My Life as a Jailbrarian: Prologue

After talking recently about my time as a jail librarian I have decided to do an occasional post with some stories about my life in jail. This prologue is not a jail story. It is the story of how I ended up in jail in the first place.

I was living in Cincinnati, working at a market research firm and had just finished going to school at night to complete my MLS(Master of Library Science) degree when we got the official word that my wife would be transferred to Washington DC.   We knew it was coming. I didn’t think it would happen that fast.  As the move got closer, I started applying for jobs in the DC area. I had one really good phone interview while still in Cincy that, unfortunately, did not result in a job. A few days before the scheduled move I got a call to schedule an interview with DC Public Library so I headed east a few days ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this meant being extremely tired and possibly ill from eating bad road food when I arrived at the interview. My boss at my old job said that the DC people broke the rules and asked her about my health. I looked that bad. Needless to say, I did not get that job.

Once we were officially residents of the DC area I started sending resumes to every local library I could find. I hit the road and personally visited the HR departments of both public and academic libraries.  One public library system actually sent my resume back to me stamped rejected and accompanied by a letter saying they do not accept unsolicited resumes. This system will appear again in later posts. That was fun. I rode the Metro around DC to the colleges there. I was on my way to Howard University one day. I got off the Metro and asked a woman who was headed to work at the hospital for directions. Along with the directions, she also gave me advice for walking through the neighborhood: walk quickly, don’t make eye contact and run if you hear gunshots. I never made it to Howard. As soon as we parted company I went right back to the Metro station and went back home.

I eventually signed on with a temp agency that works with librarians. I worked for a week at a fancy law firm near the White House. I enjoyed eating my lunch in the park with a view of the White House. I worked for a week at the World Bank. I have no memory of anything I did there. I remember being bored. I was also still applying for every job opening I saw. I eventually was called in for an interview with the state of Maryland. It was at the Department of Education working with Correctional Education as a technical librarian. I was offered the job. It was only a contract position, but it was better than temping, so I accepted. The same week I received a call from the temp agency. They had a job for me that could turn in to a permanent position.  I turned it down because I felt a guaranteed position was better than a possible permanent position. I have no idea where the other job was. I made the decision to go with the job with the state without details on the possible other job. This decision led to my 20 year jail sentence. Sometimes I regret making that decision.

Next installment:  A Visit to the Big House

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Tater’s Monday Musings

  • I read two different books over the weekend that were written when the author was a teenager. If you ever want to feel even more like a failure, spend the weekend being reminded of people who have achieved more than you before they are out of their teens.  Sure, I have a good job and I now have a title, but I’m pushing 50 and I still feel like something of a failure when it comes to the career thing.  20 years in jail really hinders your job prospects even if you just work there.
  • I joked recently that I was going to write a book called The Power of Positive Negativity after I one again posted something negative only to be proven wrong. I feel like it is better to expect the worst in situations and be pleasantly surprised when things go right.  This weekend I did the opposite and posted something positive about a car buying experience only to have it go bad just a few minutes later. I’ve learned my lesson. No more positivity until after everything is done.
  • I might be biased because of my hate for the Washington baseball team, but  I watched the local coverage of the game yesterday and their broadcast team is horrible. Constant bad jokes that fell flat, making fun of a between innings activity and just a bad job in general. You are one of the best regular season teams in baseball(playoffs, not so much). Spend some money for some decent TV coverage.
  • I just wrote the check for my ticket to my 30 year high school reunion. How is that possible? I can’t be that old. Can I?
  • This is the end. I have to leave for work. Aren’t you glad this is the last bullet point?

I am an Awkward Introvert and It’s Still Not Cool

There was a review in the newspaper recently(I think the Washington Post) for this book

Apparently it is now cool to be socially awkward. This is after the recent book Quiet and the movement that made people think it was cool to be an introvert. Suddenly, everyone was an introvert. The Internet was full if articles about introverts. People were sharing them declaring themselves an introvert. Based on the activity I saw on Facebook there are no extroverts on the planet. Of course, this isn’t true. I’m sure many of the people declaring themselves introverts were actual introverts I’m also sure many of the people were extroverts jumping on the introvert bandwagon. Blockbuster superhero movies, new Star Wars movies, new Star Trek movies, dreck like The Big Bang Theory, etc have made it more mainstream to like things that used to make you a nerd.  The above book now puts the socially awkward in the cool column.

