I moved back home and here’s how it’s going:

26 Jun

In January, I got offered a new job in Philadelphia with a really neat non-profit.  For awhile I had been wanting a new job and had felt my time in Boston had come to an end.  Boston really treated me well–I met some of the greatest friend (friends whom I consider family), I was able to grow so much within my job (learn new skills, take on new tasks, take risks)  and I was able to find a really, really awesome theatre community that supported me in duress (probably more than they’ll ever know) . So, what did I do? I decided to accept the job, move 400 miles back to Lancaster, PA, where I grew up and try to forge a new phase of my life.

Within the span of three weeks, I gave notice to my job, said many a good-bye to beloved colleagues and treasured friends, packed up an entire 11 year’s worth of stuff from living in Boston, and drove 10 hours south to Pennsylvania.  Looking back, I’m amazed I was able to move so quickly. But I think in the moment that’s what I had to do…I have a history of making big decisions/changes quickly. In the summer after graduating from college, I had no idea what to do with my life. I discovered AmeriCorps and through it, ReadBoston. I fell in love with ReadBoston, applied directly to it and 2 months later moved to Boston. When I applied to colleges, I fell in love with the photograph of the crewers rowing on the Susquehanna RIver and even thought I did visit the campus, I already knew from the feeling I got seeing that photograph that I would choose to go there.  It’s hard to say exactly how I make these decisions, but mostly they are based on a feeling I get inside of me–it’s not quite a gut feeling, but that’s probably the closest thing to describe what I mean.  It’s more of a  I’m scared as hell, but this feels right and I’m pretty sure everything’s going to work out for me if I do this.   (Not everything I’ve decided this quickly has turned out exactly the way I have planned, obviously, but in general, I try to trust my instincts).

Anyhow, I moved home. I had two weeks filled with trying to obtain a PA driver’s license (I pretty much had to sign away my first-born!), getting my car registered (difficult to do when you are going from a paperless (MA) state to a paper one (PA)), sleeping a lot, hiking, and trying to figure out what my new job might be like, exactly.

I’m not going to go into every detail about my new job, but almost five months into it I can say I’m really enjoying it! It’s challenging me, pushing me out of some of my comfort zones, and allowing me to meet lots of great people.  It was a step up from my last job and sometimes it’s terrifying having so much responsiblity! Mostly, it’s empowering, but sometime’s stressful! Right now I’m reading lots of YA books as we’re in the middle of choosing books for the 2013 Reading Olympics.  If you are looking for an excellent read, check out Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Beautifully written, a compelling point of view, and just all around awesome. It really captures the many conflicting emotions that you feel as a teenager. I’m also planning our summer program, which starts NEXT week! The theme this summer is the Olympics and we’ve found some great books about teamwork/setting goals/eating well/being active, etc.  Michael Phelps wrote (ok I think he assisted someone who really wrote the book) called How To Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals. It’s a cute little book with some nice math connections.

Spending time with family is another thing I’ve been doing A LOT of.  I haven’t yet made any friends here (I kind of forgot how long it takes to make friends in a new place), so most of my social interactions revolve around family.  It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as you might imagine. I really thought moving home was going to  be incredibly great! with no problems! And that I was so grown up and over all of that emotional turmoil from childhood that everything would be peachy and I would get along with everyone swimmingly! HA! It’s been challenging. It’s bringing up a lot of issues that I actually thought I had resolved within myself.  Clearly not.  I realize I have a lot to work on and it’s going to be tough. But I guess that’s expected.

On a wonderful note, it’s been lovely in many ways to be around family again. My grandparents, who I’ve been spending a lot fo time with, are such amazing people. I already knew this, but I love hearing their stories and eating dinner with them and hearing stories about their youth. They make me want to be the best person that I can be and that’s pretty rare. I strive to be my best self around them. I love their quirks and their hobbies (puzzles, finding the best bargains, cleaning, working on model trains) inspiring.  And my sisters and brother who are in the area are also pretty rad.  Now that we’re for the most part “adults” it’s fun to get to know each other on this level.  My parents are great too and it’s been fun to try to reestablish a close relationship with them–close both emotionally and geographically.

