Friday, March 20, 2009

Awwwwwesome!

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! An Eric Carle Google! It's BEEEE-YOU-TEEEE-FUL!



I would like to make an official request of Google to let Davie Wiesner do a Google next Tuesday, complete with flying lily pads and frogs!

And then Hans de Beer!

And then Janell Cannon!

Just please no David Shannon. That's like Trilogy of Terror for kids.

I will be Googling a lot today.

I <3 Google!

Why I Will Remain Childless

She’s five years old.

I know because she likes to tell people. As if they cared.

Her mom is a slime-bag and the mere sight of her makes my stomach churn. She will bitch about anything she can think of, no matter how ridiculous, and while she’s busy telling everyone else how they are a failure at their calling in life, her daughter is gleefully vandalizing walls and climbing furniture.

And she’s one of THOSE moms who will rip you a new one if you so much as whisper to her daughter that she shouldn’t eat the plants.

A responsible adult will look at this difficult child and not hate the child, but blame the parent for neglecting doing any parenting.

I must not be a responsible adult because I hate this kid. And here’s why.

She walks up to my desk and watches me cautiously and challengingly as she rips a poster taped to my desk. There is no indication on her face that she’s startled by this or that it was an accident. Nope, quite the opposite. Her eyes get bigger and she leans in closer, watching me watching her, as I hear the poster tearing in her hands.

On another occasion, she walks over to the paperback spinners and begins spinning them so fast and so hard that I’m waiting for the sonic boom. Normal children will stop and look embarrassed if I look at them with that stern look that says “stop!” without actually uttering it. Not so for this child. Prepare to be engaged in a stare down as she violently hurls the spinner faster and faster. Books fling off, shooting in all directions, and it seems the only person unaware of the behavior is the mother, two mere feet away. The girl looks at me with intensity as she continues whirling the books, harder and harder. I know better than to discipline the child because that will bring about a whole plethora of insanity from the mother. Instead I shake my head in disgust and look away. She stops when it isn’t a battle between us anymore.

Each visit goes this way. She either follows her mother up and down the aisles, pulling a book off of every shelf and flinging it behind her on the floor, or she deviously seeks to break or maim things.

Yes, I hate the mother. Yes, I wish she’d move somewhere far away, and take with her every family member or friend she’s ever had so that there are no ties left in our area and she has no reason to return, even for a brief visit. I hate her that much.

But I have come to hate her daughter more. If I believed in Satan, I would check her head for some numbers. Maybe not 666, but probably 664 or 665. She may not be The One, but she’s not off by much.

Any kid who looks at me as she does something bad, knowing her mother won’t allow anyone to stop her, is aware of right and wrong, is using it to infuriate others, and prefers negative attention to positive. A better person than I might attempt to engage the child and entertain her for the time her mother is schlepping up and down the aisles, looking for the next trashy novel to befoul with her cigarette smoke and filth, but I am not, nor do I pretend to be, a better person. I settle for my mediocre self and grit my teeth until they leave. What if I’m busy one day and can’t entertain the imp? Would she somehow have gleaned a respect for the library because I spent her last two visits trying to talk to her and getting her to focus her destructive energy on something creative? Remember, we’re dealing with a child who is only one number off of being Satan’s spawn. If my back is turned and she thinks she has gained my trust, who knows what kind of havoc she would wreak? No, mutual dislike and distrust are key to maintaining this plateau of manageable devastation in her wake. If she ups the ante because she thinks she can, I could end up needing to call the fire department or something equally frightening.

Of course I’m aware that if I had a child, I would not allow her to act like 665 does. However, I can’t help but wonder if it’s genetic. You know? Did she inherit her mother’s absolute irreverence for other humans inhabiting the planet and a passion for picking fights where they don’t even exist? I think babies are born with certain proclivities, among them, evil. Maybe I don’t think of myself as evil, so perhaps I wouldn’t have an evil child, but 665 has reminded me that all my flaws concentrated into a tiny human would be too much for me to handle, and I don’t think I could unleash that on the world.

Maybe 665’s mother should have thought about that, too.

Until then, I will have to invest in a mouth-guard to protect my teeth from obliteration during their weekly visits.

