Notes from inside the suit

It was like an outer-body-but-in-Barney’s-body experience.  I’m talking about my blessed hour in a raccoon mascot suit.  5 hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes huh? Well you haven’t lived until you put in some time in one of these babies.

Was I thrilled from the moment I got the news that I’d be visiting a local elementary school as a masked rodent? Not exactly.  There was a pout here and a gnash there and although I never wanted to be “that” librarian I definitely had this fleeting thought: ‘Dress up in a who and do what?? Dude! I have a Master’s Degree!’   Nonetheless I put on the suit and walked into the school and boy am I glad I did.

Children (especially the kind that you, yourself don’t hafta feed, clothe and make something of) are such a joy.  Haven’t gotten your 15 minutes? Put on a mascot suit and go to an elementary school! I felt like Beyonce or Beiber! The kids showered me with such adoration and applause! I may not have to see my therapist this month!

So I’ll give you a quick and dirty (librarian term) report:

  • If you ever agree to get in a mascot suit (and you must), make sure the fan inside the head works.  Mine didn’t and I had a waterfall of sweat rolling down my face the entire time. When I was beside myself with heat and sweat my assistant pulled me to the side and threw cold water from her water bottle through the mesh eyes and onto my face Basketball Wives style.  Between my mascara and the sweat and water I still looked like a raccoon when I took the head off.
  • If you ever agree to get in a mascot suit (and you must), you gotta pay special attention to that one kid, the one that looks a little more disheveled and neglected that the rest.  They’re the one who really needs you to be their big, giant, caring, non-creepy bear.
  • If you ever agree to get in a mascot suit (you know the drill), you might want to check out this or that to get prepared.  Blowing kisses and waving is all good but a mascot who Crip walks? #winning
  • If you ever agree to get in a mascot suit make sure that they just, recently, some time this century dry cleaned it.  I learned this one the hard way amigos.  I smelled a faint sourness putting the suit on but  when I emerged the sourness was all the way turned up and my whole body smelled like athletes foot. I felt like I need to be tested for e-coli.
  • Kids can really feel good vibrations.  Every teacher I encountered said that this is the first mascot visit that didn’t elicit screams of terror from the tots.  #pureloveoverhere

Can’t give you pictures of me as Rocky the reading rodent because I can’t associate my (perhaps) off colored ramblings with my Library’s image but I can assure you I came, I waved, I Rockied the house.

Raccoon w bow

I make this look good!

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Pool School

I suppose there’s a metaphor for life lurking in every sport.  How else do we explain so many sports movies? I mean after Rudy and Raging Bull the sports movie machine coulda stopped yes?  But then there was A League of there Own, Cinderella Man…I could go on but I digress.

I swam competitively for a number a years but never did I make as many ah-ha moment connections in all those years of starting blocks, bi-lateral breathing and flip turns as I did in my 45 minutes of pool playing. Felt table, cue balls, triangle thingy. Playing pool.  Maybe it’s just that I’m playing pool with a grown woman’s perspective and frame of reference whereas I was swimming pools as a youngun and a teen.

I’m no expert pool player by far–about a thousand 100 meter pool lengths away from being an expert.  But I’ll say this.  I have the makings of being not half bad.  I didn’t play competitively, just did a couple of rounds of clearing  the table.  Each time it took me about 5 minutes less.

Now, the following aren’t Eckhart Tolle-Oprah-scream-worthy ah-ha moments, (if you’re into that sorta thing) but they did occur to me during shooting:

Focus:  When you intensely zero in on your shot/goal and put your energy into making it happen–more often than not it happens.

Put in the work:  Sometimes there were shots that required stretching and bending and I soo didn’t feel like contorting.  But, you guessed it, when I got on tip toes, stretched across the table and went after a shot in less obvious ways, it usually paid off.

Stick-to-it: Stay with the shot.  The times that I had the perfect shot lined up but was too hasty and over confident in my approach, I didn’t sink the ball.  The times that I focused, put that focused energy into the shot and followed all the way through? Sink city baby.

