29 November 2005

annoying library patron

it's 7:53, and the kg library closes at 8pm. i'm shutting down computers, straightening up, and there is only one patron in there nearly done with his class assignment. this woman comes in and with a thick accent asks for books on boajboigoujoihg. i ask her, "can you please tell me again what it is that you are seeking?"


"okay," i say. "do you have a card because we are closing here in a few minutes."

"no but i need books because my accounting textbook is no good you see."

i give her a few titles, then send her to the stacks. at three minutes of, i call her back. it takes several minutes to make a card (we have a real pain in the butt system that is quite time-consuming) so i make her a card. she goes, "well i want to look for more books."

"i'm sorry but i need to get your address from you." she looks pissed, and while i print up the barcode, i tell her to run back to the stacks. i check out her book and call her, "we're closing." she does not respond. finally, i shut off the computer and say, "the library is now closed." it is past 8pm.

"i really wanted to look more," she tells me.

"well, we're closing now, but you can come tomorrow and we can help you find more books."

she glares at me. "but i'll be busy tomorrow."

yeah, me too. but i shouldn't feel guilty because i want to go home when i'm off and not help someone. i have no problem at all doing my job when i'm at work. but when i'm done, i want to go home. i was famished and sleepy. i hate when patrons do that.

i don't respond to her comment. i'm glad that i don't work at a public library; the worst is when they say, "my taxes pay your salary." yeah, and also the fire department, the paint used for the lines in the road, the war in iraq, dubya's salary...must i go on?

28 November 2005

interlaken, switzerland

ah....switzerland. expensive, yummy chocolate, and LOVELY. i entered interlaken saying, "i won't do any adventure sports...i'm too scared." i planned on kayaking, hiking, chilling out. on my first day, i found myself egged on by suzy, calling a hanggliding place. i went hanggliding, went to the top of jungfraujoch for amazing views (see my article on bootsnall), ran around the beautiful lake brienz, watched paragliders and hanggliders come in, hang out with fellow backpackers. the highlight of course was hanggliding--you are lying flat at your stomach looking at one of the most beautiful places--my mouth was literally open almost the entire time. it was among the best 15 minutes of my life.

27 November 2005

what you're supposed to want, do, think, feel, act: a revolution against traditional thought

i'm thinking about what i should be doing and who i should be and i'm glad i'm not that. i'm 26 years old, working two part-time professional jobs (librarian), live alone in new york city, live with my cat, my parents help me out with things like buying me a new sweater or fixing my air conditioner and whatnot, my boyfriend lives ages away and we are on the verge of breaking up, i can barely afford my rent, much less a down payment on a house (god forbid an apartment! how would the children grow up without a backyard of their own!), yet i'm dreaming of my next trip, and i spend my weekends doing errands, cooking health food, going out to bars or clubs with friends, getting smashed and enjoying it....and i think of 26 years old, and there are 26 year olds who are married with children and large rocks on their fingers and a mini-van or at least an SUV and children crying, crying, and shopping at walmart talking about their husband's finances and affairs and drama over housepainters and gardeners and getting the heat fixed and weeding and non-tacky holiday decorations and i realize, i'm glad i'm free and young and a radical and a writer and a reader and a lover of the world, and not trapped into some miserable suburban lifestyle i always knew i would never settle for.

Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre was the most beautiful place in the world that I have ever been. The Via Dell Amore, a beautiful 12 kilometer walk, provided astounding views during a challenging and sunny hike. It was here I fell in love hard and fast with Italian food (I mean, Italian food made in Italy, not Italian food made in NY, which I have loved since birth practically.)--gelati, pizza, pesto, pastries, oh, I want more! I chilled with Rebecca and Anna, walked along the beach, took heaps of photos in these calendar-perfect towns. I miss the Cinque Terre and its charming streets. I stayed in a dump in Riomaggiore, but my experiences were beautiful nonetheless. I wish I were back...

