I had a very positive experience and a very negative experience while working at the library yesterday, both while working in the children’s room.  Of course the positive one was brief and fleeting while the negative one went on for a while …

So, let’s start with the positive one first.  A man holding a little girl’s hand walked into the children’s room.  They came up to the desk, and he said, “This is her first time at the library!”  She waved at me with such joy and enthusiasm that I thought my heart might break.  They were looking for Little Red Riding Hood books, so I brought them over to the fairy tale picture books section to find some and also showed them where the rest of the picture books were.  Later on as they were leaving she said goodbye to us with an equal amount of smiles and sunshine, which was also damned sweet.

So now the lousy/stupid stuff.  I was just about to get off the desk when a girl came up to me to warn me that the supply of toilet paper was running low in the public restroom.  I warned Betsy when she relieved me to go to lunch, and then I put it out of my mind.  Then when I was covering the desk again later that day, a woman asked if I could get more toilet paper for the restroom, because it was empty.  My first instinct when that happens is usually to double-check that it really IS empty, but because of the earlier warning I knew that this was the real deal.  I soon learned that the fact that the cleaning crew had done a lousy job of doing any actual “cleaning” the night before was just the first of many unlucky dominoes to fall …

  • I had to track down the toilet paper, which was on another floor, buried under boxes of paper towels.
  • The box was sealed, so I had to saw the box open with my keys.
  • By the time I’d freed a roll of toilet paper and returned to the children’s room, the woman who’d asked me for it was gone.
  • But another person was using the restroom, so I had to wait for them to leave before I could go in.
  • Then I went inside and proceeded to insert the toilet paper roll into the dispenser … except it wouldn’t fit.
  • After struggling with it for a while, I had to drop the key and squat down on the floor in front of the dispenser to try over and over again to make the roll fit.  I was down there for so long that the motion sensor on the toilet (which was just a few feet away from my head) started causing it to flush repeatedly.  At which point I felt so contaminated by germs that I had the immediate urge to go jump into a giant vat of Purell.
  • After continuing to fight with the dispenser, I finally yanked the toilet paper out … and the REST OF THE REMAINING ROLL fell out, too.
  • So once again, a library patron was wrong and a dispenser they said was empty WASN’T empty.
  • And now I had my explanation of why I couldn’t get the new roll to fit.  Because the old roll was still in there.  ARGH!!!

So that was work stuff from yesterday.  Today I had real-life stuff when my boyfriend and I went over for my weekly visit to my brother’s place.  I already knew this visit was going to be more complicated than usual because this week I was on the hunt for all the paperwork I would need to send to my mother’s accountants so that they could file her final tax return.  They’d emailed me a list of stuff to look for, and while some of it was pretty simple I also had a lot of paperwork (cancelled checks and receipts) involving medical expenses that I needed to track down.

So this time around I’m going to start with the sad stuff and end with the positive stuff.

First there was just the general frustration level of going through ALL of my mother’s papers to try to find the documentation I needed.  She had so much stuff saved from so far back, and it was making me nuts to keep saying, Okay is THIS from 2014?  No, it’s from 2009 … or 2010 … or 1996 …

It was making me a little crazy that I was having so much trouble finding recent information, so all I was doing was opening more and more folders and bags on the floor of my mother’s bedroom (yeah, my mother’s filing system leaves much to be desired).  So instead of finding the 2014 bank statements I was looking for, I found my grandparents’ wills, my parents’ divorce papers, medical records that were decades old.  While some of these old papers were cool and interesting (I now know the name of the ship that brought my mother to America, for example), we found some sad stuff, too.  Like, REALLY sad.  Like, I need an Irish coffee (and you can hold the coffee) sad.

My boyfriend was going back and forth between the bedroom where I was working and the living room, sometimes taking bags and folders with him and sometimes showing me stuff that he’d found.  And then I started reading stuff that made me so sad that I started crying, and he was getting weirded out because all we’re supposed to be doing is looking for tax forms and cancelled checks.  But now I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face because these papers are dredging up memories of things I rarely discussed with my mother when she was alive because they were such painful topics.

But then I had to suck it up and try NOT to look like I was crying when my brother came into the room to pick up something from the drawers my mother used to store extra toiletries.  My eyes were still blurry with tears when he walked in, which is why I can’t actually confirm whether or not he was picking up a new can of Axe Body Spray.  But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say that was probably the case.

Anyway, after my boyfriend and I had gone through ALL of the papers in my mother’s room, ALL of the papers in her desk, and ALL of the papers that were sitting in various piles on various bookcases and  I was all tired and worn out from that roller coaster down memory lane, I asked my brother if he knew any other place where mom’s bank statements would be.  He suggested each of the places we’d already checked … and then he walked over to the closet that we used to store sheets, towels, and a very old toolbox.

Which was a funny thing to do.  Because that was the sheets, towels, and toolbox closet.

He opened the door, reached up to the top shelf, and pulled down a pile of papers which looked kind of familiar.  Well, it turns out that the last time he “cleaned up” the apartment, he apparently took all of the papers that had been scattered all over the dining room table and threw them on the top shelf of the sheets, towels, and toolbox closet.  My mother’s bank statements that we’d spent over an hour trying to find were there.  So were the copies of her death certificate I’d given him, the program from her memorial service … basically just a big disorganized pile of STUFF.  Which made me feel even more mental than I was before.  Because if I could have had those bank statements earlier, I would have saved a lot of time and a LOT of agita.

Anyway, that was the lousy stuff.  Now on to the good stuff (which will continue into a future photo post).  Let’s look at the positive stuff I found while in my mother’s apartment:

I now know the name of the ship that brought my mother’s family to America, and I can try to find the ship’s manifest online.

I know that according to her Petition For Naturalization, she had to sign off (SO HELP ME GOD) on the fact that she was able to read, write and speak the English language (!!!), that she was a person of “good moral character,” and that she was “well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.”

I found a VERY old list of keyboard commands that my mother used with a computer system called “Creative Computer Solutions.”  How old?  Well, when is the last time you heard the Enter key called a “carriage return”?

Did you know that in olden times if you were employed by the city of New York and signed up for their deferred compensation plan, you would be given an informational videocassette?  Featuring Sammy the Squirrel telling you how the deferred compensation plan worked?

Deferred Compensation Plan VHSWould you like to guess who still has a working VCR?

Check back soon for a new photo post featuring Sammy Squirrel and more!