Be resourceful:  That square chalk thingy that the cool pool guys/gals in the movie rub on the end of the stick –its actually very useful.  When I just felt like no matter what I did the stick wasn’t hitting the ball squarely I grabbed the chalk and (probably more vigorously and theatrically than necessary) I got to rubbing.  Next shot? Sunk.

Pray: Some of the shots looked impossible.  But I focused, put in the work, stuck with the shot, used the right resource, whispered a prayer and…missed. Big. But I made the next one 😀

Anatomy of a hero: Notes from an Emotional Intelligence training.

Hiya you throngs of people you! 😀

OK so today I attended a training at work called Emotional Intelligence.  If you’re thinking it’s a Oprah-ish, new agey, What-Color-is-Your-Parachute kinda deal, you’re right.   Not to trivialize it, I did gain some good Ah-ha-moment! insights in the session but  those are for my thoughts only…I don’t Ah-ha! and tell.   What kinda girl do you think I am?  But here are 3 that I’m willing to part with:

  1. Emotional Intelligence trainers who look like AND have the affectations of Richard Dreyfuss (and thereby have you thinking about What About Bob the entire session) are distracting.
  2. Some phone apps still make noise—loud noise even though you’ve silenced your phone. My bad.
  3. Librarians are an Emotionally challenged bunch! Breathe! Do the Harlem Shake! Give a hug! Receive a hug! Something! Dang!

Lastly,  I will leave you with one helpful exercise that Dreyfuss had us do.  He instructed us to think back on those ‘heroes’ in our lives that really inspired us or made an impression on us and isolate the characteristic in them that we liked/admired.  Give this one a try!

Here’s my short list:

  • My Grandmother– Powerful love
  • My Mama– Superhuman selflessness
  • Sister Vanessa (pre-school teacher at my Elementary school)- Kindness and grace under fire
  • Lady J. Boone– Excellent Listener
  • Mrs. Parker (7th grade teacher)- Nurtured all students, not just the squeaky wheels
  • Ummi– The picture of patience
  • My Big Sister– Responsible before her time…

So many others (lots of women huh?), not enough space.  Who are your heroes and why?

Until next time…

Give me! Give Me! I need! I need!!!!

Life after injury. Determination required.

Hi guys,

I know it’s been a minute. I promise I haven’t been resting on my VBA laurels 😀 Interestingly enough I sustained a knee injury (torn ligament) the very same day that I got the award and I honestly haven’t felt like writing.  Ironically I have PLENTY to say because this down time–literally I’m doing a lot of laying down, sitting down and almost falling down—has afforded me soooo many insights.

I’ll enumerate just a few and hopefully I’ll get around to crafting the post centered around the fun run (Dirty Girl Mud Run) where I sustained the injury.

1) Sometimes in life you have to be a “burden”.  Let someone else do the heavy lifting and ask for help.  This has always been  hard for me to do—to “inconvenience” someone”— but life is about give and take.  One day you’re giving, the next receiving (if you go ‘there’you need Jesus).

2) Live strong every day. Now that I’m laid up or ‘sick and shut in’ as one friend called it, I’m filled with aspirations and ideas for leading a healthier, more active life when I regain my mobility (read: walk without crutches).  Where were these ideals when I was fully mobile?  If you’re in relatively good health, use it. I just did yoga on crutches.  Baby steps…

image from theadventureblog.blogspot.com

3) Celebrate the small victories.  I guarantee they’ll fuel your fervor to rise to the next challenge.  I was a little bummed because I was having a hard time ‘crutching’ up the steps, going down is no problem.  I finally decided to scoot but then I’d have to call my kids to bring the crutches up for me.  Well recently I  modified my scoot where I can push the crutches up the steps beside me! There’s that hard-time-asking-for-help thing 🙂 Next challenge:  Baking while crutching.  I’m dying to try these recipes. Like peanut butter much?

Anyway these were a few of the Eureka moments I’ve had.  In due time I’ll be back to blogging more frequently and honoring my Dewey-A-Day promise.

If you checked for me, thanks for checkin’ for me 😉  Anyone out there ever sustained a debilitating  injury?  How did you cope? Oh and here’s a lovely, video I just came across.  Determination required.

