Cheers!
August 6, 2009, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

When I was rejected from the fellowship down in Maryland, my mother told me that one of her crazy coworkers told her that she looked up my birthday in her astrology resources, and the stars were aligned for things to look up for me this fall. “Not to worry,” she said, “Everything will work out for her this fall!”

My mother and I rolled our eyes.

I have been avoiding this blog because all I wanted to do every time I started to write a new post was pound my fists and scream and yell and throw a temper tantrum. Damnit! I went to a good school. I got good grades in a difficult major, with an extra (easy as cake major) just to even things out. I went to grad school immediately, no time off. It was the NUMBER ONE SCHOOL for that program, in the nation. NUMBER ONE. I got good grades. I graduated.

And then the economy fell apart. I have been enraged about my dumb luck and the stupid people who screwed up the stupid economy with their stupid mortgages and the stupid people on Wall Street and WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING TO ME WAH.

And then I felt guilty because there were other people out there who had it worse than me, and what right did I have to whine? I should be grateful for the roof over my head and food in my belly.

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And also for the puppy in my house who loves me unconditionally. Especially when I take her for long runs in the dog park, with dips in the creek.

I haven’t been able to think of anything else for the past long while, and for that I apologize. I apologize mostly to myself because this was a period of my life that I ought to have recorded. My anguish, however emo and pathetic it may have been, was real. But so was the rest of my life. I did plenty of other things in the past few months.

1. I graduated

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Which clearly my mom and I found hilarious.

2. I went to Kansas City and visited the Truman Library.

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My father is more amused than he lets on.

3. While in Kansas City, my cousin was conveniently getting married. And so, I girded myself.

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That dress is vintage! My nana made it over 50 years ago, after she birthed 3 of her 4 children. By the summer of 1954 she 3 children in diapers, under the age of 26 months. Crazy, yes, but she ended up thinner after that than she started. I guess growing 3 large babies in 26 months is draining. Either way, the dress came with a built in girdle to suck you in so you can zip it up. I also wore spanxx from my bra to my thighs to smooth things over nicely. I don’t think my abs have ever had a better work-out than wearing that get-up for an entire day.

4. I got engaged.

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Notice I cropped out my terribly chewed up cuticles.

So I can’t help but notice it’s not fall yet. And yet, I’m starting an amazing job next week. It’s only a year, and I won’t get rich from it, but I’m taking classes for free, getting a degree for free, getting a free computer, and working in a medical library 20 hours a week. It’s a fantastic step to doing what I want to do, and I don’t even have to buy a car or pay for bus fare. I went to a new city, realized I can in fact get thinner, and I get to start planning a wedding with my best friend. All by August.

So, here’s to astrology, University ID bus fare, and the National Library of Medicine: I clink my beer bottle to the computer screen.



Did your book throw up on you?
December 3, 2008, 10:34 am
Filed under: Library | Tags:

Without fail, every few weeks I get a question at the library that I have never heard before. Usually, it is exceptionally odd.

Today was the day for the odd question.

A woman came up to me and said, “Is there any way I could get a mop and a bucket?”

This is a library. Not a cleaning supply store.



There’s no reading in Fayette County!
August 1, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Books, Library | Tags: , , ,

I am from a book-worm family. My father spent his early years getting into trouble because his mother wouldn’t teach him to read. In her defense, the theory in the 40’s (yes, my dad is that old) was that only teachers were qualified to teach anything, and parents would screw it up. So, she didn’t teach him to read. She did send him to school a year early to get him out of her hair. You know, because he did things like vacuum the water out of the toilet, and set the stove on fire.

When he did learn how to read, he never stopped. When I was little, he would read poetry to me at night. When I learned how to read, I practiced by reading poetry to him.

Shortly after that, I began reading the newspaper in the morning. He’s regretted teaching me how to read ever since.

I was an English major in college because I had room for an extra major. I wanted to take classes where I would read novels. English classes fit that bill. I am one third of a librarian as of today.

You might say that books are an integral part of my life.

So it astonished me to hear this story from Bear’s parents:

They went camping near Confluence, Fayette County last summer. We’re all going camping there this weekend, actually. There’s a pretty lake, nice campgrounds, fun stuff. His aunt and uncle were there, as well, and his uncle ran out of reading material. They decided to head into town to get some supplies and see if he could find a bookstore of some sort.

