Sunday, December 23, 2007

This is why I love mint.com


You have no idea how happy seeing all the red makes me. I've put more than half of my money into savings/investments since October 1! So, yes, I do spend a chunk each month, but I'm trying really, really hard to save, too. And this proves it to me every time I log in. Also, seeing my available cash to debt ratio is quite reassuring, and since Mint.com can't show me my brokerage account, the money I have there isn't even part of my available cash. I feel like laughing like an evil dictator.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Free!

I finally finished my graduate assistant work on the neverending bibliography of doom. I only say that because I had to use Chicago/Turabian style, which is not something I am familiar with, nor did I ever realize how complicated such a thing could be. I'm an MLA girl myself, and have used APA in grad school, but ugh to Kate Turabian.

So, I'm free! For like two more weeks, until it's back to classes and craziness. At least I have a smattering of days off around the holidays, and will be able to do some of my favorite things: sleep in, eat, watch movies, read, see family, and hang out with S.

Merry Jesus' birthday and other various holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A familiar face

Lately, as I've been driving around town doing Christmas shopping and running other errands, I've gotten a lot of weird 'looks' from random people. I asked S the other day, "Am I just horribly ugly? Why are people looking at me?"

S laughed, of course. Then he said something I'd never thought about. "You work at the public library, people probably recognize you but can't figure out if they know you."

Then I realized that I also worked at Barnes & Noble for a year and a half, so probably a good 1/3 of everyone in this mid-sized city has seen me at some point. Holy cats! This kind of blows my mind. I am famous without anyone knowing my real name. Hehe.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kind of hurting my ovaries

It's probably going to be a long while before this happens, but looking at the following children just makes my heart happy!

Stephanie and Phil's Lucas and Abigail.

Heather and Jon's Leta.

Wood and Jim's Juniper.

Larissa and her husband's Baz (Sebastian).

And... Melissa and Chappy's Monty (forgive me, I couldn't resist).

Maybe I read too many 'mommy' blogs for a graduate student?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A very merry birthday to you, S!

We had a lovely time last night celebrating S's 26th birthday with a group of our friends/my coworkers. Dear Manda had us over to her place and we got meet her new dog, Nigel.

Say hello to Nigel! (He followed Manda around the kitchen hoping for her to drop something.)


Manda made delicious brie and cranberry thing in her oven, which caused the smoke detector to go off, so she made her sister Lisa wave at it with an oven mitt for a while. Nice!


We had yummy dessert wine with chocolate on the rims of the little cups. Cute and tasty!


S and Lisa have classes together in the education department (it's all my fault she's becoming a teacher... but that's another story altogether) so they talked shop for a while.


Jessie and Joe hung out, being awesome as usual.


Manda's apartment with her boyfriend was so cute, I'm thinking I want my own. I just may get my wish for Christmas. After hanging out at the apartment for a while, we headed downtown to see some live music at the Tavern on Germain. Good times were had; one of our former coworkers also showed up, John Larson, and he also happened to go to school with S, so it was serendipity that we went out. I hope you had a very happy birthday, S! I love you!

P.S. Don't I work with such beautiful ladies? I know you think so, too. Now the world knows why our public library is the place to be. Hehe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's the happiest season

I have had the cold from hell the past few days. I came down with it on Sunday, managed to complete most of my Christmas shopping/wrapping of presents despite sneezing a lot, and then later on Sunday felt just terrible. Today is the second sick day I've taken, though I feel significantly better than yesterday, I am still quite drippy and tired.

I am getting things done around the house, like cleaning up my room, reading a bit for pleasure now that class is done for the semester, and working for my professor. I have 2/3 of the chapters checked for citations, so now it's just the last few chapters, putting them in the correct order, and making it look like a real bibliography. If I'm very nose-to-the-grindstone about it, I could probably be done by next weekend. I have Thursday/Friday off, but I want to use one of those days to make up some of my missed hours for being sick.

We have finally gotten snow, and S asked me on a ski date for Friday night. Yay for the first skiing of the year!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

If you like the dressing at the sushi places, try this...

I have had a salad with nearly every dinner this week, and it's all because of this Creamy Asian-Style Salad Dressing recipe. I change the batch size to 1.75 cups, make a few modifications, and so it becomes the following:






Japanese Sushi Restaurant Style Salad Dressing

1.5 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup soy sauce (can add more to taste)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (fry pan on medium for a few minutes, stir until brown)

It's pretty much a one-day ticket to Yumtown! I eat it on spring mix with cucumbers, but it's also great for dipping baby carrots, or for any salad you like. So tasty, so easy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First big snowfall?

I keep hearing about all the snow that's coming out way later today. Luckily, I am headed to St. Paul this afternoon and will be in class tomorrow until 1pm, so here's hoping the roads are good on both trips. S is planning to come with me, too, which alleviates a lot of stress. He's not protective, per se, but he says he does worry about me when I drive alone. I don't know what he's going to do next semester when I have to drive even more than I do now; maybe buy a laptop and bring his homework along?

I am quite excited for the first real snow that sticks. I'm looking forward to skiing...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I'm going to take a bit of a break from working on finding out if all the Dewey Decimal numbers in the chapter I'm editing are correct (oh how it breaks my heart to stop doing a task I so enjoy...) to report on some very excellent customer service I experienced recently.

While at the local mall last night with S, we were doing some Christmas shopping for each other, saying, "Oh, I like that" and then just buying it to wrap later (no surprises from him, I guess). We wound up at the Gap and S was looking to see if they still carried the argyle sweater he liked the last time we were there. Well, they were all out of the color combo he loved, but they had the blue left. Except not in his size. The young sales ladies were incredibly quick to leap into action. S expressed that he really liked the Gap's argyle better than any other argyle anywhere this season, so I knew that I wanted to get him the sweater if it was possible, but I also knew that gap.com is all out, and it might be impossible.

Three phone calls and a 'really big favor' later, they are holding a blue argyle sweater in the right size at the Gap at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes for us to pick up on our way to the cities tomorrow afternoon, and we were already planning a stop at the Shoppes. Yes, three phone calls, and Gap's normal holding time for items is one day, but the salespeople at both stores were feeling generous during the holiday season, I suppose. Yay for that! Now, here's hoping they really are holding the sweater...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Making a list

I've made my Christmas shopping list, and already have a few items ordered. I would like to be done with everything at least a few weeks before Christmas, and considering I don't have too many names on my list this year, it should be fine. My dad is always a stumper, and I'm at a bit of a loss for S this year, too, what with his birthday being so close to to major holiday.

I'm trying to do as much as possible online, but I have a few things to get from Barnes & Noble, which should probably be done sooner rather than later. Maybe on Sunday after I'm officially done with class I can devote some time to being an elf...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Too much to write

What with this being the last week of the semester, the week after Thanksgiving, and also kind of a hectic week on the GA front, I have too much to write here. Mainly, in between compiling the works cited for the professor's textbook, writing a draft of my paper due Saturday, and editing my portion for my group's PowerPoint presentation on the value of the Minnesota Orchestra Library, I've been de-stressing by playing lots of Nintendo Wii (my sister bought one to call her own after S got us all hooked on it after borrowing his cousin's console for a few months). I have also successfully now re-viewed the entire P&P miniseries along with my most excellent boyfriend, and I am pleased to report that he actually enjoyed it. Yes, my boyfriend is a Mr. Darcy fan! Not only that, but I have managed to get S into my mystery obsession, so now in the evenings we debate whether we are going to watch an episode of Poirot or Inspector Lynley. Aww, yeah.

Now, to do some reading for fun before packing it off to bed for the night.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's that season again...

I think I have a cold, because I've been sneezing a lot the last few days, and today at work I just feel crummy. Really tired, kind of hot and cold, and just generally yucky. I only have three hours left of work, though, and one more break, so I'm going to tough it out. It's kind of a bummer, but it's going to be a short week with Thanksgiving. Yay!

And boo for creepy weird guys at the library.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Delayed gratification is better anyway

S and I got to celebrate our anniversary on Friday after I met with my professor. We took the River Road to Dinkytown and ate at the Loring Pasta Bar. I had seafood spaghetti and S had orzo with asparagus and artichokes. We had tiramisu for dessert, and oh, it was fabulous. We got to hear a bit of jazz, too, as the band started playing as we were finishing up our drinks. It was a great time, and we just got to talk and have fun. Plus, the food was super yummy! I want to go back sometime soon, maybe with my cousin Simon and his wife Eve, as Eve mentioned Simon hasn't been there. Are you up for that sometime in December, Simon? A photojournal of the night:

First, I gave S my present to him before we left for the cities. I got him two mugs made in Japan, so we can have matchy mugs when we drink our coffee. He liked them and seemed impressed that they are really Japanese!



