Lord, it’s been busy.  I haven’t even finished uploading my vacation pictures yet, because there are just SO MANY of them to go through.  Plus, that task got pushed to the back burner because when I got back to New York I had to deal with so many other things …

I had to get my new glasses and sunglasses, which set me back over $2000.  Yes, my frames are stylish, and yes, I discovered that when you get frames from Tiffany’s they come with so much robins-egg-blue STUFF that you can show the whole world just how fancy you are:

Tiffany Stuff

But even though my frames are fancy, it’s the lenses themselves that really set me back.  This explains why I can’t afford to get new glasses as often as I probably should.  But damn, I’ll look good on my way to the poorhouse!

My website problems that were plaguing me for over six months are now finally RESOLVED.  The latest (and clearly the greatest) tech guy finally found the last of the malicious code that had been screwing up my website.  The poisonous stuff that had been hiding in my files was written in Arabic, so between that and the mysterious traffic that had been coming my way from Russian websites, it seems that I was taken out by an international conspiracy.  So the good news is that my website is back up and running again!  The bad news is that I now have to jump-start myself and get back into the habit of creating new content every week.  Oof.  I feel like I need an oil can for my brain, because damn, I feel rusty!

Work has been work, and over the last two weeks since I’ve been back I’ve had to deal with most of our heavy hitters in the problem patron department.  The cat lady has been in with her cats that she’s not supposed to bring into the library, and Crazy Ms. H. with her endless DVD holds, and the Evil Weatherman has been ESPECIALLY evil, and on and on.  It’s like the bus from Crazytown was circling the block and waiting for me to get back from vacation so it could drop everybody off at our doorstep.  Then again, I also believe that ice cream trucks lie in wait for me just so that they can play their annoying jingles when I walk by.  So you might want to take my paranoid theories with a grain of salt.

We’re working on a library-related project that set me going back through my 2014 and 2015 photo archives to track down pictures.  That led to an evening of deep melancholy as I sat at my computer scrolling through pictures of Logan (my late great cat), my mother’s memorial service, and all the weird stuff I found in my mother’s apartment.

I’m also getting ready for class visit season, because outreach is great!  And we need to strengthen our alliances!  And boost our stats!  Woo-Hoo!  Well, most of the time as a young adult librarian, my outreach consists of picking 10 books that I can booktalk backwards and forwards, packing those in my rolling suitcase along with a boatload of handouts, and telling all my classes about those ten books over the course of several days or several weeks.  Well, because of an emergency situation at my biggest local school, I just learned that their library is being used as emergency classrooms so I can’t conduct my class visits there.  Instead they want to bring their classes to visit my library.  That will be great for my circulation statistics, but it’s much more labor-intensive for me and for my staff, and it also means ordering multiple copies of books in advance and cramming WAY more booktalks into my head since I have to be prepared to talk about new books with every class.  So this is gonna be exhausting.  I mean, the good kind of exhausting, but STILL …

Okay, there’s other stuff going on, too, but that’s the stuff that’s sticking out of my brain right now.  I promise that I’ll share more updates when I have time, more photos when I have time, and more thoughts when I have time.

A week from now we’ll be headed south, on our way to Charleston and Savannah to enjoy some relaxation, history, she-crab soup, and mint juleps.  But in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on …

Work has been the usual mix of mind-numbingly boring transactions mixed with a sprinkling of unstable and eccentric patrons:

The Spanish Civil War Guy still comes in periodically, but he usually chooses not to deal with me and goes to one of my colleagues instead.  Ever since he told me that our staff were “fucking incompetent” several years ago I haven’t been willing to do him any favors.

Mr. Mensa will ask me questions, half of which will have solved themselves by the time I walk over to his terminal (hint: if you keep creating documents that are hundreds of pages long, then yes, they will take longer than usual to open).  The other half are things that leave me bewildered, saying things like, “What do you MEAN, your email won’t let you log out?”