They didn’t see any, so they stopped in another store and asked where they might find some books.

The girl working at the counter said, mystified, “Books? Why would you want books?”

The closest they found was a shelf of Jesus books at the local grocery store. Bear’s uncle had to do without books for the rest of the trip.

I was astonished to hear this. I discussed it with Dan, who didn’t believe it was possible either. So, we did a google map search looking for the nearest libraries to Confluence. These people are poor, because it’s Fayette County, so free books would be best.

Confluence has the arrow. The nearest bookstores are in Uniontown, Connellsville and Somerset.

41 minutes to Uniontown!

31 minutes to Somerset!

Let’s look for bookstores, now.

My commentary about the names might be hard to read. I said “Really?” to Accident, I laughed at Normalville, and I questioned Elk Lick and Upper Turkeyfoot.

Really? Upper Turkeyfoot? Wouldn’t that be Turkey Ankle? Is there a Lower Turkeyfoot? What is a turkeyfoot? Why are you naming things after them? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PART OF THE STATE.

I know, I know, I’m being judgmental. I grew up just past the Philly suburbs in a populated area. I moved to Pittsburgh. I work in a library system that has over 5 million volumes, and I have the entire Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at my fingertips. I am from a different world, you might say, than the folks of Fayette County.

BUT MY GOD. These people have to drive at least a half hour to get to a library or a bookstore. No wonder that girl was mystified as to why someone would want to read.

We’re leaving to go there this afternoon. If I don’t return, it’s because I was captured and punished for my insolence of bringing reading material to the Anti-Book Bubble. Flagellation ensued.

Or the bugs ate me. One or the other.



Ur doin it wrong
May 29, 2008, 10:03 am
Filed under: daily | Tags: , ,

At the library just now:

Librarian: You have over $25 in fines, so you can’t check anything out until you bring them below that.

Patron: You won’t let me check out books?

Librarian: Not unless you pay down your fines.

Patron: Can’t you just override them?

Librarian: No, it’s standard library policy.

Patron: Can’t you just make them go away?

Librarian: No? They aren’t optional?

What a peculiar interaction. Since when are library fines optional? Who assumes that just because they don’t want to pay fines, that they don’t have to? What am I going to do, just wave my magic wand and sprinkle some fairy dust and we’ll all just forget that you didn’t return a lot of books on time?

When I can do that, I’ll also start farting sunshine and rainbows, ok?

You know, just as a point of interest, if you don’t pay your bills on time, they charge you for it. If you don’t return a movie you rented on time, they charge you for it. If you don’t turn in your homework on time, you get docked points. In fact, due dates in every other aspect of life are mandatory. If you choose to ignore them, you are then charged for it. Just because we didn’t charge you for these books in the first place doesn’t mean that we won’t notice or charge you if you choose not to return them on time.

There was much huffing and puffing and angry faces when we made her pay a grand total of $2.01 in order to have fines below $25.

Apparently she thinks she farts rainbows and sunshine, if she thinks she’s special enough to be exempt from the rules. Even if she did fart rainbows and sunshine IN FRONT OF ME, I still wouldn’t be able to just make the fines go away.

If she were a LoLcat, it would say, “Personal Responsibility. Ur doin it wrong.”



Nothing like getting smacked in the head by Randy Pausch
May 21, 2008, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Books, Library | Tags: , , , ,

Remember Randy Pausch? Of course you do. He’s Pittsburgh’s inspiration: how to raise your children well so they’re happy, how to be happy in your own life, how to live despite dying.

He hit me in the head today.

Ok, maybe that’s not entirely accurate.

I was shelving hold books (requests, etc) this afternoon. I put one on an upper shelf, bent over to get another one, and felt a sharp pain in the back of my head. A small book clattered to the floor. Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. I’ve been meaning to find that! And read it! Because I need another reason to cry (imagining what it would be like if one of my hypothetical children died in a fiery car accident OBVIOUSLY ISN’T ENOUGH). Also, I thought it would be a good read. And a good cry.

This ought to be the moment where I say that THE PERFECT BOOK found me by FALLING FROM THE SKY.

But it’s not. It was on hold for someone who recalled it from someone else. Meaning I can’t check it out to myself because that person HAS IT RESERVED.

Jerkface.



It’s Finals Time!
April 22, 2008, 10:47 am
Filed under: daily, Library | Tags: ,

And the living is easy?