Next, S thought I looked cute while driving. Maybe that's why he tags along with me so often when I have meetings and classes in St. Paul?



S at the restaurant, enjoying his Irish coffee, which was more Irish than coffee, if ya know what I mean. The servers kept topping him up with coffee, though, so that was great.



Me looking dreamy. S took a bunch of these.



The guitarist took a while to set up, and S wanted to snap a photo of his gear for his cousin Nate. They were a good jazz combo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trials and tribulations

This morning was registration time for both me and S. We both had our course schedules all figured out, but of course, it didn't go off without a hitch.

I register at 6am, so I was up at 5:45 trying to login, to no avail. Our house's internet access was down, and so was, it turns out, all of Charter High-Speed in our service region. So I had to wait until I got to work (early) in order to attempt it, also to no avail. Turns out the system was down! Ack! So at least I wasn't the only one who couldn't register and who lost some sleep over Kateway's lack of response.

Then, I went to register for my dear S because he was on the radio during his registration time. I added all of his courses to a list with no problems... then, I got an error message. He needed special permission for one of his Social Studies Teaching courses. No problem, he said, when I called him, because he knows the professor and would see him later today in class.

A little later, on my break, I tried logging in to Kateway again, and it worked! A miracle! Except when I went to register, I didn't have the necessary pre-requisite for one of my desperately wanted courses. Ugh. So, I called the department for a second time, and the lovely person in the office helped me out by giving me the e-mail of the instructor so I could beg to be let in. So, I at least got into Readers Advisory Services, but Services for Children and Young Adults is a big question mark right now. Here's hoping the instructor can help me out.

Then, S called a bit later to say he ran into the professor he needed to talk to, and apparently, he doesn't need to take that course until his Education Block of courses in the fall. Yippee! One less class to take for S next semester. Fingers crossed that I can be so lucky.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And now for something different

Occasionally, as part of my job, I get to drive and make the delivery of items to a handful of branch libraries. It's rare, but it's a good change of pace from working in circulation/distribution at a busy public library. One of the best parts about the drive is definitely being out on the open road and kind of marvelling at the loveliness that Minnesota has to offer, even when it's partly cloudy in November. I managed to snap a few good photos on my last drive.




Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shot to bits

Anniversary plans got completely obscured by homework needs yesterday. S had a group meeting last night for a presentation today, and then tonight he has to work for his political science professor, calling for the next SCSU survey and I have a boatload of work to do for my professor and reading to do for class on Saturday, plus polishing my paper. So, I guess we're going to try to go out tomorrow night instead, when S tags along with me to St. Paul. I'm thinking we could go to fancy sushi at Saji-Ya, or try the Loring Pasta Bar, or possibly Staccato.

S did send lovely roses to work, though:





Here's to another two excellent years together.

Monday, November 05, 2007

One of those songs

I caught part of This American Life last night while I took a bath, and at the end of the story about Jason Minter, whose mother was murdered when he was a kid, they played a cover of "It's All Right To Cry" from the "Free To Be... You and Me" 1970's kids album. The cover was sung by a female vocalist, and was just a simple piano accompaniment. I googled and googled and gave up. Finally, today I tried iTunes music store, and it came up under "It's Alright To Cry." Artist? Moufette. No idea who that is, but I really liked the song. Except that iTunes wouldn't allow me to download just that song, only to get it if I bought the album. Previewed the other tracks: not so hot. Back to googling. Canadians to the rescue! Only $.99 Canadian for the song, so I jumped. The song is so great, it's worth the $1.05 American.

Not just yet

With our two year anniversary of dating fast approaching (Wednesday), I'm sure there are a lot of people who expect me to get a "sparkler" like the photo here. Well, I know not to expect that, but isn't it a beautiful ring?

When I told a co-worker this morning that I was excited to see what S has planned, she asked if I thought I would get a proposal. "Oh, no," I said. "S needs a laptop more than I need a ring." Which is true. "But," I joked, showing her my left hand, "he did give me this," and showed her that S, with his artistic skills, had drawn a ring on my finger. It's about a 5-carat asscher cut, by my estimation. My co-worker wasn't as amused as I was.

When I told my sister that our two-year anniversary was coming up, she said, "Two years? It seems like a lot longer than that!" I guess, in a way, it does.

S has assured me that he has a number of things planned, and part of the plans began yesterday with a very thoughtful, sweet mix CD that went from the time we met until the time we started dating, titled, "Anniversary, Part I."

Now, for my own anniversary plans...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Me, the guest lecturer, and some fashion photos

It's been a bit since I last posted some photos on the blog here, so today I promise a little bit of fashion photography in addition to the summary of events.

You may or may not remember that I had plans to buy a new winter coat, and I heard a little birdie say it was going to get colder next week, so I bit the bullet and ordered. I wasn't too sure on the sizing, so I ordered both a 4 and a 6, figuring that with J. Crew's great return policy (can return online orders at the stores) I could just return the one that doesn't fit on one of my many trips to St. Paul and back.

So this morning before I left with my sister Andrea to go to campus and talk about singing for her Speech Science course, I checked my order status at J. Crew and it said my package was out for delivery. Ooh, trés exciting!

I went with my sister to her poetry class which meets before her Speech Science course, so I got to listen to some student poems, and her professor is one of my former professors, so it was good to see good old Bill and hear a student's poem about the St. Cloud Superman (a dude who wears a Superman costume and stands on street corners waving American flags).

Next was Speech Science, and I answered the professor's questions to the best of my ability, and sang a bit of the Jake Heggie version of "Dixie" for the class. It was fun to talk to the students and answer their questions, and the professor then made the class come up with ideas for clinical practice based on things I said. I talked a lot about breathing and movement and how I think about the sound production. My talk will also be on their test next week, so I hope they paid attention. Hah. Mostly, it was easy and enjoyable and I got a few laughs, so that felt good.

Once Andrea and I got home after a lunch of Chinese buffet and a bike ride, I was sitting here and the doorbell rang. It was the UPS truck! I unpacked my booty, and tried on the size 4 first. It fit, but would be an uncomfortably tight fit with my bulky wool sweaters, so I knew the 6 was going to be just right. It was:


Me in the backyard, black J. Crew Double Cloth Lady Day coat lined with Thinsulate. I really like the colorful, silky lining.




Showing a bit of the lining. The Thinsulate is between the wool of the coat and the silky lining. Now for a cold snap to test out the actual warmth. Today is too beautiful to know if it will be warm enough for a Minnesota winter, but I have a feeling I'll know soon enough if it will keep me cosy through February.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My graduate assistantship depends on this Library of Congress table being typed and spaced correctly

SB PLANT CULTURE SB


Pests and diseases
Plant pathology
Diseases and pests of trees and shrubs -- Continued
765 Tree and forest declines
For local, see SB762+
For particular trees, see SB608.A+
767 Galls and gall insects
For special insects, see QL1+
Individual trees, see SB608.A+
781 Damage from frosts, freezing and hail
Cf. QK756, Plant physiology
785 Effect of floods
Cf. QK870+, Plant physiology
791 Effect of drought

Speech science and opera

Tomorrow I am going to my sister's Speech Science class to talk about singing opera. I guess my sister kept mentioning to her professor (who also happens to be her advisor and the head of the Communications Disorders department) that I took voice lessons and sing opera, and the professor invited me to come and talk. I will probably also have to sing something little, just to prove that I can. I'll make that decision tonight (maybe "Summertime" or "Mein herr marquis" since they can be cut short).

The professor wants me to answer the following questions:

How I prepare my voice for singing--warm-ups, etc.
Ways in which I use my voice differently in singing and speaking.
When I took lessons, what I was taught in general about using my voice.
If I have had any issues with my voice as a singer.

I also plan on explaining a bit of my background and how I stumbled into singing (tried singing along with Maria Callas, and it worked) and the five or so years of voice lessons I've taken. I just hope I don't get nervous and flake. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More on money management

I made an account last night with Mint.com to help manage my money and I'm really liking it. I also signed up with Wesabe.com but I didn't like that I was going to have to download my account information and re-upload it in order to make the site work.

However, Mint does not have the Social Networking aspect, just a great way to visually see where all the money is going (it let me add all my credit cards, my bank account, and my ING savings account, and see my debt/cash access in one simple page). I will probably use Wesabe in the future, after I find the patience to figure out how to use it, exactly. The video they have explaining the service is helpful, though.

