Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mass-Energy Equivalence

Yesterday, Arms and I were having a conversation at the reference desk, and either because his broken leg is still sore or just out of temptation to sit in the big chair, he came around my desk and sat at the reference desk with me, logging into the unused computer. We chatted for a bit, and then he put his nose to the monitor to work on a project.

Patrons approached, and though I was sitting there with a warm smile to welcome them to the reference desk while Arms was madly typing away at the computer, patrons looked at me, smiled, and then moved to their right to speak with him. This happened repeatedly. I would even ask if I could help them, and they’d start speaking to Arms instead. It ticked me off, particularly considering he’s security and can’t really help them like I can, nor is he a familiar face at the reference desk, so why were they choosing him? They were picking, in this case, the weakest link. In fact, once, a woman walked up with the title of a book written on a piece of paper, which she handed to him while ignoring me. Without even looking up from his computer and making eye contact or any giving any kind of indication of acknowledgment, he slid the paper across the desk to me, leaving the patron standing there staring at him while I looked up the book. Seriously, even when he handed things off to me, they awaited the answer from him.


When Marina came out to relieve me, I told her about this phenomenon. Smart girl that she is, she asked if they were all women who approached the desk. I thought about it, and yes, they were. She smiled and nodded, suggesting that Arms was a good-looking man and they were inclined toward the person they were most attracted to. I smirked, figured that there might be a nugget of truth to that, and shrugged it off. Okay, fine, the deprived women of this community might prefer to be helped by the big, strong blonde guy. Would I react so differently if I were the patron? I can’t say.

But today, Marina was working at the desk with another male coworker, and though he had his back to the approaching patrons, they would walk past Marina’s warm welcome and start immediately talking to her male coworker. Many of these patrons were men.

Now, without jumping to any conclusions about sexual preferences or who is a better looking guy, I just have to assume that no matter what everyone looks like or whom they’re attracted to, people in general are going to ask a man for information before a woman.

And that’s depressing.

There are no other generalities here. Arms is much younger than me, but they chose him, so it’s not an age = wisdom assumption. Marina and I were both smiley and open to the patrons approaching, while the guys were actually being interrupted by the questions, so it wasn’t a question of politeness. The only conclusion one can comfortably draw from this is that no matter how far we think we’ve come, no matter how much we understand that men can be morons and women can be geniuses, when presented with a choice of a man or a woman at the reference desk, people are going to gravitate toward the man.


* * *

A man using the computer today printed an article from a website that had a huge sidebar which cut the right side of the entire article off, so I suggested he highlight the article and print the selection or copy and paste it into a document.

He responded with a very articulate, “Huh?” so I walked over to show him how to do this.

At his computer, the article copied with a black background and white font, so I was desperately looking for the tool on the toolbar to change the shading color, mumbling under my breath about stupid Word and stupid toolbars, etc. I was sure it existed though I couldn’t find it, and finally I had to go into Format and Shading to take away the black background. All of this was way over his head and I told him to ignore what I was doing. Then I had to remove the web formatting of the document so that it fit on the page correctly, and I adjusted the margins so that it fit neatly on two pages to print instead of three.

When I finished, I let out a, “Yeah!” that was a little too loud for the very quiet library, and I added, “Oops, sorry,” for the benefit of the folks around us.

The man I was helping said, “Oh, baby, louder!”

I laughed so hard I almost fell over from the squatting position I was in, and I patted him on the back for delivering the perfect line.

Then, of course, I got a little creeped out and thought maybe he thought I was flirting with him, and ick, no, I wasn’t flirting, and now what do I do? But he was cool and didn’t say or do anything inappropriate.

It’s so nice when someone can say a slightly dirty joke, make you laugh, and not think you’re engaged to him now.

In my library, these are rare moments.

* * *

My brother wanted me to get a book for him and he emailed me the following:

The book is called Why Does E=MC(I just realized I cant use exponents on a keyboard)2?
by Brian Cox

The parenthetical portion has made this is my new favorite title to a book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Animals Inside Me

Couples wearing matching clothes creep me out.