Asha

5 ways to preserve my proverbial steam

I recently returned to work after a brief week-long hiatus.  On D-day eve (the D is for Dang-I-gotta-go-back-to-work?! of course), I sat in bed pondering ways to sustain my refreshed feelings and prevent the extreme burn out that precipitated the hiatus.

Here are the few things that sprang to mind.  They may prove helpful to you too:

1. Be hands on.  I know we’ve all heard the advice “get everything together the night before!”  I even scoffed at it with righteous indignation, “well duh!”  But I’m sure the lifestyle-guru-home Ec-ky-Martha-Stewart-disciple type didn’t have my version in mind when first she offered those words of wisdom.  In my version I virtually assemble the items–that is I know where they are (I think) and it’s just a matter of  getting them together in the morning.   5 year old’s socks: under living room couch (well one of em is),  my day planner: under newspapers on kitchen counter, 7 year old’s sweater:  in the dryer…    

2. Eat your oats and feel ’em too.  I typically don’t eat breakfast.  As previously disclosed, I barely do mornings and since breakfast is a trapping of that merciless, early ante-meridiem hour, I don’t do breakfast.  This must end.  I’ve gotta fuel up to start the day, even it its only toast and O.J.  **funky fresh rhyme alert on aisle 3**

Get it in!

3.  Leave the excuses and take the stairs.  My journey to work includes public transportation.  And the train station that I use daily to get to work boasts a 100 step escalator.  Most days I just ride but on the days when I tackle them I find myself oddly refreshed.  I’ve fueled up with breakfast so I guess it makes sense to rev the engine a little eh?

They loom before me every morning...

4.  Stop plowing thru like the end is in sight.  If the end is in sight that means R.I.P ville right? Not so good—unless you’re into that sort of thing.  Sometimes I get into this lather, rinse, repeat mode and forget to stop and smell the—well the laundry.  Speaking of laundry, this bit of advice kind of stems from a scene from that movie American History X.  You know the scene where the little, funny yet sagacious black guy scolds Edward Norton’s character for angrily plowing through their laundry duty.  He said something to the effect of  ‘The work doesn’t stop so quit doing it like you’re gonna get to the end of it. Chill!’  Chill indeed.

5. Come ready to work, ready to do the job you’re paid to do.  That way you’re not annoyed as annoyed when your boss interrupts your Facebooking or WordPressing.

image from jezebel.com

Salut ladies and gents!

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I owe like 13 books but I’m too ashamed of my slackerness to put up all those images.  Each picture would be an accusatory glare.  I’ll just give a list of titles and we’ll call it even.

Days/titles 90-102

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  1. Saturday – Ian McEwan
  1. On Beauty – Zadie Smith (OMG! Love this book!)
  1. Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
  1. Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
  1. The Sea – John Banville
  1. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
  1. The Plot AgainstAmerica– Philip Roth
  1. The Master – Colm Tóibín
  1. Vanishing Point – David Markson
  1. The Lambs ofLondon– Peter Ackroyd
  1. Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
  1. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Are our winningest moments behind us? Say it aint so.

It’s been pretty popular since the dawn of time.  Wars were fought to achieve it.   Frontiers were forged to obtain it.  It has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity (as if it needed it) thanks to the illustrious and eloquent Mr. Sheen.  Yes folks I’m talking about Winning.

From the frozenpea.xanga.com

I got to thinking about winning and was struck by how many opportunities we have to be victorious in our adolescent and teen years (and perform the requisite “We beat! We beat! We beat yo stinking feet! Yall loss! Yall loss! Yall ate tomato sauce!” chant)  as opposed to now.  I mean back in the day you had:

  • Hide and Seek marathons…WINNING
  • I Have a Dream essay contests…WINNING
  • 6th, 8th and 12th grade graduations/commencements…WINNING

You know I think I went to grad school as much for the student loans and grants as I did in search of that ol’ winning feeling that I’d get on graduation day!

I mean as an adult, how many opportunities do we have for that cloud 9, Nanny nanny boo boo! You can’t catch me!,  I’m-kind-of-a-big-deal type of high that we got every 5 minutes when we were kids?

