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Posts Tagged ‘library’

  1. You’ve Got to Get Back in the Saddle To Ride Into the Sunset

    April 14, 2014 by Diane

    love of horse

    My Wise Self reminded me that humans are social creatures. It’s good for our brains. It’s good for our well-being. It’s the light that keeps us alive. It’s time, she said gently, to start dating again.

    I had pried my heart from my last relationship. The single life was beginning to lose its charm. I had even read a copy of Meeting Your Half-Orange. She was right. It was time.

    So I made an effort. I brought a book to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and I read.

    That’s making an effort? 

    I lugged my laptop to the library, and I wrote.

    You’ve got to look up, my Wise Self suggested.

    “Here? Now? At the library?”

    I looked around.

    I saw the Japanese man eating a hamburger with chopsticks.

    I saw a sporty guy in casual slacks and loafers surfing porn on the internet, his left leg jiggling.

    I saw a teenage boy gliding past the window on a skate board wearing a T-shirt that read: Have You Seen This Person? And his photo was on it.

    These, these were the pickings.

    Go outside, my wise self prodded.

    So I took my book to the park and stretched out on a blanket. There were people in the park. Dog walkers. One of them stopped by my blanket to say hello. A man with the build of a baseball player. Blonde hair, merry blue eyes. I said to myself: yes, this one I’d like to meet. But there was no matchmaker sitting on the bench nearby waiting to do my bidding. So I bid my time.

    I went back to reading.

    Eventually the mystery man asked me out for coffee. I released my hold on the book and left it at home. I ordered one of those fancy soy drinks laced with chocolate syrup. He ordered coffee, and paid the tab. We sat at a small table and sipped our drinks and then he leaned back in his chair and asked for my pedigree. I smiled. I knew I’d never pass his test because he drove a Porsche and I’d never even sat in one. I knew that if he knew he was slumming right now he’d check his wallet and then beat a hasty retreat.

    Don’t be so judgmental, my Wise Self cautioned.

    I took a breath.

    I smiled at baseball man.

    I looked into those merry eyes and told him the truth. A bite-sized piece of it, just enough so he wouldn’t choke. I wasn’t about to haul out my life story. A story is to be savored, not gulped all at once.

    And it felt good. It felt good to be back in the saddle again. I wasn’t riding any cowboys. I wasn’t fooling myself into thinking this was a date. It was a soy drink; it was two people conversing.

    But it was a soy drink with a man who wasn’t my ex.


  2. There’s Nothing Faster Than A Librarian At Quitting Time

    March 24, 2014 by Diane

    Funny Librarian

    A friend pointed out the phenomenon, and she’s right: At quitting time, the librarians are peeling out of the parking lot before I’ve barely stepped outside.

    Why are they fleeing?

    I would live in the library if they’d let me. It’s a great place to write, or people watch, or meditate, or nap (an activity I no longer engage in), or read. Shelves and shelves of books are just yearning to be read. There’s a café in the lobby where I can stock up on miniature candy bars. And there’s the all-important restroom–thankfully–because as a kid who read in the bathroom (another activity I no longer engage in), I associate books with bathrooms. The side effect? If I’m ever “stopped up,” I head to the library.

    But at nine o’clock on the dot–quitting time–the  librarians boot me out. In all fairness, they do give me plenty of warning.

    At 8:30, a man’s pre-recorded voice booms over the speakers: The Library will be closing in thirty minutes. And in case nobody heard the booming voice, the lights flicker off and on.

    Fifteen minutes later the voice booms again. The Library will be closing in fifteen minutes. The lights go off—no flickering this time–and after sufficient darkness they come back on.

    Ten minutes later, the voice returns. The Library will be closing in five minutes. Please check out your materials NOW. The computers go black. The lights go off. Reluctantly, the lights come back on, and one of the librarians makes the rounds asking patrons if they need help–a polite way of saying PLEASE LEAVE. Before I’ve had time to power down my laptop and gather up my notebook and haul my stack of books to the checkout station, the voice is announcing: The Library is now closed. Thank you for visiting.


    As in…you don’t live here, now go home.

    And it’s just me and the shelver in her vinyl gloves, glaring.

    I think the librarians are bored. That’s why they race off to something more exciting…like sleep. With the checkout process completely computerized, librarians have nothing to do but prop their elbows on the counter, chin in hand, and daydream about quitting time. They no longer need to deal with all those sneezing, coughing, whining patrons. That job is reserved for the reference librarians.

