public any time soon you should not be jumping the line for the vaccine. This issue is also highlighted by the situation in Fairfax County, VA where the teachers all signed up to be first for the vaccine but then saif they still wouldn’t go back to work until kids can be vaccinated. Despicable.

If we depend on politics some of us are doomed by having a governor who is positioning himself to run for president and a county executive who is positioning himself to run for governor. The day our governor scheduled a press conference to say he was opening the vaccinations to 75 and up my county executive made a big pronouncement ahead of time that he wasn’t waiting for the state and that he was opening up vaccinations to 75 up in our county. It is obvious he knew what was coming and wanted to look like the savior. Now, today, the governor has scheduled a 2pm press conference to talk about vaccinations and my county executive has scheduled one for 11am. Probably more of the same. Our vaccination pace sucks and everyone is playing political games instead of working together to speed up the process.

The vaccine schedule should have been health care workers and first responders and then all age based. Moving down the age scale as supply allows. If you don’t have enough 75 ups one day to fill the appointments, don’t old he doses waiting for them. Call 65 ups until the slots are filled. Doses should not be on the shelf while you wait for the “right people” to sign up to get the shots. Move the vaccinations away from health departments and hospitals and into places in neighborhoods where people go to get the flu shot. It shouldn’t take people hours to figure out where to go to sign up for a vaccination. Government run vaccinations should be at mass vaccination sites run by FEMA and the military and open long hours 7 days a week. Covid doesn’t take weekends off, neither should we.

We need to stop playing politics and start worrying about saving lives.

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ALA Youth Media Awards

I just watched the presentation of the ALA Youth Media Awards. I had a pen and notebook and jotted down the titles even though I knew I would be able to get the list online as soon as it was over. Sometimes I’m very old. I focused on the books for teens, because back before I was an unemployed slacker I did a lot of work in teen literature. I was hoping I would have more to say about the winners, but I have read few on the list. Here are some highlights:

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. – This Light Between Us written by Andrew Fukuda

The Sydney Taylor Book Award – “Dancing at the Pity Party,” written and illustrated by Tyler Feder. The honor book for teens in this category was “They Went Left” by Monica Hesse. That is significant for me as Hesse is a columnist for the Washington Post who I read regularly.

Schneider Family Book Award – “This Is My Brain in Love,” written by I.W. Gregorio

Stonewall Book Award – “We Are Little Feminists: Families,” written by Archaa Shrivastav

Coretta Scott King Author Award – “Before the Ever After,” written by Jacqueline Woodson – I love Woodson and have had the opportunity to hear her speak in person. One of the honor books was “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come,” written by Mildred D. Taylor. This is a continuation of the story of the Logan family. I love her books. I was lucky and got an ARC of it way back last summer at a conference.

Alex Awards – This is usually y favorite award. Is is for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. I always find some favorites from this list. I’ve read one of this year’s already.

“Black Sun,” by Rebecca Roanhorse – I read this one. It was a slow start, but I’ve loved Roanhorse’s other books so I gave it some time and ended up enjoying the story. I will read the next in the series. Other people said they were hooked from the start.

“The House in the Cerulean Sea,” by TJ Klune

“The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone,” by Colin O’Brady

“Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio,” by Derf Backderf

“The Kids Are Gonna Ask,” by Gretchen Anthony

“The Only Good Indians,” by Stephen Graham Jones

“Plain Bad Heroines,” by emily m. danforth

“Riot Baby,” by Tochi Onyebuchi

“Solutions and Other Problems,” by Allie Brosh

“We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel,” by Quan Barry

William C. Morris Award – “If These Wings Could Fly,” written by Kyrie McCauley. I have read one of the honor books, The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed and enjoyed it.

John Newbery Medal – “When You Trap a Tiger,” written by Tae Keller. This award is hit or miss for me based on the lower age range. I usually at least look at the book, but since I no longer work at a library I will probably skip it this year.