And I’ll spend all my energy fighting off would-be fertilizers from coming anywhere near my single remaining ovary. A fight to the death, if need be. She will be my inspiration to remain childless. I will bellow with all my air, “SIX-SIX-FIIIIIIIIVE!” from the darkened bedroom on snuggly nights, or the steamy bathroom after a hot shower, or curiously-lit kitchen while stealing down for a midnight snack, or wherever the mood happens to strike.

Six. Six. Five. May I be forever barren.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celebration

Something vaguely heartbreaking that I’ve learned these recent years is that as you get older, birthdays stop being special and turn into thorny experiences we must survive in order to carry on. Yet, for some reason, we still hope for more.

For Ann’s 27th birthday, we planned an entire day out to celebrate. First we were to hit the mall for Build-A-Bear, some shopping, and a cheap fast-food lunch at the food court. And second, a fun Irish bar nearby for birthday and St. Patrick’s Day drinks.

We drove to the mall together on Sunday afternoon, eager to begin our adventures. The weather was nice, our spirits were up, and we were all expectantly jazzed about what the day held for us.

Each of us was a Build-A-Bear virgin and it took a little of coaxing from the employees to move us along the bear-building process, as we were just standing there holding these limp bear bodies and looking around self-consciously. Marina chose a scruffy dog, Ann chose a fluffy lamb, I chose a black bear cub, and Christi begged out of the experience. Her reasoning was astute. She knew that if she brought home a new stuffed animal that she helped make, she’d pay more attention to it than her other stuffed animals, and in order to keep the others from growing jealous, she’d have to spend equal amounts of time with them, and frankly, she didn’t have enough individual time to spend with all her stuffed animals. We all nodded and accepted this as a reasonable excuse not to participate.

Typical of Ann, she gave her lamb a roar, which is quite funny if you don’t know her well, but fairly classic if you do. Marina had her heart on giving her dog a beefeater uniform, which they didn’t have, and I too was disappointed not to find the RCMP uniform for my bear, so we decided to get naked stuffed animals and order clothes for them online. We left feeling quite proud of our new pets and spent the rest of the afternoon doting on them.

Cheap fast-food isn’t so cheap anymore. A loaded baked potato and a drink cost me $7. What a ripoff.

The mall had little we were interested in other than the bookstore, which we attacked with vigor, all the while scolding ourselves for not ordering books through work at a discount.

There is something magical about a bookstore. Each and every tome, no matter the subject or author, seems to have a stronger gravitational pull than the exact same copy at the library. There’s just something delectable and decadent about buying a book for myself. The heft of it, the feel of the glossy cover, the smell of the ink on paper, and the illusion that this book has not touched a human hand other than my own, and it picked me as surely as every dog in a shelter would. It’s undeniable that bookstores are like whorehouses for book-lovers. I buy books and don’t even read half of them, but the privilege of being able to buy it, to own something so spectacular, so promising, it’s an irresistible draw. Bookstore books call to me like sirens, and I seldom escape without a purchase. But knowing I own that book is a tiny bit of pride. In future conversations, people will discuss this book and I will try not to sound as smug as I feel when I point out that I own this particular book before I go on to share lesser shards of information, such as my opinion of the book. Books, to me, still have regal bearing.

Whereas only 3 out of 4 of us participated in building a bear, each one of us bought a book at the bookstore. And we loved and doted on our books just as much as our bears.

By 5:00, the mall was emptying and we grew restless for our alcoholic beverages. Off to the Irish bar we went.

I was the only one of us who had been to this bar before, and though it had been many years, I had very fond memories. It had been packed with like-aged folks ordering pitchers of beer while playing darts or pool, or singing along merrily with the fellow on guitar, belting out dirty limericks from a small stage. Impossible not to have fun. Or so it seemed.

Fast forward to Sunday, many years later, and the four of us had a much different experience.

Illinois passed a law making it illegal to smoke in a public building. Now, I know many smokers are furious about it, but for non-smokers like myself, bars and restaurants are actually places I can go again, without having to leave after 45 minutes from the pollution. While this does make many places more inviting, this was not the case at our Irish bar.