I decided to leave library school for the semester and probably for good. Or at least for a good, long while.  With my new job taking up most of mental energy, I realized there was just no way I could learn how to do a new job and get all my schoolwork done.  I was sad to drop my classes, but it was the right decision.

So, I guess that’s it for now.  I’m hoping to get into the habit of writing on here MUCH more. And taking photographs again. And trying out local beers and reporting on them 🙂



Teamwork & Online Learning

17 Jan

As Enid Irwin said in her presentation about teamwork, “You start your career when you start SLIS”. I think that’s well said and true.  Entering into becoming an online learner was a bit scary, and I really had no idea exactly what to expect.  Luckily, when reading through “The Tips for Success” I’m happy to say I can relate to nearly all of the points.  Some of the points that stood out to me were time management, self-motivation, working independently, and enjoying a challenge.  Being challenged is something that is extremely important to me in both my personal and professional life.  If there’s one thing I loathe it’s being bored and feeling like my intellect, skills, and creativity are not being utilized to their fullest potential.   Sure, I enjoy “vegging out” as much as the next person, but there’s a reason vegging out feels good—and that’s because you’ve worked so hard that you need a break.

When something shifts at work, I am always eager to take on new projects, create new programming, and try new things.  This bodes well for online learning, as I am very self-motivated and I know how to manage my time.  Since my job includes doing a variety of different tasks, I’ve had good practice in prioritizing and managing time.  I’m also very dedicated to things that I’m passionate about and being in library school is something I’m excited to be a part of and have been looking forward to it since I applied!  I’ve also had a lot of freedom at work so I’ve learned to work independently quite well.

I’m happy to hear that teamwork is a big part of being in library school! And I’m actually serious! I have to admit that I’ve had some not-so-stellar team work experiences, but on the whole, I’m a people person and I enjoy a lively discussion, brainstorming, and working through problems with other people.  Something that stood out in both the presentation by Dr. Haycock and the talk by Enid Irwin is that they both believe setting ground rules is crucial to teamwork.  I completely agree.  If all participants are honest and upfront about their expectations at the beginning of the process, and clear guidelines with clear consequences are set, I can only imagine that it sets the stage for success.  The main issues I see in my time spent in programs that serve youth are no set guidelines, no real follow-through on consequences, or confusing/unclear guidelines and consequences.  I can’t tell you the number of times I wished for a behavior management specialist to come in to teach the staff on effective ways to deal with students.  And while I understand we are all adults in this online experience, I feel ground rules/guidelines are needed and effective, as well as consequences that make sense.  I would feel more comfortable personally in a team where we had all agreed upon ground rules and consequences from the get-go.  In the end, I feel this would actually allow us all to be more open and creative.

Another important point of team work that Enid Irwin spoke about was attitude and how essential it is to have a good one! Personally, I feel this is crucial in pretty much all of life, but hey!  It’s such a bummer when there’s a Debbie downer muttering under her breath when everyone else in the group is trying to work out the  team process and how to operate as a team.  It seems like if someone consistently had a bad attitude that was slowing down the process it might be a responsibility of the team leader to step in to talk to him/her about it.  I must note that in all of the teamwork I participated in when obtaining my Elementary Ed Degree, we never had team leaders, so I don’t have any experience with this and I’m curious really on how the team leader is chosen and how effective that process will be.