Randolph Caldecott Medal – “We Are Water Protectors,” illustrated by Michaela Goade. This is the award for picture books. Again, if I was working I would look at it. Now, probably not.

Michael L. Printz Award – I am listing the honor books and the winner here since this is the bog award for someone like me who reads a lot of teen literature.

Honor books:

“Apple (Skin to the Core),” by Eric Gansworth – I’ve read two books by Gansworth. One I liked, one I thought was a little slow. This one appears to be a memoir in verse. We will see.

“Dragon Hoops,” created by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien – Love Yang’s work. I’ve also had a chance to meet him. Looking forward to this one.

“Every Body Looking,” by Candice Iloh – not familiar with the book or the author.

“We Are Not Free,” by Traci Chee – same as above.

Winner: “Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story),” by Daniel Nayeri – Also not aware of this one before today.

The best thing about not knowing a lot of the books on the list is that I now have a large number of requests in at the library and will not struggle to figure out what to read next.

If you want to see the entire list you can find that here.

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Tater and the Case of the Mysterious Beep

I am awaiting the start of the annual Youth Media Awards where they will announce the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and other awards. I will likely post here later with thoughts on any of the ones I might have read. In the meantime, here is a dumb little story of my morning yesterday.

Thanks to the dog, I was downstairs early yesterday. I read the newspaper and had some coffee. I did my regular morning word puzzles on my apps. I wrote my “What’s Good” post. I then started my new episode of Blue Bloods I had recorded Friday night. As I was watching I started to notice an intermittent soft beep. At first, it was not very loud and not very often, so I ignored it. Eventually, it got louder and more frequent. I decided I could no longer ignore it, so I went off on my quest to find the culprit and stop it.

The beep was the typical one you hear when a smoke detector battery needs to be replaced. It sounded like it was coming from upstairs, so I headed up to take a listen. I first thought it was coming from the master bedroom, so I started there. I stood under the alarm waiting for the beep to confirm. It sounded too far away to be that one, so I went to my son’s bedroom. Same thing happened. I tried my daughter’s room. Same results. Close, but no cigar. Out of options upstairs, I headed back down. I checked the basement. I checked the kitchen and the office. Still no luck. It had to be upstairs.

I went back up. I got a chair to stand on so I could be closer to the alarms. I was sure it was my daughter’s room but when I went to take it down to replace the battery, the beep sounded again. It was obvious it wasn’t the one in my hand. I was frustrated. I was muttering to myself. I was annoying my wife who was still trying to sleep. I gave up, but the beep was now incessant and driving me crazy. I had to find it.

My wife got up to help so I would shut up and leave her alone. As I walked past her to check another room I noticed the carbon monoxide alarm had been unplugged and went to plug it back in. As I picked it up it beeped in my hand. I couldn’t find the beep because I was looking up the entire time and it was coming from below and an alarm I never even considered. I replaced the batteries and the beep was finally gone.

What’s Good in Tater Town 1/24/20

This past week was the last week before my daughter moved back to her apartment near campus. Now I won’t have her being around to excuse my not being productive. I’m sure I can find new excuses. Let’s look at the good.

  1. Dinner with both kids Monday night.
  2. Nice enough weather for a walk every day.
  3. Steak and Shake for dinner one night.
  4. Free coffee at Dunkin.
  5. We got our daughter back to her apartment with no issues.
  6. While I’m sad she’s gone I’m happy she is back where she can see her friends.
  7. Our blinds were finally installed Friday morning.
  8. I got out of the house Friday to deliver late gifts to friends.
  9. One friend saw me delivering the gift so I talked to someone not in my family in person for the first time since I left work.
  10. I used my Starbucks gift card on the way home.
  11. Kentucky basketball actually won a game yesterday.

Turned it all the way up to 11 this week.

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Outstanding Blogger Award

Many thanks for Pepper Valentine for nominating me for the Outstanding Blogger Award here. Its nice to be recognized by other bloggers. You should go read her blog. Its a good one. So, here’s my response post.