It reeked of old cigarette smoke and mold. Or was that mildew? Probably both. Without the actual smoke to blame, you could feel the dinginess of the building without touching a thing. There were maybe five other visitors to the bar, all guys, all watching the television at the bar. The stage was empty, the tables were empty, the dart boards barren, and the entire place seemed to be illuminated by the sickly color of neon beer signs. All of the kitschy Irish d├ęcor plastered over almost every inch of the walls seemed less of a tribute and more of a lonely and desperate cry for remembrance. The whole bar felt dismal.

We chose a table in the back.

Picture, if you will, four young-ish librarians, fresh off of making their own stuffed animals, carrying loudly-colored gift bags for the birthday girl, excited and happy to be in one another’s company, and contrast that with the dull, dispassionate faces of middle-aged men, hunched over their beers at a sad bar on a Sunday afternoon.

We’re lucky they didn’t kick us out for being too cheery.

Before we could determine if we should go to the bar for drinks or if someone would come to us, we were greeted by the bartender who will go down in history as the most miserable bartender in the history of our bar experiences.

First impression: a 28-year-old woman trying to look like she’s 12. From the bleached blonde hair pulled tightly back in a pony tail, to the blue eye shadow and mascara, she looked like someone whose mother had died before her daughter hit puberty, and everything this girl learned about looking like a woman, she learned from the wrong sources. Her jeans were way too tight, the heels on her boots were way too high, and the fake fur stole broke its promise of lending the wearer some class. When she spoke, her very strong Eastern European accent came through, and it was a struggle to understand her. The irony was not lost, of sitting in an Irish bar, being served by a Slavic immigrant just as down-and-out as some of the folks in the photographs on the walls, who had immigrated to the US 150 years ago. We were submerged in the modern result of a lineage of broken dreams and smiles left behind in a forgotten youth in the motherland, so far away.

Ann ordered an amaretto sour, Marina a white Russian, me a Coke, and Christi asked our hostess if she could recommend something.

The woman, with eyes as cold and unblinking as a dead fish, simply said, “No.”

We all looked away uncomfortably, and Christi said, “Ooooh-kaaaaaay, I’ll just have an amaretto sour, too, then.”

The rest of the evening went on like this, with our perky selves giggling and opening presents, and a dour bartender bringing us drinks. Each visit by her brought the mood down for a bit, as we all felt the cloud of melancholy loom near us before dissipating, though not entirely, like the smoke from the cigarettes long-ago banned.

At one point Christi and Ann noticed that our gloomy bartender was joined at the bar by a woman who had to have been an older relative. Mother? Aunt? Madam? Who knows. She had the same bleached hair, bad make-up, inappropriate dress, and a look that said she had seen better days, perhaps in a past life. Yet, she had a chihuahua in her purse, which seemed almost too pleasant a thing for her to have. It was distracting. The dog did not belong.

The atmosphere of the Irish bar was enough to bring us all down a few pegs, and before we knew it, we were exhausted and ready to go home.

It wasn’t even dark outside.

We drove home and parted ways. Hopefully Ann had a good time, despite the dreariness at the end of our day together.

Perhaps we should stick to stuffed animals and books from now on.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When You're a Tree Hugger...

Sometimes the trees hug you back.



I took this shot this weekend at a State Park, while watching some deer munching in the background.



I'd so much rather be stomping in the woods on a warm winter day than just about anything else.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Questions

Why is it so pathetically amusing to me when I see someone with a band-aid on her face? Our faces are so visible, somewhat fragile, wholly us, and yet, if a woman slaps a band-aid (not a bandage) over her cheek, I will expend all my effort trying not to let my face make that look that says OMG-WTF-Loser! And, of course, I laugh when the person is out of sight. It makes little sense to me, but it is something I’ll never overcome. No band-aids on the face.

What do you do when, right before your eyes, a patron signs his own name and then forges a signature of someone else on a document, and then asks you to fax it? AND, what if you happen to see that it is a power of attorney document that you are faxing to an attorney? I did nothing, but it bothers me. Part of me thinks that documents like that should be notarized, but if the person you need power of attorney over is non-ambulatory, then what? The whole thing reeks. And now, when he comes into the library, I think he’s scummy and don’t give him any genuine smiles or laughs. Not much of a punishment for forgery, but it’s all I got.

