Friday, December 27, 2013

The Darkest Hour...Is Just Before You Leave for the Airport

But coming in a close second is the hour (or two, or three) before the point just before you leave for the airport. That’s the time that I am experiencing right now. It’s a little after midnight, and I have a few hours left before my brother-in-law drives me to the airport and deposits me into a post-holiday melee, loaded down with an unhappy cat and a bagful of a few of my mom’s possessions, most of which she acquired during the last year.

My sister wrote something beautiful to describe her initial processing of the death of our mother. It was a piece filled with raw honesty, insignificant details that stood out, and all the pathos that you’d expect from a piece of prose describing the death of a parent.

What the hell could I write—can I write? How can I explain how my initial reaction was not heartbreak but rather startlement? There were no ruminations about the coffee my mother would never drink. There was only a few moments of dizziness, a gritting of teeth, a hasty decision to limit who I told the news to for a while. Later, there was my good friend NavaJo swooping in to see how I was doing, my husband picking me up so I wouldn’t have to drive home, three ill-advised martinis at Acqua Piazza (NavaJo joining me again). And then, a few more days of work before I could catch my already-scheduled flight home.

For all her flaws, my mother deserved more than how I was and am able to mourn her. And that will be a shame that I must own and shoulder.

We do the best we can with what we have. We play the hand we’re dealt.

With this in mind, I wrote the Remembrance that my sisters will read at her service tomorrow. It’s the one thing, other than sorting through her paperwork, I felt like I could do. For all I know, it might be the only closure I can get. So I slapped it together tonight while Mary sorted through Mom’s paperwork and found her bucket list and cried and Sarah looked on and kept watch over us. And then Mary went to bed, and I listened to the sound of her broken sobbing, and occasionally glanced over at Mom’s checkbook, which seems like the saddest reminder of what has happened—the only thing sadder was eating the prime rib that she had bought for us for Christmas dinner.

And underneath it all is the greatest shame of all—I love my mother, but I am terrified, fucking out of my mind terrified, of becoming like her.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's a Boy!

With the departure of J, we've been muddling on as best as we can--splitting the weekends and the closing shifts between Supermom Librarian, and Cathy, and myself. And thank god, we got the approval to promote from within another FT librarian position.

The interviews were a couple of weeks ago--three folks all interviewed. And since then, the rest of us have been awaiting the announcement with baited breath, eagerly curious to know the librarian's identity--much, in the same way, I imagine, that new parents want to know the gender of their unborn child. And when I shared this with one of the candidates, he chuckled: "And you're saying, 'so long as its healthy.'" And it's true! All of them were/are great candidates. So, so long as it's a good worker...

And I've been helping the Captain get the old Foundation cubicle ready--much like we are preparing a nursery.

In fact, I had begun referring to the unknown new Librarian as "Baby Librarian." I feel like a big sister, looking forward to the arrival of a new sibling!

But now, the wait appears to be over. It seems that they have chosen Papa Bear to be the lucky new librarian (we all know that Baby Librarian will not fly with him). And while I am disappointed for the other two candidates, a pragmatic part of me thinks, well, once the Captain retires, he'd be a good candidate for Principal Librarian. I'm all about the longevity and stability of the staff.

In short, I'm now planning Baby Librarian (AKA Papa Bear's) future like a parent or a sibling plans the child's future success in college and beyond

Yet another indication of how this wonderful Library and staff are my home and family...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Archive THIS...or not

Recently I finished a book that's been on my list for a good long while: This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson. While it may in fact be a book that preaches to the choir (really, I'm not the one who needs to be convinced of how awesome my profession is), I still took away some interesting insights and encouraging words.

One of the most interesting--and in a way, serendipitous--passages in the book was the one in which the author took a crash-course in the Archiving of Literary Manuscripts. I smiled a little as I read the description of how she learned how to identify, and arrange, and describe the materials, as well as decide what to keep and what to throw it. It was like I was back in Phillip Bantin's Archives and Records Management Class, circa 2004--fat lot of good that stuff ever did for me, intrepid little public librarian that I am. The closest I've come to archiving any materials or special collections is when I threw out the special collections at the Baby Sunnydale Library, back when I first became a librarian. (And if that's not a perfect metaphor for the transition from my Library Student Life to my Adult Librarian Life, I don't know what is.)