Couples wearing matching neon yellow jackets creep me out more.

Clueless couples wearing matching neon yellow jackets flat out piss me off.

They wandered around like they were lost before asking for help, and when I walked Mrs. Yellowjacket to the reservation station so she could use a computer, she paid no attention to a word I said and started moving the signs we had posted on the reservation podium. I tried to kindly explain that the signs were arranged where they are for a reason, since she moved one in front of the receipt printer and another in front of the barcode scanner. She sighed and rolled her eyes, like I had just fucked up her feng shui.

When I gave her the reservation receipt, after moving the sign back where it was, she snagged it out of my hand and refused to let me explain how it’s used.

Lovely couple. Maybe the neon yellow jackets were some kind of warning about their toxic personalities, like a human version of poison dart frogs who can avoid being eaten by showing flashy colors. Not that I would’ve eaten this couple, but I wouldn’t have minded lunging for their necks and shaking their empty heads until they died of shaken adult syndrome.


I think reading Peter Allison’s new book Don’t Look Behind You is having an interesting effect on me. Today I wore a leopard print blouse, and this is the first garment (other than undergarments) I’ve ever owned in animal print, which mixed well with stories I read between patrons tonight, stories of Mr. Allison’s adventures as a safari guide.

I could be a leopard. I have the long body, big head and short legs, and I’m nocturnal. I could be a leopard on the Okavango Delta. My Okavango Delta looks strangely carpeted and smells of musty books and stale air, with the mesmerizing sounds of keyboards clicking and wild children running amok, punctuated by the obnoxious ringing of cell phones. I perch on my branch and watch, devouring a previous catch, planning the next one. My Delta, too, floods annually, bringing with it hoards of potential meals during social studies fair or other local school projects. My predatory skills improve daily. Sometimes I toy with lesser creatures and scare the crap out of them. Sometimes I run into a lion, which is not a courageous predator unless it has two friends, and I know this, so it becomes a game of chicken. But I’m a leopard and I have the coolest spots of all. No one wears lion print clothes. I don’t need to be king of the jungle. I rule my kingdom.


Today I found a child prostrate, sprawled out beneath a chair, between the legs. He was about 12 years old. Easy pickings.

I said, “That’s not the way the chair was intended to be used, you know,” which is the leopard equivalent of, I could so easily grab you by the throat and drag your dead weight up to my reference desk to nibble on for the remainder of the evening.

His younger sibling, who was sitting on the chair, said, “Yeah, you idiot. You’re supposed to sit on the cushion, not lay underneath it. He’s a moron. Sorry.”

I found this amusing and let him live, trotting off to await the arrival of my next game.

She walked right up to my desk, too. I don’t like her. She asks for obscure books, largely teen in maturity level, despite the fact that her teen daughter doesn’t even read this crap. There have been a number of incidents with her and Circ, namely one where she claimed to have returned something and someone found her out in the stacks putting the “missing” item on the shelf, to make it look like a Circ error so she wouldn’t have to pay fines. She’s a weasel. I don’t like her.

Tonight, after the closing announcement was made and I was shutting down my computer, she approached and said she was looking for a book on how to take your bunk beds, cut the legs shorter, and put wheels on them so that one would wheel under the other, like trundle beds.

Yep. There’s a book on that.


Of course, we were closed as she asked this, and to pounce upon her and tear her throat out with my fangs were well within my means, but she wasn’t a worthy adversary. Nor did she look tasty. I suggested she come back when we were open and do some Internet searching, or see one of us and we would help her. I flashed my incisors. My nose even twitched. She backed away and thanked me for my help.

It’s good to be a leopard.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll browse through the Timothy Treadwell book Among Grizzlies. I wonder if I have any clothes that look like a grizzly bear for my next pursuit.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Miracle Workers, Or Not

It’s so peculiar how people think librarians are capable of performing miracles.

A man walked in an hour before closing, which means only 45 minutes before the computers shut off, and he needed to type up his first resume, not even knowing what a resume contains, for a job that required all applicants to submit their resumes by tomorrow morning.