The Cat Lady still comes in, sometimes alone and sometimes with covered carriers which might or might not contain cats.  She then calls us over to help with one thing (like a print job), but once you walk over to help you get sucked in by her gravitational pull and suddenly she’s telling you her views on Hillary Clinton, or showing you the personal documents that have been emailed to her, or showing you a picture of a guy who claims that he’s her brother but couldn’t possibly be because of the shape of his eyes.

The Creepy Old Flirt is at it again.  Last week he said to Betsy, “You’re so efficient.  No, first you are pretty, THEN you are efficient!”  And that’s the kind of thing we dream of hearing … right, ladies?

We checked in on my brother yesterday, and when I was walking through the kitchen I peeked in his freezer.  By which I mean ONE of his freezers, because let’s not forget the standing freezer in the living room which my mother had us buy because there wasn’t room for both of their food anymore.  Anyway, he had FIVE QUARTS of ice cream and THIRTY Italian ices.  I should probably mention that my brother lives alone and is not in the habit of hosting ice cream socials.  Oh, and I also noticed a pile of newspapers he’d put on the floor of my mother’s room and spoke to him about recycling them.  I know that my brother has great hoarding potential, but dammit, it’s not gonna happen if I can help it.  Of course, “if I can help it” is an intangible thing.  Because if I had any say in things, there wouldn’t have been even more packages of newly-purchased DVDs in his room.  *SIGH*

In happier news, because of my boyfriend’s summer school schedule we’ve been able to spend more of our weekends together.  That means we’ve been able to eat out at exotic locales: Raceway Diner sign Then today we went out to Hawk’s place for a Meatapalooza experience!  We tried out our new Waze app to get there (D. recommended we get it for our drive down south, and this was our first big test run).  The app was very helpful in getting us to faster routes and showing us real-time traffic hazards, and I earned us some points by reporting a few hazards myself!  After you’ve used the app for at least 100 miles you can customize your avatar, which is how we ended up on the road with fellow Wazers that looked like zombies, ninjas, cats, etc.: Waze Then we arrived, and it was time for meat, meat, and more meat: Meatapalooza (Hidden under the hamburger bun: even more meat!)

We also played a rousing game of Exploding Kittens.  I backed them on Kickstarter, and this week my package arrived! Exploding Kittens Well, technically I got one regular deck because I thought I would play it with my teens this year, and I also got one NSFW deck in case I was going to play with grownups.  And clearly, this was a grownup game … Playing Exploding Kittens Anyway, we had lots of fun and the game was a hoot!

The rest of the week I’ll be tying up some more loose ends, running programs, catching up with a doctor’s appointment, dealing with website issues, and having a book committee meeting.  But after all that is done, it’s mint julep city for me!

I had several meetings in midtown this week, which led to some professional brain-stretching and made for some good food shopping opportunities afterwards.  In one meeting we acted out a “Readers Advisory” skit I’d written for a future YA training.  It went very well, in part because some of the volunteers who played small but entertaining parts (the Overly-Friendly Old Lady and the Rowdy Teen in particular) really got into their roles.

A few recent wacky patron interactions from the service desk:

A middle-aged woman standing in front of me answers her cell phone that keeps ringing.  She yells into the phone, “CAN YOU PLEASE PICK UP YOUR PANTS?  YOUR PANTS KEEP CALLING ME!”

The Creepy Old Flirt is trying to sweet-talk one of our clerks who’s sitting at the service desk a few feet away from me with this awkward one-sided conversation: “HI, SWEETIE PIE!  ARE YOU MY SWEETIE PIE?  THE ANSWER IS NO, BECAUSE I DON’T CUT THE MUSTARD, RIGHT?”