Now, speaking as someone who has been a socially awkward introvert my entire life, I don’t buy the cool thing. Sure, some socially awkward nerds make it big and enter the cool category, but many of us are still just awkward people who tend to stand in a corner alone at a party. I don’t want to be an introvert. I would rather be someone who enjoys being with other people. I don’t want to be socially awkward. I would rather be someone who can attend a party or a social event at a conference and mingle like a normal person. I wasn’t cool in high school, I wasn’t cool in college and I’m not suddenly cool now because the socially awkward have been declared cool. I think my socially awkward introvert culture has been hijacked by people who have always been the “cool kids” and now are “socially awkward” or an introvert because that’s the new in thing.  This cycle will eventually end. It will once again be cool to be an extrovert and at ease in social situations and the cool kids will abandon us once again.

Trust me. Being me is not cool.

Thoughts on Leaving and Being Forgotten

Before any of my coworkers or fellow Marylanders start to celebrate you can cancel the party plans – you are stuck with me for a while. I know most of you are now too depressed to read the rest of the post, but I will continue to write anyway.

I’ve written a little about this before(Lost Connections). I started thinking about it again when I received an email from the place I worked for 19 years. They emailed asking for information. I gave them the information and also told them I was in a new job. I received a one word email back(thanks) with no acknowledgment of the news of the new job. I’ve also never been invited back since I left. While I was there, they traditionally invited former coworkers back for holiday lunches and special events. I have never been invited back and only hear from them when they need something. I’m not really that bothered by it. I just wonder sometimes why I seem so easily forgotten.

I once attended a church for about 14 years. I was a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader and served on various committees. I spent much of my life at the church and on youth trips. There came a time when it became obvious that it was no longer the right fit for my family so we started looking for a new place to worship. It took a while, but we have found a new church home. When we stopped attending the old church no one ever contacted us about it. I did tell the youth pastor that we had made the decision to leave, so that might be why there was no outreach but I still wonder after all the time I put in at the church how we could leave with no contact at all. No call or visit from anyone associated with the church at all to even ask why we felt the need to leave. Several months later, I received an email from the church. It was not an email checking on us. It was obvious from the content that the sender didn’t realize we had stopped attending. It was a big church, but I didn’t think it was that big. Again, a situation that makes me wonder why I am so forgettable or if the 14 years at the church really had so little impact that no one missed me when I was gone.

I moved to a new branch almost 6 months ago(I’m sure it feels much longer to my new coworkers). I wonder if the old branch already seems like I was never there. I was just some random, replaceable guy who used to work there.  I’m 8 years away from removing myself completely from the collective memory of the library world. I can live my life as an old hermit writing sad blog posts that no one will read. I’m OK with that.

 

 

Don’t Be a Reason Why

I am four episode in to the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. I read the book years ago, but I’m discovering I really don’t remember much of it so I’m getting the story like it is new to me. The basic plot is that a girl has committed suicide and left tapes behind for people to listen to about why they are one of the reasons why she did it. I am not even halfway through, but it has already made me think a lot.

I think back to my days in high school. My hope is that people who knew me then have more positive memories than negative ones. I hope that, for the most part, I was not someone who made life difficult for my classmates. Unfortunately, I know there are times that I was not a positive in someone’s life. Times when I acted badly in an effort to seem cool or to fit in with the people around. Times when I acted without thinking. Times when I could have been there for someone and wasn’t. Again, my hope is that the positives outweigh the negative. For those who might have bad memories of me, I’m sorry.