I’ve written and re-written my own resume more times than I can count, and even I couldn’t confidently compose my resume in 45 minutes to be sufficient for a specific job I sought. How the hell am I supposed to abandon my reference desk for the last hour we’re open, leaving it unmanned without anyone else in the building who could back me up, and sit down with this complete stranger to teach him the fundamentals of resumes, how to use the resume wizard, and what to say to get him this job?

But, he said, someone had done exactly this for him last year, when he applied for his current position.


Well, sir, I though, I guarantee that person was not alone in the building, 45 minutes before the computers shut off, on a busy Sunday afternoon. And I guarantee this was not a taught lesson or you’d have taken away from it some semblance of recall about what to do this time. And I can only assume that the copy you’re showing me of the application you turned in a year ago, which was written entirely in the very distinctive handwriting of my coworker, will not quickly translate to you knowing how to input what was written down for you a year ago into a resume you can write today. It’s fairly obvious that what you are actually doing here today is asking me to write your resume for you, quickly, so you can take it to work tomorrow morning to apply for this promotion.

That pays $15K annually more than my job pays.

Which we are both qualified for, judging by the job description.

Except that of the two of us, equally qualified, only one of us knows what a resume is.

I did what I could, plopped him down in front of a computer, walked him through Word’s resume wizard, brought him books about resumes, complete with examples, and told him to fill in the blanks, like his own name and address, then I would check on him again after helping the people waiting at my desk.

This was too daunting for him. He thanked me for my effort but didn’t think he could handle the wizard, had hoped more for someone to be able to sit with him and fill it out themselves, so instead he’d have to get his son to help him.

They won’t come to our classes about how to write a resume. They won’t come to seminars about how to deliver an awesome interview. They don’t even want to touch the computer themselves. They want someone to do it for them. And they need it in an hour. They don’t have a library card to get on a computer or check out a book, a dime to pay for the printed resume, an email account to send it from, a media device to save it to, or the common sense that says maybe this last minute bullshit is unfair to the free servant at your local library.

So, either they are completely without any of the tools necessary to function in today’s society, or they think I’m capable of performing miracles.

When I see the look in the eyes of these people who want me do whatever it takes to get them their next job, I think it’s a little of both.

Some of us buckle and deliver the goods, even if it means getting them into a job they didn’t even have the skills to apply for, and others sadly shatter their views of us as deities and say we are sorry, but we simply cannot write their resume for them.

Today I let a man walk out the door without the one gift he dared to ask me for. While I know I did right by my job, I don’t like the idea that someone thought I could do something great, and I let him down.

I want to be able to perform the miracles they expect of me.

What does that mean about me?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today, the Douche came back into the library.

Evidently, before paying me a visit, he kindly shared his obnoxious personality with the gals at Circ, who promptly paged both security guards.

As Douche approached my desk, I felt my stomach churn and my intestines suddenly engorge with putrid gas. His eyes were fixated on my chest as he walked toward me, whereupon I sighed heavily, tilted my head with irritation, stuck out my jaw, and peered at him over the tops of my glasses, in that classically reproving, librarian way. He finally stopped walking when his belly hit the ege of my desk, and only then did his eyes shift slightly to my left and he looked at my nametag, as if that had been what he’d been staring at all along.

Douche: Nikki? Is that your name?

Me: Yes.

Douche: Nikki. That’s a—

Me: Can I help you with something?

Douche: Ni— Um, yeah, I need a computer, but I didn’t bring my card. I got the number right here, saved in my cell phone.

Me: Sorry, you have to have a card.

Douche: Why I should carry my card all the time?

Me: It’s just this tiny little plastic thing. It’s not heavy. It doesn’t take up much space. Why NOT carry your library card when you’re coming to the library?

Douche: Damn, you act like it’s my license or something. Like I gots to have it on me at all times.

Me: Well, think of it this way: you carry your license when you drive, so maybe you should carry your library card when you’re at the library. Of course, if you don’t want to bring it, if it’s too much hassle, you can use the Express computers, too.