Our library has been retaining heat in the worst possible way.  I think it was getting up towards 70 degrees outside today, but it was over 83 degrees inside.  An old guy who came to our movie screening today (which was in our program room, which is even more airless than the rest of the building) started yelling at me as soon as he walked in about how it was “hotter than Hades in here,” and could I turn on the air conditioning … you know, like I didn’t think of that.  I explained that we had no control over the AC, but that it was run through a thermostat.  I didn’t share the explanation that I heard the other day, which was that the cooling system would only be triggered if the temperature OUTSIDE got hot enough.  Which … is … ridiculous if it’s true.  It also begs the question of why we have several thermostats indoors if they’re just going to be ignored.  But you know, whatever.  Far be it from me to question such things.  The library staff will just have to switch to beach party attire for the foreseeable future, or at least until the AC kicks in.

One of my Valentine’s Day presents to my boyfriend was a pair of tickets to attend the Good Spirits food and cocktails event last night.  We had some excellent food and some lovely booze.  I had two fancy gin and tonics because I didn’t want to mix my liquors, but my boyfriend had a wide variety of drinks.  I kept watching him when we left for the subway afterwards to make sure he didn’t keel over, but he was perfectly fine.  I told him that if I drank what he drank, I would have walked into a wall.  Still, though, the food and drinks were DELIGHTFUL.  And, you know, FANCY!

Brooklyn Gin and TonicThis would be my Brooklyn Gin & Tonic made with elderflower tonic, black cherry bitters, juniper berries, a slice of blood orange, and a sprig of rosemary.  Woo-Hoo!

In the curious interactions with library patrons department, I got an unusual comment from a lady after I’d helped her find some information online: Thank you for your niceness!  But Betsy got yet another creepy comment (surprise!) from the Creepy Old Flirt: After telling her to “stay warm” he ONCE AGAIN mimed offering a hug and said Don’t forget, there IS the old-fashioned way! which he then followed up with I guess it wasn’t written into your contract that you’d have to deal with people like me!

*shudder*

I’ve been watching the HBO documentary series The Jinx lately, which led me to reserve the feature film All Good Things, which is how Robert Durst and director Andrew Jarecki first connected.  I thought it was odd enough that Durst contacted Jarecki to tell him that he liked the film … about how he probably killed his wife … but now I see that Durst and Jarecki did one of the commentary tracks on the DVD (?!?!)  My boyfriend and I watched the film tonight, and while it was mostly awesome but sometimes straining credulity, I need to hang on to the DVD a while longer to watch all the extras and listen to that commentary track.  At which point I guess I’ll see if it’s more or less alarming listening to Durst’s voice if I’m not watching him blinking … and blinking … and blinking …

Also, Leonard Nimoy died today.  Did you know that?  I didn’t find out until I got home, and it made me really sad.  Or, rather, it made the little girl deep inside of me really sad.  The girl who was convinced that Mr. Spock would be her boyfriend someday because HE would understand her, not like those idiot boys in her class who would only show that they liked her by hitting her and then running away.

Boys were idiots, but Mr. Spock was cool.  HE would have appreciated me for my mind!

Anyway, while I was cruising the internet looking for some Nimoy-related stuff to put up on Tumblr, I found a couple of awesome things, including Leonard Nimoy Reads Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” and a tribute to his appearances on The Simpsons.  Of course, since I’m a big Columbo fan (and since my boyfriend bought me the entire series on DVD for Christmas), I’ll also have to give a shout-out to his Columbo appearance that we watched just a few weeks ago:

Leonard Nimoy on ColumboFor all the True Detective fans in the house, there’s some semi-spoilery news about season 2.

And for all the House of Cards fans, I found a very cute video that is a spoiler-filled recap of the first two seasons to get you ready for the third season!!!

Sad Librarian

I was already expecting this to be a semi-lousy Saturday.  We didn’t have a lot of staff scheduled (certainly not enough to cover the children’s room), we were going to have to rearrange our program room multiple times for multiple programs, and it’s harder to predict the busier and slower hours on a Saturday because ANY hour has the potential to be a busy hour.  And today, most of them were.  Plus, I had a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff like email and schedules to catch up on, and not a lot of time to work on them because I was busy covering the service desk and dealing with programs.