But then, the narrative turned a little more interesting, a little more personal. The author mentioned that the teacher of the class was using, for examples and training materials and to practice  on, the works and correspondence of her own husband, an unpublished writer. Was this narcissism, or arrogance, or exploitation on the part of the trainer? Hell no. As Johnson points out, "it had been a deliberate strategy to show us that the tools of archiving were not only for Nobel and Pulitzer winners and MacArthur fellows. They were for anybody any of us thought worth saving."

She didn't add, but I thought, Including ourselves.

Which brings me to this:

For years, I've been hauling around an ever-growing stack of notebooks, binders, journals, and folders, all filled with all sorts of nonsense, from lists to useless, barely-begun poetry, to drunken ramblings, to observations made in the depths of my lowest depression, to half-finished research, to rough drafts of letters, to lists of shopping, and chores, and god knows that else. And this autumn, I've started going through the laborious process of sifting through this stuff and trying to winnow down this ridiculous stack of papers. 

Stop-for just a moment. What if I were a famous author or thinker or whatever-er, and were saying this? Or what if we realized that this was a previously undiscovered cache of personal Bronte papers, or Dickens, or  Lincoln, or whoever? Hell, no, we wouldn't be winnowing that shit down.

Johnson continues: And who is worth saving? Ah, that's the question. Certainly we are worth saving ourselves, whoever we are, if only for our family's sake. If we are helping build or create something [...]we might want to document it somehow and save the evidence. We are all living history, and it's hard to say now what will be important in the future. One thing's certain, though: if we throw it away, it's gone.

I never thought of my own personal papers in terms of archives. And honestly, I still don't. But I do happen to appreciate a couple of facts: First, my life and my story are not yet done. I don't have grand ambitions to run a city library or gain national notice through a socio-economic agenda, or hell, even publish a book or become famous. As far as I know, as far as I can plan and hope, my life will be a quiet one, humble, lived in both the shadow of the mountain and others. But I don't know what's coming around the turn next, or where I will end up. To decide what I find valuable to save for myself is one thing--but without knowing how my story ends, is it the wisest move to throw out the supporting documentation that make up the chapters of my story?

Is it a wise move for any of us to do that?

The other thing I know is this: I don't know how and where I fit in the context of history, because, as Johnson points out,  I am living history. We all are. I don't have a sufficient overview or perspective to know or anticipate what will matter to scholars and historians and...well, anyone, 50, or 100, or even 500 years down the road. None of us do. And with that in mind, should I then be throwing out any of these things in my pile?

Of course, this might just be the excuse that hoarders were asking for.

On the Reference Desk This Week

Patron: Blah blah I love the Bride of Frankenstein. I wonder where she gets her hair done. And her dress, I love her dress!

Librarian: Did you have a question, ma'am?

Patron: You're a stupid bitch! You're all stupid bitches! You are bad at what you do, and God's gonna send you to hell for it!

Librarian: ...Mom?

(It wasn't actually the librarian's mother, and the librarian didn't actually say that. Librarian just  happens to have a good sense of humor and a notoriously unkind and loopy mother.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Manic Monday: October 28 Edition

Back when I was a wee one, I used to do my homework every night before dinner. It was one of Crazy Elaine's rules that I followed so readily. So I'd haul home my math book and reading book and spelling book and try my hardest to figure out what all  the numbers meant, and tear my way through the stories, and carefully, methodically work on my spelling. For some reason, spelling was my favorite--another memory: Crazy Elaine spelling the words with me before I left for the bus stop in the  morning--especially putting the words in alphabetical order. Something about the logical order of it all (and yes, there may have been that in math, too, but it was lost on me) appealed to me.

So late this afternoon, when the Cap'n mentioned that we needed to merge 4 spreadsheets of donor names and get them into alphabetical order by tomorrow morning, Dorkface here was all over that shit. In fact, Dorkface had to do a little bit of battle over it with the Great Dustini, who apparently wanted the diversion of setting up all the names in an Access Database.

(Maybe I'm not the biggest Dorkface in the Library.)

Anyway, I promised Cap'n I'd have it done by 7 ("I'll just take a long lunch one day this week!"), and so I won out, and by 6:10 p.m. I was happily cutting and pasting and muttering over mistakes and duplications. And true to my word, I was done by 7.

Between that, and some of the librarians unable to work their shifts, and urgent press releases, by the end of the day, my desk looked like Hurricane Monday had torn through.

In my world, a day in which I am too busy to clean my desk is defined as a very very good day.