salzburg, austria: home of the sound of music

Ii adored salzburg. The main reason I went is because some girl in Paris told me about The Sound of Music bus tour: "Best thirty euro I ever spent." I ended up learning that the actor who played Captain Von Trapp hated children, called it The Sound of Mucus, and had his voice dubbed over. I wandered around the historic streets with Alexis and Marylou who I met in Vienna (we went together) and Chris and I met up after our break in Prague. We stayed at the HI hostel where they show The Sound of Music every night at 8pm; there were over fifty people there. We went out to an Irish pub where I got positively smashed and danced with an Irish guy, Liam; Alexis drank all of us under the table. So fun; just looking at the photos makes me miss traveling desperately.

25 November 2005


i LOVED vienna. so beautiful, great modern art museums, good pastries (though cheap eats for vegetarians are few and far between). the art was what kept me busy for five days. i met an austrian runner who's doing nyc in 06 (we'll try to meet up amongst the 40,000 other runners!) and ran with him, met alexis, ran into david who i met on a train in germany several weeks earlier...vienna was a lovely town!


realizing i had a few extra days, i decided between krakow, poland, which i felt a special loyalty to as i live in a very polish neighborhood in new york city, or budapest, hungary, where my grandmother's family is from. i decided to visit budapest: i had been to all of the other countries of my ancestors--england, germany, italy. budapest was full of beautiful buildings, people who spoke in a very foreign tongue to me (not many people speak english there). i loved it, from the cheesey river cruise kate and i took, to the long walk with ice cream with my budapet friend tour guide who helped me get back money a ticket clerk stole from me, and lazed around in the heat with fresh fruit from the farmer's market. i loved it!


prague: the cheap mecca of europe. it's crowded with throngs of american college students and tacky souveniors, but i still had fun. i got lost running through the streets, gawking at the beautiful buildings, walking along the river with rocky, chilling at my hostel. i had a good time in prague, the place where i tried absinthe.


people kept telling me, "you'll love berlin," and i was like, sure, sure. but i did: there is SO much history in that place. i went on a tour of berlin (new berlin tours; fantastic) where my tour guide was from my brooklyn neighborhood and i met chris, a rad english guy who chatted with me during the tour. i went dancing with michel and "the hollands" (as he called our dutch friends), some ozzies, so many people, went to clubs, museums, i LOVED berlin! i went to saschenhausen which made me think a lot--it was the first concentration camp, so sad. berlin's grim history is fascinating, but also quite depressing.

24 November 2005


thanksgiving, for all of you who don't know, is a day on which americans give thanks for all they have, and have a massive meal with family (and sometimes friends) with lots of food (traditionally a turkey, or for vegetarians who haven't realized how scary it can be (like me, trev, and lissy), a tofurky)) that takes hours to make.

today i woke at 9am to a horrid nightmare abt being a soldier in viet nam where part of the war took place in my parents' house and i was hiding because i didn't want to get shot, and t had a dream i was being stalked by segundo, and pre-heated the oven. the cranberry sauce was done, and i baked the sweet potatoes, then prepped all the ingredients, and peeled the potatoes after they were baked, added the other ingredients (grated lemon and orange rinds, grated ginger, nutmeg, orange juice), topped it with maple syrup and chopped pecans and yum! also, i made apple crisp.

at my parents' house, we tottered around in heels and fancy clothes while my sister tried to beat the crap out of me, my cousin showed up looking like she was standing at the side of some road in jersey (she is beautiful but she dresses so terribly and it's sad), my aunt talked everyone's ears off, i ate lots of food with dairy and wheat gluten (of all on the table, i was "allergic" to every single item (inc the turkey, besides the fact that i'm a vegetarian)). oh well.

now is the official start of the christmas season. i am celebrating by drinking a glass of pinot grigio, listening to xmas music, and decorating (and cleaning up) my house. it's bloody cold outside--25 tonight in central park!--so i feel so lucky to be toasty and warm with my turtleneck and my wine, happy in new york.

