12.5.21

They don't love me any longer

 Each division at MPOW has a parent association that works relatively separately from the other two divisions' parents.  Obviously, there is carry over as older and younger siblings go through the school, but each group arranges their own celebrations of both students and faculty.  In February the Upper School parents throw a really incredible breakfast and luncheon for us, complete with a gift and raffle tickets.  Later in the year, seniors have a raffle for various items to help raise money for Prom and their gift.  Why mention this?

My first year, I won a Trader Joe's gift card.

My second year, nothing.

My third year, I won a dining gift card from a group of Very Fancy restaurants.

My fourth year, I won Celtics tickets.

My fifth year, I won a spa gift card.

This year, the parents raffle was held in May.  This week, in fact.  The Middle School librarian won a gift card.  The Upper School librarian won a gift card.  The Library Assistant won a card drawn during a "random recipient" drawing.

Me?  Nothing.  Everyone in my department won something except me.  My assistant won something he hadn't even entered to win.  That's how much they didn't want me to win anything this year.

Sniff.

I better win something next year.  Or else.

7.5.21

Le mot juste

When I was a much younger reader, reading books that were probably above my ken at that time, one of the tropes was the woman dying of consumption, reclining gracefully on her chaise longue, sipping laudanum. To my mind, that sounded so very romantic and glamourous, and I wanted to grow up to be just that way!

Here's the problem: as I later learned, this was all code for "dying of tuberculosis with an opium addition." No thanks.

Recently, the New York Time published an article about languishing (πŸ”’) in which the author says

At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating. Colleagues reported that even with vaccines on the horizon, they weren’t excited about 2021. A family member was staying up late to watch “National Treasure” again even though she knows the movie by heart. And instead of bouncing out of bed at 6 a.m., I was lying there until 7, playing Words with Friends.

It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

Yes.  Exactly this.  There are things on my Never Ending To Do List that have been there since December 2019.  In part, I know that's because I lost all my vacation time since to working (or, more recently, Spring Break was spent moving and working).  Summer Vacation is rapidly approaching.  I have no intention of spending this as I did last summer, working virtually every day for at least five hours, trying to get things ready for next year.  I have some professional development planned, but my major goal is to perhaps move past "languishing" to something closer to "flourishing" (the apparent opposite... although I don't think that's quite right, but I'm too exhausted to come up with the correct antonym).  

I have one work-related task to accomplish in July.  One.  And as far as I'm concerned, that will be it.  Everything else can wait until August.  

Excuse me while I find a chaise longue to recline on, gracefully. 

29.4.21

Imponderables

 Yesterday I went in to work and because I had brought some boxes with me, I parked behind the library rather than in a regular parking space.  To get where I parked, I took a small service-type road that led to a space near two dumpsters, in between three buildings.  It's a service road used by a few faculty and anyone with deliveries to those buildings or emptying the dumpsters.

Teachers and students also use it to get from several other buildings to the main road, parking lots and two other buildings.  They're on foot.

Got the picture? Cars/trucks going in and out, people on foot going in and out.

As I'm—slowly—making my way down this road, along comes a teacher.  Engrossed in her phone.  I stop the car.  I wait.  They never look up.  When they're about 10 feet from the car, I finally honk.  They, startled, look up.  And then look annoyed that I was there, breaking their concentration.

Next time, I'll let them walk into my car.  I could use a new hood ornament.

Moral: If you're on a paved road-like surface that is occasionally used by motor vehicles, pay attention.


24.4.21

I'm not ready

Have I mentioned I moved?  There's still one (or maybe two) installments from that series to come, but this post is less about that and more about the times in which we live.

MPOW closed in mid-March, following state guidelines.  Things have been closed here to varying degrees since then, slowly opening up and sometimes backtracking on that.  Work has been mostly remote for over a year, with the department rotating time in the building with time at home.  And I confess, I've let things go.

As have many people in my situation, I've taken to wearing my pj's 95% of the time.  Yes, even when working remote.  Before you start fantasizing, know that my pjs come in two flavors: summer (old undershirts of Thing One's and shorts) and winter (sweatpants and long sleeve t-shirts).  Very sexy, no?  And from there... well, it's a short jump to not shaving my legs, bleaching/plucking errant hair on my face, getting mani/pedis.

Two weeks ago I got my second shot (Pfizer, if anyone cares—minimal reaction).  And a restaurant nearby reopened for dining in.  And was offering 50% off to people from my building.  So Thing One and I decided, why not?  We both had our shots, they were being careful with capacity, etc..  It felt like a return to something resembling normal.  

I put on real clothes for the first time in a few weeks.  We walked the few blocks to the restaurant and had a lovely dinner.  We walked back.  Normal.

However, I haven't taken care of the "personal grooming" items yet.  And now the big question for me is: how ready am I really to go out in public

I'll post a photo of my newly painted toes when I am. 

23.4.21

One year ago today...

 Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...

Literally a minute after I ended our department meeting, I closed my laptop and felt a rush of heat/wooze go up my body... and then my heart started pounding like I'd had a pot of espresso... I went to the couch, sipped some water... didn't feel better... went into my bedroom and rested... no better... after 30min Thing One and I decided to call 911.

Within minutes there were three ambulances on our tiny street: mine, one for the lady who fell in our street and one for the assisted living place next door. It got confusing.

My heart was 204bpm, elevated bp, but everything else was ok. They gave me an IV of something that really hurt for a few seconds and then my heart went to 80, then 70... but we still went to the ER... more tests and they released me.  Apparently I had what was known as SVT, common and relatively easily fixed. If this happens again, I have two things I can try before calling 911.