Overall, I enjoyed the presentations on teamwork and if all students I will be placed on teams with during my SLIS career have also watched these videos, I will be very happy indeed as we’ll all be starting from a place of understanding teamwork.  I must take a moment to note that I am curious about time when it comes to teamwork—in the past it seems that teams I’ve been on haven’t had enough time to truly get to know each other, thus we never made it past stage one or two in the stages of team development. Or, maybe we were just terrible at setting up ground rules and managing our time as a group so perhaps that’s why it felt as though we didn’t have enough time! But I am curious as to how that will play out—I feel working in a team over the course of a semester seems like it might have more of an opportunity to really gel together and set up all the critical pieces to be successful.  We shall see!

I’m a SLIS (School of Library & Information Science) student!

7 Jan

Hello all! I’m happy to report that I am well on my way of achieving my first item on my dreams/goals list for 2012 and that is: I’m an official SLIS student! Hooray! I’ve just begun my first class, which is dedicated to learning about online learning, using social media tools, and  navigating the school’s online interface for coursework.  As some of my classmates have already posted about, I too, was nervous about starting school again.  It took me awhile to decided to go back to school (again!) and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from an online learning environment.

However, I’m pleased as punch to report that so far it’s going splendidly. Honestly, I’ve probably learned much more about my classmates from reading and interacting with them online than I would in a physical classroom. That was something I wasn’t expecting! I also wasn’t expecting to feel so supported and encouraged by everyone in the class-from the teacher to the student mentor to my peers. It’s not that I didn’t think people would be friendly, it’s just that I didn’t expect to feel so excited about logging onto the D2L to read about other students and to participate in discussions about tea, movies, and where we all live. Wow, I feel even more confident in my choice to take this pathway–if these are the sorts of folks I’ll get to work with for the next many, many years, I’m in the right place.

Just a quick note since this topic was about social media tools. I came late to the world of social media. For a long while, I resisted Facebook, and for even longer, Twitter.  I acquiesced to Facebook about three years ago, a little worried about becoming addicted to it, or not understanding it or being afraid of who from my past might want to friend me.  It was fun to explore how to make Facebook useful for me and as someone who is visual (and ok, very interested in what people who don’t live near me or who I’ve been out of touch with do) I love looking at all the photographs. I make sure to stay up to date about all of the privacy issues, because I do post personal things on FB that I don’t want the world to see. I’ve been able to create a smaller group of close friends with whom I feel more comfortable sharing more private issues with.  Once I decided to pursue my MLIS, I knew I had to figure out how to use Twitter. I asked a co-worker for a lesson and boy, was I surprised! I thought Twitter was only so folks could post about what they had for breakfast or how often they watched bad TV. Heck no! I love how information is shared & spread on Twitter and I’ve learned so much from participating in the Twitter world! I’m following lots of librarians and libraries and tech companies from whom I’ve gained so much more knowledge about the library world in the past few months than I would have any other way!

I also have to say, I am loving the fact that right this moment I’m sitting on my couch with a candle burning, a heating pad on my lap, and hot cup of tea in front me as I’m working! OK, that’s enough. I told myself this was going to be a brief post, but alas, it turned into more of a “medium” post.


PS, This is what it doesn’t look like outside right now–taken last winter from the blizzard of ’11 (& yes, I am wishing for some snow!)

Goals & Dreams for 2012

3 Jan


10 reasons why I adore “A Sick Day for Amos McGee”

2 Dec

I haven’t posted in a long time, sorry friends! I’d like to share my love of this wonderful book, a love that grows with every reading.

1. The author and illustrator, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, are husband and wife.  As if that in itself isn’t adorable enough, the story behind the creation of this book is a tear-jerker. Erin, an art major, had a traumatic art education and it took her time to return to drawing after graduation.  Her husband, Philip, secretly sent her one drawing of an elephant to his editor, who loved it.  Together, they created this amazing book (and it sounds like it was a wonderful healing process as well). Philip wrote about Erin in the Horn Book. Erin’s Caldecott acceptance speech is both moving and inspiring.