happy thanksgiving!

the journey to becoming a librarian

a lot of people seem surprised when i tell them i am a librarian. here's the whole story, what's on my cv and beyond.

i always loved the library. i was forever winning prizes for reading an absurd amount of books in summer reading clubs, and would spend my free time reading books on my rose bedroom carpet. on vacations, i would take out the maximum 30 books and pack them in the trunk of my parents' gold-colored car to maine for several weeks. i knew mrs. lieberman, the children's librarian, quite well and always found comfort in the library.

i wanted a job when i was 15, and i kept applying to the library. finally, when i turned 16 (they had laws about how late you can work, and they needed someone who could work until 9pm), i was hired as a page. i shelved books, did crafts with children in the children's programs with mrs. lieberman, used the typewriter, was around for the first OPACs (online public access catalog), learn to use the internet to find out about a cute californian runner i had a crush on (michael stember, swoon swoon).

when i was 18, i quit just before i went to college for my ba in creative writing (minors in women's studies and journalism). at suny new paltz's sojourner truth library i spent a lot of time in the library, and even used the quiet study rooms. ;) the ILL librarians knew me well because i was forever requesting materials, and i knew liz and russ well, circulation staff. liz was the kind of girl every feminist had a crush on: she DJ'd on the women's show on the campus radio station, knew all about riot grrrl music, was a huge feminist, and super sweet.

alas, i graduated, and was living in the city, working for a horrible nonprofit which i hated, loathed, and despised. lunch hours i would find solace in nypl's donnell library, checking out books, wishing i was working here instead of there. as my job really was not demanding, i spent most of my time reading books.

i quit the evil racist nonprofit to get my MFA in writing and poetics at naropa. i began working at the allen ginsberg library for one of the most amazing circulation directors ever, eirikur. he cultivated my desire to be a librarian, and let me take over inter-library loan, and taught me about the wonders of iceland. i learned how much i loved academic libraries, and started to learn about the research process. after working there for several months, i also started working at the boulder public library, where i worked as a circulation clerk, reading fiction books in between goss with venessa.

but colorado was not my home; new york is. it always will be.

i moved back to new york city to pursue my MLS at Queens College. i got a job working full-time for a consulting firm, with a boss who was emotionally draining and enjoyed making me feel stupid (or maybe she just did it on purpose). i worked there for two years, improving my research skills drastically (with the help of author and librarian libby schmais) until i graduated.

i quit, went to europe.

now i'm working at two new york academic libraries. the situation is far from ideal--i don't get any sort of holiday/vacation pay as i am part-time in both institutions but i hope to find full-time regular work soon--of course, as a librarian!

19 November 2005

The Truth About Libraries and Librarians

I'm getting sick of all these stereotypes about libraries and librarians. When I tell people I'm a librarian, I get the same bad jokes and annoying questions: "Do you wear your hair in a bun?" "It must be an easy job to get paid to shush people?" "You must like to read." If you haven't been inside a library in a while, go, whether it be academic, public, or private, and note the staff: I bet your librarian is wearing a sweater with barettes in her hair, assisting users in finding information as opposed to shushing. (And I'm sure somewhere there are the old school librarian stereotype but I am not that.) I am a librarian who lives alone with her cat, and yes, if T and I break up, I will get 12 more cats and then I will become a stereotype. But that's in the future, when I have enough money for cat food for 13 cats.

So here are some stereotypes, and my comments and corrections on them.


All libraries are not quiet. Noise levels differ--have you ever been in the children's room during story hour?

"Do people still read anymore?"
Yes, people still read. Fiction circulations are soaring in many libraries. Many people, including older people and young children, find books more user-friendly than computers. You can bring books anywhere--on the train, to the country, in the bathtub--and a lot of writers and others prefer the tactile book. Have you ever read a computer screen for hours? Would you want to read an ebook that way? Not for me.