Driving home this evening, I indulged in what feels like a daily ritual of finding some beauty in my desert and life. It wasn't hard; the weather has turned positively autumnal by our desert standards. It's been blustery all day, with a few obligingly grey clouds skittering across our usually-empty desert skies, and once the sun set, it got downright chilly. And I was driving home to Mr. Melissa, who had made dinner, and I had a little work project to tool about with. (In my world, the concept of taking home work projects that I enjoy is the height of awesomeness). What wasn't beautiful about this Monday?

Other than my desk, that is.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Freud-day Fun, Part 1

A few weeks back, my Life Guru advised me that I needed to get some spirituality. This was not advice that I necessarily disagreed with, but it did take me aback a little. Was this advice that she went around giving all of her clients? I actually asked her this, but she assured me that no, this wasn't the case.

So, then, why me?

"Why me?"

Her response:

"You tie your worth into all that you do, or try to accomplish, or your productivity. But it's important for you to know that you matter in the Universe, regardless of who you are or what you do."

Do I matter? Most days, I would say no, I don't believe so. I won't go so far as to say that  one matters (I don't have the right to dismiss anyone else's existence, only my own). I feel like I'm insignificant, not a key player in anything, by any stretch. This isn't self-pity or self-loathing (although I do have both, in spades), but rather simply a weary world-view that I cannot seem to shake.

But, like many of the things I do, I shall try to "suit up and show up and act as if." Or fake it 'til I make it. Or something. Which is why I shall try to document my quiet little life, to show that I matter, if only to myself.

So, it's 11:30 at night, and I am perched on the loveseat in the sitting room, listening to "The Last Unicorn" by America, and my cat Austen is sitting right behind me, purring in my ear. I'm trying not to think of all the blogs I've started and abandoned over the years. I've paused in reading my 12th book of the month, This Book is Overdue. I'm thinking that I've had a very productive day--I went to the eye doctor and the therapist and I dropped off a library book and picked up prescriptions and did laundry and napped and watched Supernatural and I tried, though failed, to donate blood (and I have to start taking iron again), and I read and worked on my jigsaw puzzle. And now I am sitting here writing this and thinking, what's the point? Who will read it? And then thinking, The point is that it doesn't matter if no one reads it. What matters is that YOU are WRITING it, and may one day read it. That's enough, right there. This is your life, right now. This is you, trying to matter to YOURSELF.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Overheard on the Reference Desk, Entry 2

The patron: "I need to renew my teaching credentials from the State of ___ . But I don't know how to use a computer. At all. I'm very different, I'm a psychic, and I don't use computers. Is there anyone I can pay to do this work for me? I'm a very special person, a victim of incest, and so I've never used a computer."

The librarian (not me): "...............???"

Right then was one of those times when I swear to god someone hires people to come in and try to punk us.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nights like these...

On nights when the praise of my patrons and bosses and colleagues seems faint;
on nights when my husband is remote and preoccupied
on nights when I wonder, yet again, how I ended up here,
on nights when it feels like I have never been further away from my kin,
on nights when I come close to learning just what regret tastes like...

My little cat Austen, my gentle-souled cat in a furry tuxedo, he perches up by my pillow or couch cushion, near to my head, and he purrs loudly, and he invites me to wearily lean my head in and remind myself that perhaps, after all, I have made a difference. That my presence, my sacrifices, my mistakes have benefitted someone, even if it's just a single domestic short-haired cat.

It's a strange sort of comfort, but on nights like these, I will take what I can get.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

So I Guess You Call This Autumn: 2013 Version

I cannot believe I am saying this. But this is one of the most gorgeous autumns that I've ever seen out here in the desert. Sure, it's still in the mid-to-high 90s during the day, but the evenings and mornings are downright pleasant. And the sunlight is different--gentler, perhaps, and at a different angle.

The best part about this all? The weather turned on the autumnal equinox. When does that ever happen?

It's a good reminder that things are always in flux. Always changing.

Last week at work, we had a big change. Friday was the last day for our Senior Librarian, who has taken a position as second-in-command of an 11-library-system up towards Northern-Central California. She's going to do so well, I know it--in her time at our Library, she was an agent of change, she knew when to push back. She was tough--tougher than I ever have been--but she was fair. She was a damned good librarian and manager, and while we occasionally had our personal differences (I am as soft as she is tough) I always, always  respected her, admired her, and valued the many things she did.

We worked together for just under five years. Almost 1800 days in which I took for granted the quiet routine of so many days surrounded by my colleagues and bosses, folks that I knew and trusted, and the various demanding duties and dotty patrons.

And now, tomorrow morning, it will be different.