2. The book has a universally appealing theme that attracts people of all ages.  Seriously, we’ve all been sick and we’ve all wanted to be taken care of while feeling unwell.  The fact that Amos’s friends figure out how to use public transportation (another relatable theme) to visit him and keep him company while he’s ill, is awesome.  Real friends come by when you aren’t feeling or looking your best and his animals pals prove they are worthy friends.

3. The reactions to this book are refreshingly surprising.  When I first read this book, I just fell in love with both the story and the beautifully detailed illustrations. To me, this felt like a quiet, subtle, yet wonderful story. When I read it aloud to a group of K-2nd graders, they cracked up at parts I didn’t expect–such as when Amos plays chess with the elephant and when he lends a handkerchief to the rhino. Their genuine delight was a nice reminder to me that this book isn’t as serious as I first thought (that would be my grown-up slant making it seem so serious!). I look forward to seeing how other groups of children and adults react.

4. The illustrations are gorgeous. Let me say it a bit differently: the illustrations are phenomenal.  Now, there are millions of children’s books featuring animals.  In many cases the illustrations, while cute and funny, don’t depict animals very accurately, which usually is ok with me (although after this book, my standards may have changed).  But Erin has done something I think is pretty unique–she’s drawn the animals in a very realistic manner, yet given them just enough expression that we can relate to them. Wow.  The pencil drawings with woodblock prints evoke a timeless feeling, and we can see the time and care put into each page. I would love to hang a print from this book in my house. Each page is a joy to look out, explore, and discover. I feel the illustrations stand on their own (no offense, Philip!) and that this could be a wordless book.

5. The mystery of the red balloon.  Do I totally understand why the red balloon appears on some pages and not others? No. Do I like that this is a mysterious and magical part of the book that has a thousand possible explanations? Heck, yeah! It reminds of the wordless film, The Red Balloon, a film I’ve always loved.

6. Ok, so while I do believe the illustrations can stand on their own, the text is simple, elegant, and succinct.  There are some great vocabulary words such as clanged, swapped, amble, and limbered.   Philip makes good use of repetition, but doesn’t overdo it or make it cheesy. Also, Amos talks to his sugar bowl!

7. The animals don’t talk.  Enough said.

8. The main character’s name is Amos. Not a popular name in these modern times, Amos is a Hebrew name meaning “to carry”, “to carry a load” or “burdened”.  I like thinking that Amos carries the joy of friendship to his animals every day and in return, they journey to carry comfort and fun to him when he’s sick.

9. Amos lives in an adorable single family house snugly tucked between high-rise buildings. It reminds me of both my own single family house and the house in the film Up.  Amos is clearly old-fashioned with is house, his wood stove, and his glass milk-jar vase.  That feels right and makes me  yearn for a neighbor just like Amos.

10.This book makes an excellent gift. We’ve officially entered Holiday season and I believe this would make a perfect gift for a young person, animal lover, book lover, or art lover that you know. Books are the best gifts, especially with a personal note written in the front with the date. Some of my best memories are of receiving a special book on Christmas morning with an inscription from my parents of why this book would engage me and how loved I was.

So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t explored this book, go to your library or local independent bookstore! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Pizza & beer: the perfect combo

13 Nov

Tonight I had the pleasure of visiting the newest location of Stone Hearth Pizza in Allston, MA, which is right around the corner from my house (score!).  I had been looking forward to this visit for several reasons: 1)They use local, sustainable ingredients whenever possible; 2)They have local, craft beer; 3) They converted an old gas station into a sustainably built restaurant; 4)They reply to my tweets and invited me to ask for  executive chef Michael Ehlenfeldt!!  (One of the many reasons I am now a huge convert to Twitter!).