What do we got?

  • A high score on Angry Birds…winning
  • A lot of ‘likes’ on your Facebook status…winning
  • A new recipe that the kids don’t hate…winning
  • A raise at work … WINNING (but how often does that happen?)

I love my life—the good bad and ugly—but I’m gonna need  some more of those cloud 9 moments.  I’m on a quest to find and create winning moments (thats why I’m doing this) and when I find em’ I will be doing the tomato sauce chant.  Already have yours?  Care to share em?

Day/Title 89

3 things I have (grudgingly) become over-specialized at

Yesterday at work I had a misty water colored memory of my entrance into la vie en librarian.  I was so starry-eyed and kind-hearted—a stark contrast to the Snarky McSnarkface I am today.  Long story short its been about 5 years.  I work in a Public Library in the heart of  downtown in a city which I’ll leave un-named (comb the posts I’m sure I’ve slipped up and mentioned it somewhere).  While I do love library work (librarians everywhere are required to say this or the Book Bosses will make you disappear) I can honestly say I had no idea what I was signing up for when I accepted the gig.

image from buypoe.com

Oh the cast of characters that have been paraded before me….(cue wavy flashback screen/music):

  •  the fellow in the bedazzled Burger King© paper crown
  • the fellow who (with all due seriousness) asked me to help him find pictures of “the perfect booty”, AND THEN create a watermark image with said booty pic so that it could be the background for his poem—I Love Booty.
  • the fellow who types 000111110000000111111. All day.

These folk are just the tip of the iceberg.  As you can imagine, I had to acquire a special set of skills in order to hang.  They say it takes 10,000 hours of doing a thing to become an expert at it.  I’ve surpassed that and have devoted roughly 35,000 hours to my craft.  Here are a few things I’m more than proficient in:

  1. Blank staring.  In the face of lunacy, if you show any sign of being daunted they will drag you down a rabbit hole from which there may not be a return.  You, my friend, might find your own self donning a bedazzled paper hat.
  2. Making signs and pointing to them. When I first entered the life full of ideals and energy, I all but chastised my co-workers; “There is too much signage! Take some of these signs down and actually interact with the people!”  Cut to present day where I’ll make a sign and point to it to answer the question “How are you today?”

    from annelsblog.blogspot.com

  3. Clandestinely applying hand sanitizer.  Oh the crusty objects I have been handed, library cards buried under crud that has its own crud, money that is strangely damp;  AND if you use the sanitizer unabashedly this colorful cast-o-characters has the nerve to be offended!

Yes, I’m an expert at these things and so much more that yall aint even ready to hear.  That said, I do love my job.  It butters my bread and there are plenty of fulfilling moments.  Use the contact info on the “About me” page to inquire about workshops for any of the aforementioned skills.  ‘Til Monday!

Besos!

Title/Day 83

from bookpage.com

My daughter’s Thoughtful 13. How sweet it was…

So my “tween” just crossed the threshold into teen-dumb I meant ‘dom’. Bad mommy! 😀  I made sure the birthday staples were covered: cake, pizza and goody bags, but I also wanted to make sure that she got a wealth of guidance (not just loot and gifts) at this milestone in her journey.  My family and friends are amazing, with insights that I may not be able to effectively impart.  At the birthday gathering I asked each of them to jot down some words of wisdom between mingling and noshing on fish tacos.  Some complied, some were too busy noshing—those were some damn good tacos.  Anyway I said they were amazing not obedient.

My plan is to do something with the advice notes. Something posterity worthy that will inspire her to keep them around.  No, I haven’t already decoupaged them, crafted them into an origami sculpture or blew them up poster sized and wall papered her room with them.  I’m not that kind of WordPresser—not yet anyway (Crafty McCraftensteins I AM joining your ranks one day! Look out!).  But I do hope that the gesture was not lost on her and my daughter knows that we expect her to be thoughtful, introspective and engage the world around her.  She really is a special gal…

I'm a softy of a parent but I'm not above crafting these notes into a medieval torture device---you know, for when the resident teen needs further elucidation.