Last year, when Boss-Lady left, I knew we would go through change. I hate change, let me just get that out there, because it provokes all sorts of uncertainty and anxiety. (At least it does for me. Because I am a crazyball.) But if you ride the change just right, it's a good thing--and so I adapted, and as a result, the last year has been simultaneously one of the most demanding yet fulfilling years for me, professionally. And with Senior Librarian's departure, perhaps I can transform and grow again.

But it won't make coming in tomorrow any less sad.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shit my Patrons Say

(The Scene: Reference desk, around noon. Patron is signing in to use one of our study rooms. He glances up at me, does a double-take.)

Patron: Wow. This is it the first time I've seen you looking pretty.

Me: (after a cold silence) Thanks.

Patron: I don't express myself very diplomatically.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fun in the Workplace, Exhibit A:

Walking past the Cap'n's office this afternoon, I noticed one of her plants sitting on the floor outside her office. Poking my head in, I asked, "Is your plant in time-out?"

There's a purpose to everything the Cap does, but it doesn't stop me from making funnies where I can. So later I snuck over and left a little note:

It got more than a few chuckles. And by the end of the day, it (and the sign) were back on the Cap's desk.

Quote for the Ages: Floor Abuse

Me: (examining my shoes) "I just bought these Naturalizers a few months ago! And now look at them! The bottoms are falling off."

Super Mom/IT Librarian: "It's because you..."

(she falls silent after catching a glimpse of my expectant glare)

" with purpose."

Papa Bear: "No it's not! It's because you attack the floor when you walk."

It's true. I do tend to stalk around the Library with purposeful aggressive enthusiasm.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Anti-Arbor Day

The Evidence:

The Crime:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013: Otherwise known as the "Anti-Arbor Day."

If this isn't metaphorical for how we're all feeling at work right now, I don't know what is.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sexism in the Workplace, Experience #1

Because I was born in 1980, because I am a solid Gen Y citizen, because I am a beneficiary of a hell of a lot of work and sacrifice on the part of many woman and men who were fed up with the status quo, in my work life I've not been the recipient of a lot of sexist language or behavior or sexual harassment. Oh, sure, there's the usual learned timidity that I've acquired (you know, mitigating my speech with "I think", "what about," "it seems to me...") and maybe, just maybe a glass ceiling. (Actually, yes, there is a ceiling, but it's not glass, and it's got nothing to do with my gender, and everything to do with the fact that leadership does not come naturally to me.) And yes, all of the sexist bullshit does exist. I'm just saying that I've not been the recipient of it.

Or so I thought.

And then I had to go and read Gail Collins' When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. It was an infuriating read, on a lot of levels, and a frustrating read, too. I literally lost count of all of the injustices, little and big, that were (yes, and are) heaped upon women--many times by their male civil rights counterparts. One telling passage that stuck out to me was the recounting of one female politician (naturally, one of the first of Second-Wave Feminism), who was about to go into session with one of her female colleagues. Up strolls one of their male politician counterparts, who gives them a blithe, cheerful, "Hello, girls!"

A lot of people wouldn't read anything into it. Sometimes, I think that I don't read anything into it. But then,  I am of a generation of females that are by and large respected and treated as equals in the workplace. Still, I can see where an accomplished woman with a solid career would  resent being referred to as a "girl." Actually, no, scratch that, I can see why any woman, accomplished or not, career woman or housewife or college student or college dropout or whatever--would resent being referred to as a girl, particularly by one's professional equal.

Why do I bring this up? Well. Since you asked.

About a week after I finished reading When Everything Changed, I was working the Reference Desk with Papa Bear. A patron-dude steps up to the desk and says, "Hey smart guy and red-headed girl. I need some information."

What. The. Fuck.

Mustering all the dignity--if not much presence of mind--I turned to him and said, "That's red-headed lady to you."

Afterwards, though, I began to think--his address was insulting on any number of levels. Completely aside from not saying something as simply courteous as, "Excuse me, may I ask you a question?" or "Hi, I need some help," he chose to go with the rather more informal "Hey smart guy and red-headed girl." And now let's address the whole thing about referring to the male as the "smart" guy while distinguishing his (obviously equal) female counterpart not by the presumed-hefty intellectual capacity needed to be a librarian but rather a physical trait.  And then of course, there's the whole "girl" reference. All of a sudden, I began to appreciate a lot more where those female politicians were coming from.