"Are libraries irrelevant? We have computers, and Google for everything now."
If you think Google is god's gift, you need to speak with a friendly librarian for further input. Google is an unacademic search engine full of highly irrelevant information. Since anybody can put anything (yep, I mean anything and everything) up on the Internet, when you search on Google, you get false hits, websites without authority, inaccurate information--often seeming to be correct. Online databases are extremely valuable, especially for scholars and students--and online databases are available through your library. Libraries purchase databases, research tools, indexes, full-text articles, books, specialized encyclopedias and reference sources, etc, and other things that are not available on the internet. Librarians spend great amounts of time advising users on how to find trustworthy sources and reliable electronic materials.

"The Dewey Decimal System..."
Yep, and Dewey does have flaws, and so does the Library of Congress Call Number System, but it makes it quite easy for browsing. For instance, if you are at a library, and you are doing a research paper on say, Allen Ginsberg, you would search in the 800s or the PSs (depending upon if you are using Dewey or LC), and find relevant materials in the surrounding areas, and then, oh, there's a book on Kerouac, who I also need information on...Browsing is easy, and fun with our displays, and who can say that about a computer screen?


I have never shushed people. Yesterday, a patron complained about the noise: "I can't study in this place, it's so loud." What I did then and do when the noise level is up is say, "Please keep your voices down it is disturbing to others." I have worked in libraries with all different noise levels; my previous two jobs were quite noisy for libraries, especially with screaming coworkers and my boss's radios.

"All you do is read books?"
No. If you work in a public library, and serve as a readers' advisory librarian, part of your job duty is to keep up-to-date on popular fiction so that you may advise readers--and you'll often read in between other tasks or during slow times at the reference desk. Neither of my jobs includes any sort of leisure fiction; I do review reference books, and help users find information in books, but no, all I do is not read books.

"You must love to read."
Actually, I do. It's not required of my job, and my attraction to words has also made me a writer. But loving to read was not the reason I became a librarian. I enjoy helping others, and researching, which are the two main things a librarian does.

"So what is it that you do?"
I help people develop practical skills for personal and academic research, and help them research and find information. I help users navigate the excessive amount of informaiton out there, teach them how to phrase search queries, check authority of information.

"Where's your bun and glasses?"
I usually wear my long hair down and have perfect vision.

"You work for the book."
No, I work with and for people, not books. You need customer service skills.

"Spinster librarians."
Librarians are very diverse--all ages, all races, all sexes, all sexual orientations, all kinds of looks, all kinds of people, from radical librarians to romance-reading librarians, we're staffing your libraries, waiting here, for you to ask us for help.

i'm hungry

I went to my holistic doctor and got the results of my allergy test back: I should abstain from dairy and gluten. This means T and I are breaking up b/c he doesn't want to be with someone who can't eat his infamous garlic bread (He made fun of me when I told him I might be allergic and said he didn't want to be with me if I can't eat anything). He'll find a nice New England girl with something to grab onto who eats anything without any concern for pesticides or that an animal died for it or allergies. I'm really depressed, and especially at the holidays. Egg nog! Pfferneuse! Cheese, dairy, wheat gluten everywhere. I'm a vegetarian who can't eat dairy or gluten. I'm so depressed. I need to leave NYC because pizza and bagels with cream cheese, two NYC staples, I cannot eat. I wish I never went to the holistic doctor, who cares if my bone density is messed up from my asthmatic drugs? I'm really depressed now about this whole thing, especially at holiday time. Living without asthma just may be a dream idiots who smoke can have. Me, I'm taking one step at a time, one puff (of medication) at a time. Who knows? Maybe I'll lose that fat I've been dying to since I apparently can't eat anything at all.