However, the EMTs did worry about my temp: 98.1 at the start, 97.6 in the ambulance and 96.8 when we got to the hospital. I told them it was normal for me!   I was also aware that we were a COVID hot spot, and these EMTs were spending most of their time transporting patients with a disease that could put the EMTs families at risk.  That they managed to be so cheerful and patient with me was truly (to me) amazing.

Here we are, a year later, and I haven't had a repeat (the cardiologist said it might be "one of those inexplicable things",,, to be honest, I'm getting just a little tired of that being the constant refrain regarding my health!).  Knock wood I never will.

21.4.21

A fair trial?

So, the verdict is in.  To the surprise of some, it was guilty... guilty... guilty... 

This may be an unpopular opinion, I don't know that this was a fair trial.  Yes, Chauvin will be spending the rest of his life in prison.  But what if that hadn't been the verdict?  Ali Velshi on MSNBC interviewed a man on the streets who said that he would not be surprised if the verdict was "not guilty" because that's the way these things run.

When George Floyd was first murdered, the police said that it was a "medical incident" but there was a video.  A damning video shown around the world.  And at that moment, things changed.  The Black Lives Matter movement... the Black@[name of school] posts...  defunding the police...repeated entreaties to "say his/her name" because Floyd wasn't the only Black murdered last summer.  Cries for justice grew louder and louder.

That's not a bad thing.  Maybe now police can hold their colleagues accountable when they see wrongdoing.  Maybe that "thin blue line" will fray a little.  

The problem, from my point of view, is that fair and trial in this case felt wrong.  The howling mob of protesters, opinionators and just plain folks—both pro-police and anti-police—had one verdict, and one verdict only in mind.  If it was not guilty, then justice would not be done.  If it was guilty, then the jury were cowed by what they were hearing and seeing outside the trial.  

I was talking about this with some friends a couple of weeks ago and we discussed cases like these, where there is So. Much. Evidence. that any unbiased, clear-eyed person would be sure to say "yes, the perpetrator was guilty."  Not just this case, but hypothetically if you caught a burglar with the loot in their hands leaving the building, or some other person caught in the act of something illegal. Like Jack Ruby, on television, shooting Gary Oswald. Per our system, they are allowed to plead not guilty and entitled to a fair trial, and their defense is allowed to present possible alternative theories and introduce doubt into the theory of the case.  It only takes one person on the jury, right?  

But when there is so much evidence, or a video that doesn't allow for alternative interpretations... what about then?  We agreed that maybe there needed to be another way.  Why go through the expense of the trial? We know they're guilty.  We know they need to be punished, to somehow pay for their misdeeds.  Is it truly a fair trial when there is only one possible outcome, barring jury interference or fear?

Obviously this would have to be limited to very few cases, and perhaps a panel of judges could rule that this, in fact, was such a case.  But at least then we'd know that other trials, those with some question of guilt or extenuating circumstance, could be fair.  

1.4.21

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Decent start to the year, considering that I've moved and had to work (seriously a drain on my reading time).  

Children's
Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction
Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery
Middle Grade/Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Middle Grade/Young Adult Suspense
Biography/Memoir
Fiction/Literature
Mystery/Thriller
Non-Fiction
Speculative Fiction
Suspense

24.3.21

The Incredible Shrinking Collection

 Yes, it's happening: The Collection is shrinking.  There was the Great Weed of 2012 and the Rethinking of 2021, not to mention the Rise of the eARCs and the General Tidying of 2017... but there are fewer books.  And, also, fewer bookshelves.

Before the Great Weed, The Collection and Mt. Bookpile were too big to fit comfortably on the eight 8' bookcases, the six 7' bookcases and the three 4' bookcases.  Things were sorted into so many genres: Children's/Young Adult, Mystery, Speculative Fiction (which included all Science Fiction and Fantasy), Legal, Political Science, Humor, Horror, Cookbooks, French, Literature, Popular Fiction. Reference, Women's Studies and History.  

After the Great Weed, there was room on the bookcases, but it wasn't until I left the townhouse that two of the 7' bookcases left to take up residence in two other homes, helping colleagues house their collections.  The different genres stayed, mostly because Move One required that The Collection remain boxes (Mt. Bookpile was on the few shelves that fit into that home).

Move Two brought The Collection out and back onto shelves.  There was a General Tidying, and the genres shrank to Children's/Young Adult, Mystery, Speculative Fiction (which included all Science Fiction and Fantasy), Humor, Horror, Cookbooks, Literature/Fiction and Non-Fiction.  The 4' bookcases were repurposed, serving as organizers and home office supply holders.  And then, just about a month ago, I embarked on the Rethinking of 2021, compelled by Move Three.

I'm on the other side of that move (mostly), and none of the 7' bookcases are here; of the remaining four, three are in off-site storage and one fell apart while being moved.  There are enough empty shelves to get rid of one of the 8' bookcases (which I am not going to do!  the Mantle Cats and some memorabilia/knickknacks/photos can be displayed on those shelves), and one of the 4' bookcases is also about to bite the dust and will be allowed to expire as soon as additional shelving for the linen closet can be purchased.  

Yesterday, I got seven new books.  All were eARCs, courtesy of publishers.  I still purchase print, but usually only books that I know I'll re-read or books that Thing One would also like to read.  And even though I've just moved in, Move Four is in the back of my mind due to my impending retirement (by 2024/5).  What will The Collection look like then?

21.3.21

Chapter Seven

 In which a sense of normal would be appreciated...

If you've ever moved, you know that things take some time to feel normal.  It's a question of where you've put things, getting used to new noises and new layouts, and figuring out your new shopping/commuting/life routine.  

For some reason, packing always feels worse than unpacking.  But sometimes things get a little weird.  Weird how?  

  • When I was packing, I put all my laundry into a mesh laundry bag. We had the moving company do the big packing, and my assumption was that if anything, they'd put the bag in a box.  End of.  Well... these packers unpacked my laundry, putting it into a box along with the laundry bag.  Luckily, they'd also put shoes in that box so there was no "is this clean? is it dirty?" confusion.
  • The other lucky part of the laundry being packed separately is that my "delicates" are missing.  All I have right now is whatever was in the laundry.  I really don't want to purchase replacements, so I'm hoping that the unopened boxes that are labelled LR or K were actually supposed to be MBR 
  • Along with that box, all my personal items (including deodorant, make-up, hairbrush and the like) are also somewhere.  I could swear I saw a box marked "make up" but I think that might have been move-happy hallucinating.
My bedroom is unpacked, although there is still the whole question of whether certain items belong where they are now.  I've also gotten the Very Strong Impression that I am not the preferred renter in this building. You see, there are 9' ceilings, and the Elfa shelving in the closet is arranged for someone more like Kareem (7'2") than li'l ol' 5'45" me.

Next come the book boxes, all 30+ of them, which will leave a few that could possibly hold the missing items.  If not, it's back to the Old Place to see what might have been left there (several items are going into storage and those will move Tuesday).  

And then there's The Herd.  Packing Day they stayed under the beds all day.  Moving Day they were put into a bathroom filled with their favorite plushy furniture, along with water, food and a litter box.  Where did they stay?  Under the vanity. As the unpacking has been going on, they've been exploring, hiding (Baby Girl does a great impression of unmade sheets under a tidy bedspread) and generally getting to know the New Place.  

The Boy is one of those strong silent types: quick to hiss if he feels his space is being invaded, even faster to nip at hands (requiring doctors and medication), but never actually vocalizing.  Big Girl coos, chirp, purrs and talks; Baby Girl squeaks, chirps and purrs so loudly it can be heard two states over.  The Boy never made a sound beyond the hiss.  Until the first night in the new place.  Apparently he can make sounds, loud ones.  It's like a baby crying and yelping at once, a pained "OW" that made me first worry that someone had gotten hurt thanks to a semi-rigid box and household item that wasn't put away properly.  But no, it was just The Boy, showing us he could talk, too.

Can we just go back to normal?


To be continued...

ETA: apparently the movers thought Thing One liked wearing women's undergarments and wore make-up: there were two boxes marked "his" that in this case were "hers"

18.3.21

Chapter Six

 In which Our Heroine contemplates collapsing and never moving again...

Everything got packed and moved to the New Place.

How it started How it's going

Next step, unpacking.  Starting any moment now.  Really.  I promise.

To be continued...

15.3.21

Ps...

 Because I'm stuck at MPOW waiting (and watching) our basement get emptied out, I decided to do a little housecleaning on the blog.  Yes: there are new links on the right.  Check them out and enjoy!

Chapter Five

 In which Our Heroine deals with a deadline...

The move is fast approaching.  As in, later this week.  YIKES.  

Last week I took time to go through each section of The Collection and Mt. Bookpile and did some weeding, and then (with a huge assist from Thing One) every section was packed back into the boxes that had brought them from my house to the last place to here.

(Pro Tip: Home Depot/Lowes small boxes are great, but they only last 4 moves, max).

 I even took the time to re-inventory Mt. Bookpile so that what was in the boxes actually matches my list of To Be Read Books.  Over the summer I'll re-inventory everything else and make sure my catalog matches what's on the shelves.  For insurance purposes only, I swear!  Really!  My closet also got a good going through, and there's a nice pile ready for the charity shop.  

Because of course there's also a huge project on at work, I've been sitting here all day waiting for a truck to take some materials away.  That means the "errands" for today will be pushed back to tomorrow.  And today will be spent looking at items in the kitchen, the "basement" storage and all office supplies.  We'll see what stays and what goes from those.  I still have to pack my art works, jewelry and bathroom (that'll be one of the many things that gets done tomorrow).  

It'll be close, but I'll get it done.  There's a deadline, after all.

To be continued...

14.3.21

More about the past year...

Cribbing, as usual, from Philosophy Mom, who does a Friday Five, which this week is a "taking stock of quarantine" question set.

1. In what ways has pandemic life been positive for you?

MPOW has been incredibly generous, allowing those of us who felt uncomfortable going in to work every day (for personal health reasons, or because we lived with/cared for someone who had health reasons, etc.) to simply say that and work from home.  Because there were so few students allowed into the library, the four librarians just rotated weekly and did the WFH thing the rest of the time.  We were also provided with weekly COVID tests, and more than enough PPE/cleansing wipes.

I got reading and binge-watching done while I've been home, and I haven't managed to get so irritated with Thing One that I've killed him (although my staff promises that they'll help me hide the body and/or get bail... do I trust them on that? maybe... maybe not... they really love his cookies...) 

The flip side (which isn't asked about here!) is that being at home and cooped up has irritated my dust allergy beyond belief.  I've gained some weight, although that's starting to come off.  I know, not the biggest problems in the world.   

2. Where (and how often) did you get your pandemic news this past year?

Daily, and from a variety of sources: MSNBC, BBC, The Guardian UK, The Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal.  Sometimes someone would tweet a link to a story on another platform, like LA Times or HuffPo.  The Massachusetts COVID website.  My school (for what our plans were, what protective steps were being taken, etc.).

3. Where did you find unexpected comfort in these crazy twelve months?

Our weekly family Sunday Zoom (for which I've come up with interesting titles–that's another post much later this year). The yahrzeit for my mother and the memories that brought back. The Herd and cuddling with them more frequently.  