Day/Title 71

Paris, Pee Wee, and Big Dog

Guy, Rosa

New York : Delacorte, 1984

My reaction:

How fitting that today’s book be one of my fav’s from when I was a teen!

Critics were hard on this book: "The potential for a story is here, but this one never quite happens as it plods laboriously along." School Library Journal

Lady Eloise and so much more

Day 46!!

Bibliographic info:

Rejuvenate! : It’s never too late
Kitt, Eartha

Scribner, 2001

Maaaarcus!

Summary (Library Journal review):

Singer, actress, and Broadway star Kitt (I’m Still Here) was born out of wedlock in poverty in South Carolina in 1928. In this part memoir, part exercise manual she shares, in her own distinctive voice, “fundamental ways of being, thinking, and doing” that have kept her productive, content, and free of the fear of getting old. She accepts aging as a natural process; she never yearned to stay young. Kitt chronicles her distinguished career’s ups and downs: her outspoken remarks on the Vietnam War at a White House luncheon hosted by First Lady Ladybird Johnson in 1968 and subsequent blacklisting; her concerts, TV appearances, and best-selling recordings; her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and her various affairs. Kitt also offers deep breathing instructions and stretching exercises and encourages listeners to make a commitment to taking care of themselves.

My reaction:

LOVED the stand she took regarding the Vietnam war! And wow! She danced with Katherine Dunham’s dance troupe before she broke into the business!?  Go Eartha ***cabbage patching*** go Eartha! Mrs.  Kitt was born  into poverty in South Carolina and was thrown out because her mother’s fiance said he didn’t want that “yella gal” in his house.   Colorism in the African-American community is deep!  Any way, Eartha went on to become the incomparable little power house of an icon that she was and in this book she gives her recipe for rejuvenation,  happiness and health.   With skin as radiant as her was in her 80’s, if she’s selling I’m buying!

 

Not your Grandma’s Mother

Hi All!

Forgive me for deviating from the Dewey-A-Day norm will yall? Just had to get this out but I do give you a bite sized Dewey entry sans ‘my reaction’ at the end of the ‘Mother’ post for you die-hard Dewey heads 😀

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The following was inspired by a recent epiphany:

“Oooh he’s kinda cute”… “Ooh! I wanna get this outfit so I can be the bomb.com!”  These words have actually been uttered (to me mind you) from the perpetually glossed lips of my  actual 12 year old.  Pre-epiphany this kind of overly familiar teen talk would get met with a disapproving glare from me or a scold:  How are you talking to me!? You do know I’m your mother right?! That’s inappropriate!

I may owe my daughter an apology greater understanding.  You see, prior to this epiphany whether I “did it like my mother” was my litmus test for whether I was mothering right.  I now see a mild error in that logic  because all of the ‘players’ involved are different.   I was a different kind of child than my daughter is and my mother’s experiences made her different from me and vice versa.

That said, I realize that my mother did a bang up job raising us (fight anyone who says otherwise!) but I don’t have to follow her blueprint to the letter to be a successful parent.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but in this case it may be the sincerest way to ruin your mother/daughter relationship with your own child.

After an exchange like the aforementioned one I asked my daughter “Why do you talk to me like this? I would have never had this kind of conversation with my mother”.  Note that her talk was not in a disrespectful tone, just a very ‘familiar’ tone.  She looked at me with that look specific to pre-teens and teens, lip gloss just a poppin on her pursed lips and said “like what? what way?”

But in that instant I had answered my own question.  She talked to me in a way that was natural to her, and when I wasn’t holding myself to my mother’s standard—a much more strict, conservative parenting style—I realized that it felt very natural to me too.  So in the end my daughter and I do talk freely.  We might talk about things that might make another mother blush or get worked up into a self-righteous tizzy. That’s ok.  I’m the mom.com in my house and we’re doing it our way 😉

Mother/daughter girl talk...with only the occasional reminder about who pays the cost to be the boss.

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As promised!

Day 11

Bibliographic info:

The quotable scientist : Words of wisdom from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Galileo, Marie Curie, and more

Horvitz, Leslie Alan

McGraw Hill 2000

Summary: A book-o-quotes from that odd lot called scientists