Douche: Why you gotta be all harsh like that? All these rules! You people are strict! Why you don’t trust nobody?

Me: There are reasons for every rule.

Douche: What if I need help at the computer again tonight?

I took a deep breath, remembering how he requested help with his X-rated pictures on his cell phone the last time, but as I was about to exhale, through the main door limped Arms, and from down the first aisle raced Sergeant, both coming to my rescue.

Arms said hello to Douche as he rounded my desk and promptly sat in the chair next to me, commandeering the direction of the conversation immediately, while Sergeant walked up to the side of the desk and started asking me random questions, drawing me out of the conversation with Douche. It was brilliant! You just had to admire the skill and technique of my heroes swooping in and surrounding me with their machismo.


Ahem! I mean he did.

Douche quietly sat down at the computer and didn’t say a word to anyone for the rest of the night. When his 20 minutes were up at the Express computer, he peacefully walked out and left us alone.

Arms and Sergeant stayed with me the whole time.

What’s better than having a big, strong man come to your rescue?


I was sandwiched at the desk between two protective, manly guys.

Damn. Close, but not fulfilling one of the fantasies not yet crossed off my list.

* * *

Tonight my coworker found a brand new but bent cigarette lying on the carpet near the Large Type books. She finds the strangest things, including the dusty old beaver under our desk.

As she threw it away I shook my head and said, “Soap and water! NOW, YOUNG LADY!” She laughs at this because she’s older than me.

Whenever she finds these weird things, that’s what I say. Go disinfect yourself!

Coworker: You should’ve seen what I found the other night! Someone had taken some dirty books and shoved them randomly into weird places in the stacks.

Me: Dirty, like naughty? Not dirty, like grimey, right?

Coworker: Yeah, naughty, just shoved into holes where they didn’t belong.

Try though I might, I could not keep the percolating laughter in.

Coworker: You wouldn’t have thought it fit, but they got it between the shelves, and it was spilling out all over.

My eyes welled up with tears and I chewed on my lips, shaking with silent amusement.

She started laughing, too. She was trying so hard to fight it, completely unintentionally perpetuating the double entendre.

Coworker: There was one in Fiction, and one in Large Type. Can you believe that?

Me, snickering: Some people like it big.

Coworker: But it was small, and it looked smaller there with all the large ones.

I lost it, then.

Coworker: Okay, I’m not talking anymore!

Me: Good idea. Now go wash your hands!

* * *

When she arrived today, this same coworker stopped in the washroom and found herself next to a woman in the adjacent stall talking loudly on her cell phone, discussing funeral arrangements.

Me: What?

Coworker: Yeah, talking about the funeral home and stuff. In the washroom! There should be rules against talking on the phone in the washroom!

Me: Well, yeah, I mean, consider that most cell phones have cameras too.

Coworker: I didn’t even think of that!

Me: Smile! You’re on candid camera!

Coworker: I should’ve pounded on the stall door and told her to hang up!

Me: No, you know what I do? I push the pee out like crazy! Wooooooooossssshhh!

I shook my hips and continued.

Me: I push hard with the hopes that more than pee will come roaring out.

Coworker: Ahhhh! I should have kept flushing the toilet!

Me: And grunting. Grrrrrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnntttttt!

Coworker: OHMYGOD, do you think she was making the funeral arrangements while she was going to the washroom, or was she just in there for privacy?

Me: What do you think?

Coworker: I don’t know. I didn’t stick around to find out. The washroom is not a place to have conversations!

That woman finds trouble everywhere she goes. Probably why I like her so much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm Not Crazy

Yesterday Christi came to my office to welcome me back to work and catch me up on all the work gossip, bless her soul.

At one point she was telling me about something that happened on Monday, when Sergeant was the security guard who was supposed to be protecting us, and I asked her what Sergeant’s reaction was. Quickly, I laughed and answered my own question, knowing him fairly well.

Me: He did nothing, right? Like he didn’t think it was a big deal, I’ll bet.

Christi: Well, he wasn’t in yet when it happened, but when I told him about it later, he gave me that look he gives me all the time. The one that says I’m totally crazy.