Why don’t they write rock songs that about having a bood-sucking mother? If Theory of a Deadman could edit this song and add that little complaint to their long list, it would be my new theme song. I had a particularly bad week this week and found myself humming this song on numerous occasions. Every time someone pissed me off, which was fairly constant, my brain would sing to me, “So if you're pissed like me/Bitches, here's what you gotta do/Put your middle fingers up in the air/Go on and say ‘Fuck you!’” Let me tell you, I sat quietly at my desk a number of times, fists balled up in my lap with one finger protruding in passionate defiance. At home, that finger came flying up each time my mom’s back was turned. It’s gotten a lot of use this week.

Why is nothing ever as good as it is in the salon? I visited Megan recently for another haircut (with the secondary intention of mentioning many times that I have a boyfriend and am not in love with her) and she used a new product on my hair that smelled so good, I spent the day trying to sniff my hair as often as possible. I already use the expensive salon shampoo she uses, so when she added this mousse, I thought I could get my hair to smell like that all the time if I just use that mousse as well. So not the case. $20 and 10 days later, my mousse arrived, but it doesn’t have the same intoxicating smell as it did in the salon. So if you see me sniffing my hair and frowning, this is why.

How is it the South Park guys get away with what they do? Tonight I watched an episode about the Jonas Brothers and I laughed so hard I almost threw up. It was so crass and so hilarious, and yet so poignant, as always. Part of me is amazed this is on television and the other part thinks they should be sweeping the Emmys. Did anyone else see that episode? I’d just had a conversation with my brother about how they can’t shock us when they make movies anymore, and then I watched little a girl pull down her pants and hump the arm of the chair while watching the Jonas boys perform, later to be outdone by another concert scene where…never mind. I can’t even say. GO WATCH IT!

Why am I still awake? It’s 1 a.m. and I have an 8-hour all-staff meeting at work tomorrow, where I will need a decent night of sleep behind me to keep from dozing off in the world’s most uncomfortable chairs. This is punishment, surely, but I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snippits

It’s all I have time for.

Last week was my birthday and no one ruined it for the first time in many years. I don’t ask for much, just don’t make me cry on my birthday. It’s been a long time since my boyfriend, friends and family could accomplish this, and I’m thinking this was a total fluke, which I am very grateful for.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire sent me a package of stuff to grow my own cucumbers. I should probably mention that I have been making my own pickles. For eating. Get your heads out of the gutter. Or leave them there. Keep me company.

Briana and I are building a new website for our library from the ground up. A year ago I was offered this job with a raise, and I turned it down. Here I am a year later, doing it for nothing more than my usual pay. Feel free to call me an idiot.

At least I have cucumbers.

I bought a slow-cooker. It’s really great to defrost meat overnight and spend my mornings chopping vegetables so they can cook for 9 hours. Are my slow-cooked stews any better than those I make on the stovetop in a fraction of the time? Um, no, definitely not. Am I going to stop slow-cooking everything I possibly can anytime soon? Uh, no, I don’t think so.

Our new director hired two new security guards at our library and they are both totally hot. I haven’t seen this much blushing or heard this much giggling in our building since…ever. Mini-meetings are held to discuss how nice the arms of one looks or how much we support the idea of forcing them to wear tighter pants. We have to be very careful because it would be quite embarrassing for a bunch of librarians to be busted for sexually harassing the handsome, younger men on staff.

At least I have cucumbers.

Ann’s birthday is coming up and we’re going to Build-A-Bear to celebrate, which is going to be a nightmare because we will want to be quite silly and yet serious about building our bears, and surely the place will be overrun with misbehaved, irritating children. That’s the problem with being single, childless librarians: we like the kids’ stuff, but don’t like the kids so much. Alcohol will follow, and that’s going to have to get us through.

Tonight one of our maintenance guys found a copy of Maxim magazine in the men’s washroom. It wasn’t our copy. Someone actually bought this copy, brought it into the library’s washroom, and left it behind. Hopefully he finished his business with the magazine or else he went home tonight and was gravely disappointed to find that he had only his imagination to get him through. So sad.

At least I have cucumbers.