I hope the same for my adult life. I hope that I am a positive in the lives of the people who know me. I hope that I never make anyone seem small or worthless. I hope that people know that I am there for them if they need me. Again, I know that there are times that I am in a bad mood and not an easy person to be around. My hope is that these times are outweighed by positives. I hope to be more mindful of those around me and strive more to be a positive in the world.

I’ve seen articles saying that they fear that this show glamorizes suicide. So far, I have not seen that. I think this show helps people to see that your actions affect other people in way that you might nit know. Something that you see as insignificant can mean a lot to someone else. We should all try to think more about how our lives are impacting those around us.

Currently Reading: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere

Platonic Al

In a recent post I mentioned that the most of my friends are women and that this has been the case for years. In a recent conversation with some of those friends I mentioned that many people don’t believe that you can love a person of the opposite sex without being in love with them. These two things brought to mind the topic of today’s post. My long history of being in the friend zone and why that helps with my current relationships.

When I was in high school this was not a happy thing. No teenage boy wants to be the guy that girls want as just a friend. That was the story of my high school and early college life.  There were girls around me all the time, but they were all just friends. None of them had any romantic interest.  It sucked back then, but it did teach me how to have good, platonic friendships with women. I did not appreciate the lesson back then. No teen boy would. Of course, I was an awkward, plain looking late bloomer, so the lack of romantic interest is not a shocker.

I think back to my work with a church youth group and think the lesson above helped me when teaching a Sunday school class of mostly middle school girls and also with the group as a whole.  I was able to work with them and relate to them because of all of the female friends I had in my teen years. It also helped that I was not the type of young, male adult that would inspire crushes. There was no fear that the work would get awkward because teen girls were in love with the awkward, plain looking Sunday school teacher.

As mentioned before, I have a lot of female friends. Part of this is because I work in a field filled with women(not a literal field full of women) and art of this is because I am weird and not like a lot of men and have trouble with friendships with other men because of this. This is also helped by my early years. I learned how to be friends with and love women without falling in love with them. It also help that the one weird woman who actually did fall in love with me knows that I love her and would never chat on her. It also helps that no husband is going to think “I fear that my wife will fall in love with that weird, socially awkward, short, fat balding guy”

Anyway, the point of this rambling is that it is possible to have friends of the opposite sex. It is possible to love them without being in love with them and the earlier you learn how to do this the easier it is.

One Is The Loneliest Number

Note – this post is more personal and introspective than usual. You should read it fast before I have second thoughts and delete it.

A friend on Facebook shared an article this weekend that said the biggest threat facing middle aged men is loneliness. While I am surprised that people think it is the biggest threat facing middle aged men, I’m not surprised that middle aged men are lonely. I am a middle aged man. I think I was born a middle aged man. Loneliness has been a constant in my life. I can be in the middle of a crowd, at a party, etc and still feel alone. I have many acquaintances and not many actual friends. I talk to people at work and then to the two people who live in my house and that is the extent of my social life. I do occasionally have a text conversation with my brother.

In person, I pretend a lot of times that I think I am someone that everyone loves, but really, deep down, I always assume I am someone that people don’t really think about at all. I’ve always felt that way. I was part of a social group in high school, but felt that I was the one who didn’t really belong. I felt the same with groups in college and I feel the same today. In every group, I feel like I am the expendable one. I have social anxiety when it comes to parties and other gatherings, so I would rather just not go. This leads to the life referenced above. I spend most of my life isolated from the world. It’s OK now while my family is there, but I am looking toward a lot of alone time when my daughter leaves for college next year.

Another problem is that I have always had more female friends than male friends. I now work in a world that is predominantly women. In the one group I socialize with on a regular basis(I am the expendable one) I am the only man. This also is a limit to developing close friendships. It is harder and more complicated when the friendship is across genders. You always have to be aware of any impressions of impropriety and there are limits on what you can discuss from your personal life.

So, no, I’m not shocked that loneliness is a problem for middle aged men. I would like to say that since I am aware of the issue that I can take steps to do something about it, but that would be a lie. I will continue to spend my time watching TV and reading books when my family is not around. It just seems easier that way.