Me: NO! He gives you that look too?! He’s always giving me that look and I grab the nearest office supply and threaten to bean him with it.

Christi: I know! One of these days I’m going to reach across the desk and grab him by the collar and start shaking him. You think this is crazy? Boy, you haven’t SEEN crazy yet! I’ll SHOW you crazy!

I got up and waved my hands wildly over my head, pacing back and forth.

Me: I’m not crazy! I’m not crazy! I’m not crazy!

Christi put both fists around the stalk of the strange tree-like plant in our office and started shaking it violently like she was strangling it.

Christi: Don’t look at me like I’m crazy! I’m not crazy! I’m not crazy!

The sight of Christi strangling the tree, telling it not to look at her like she’s crazy, nearly made me pee my pants.

When we finally recovered from our laughing fit, I adoringly said, “OHMYGOD, I missed you SO MUCH!”

I could never work in a normal environment with normal hours and normal coworkers. Those are jobs I wouldn’t return to after a vacation. I have a job I look forward to returning to, and it’s nothing about the job itself but the people I work with who make that possible.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back In the Saddle

Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!

I’d lost 40 pounds when we left on our vacation, and then I spent two weeks without going to the gym, without watching what I ate, and being totally lazy and decadent. Honestly, I expected to come back and find out that working out at the gym again would hurt like hell and I’d have gained 20 pounds back.

HAH! I gained only 2 pounds, which is less than I average losing in one week when I go to the gym, and I worked out at the same pace and strength that I did when I left, without any loss.

Woohoo! I can actually have a decadent vacation and not be set back much at all.

Now, I must plan another decadent vacation for very soon.

Who wants to go on a road trip with me?

* * *

Something controversial happened at my library while I was gone, and when I returned to ask about the offender who so heinously abused his library privileges, it was told to me that even in my absence, I was somehow involved. Why am I not surprised?

When I asked for a description of the offender, my boss explained the patron was nondescript, but then I got dragged into this.

Boss: [Coworker] said, “Nikki knows the guy. She thinks he’s creepy.”

Me: Oh, jeeze, could you be more specific? So many of them are creepy to me.

Boss (throwing his arms in the air): I know! I said, “C’mon guys, can you give me SOMETHING to go on?”

Me: Really! Hell, I think half the staff is creepy. Don’t even get me started on the patrons!

Boss: Yes, well…

He didn’t agree about half the staff being creepy, but he didn’t refute it either. And the patrons, well, we’re not professionals, but there is probably a higher than average sampling of the mentally ill members of our community wandering about our library at any given time.

And there it was. Someone I have warned my coworkers about, a guy who totally creeped me out, proved me right.

Kick ass instincts: I has them.

If only I could remember who the hell this guy is. Honestly, there are just too many creeps to choose from.

* * *

There’s a spot on the Fox River where we go to sometimes, and for the last few visits, there has been a man there who I have come to hate.

He’s a gray-haired man, probably around 50, pudgy, smoker, limping from a very recent hip replacement, and he has the biggest mouth on any human I’ve heard in a long time.

Also, he used an insult I haven’t heard in about 20 years, which only makes him more pathetic.

He called someone a jagoff. Who says that anymore? I had to reach back into my brain to try to remember when I last heard that, and you know what? I couldn’t remember!

So, we call him Jagoff Man. It makes me happy. I wish I could tell him that.

* * *

I posted this picture to my blog while on vacation, and it was pointed out to me, rather brutally I should add, that I look like a happy, laughing pirate with a full beard in that picture.

That’s just great.

By the way, that’s not a beard! That’s my big, honking, Nikon camera I’m holding up near my chin so that I’m ready to take a picture of some ducks I was waiting for.

My only comfort is that no one is going to stop me on the street and say, “Hey, you’re Happy Villain the Pirate, aren’t you?”

Man, I hope not.

* * *

The other day I was sitting on the couch eating dinner on a TV table, like always, and I noticed that instead of sitting and staring at my food, Doggie Extraordinaire was staring over my shoulder. I was watching a show on ghosts, so I immediately assumed something terrifying was sitting on the back of the couch behind me.

