Monday, May 10, 2010


It’s nothing short of a miracle that I got out of bed and to work on time this morning. Every day I wake up feeling like I’ve transmuted into lead overnight. Which is the reverse of alchemy, I think.

When I’m tired, I sometimes get crabby. I think I’m feeling fine, then someone does something stupid, and I’m ready to knock their head off. I like to think of it as being “a tad oversensitive”. You know—like getting a slight burn on your finger, and it’s just enough at the surface of your skin to sting and throb—not a big deal, but it can drive you absolutely mad, and you get over-caffeinated or ridiculously drunk as you slog down cold beverages, just to have something cold to put on your wound. Third degree burns never smart like that—you’ve actually burned away the nerve endings. I got a third degree burn once, and released so many endorphins that I was happy. There’s a lesson here somewhere, but I think I’d better avoid it.

After the library rally on Trenton, there were several articles in the news about the rally, and every single one managed to piss me off. Not because they reported on our concerns; because they all referred to us as “usually quiet librarians”. I find it staggering that news reporters have never set foot in a library. I have never met a quiet librarian. Actually, that’s not quite true—I’ve met a few. I’ve also met quiet accountants, plumbers, salesmen, artists, construction workers, and musicians. “Quiet” is not a personality trait reserved for librarians. If anything, librarians are quiet because the public insists that the public librarians be quiet. I recall a long debate in my library management class many years ago about whether or not libraries were places of quiet or places of learning (i.e., not quiet). It’s probably a mixture, but consider the following exchange I had with a woman about 8 years ago in a public library.

The woman was studying for a test, and looked quite agitated. She chose a seat in the Reference Room right next to the librarians’ desk. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing public desk service, but I happened to be walking through, and the woman who was giving the librarians dirty looks and exasperated sighs, stopped me, and said, “Aren’t they supposed to be quiet?? This is a library and they are so loud!”

I pointed to the rooms behind her. “Ma’am, do you see those rooms?”

She turned around to look, then looked back at me.

“Those are quiet study rooms. Those rooms are quiet. The rest of the library is noisy. They have to answer reference questions, so it’s always going to be loud here. ”

I don’t think she liked my answer. In any case, “the quiet library” and the “shushing librarian” are a lot of horseshit, and people use the stereotype to be demeaning. The only librarians I’ve seen putting a finger to their lips are Golden Dawn initiates. (You occultists out there can work that one out for yourselves...)

Anyway, when I’m tired, I also tend to pass by information I see on e-mail, on Facebook, and on various websites in a haze. It’s a bad time for me to read, because I read the same page 100 times, at least, and never get past it. Something has to be a bit strange for me to notice it.

I’ve made a list of random quotes and headlines that I’ve encountered over the last few days. Some are from Facebook, some are from Twitter, some are from various blogs/sites I read regularly:

“Cooler in Times Square contained water bottles. Everybody PICNIC.” (Fark)

“Headline: No charges for corpse parked outside Glen Oak High School. Great. Now zombies are going to think they can park wherever the hell they want to.” (Fark)

“The smell of napalm and iced coffee...” (FB)

“Be there, or be vaguely rhomboid” (FB)

“The modulated scream: pain in late medieval culture” (book title)

A photo of a grocery store with a section called “Friendly Bacteria” (FB)

“A crazed driver rammed at least 17 black cars throughout London, convinced the vehicles were ‘out to kill him.’” (Arbroath)

“ A council spent nearly £1,000 on a bouncer to protect staff at a library from '’unruly’ school children.” (Arbroath)

“Death wants to hump your leg” (FB)

“Twitter is broken? Does anyone care besides Justin Bieber fans?” (Village Voice)

“My wife has a copy of the book ‘How to Kill Your Husband’. She denies having read it, which explains why I am not dead yet.” (FB)

And—just for something different—here is the inside of the receiving vault at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which I visited for a nighttime tour last week. Awesome. (Though driving almost 2 hours home at 11 pm was not so awesome. Might explain why I’m tired...)

No comments: