Monday, December 31, 2012

Some posts I liked from 2012...

This wasn't a big year in blogging. But here are a few posts that I liked. 

(and of course...) The Lego Posts: 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"I've been WORKING on the railroad..."

(traditional American song)

My friend Lilly has a penchant for projects. Last year, she set up each month with a theme and worked on that theme, I suppose like Ben Franklin did, once upon a time, but I don't think she was working on 13 virtues. I am exceedingly proud of Lilly, who has fulfilled her lifelong dream of home ownership. Her penchant for themes/projects has pushed me to try some monthly projects too. 

For instance, last year, when I was waiting to hear from that Midwestern school that eventually rejected my PhD application, I decided *I* needed a project. So every day for the month of February (starting on February 2nd), I made a collage. I figured, at the end of the month, I may not be in a PhD program, but I will have 28 collages. It was a mixture of "HOW DO I HAVE THIS MANY MAGAZINES?" and "I need a positive project." So every morning, before I even had breakfast, I made a collage. It was great. I sustained it through my end of the month trip to New York, but it really was a project that was good for a winter month, and not sustainable past the one month and a few days mark.

This year, I'm faced with no application to a PhD program (because I thought my local university would be a fit, and it was/is not one) but I have applied for a fellowship that would involve travel down South for a month. We'll see.

But I'm thinking, hmm. Maybe I need another project, something to keep me positive, in case at the end of January, I don't have a place to go in the spring to do research.

And again, at work, I've gotten rapped on my hands. In Children's, I'm doing great. But in Technical Services, folks are complaining to my director that I take too much time to get my coffee, I procrastinate, I use work time to do non-work related things. ACK. While these things are true, my productivity hasn't suffered because I get a lot more done when I'm in the office by myself evenings and weekends. However, I want to be on the good side of my co-workers and my director. Towards this goal, I've started reading books about work. Books about the workplace. Books about working. (They are not all the same thing, see below.)

It is not my dream to become the head cataloger at the Library of Congress. (You're shocked, I can tell.) But for right now, I enjoy my job, for the most part, and it pays my bills. So I need to make it work for my co-workers, and most of all, my director, who signs my paycheck.

But I also need to find out what is my next step. Academia and the PhD route? Freelance writing? Something else?

My book list right now, based on what I'm reading/have read/just got off the library shelves today:

Basic Black: the essential guide for getting ahead at work (and in life) by Cathie Black
I am devouring this fun read which features stories of Ms. Black's professional life as well as advice for getting along with co-workers, bosses, clients. It's geared more for executives, but she gets the fact that not everyone will follow the same path she did. Halfway through, I just want to call Cathie up and say, "Girrrrrrrrrrrrrrl, I love your book."

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
This novel by BK is about Appalachia, climate change, Monarch butterflies, and a lot of other things, but also about finding your place in the world and following your dreams, getting un-stuck. I gave it to my Mom for Christmas, as she loves all things Monarch butterflies, but reading it really changed my thoughts concerning that pervasive lie: "I can't change my life." 

Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do by Studs Terkel
Today I noticed that I have a big piece of yellow legal paper with my HUGE handwriting with a quote from this book. I've not read it, but I like Studs Terkel, and it seems like a good book to read if you're thinking about what work means.

Women and the Trades: Pittsburgh, 1907-1908 by Elizabeth Beardsley Butler
This just looked REALLY cool. Especially since I'm into Pittsburgh history, women's history, and well, women working in Pittsburgh.

Hard Work: "To make both ends meet" : Maine Women's Voices, 1888 by Jim Sharkey
This is a 59 minute documentary on DVD. It looks pretty similar to the book preceding it on this list. The link goes to a sample on YouTube.

No Job? No Prob!: How to pay your bills, feed your mind, and have a blast while you're out of work
by Nicholas Nigro
I have no intention of being unemployed, but this book piqued my curiosity when I was looking for books about work in the catalog the other day. When I saw it on the shelf, I thought, hey, why not? I'd love to see how it talks about having a very small income. This is my "one of these things is not like the others" to round out the book list.