And THEN the Evil Weatherman showed up and asked for my help with the computer.  At which point my morale started to plummet and I realized that up until that very moment my hectic day had actually been wonderful, after all.  Because dealing with the Evil Weatherman is a very specific kind of hell. (more…)

Some days will pass at the library without incident, and those are the days we start to feel like we have “normal” jobs.  But then other times we can’t go five minutes without someone walking into our building and saying something creepy / weird / hilarious / strange to us.  I try to jot these things down on scraps of paper to incorporate into future blog posts, and I’ve amassed several of them over the last few months.  I was trying to figure out a good example to conclude the post, and then today as we were getting ready to close, a couple of policemen walked into the branch, and —

Well, I’ll get to that story in just a moment.  Let’s try these in chronological order, shall we?

On Halloween, one of my colleagues dressed as a Green Bay Packers fan, complete with Packers sweatshirt and Cheese Head.  She encountered several kids in costumes during the day, including one who was dressed AS A MOUSE … who then stared at the cheese on her head and said, Hey, *I* like cheese!  All I can think is that I missed an adorable photo op.

A man brought his books over to the desk for me to check them out.  After I finished and handed him his receipt, he said, “I have a story to tell you.”  I froze up a little, especially since I was expecting our conversation to be over, but it wasn’t over, and he’s acting like he knows me, except he doesn’t know me.  And then he starts with, “You see, I’m a retired policeman …” and I’m, like, okay, where is THIS going?  He gets about two more sentences in, and then he turns to look at the line that’s forming behind him.  He says, “Oh, I’ll let you deal with these people and then I’ll finish telling you the story.”  Except then he leaves and doesn’t return, so I have no idea what the story was about or why he wanted to share it with me!

Several policemen approached us at the service desk (No, this isn’t today’s incident.  This is ANOTHER incident).  They asked if we called them, we said no, and then one of our patrons stepped up and said HE called them.  He complained that a teenager stole his phone in our library … but then admitted that the kid asked to “borrow” his phone, he handed it over, and THEN the kid ran off.  *SIGH*

Betsy had several uncomfortable encounters with the Creepy Old Flirt.  Since she knows I document the nuttiness of wacky patrons like him, she’s been jotting down notes, too.  After all, if a man who’s MUCH MUCH older than your father comes up to the desk and approaches you yelling, “I wanna see my girlfriend over here!” you’d want to document, that, right?  Oh, and if he then came and stood directly in front of you, opened his arms, and said, “You need old-fashioned heat?” you’d want to document that, too.  And then you’d probably want to go home and take a long hot shower.  *SHUDDER*

A man approached me at the desk on New Year’s Eve and said, “Happy Birthday!  Wait … what am I saying???

Another man came to check out books and DVDs on New Year’s Eve.  I wouldn’t have paid any attention to him at all except that he made a strange comment about whether or not the staff was going to be partying with champagne later.  And strange comments always set off alarm bells in the back of my mind.  Moments after he left, D. told me that he was the guy we’ve been having problems with for a while.  The guy who’s already run up thousands of dollars in library fines?  Who keeps applying for new library cards, and getting them by slightly altering his information each time?  Who, rather than trying to fly under the radar and not attract attention to himself, manages to say things that set off those alarm bells every time he comes in?  Yeah, he’s THAT guy.

And now on to today’s incident.  About 20 minutes before our closing time, a couple of policemen walked into the branch.  They approached our service desk and asked if we’d called them (as you see, this kind of thing happens more often than you might imagine).  We were all equally stumped, and a little nervous what with the police radios going off and all the flashing lights outside from the police car and … the ambulance???  The policemen walked around the building for a few minutes and then circled back to us.  They asked again if we knew who called them, and I said we didn’t, and I asked what the caller had said was going on, and the policeman said, “Someone behaving erratically.”  And which point I replied, “Well, that’s EVERY day here.”  And then he laughed, and then they left, and things went back to (almost) normal.

It kind of started yesterday, but it also kind of started a week ago.