I am happy to report I wasn’t let down on any account.  The restaurant looks great on the inside from the wood beamed ceiling to the (what looks like) repurposed glass light fixtures to the old map on the wall in the bathroom of Western Ave. & N. Harvard Street. The  ambience was great with perfect lighting and music at just the right level. It felt “hip” and “fun”, but very welcoming and comfortable (and family friendly). Every staff member we interacted with was very friendly and cheerful. I want to give a special shout out to our waitress (whose name I unfortunately forget) who shared with us her favorite pizza, The Divine Goddess, described on the menu as “Our healthful version of a white pizza”.  When we asked about getting the Farm Fresh pizza sans prosciutto, she made sure to tell us that the meat never touches the pizza because they understand how important that is to vegetarians. As a life-long vegetarian and as one who recently had a terrible experience at a pizza place where they served me pizza with chicken they had picked off (appalling & disgusting), I was extremely happy that she took the time to reassure us about this detail.  We ended up ordering The Divine Goddess, which was very flavorful with spinach, broccoli, and local ricotta cheese. YUM!

I was also quite impressed with the beer selection, which included, but was not limited to: Allagash Beer,  Rapscallion Brewery, Harpoon,  and  Pretty Things.  I chose the Allagash Tripel, a tasty golden ale with passion fruit, honey, and herbal notes, which was a nice compliment to The Divine Goddess.  Coming in at 9% ABV it packed quite a punch!  My friend got a Rapscallion Premier, a golden, Belgian inspired ale that she enjoyed.

We got to meet Michael Ehlenfeldt after our meal! We made sure to tell him we loved the pizza, beer, and the tiramisu that was made on site (this alone was worth going for!!).  He reassured us that this was not, nor ever going to be a “coors light” kind of place, thank goodness! For those of us who love and appreciate good beer and food, it’s nice when a new restaurant opens up in the neighborhood that is committed to serving local, scrumptious fare.  If you live in the area, please support local business and check it out! I can’t wait to go back–I hope to become a regular 🙂

Fun spooky photos

16 Oct

This is what happens when I spend an awesome night in with beer, baking, and good music: (thanks to picnik’s awesome Halloween-y featured effects):


If you celebrate Halloween, enjoy!

Fall: a time for beer, reading, & tweeting

11 Oct

Last week I got an awesome Twitter “lesson” from my co-worker.  I am now deeply immersed in the world of twitter and I have to admit, I’m loving it! One way that my co-worker put it was, “It’s a way to disseminate information, gather information, and listen.” As a future librarian, who is learning every day how important technology and sharing and accessing information is, I’m happy to explore this particular online world of “conversing”.  While on twitter, I found this article about what to think about when considering a career of librarianship :So you’re going to library school…

Ever since I spoke with  my advisor, I’ve been thinking about the many “outside-of-the box” possibilities that librarianship can encompass.  He encouraged me to think of working outside of an actual building–and to think about other “spaces” that could work to serve people.  This way of thinking–creatively, flexibly, ever-changing–is enormously exciting for me. I am the sort of person who thrives on learning new skills while at work, and not repeating the same tasks day after day. An ideal work environment for me includes thinking creatively, being flexible, seeking out new trends/ideas and applying them, as well as working with people. I’m hopeful a career in the library field will fulfill all of these requirements.

Ok, now for some fun things.  These iPod/iPhone chargers made from old books are awesome and look great when you aren’t using them (not a bunch of wires, hooray):  Book charging stations

Over the summer I read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.  It was enjoyable, but I’ve heard even better things about his Corrections and I’m looking forward to reading it very soon.  I just read Game of Thrones by G.R.R Martin, and it was fabulous. Engaging, fun, well-developed characters, and a nice through-line. I’m really looking forward to reading the second one soon. (Although at a hefty 800 pages, I wish it could count as two books on my GoodReads Book Challenge, where I’m trying to read 125 books by the end of the year).

I just got these two books and started reading I Knew You’d Be Lovely and it is most excellent. Wow, short stories can be so beautiful and moving.

Although I’ve not had a chance to try this Notch Session Beer yet, I’ve heard most excellent things about it. I am hoping to visit the newly opened Refuge Cafe in Allston, where it’s on tap.

