As we’re getting ready to go on vacation, I’m looking around for bits and pieces of things that I was thinking of sharing over the last week.

I had a cute moment with the cat the other day when he seized the opportunity to go exploring in the hallways when I came home.  Here’s a picture of him continuing to explore, even while I’m following him back up the stairs:

Kitty Exploring the Stairs

A book that arrived in the bins yesterday was both entertaining and confusing:

Lets Meet a Librarian

And my reaction went from “Oh, how cute!” to “Wait … is that a tall kid or a short adult?” and “In either case, it’s a little weird to stick your head out through a bookcase, right?”  Well, upon opening the book, I learned that yes, the guy sticking his head through the bookcase IS the librarian, and he wears that expression a lot.  But it’s not until you start reading that you learn about his unique fashion sense:

A Friendly School Librarian

I showed this picture to one of our Information Assistants, who remarked that his outfit did not inspire confidence.

Anyway, he has access to lots of information, he plays cool music, he’s really smart, etc.  You get the idea.

So now we’re busy packing and straightening up the apartment.  My boyfriend’s daughter will be cat-sitting while we’re away, so we’re making the place presentable before we leave.

Updates to come, possibly from Maine if the hotel’s wi-fi is in order, otherwise I’ll post when we get back.

I know that I don’t post here as frequently as I should, but I keep coming up with ideas of stuff to write about, and then leaving posts in varying levels of completion.  I currently have four different blog posts saved in draft form, and this week I had an idea for a fifth topic I want to write about.  So you can all look forward to posts about Soviet sci-fi … or some of the more entertaining spam responses to my blog … or what it’s like to work with teenagers … or the future of library careers … or how I tested my love of bad movies by making myself watch a REALLY REALLY REALLY bad movie … or perhaps none of the above in case I get yet another idea that leapfrogs up to the front of the line.

Anyway, to get you caught up with some more stuff that’s been going on with me lately …

In addition to watching the bad movies that I love, I occasionally incorporate great movies into my viewing schedule, too.  Last night, my boyfriend and I watched Double Indemnity, which I haven’t seen in several years but which I love to pieces.  It’s so cool!  So dramatic!  So NOIR!  No, seriously, was this film sponsored by the venetian blinds council?  And I love the dialogue to pieces, even though the script is filled with lines that no one would ever say.

Double Indemnity

That’s a honey of an anklet you’re wearing, Mrs. Dietrichson.

I’ve also been catching up on a bunch of reading lately:

My Year of Flops: The A.V. Club Presents One Man’s Journey Deep Into the Heart of Cinematic Failure by Nathan Rabin (My list of bad movies I now need to see is growing by leaps and bounds.  This is a very dangerous thing.)

The New York Grimpendium: A Guide to Macabre and Ghastly Sites in New York State by J. W. Ocker (A curious and sometimes snarky guide to crime scenes, horror film locations, and more)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (After hearing lots of praise from all corners about this book, I decided that I had to check it out.  Well, I love mysteries, and I love unreliable narrators, so I love this book to pieces!  I think this is a great choice for reading, discussing, and dissecting.)

William and the Lost Spirit by Gwen de Bonneval & Matthieu Bonhomme (A teen graphic novel in which the title character goes on a magical adventure while trying to find his father.  This book is especially notable because the illustrations are lovely, because William learns a lot of hard lessons about how characters’ appearances are often deceptive, and …  because Prester John plays an important role in this story!)

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis (An illustrated book for older children in the spirit of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, written and illustrated by the creator of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip.  Yes, I ordered this book because I’m a big Pearls Before Swine fan, but the more I read this book the more I loved the sarcastic wit, the cute pictures, and the toughest librarian this side of the Pecos.

Flo the Librarian

Check out the Timmy Failure website to learn more!)