4. What are some little things you miss most about what used to be normal life?

  • Pub trivia 
  • Going to Montreal and Europe
  • Eating in restaurants
  • Seeing students
  • Lunch with colleagues
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Wearing more than my pjs most of the time (well, miss might be too strong... I definitely miss the need to wear something else, but pj's are so comfy!) 
  •  Live theatre and music and dance, be it professional or a student production

 None of those are terribly "little" are they?

5. What do you think life will be like twelve months from now?

Work with be mostly on-campus, and most of the students will have returned to daily classes.  We'll still be wearing masks, and I don't know if that means we won't be dining out or travelling, but it does mean we'll be able to be out in public a bit more.  I'll be able to see my father more easily, and maybe my sister (who is in Canada, so there's a whole border thing to deal with).

Mostly, I hope that we'll have begun to heal as a country, with the divides narrowing (I don't think they'll ever go away) and the screaming heads on both sides will have less influence. 

12.3.21

What a year it's been


One year ago today, I got the phone call that said that we were closing the school a day early for Spring Break. I already knew that we were going to be closed after Break, at least for a while, reopening as a remote learning institution.  Little did I then think that we'd be remote or hybrid a year later, or that I'd still be scared to go outside.  And the deaths.  Over 500,000 of them

Nearly one death for every minute in a year.    

Let that sink in.

As happens with any major new change, language has changed.  Language Log had this post pointing to some of the other word bloggers and words that sprang up as early as May 2020.  Some, like "Boomer Remover" or "Infits" haven't had staying power.  These, on the other hand...
  • Quarantimes 
  • Covidiot
  • WFH
  • Beforetimes
  • Jab
  • Infodemic
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Social distancing
  • PPE
I wonder if we'll be using them this time next year.  Part of me is afraid to find out.


 


7.3.21

One idiot, two idiots, red idiots, blue idiots

 This whole "Dr. Seuss is cancelled" thing has gotten so far out of control it's not funny.


Apparently, Fox News has been going on about this for days, ignoring other, more important stories.

As a librarian, I've known that the Dr. Seuss books have been problematic πŸ”’for a while (yes, even Cat in the Hat).  Luckily, my students are at least nine years old, so it's not a collection development issue for me.  

What's getting lost here is that the "canceller" is the actual publisher, on the advice of Seuss' estate.  And it's only six of his books.  Of those six, I know one (I think my copy is still in my father's basement, along with my Richard Scarry books [also racist/sexist], but they may have gone to my sister's children): And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The other five?  Nope.  And I have a copy of The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough!  So it's not like I only know one or two of his books.  

If a librarian who works with young readers doesn't have these six books on their shelves now, or removes them to add other, newer books, no one would say anything.  And it's incredibly unlikely that the blowhards on Fox had any idea they existed before now.  So please, let's just ignore the fuss and move on to other, far more important things.

Oh, and cancel culture?  This ain't that.  Unless you're trying to gin up anger over a nothingburger. 

5.3.21

Chapter Four

 In which some small steps are taken...

We have keys!  And measurements... so now I have to figure out how to fit the 21' of bookcases onto the walls (I'm thinking 4 x 4, which will also leave room for the tv).  Yesterday the mover came to give an estimate and we organized which items would go to the new place and which would go to a new storage space.  The storage pickup will be later this month, taking the remaining items from here and our current storage and moving them all to a new storage space (to be arranged later).  

The movers are going to pack up most of the apartment.  But not, of course, the books.  Nope.  I am, perhaps unsurprisingly, finicky about those.  The boxes from the last move are in the current storage space, already labelled with the appropriate genres.  Yes, more will be needed but it's a good start and a great opportunity to look over The Collection to see what might wind up being exiled.

Clothes and knickknacks and everything else, oh my!  

Utilities are being changed, as are credit cards.  I need a new EZPass, one from Massachusetts so I can get the tunnel discount.  Slowly the checklist is growing... growing... I'll never catch up.

To be continued...

27.2.21

Not at all suspicious

 So, here we are, three weeks post-FBI raid.The BMW is still gone.  The Camero? Still poorly parked, although I hear that the Board wants to tow it (apparently private roads are different than city streets, so that's not easy to do).  

By the end of Week One, he'd replaced the lock on his front door.  It took another week for the lock on his mailbox to be replaced.  Yes, he's still there... music thud thud thudding away.  Haven't heard him and his girlfriend, though.  So that's good.

Early this morning (like, 4:40am early) when my bladder was making itself known to my brain, I heard his door open.  Footsteps down the hall.  Elevator doors opening/closing, elevator descending and the doors opening/closing again.  The front door to the building opening and closing.  Then... nothing.

But (you knew this was coming) on my way back to bed, as I opened the window shade for The Herd's Early Morning Patrol, I saw a car with lights on down the street.  And there, standing at the driver's window, was our neighbor.  Talking.  In the cold misty rain.  For over 20 min.  Loudly enough that Thing One heard voices through his window.  

Then the process reversed itself, he returned to his apartment.  And by 7:15 his music was back on.  

Nope.  Not at all suspicious.

26.2.21

Chapter Three

 In which Our Heroine procrastinates...

Instead of weeding and packing, I did my taxes.  And wrote notes to friends.  And read.  Why?  Because there's just so much stuff in this apartment.


Oh, yeah.  And searching for this video.  

Next week I'm working in the afternoon, so my mornings will be spent determining what is moving and what can go to the local charity shop.  Stay tuned for how that goes - I'll even take photos!

To be continued...

19.2.21

Traditions

 In November 2018 my mother had fainting incident and fell while at "day care".  Since we couldn't find my father, I left work and went speeding to their home.  Eventually, over halfway there, we found him and I was reassured by my sister that Mom had also recovered and was going home.  Too late, I was still on my way.

Rather than worrying her more, I said that I'd come home to celebrate her birthday—I'd even brought her gift with me, a t-shirt celebrating the Red Sox World Championship.  She was happy to see me and to get the gift.  Dad brought over her stack of birthday cards and together they opened them, with Dad reading the comments.  One card was from some local friends and had been sent back and forth on her birthday and Fran's birthday for years.  Sadly, that was the last time the card would be mailed.

Then I read this in the Globe & Mail: One card, 50 years of greetings: the ultimate green Christmas tradition πŸ”’

In 1970 – that same year we received Arlene and Moe’s card – I was just beginning to think about conservation and recycling. Arlene and I were both pregnant that year, and my husband was just finishing graduate school. We had little money for non-essentials, and it bothered me to throw out the beautiful Christmas cards we received. I saved them all. In 1971, I handwrote our Christmas letters, including an invitation to join us in recycling cards. And then I popped the letter into everyone’s seasonal card that they’d sent us last year. I wrote our names – including our new baby’s name – and the current date just below our friends’ signatures from the Christmas before.

Some people thought this was tacky; they never returned their card. Some exchanged theirs for a few years, but found it difficult to find an envelope the right size, and heaven forbid using one that wasn’t a perfect fit, or worse, homemade.

Arlene and Moe embraced the program wholeheartedly and lovingly returned their card to us in 1972, adding their new son to the list. Names of second children eventually appeared for each family. When the children were old enough to bring in the mail and recognize return addresses they’d gleefully holler, “THE CARD has arrived!”

After I got rid of the moisture the mysteriously ran down my cheeks, I thought about my friends and who I could start this sort of tradition with.  It wouldn't be over 50 years, but any years of tradition would feel good. 

Happy birthday to someone... again and again and again.


15.2.21

Family Matters

I'm adopted.  I've known that all my life.  Family lore has it that my parents were told that they needed to let me know early, so at five days old, bringing me home from the Boston Lying-In, my mother informed me that I was her baby girl and I was adopted (family lore also has it that I then spit at her, cementing our future troubled relationship).  In other words, I've never not known.

I've also always been comfortable with belonging to the family I've lived with since then.  

However.... there's one thing I've always wondered: what is my ethnic background?  Beyond "Ashkenazi Jew", I mean.  People not knowing my religious background, seeing my (as Thing One calls it) vampiricly pale skin and dark hair have questioned whether if I'm Welsh, Irish, Spanish or Russian, among others.  So a couple of years ago, I did that Ancestry DNA test.

Results?  Mostly "Eastern European Jew" with some "Spanish".  Ok, that makes sense, because in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain and many migrated to Eastern Europe.  Then, I got an update: I'm 100% "Eastern European Jew" (they can't get more specific).  Two weeks ago, another update: 99% "Eastern European Jew" and 1% "Swedish" (sadly, I missed out on the blond hair/blue eyed genes).  

My sister has found her biological family, and my father has always been interested in doing that research.  He's also exploring his family tree with the help of my cousin D. D. actually manages my father's DNA, and in doing some poking around, he discovered links between my father and sister.  We were speaking last week and I made him manager of my DNA... and lo and behold, Dad and I are also cousins.  Distant cousins, I should stress.  Like, fifth cousins or more distant. 

I don't know how we're related, exactly.  And I'm not eager to truly explore it.  It's just good to know that we're related... we're family.  Of course, I knew that 58 years ago.

13.2.21

Chapter Two

 In which Our Heroine needs to get her act together.

So, we have an apartment.  And a date on which we're picking up the keys and remote for the garage.  Now we need to get movers scheduled and find another, closer, storage unit for things like my Very Well Stocked Workbench.

Oh, yeah.  And pack.  And before packing, weeding the closet and organizing/throwing away all the various papers and deciding if any books will not make the move with me.  You know, the important pre-moving/pre-packing stuff.

And yet.

It's a four day weekend.  And I'm here, blogging.  And watching the impeachment trial.  And reading.  And streaming a theatre performance.  And thinking "I really could get my bedroom stuff organized for the move."

Thinking.

Not actually doing.

To be continued...

4.2.21

A Little Too Exciting

 The past two mornings have been a little more exciting than I'm used to and have me dreading tomorrow!

Wednesday at 3:10am, my Big Girl ran into my room, chattering up a storm.  I tried to get her to cuddle with me, but she jumped down and ran back to the living room/kitchen.  Then she ran back, jumped up into bed and began bouncing around.  Slowly becoming alert, I opened my eyes to see something black fly up to the pillow end--she pounced on it and tossed it back down the bed.  

Ok, time to turn on the light and Oh.My.God. There's A Newly Dead Mouse In My Bed (well, most of a newly dead mouse).  I raced into Thing One's room and woke him up asking him to please, please take care of it.  Meanwhile, lounging on the living room couches are the other members of the Herd, looking pissed that we'd woken them up.  

This is the third mouse she's caught in our apartment.  They've only been around since our next door neighbor moved in so...

Speaking of that neighbor, he's been a bit of an odd duck.  We hear the constant thud of EDM (specifically Russian EDM), and he can often be heard yelling in Russian (or some such language) on the phone.  He owns a pit bull-type dog, but is pretty good about keeping him on a short leash when anyone else is around.  A few months ago he moved his prize Camero from our garage parking to street parking (and parked about 1' from the curb, making plowing the street a pain, plus it's in a prime spot for moving vans, delivery trucks, ambulances [we get a lot of those] so even more of a pain) to make way for a tricked out BMW with no plates.  Hmmmm....

This morning, at 5:45am, a thud woke me up, followed swiftly by my Baby Girl running into my room and burrowing under my blankets.  Then Thing One walked in, saying that he'd heard noise in the hall, a thud and the immortal words: Lie down, hands above your head.  FBI. Looking outside, there were five (or so) Escalades with flashing lights parked on our very short street.  More thuds. Sounds of moving and shifting. Oddly, nothing from the dog.  

90 min later, when I left for work, there were no Escalades on the street, but his door looked as though it wasn't fully closed.  

Stay tuned for tomorrow morning's antics!

ETA: they're still in the apartment, drilling and using a crowbar to remove the paneling and cabinets he installed.

24.1.21

Chapter One

 In which Our Heroine agonizes over which apartment to choose.

To quote Andie McDowell, I'm not a fussy person.  Ok, maybe I am a little.  I mean, I'm officially heading from middle to old age, and my five year plan includes retirement so, yes, a little fussy.  And now I'm going to be looking for a new apartment. 

First, what do I require?  Two bedrooms, minimum.  Two full bathrooms.  Not near the elevator or the garbage area.  Room for the bookcases.  And an elevator would be nice.  1100sqft minimum. Covered parking. Thing One requires a good kitchen, preferably one with a gas range.  Ready? Let's go hunting.

Believe it or not, it's more difficult than you'd think to find something like that.  We found apartments that had the right bedrooms and bathrooms, but were around 900sqft.  Nope.  There was one 1000sqft three bedroom, but two of the bedrooms had a gorgeous view of a brick wall and the master bedroom was in the neighboring roof deck's line of sight.  Nope.  There was a great possibility but there were game rooms on every floor (hint: young people live here) and it wasn't near much in the way of shopping, unless you're a huge Home Depot fan.

Then, based on a hint from the guy who showed us the Brick Wall Home, I looked in an entirely new neighborhood, one I hadn't considered before.  And there, on the waterfront, was a building that looked promising.  We asked for a tour.  Of the four apartments, one made my heart sing.  Maybe not enough wall space for all the bookcases, but the 8' ones would fit.  The bedrooms were nice.  Gas range.  Balcony overlooking the harbor.  Underground garage.  Near the T.  Not far from shopping.  Hmmm.....

But wait, there were three more apartments to look at.  So who knows, right?  Two were definitely in the "I'm making a good salary but just got out of college" mold, emphasized by the exhortation to refer our friends to get a rent reduction (most of my friends own, or live on campus).  And then, the final apartment.  Good layout, if a little odd in places (like a small closet in the master, but a huge one in the second?).  Electric stove.  Underground parking.  But right in the middle of Cute Suburb, with lots of restaurants and shopping and near the T and an easy commute to work.  Hmmmm....

For the next 24 hours I agonized.  Weighed pros and cons.  Talked with friends, who were not helpful (because they saw the same pros and cons and couldn't weigh things differently than I was). Agonized some more: go with my head (Cute Suburb) or heart (Harbor View)???

I went with my heart.  We've now signed 31 documents agreeing to not smoke, to grill only on the complex's grills, to call if we need exterminating, etc..  Move in will start on March 1, and we'll be done with Current Apartment by March 31.  Why then?  Because Spring Break. 

To be continued...

22.1.21

And people wonder where I got it from...

Just now one of my staff mistyped that she was going out and she'd be "bach" soon... I told her I was working on my To Do Liszt.  

Yeah, I know.  GROAAAANNN.

However, last week I was setting up our family Zoom and wondered if we were going to be boring and have it at our usual time, or if we'd dare to change the time.  And then, this:

Yep.  What's that they say about apples and trees?

20.1.21

Belated New Year's Posting

Philosophy Mom's post reminded me that I hadn't done this post this year!  That's what comes from trusting friends to prompt you, right?  Maybe I should start the 2021 version now and edit as I go?

1. What did you do in 2020 that you'd never done before?

Where to start?  Quarantined in my apartment for months on end? Worn a mask while going outside? Spent many long hours on a program I'd never heard of before, Zoom?  etc. etc.  It was... a lot.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

God no.  I was actually not doing badly, since I was off my Horrible Medications and getting back to life when we had to lockdown.  I confess, I'm a stress eater so there went my weight.  And many of my To Do list didn't get done because life/work interfered.

3. Did anyone close to you get married?

Not that I'm aware of.  However, several have gotten engaged so maybe next year?

4. Did anyone close to you get divorced?

Again, not as far as I'm aware.  People may be waiting until COVID lockdowns end before kicking their quarantine partner to the curb.

5. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Physically close? Yes.  Several colleagues.  But emotionally close?  See my answers to 3 and 4. (yes, that's a repeat answer from last year!)

6. Did anyone close to you die?

Several friends lost their parents to COVID or other illnesses.  Only one of them was I particularly close to (we had an annual Red Sox/Yankees bet) while the others were less close to me, only connected through my friendship with their child.

7. What countries did you visit?

None, if you don't count Despair and Fatigue.

8. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2020?

Good health.  Less emotional stress.  The ability to walk around outside without fear.  

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going insane with the Days of Zoom and the need to completely revamp how we do our library program now that we're remote (or hybrid).

10. What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to overcome all this to get things done around the apartment: talk about a perfect opportunity to get organized, downsize, etc..  Or to be more accurate, perfect potential -- and completely missed -- opportunity

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thanking all the gods that my eye is still stable; as someone with an autoimmune disease, though, I've been terrified about going out and seeing anyone.  So no, no current illnesses.  And none in 2020.  I am not tempting those gods for 2021 though!

12. What was the best thing you bought?

A new printer/copier for home.  My old one was ok, but now that I'm working from home so much I needed a better one.  I can even print from my iPhone!

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Thing One.  He hasn't killed me, despite being locked into an apartment with me since March.

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

President Bonespurs Tinyhands (can't take credit for that, and I forget where I read it) and his enablers on air and in Congress.

15. Where did most of your money go?
Rent.  I didn't do much, for obvious reasons.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Two things: no longer taking the Very Major Drugs (final doses in March 20) and weekly (since September) COVID testing at work.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? sadder
thinner or fatter? fatter
richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

It's not a "done" as much as "have energy to do" - organizing the apartment, weeding clothes and 'stuff' from my life.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Stress eating

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Chinese food and the BeeGees documentary.

21. How did you bring in the New Year?

Remembering my mother with a Yahrzeit that brought together members of my family from all over.  It was a lovely surprise for my father.

22. Did you fall in love?

I never saw other people to fall in love with!!

23. What was your favorite TV program?

The Great British Baking Show, Call My Agent, Doctor Doctor, Line of Fire 

24. What was the best book you read?

Go to my reading blog and chose any five-star.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

None.  I stuck with tried-and-true.   Yeah, I know.  Borrrrring.  But also comfortable, which was perfect for this time.

26. What was your favorite film of the year?

Didn't really watch any this year - more of a binge watching kind of year.

27. What was your favorite live performance?

None.  Had hopes, but, you know, COVID.  Maybe next year?

28. What did you want and get?

Nothing.

29. What did you want and not get?

An end to COVID and the political craziness.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I'm edging closer to 60 and traditional celebrations don't quite work any longer.  2021's birthday will be cancelled due to COVID.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not losing any real time off between March and Winter Break, but also being at work with students and colleagues.  Being with people via Zoom just isn't quite as nice, you know?

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

Pjs.  Seriously.  When "they" write the history of the COVID era they'll see I was nearly cutting edge.

33. What kept you sane?

The Herd.  The Things. And (contrarily) Zooms with friends and family.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

There's no way to describe my angst and anger at the idiocy of all political figures.  Even with the change in administrations I hold out no real hope for calm and cooperation.  

36. Whom did you miss?

Mom. And just about everyone else I was separated from thanks to the lockdowns.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

"Met" sounds weird, because it's only been through Zoom!  There's only one person I really met "for real", my father's new companion.  

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.

Things can always get worse.

39. What was your favorite moment of the year?

Thanks to a weekly COVID test, I was able to convince my father to let me visit.  That first hug?  Priceless.

40. What was your least favorite moment of the year?

Pick a day between March 13 and December 13 and you've probably hit on it.  

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2020 and change something, what would it be?

I can't really change the whole COVID thing, so what's the point? I mean, that is the one thing I would change, because without that I could have worked on a few other things and been able to strengthen and/or repair relationships.

42. What are your plans for 2021?

Working on my physical and emotional health. Getting my COVID vaccine.  Moving (see the moving on series).  And with any luck, getting back to normal. 

19.1.21

Prologue

 In which Our Heroine discovers that she's soon to be homeless.

In 2015, when I moved from my last school to the current one, I also needed to move residences.  After a few trips to see apartments ranging from "frat boy chic" to "I'm too old to live like a 20-something" and finally to ones I could see myself in.  My current abode has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a basement garage and an elevator; the building is <20 years old and was built for "residents of a certain age... less aged than the ones you'll see being picked up by ambulance all the time next door"  The walls are quite thin, and when my neighbors sneeze, I want to say "bless you" and hearing one neighbor who enjoys his girlfriend's, um, company a little too noisily has been a highlowpoint of my stay here.

So the great apartment hunt began.  I want two bedrooms, two bathrooms, indoor garage and wall space for the bookcases, while Thing One wants a good kitchen set up.  Neighborhood / proximity to work is also critical: I don't want to live where the drive will make me cranky every morning, and it would be great to not live in an area devoid of any amenities, like a grocery store.  You'd think that wouldn't be that difficult to find in a major city, right?


 

18.1.21

Couldn't resist the snark

 This very well-intentioned post was on Twitter this morning: 


To which I respond, FEWER quotes.  Definitely more learning.


13.1.21

Don't let it be too late

 For years, my parents went to my sister's in Canada for Christmas and New Years - they helped with the tree, the stockings, the gifts and other traditions.  Two years ago, my mother was in hospice and then died, and last year my father was able to go to Canada.  This year, though, that was impossible because the boarder is closed.  We worried about him being all alone in the house on the anniversary of her death, so when he mentioned a Zoom for her Yahrzeit we quickly agreed... and then I had the idea to invite as many family members as we could as a surprise.  

There were  only 20 others who came ("only" 20, because I have probably 50-60 relatives that could have come) but the look on Dad's face when he logged into the Zoom and saw everyone was wonderful.  Instead of just three of us lighting the candle and saying Kaddish, there were others who also shared our grief at her loss and shared some of their memories of her.  As my father said later, it brought back their early days together (he remembered boiling bottles for my formula) and helped erase her last year.  

After, I got an email from a cousin who had spent a week a year with them as an adult.  He said, It was also interesting for me to hear so many people tell such wonderful stories about your mother, and to realize sadly that I really barely knew her."  Well, duh.

My mother told me several times that when he visited, or when my parents visited his sister, she felt very uncomfortable.  When they got me, she stayed home to take care of me -- and later, my sister -- but also did so many other things, like learning languages and tutoring and becoming a docent at the local art museum, and managing all our international travel and our investments and taking tax prep classes, and... and... and... I could go on.  But she never felt as though either of these siblings valued what she did or understood how damn smart she was (that part she never said, but honestly, she really was smarter than most people I know).  Later, his sister wrote, "Aunt B very much modeled giving a damn about people, both those that she was close to and those she didn’t even know, and showing up, again and again, whether by boycotting, rallying, or traveling to be with someone in need of support."