As always, I’m enjoying these two pumpkin beers:

And, on a last note, Mystic, CT is one of the cutest seatowns I’ve ever visited.  The people were all friendly and talkative,  plus the entire main street was aghast when a driver drove like an a*@hole.  I mean, wow, yeah, I want to live somewhere where everyone’s reaction is to frown at bad drivers.

Books I enjoyed as a youngster

20 Sep

Today at work I was creating a read aloud guide for the book Friends by Helme Heine and it made me remember how much I adored this book growing up.  For several reasons, the biggest being that my mother pronounced Helme’s last name as “heiney”, which of course always cracked me up! It also featured three very different sized friends going on lots of awesome adventures together on their bicycle. The watercolor illustrations were very engaging and I’m happy to say it’s still a hit with young people today.

The entire Little House on the Prairie series was also a favorite.  When I was younger I often thought I was born into the wrong era and thought it would be fun to live during a time when things were so unknown and there was so much to explore.  Days were filled with manual labor and nights filled with eating maple syrup covered snow balls and singing around the fire.  Sometimes I still dream of a life like that. Plus, Laura was so darn spunky and she didn’t adhere to the “rules”. A girl after my own heart. My parents read these aloud to us.

I would be remiss not to mention the George MacDonald books, which I couldn’t put down as a youngster.   I loved fairy tales and I believe these stories fueled my desire to be a fairy when I “grew up”.  If I am remembering correctly (it has been a long time since I read these) the main princess was a lot more realistic and courageous than other wimpy princesses that I read about.  I’ll have to re-read to see if I’m right! MacDonald wrote a whole bunch of books about princesses and I think I read them all.

Some other favorites included: Blueberries for Sal, Miss Rumphius, The Chronicles of Narnia, Children of the Forest, The Tomtom and the Fox, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Borrowers, Harriet the Spy, Judy Blume Books (especially Deenie), Island of the Blue Dolphin, any Roald Dahl book,  Lois Lowry Books, The Sweet Valley High Books (oh man, they were so bad they were good!), The Fear Street Series by R.L. Stine,  and Christopher Pike books.  Of course there were many more, but these are the ones that stick out in my memory.  What are some of your childhood favorites?

My birthday: a reflection of some moments in my Life

19 Sep

So, next Saturday, the 24th is my birthday. To me, I consider my birthday somewhat of a holiday, or more like a week (or more!) celebration! I like to think about what’s happened in the past year and what dreams and goals I have to look forward to in the year to come.  Growing up birthdays were always a special, joyous, and much heralded event.  Since I had many siblings, we couldn’t have big parties every year, but we took turns so I had a big party about every other year.  Some memorable ones: the year my parents rigged a cake so it floated down the creek like it did in the Tasha Tudor book (see image below), the many years of sleepover birthday parties in tents in the back yard full of ghost stories, boy stories, and peeing in the yard, visiting Gnome Countryside (a truly magical place), and in general, feeling good about celebrating another year of being Alive.  I’m happy to report that even though I’m no spring chicken, I still really enjoy my birthday and enjoy celebrating and reflecting  This year I decided to try to blog every few days this week about some memorable moments in my life. Maybe it’ll give you a better idea of the journey that’s led me to be me (and I do consider it an ever going journey).

First up are my memories of living in Arizona when I was one year old.  My parents, who were hippies at the time, lived on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Greasewood, AZ, where my mother was a teacher and my father watched me.  I have a few snippets of memories of baking delicious smelling cakes with my father.  I remember the one time it snowed and how in awe the Indian children were to see snow.  How my father showed them how to make snowballs and participate in a snowball fight.  I remember the giant looms the Indian women wove on–the big wooden structures with string and bright colors of turquoise, green, red, and yellow.  I remember, just a tiny bit, the red of the desert surrounding us and how the sun looked different there–more orange and the shadows longer. Someday I’d like to go back–perhaps on a future birthday?