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The world has flipped upside down and I don’t have a name for it. Stay at Home sounds so cozy. Quarantine isn’t quite right. Social distancing has been overplayed and doesn’t describe the situation well. Coronavirus or Covid-19 are too jargony. I need a name for this time that both describes the situation and doesn’t hit you over the head with a virus.

I thought about the Time of Solitude, but like quarantine, that isn’t quite right. I have a roommate and I have friends that I video and phone and text with. There is no physical contact though and that affects me. It reminds me of breaking up with the Sailor and being alone for so long after. I wanted that time to get to know myself, but it was lonely. I did get friend hugs then though and now those are all virtual.

One of the worst things about this global crisis is the unknown. How this thing snuck up on us, was shrouded in misinformation and seen as some people overreacting. It’s been building slowly, each step painful, and now we are sheltering in place. Going out only to buy food or get a little exercise. Maintaining 6 feet of distance from anyone who does not live in your house.

I’ve had time to get used to it now. As things were ramping up, I often had little break down moments. Crying or almost crying, staring blankly into space, overwhelmed by the possibilities. Reading the newspaper line by line in awe of what we are experiencing.

It’s moved from a concept, to people I don’t know, to friends and family of people I do know. It’s becoming more real and closer with each passing day.

I’ve been riding my bike. For the first week, it seemed okay to ride with friends if we kept social distance. Now I ride alone. I bake, I do projects, I fix things right away instead of waiting. No sleepovers with the man I’ve been seeing. No seeing him at all. We text and we call, but we have to wait.

One thing that’s been helping me cope is the Yale Coursera course The Science of Well-Being. It’s free and takes up to 10 weeks to complete, but I finished 2 weeks in one last week. The professor, Laurie Santos, emphasizes the need to be intentional about the good things you experience each day. No matter how small. The things that you think give you happiness–career success, money, material things–don’t really. You always want more and think that happiness lies in the future when you achieve that larger paycheck, that higher grade, that promotion. In reality, happiness lies in enjoying the sun on your face, the apple blossoms in the spring, the way the light hits that leaf just right, your child dancing and singing in the living room to Baby Shark.

Things go around. I have been micro-blogging on Google+ for the last two years. I really enjoyed the interaction there and made a few really good friends, several of whom I’ve met in real life.

Google+ is going away in a week. I’ve had a lot of time to mourn it’s passing, so it will be anticlimactic when the date finally comes. I’m not porting my posts.

I’m not sure if I’ll start blogging here again. I feel like a blog is just yelling into the void these days. Does anyone read these anymore? I don’t want to return to Facebook, and while Twitter and Instagram are fun, they really aren’t a place to post personal stories.

I’m still biking and hiking and now I’m skiing and dating. Everything is going really well and my anxiety is mostly under control. Exercise has always helped, but things I’d like to do, like meditation, I have a hard time concentrating on…because anxiety. So I started taking CBD oil, and it could be a placebo affect, but I’m sleeping better, I’m not letting things bother me as much, everything is so much easier. I still get anxious, but a manageable and maybe even a normal amount.

Photo from bike camping last summer. I finally found my way! ;)

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I finally have a floor, and it’s a seriously nice floor. There are a few uneven spots due to the unevenness of the old concrete floor and the large crack that ran through it, but the flooring adapts to it well, and hopefully will continue to.

My couch and chair don’t come until December, so for right now I’m making do with a kitchen island and stools and a camp chair. It’s actually pretty comfy, but definitely doesn’t look finished.

Click here to see an album with photos that range from October 1 until now.

There’s a rather yucky looking picture of the storage/garage space. I intend to spend some time today cleaning it up and making it serviceable as an exercise room. Wish me luck!

Quaxing is the movement of things by bike, and according to this definition, also by public transit. Following on my last post, it was moving day. Only moving out, not moving in, so entailed getting the rest of my belongings off of the boat and into storage. I have a borrowed trailer that I use for work, and I brought it to the place I am staying, because schedules.

Then on Tuesday, my day off, I began the Great Quaxing. I filled it to the brim, twice.

All of this, including the packing up, took about 2.5 hours. So, now you know just how little I own. There are some things that are already in the storage unit, along with one set of metal shelves. So I own about twice what is on these two bike trips. Nothing like living on a boat to make you whittle down your possessions.

I’m moving into my new apartment on 10/1. It’s only slightly bigger than the boat, but I will have it all to myself, which is both good and bad. As most things are. Right now I am in comfortable limbo, staying at a friend’s empty condo. I know, how lucky am I? Everything has really worked out well for this change. The worst part is waiting for my new life to start.

And I just figured out how to use Google Drive to host my photos!!! That’s pretty exciting.

I’m holed up in my fancy hotel, cramming for my presentation tomorrow. All of the work has been done, now it’s all about finesse and timing.

I get really nervous speaking to peers. Someone in the audience probably knows more about my subject than I do. Middle school taunts loom large in the back of my brain. It’s not logical, it’s just there.

So I’ve been working on it. I’ve signed up to talk about our new Service Learning model to the library world at large. I spoke at the Young Adult Services conference in November and will be speaking at the Washington Library Association Conference tomorrow.