16 November 2005

oslo, norway

hailed by many as "the most expensive city in the world," it truly took a bite out of my backpacker's budget. however, by staying in the cheapest hostel (anker), cooking dinner in the kitchen with jason, and bargain hunting for food and everything else, i was able to make the most of my time in oslo. GO! though it's pricey, it's SO beautiful. i saw the munch museum and talked to a guard about the roberry (people with big guns stole "the scream" and other paintings), went to a contemporary art museum, learned SO much at the norweigan resistance museum, went to other museusm, got lost with jason and ended up in the norweigan countryside, went to frognerparken with its naked statues and huge phallus at the center of the park--where we gorged on fresh fruit smothered in nutella. i LOVED oslo!

stockholm, sweden

ahhh, sweden. a very lovely place. they say 1/3 of stockholm is land, 1/3 is water, and 1/3 is park. the first day there i found myself enjoying Djurgarden, eating my dinner there, at peace and so excited to be in such a beautiful and park-filled place. (being a new yorker, i appreciate urban parks.) i went to several museums (including the Historika Museet, to see Viking Relics), met a lot of really chill backpackers, saw lauryn hill for free, and oh yeah, got flashed by some idiot who screamed at me in Swedish, making me afraid to run in Stockholm. The police were called, and I was shaking; the whole thing left a foul taste in my mouth. Other than that, I was enchanted by this lovely country.

15 November 2005

"oh it's such a perfect day"

i had such a good day today! i'm so happy, and it wasn't even anything big but a big of little, great things. i went running for the first time in three weeks (i haven't run due to a foot injury), and then did laundry (yay! clean clothes), and biked around greenpoint doing errands. laura and i did lunch, and as i didn't want to be late, i threw on something quick--a pink dress, black sweater, black boots, and my new scarf my mom made--i looked good, and got many compliments (both verbal and visual from friends and strangers). on my way to meeting laura at yaffa cafe (probably my favorite place to eat in nyc), i saw the fourth world movement/street library office. i rang the buzzer, and was invited in, even though they were just finishing lunch ("are you hungry? do you want some lunch?") and spontaneously decided to volunteer. they were very interested in my thesis, and i promised to email it to them. street librarians go out into "bad" areas--like slums in france where people live in what some might describe as "hovels", or east new york in nyc, and bring blankets, and read stories to the kids, let them read books, use computers, etc. after lunch, laura and i went to knit new york, a knitting cafe, while staff helped me with a project i'm knitting, and drank really good tea. i went to the strand after, then came home and applied for jobs and ate dinner. i got a letter from v in the mail, and luna was being a sweetie. then i went to see bitch play at galapagos, and she was awesome (except for some asshole heckling her "DYKE" and it's like, yeah, she is a lesbian, why are you insulting her at a show for her? we screamed him outta there.) and on my way home, i ran into one of the few people from my old job and we ended up talking for a while. i didn't wait too long for the bus but as i waited i thought, what a nice day. i don't know why, but i'm so happy today.

14 November 2005

copenhagen, denmark

denmark was beautiful. it was nice to recover after the insanity of amsterdam. i stayed at the sucky danhostel copenhagen city (don't stay there; very anti-social and pro-family, so you won't meet other travelers), wandered through copenhagen's numerous gardens (including the botanical gardens, which were quite lovely), exploring the charlottonsberg art museum, relaxing. it was a nice change of pace, and i truly loved the friendly danes.

13 November 2005

getting sick

probably because i spent all of friday night dancing at paul van dyk till 530 am, then slept only three hours before going to work, i woke up this morning with a cold. here are some of my favorite ways to get over being sick.