Visiting my brother, I sometimes have an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.  That’s because I start to have the same thoughts running through my head that I did when I visited my mother once a week in the same apartment.  Has anything gone wrong since the last time I was here?  Will she need my help with something?  What subjects will be safe to talk about?  What will I do if she brings up some horrible subject from my childhood?  What if she brings up my father again?  If I get upset, can I keep my temper?  And how badly will I want an Irish coffee by the time I leave?

There was also a much bigger area of conversational possibilities with my mother.  Yes, there were lots of negative topics revolving around my childhood, but there were always lots of positive and safe topics like food, books, and movies.  With my brother it’s different — it’s like we hardly know each other.  The good part is that he doesn’t know the vast majority of horror stories about our father, so those can stay locked in my head where they belong.  The bad part is that we hardly have anything to talk about because we have, like, NOTHING in common.  Honestly, whenever I go to visit my brother I try to bring my boyfriend along because his background in education means that he’s good at talking to all kinds of people … but also because they can talk about sports together.

So anyway, last week my brother brought our father into the conversation, and I started to unravel.

He was bringing up a valid point that someone else MUST have put in his head — about all the child support our father never paid.  And in response, there was the conversation we had out loud (mostly about the statute of limitations and whether or not it would be worth tracking him down for any reason).  But there was also the conversation in my head, which mostly consisted of me yelling You have no f—ing IDEA what he’s capable of!

Let me take a brief tangent here —

Several days ago, someone who introduced himself to my coworkers as a friend of mine from college stopped by my library to see me.  When he came up to me in the children’s room, he was surprised that I didn’t recognize him, even after he’d introduced himself repeatedly.  I finally deduced that he wasn’t actually a friend of mine, but someone who was friends with someone else who USED to be a friend of mine.  The guy who showed up at my branch last week is someone I’d spoken to less than five times EVER, and that was over 20 years ago.  He kept dropping the name of our mutual friend as though that was going to cement our relationship.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the guy whose name he kept dropping wasn’t my friend any longer for a reason, and that his idea of dropping in at the library where I worked, approaching me at the information desk, and saying, “You look a lot older … and a LOT heavier!” put him in my top 5 worst “This is Your Life” patron encounters I’ve had since I’ve joined the public library.

What happened when my FATHER showed up at my library?  That put him at the #1 spot.

I’m just saying that my brother has no idea just how cruel and vindictive our father can be.

Okay, back from the tangent now —

So now visiting my brother means checking to make sure he’s paying the bills (he is), checking to see if he’s tried to cook anything on his own or if he’s even bothered opening any of the cooking tools we bought for him (he hasn’t), and wondering if the subject of our father is going to come up.  As it turns out, yesterday HE didn’t bring up the subject of our father at all.  But because it was percolating in my brain, it came up in my conversations with my boyfriend before and after our visit.

One of the weirdest parts of the conversation was when I said that I should probably sit down and talk to a therapist at some point to deal with my feelings about my childhood in general and my father in particular.  And my boyfriend replied, “You’re very well adjusted, considering.”  First I was bewildered, then I started laughing, then I said that should go on my tombstone, and THEN I wrote it down.

That was yesterday.

Then this morning I was at work, talking to D. about some of my more recent conversations with my brother … which led into a conversation about my father and just a fraction of the anger that I felt and still feel towards him.  It’s not a conversation I have often, because it makes me feel both drained and angry afterward.

So I was already in a bad mental state when we got some bad news from a former colleague.  Or … it COULD be seen as bad news but perhaps it’s good news in disguise.  Sorry to be vague, but it’s not my news to share.  Anyway, because I was already in a “glass half empty” mindset, I kept feeling sad even though everyone else was putting a more positive spin on things.

And it didn’t help that I was wearing one of my mother’s sweaters to work today, so I felt her presence and memories wrapped around me as each hour followed into the next and I thought about all the conversations we’ll never have again.

So anyway, that’s why I’m feeling blue tonight, and why I need to slowly steer my brain back into a “glass half full” mindset again starting tomorrow.