Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ode to Libraries

I dreamed about the library again last night.  I was at the reference desk trying to answer questions, but everything was different and I couldn't find what I needed.  My former colleagues were there but they didn't pay much attention to me, didn't really care if I was there or not. I woke up and went through most of the day with a cloud of sadness over me.  It's been two months since I left my job and I am surprised at how much I still miss it. The dream made me stop and think about why I loved my job so much and can't seem to let it go and move on.  

To start with, I love the atmosphere of libraries - there is a feeling of quiet efficiency in the air that enables staff and patrons alike to work diligently and creatively.  And all around us is an abundance of entertaining and informational books and other media - old favorites and new interests mixed together - a true democratic institution. There is something for everyone and in the current economic climate this is especially important.  The last few months that I worked at the library we were busier than I remember us ever being in the previous 11 years.  Consumer health information, career guidance, financial advice, self-help materials, computers with internet, and, of course, free entertainment is available to anyone who comes through the doors.  And if someone needs help finding materials or information there is always a reference librarian to assist.  I loved working the reference desk, which is strange since I am an introvert and not always comfortable meeting new people.  But when I am behind the reference desk I have no problem dealing with the public. Maybe it is the "know it all" coming out in me, but I love helping people to find what they need or solve a problem, and I always made sure that my answer was never "no we don't have that" or "I can't help you."  If we didn't have something I either tried to get it from another source or looked for something else that might help the situation.  Too many times we encounter people in doctor's offices, government agencies, or businesses who seem to take satisfaction in informing us that they can't help us, and I always wanted to appear friendly and helpful, never obstructive. Fortunately I worked with a group of people that felt the same way, which made all of our jobs so much easier. Where else can you go where the primary purpose of the staff is to help you and serve you, asking nothing in return (except a very small percentage of your taxes)?  

Which brings me to the real reason that I miss the library so much: the people I worked with.  The library had (still has, minus me) a kind and friendly staff who worked hard to meet the needs of the community and were a source of support and fun for each other. The library became the place in my life (besides home) where I was the most comfortable and confident - it became an important part of my identity, who I was and who I was striving to be.  So I guess that is really why I miss it so much - I left part of myself there and I feel a little lost without it.  I am job hunting and hopefully there is great job out there waiting for me that will replace some of what I lost. I know I will be better equipped to handle it because of the people I worked with and the experiences I had at the Upper St. Clair Township Library.

Monday, July 13, 2009


"Is it over yet?
Can I open my eyes?
Is this as hard as it gets...?"

These lines from Kelly Clarkson's new song "Cry" keep running through my mind.  We've been in the new house for over a month, the boxes are mostly unpacked and even the pictures are up.  So the hard part is over, right? Wrong! We painfully pulled up our roots from our old home and are trying to transplant ourselves into our new surroundings.  This can be an exciting time, discovering new places and friends, tackling new challenges - but mostly it is just exhausting to create new routines and find all of the necessary services, especially for those of us who have no sense of direction! 

Being a minister's wife adds a whole new dimension to this experience.  We have left behind a whole church family and are expected to keep our distance to give the new minister a chance to build relationships, which leaves us feeling cut off from our friends and guilty about abandoning them. Our new church family is wonderfully warm and welcoming, but we don't know them - many of them will be our friends and I know that we will eventually feel like part of the "family", but right now we are outsiders.   This is especially hard for me since I am an extreme introvert - when we walk into church on Sunday morning I know that all eyes are on us as the new minister's family, and I cringe. I awkwardly try to talk to people after church and strive to remember as many names and faces as possible so I don't offend someone by forgetting them next week! And in my darkest and most depressed moments I think "which of these outwardly friendly faces will turn against us first?" We have served two other churches and I know that this happens in every church - each minister has strengths and weaknesses, each church member has certain expectations, and these do not always match. Inevitably someone gets upset or critical, starts complaining or leaves the church, and to me this is always ugly and I take it personally. But I do understand that the church is full of imperfect people (that's why we are there) and we all have to work together to support each other in spite of behavior that is not always Christ-like. 

If only I could find a wormhole (I'm married to a Trekkie) and get to six months from now immediately! The hard work of adjusting would be over, and we would be in a comfortable routine.  But life doesn't work that way.  I never saw the movie "Click" but I understand that fast-forwarding through time didn't work very well for Adam Sandler's character, and I guess it wouldn't work for me either.  So I need to take it one day at a time, one person at a time and create relationships, and although it is hard I know it will be worthwhile.