Here's the funny thing: the patron-dude was probably in my age range.Probably grew up with a lot of the same PC/equality stuff hitting him from all sides, same as me. And I choose to really, really doubt that he was intentionally trying to slight, denigrate, belittle, or discriminate against me. He did slight  me, but I am fairly certain that his condescension, his automatic discounting my professional persona, was on a completely unconscious level.  And this makes me wonder--I doubt I would have noticed it had the Collins book not been fresh on my mind. But the book was on my mind, and wouldn't you know, there it was. A fairly harmless incident that shows that sexism and patriarchal attitudes still abound--often in ways that neither perpetrator nor victim are aware of.

We've come a long way...but we've got a long way yet to go.

Balls to the Wall

And then, just like that, things change again.

Yesterday, our Senior Librarian called the "underling" (non-management) full-timers into her office. She was about bursting the news: at the end of September, she's leaving for a new job, with lots of responsibilities and potential. So, soon we'll be down another person.

It's hard not to be pleased for her, when I saw how excited she was by the prospect of new work, new colleagues, new potential. And I am pleased for her. But dismayed, too--immediately I began thinking of all the work our Senior Librarian does, and how the Powers That Be probably won't replace her, but will rather simply re-distribute all of her work and responsibilities. I began thinking of the events and Saturdays and closing duties that will  need to be distributed among only three librarians. And I began thinking about, how, once more, I am the one still here. Staying put.

Silly, I know. My Senior Librarian leaves, and I have some sort of existential angsty fit of questioning myself and my life choices. It's not about me. But then, I think it's good for me to take time to assess my own career and work from time to time, and what better time to do it than when others in my workplace move upwards and onwards? I did it when the Boss Lady retired last year, and after a little adjusting and a lot of Prozac, I managed. I kicked my own ass into gear. So maybe I'll do the same thing this time around, too.

The last 24 hours, I've spent thinking, thinking, thinking. And the only conclusion I can come to is this: for now, and for the foreseeable future, I am here at this job, in this position-- the same job and position I have held for 6 years. I've no prospects for upwards advancement, I don't have much of a voice in the planning and administration of the Library, and I've hit my maximum pay. But I haven't hit the maximum of the work I can do, the talents I can cultivate, the ways I can support my bosses, and the help I can give to the public.

There are going to be some stressful, probably frustrating months ahead. But I have it within myself to tap into more productivity, more cheer, more patience; I have it within me to be the worker my bosses and community need as we start through this transitory time. I have it within me to refuse to think of myself and my non-traditional career track as not a disappointment, but rather a dedication of the strengths I know I have in abundance.

It's a challenge, sure, but somehow, I think careers are built up from challenges. Opportunities, too. So that's how I am gonna look at it. There's just no other way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Overheard on the Reference Desk, Summer 2013

"They're coming for you, Snowden!"

(This was said to my colleague "Papa Bear", uttered by one of our more colorful patrons. In Snowden's Papa Bear's defense, he does maybe bear the tiniest resemblance to Snowden. In that they are both geeky white males under 40. Otherwise, it's a stretch. But amusing, at least if you're me. Alarming, if you are Papa Bear.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Est Verum in Ducem

"I hate to say it, but a person who's planned their high school prom could do this."

-An Important Person, sharing their opinion on the program planning aspect of my job.

Friday, March 1, 2013

If My Eyes are Bigger Than My Stomach...

If my eyes are bigger than my stomach, my book pile is definitely bigger than my eyes!

I present you with my latest reading ambitions. Hopefully, I will get through the majority of them this month.  From the top, we have:

Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Into the Wild, by Jon Kraukauer
The Power, by Rhonda Byrne
(Skipping over Little Tree; that was a stowaway)
The Whistlebower, by Karen Bolkovac
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
The Fiction Class, by Susan Breen
My Life and Hard Times, by James Thurber
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson
I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen, by Amy Wilentz
Quiet, Please! Dispatches from a Public Librarian, by Scott Douglas
Cathedral of the Sea, by Ildefonso Falcones

(Not pictured: Kentucky Home, by Sarah Title; The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan)

Also, how is it possible I've gone through so much of life without reading so many books????

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Librarian: 2/27/13

8 AM, on the nose: Arrive at work, shed purse and backpack. Take a brief look at my desk and contemplate suicide.

8:02 AM-Begin to check emails

8:08 AM-Set out sign for the day's program. Check supply of flyers. Beef up Staff Picks table. Beef up Book Display table. Clear out Council Agenda binder.