I wasn’t wrong.

I slowly and tentatively turned my head to the left, following his line of sight, and saw an inch-long centipede crawling across the blanket on the back of the couch, headed for me.

There must be a certain tone, a certain pitch, something distinct about the scream I emit when there is a bug threatening me. I leaped off the couch and had a fit of heebie-jeebies that still has ripples now. My brother, in his room with the television on and the door closed, heard my scream, recognized the nature of the scream, and came running out of his room.

Not to help me. Nope. He didn’t even come all the way down the stairs. He stopped halfway down the flight where he could see me.

“Is that the scream of the sighting of something with eight legs?”

Does he know me this well or is there a special bug scream I don’t know about?

I said, “No, it’s a HUGE thing with A HUNDRED LEGS!”

He responded, “Ew.”

There would be no rescuing here. I was on my own to do battle with my centi-legged foe.

Somehow, B.E. got the thing onto the floor, where I promptly stomped the life out of it, without regret.

My brother was grossed out and said, “Bluck, I thought you were exaggerating, but you WEREN’T!”

So the question remains: do we have a completely separate scream when bugs are involved?

* * *

On Friday, Ann, B.E. and I went to see the premiere of Wild Things.

I absolutely loved this movie. I laughed, I sobbed, I was moved. It was really beautiful, and a totally perfect rendition of what I remember childhood being like. The fear, the loneliness, the yearning for allies, the use of imagination to escape from reality, the darkness, the laughs, and mostly, the need to be loved and cared for. If it was flawed in any way, it was in my inability to separate the character Carol from the voice of Tony Soprano.

If anyone else has seen it and has opinions, please chime in. Marina didn’t like it at all, but Ann did, and I’ve yet to find anyone who loved it as much as I did.

I’d eat it up, I love it so.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Comedy of Errors

If my vacation this year needed a title, that would be it.

The leaves barely changed, and we were there 10 days, arriving on the 4th and leaving on the 14th. It was still 80% green. I've never seen green trees in the UP that late in the year.

It snowed the last four days we were there.

On a particularly enthralling trail in the magical woods, I saw this and didn't immediately recognize what it was, given how out of place it was.
Women can be so gross sometimes. If you have to change a tampon in the woods, dispose of the applicator appropriately, please!

I got eaten by some of the only quicksand in the entire state of Michigan. Twice.

While walking on the beach, I met the scariest bug I'd ever seen. A giant water bug. It almost made me cry, I was so scared of it.

On the last night there, while whining about how few wildlife sightings we had, a coyote popped out of the side of the road and I almost hit it. NOT the kind of wildlife sightings I had in mind!

B.E. brought with his laptop so I could stay in touch with people and blog about our adventures while we were up there, but he happened to forget the power cord. We had to buy one from Walmart for $90 in order to stay connected while we were escaping reality. WTF?

I spent an entire day driving all over Munising and Marquette looking for specific granola, which was only to be found in a tiny little food co-op, because I was too stupid to bring mine from home, but I made sure to purchase two full boxes of my favorite Cheerios for $4/box at home to bring with, which happened to be on sale up there for half that price.

Though I packed an outfit (plus one) for every day we were there, I had only two pairs of pants that fit me. I spent 8 days out of 10 running around in droopy pants, constantly pulling them up, looking like a total ghetto loser in pants that hung off my ass. Lovely.

We were totally unprepared for the weather to be so cold so early in the fall, and not only did I suffer from terrible dry skin (too much exposure to the elements and too much dry heat in the car and motel room), I actually got windburned. I am now cracked and red and look much like I went to the South Pole for a weekend getaway.

Wisconsin is making such good use of their stimulus money to fix the roads that I actually got lost in fucking Oconto (where you cannot get lost -- it's far too small a town) on the way home because of all the ridiculous detours and construction.

And worst of all, I saved, as a treat for the last day full day we were there, the Pictured Rocks boat cruise out on Lake Superior, only to have the single worst experience of the trip.