The Rules:

1. Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.

2. Answer the questions provided.

3. Create 7 unique questions.

4. Nominate up to 10 bloggers.

5. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination.

6. Now let’s continue to support and cheer each other throughout 2021 for the Outstanding Blogger Award!

Questions by Pepper Valentine

1. Tell us your 2021 goals for your blog. My 2021 goal for my blog is to post at least 4 times a week. I would love to have content Sunday through Friday, but I’m not going to force it. I would like to increase the number of people reading.

2. How do you plan on implementing your goals for your blog in 2021? Plan more. Less writing whatever pops in my head in the morning and more writing planned, well thought out posts. Be more active in commenting on other blogs. Be better at Twitter.

3. What inspires you to write your blogs? I generally write what is in my head in the morning when I open my laptop in the morning. It has trended more toward my personal life recently. My life is pretty boring these days, so I will have to find inspiration elsewhere.

4. Why did you begin your blog? I was working alone at the jail and social media was a way for me to not feel so alone. I had done a boring work blog for a training and decided I should try to do more. At the time I started it long, long time ago I thought I might blog about library stuff but figured out pretty quick that it would probably be a mistake to write about library stuff given where I worked. I saw trouble and didn’t want any of that. I actually wrote about why I started blogging over 10 years ago here.

5. What have you learned about yourself in writing your blogs?  I have to learn patience in my writing and editing the same way I need to learn patience in my real life. People actually want to read what I have to say. I worry too much about stats.

6. What would you change about your blog? Better editing. Add more images to my posts. Be better about writing real reviews of books, TV and movies.

7. How do you feel about collaborating on your blog? I would welcome collaboration. I don’t really know how all of that works. I’m not sure why anyone would want me to write for them. I’m sure anyone could do better on my blog than me.

I am leaving the same 7 questions for my nominees because I’m lazy.

I’m going to list the blogs I read regularly. If you want to take this as a nomination and answer the questions, great. If not, I hope you at least get a couple of new readers from being on the list.

I’m sure there are many more I missed. Apologies.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 1/22/20

This was the last week with my daughter home from college. She moved back to her apartment last night. My TV viewing will now change from what I watch with her to figuring out what to watch alone until my wife finishes work. Here is my last week in viewing and reading.

Movies – I watched Bill & Ted Face the Music. I was worried that it had been too long since I had watched the original that I would be lost in this one. Basically, though, all you have to know is that they were told they would write a song that would unite the world. I enjoyed the movie. Keanu Reeve and Alex Winter stepped back into the roles perfectly. The daughters were cast perfectly. It was funny and the perfect length for a movie like this. Two tater thumbs up.

TV – I watched Survivor Pearl Islands with my daughter. It was one of the old seasons with iconic survivors that fell in the time I was not watching. I enjoyed the season. It’s fun going back and watching old seasons of Survivor and Amazing Race. I also got drawn into the Great British Baking Show. My wife and daughter were watching season 9 after I went to bed at night. One night I said I was going to doze on the couch while they watched instead of going up to bed. I got drawn into the episode and then stayed up every night watching the rest of the season. I really liked the contestants on this season and don’t know if I would have been drawn in if I watched a different season. I feel like I need to go back and watch the old hosts and judges since my daughter says they were better. We watched the first episode of the new Walker, Texas Ranger last night. I enjoyed it. I think it will be a littler deeper than the Chuck Norris version.

Books – I finished two books this week:

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon – A YA book that is a companion to another book I read by her. Pinky is tied of her parents thinking she always makes bad decision, especially when it comes to boyfriends. When she hears that Samir’s internship in DC was canceled she asks him to come to her summer house to be her fake boyfriend. Of course, the opposites attract and fall in love. If you like teen romances, you should read Menon. They are very good.