How I wish Mom was still alive to hear that.  

Don't let it be too late to tell the people in your life how much you value them.

11.1.21

Notable Quotes

Mom says, "I should have let you take as much time as you needed instead of worrying that you'd fall behind. Dr. Prince said that people-consciously or unconsciously-believe grief will take a set amount of time, like they expect that after a month or two, things will go back to normal. But for the person who's grieving, there is no 'back to normal."'

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls); Alyssa Sheinmel  

10.1.21

They lied!

 Last week I posted this to Instagram:



I mean, really!  Wasn't 2021 supposed to be the "good twin"?  And yet... it's more like 2020 dared the new year to be bigger and badder.  Consider the evidence:

  • In addition to the continued rise in COVID cases and deaths, the vaccine rollout has been botched in many locales.
  • Our election was "stolen" (or was it? depends on your political views)
  • A mob, spurred on by the President and members of Congress, not to mention Crazy Uncle Rudy, invaded the Capitol building.  Sedition?  Insurrection? Both?  It's still shocking that there are some who think that this was kinda No Big Deal and we should all just try to get along. 
And the icing on this particular shitcake?  My landlady is selling the apartment and wants us out ASAP (our lease runs through July).  So in addition to shepherding 600 students through the research process and calming teachers anxious about all-digital resources, and trying to avoid COVID until I can get the vaccine, I now have to find someplace new to live and pack up the apartment, and unpack on the other end.  No, I'm not comparing my rather trivial problem to what's going on in the greater world, I'm just saying... they lied.  

The upside is that there are only 356 days until 2022.

1.1.21

A Lazy Year in Review

Last year, Chuck pointed his blog's readers to this post.  It struck me as a great way to think about my year, sharing some of what's gone on with you, my faithful reader (or readers... I'm ever hopeful that not everyone has deserted the blog!). Then, just as I was working on this post, Meredith posted about her year and I decided to combine the two.

On the Blog:

I've been trying to blog more this year (not because of COVID and lockdown, but just because), and this makes the 56th post on the blog this year, up from 32 in 2019 and 27 in 2018. It is still a lot less than the 111 I posted in 2010 and a far cry from the 375 of 2008 (yikes!  I've been blogging a long time...) .

So which posts caught readers' fancies this year? Here are the five most popular 2020 posts:
There were even some older posts that also received attention: 
Obviously Meredith (not just for this post!).  But also Sara, Courtney, Kelsey, the AISL and ISS and CLA Librarians, Laura, Beth, Joanna, my father, Wendy S., David, Corey, Anne, Terri, Thing One, Thing Three, Ebit and so many more. 

Around the Web:
I've discovered a few new sites this year that have amused me and/or kept me sane during this crazy year.  Maybe they'll do the same for you? Poorly Drawn Lines, Arrant Pedantry and Linguist Laura

Travel:
Whelp.  Hmmm... not much.  There were plans to go to Providence RI, Portland ME, Chicago IL, Denver CO and Lisbon (Portugal).  Those got cancelled. As has January's trip to Indianapolis.  I did manage to go to my father's a couple of times. 

Music:
I confess:: I've been listening to far too much "comfort" music this year (haven't we all?).  While working both at home and at work I've had the good fortune to be able to listen to my iPod and ignore the world around me.  Forget the savage beast, it sootheth the fretful Lazygal.  Who?  kd lang, Rachid Taha, Coeur de Pirate, Noir Silence, Julia Haltigan, the Puppini Sisters, Camille O'Sullivan, Postmodern Jukebox and random other songs and albums in my collection.

Live Performances and Art Exhibitions:
None.  Anything I've seen has been streamed, because COVID.  Sybarite 5 did a wonderful winter concert, and Camille O'Sullivan's At Home Lockdown "gig" gave me hope.

Books:
Obviously, my Year-End Round-up has the statistics and links.

Films/TV Series:
Great British Baking Show, Derry Girls, Lucifer, New Tricks, Boarderland (aka Sorjonen), Call My Agent (aka Dix Pour Cent), The Heart Guy, Full Bloom, Tea with the Dames, 

Podcasts:
In addition to listening to music while I work, I finally got to listen to podcasts (with a 15min commute, it's very difficult to do while driving... but when WFH, well...) Three on the Aisle, You Must Remember This, Hell and High Water, The Oath, and Chuck's radio show (technically not a podcast). 

And Then . . .  small moments of joy
My weekly Zoom with my father, sister, niece, aunt and cousins... spending time with The Herd, who calm me down when I'm stressed... reading... Heather Cox Richardson's morning eletter... random comments from students that show we've connected...

2020 Reading Review

Another year with 305 books read, just barely going over the goal of 300 for the year.  Reviews are over at the reading blog, but again some fell into the "you can't talk about this" category for the Book Award Committee.

So... here's the 2020 reading analysis (2019 numbers in parens):
number of books read in 2020:  299 (305)
best month: July/36 (August/50) 
worst month: October/17 (April/15) 
average read per month:  24.8 (24.4)
adult fiction as percentage of total: 14 (20)
children's/YA fiction as percentage of total:   17.7 (18)

Advance Readers Copies: 226 (257)
eARCs vs print: 186 vs 40
books read that were published in 2020: 209 
books that will be published in the 2021: 41 
five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  26 (30)
one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 15 (11)

While Mt. Bookpile was 278 this time last year, it's at 286 now.  I'm going to take it a little easier in 2021 and make my goal 250 books because I have several big, thick books taunting me!  Let's see how things go.