I was so excited about these sites last night that S put me in "financial time out." He said I was too happy, and needed not to talk about money for a little bit. Then, he tickled me. Geez! I'm just trying to plan for the future and be wise about my money.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Making wise decisions

I'm sitting here on this Monday morning looking at the Fidelity Freedom 2040 Fund and also at starting a Roth IRA. I am definitely a long-term planner. No cost-benefit analysis needed here; it's just so obvious.

I know that my parents didn't start saving for retirement until they were in their mid-30s, and now my dad will be retiring next year, at age 61, so I think his investments have worked out pretty well (and he's also starting his own business, but that's another story). I think it sounds lovely to be able to retire at age 61, which means I've got 39 years to plan this out and do my best with my money.

I feel a little out of my depths with the Freedom 2040 Fund information, but I know I can figure it out with some patience. I'm more comfortable just opening the Roth IRA this morning, dumping some of my savings into it, and calling it good. But I also realize I should probably think about it a little more than that. Not that I haven't been contemplating the IRA situation for a while, but when Newsweek says, "A Roth IRA is one of the best savings vehibles for a young person in a low tax bracket," I really pay attention. Linda Stern's article is a good one, and I've got the basics down (I have health insurance, good credit, budget, and live somewhat small), which makes me feel pretty good.

Here's to retirement savings plans!

Edit: Just opened the IRA account with Fidelity Investments, and it was very easy and relatively fast (20 minutes) to link that account with my ING Direct account and start that retirement savings. I recommend it for ease of use. Just one tip: instead of printing all the legal agreements, I just saved them as PDFs to my computer, thus saving paper.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The similarities are sometimes frightening

So S's mom Paula is kind of a free spirit, very different from me, an artist who has a number of physical ailments which basically render her disabled, though she is a very strong and capable woman. She lacks some self confidence needed to succeed in the world as we know it, so she is still living with her mother (S's grandmother), though she is certainly able to run her own household. At some point in time long ago, she and S's dad thought they would get married, but it didn't work out. Then another man she might have married died in a car crash, which I think may have been a big turning point in completely throwing her life off an expected track.

She does, however, have a sort of on-and-off boyfriend who I'll refer to here as K. K is also a creative type, and he literally lives in his VW van and drives around to wherever he wants to live. Last summer, while S was in Alaska, K kind of disappeared and Paula had no idea where he went. She missed him, but wasn't too awfully concerned about him. This was very foreign to me. In my world, when two people have a romantic relationship, they're either together or not together. K and Paula are more like... together when they're together, and not when they're not. Or even sometimes not when they are.

Then, in the spring sometime, S and I were downtown and spotted an orange VW van, and S immediately called his mom. "I think K might be back..." he told her. At first, Paula wanted to avoid him, not get back into it. But ultimately, she wound up at the same bar where K was, and they got to talking again. So then K was back for the summer, and the orange van was parked behind the garage for the last six months or so.

Then, one day last week, I stopped by S's house after work, and the van was gone. I knew that K had gone, probably someplace warmer, probably someplace far away. Paula can be temperamental, voicing her opinion loudly and forcefully, much like me, and sometimes getting into trouble for it. K sometimes couldn't handle it, and would take off for the day, returning in the evening, never any apologies. I couldn't understand why someone would put up with this, but it seems to function, just not in a way I'm used to. When S and I argue, someone ends up caving, apologizing, forgiving, and then the other does the same, reconciling the situation and returning to harmony once again.

I walked into S's house, and S and I talked a bit, and I mentioned the van was gone. S thought nothing of it. Then a little later, Paula came upstairs, and I was reading the paper while S was doing something in the kitchen.

"I threw K out this morning," she said. "Oh yeah?" I asked, trying not to sound too interested. "Yeah, I was going to make breakfast, and he was listening to public radio, and he had the paper, and he was reading me stories, and I hate it when people read the paper out loud to me." "Me, too," I replied.

In all truthfulness, it's really damn annoying when people read the paper out loud, especially when it's news I couldn't possibly care less about. S also agreed that having the paper read aloud is bothersome. We hugged, and S said that's why we work so well together, because we both hate it equally. So maybe Paula and I aren't really that different, the difference is the men we've chosen to spend time with.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Clotting

S had his impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed this morning. He seems to be doing okay, though eating is a bit of a touchy situation. I visited him after I got off work and brought him a stack of movies a foot high, so he can veg out a bit tomorrow once all the anesthesia/novocaine completely wears off. We watched "Meet the Fockers" tonight, which I thought was a lot funnier than "Meet the Parents," by far.

Now, I'm here at home reading about how to classify biographies with Library of Congress cutter numbers as part of my graduate assistantship. Good times. I've read this chapter once before, so it's not too much new information, though the professor has added more examples, which are great. I've come up with a semi-good way of doing the work, too, which involves having both the printed version and the computer file in front of me simultaneously, so I can show the professor my corrections, and actually make them, too. I hope this goes over well when I meet with her tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More patience required

Weirdly, I am on my lunch break right now, at 4:45 pm. I was supposed to take my lunch at 2 pm, also kind of a weird time, but I got stuck at the circulation desk answering some patron's questions about an item he thought he had inter-library loaned, but which our library then purchased, and so on and so forth, so my 'lunch' ended up being a 20 minute break. So, lunch time is now, but I've already eaten. Hence, the blogging.

I started reading "Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007," the newest in the series, and so far, it's pretty all right. The first story was originally published in Spin Magazine, and it's basically a white 40-something guy writing about his experience at Gothicfest. Pretty neat, actually. I'd recommend any of the Nonrequired series to pretty much anyone, because they're rather mind-expanding. One of the books (can't remember which year) had a profile on Saddam Hussein, which was enlightening.

After work, I need to hunker down with Chapter 20 of the book I'm helping to edit, which I have already read twice, but need to read again in order to get paid. Speaking of getting paid, I have not, as of this moment, seen one red cent for my graduate assistantship, but I hope that all this will change in the next week, as I plan on filling out my timesheet this Friday and seeing a check soon thereafter. Fingers crossed and all of that, since I've been working since September on this, and it's nearly November! Yikes stripes.

I am also hoping to find out sooner rather than later whether or not my work schedule can be modified so I only have to come in three (3) days a week starting in January. I register for classes in mid-November, so I'm not sure of my school schedule yet, but I am not too concerned that I won't get in to the courses I want. I'm going to need more time to study and do homework, and having an extra day off per week would help immensely. I guess I have to wait and see.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Problems down the line

So, in helping the professor edit her textbook for official publication, I have remembered exactly why it is that I am glad I am not in publishing professionally anymore. I always wanted to be an editor (since high school, anyway) and after I did the job for about eight months, I discovered, no, that was not for me. Librarianship, on the other hand, well, just seems like a better fit. Here's why:

- People/human interaction. In editing, you change a comma, nobody cares. You help somebody find a book, you get smiled at.

- Editing is all suggestions. At least the way I've done it, if somebody else doesn't like the change, they don't change it. End of story. So you've spent time and brain power coming up with a different way of doing something, and then it doesn't get changed. No gratification in that.

- Workplace environment. You can theoretically edit wherever you like, but it could be that you have to work in a dark little office like I did. Libraries can also be holes, for instance my work area is technically a storage room, but many libraries are quite beautiful places to be. Patrons like to be there, and so do I.

- Time spent at a desk. Yes, librarians sit at desks, but they also help patrons find book on shelves, among other things that require movement and walking around. Editing can really only be done at a desk. For eight hours a day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Personal cost-benefit analysis

So, I'm going to put it out there that I pretty much do a personal cost-benefit analysis on nearly everything in my life in order to determine the appropriate path. It's not a spiritual, touchy-feely way of looking at things, but it is a highly logical, economical, and somewhat scientific process that comforts me when I am not sure I'm making the right choice.

Say, for instance, I am running late for work on a cold winter morning, bleary-eyed from having stayed up too late the night before, heading in for a full 8-hour day at the library. Question at hand: should I hit the Starbuck's drive-through lane for a mocha?

Cost: It will probably take an extra 3-5 minutes for my commute; I will be even later for work; it's about $4 for a mocha.

Benefit: I will have caffeine; I will have warmth for my hands for the rest of the drive; I will be happier having the mocha than not.

Decision: Stop at Starbucks.

Now, there are other factors involved, like how late I actually will be, and how cold it really is outside, and the state of my credit card bill that particular month, but, in general, I look at things this way.

So when my overall department supervisor asked if I wanted to keep working 30 hours a week, or go back to 25 hours a week in January, I told him I would have to "think about it." My reason: I'm planning to take two courses at a time starting in January in order to graduate in May 2009. I also told him I was hoping to reduce the number of days that I'd have to go to work in order to work my hours (I'm thinking two 8.5 hour days, and one 8 hour day, and then 4 days off a week). He asked if I had a tentative schedule.

Well, I do, but I can't reveal my hand at this stage, because I don't know if I'll get into the classes I want to take.

"No, I don't know my schedule until mid-November. I am at the mercy of my school schedule, and driving back and forth."

Then I said I was leaning toward 'no' for taking the extra hours permanently. But I told him I would do a cost-benefit analysis on it over the weekend. He gave me a look. I said, "That's how I look at everything." It's true.

Analysis:

Cost: Working 30 hours a week means I'm at the library at least 4 out of 7 days a week (less time for homework, people I love, etc.); I'm not getting promoted, so it's still no benefits, no extra responsibility for my resume, etc.

Benefit: On average, about $200 extra per month, which equals an extra $2,400 in 2008.

Other invisible costs: After working an 8 hour day, I am less likely to work on homework in the evening rather than just having an entire day free. Being at work more than four days a week feels like I'm there all the time, and honestly, this is a part-time job getting me through grad school, not my chosen career. I'm a library paraprofessional, and don't need the stress of being at work more than 3 or 4 days out of a week, especially not if I'm taking 6 graduate credits. My free time is valuable to me, and I am able to direct my time well when I have days off.

Decision: Going to tell my supervisor that (tentatively) I want to work Mondays and Tuesdays 9-6, and every other Friday/Saturday 8:15-4:45 (25 hours a week).

Friday, October 19, 2007

More on library fines

An anonymous commenter wrote in response to my previous blog post on this topic:

I lost a book and due to not returning library books on time, I know owe close to $500! It's ridiculous now how libraries can send you to collection agencies. I lost a book and they want me to pay $100 for it.

You have my sympathies, anonymous! Normally, libraries only charge for the actual replacement cost of the item, plus a processing fee for recataloging the item (putting it back into the computer system, barcoding it, covering the book jacket, etc.) but that fee sounds rather high. Most libraries also have a cap, or set limit, to the fines on a single item (at my library, it's $6, so even if you keep that DVD for three weeks, we'll only charge you six dollars, not $1/day for three weeks). The collection agencies work to help libraries recover material, and sometimes those threats get people to bring items back... but when this happens, the patrons are alienated, and that's bad for the "business" of the library.

I always make sure to tell patrons who have fines that prevent them from checking out more material that they are welcome to be in the library, and welcome to use the internet (other libraries may have different policies) and other resources while in the library. Some people may get the idea that they are unwanted if they have a fine. That is simply not the case.

How could libraries handle this situation better? How could we get patrons to bring back items, or pay for lost items, without making the patron feel bad about it? We don't want to shame patrons away from the library, but how can we eliminate the bad feelings associated with library fines ("I'm a bad patron," etc.)?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fried yum-yums

I'm on my lunch break at work, nibbling at some leftovers from Tuesday night's Panko Extravaganza, wherein S and I fried up the following: broccoli, mushrooms, and shrimp. Ooh, the panko breading is so good! And cheap! It's about $2 for a whole bag of it, and while dipping each individual item in flour, then egg, then panko, is not exactly the most fun experience, it is worth it when the items are fried, lightly salted, and eaten. It's easier than tempura, in my opinion, and the crunch is worth the work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My new spectacles

I had such crappy luck with the glasses I bought at Wal-Mart back in April before our trip to San Francisco. The spring hinge broke two weeks ago, and the warranty on glasses at Wal-Mart is only 60 days. Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart. Ugh. Remind me never to buy anything there ever again, okay? $200 down the drain.

So, I went with my sister to Pearle Vision, where my eye doctor works, and we scoped out the glasses there. They had a pretty sweet deal going on, too ($100 off any frame). S ultimately helped me pick out these Tommy Hilfiger frames in brown, which are fab. Well, I like them, anyway. Spring hinges and they frame my eyes well, and I get the tortoiseshell look I wanted on the ear pieces.

And Pearle Vision has a 1-year warranty on their glasses. Sweet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

On library fines

I think one of the hardest things about libraries for patrons is late fines. I often have patrons ask if their fines can be "reduced" or "waived." Mostly, unless we determine that the fine was due to an error on the library's part, we don't waive fines. The money from fines pays for library services, and are, in effect, forced donations.

The burden is on the patron to pay attention to their due date and return the material by that day--a simple request, for the most part. And, if they don't, for our system, it's $.20 per day, per item for adult books, $.10 per day, per item for children's books, and $1.00 per item, per day for movies, with a cap at $6.00 per item.

I know there are public libraries that do not charge late fees, but I don't know how the library where I work would manage to function without that revenue. My question is, how would public libraries be able to get materials back on time for other patrons to use them without the negative reinforcement of late fees? What do the libraries that don't charge fines do to encourage patrons to return in-demand material by the due date? What kind of positive reinforcement could be given to patrons who do return items on time?

Girl from the North Country

I have plans to buy this coat for the winter months. It is, as we'd say in Minnesota, "a bit spendy," but it looks beautiful, and with the Thinsulate lining, probably quite warm, and up here, when the North Winds blow, that is invaluable. Also, it may hold up and serve me as long as I remain a size 6. I am already working on a new winter scarf for myself as well, in the following pattern:

Row 1:
P2, *K1, P1, K1, P2
Repeat from *

Row 2:
K3, *P2, K3
Repeat from *

I have a lot to go, with only about a foot of knitting completed, but it's something nice to do when I'm not otherwise engaged with schoolwork, my GA, and working.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Exciting developments

I am super psyched about my group project right now, because not only do we get to interview the Principal Librarian for the Minnesota Orchestra, he invited us to see the orchestra for free next Thursday morning! I am excited beyond all reason. We get to see the concert, then go backstage. Score!

Sometimes, life is just grand.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'd rather dance than talk with you

Work changes are afoot. I feel a lot of anxiety about it, and a lot of that is just uncertainty on my part about how everything will go, which is normal. The new library building is also raising some questions about working during the transition from one building to the next. We're seeing just a slice of the probable confusion with one of our branch libraries closed for moving right now. What will happen when it's the main branch that's closed, and how will items be routed, and how will administration work, and on and on with the questions...

A large part of me is just glad that if I hustle up and start taking two courses at a time in the spring, I can graduate in May of 2009, which is also when S graduates (and when my sis graduates from undergrad! Sweet!) so we could look for jobs wherever (East Coast, West Coast, somewhere in between...) and go off to live ______ ever after.

The pressure is on me to find something good where I could see staying long enough for S to get a teaching job and possibly tenure at that teaching job. We know he'd probably have to substitute teach for a while before finding a job, but if my job can pay the bills, we'd be all right. Of course, everyone who graduates with an MLIS wants a 'good job,' but everyone's definitions of that job are going to be different. I want a place where Library 2.0 practices are in place and working, and where attitudes are positive, and in a geographical location both S and I can enjoy. For me, this means urban and diversity, for him, this means nature and outdoor activities. Really, entirely up in the air at this point.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

She won't sleep better alone

In a little bit, I need to pick up S from campus, and then I'm going to ask him if we can go to the Dairy Queen for dinner, seeing as it is so freaking beautiful outside (75 and partly sunny) and I am suffering from semi-numb mouth and pain from having two fillings done this afternoon. The injection site for the novocaine hurts, but I was nervous about the drilling and the nerve endings in my sensitive little mouth, so I had them do the gas and the shots. Now, I am suffering. Dumb me.

Anyway, in the meantime, I am listening to a wonderful Pete Yorn song ("I am on your side") and looking at crap at IKEA. I kind of want the blue Hemnes six-drawer dresser since I am all about having the clothing and a place to put it. You wouldn't know this about me from looking at my room, because everything is crammed into my closet at present time, but someday... I too shall have enough room for everything I own.

This thing linked here is something that makes Andrea laugh while telling people about her diabetes odyssey. I want to either get her the stickers or the t-shirt. The thing about diabetes is that it's really, very, just absolutely so important for me right now to be treating my sister how I always have, like how we act when we're getting along or when we're not. We happen to be getting along quite well right now (trying to spend more time with each other, I think, is natural) and Andrea is sleeping less than she used to. I think part of what was making her such a sleepy girl was having low or high blood sugars (which Andrea calls "blued shooger" in a funny voice).

She's just a young woman who is learning how to take care of herself, dealing with that dead pancreas inside of her body, making sure she's keeping track of her numbers and counting the carbs in everything, but not in an intrusive oh-my-god-low-carb-everything-gotta-watch-it annoying way. Even if I'm wondering what her numbers were throughout the day, I don't ask. It's one thing to think about your own numbers, but another thing to have to tell someone else these little snapshots into your bodily functions. We don't walk up to even our closest loved ones and say, "Had a good poop lately? What about your last menstrual period? How'd that go for ya?" So I just ask how she is, like usual, and I hope other people do the same.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

School projects, phase 1 going well

Our group project for my Special Libraries class is supposed to be on a library for music/performing arts. I am super excited to say that the Minnesota Orchestra librarian has agreed to work with us! He seems like a fun guy (just from reading his bio on the MNOrch site and from his reply e-mail), and I think my group members will be pleased that he agreed to help us.

For my individual project, the music librarian at the College of St. Benedict agreed to let me interview her, and she was my first choice when I read the assignment description. Plus, the close proximity of the school means I won't have to drive to the cities any more than I already do.

When I read both of the reply e-mails, I experienced a little bubble of excitement with each. Yes, things are looking good, at least for school.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Being tested

I just read this Wiki How article on patience. I am having problems being patient, especially lately.

It seems like all I do is wait for things to happen, and I want them to happen sooner if not now! I know that I am being tested for my impatience by having to wait even longer for things to happen. Ironically, if I began letting go of the things I want to happen sooner rather than later, they would probably actually happen sooner, or at least appear to happen sooner to me, the impatient one.

I need to take some of the advice in the article, and take time outs. Think about nothing. Just sit. I need to get back into doing some yoga in the evenings. I need to stop making so many lists, adding so many budgets, and making plans that aren't actually going into effect in the near future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

All part of a conspiracy to kill me

Once I get my check from my school loans and S gets his, I'm going to feel a whole lot better. Dang, school is expensive, and so is life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update on my sister

Andrea got out the hospital yesterday and seems to be feeling better. I know she's kind of depressed about all the diabetes crap and doing the blood glucose testing, but I think once she gets into a routine and finds her groove with it, it will be like second nature. I'm going to give it six months.

In weirdly exciting news, Andrea let me give her a shot last night! One of the first things I asked her when S and I visited her in the hospital on Tuesday was, "Can I give you your shot?" She was like, "Nah, I need to practice," and she did it and we watched, and it seemed pretty simple. So last night, before bed, she said, "You can give me my bedtime shot." I don't know why, but I am strangely fascinated by it, and so I was excited to help take care of my sister.

First, she tested her blood, and it came back at 306. "Holy poop! I'm so high." I laughed, because the Facebook group she joined (and I also joined in support) had a comment from someone who said, "The first person to say 'I'm so high' was a diabetic." Then Andrea used the sliding scale to figure out how much insulin to give herself, and it wasn't very clear so we asked my mom, and she wasn't sure, so Andrea called the hospital and the on-call doctor called her back to clarify. She needed 10 of the slow-acting insulin for her bedtime dose, and then 3 extra of the fast-acting insulin to lower her levels more quickly. Andrea gave herself the first shot and demonstrated, and then she let me do the second one. (I admit she helped guide the needle.)

I think I may cook one of the diabetic recipes from the cookbook I checked out from the library yesterday, Easy, Delicious Diabetic Recipes, which actually look amazingly tasty. Plus, I got a cookbook of desserts for diabetics, and they have real sugar in them, so Andrea will not have to give up her beloved cupcakes, not if I can help it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thoughts and prayers appreciated

Here's a quick update on the family news front.

My sister Andrea is in the hospital. She was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes yesterday, after a long weekend of feeling really crappy. I don't really know too much more than that. She's had symptoms for a while (extreme thirst, inability to fight infections like a cold she's had for two weeks, and this weekend, vomiting) and she thought she might have Type 2 diabetes, which runs in our family. I think her pancreas probably just pooped out on her. Bummer.

I'm optimistic everything will be okay, since she's young and she'll just deal with it. I've been notifying her professors and the appropriate co-workers. I don't think anyone has mass e-mailed our family yet, but maybe I'll do that this evening.

My mom just basically can't handle any more than what she's got going on, and my dad is busy tearing out carpet in our house since we're having a family friend install new carpet today. What timing. Anyway, it's going to be a process of figuring out how to take care of herself, so I'm sure keeping her in your thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks and months would be very much appreciated.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sweet nothings

"The engagement ring harkens back to the time of dowries and bride prices," S tells me as we're driving from one end of town to the other.

"Oh yeah?" I say.

"Yeah, your bride price would be, like, 20 camels," he says, in all seriousness. I laugh and ask how many the average village woman's price would be.

"Two camels."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Who would've thought

Seen today on a truck while I was driving to St. Paul to meet with the professor I am doing my graduate assistantship with:

Rajin & Daughters
Remodeling
Your Business Is Our Blessing!

Last night, S and I stopped at the video store to pick out something to watch after our long, hard week of work and school. I was not particularly into watching a movie, and would have preferred watching one of my mysteries from the library (am currently on Inspector Lynley Mysteries... ooh, so good) since they are about an hour and a half long and perfect for my lazy/tired attention span.

So I was there, and I was looking at the new releases, about five feet ahead of wherever S was, and he would point things out to me, like "Fracture," and I would have to back up to look at it with him. I was preparing myself to watch some suspense/action/drama/thriller combination that would appeal to a guy like S. I figured my pick, "Music & Lyrics" would go over like a bag of bricks. In in defense, S did say he would watch it with me this weekend, just not right away. Good man.

So we're still wandering, and it's been a good solid fifteen minutes of hunting for something, and finally I just say, "What are you in the mood for? Because I would watch 'Fracture' or whatever, I'm just tired and want to go home." And S surprises me and says, "Comedy." I was like, "Then 'Music & Lyrics' could be perfect..." but that clearly isn't happening, since it's S's pick. He pulls out a few more titles that look good to him, but puts them away, and finally we walk back to the other side of the store. Which is when S picks up "Happy Feet."

"'Happy Feet'!?!" I cry in disbelief.

"Yeah, this is what I want to watch," S says, in all seriousness.

"I think I'd rather watch 'The Incredibles' again," I say.

"But this is a musical," S replies.

"Oh, boy, you're really talking it up here," I say sarcastically.

"Well, I want to watch it!"

"I was all prepared to watch some suspense action thing thing for guys, and you pick up 'Happy Feet'!?"

The man standing nearby snorted out a laugh.

I caved, rented the two movies we wanted, and then we went home and put "Happy Feet" in. It's not too bad, really, though the music is kind of strange pop songs. We paused it half way since we were both tired. So tomorrow I can look forward to finishing the movie musical about penguins with my boyfriend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not quite enough

Sometimes I have delusions of grandeur and think that with just a little more money I could do exactly what I want to in order to have the life I want to be leading. With a bit more in the bank, I could...

...travel
...move out
...save more for a rainy day.

I spend a lot of time writing down numbers on little scraps of paper. My monthly income. My monthly bills. My potential monthly bills if situations change, like working more or magically winning the lottery since I never buy tickets.

The thing is that I have this very American mentality of needing more all the time. But more isn't what I really need. I am daily being tested by this. Every day I still live at home with my family, every day I have to drive an hour and a half to school and back, every day I put a little more into my savings account, I think... someday.

Lately, I have been really frustrated with the state of things. I want to be out of here, out of this house, out of this city, and it's a struggle. Not a true struggle like being African American and living in the South post-Civil War, or even being African American and living in the South today, but a struggle and a hardship to bear for me on a mental stability level. I want to be doing more for myself, taking care of myself, not relying on anyone, making my own way. It's definitely a season of wanting, for sure.

I'm really hoping things get better, and I know that some things have changed... I'm moving forward, planning which courses I'll take in order to graduate someday, and I'm loving the autumn weather, this cool air on these windy, brisk, lovely days, and I'm enjoying my tasks at hand, my homework, editing the textbook for my professor, and just living life. Here's hoping this season is entirely the right length.

The things people say

At the circulation desk:

"I thought about being a librarian..." an older man told me as I checked out to him.

"Oh, yeah?" I said.

"Yeah, but the thing is, I never really liked doing what people told me to. I just liked doing whatever I wanted to do."

"Ah, yeah, that would make it harder," I replied.

"Yup, I just don't really get along with people."

"Huh."

"Doing whatever I wanted was better than taking orders."

"I guess..." I said, wondering how this retired-looking man had paid his way through life.

The things people say to me at the circ desk. Sheesh.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A recipe for the munchies

One of the best little snacks to make for a week are these Garlic Ranch Oyster Cracker snacks. I normally associated them with the holiday season, since my former boss would make them and bring them to work in a big red bowl. Well, now I have to say that I crave them and they are a good little hunger squelcher, though they don't make for great breath (carry mints).

Here's the recipe, with my commentary, of course.

2 bags oyster crackers (usually not in the cracker aisle--check the soup aisle)
1/2 teaspon garlic powder (not to be confused with garlic salt)
1 teaspoon dillweed
1 package dry ranch dressing
3/4 cup oil (I use vegetable, but olive oil would probably be great, and some recipes I've seen call for more oil... really, it's not so great to have greasy fingers after eating these, so 3/4 seems about right)

Mix garlic powder, dillweed, and ranch dressing packet together with oil. Pour over oyster crackers in large container, making sure to stir well and let the oil absorb. Letting these sit for a while and absorb the oil is also a good idea. Then... enjoy! They are also good in soup just like regular oyster crackers, but with some punch.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Educational bureaucracy

I just spent about a half hour calling various departments at my school in order to find the answers to various burning questions, such as:

Where is Public Safety located so I can buy a parking permit?
What do I need to fill out tax forms for my Graduate Assistantship?
Do I need to get a new ID for the new school year?
How do I know if my loans have been processed since the website has been completely redesigned?

The girl I talked to (Kelly) at Public Safety gave me good directions, and the lady in the Human Resources office sounded kind of snooty but told me I just need my social security card and driver's license or my passport. The person who answered the general phone line sounded totally like a robot, so when she said, "College of St. Catherine," I paused and said, "Hello?" but she told me I just need a new sticker for my old ID, which is good, because I like the photo that's on it.

Lastly, the woman I talked to in financial aid was having a tough time talking, which I completely understood, and she commiserated with me about the website being different. Seriously, it now takes five separate log-ins to find out about Student Accounts information. Usability factor=extremely low.

So, I'll be off in about an hour to do my school housekeeping details, and I'm also planning to stop at Trader Joe's on the way for some cheap wine. Now, all I need is to find some lunch...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Observant

I was watching "V for Vendetta" the other night with S, and there's a scene at the beginning in which Natalie Portman's character Evey sits in front of a mirror getting ready for a night out. She's sitting there, brushing her curly hair.

"That's so fake," I said to S, all-knowingly. "People with curly hair don't brush it."

S is used to this. He asked me, while we were packing for San Francisco this spring, if I was brining a hairbrush. "Uh, no... I don't brush my hair."

"You don't? What do you do?"

"I comb it when it's wet in the shower, and then I lift it while towel-drying." I demonstrated for him the next time I washed my hair. If I take a brush to my head, it's Frizz City, and my hair, inherited from both my parents, has fairly loose curls which take a bit of coaxing with curl creme, mousse, and air-drying or diffusing. Trying to straighten it completely is a total time commitment, one which I do not undertake often, though my sister does quite frequently with her similarly textured hair.

Then, on Sunday we had family over for a fun afternoon, and in the evening, S popped Star Wars Episode 3 into the DVD player to watch with my little cousin Nick while everyone else played volleyball and talked.

My sister walked through the family room during the scene where Natalie Portman's character Padmé sits—you guessed it—brushing her hair.

"No way!" Andrea said. "She would never really brush her hair!"

"I know!" I replied.

"That's ridiculous."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This may be the first time my mother learns about this

On Friday I start a new job.

Yes, I've gone and gotten myself a second gig: a graduate assistantship (forthwith known as my GA) with a professor at St. Kate's. I'll be helping her with her textbook, as she is in the process of getting it published. I'm going back to my English major roots, editing and helping with layout just like my first 'real job' right after graduating from college.

It's limited hours, but it will help with my nest egg, and I anticipate it being an excellent experience. It will also keep me busier than usual, as I'm still working extra hours at the library, and am taking one class. I'll have most evenings free so I'll still get my beauty sleep, even if I am working more than 40 hours in a week. I am undaunted.

Needless to say, I am very excited.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Doesn't that look good?

I am having a very big craving right now for... you guessed it, sushi! This isn't really problematic, except that I'm at work and don't have time to run to the grocery stores in town that sell sushi in their deli sections, and I especially don't have time to go to the one (1) sushi restaurant in my central Minnesota city. So, I have to wait until after work.

I really need to learn how to make California roll, and then I can wow friends with my incredible ability to make them very full after eating only six pieces of tiny food. Mmm, sushi.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sesame oil is good

S and I have kind of gotten into cooking together, mainly because we are becoming cheap (don't want to eat out) and lazy (don't want to go out to find food). Thus, I grab a lot of cookbooks from the library, or we just end up throwing yummy ingredients together and see what happens. This week, while my parents were gone, we made a rice/shrimp concoction with hoisin sauce that was quite good. Then, at the library later in the week, I saw Bruce Cost's "Big Bowl Noodles and Rice" and decided it looked like our kind of thing. I was right!

This is the shrimp fried rice recipe from the book, with some modifications because we had half the called-for bean sprouts (I added mushrooms instead) and no bean pods or shallots (onions and peas instead). It was mighty tasty, and really pretty easy. S manned the stove and I threw in the ingredients. It was a rather quick process, too, once the rice was cooked. We both really want a rice cooker someday, and I can see us getting into the habit of making a few cups of rice each week to have on hand for such impromptu dishes as this.


S enjoying the meal. We had some sauce left over from Leeann Chin (really good, quick Chinese take away with home base operations here in Minnesota) and I put some duck sauce on mine (top photo). Yum! I'm making myself hungry just looking at it again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not through listening to 'emo' music

Using Last.fm at work on break because my iPod's battery is dead. It's pretty slick. I don't really use the radio stations at home because I have my whole iTunes library at my fingertips, but it's great to have access to this wherever I am connected to the internet. Right now, I'm listening to Saves the Day's Similar Artist radio, and it's playing me a track from "Through Being Cool," which was one of my favorite albums in college. Rock on!

I think it may be time to get a new iPod battery for Greenie, my green iPod mini which was a gift from my cousin Simon and his wife. When she ordered a new Apple laptop a couple years ago, she got it for free and they offered it to me. I helped a bit in their engagement/wedding plans, so it wasn't just for being an awesome cousin. Heh. Or maybe I should just buy a new nano or something. S uses my 60GB 4th generation iPod all the time but that means that it's basically his iPod and I don't use an iPod all that much anymore because I'm either a) working, b) driving, or c) at home.

Look at me, becoming all adult. Oh, except for the 'emo' music.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A guessing game

Did you know that a mocha with soy milk is actually good? Well, I didn't, but my boyfriend brought me one this morning and I'm enjoying it immensely. I have this very weird illness right now which S believes will be helped by not having dairy, so I'm giving it a whirl.

Did you also know that I don't have scarlet fever? Or hives? Or shingles? Or even contact dermatitis? Or strep?

But I do have a weird rash on my hands, elbows, knees, and ankles (Not toes! Hah! I fooled you with a children's rhyme!). And I did have a low-grade fever (99.6) and a mild sore/dry throat for a few days. I also had some extreme nausea when I didn't eat regularly (like every 2 hours).

So, what do I have? Nobody really seems to know. Not the nurse help line, not the doctor, and everybody who's seen it has some theory about what it is, but the symptoms never match up once I Google it. Hmm.

Anyway, it doesn't seem to be contagious, or S would have had it by now (symptoms began more than a week ago) so I'm at work, doing my stuff. It's itchy and uncomfortable, but it helps to be distracted.

Edit: after copious Googling, I think I may have Pompholyx, a type of exzema. I may try some of the home remedies they recommend and see if that alleviates the problem. I also still believe it could be some type of virus causing the bumps, because of my other symptoms, or that the other symptoms caused the stress which could have, in turn, caused the Pompholyx. Ugh.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How introverts socialize

Last night, S and I "entertained."

The plan was to have over a couple of my coworkers and their significant others, but one couple couldn't make it, so we went ahead and had the lovely Manda and Jonathan over anyway. We introduced them to the game Settles of Catan and had snacks and a yummy bottle of Gewürztraminer wine which they brought. It was lovely to hang out with Manda not at work, and good to get to hang out with and talk to Jonathan.

The rest of the weekend was spent either at work (Saturday) or resting (Sunday) because I have not been feeling that well lately. Here's hoping all is well within a week or so.

My parents left this morning to attend the funeral of my uncle John Bahnak in St. Louis, Missouri. He had many long battles with cancer throughout his 60 years of life, so his passing is a huge blessing for my aunt Donna who took care of him for many years. We all know John is with Our Maker.

No plans and never a worry

I'm sitting in my dad's office, typing this for mysterious reasons, listening to Saves the Day, "In Reverie," an album that brings me back about a million years (rather, to 2003). I bought the album and listened to it in my sweet ride, my Saturn SL2, tooling around Lincoln, Nebraska, leaves blowing around in the streets and the weather still warm, cool nights offering free air conditioning in my apartment... the year I graduated from undergrad.

Now, it's about two weeks until I'm back in graduate classes, getting closer to being out in the ever-more-real world. I'm excited about this fall for reasons I can't explain at this point in time, or in this very public blog. I haven't got anything figured out yet, I guess is all I can say. It actually feels surprisingly good instead of terrifying. I can't plan anything right now, and it's great.

I am closer to realizing some of my goals, and further from others. It's all good, though, and all I can do is choose how I react. I feel more at peace than ever before. It's wonderful.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whatever makes me feel better about the debt is good

This is a really false way of looking at it, but I was shelving a copy of U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges yesterday, and looked up St. Kate's. It's ranked #13 in graduate school in the Midwest. However, none of the schools ranked higher has an ALA accredited program in Library Science.

Therefore, I go to the best graduate school which offers my degree.

Note: This is probably not true, as Madison and Milwaukee (in Wisconsin) have very well established programs, but whatever.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

And I'm earning interest, too

Working some extra hours this summer has been extremely good for my savings account, though I still feel like I'm going to need more of a cushion for when I graduate and have student loans to repay. Hefty student loans, at that, considering that St. Kate's grad students have the highest average amount of debt for a masters program. Ugh.

But, as I like to point out to anyone who asks, it is the only program in the state like it, and I have looked at the cost of school in Wisconsin (the nearest ALA-accredited degrees) and the very small savings would be deleted by the fact of moving and having to job-hunt and et cetera.

Being able to put a few hundred dollars into my savings each month helps me feel better about the mounting debt. Plus, it helps that I like this job and can see myself doing it until after I graduate and find a professional position.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A work in progress

No, I am not knitting a Thneed, but it sure doesn't resemble anything whatsoever wearable. I have to thank the boring and vaguely pointless movie "Wah-Wah" for the progress I made on this item in the last week. I am now six inches closer to being done with my shrug. This means that inevitably by the time the weather necessitates something much warmer than a shrug, I will probably be done, unless I happen upon a string of bad movies from Netflix.

I plan on adding some embellishments once I am done with the majority of the construction work, probably using my very favorite pattern book, The Arco Guide to Knitting Stitches. I have made a few scarves using patterns from that book, and I just love the old photographs and the simple directions. I also really love the book I'm using for the shrug pattern, Speed Knitting, which, as it's taken me months and months to get 40 inches of my project, is not exactly true for me, but probably for your average knitter. I am just particularly slow, and/or distracted by other hobbies.

P.S. Those IKEA tape measures work great for carrying anywhere to measure progress. Plus, they are FREE!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On future librarianship

Today does not feel like a Tuesday at work. It's so busy and crazy that it's more like a Monday after being closed on Saturday or something. I've helped scads of people but haven't made any new cards, which is strange. Summer is really boom time for new cards, at least at the library where I work.

I love getting little kids their first cards, they're pretty much always jazzed to be able to get as many books as they want. I think this means I would probably much prefer being a Children's Services Librarian than an Adult Services Librarian, since the hustle and bustle makes my days go fast, and is far preferable to answering reference questions.

Also, in reading Harry Potter, I've come to realize that it's pretty fun to make a story come alive by reading it aloud. Doing some voices has been cool, too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ridiculous

Favorite text message communication EVER with my little sister, from a few months ago:

Andrea: Where is the intersection of Highway 10 and St. Germain?
Me: ?
Me: Is this a trick question?
Me: It's where Highway 10 and St. Germain intersect...
Andrea: What is around there?
Me: Um, fast food places... it's the East side.
Andrea: But what is around there?
Me: I don't know, I never go over there.
Andrea: Fine. Nevermind.
Me: What do you want me to do, drive over there and look?
Andrea: No, nevermind.

This still brings me joy to think about.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Only up to page 272 and spoilers are everywhere

I have recently gotten inadvertently hooked on Etsy. All these people with their crafts and vintage stuff, and you just punch in keywords like 'bunny' and 'button' and voila! A set of little buttons with rabbits from children's picture books on them. I ordered a few little gifts just yesterday, and have gotten great communication from the sellers already. What a nice little community it is.

I'm currently suffering with a cold. I feel better today than yesterday, when I took off work because of the nose-blowing grossness. My cousin and his wife are coming over tomorrow for late lunch (and I have all the ingredients for my grilled chicken pasta salad ready to go), so I'm hoping I feel a ton better by then. Last night I got some good sleep, and only woke up once (at 7am) which is much better than the four times I woke up the previous night. S has camped on my floor, dutifully reading Harry Potter to me (and I to him when I can) the last two nights, and rubbing my back when I look completely miserable. "It really hurts," I whimper, and he scoops me into a hug. Tylenol Cold is my friend.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back to school...

I had to wake up early yesterday in order to register (at 6am! Who comes up with this idea? I ask you!) for fall classes. I picked up two this time, Collection Development Issues and Trends, and Special Libraries.

I am a bit wary about Special Libraries, since it meets every other Saturday at 8am! For those of you who are tuned in, I have to drive an hour and a half to get to campus from where I live. If I stick with this class, it will mean many an early Saturday morning, but then I'll be closer to graduating than if I just took one class this fall. I am interested in Special Libraries, but I know virtually nothing about them, so it's an area I'd like to know more about. Also, the professor is one I've had twice before (she taught my intro class and Management this summer) so I know she's good.

Collection Development should also be interesting, since I know a little about how libraries develop their collections, but that's definitely an area in which I'd love to work someday.

A little daunting, but should be educational. I guess that's the idea, anyway.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Probably going to have a beer after this

Today has been one LONG day at work. A couple people called in sick, and a couple people are off, plus, it's been busy. Circulation is one of those beasts that only the strong should take on. It seems, some days, like we should have a team t-shirt with some inspirational slogan on it.

I really enjoy the intricacies of my job and the busyness of the day to day tasks. Sometimes I get burned out because it feels like it will just go on and never end, but I have a lot of flexibility in this position. I changed my weekly schedule today, for instance, which will give me another evening free. I've been working extra hours, too, which pads the paycheck and will help pay for that sweet new bike.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not a very lazy Sunday

I took an 8 mile bike ride today, testing out the new gear (see post below), and my mom tagged along. Unfortunately, her back tire pressure was way, WAY low (20 vs. 100 will really kill ya) so I felt a little held up and she felt a little exhausted. We did the loop in about 45 minutes, though, and I wasn't even tired, just a bit warm, which makes me feel super confident about riding to work. Tomorrow, however, is supposed to be about 95 degrees. Maybe not the best day to ride, but I'll see how hot it is when I should leave and go from there.

In other news, S and I are mid-way through Chapter 5 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." When we started dating, S was reading the fifth book in the series, and in order to remind myself what was going on with the plot so we could discuss it, he'd read aloud to me and I to him. We then read book six together, because although I have faithfully read the series since the first book (started reading when the fourth book was due out soon), I had not been caught up with book five when book six came out. So, now we are both reading the brand new one together, out loud—it's the best way, really.

I have a great fear of spoilers, however, since people seem to love to tell you things like about who dies or who kisses whom or whatnot. On the front page of the local paper, there was a report of someone yelling out the name of a character who dies at the Barnes & Noble release party. Ugh. I'm glad we bailed out of that line at 10:30pm, even though we were in group D for the midnight release. All the hype and spoilers are annoying because I want to enjoy the book completely without any extra information. I want to discover the story page by page like everyone who's reading it. Mostly, though, I am sure all the die-hard fanatics are done with it by this time, and I feel I should wear a sign, "Yes, I love Harry Potter, but I'm not done yet, so don't talk to me about it!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I want to ride it where I like

Last night I bought a bicycle. It's a pretty nice Trek road bike, which I had them deck out with a front fender type thing, a bike rack, water bottle holder, and kickstand (which they forgot to put on... but anyway). I rode it home from the store (wearing the helmet which my dad offered to pay for, since apparently it costs at least $40 to protect a brain these days). I've wanted a bike for a long time. My parents got road bikes last summer, which were great but my mom's a little taller than I am and so hers wasn't the best fit for me, so borrowing wasn't my favorite thing. Plus, I do plan on moving elsewhere at some point...