From pp. 73 – 74 of Lemony Snicket’s new novel Who Could That Be at This Hour?:

I crossed the room looking for the librarian, and soon found him behind a desk, swatting at a couple of moths with a checkered handkerchief.  The moths were fluttering over a small sign at the desk that read DASHIELL QWERTY, SUB-LIBRARIAN.  He was younger than I think of librarians as being, younger than the father of anyone I knew, and he had the hairstyle one gets if one is attacked by a scissors-carrying maniac and lives to tell the tale.  He was wearing a black leather jacket with various metallic items up and down the sleeves, which jangled slightly as he went after the moths.

Who Could That Be at This Hour

This morning I stopped by the i09 website to see what new weirdness I could find there.  Today I found old weirdness instead, in the form of … *shudder * … Struwwelpeter.

http://io9.com/5913747/the-best-scenes-from-the-most-demented-german-childrens-book-ever-published

I took one look at the title of this article, and thought, I wonder if that’s the book that Ami used to read to me when I was a kid?  And oh, dear, yes it was.  She had a copy of it in a foreign language (Latvian?  Russian?  German?) so she used to show me that book and tell me what was going on.  Since the words were meaningless to me, I had no choice but to just stare and stare at those traumatizing pictures.

Well, you can’t say that the morals in these stories weren’t clear.  I would come away from this book thinking OKAY, I’ll cut my nails!  OKAY, I won’t play with matches! OKAY, I’ll eat my soup!  OKAY, I’ll look where I’m going!

What, you want to read this book for yourself?  Well, all right, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Lord knows, I’ve had to deal with lots of problem patrons at the library.  They’ve been angry, annoying, and downright creepy.  But my last patron interaction of 2011 was downright sweet, so I’m going to take this as a good sign that my future is looking up!

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m spending the last hour of the day covering the Children’s information desk.  Most of the kids have already gone home for the day.  A girl is using one of the computers, and her mother is sitting at one of the tables.  The girls asks me for help a couple of times, and I gave her some advice for how to translate the math assignment she had hand-written on paper into Microsoft Word.  The last time she asked me a question, she asked it so quickly that I couldn’t hear her.  I asked if she could repeat her question, and she straightened up, looked me in the eye, and said, “Can you help me find a good book?”

Ah.  My FAVORITE question!

I started asking some follow-up questions to figure out some good book recommendations for her:

What grade are you in?  I’m in fourth grade, but I read at level S! Okay, I have only a hazy idea of the lettered reading levels that the Board of Education uses (it’s the Fountas & Pinnell system, for those who want to keep up with such things), but I was able to correctly deduce that level S was around fifth grade level.

What kinds of books do you like to read?  I like mysteries and funny books.

Okay, I can work with that.

So I walked over with her to the general fiction (4th – 6th grade) section, and started pulling books off of the shelves.  I asked follow-up questions along the way about realistic fiction, about fantasy and science fiction, about her favorite authors, and more.  I used my usual method of giving her lots of books to choose from and telling her to give me back any books that she didn’t want.  I always believe that too many choices is better than not enough.  We spent some time like that, going back and forth between the bookcases, with her asking me follow-up questions about the books I gave her.  I’d included several Judy Blume books in the mix (under the “funny” category), and the girl mentioned that she’d never heard of Judy Blume.  I assured her that she was a great author, and pointed out that we had a lot of her books to choose from.  She then picked up Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret from the shelf and asked me what I thought of that book.  I told her that it was one of Judy Blume’s best books.  We looked through some more books for a while, but the girl eventually gave me back every book EXCEPT for Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.  At which point the girl told me, I think I’m going to choose this one, because it’s about a girl who’s going to have her first period … which is going to happen to ME very soon!  I smiled, said goodbye, watched her and her mother leave …

and then, Dear Readers, I started CRYING.

It took me a few minutes to understand exactly what was going on inside me.  The short answer was that the girl’s interaction with me was so goddamned sweet that I could cry, and I did.  The longer answer is that the whole conversation encapsulated what I wanted to be when I decided to become a librarian, a romanticized ideal that I so rarely manage to reach.

Before I became a librarian, I imagined myself reading aloud to children.  I imagined that I would be sitting in a chair, reading aloud from (of all things) Charlotte’s Web, and a group of kids would be sitting at my feet, listening to me with rapt attention.  I’m telling you, it was a very specific vision.  And it has never ever come true.