First, I had to stand on the pier for 20 minutes in the bitter cold, being whipped by 40 mph winds off the lake, to ensure we'd be first in line to board the boat so I could get the best seat, which is the upper level, first row, far right seat. And I was first in line, but it began to rain while I was waiting and I nearly turned back.

As we boarded the boat and I made a bee-line for my preferred seat, it started to hail. Pea-sized hail. Billions of them. We hunkered down in our primo seats, open and exposed to the weather, and waited for the storm to pass, afraid to go below deck for cover and risk losing our seats. We were the only fools on the upper deck in the hailstorm. It hailed for 15 solid minutes. We were pelted with mini ice cubes for so long that I lost my goddamn mind and started to laugh maniacally at the absurdity of it all, and the harder I tried to stop laughing, the harder I laughed. Good thing we were alone up there. However, we were drenched, and then we were on our way out to sea, soaking wet, in winds that were 40 mph in the protection of the bay, likely much worse out in the open water. It would take 12 full hours of being indoors after the cruise for me to finally feel like I was warm again.

When the boat left the dock, we were forewarned that there were 5- to 8-foot waves, and if they were any more than 5 feet, we'd have to return because too many people would be throwing up on a 3-hour cruise in 5-footers. I laughed. Wimps. They better not ruin my cruise. With every wave in the bay I said "Wheee!" like a kid on a roller coaster. Guess who got violently seasick halfway through the cruise? Me. I was, literally, hanging over the side of the boat in case I got sick, which I didn't because I was clenching my throat closed so tight and fighting it. We cruised dramatically near to some of the most breathtaking natural sculptures in the world, waves pushing us dangerously closer still, and I was doubled over the railing on the opposite side of the boat, still in my primo seat, begging my guts not to empty. For over an hour. Days later I'm sitting still on dry land and I still feel nauseated when I think about it.

And then there was the last little issue. I wrote a post while in Munising in which I mentioned our room number in the motel. I thought nothing of it since I didn't mention where we were staying. However, if you read my travel blog, I guess it's fairly obvious, which is probably why I gave NONE OF MY FAMILY OR FRIENDS our room number or contact information, but the motel room phone rang multiple times with hang-ups when I answered it. When I asked at the office about the calls, the callers were dialing the room direct and not asking for me at the desk. Isn't that cute? Some stranger was calling me at my room while on vacation. AM I NOT ACCESSIBLE ENOUGH HERE, PEOPLE? You can leave me comments and email me. Is that not enough? Sheesh. I suppose it might not have been a silly blog reader. Maybe it was just some idiot misdialing. Or some kid in another room just hitting the 2 on their phone repeatedly until it rang in my room. Whatever. It was just another irritation at the end of a long line of irritations.

So, lessons learned are these: check the weather, respect the weather, and don't laugh in its face; try on your clothes before you pack them; bring clothes for EVERY possible scenario; bring the obscure foods you can't live without, and if space is a challenge, wait to buy the stuff that's available everywhere; Lake Superior is a force to be reckoned with -- reckon at your own risk; wildlife is seen most often squashed on the side of the road for a reason; it puts the lotion on its skin; turn off the ringer on the phone if no one who you know has your contact information.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finally Some Wildlife

Forest Lake is an man-made reservoir controlled by a dam, which is controlled by the power company, and downstream from the dam is a series of waterfalls that are marginally interesting. Forest Lake itself is somewhat bleak. The water level changes and it seems to be bereft of any life outside of snails. We don't see fish, we don't see animal tracks, and the coolest animal we have ever seen there were swans who flew in and then left. Despite the lush forest surrounding the water, it's dead silent out there and not very natural-feeling. I begged to leave to avoid the feeling of depression that was overcoming me. As we drove down the desolate dirt road to get back to the main road, I noticed something sauntering slowly across the road ahead of us.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I spotted a real, live porcupine! He was so slow. He waddled across the street and through the nearby brush until B.E. jumped out of the car to get a closer look. This cute little guy ambled up a nearby tree, slightly faster climbing than he was walking, and that was still pretty slow.