  • drink lots of fluids. obvious, but very good. i drink lots and lots of water, lots of orange juice, lots of super c drinks (the kind by odwalla or naked), lots of tea (my favorite is celestial seasonings tangerine orange zinger, with added vitamin c--i add freshly squeezed lemon and honey for those days when my throat hurts), and i add those little powdered packets to my water. i do feel as if i'll float away, but i think this helps.
  • take your vitamins. i take a regular assortment of vitamins daily, but when i am sick, i take vitamin C and echninacea three times a day. try to take them with food.
  • eat good food. sugar and highly processed foods have never helped someone feel better. whole grains, veggies, and good food is the best way to go.
  • sleep lots. sleep can cure nearly everything. going through breakups, i usually sleep a lot to avoid the pain and avoid food (because i can't stomach it). sleep is great.
  • take care of yourself. don't go out all night, avoid alcohol, take lots of baths, relax at home. if you can, take the day off. taking things slow and easy helps you recuperate quicker.
  • stay warm. sleep under a large pile of blankets, wear sweaters, don't go out with a wet head, drink tea. if you have a fever or headache, i always use a cold compress on my eyes or forehead.
  • be less active, but not inactive. i don't do hard or long runs when i'm sick, but still run, stretch, exercise. long walks in brisk air is good, but if it's too cold, i may just find myself doing an indoor yoga routine. yoga usually helps me feel better, except if i'm queasy. then, it's hell.
  • natural remedies. there's a tea for everything, and essential oils. raspberry leaf tea prevents me from taking too many painkillers during my menstrual cycle, and i use peppermint oils on a wet washcloth during stomach upset. i take baths with a combination of oils to help me breathe during asthmatic moments.


ah yes, land of beautiful canal-lined streets, and american frat boys in search of the best weed at the various coffeeshops (it's legal here, which my mom did not realize!) and the infamous red light district, which was shocking in its own way. although i worried about how i would feel as an asthmatic in the weed capital of the world (as many americans call it, though it is much, much more!), i ended up meeting a rad group of people--americans, ozzies, brits--and chilling with them, extending my time in amsterdam. had a brilliant time. i highly recommend the van gogh museum, the anne frankhuis, pozenboot (cat boat), vondelpark--i went to other museums and such, but these were my favorite things. a bbq at vondelpark was the highlight of my trip, as was the day joe, tanner, and i biked around the dutch countryside.


i heard that brussels was boring; "go to bruge." yet still i went to brussels. i went to europe's first shopping mall, saw some incredible rene magrittes, tasted the infamous and delicious belgian waffles, ate too many belgian chocolates (most of which i ate during my time in amsterdam)...it was beautiful. i was there for a brief period during which i spent my time alone, wandering, thinking, writing, being. i truly enjoyed myself.

11 November 2005

spain, spain, gorgeous spain

i LOVED spain. i think the biggest part of it was that i got to speak and practice my spanish, and because i knew spanish, i had a different sort of cultural experience--i could talk with the locals and various people. i had a great time.

there was valencia, with its small-town old-world charm, meeting chris and evan, drinking sangria and agua de valencia (white wine with orange juice)...it was a charming, lovely place!

after valencia, chris and i ferried it to ibiza, which was just brilliant. we went to clubs, watched the legendary sunsets at cafe del mar/cafe mambo, drank more sangria, tanned (and burned) on the beach...i had a fabulous time.

then of course was barcelona. barcelona is charming, but hold onto your purse straps. look out for gaudi influences everywhere!

and then there was madrid! i spent all of my nights in the street parties at gay pride....days adoring picasso's guernica (probably the single most powerful piece of artwork i have ever seen), trying to find federico garcia lorca's archives but succeeding in getting lost in 35 degree celcius sweltering heat...i loved madrid. gay pride meant sexy drag queens, lots of sangria, and a street party every night. plus, gay marriage was legalized: my most memorable moment of pride was when a couple (two men) grabbed me and we sang spice girls on the street, "if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends..."

i planned on using the beaches of san sebastian to recover from traveling burnout. unfortunately, it rained two of the three days i was there, and the third was a mere 22 degrees celcius! i went swimming anyway. there's not much to do when it's raining in san sebastian as i learned. i hung around my hostel, did some writing, some reading, and was ready for my next stop, brussels.