No, I guess not.

During finals season, large quantities of students come out of the wood work and hole up in Hillman Library for days straight. They seem to forget the library is actually open during other portions of the semester, not JUST at finals.

I can only assume that they don’t know this, because what else could their excuse be for being such blatant novices when it comes to libraries?

So, I have a public service announcement to all patrons of the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System.

1. We do not have stationary supplies. We do not have: pens, pencils that are not golf pencils, paper, paper clips, staples, a stapler, highlighters, markers, glue, or tape. All of these things have been requested. BYOT: BRING YOUR OWN TOOLS!

2. Once again: THE LIBRARY IS NOT ORGANIZED BY COLOR! Is this really that common of a misconception?

3. No, you can not reserve study rooms or tables. No, I don’t know if there are any free tables on the 4th floor. Am I not on the 1st floor? Do I look like I am having an out of body experience? Go find out for yourself!

4. Your books are due on their due date. Even if you’re graduating. Really.

5. No, I can’t just watch your laptop/bookbag/pile of books/sundry belongings for a second. Do you really trust me JUST because I’m sitting behind a desk? FOOLS.

6. No, I still can’t get your books for you. No, I still can’t look them up for you. You are capable of using the computer AND retrieving them yourself. I have faith in you. I believe in you! I BELIEVE IN A CHANGE THAT WE CAN BELIEVE IN! Wait.. wrong speech.

And last, but not least: (I can only assume that this is a phenomenon specific to today): No, this is not where you vote. No, I don’t know where your polls are. Your voter’s registration information should tell you that. See? Right there? That address? That’s where you go. You don’t know where it is? Fine, I’ll look it up for you because I SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS.

…and yes, I AM old enough to work at a university…?***

These are Pitt students? And they still say we’re moving up so fast in rankings? Sigh.

***Someone asked me, after harassing me about where he votes, if I’m actually old enough to work at a university. Possible responses include:

-No, I’m a child prodigy. I work here for fun.

-Yes, I am. I developed a super secret, morally-questionable lotion that keeps my skin dewey. That’s why I look so baby-faced. I’m actually 75. Works well, huh!

-No, I’m actually slave child labor. They have me chained to the library desk, forced to spend my days answering stupid questions and reading The Internet.

Instead, I said “…uh… yes?”



Library Nubbin
April 8, 2008, 8:47 am
Filed under: Books, Library | Tags: , , ,

One of the joys of working in the library is the fact that people assume that because I am behind the desk, I can’t actually hear what they are saying. I overhear pretty awesome/terrible things because of that.

One of the other joys of working in the library is that oddly enough, despite being at a major academic institution, a research university, there are some IMPRESSIVELY STUPID PEOPLE here. It never fails to amaze me.

A few weeks ago…

Patron: I need a book from reserve. I don’t know the call number, or the title, or the author. I’m not in the class, so I don’t know the prof’s name or the class name. I just know it’s blue.

*stunned silence*

Katrina: I’m sorry, we don’t organize the library by color.

…and then yesterday….

Patron: Will you look up this book for me and tell me what color it is so I can find it?

*stunned silence*

Katrina: I’m sorry, we don’t organize the library by color.

Really! We don’t! I know it’s a surprise, but we have ALOT of books here. In fact, the ULS webpage says, ” The University of Pittsburgh libraries and collections provide a wealth of information and services to the faculty, students, staff, administrators, and researchers of the University. In fiscal year 2004, the University’s collections totaled more than 4.6 million volumes and more than 45,000 periodical subscriptions. Of this total, the ULS has approximately 3.9 million volumes. Our collection of electronic resources is growing rapidly and now includes thousands of databases, over 25,000 electronic journal titles, and over 170,000 electronic books.” Impressive, right? I know! But when you only ever see the first floor of Hillman library, where our stacks are short and spread-apart, surrounded by lots of tables and chairs for your studying, you might have the misunderstanding that those are our ONLY BOOKS.

There are 7 distinct colors (Roy G. Biv, anyone?). Including white, brown, black, and gray, you get 11. By sheer chance, that means that there are probably somewhere around 460,000 books of any given color. Do you really want to go up into the stacks and pick up 460,000 books before you find the correct one? I didn’t think so. GO GET THE DAMN CALL NUMBER.

(I love my job, I love my job, I love my job…)