So, I fell in love with a porcupine today. How could I not? Look at the adorable face on that guy and all the junk in his trunk! Love! Love, love, love, love, love.

After visiting the falls, we headed back to the hotel room for a potty break, and on the way down the small road to the hotel, B.E. yelled, "Holy shit, that's a huge fucking bird!"

Indeed it was: it was an eagle!

From our vantage point, we were able to watch the eagle high in a pine tree eating a fish. At one point, he had the fish gripped in his talons and I could see entrails dangling down grossly, but he quickly ate it all up. Then he preened for a while and flew off to another tree a little further in the distance.

Forgive the blurry picture, but this is our eagle.

When we got into our hotel room, I am not kidding you, we could still see the eagle from our bedroom window.


Dude. It doesn't get more awesome than that.


Then we went to Wagner Falls, and as we were about to leave, I saw a huge bird land near the top of the falls. I yelled, crane! I was wrong, though. It was a great blue heron. He was fishing in the falls. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

So, FINALLY we are on the road to some wildlife memories. Man, I thought it was going to be all ducks and deer again this year. At the very least, it's ducks, deer, eagles, herons and PORCUPINES! With big, pokey butts!


Okay, I guess I love it up here again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Romance Under the Sea

If my coworkers and I have any kind of reputation at all in our own little world, it’s the propensity to do over-the-top displays. (By “our own little world” I mean our department.) We build things; we hang things from the lights; we create elaborate sets; we use props that you might never see in another library if you live to be 100; we do whatever we can to draw as much attention as possible to whatever it is we are trying to display. Sometimes, I think we sell off a piece of our souls to make it all come together, but if people stop and look, we feel vindicated.

Such was not the case recently.

In an attempt to try to win favor with the local schools, we were asked to do some kind of display to celebrate and promote the high school’s homecoming. We had very little time to concoct our plan and put it into action, and we were all lacking in creative inspiration, which is not surprising given what the theme of homecoming was this year.

Romance Under the Sea.

Dear FSM, is that on some kind of two-year rotation schedule in every high school? Can we not come up with anything more interesting than that? What the hell is the library supposed to do with that?

Well, we did something. Something that will go down in history as the single ugliest display we have ever done. It’s one of those things that will appear from every angle to be a big fuck-you to the high school and those who asked us to do the display, but the absolute truth of the matter is that this was the very best we could do, and that is sad.

We hung two gigantic stuffed fish from the light fixtures, paper-clipped their lips together, dangled heart bubbles coming up from their lips, and surrounded them with streamers in the school’s colors. It was absurd and it was disturbed. And in a strange kind of way, we were proud of how awful it was.

Meet the fish.

People did double-takes and looked away confused. Who can blame them?

Even the fish looked like they were not enjoying it.

Although, I swear, the ugliness, awkwardness, agony, and utter horror on this fish’s face sums up my high school experience pretty accurately.

Sergeant came in the day it was finished, closed his eyes and swore he’d never look directly at it again. When he stood by my desk talking to me, he made sure to keep his back to the fish and refused to turn around.

Me: Why? Because it’s so ugly?

Sergeant: No, that wasn’t the word I was going to use.

Me: What was?

Sergeant: Nah. Never mind.

Me: No, now you have to tell me.

Sergeant: No.

Me: Is it awful? Terrible? Horrible? Disturbing?

Sergeant: Yeah, any one of those work.

Me: But what were you going to say?

Sergeant: There was a guy I hung out with in the army and whenever he saw something that was disgusting, he said it looked like ass. That…looks like ass.

I agree. Very much so.

Thankfully, homecoming is over and we were able to destruct our assy display of kissing fish, much to the relief of our staff and patrons.

It wasn’t until the display was done and gone that we received the kind of suggestion that might have made for a fabulous display, straight from the ingenious mind of one of our coworkers.

She said we should’ve had a gigantic letter C hanging from the ceiling, and put some romance novels beneath it.


Hindsight in this case makes us wish we were blind and didn’t have to look at that stupid display for a week.

We’ll really have to crank it up for the next display to make up for this disaster.