Dancing Naked: breaking through the emotional limits that keep you from the job you want
by Robert C. Chope
The title grabbed me, the subtitle sold me.

I think the collage project may return for the month of January, because reading books about work? Not going to get me out of bed on cold winter days! But I think maybe my project for this year is to figure out what is next for Sarah Louise, career-wise.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

“Then from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat, so he gave up being king of the wild things.”

(Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are.)

Okay, I know you can't really smell ice cream from across an ocean and into a day where the wild things are, but the first picture (of a salad) wouldn't load, and the second picture (of soup) could not stand on its own two legs, so we're left with a study in pink. Ah yes, my favorite flavor of ice cream, Winter White Chocolate. Baskin Robbins only makes it in the winter months, hence the name. I think I'm allergic to some of the  ingredients now. But doesn't it look scrumptious? Sigh. Also, trying something new with the teeny tiny watermark, after reading a blog post about blogs being scraped. Once upon a time, my content was scraped. That was back in the dark ages, when I blogged here every day, and Babelbabe and I held court with the rest of the bunch. Before Facebook, before Twitter, before Instagram and the iPhone took over everyone's life.

I've been feeling like an old fogey lately. Like Maurice Sendak, I hate ebooks. Books that need batteries to work? That's the whole point of books. They require nothing more than for you to hold them in your hands. Also, I miss letters. Mail these days is too many envelopes from my insurance company about billing to my chiropractor for the accident this summer. Why do I need five envelopes every time they send me mail? And while it is fun to get birthday greetings from about 28 people on my birthday on Facebook, I am grateful that the ladies in Technical Services still believe in birthday cards, the kind made of funny jokes and pretty colored envelopes. I miss birthday phone calls, when everyone would gather around the phone and one, two, three, sing, "Happy Birthday to you!" In our family, we sing first in English, then in Polish, and if you're lucky, in Portuguese.

When I'm not being an old fogey, I'm working on keeping house. Today I had lots of energy and cleaned off my bed, under my bed, and changed my sheets to flannel--winter is supposedly coming, one of these days. I went to Trader Joe's and the East End Food Co-op and found this amazing lettuce blend which has herbs, lettuce, arugala, red cabbage...YUM. As a single person, I find that buying a head of lettuce is an exercise in futility, as I do not eat enough lettuce and the lettuce then becomes terribly gross before it is all consumed. Tomorrow, I'm baking a quiche for the Children's Dept. Christmas party, and while I'm grating cheese and chopping up peppers, I'm going to see if the celery I bought AGES ago still has something to be salvaged. When I poked it today, it seemed to still have some structural integrity, so I am hopeful.

Also, I have been re-watching Ugly Betty. How I love that show. Betty is such a go-getter. I watch her when I'm sick and/or when I feel that all my dreams have been stomped on. Betty doesn't let life get her down, so maybe I too could get up, dust myself up, and keep going. My mother has this bit when you're grumpy, she says, "Wipe that smile off your face! Throw it on the floor! Stomp on it!" It never fails to get at least a wan smile out of me. That woman is a force of nature.

Yesterday, after I'd told her about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, she said, it's Joy's birthday today, but you probably remembered that. And I said, no! I knew it was one of these days! And she said, well, it's okay if you don't remember. But I want to remember, I said, because I want to know which day to be sad. Well, honey, she said, today is your day to be sad.

This morning, the book I'm reading was talking about memories and how memories can keep us warm, can feed us. And all of a sudden, I remembered the birth of Sally's first son, and how I was in Pittsburgh that weekend for the baby shower. There was no shower, a birth instead. Her son was 3 months early. I got to hold the baby in the neo-natal unit, and of all the babies I've ever held, that's the only time I was in a neo-natal unit. The thing is, I didn't think it was significant then, the way it hit me this morning. I never got to hold Peter. I never got to hold Joy. But because I was in Pittsburgh for a baby shower, instead, I got to be there for the first days of the baby!! A baby who is now really old, I think maybe in 6th grade.

I sort of feel like this was a "Lake Wobegon" blog post, like when Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion says, "And this week, in my hometown, Lake Wobegon..." and goes in and out of stories and you never know where he's headed and all of a sudden he's done.

That's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.