    I try to keep the reference librarians engaged. I’ll ask for…oh, a book on the daily life of the Aztecs, and they’ll peck around on the computer, scroll through options, jot down a list of numbers, and point me in a direction. That’s it. Job done. But at least it was something to do.

    Have you ever tried to stump a librarian? It can’t be done. I’ll bet if you asked a librarian to explain the difference between a physiatrist and a physiologist, you’d get an answer. I’ll save you the trouble. Read my previous post.

    I’m impressed by the amount of information that’s implanted in a librarian’s brain. Case in point: There’s a tiny library in the Sierra town where my father lives…how tiny, you ask. It’s so minuscule that you have to step outside to pull your library card from your back pocket. When I visited this over-sized bookshelf, I was greeted by the librarian who knew the names of all the members of my family and whether or not they had voted in the last election. How did she know this information?

    Librarians know everything.

    If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need them. We’d have librarian-less libraries. Come to think of it, we do. Take a look at this bus stop library.

    Let that be a warning, ye who flee at quitting time.




  3. The Message in the Madness

    March 10, 2014 by Diane

    Business woman looking, isolated on white

    He tries to slip into the library unnoticed, a thin, elderly Japanese man wearing a beige work shirt and beige trousers rolled at the cuffs, brown moccasins and socks. But as the official Observer of Humanity, I notice him from my post at a table near the window where I’ve set up my laptop.

    He carries a plastic grocery bag overflowing with papers: junk mail, newspapers—I’ve seen him grab a stack of free literature by the front door and stuff that into the sack. He lays a paper towel on a table, and another on the wooden chair, but he doesn’t sit. He stands there, systematically reading each piece of paper with a pair of long-handled shears in one hand. Then he proceeds to cut the papers up—clipping coupons?—but the scissors veer off in strange directions and he clips each piece into strips, and the strips into pieces, until the pieces are shreds.

    He’s a human shredder!

    One day The Human Shredder arrives with his usual plastic grocery bag, but instead of pulling out the scissors and junk mail he slides out a couple of paper plates fit together like clam shells. He sits down, lifts the top plate off and sets it aside, revealing a hamburger. When he pulls out a pair of chopsticks, I stop writing. He has my full attention.

    With the chopsticks he transports the top bun to the empty plate. Then he snatches up the tomato slice and sets it on the bun, followed by the onion slice and the pickles. He peels off the yellow cheese, adding that to the growing stack, picks up the meat patty, examines it, and sets it aside. Lastly, the bottom bun gets his perusal and it too is added to the stack.

    I wait, wondering how he’s going to eat the hamburger with the chopsticks.

    He lifts the bottom bun—which is now the top bun—off the burger and places it face up on the empty plate. Then he transfers the meat patty, switching everything back: the cheese, the pickles, the onion, the tomato. The woman sitting next to him is noticing too: she has an expression on her face that says, Are you going to play with your food or are you going to eat that, because there are children starving in this world.

    The man is rearranging his food. When he cuts up the newspaper, he’s rearranging the words. I have a friend whose mother-in-law rearranges the kitchen cabinets when visiting. Some people have this need to take the world apart and put it back together again in a way that makes sense to them, or soothes them, or fits their reality.

    When I was five, I started a book club with a couple of neighborhood kids. We sat around a card table in my bedroom and ripped pages out of picture books…until my parents walked in. End of club. Looking back now, my mother tells me I was destroying the books to create new ones. I suspect it was my anxiety disorder manifesting at an early age.

    At the pool where I swim, a plump German woman takes endless showers in the locker room. She uses a long loofah and scrubs her skin, starting at her neck and working her way down, scrubbing every crevice, then starting all over again. On the tiled wall a sign reads Please Limit Your Shower Time to Five Minutes. But she ignores the sign. Or she can’t read English. When I catch her eye, she doesn’t falter. Her face is full of pain, but she can’t stop.

    I want to walk over and place my palms along her cheeks (the ones located between her ears) and tell her it’s all right, she’s clean enough. But it won’t matter. Her brain is stuck in a groove. Her synapses are firing a warning that if she doesn’t wash every inch of her body five times, or seven times, or whatever the magic number is, then something bad will happen. The Japanese man can’t just eat the hamburger. He needs to complete the ritual of rearranging it three times.

    There’s no shame in anxiety. We telegraph it all the time…some better than others. The trick is to recognize it. Say, Hello, anxiety. I know who you are. I won’t fight you. Welcome. Now what are you trying to tell me?

    Anxiety has a language all its own. If we pause with the scissors, the chopsticks, the loofah, and just listen, we’ll hear its message.