The Shadows by Alex North – When Paul was a teenager, his former friends are involved in a murder. One teen is dead. One is arrested and one, Charlie, has vanished. Years later, as an adult, Paul returns to town to see his dying mother at the same time a detective comes to town to investigate a copycat crime. Strange things start happening around Paul and more people are murdered. Is it possible Charlie is still alive? This one was very good. A twist I didn’t see coming. Creepy. Tense. The perfect murder book

On Deck – I will have The New Mutants on DVD. We might watch Outside the Wire and Netflix. I still need to find a TV show to watch alone. I just can’t decide if it should be a comedy or something else. I am reading Deadly Cross by James Patterson because I have decided I will keep going even though they tend to annoy me know. They are nice, quick reads.

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Sometimes I Think I’m Psychic

I will start by saying I don’t really think I’m psychic. I did, though, have another moment last week when the thought crossed my mind. I have had a few times in my life when I’ve had strong feeling about something that eventually turned out to be true. Some examples:

When I was accepted to the University of Kentucky I was given a date to go to campus for an orientation and class selection. I did not have a car or a driver’s license at that time. No one in my house had a driver’s license. I needed to figure out how to get there. My brother in law ended up taking me, but before that I had a overwhelming sense that I should call one of my friends who was also going to school there. It made no sense to me because they were supposed to go a different weekend. I couldn’t shake the feeling, so I called their house. No one answered so I left it. When I got to campus I saw my friend there. If I had made more of an effort to reach them I would have had my ride.

Multiple times in college I would be walking to class and the thought would cross my mind that I was wasting my time because class was canceled . I would then get to the classroom to find a note on the board that class was canceled.

One night in my dorm freshman year with a voice in my head screaming to lock the door to my dorm room. I had no reason to think my door was unlocked. It was. My roommate had gone out late and left the door unlocked. I can’t say something bad would have happened if I had not locked the door, but I’m glad I didn’t find out.

So many times I have a song in my head in the morning and it is on the radio when I start my cat.

A few times that I’ve had a strong feeling to do something and by doing that discovered some information that I didn’t know was there or needed.

The latest one was last week. My wife was in Kentucky with her mom She was due home Friday night. I was slowly getting the house clean for her arrival and was planning to vacuum Friday morning. Thursday afternoon I kept thinking I should vacuum now because she was going to surprise us by coming home early. I dismissed it and didn’t do it. I called her at some point because I couldn’t find something and she told me she was on the way home and would be here in an hour.

Anyone else out there have these weird moments when it seems you know things you shouldn’t know?

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Inauguration Day

Four years ago I wrote about inauguration day. I wrote about looking for hope even if you didn’t like the person being inaugurated. I think the last four years have been even more disastrous than I expected. The news has been worse and worse as the yeas have gone by, ending in the midst of a pandemic.

Looking back at my post from four years ago I see I had too much faith in other politicians. I should have known better. No one stepped up, No one in the president’s party spoke up against him until it was basically over. Politicians did what politicians always do – care more about power and reelection than the people they represent. It also seems hard to think about finding hope in each other. Try to remember that there is much more good than bad out there. The bad gets all the press, but the good is out there. Continue to find hope in the thought that our children can make the world a better place than we have left it. We can still work to become the hope in the world. Spend more time working to make the world better for others instead of arguing with each other on Facebook. Volunteer. March when necessary. Be a light in the darkness.

Today is a day of hope for the future.

We have a new president who is much more stable than what we have had for the past four years.

We have the possibility of leaders from both parties finding common ground.

We have hope that the vaccinations will ramp up and we will finally emerge from the darkness of the pandemic.

We have hope that we will go back to working with the rest of the world instead of distancing ourselves.

There will still be bad out there. Things won’t magically get better at noon today. We won’t magically live in utopia because of a change in leadership. The hope doesn’t fall completely on one man. The hope falls on all of us. Turn off the news. Stop arguing on social media. Start becoming the good you want to see.

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