When I became a librarian trainee I found myself steered into young adult services, which on the one hand meant that I wouldn’t be working primarily with children but on the other hand meant that I would end up making personal connections with library patrons of all ages.  I’ve helped children, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens find books to read.  I have learned personal details about my patrons that they would not share with most strangers, and found myself holding my breath and concentrating on keeping my professional veneer as they shared intimate information with me.  Sometimes these interactions have moved me to tears, but I have always maintained enough self-control not to cry in front of them.  The times I’ve cried in the past were because a patron shared a very personal kind of pain with me.  I will always remember the woman who asked me to help her find books about divorce laws and told me that she wanted to make sure that her daughter was safe from her abusive soon-to-be-ex-husband.  I will always remember the woman who was looking for information about the brain injury that her baby sustained when it was hurt by the doctor’s forceps during the birth process.

And I will always remember the girl who connected with a Judy Blume book and told me that she was going to get her period soon.  But for very different reasons.

I was happy and proud that I’d introduced this girl to Judy Blume.  I identified with this girl because she was reading above her grade level and was proud of that.  I was honored that she felt safe enough with me to trust me with one of the most important milestones of her young life.  I wanted to tell her that Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was the most important book of my young life, that I read that book over and over again (thirteen times, in fact) while I was waiting for my period to start.  And I wish that I could have told her that our conversation made me remember why I became a librarian in the first place.

Today was a momentous day.  I accomplished several tasks for the first time in almost a week — I changed out of my nightgown and got dressed, I left my apartment, I did several loads of laundry, and I answered the phone when my mother called.  Would anyone like to hazard a guess about which of these activities proved to be most challenging?  ARGH!!!  Just for laughs, here are a few highlights of our talk:

Oh, you sound AWFUL!

I’m okay.  I sound worse than I feel.

I’m calling to tell you not to come this week.

Actually, I was going to call you tomorrow.  I was planning on coming by during the day.

But you’re sick!  You don’t have to come!

I’m FINE.  It’s just the laryngitis that’s making me sound bad.  Look, I’m already doing the laundry, okay?  I’m up and around.  I’m just going out a little bit each day.

But you should be resting!

Look, Mom.  I don’t want to argue about this, okay?  I have stuff I need to bring you, I have to return the books that you have out …

I have plenty of stuff!  I have plenty of food, and I have plenty of books!

I’m going out on Friday ANYWAY.  I’m going out on Saturday ANYWAY.  I’ve already cancelled about 90% of the stuff I planned to do this week, okay?

Well, you just have to cancel everything!  I mean, if you were DEAD, you’d have to cancel!

*blinks*

Well, when I’m DEAD we’ll have another conversation.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

In more uplifting news, I just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  If that title is ringing an extra bell in your brain right now, that might be because it’s the inspiration for the movie Hugo that’s being released at the end of this month.  The book is a lot of fun, an enormous tome that because of its unusual format (“a novel in words and pictures”) doesn’t take nearly as much time to read as a 500+ page book normally would.  It’s definitely one of the most cinematic books I’ve ever read, and with Scorsese directing the film I’m expecting great things from it.  Even if I DO have to see it in 3-D.

Guyku: A Year of Haiku For Boys by Rob Raczka, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds

I’m usually not a fan of “boys only” or “girls only” books, toys, and other products.  But I found this book while browsing through the poetry shelves in the Children’s room last week as I was looking for books to put in the poetry display, and I thought it was ADORABLE.  Both the writing and the illustrations work very well together, and I think that this book would be a wonderful read for young boys, as well as a great resource for Poem In Your Pocket Day.  Here are a few of my favorite poems from this book:

With baseball cards and
clothespins, we make our bikes sound
like motorcycles.

If this puddle could
talk, I think it would tell me
to splash my sister.

Penny on the rail,
you used to look like Lincoln
before you got smooshed.

How many million
flakes will it take to make a
snow day tomorrow?

Go check out the Guyku website for more poems, artwork, “How to Guyku,” and even a “Gals Protest” section!