I was able to test-ride the bike before purchase, tooling around the mall parking lot and feeling my leg muscles protesting. It was great. The salesman had a heyday with me, really, and also convinced me I need a good lock, to which I definitely agreed. I called my cousin Erik before totally biting the bullet, since he's a real cyclist. He was at work, but of course had his iPhone on, and I was able to ask him, "Now, if I buy this thing, are you going to say, 'Man, Beth bought a really crappy bike for too much money'?" He said no, so that was the go-ahead I needed.

I think the last time I had a bike of my own was when I was 13. It was a mountain bike, and wasn't great for riding around town, but was nice for going to Quarry Park and racing around like a madwoman with my cousin Angie also on her mountain bike. Now, however, I would like to be able to pedal to work. It's about five miles (my route illustrated by Google Maps), but I think it's worth a shot, if not every day, one or two days a week. Plus, in the suburb where I live, everything is pretty close together, just not great for walking. Here's to less need for foreign oil!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It is what it is

The image on the left is of my hand (side note: with just about the longest fingernails I've ever had, a personal victory against biting—hurrah!). Not just any hand, my left hand. On my ring finger, you will note the pretty silver ring.

This was a little gift from S when we went to the Lemonade Art Fair on campus back in June, and he let me pick out what I wanted. I like jewelry, and I especially like silver, and things that are simple but shiny. I picked this out kind of last minute as were were leaving the fair, and it's a little too big (it's like a 6, and that finger is a 5.25, but it fits that finger the best). But it catches the light in a way I love, and it's from S, and I really like it. It has, however, garnered some attention.

One person asked if it was a promise ring, to which I said, "It's more like an 'I love you' ring..." and she seemed unconvinced.

A random dude at the library (who was probably about to hit on me) noticed it and said, "Hey! Are you married?!" in such an incredulous way, and I was like, "Me?!" and he said, "Your ring!" I didn't want to lie, and just said, "Naw, boyfriend."

The most startling, however, was the pastor's wife on Sunday, who came up to me and S and said, "Are you engaged?" I guess if you want to know the truth, it's best to ask, right? I kind of went "huh?" and she gestured to the ring, and I said it was a present from S from the Art Fair, and she said, "So it's like a promise ring."

Sigh.

Perhaps I was subconsciously looking for a ring that would be confusing for people, but mainly I think I chose this one because it wasn't some gaudy stone that would look tacky or fake. I like the simplicity of it. I'm not sure I like the attention, though. I wonder if women who do wear promise rings or 'purity' rings get the same reactions. Perhaps they wear theirs on their right hands.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Much better than what's your sign

I picked up S this morning after his early class and we went to a nearby coffee shop to hang out. We played a version of 20 questions from a marriage book wherein we answered questions about each other (things like who are your two closest friends/what is your favorite hobby/what was your favorite vacation/what stresses are you facing). It was fun because I learned that I do know a lot about S, and he knows quite a bit about me. Doing exercises like that help with my need for quality conversation (a love language of mine) and thus help me feel closer to S.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Yo from an iPhone!

This is me updating from my cousin Erik's iPhone. Typing takes some effort but I am getting much faster very quickly. Time to check out what tunes he has on here and test the sound quality. Note: I have T-Mobile for my service provider, so no new gadget for me. Boo-urns.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm not sorry if you're not sorry

I know I don't complain about S on this blog. I really try not to complain about him at all, since mostly he's wonderful to me.

The thing about S is that he isn't perfect, but I love him so much, I try not to hold his faults against him. I forgive him the way he forgives me. He isn't timely, and sometimes really frustrates me, and criticizes me in ways that bother me, but I know he's ultimately trying to help. He is a great boyfriend, and I never take him for granted.

Thanks, S, for being so good to me, and so good for me.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

And the living is easy

The plans for this evening include meeting up with S after he gets off work, then heading to mass at the Cathedral. After that, we have 'homework' to do together (we have this relationship book that is kind of fun and has exercises in it, "Big Picture Partnering," written by a woman in Minneapolis, that we've been neglecting for a few weeks since S started classes).

Now that I've got a weekend off, it feels more like summer vacation. How weird is it to be 26 years old and think of my summer as "summer vacation"? Whatever, it's just nice to sit on our deck and read for pleasure (I'm working on three right now, "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families" by Philip Gourevitch, and "The Tummy Trilogy" by Calvin Trillin—the two former books are very serious and sad and interesting, and the latter usually makes me ravenously hungry, which is v. dangerous).

I am also on a bit of a movie theme, inadvertently so. I watched "The Queen" with Helen Mirren, a week or so ago, and the next film in my Netflix queue was "Marie Antoinette" with Kirsten Dunst, and I enjoyed both of them so much, but they showed wildly different portayals of royalty, and I had the revelation that I'd watched two movies about queens, that I felt I needed a third to round it out. I did a library catalog search, and realized that I already had the perfect movie at home, due to my recent Elizabeth Taylor fascination (I highly recommend her book about her jewelry), so I just started watching "Cleopatra" the other night. Queens of England, France, and now the Nile. There is one more movie in this queenly genre which I have already seen, but not for a while, and that is "Elizabeth," with the lovely Cate Blanchett.

Heading outside to eat more cherries and enjoy the sunshine.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Not my problems

One thing that S has taught me is that I am not in control of most things I worry about. My tactic for calming myself at night now includes listing the things I cannot control.

I cannot control people at work.
I cannot control every situation at work
I cannot control S.
I cannot contol friends.
I cannot control Dominican University/St. Kate's.
I cannot control course schedules.
I cannot control the price of health care.

Reminding myself of these things helps a lot, actually. Consequently, it's not my responsibility to worry about any of them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free as a bird (sort of)

My last class meeting for Management of Libraries and Information Centers was last night, so now I am free. My group got our project back as well, and we earned an A by my calculations. This is good news, since I'm a little concerned that my final paper did not include enough 'analysis' as per the rubric. Oh, well. I did what I could with the time I had left, I suppose. I asked a classmate (Liz) to pick up my paper for me in July and tell me what I got on it, so here's hoping for a good grade in the class overall.

In other news, my department at work will very likely be completely restructured within the next two months. This is slightly baffling and scary, but I have very little control over it, so I am acknowledging that fact and attempting peace about it all. I did voice my concerns/comments to the appropriate people, and found a lot of support for the points I made from my coworkers, so that was good. Solidarity is nice in a work team, which I think we are—a really great team, at that.

I caught part of "Manon Lescaut" on the radio last night on my way back from St. Paul. I knew it was Puccini from hearing about two minutes of it, but I couldn't for the life of me remember which opera it was. S called and I talked to him for a minute or two before the piece ended and the announcer started talking. The announcer confirmed my suspicicion, and I revelled in my triumph for about a second and S said, "Oh, of course you knew which opera it was." It's just a little parlor trick of mine to be able to guess which era/country composers are from by listening to a bit of music.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I love Radio Lab

Since I was a kid watching "Newton's Apple," a Minnesota-based science show, and later, "Bill Nye the Science Guy" every day after school on PBS, geeking out about stress and tension, and other random but awesome information about the world we live in, I have loved science.

High school science classes kind of whomped that love right out of me. Except Mrs. Williams, at Cathedral High School—she was friendly and made science kind of fun, relative to my other science classes.

So it makes complete sense that I love Radio Lab, from WNYC, which plays on Minnesota Public Radio and I've caught a couple times. I'm just now enjoying the podcast version of the show on Time, wherein they interview Oliver Sacks and explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity in very easy to understand terms.

It's so fun! I'm so glad this program exists.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Plan B, or This is Not the Life I Ordered

It's weird to think, sometimes, how different my life is from how I expected it to be at this same point many years ago. In college, I thought I wanted to be an editor and live in a metropolitan area and be single and fabulous.

Well, that kind of worked out, except that I was in Lincoln, Nebraska as a copy desk chief , and it wasn't glamorous, but I was pretty good at it. I was, however, terribly lonely.

Now I'm in graduate school and I've been working at the library for a long, long time (almost nine years!) and I am pretty sure I'm going to be a librarian. Also, I have this great guy I've been dating for a while, and I think there's a pretty okay chance this may work out.

I know a couple of people who have the life I thought I might end up with, after I moved back in with my parents and wasn't sure what I was going to do with myself. I figured it was a very real possibility that I would never move out, never fall in love again, and things would stay that way forever.

What a nice suprise.