8:20 AM-Clear off desk space

8:25 AM--Thus commences the nebulous project "working on the program brochure." This entails consulting with my big desk calendar to see what my boss has written in, and writing a 75-100 word blurb for each event for the next quarter. This entails thinking of 20 different ways to describe a "fascinating lecture" or an "evening of artistic films". Also, this entails me nagging my boss and/or various performers for their information and press kits. Also, this entails adding each event to our Event Management Software, as well as our programming calendar.

9:40 AM--All Staff Meeting. Lasts about 5 minutes and is mainly just an update on what traffic to expect through the Library.

9:45 AM--Re-commence program work

10:30 AM--Morning breaktime. I struggle to finish Urban Tribes, by Ethan Watters.

10:45 AM--Re-commence program work

11:30 AM--Lunch. It's a rather political event. I came to it hungry and left it with indigestion.

12:50 PM--Re-commence program work. Spend the next four hours toggling back and forth between Word, Outlook, Excel, and Chrome.

3:45 PM--Briefly pause to officially request my time off for PLA in 2014.

4:50 PM--Done. Seriously, done with the first draft of the events! I email our graphic designer and allow myself to feel my own brains oozing out of my ears. I'm spent.

4:55 PM--Brain is still pickled. I turn to a decent end-of-the-day task: Books! I peruse EarlyWord, The New York Times Book Review, and our Library catalog.

6:02--Heading home.

All in all, a day high in productivity, but low in eventfulness. Still, not boring. And I'm ahead of schedule with the brochure!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This old dog just learned a new trick

"So where do you see yourself, career-wise, in five or ten years?"

I sat at the conference table, across from two kindly-faced women, and flashed what I hoped was my sweetest, most warm and winning smile. "Would it be too much to say that I want to become the next Nancy Pearl?" The two women smiled, and chuckled, as I had hoped they would; I also hoped they saw the bright hopes and ideas and drive that I felt brimming over in my eyes, my voice, my demeanor.

For those of you not in the know, Nancy Pearl is, like, a Librarian Rock Star. She's a voracious reader, a literary critic, an author, a readers' advisory pioneer, a radio personality, and a fierce advocate for libraries, books, and reading. If there were a war against libraries, you'd want Nancy Pearl to be the general of your army. She even has an action figure!

Well, I didn't look like Nancy Pearl then. (Or now, but the description I'm going to give of me then is a better one.) I was dressed in a brand-new suit I'd picked up at Ann Taylor Loft; the skirt was modest yet flirty; the jacket murderoulsy warm for April in the desert. My short red hair was not in a bun, by any stretch of the imagination. I was 27 years old, had been a librarian for less than a year, and was very eager to move up in the world.

The interview was a success, and eventually, months later (oh, local government) they offered me the job. I took it, and here I remain, to this day.

I'm not Nancy Pearl yet. Our director did start calling me the Book Maven, due to my voracious reading and eagerness to talk books, and while I happily took the title, I didn't really do anything to really become the Book Maven. I went to work, I put in long hours, I did the work and I did it well, but in no way was I forging or pioneering anything revolutionary about my career.

Fast forward almost six years. Sometimes, the biggest changes are the most unintentional kind. Late one afternoon, I briefly mentioned to my Director an idea I had for a book program--tying it into my personal reading goals of "125 in 365"--and he loved it. And then a patron vandalized the library, and the Director had to re-focus on directing, but I continued to mull over my idea. Potentially, it could make me a wee bit of a local celebrity. How cool would that be? And Director thinks that we could write an article about it and get it published.

Me, publishing something? For years, I shied away from the idea. Deadlines and pressure and publish or perish? Ugh. And yet, here I was, stumbling into it.

And why not other things, too? YouTube videos of book reviews. Blogging. Becoming more prolific on Good Reads. Trying to offer readers' advisory services and advice. Doing personalized book recommendations. Maybe starting to do book reviews for the trade publication. Sharing the awesome adventure that reading is, and getting other people to push their own boundaries and frontiers.

Just like that, I unintentionally stumbled on my answer to the question I hadn't realized I had been asking: How do I enhance and advance my career when there are no visible opportunities to  "move up"?

You make your own opportunities.

You learn that moving up and advancing are not necessarily the same thing, and you don't need to do one in order to do the other.

You find out what you love about your career, and you play to that love and strength.

You make your identity and your career happen. Your bosses will hopefully play to your strengths, and they might even mentor you, but it's up to you to push forward your career and your development, You become your own advocate, and your own mentor, and your own agent.

Seven years into my profession, and I feel like I'm about to start the best part of it.