I’ve made some realizations. Having a partner is key. One person droning on is never as exciting as two. It takes the pressure of all of those eyes off of me to have another person up there and allows me to take a breath when I need one.

I deliberately procrastinate on practicing my slides until within a day of my presentation. It keeps me from getting nervous leading up and keeps everything fresh in my mind, what I want to say and how I want to say it. Why torture myself sooner than necessary? The trick is to make sure to leave time in what can be a busy conference schedule to practice on my own, and then at least go over timing with my partner.

Having really wonderful friends doesn’t hurt either. I’ve had support from several people who have helped me see past my boogie men to the heart of the matter, and offered to be there for me at my presentation to cheer me on.

The presentation in November went great. I won’t pretend that I am suddenly a rock star–I have coworkers who provide celebrity grade performances when on stage; I don’t have that skill and I probably never will. Part of getting over my anxiety is letting things like that go. However, if my subject is interesting and I can present on it in a steady and interesting way, I’ll be happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing in this luxurious cage.

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Like many libraries, ours has been shifting attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), with a bit of art thrown in for fun and creativity (STEAM). We hired Juan Rubio about a year ago to join our Youth and Family Learning team. He is amazing and procures cool gadgets and funding for work hours to cover us learning about the cool gadgets. A few of the things he’s brought us are Geolocative Games, 3D Printing Programming, Little Bits, and Finch Robots.

So far I’ve had training on the Finch robots. We use Samsung Chromebooks with the Snap Extension. You can use the Snap without the Finch and program a Sprite to move around, so it’s worth checking out if you are interested in really basic programming. There are 4 levels of difficulty in Snap, which is useful in teaching. The picture below is level 3, which I find to have the most functionality and easier to use than level 4.

Screenshot 2016-04-20 at 9.08.26 PM

Here’s where I warn you that I have no background in programming aside from a little HTML, CSS and XML. I do understand that the Snap commands represent a more complicated coding language underneath. I’ve even learned how to have the program show some of that language, but I don’t know what it means.

You can still teach Snap/Finches without knowing coding languages. It’s mostly logic once you get the hang of where everything is. You need a Control and a motion command in order to make the Finch do something. You can add operators and sensors and use variables to do more complicated sequences, as you can see above.

Some things were frustrating for me and the students. The Finches didn’t always behave as they should, even when the program was perfect. Sometimes the problem was that a student would have 2 or more programs running at once and they would interfere with each other. Other times the traction on the floor or table wasn’t good for the Finch’s wheels. Sometimes it just didn’t do what you told it to. Especially when it came to the sensors. I was able to turn this into a learning experience where we tried many different things to get the Finch to do what we wanted, trying different inputs and environments. The students learned that sometimes the environment is going to get in the way of what you want to happen.

I’ve had 2 groups of students so far. I do outreach at a local family housing community center, where families are transitioning out of homelessness. It’s long term housing, so they’re fairly stable, at least in having a place to live. The teens that I work with there are mostly girls from ages 11-14. For these classes, I went once a week for 3 weeks and had an hour each time. An hour was not enough and the teens have a lot of things on their plates, but we had a good time and they learned a lot. We’ll have our party in early May and students will be challenged to make their Finches dance, make music and do a light show.

outreach

The other program I’ve had was at our branch over Spring Break. It was 3 days long with a party at the end of the 3rd day where they showed off the tricks they’d learned. This group was mostly boys, ages 8-12. They’d all had Scratch before, so understood most of the Snap programming basics. I had to modify the first few curriculum for them, then move quickly to the more advanced workshops.

My next training will be on the Geolocative Games. With that, we’ll create a game that is a digital scavenger hunt. There are a lot of ways to make this game beneficial to the community. One of my colleagues did a project with her service learning group where they researched the history of their neighborhood, then put locations named after iconic people into their game, with information to teach the gamer about the history.

It was a really fun and sometimes frustrating experience. Totally worthwhile. I wouldn’t have been as successful if I hadn’t had a very wonderful coworker at my branch who could help me with the more technical stuff. He is also a very patient and intuitive teacher and I learned a lot having him there to help with the outreach programs.

 

I set a reminder in my calendar to check on progress with my wish list from this post. It was a good time to look. Some things I’ve made progress on, others, not so much. Here’s a run down:

Be more present with my chosen family–The Mister and the girls: lots of time with The Mister, not enough with the girls. I did get to share my new knowledge of the ACT with the oldest, who might be taking the test soon to qualify for a smart kid program.

Also, I did not mean this to leave out my son. I had lunch with him yesterday and got to meet his girlfriend. We had a good time eating sushi and joking around. I wish there was more to do up there in the winter.

Complete craft projects that clutter the basement (some progress already): some progress. Finished my rain chaps, but I already want to change them. I’ve used up more yarn in crochet projects. I have a better idea what I want to donate to work for craft projects.

Get Raven outfitted in an efficient, useful and stylish manner (more on this next post): pretty darned good. New bedding for our cabin, heads outfitted with Riel racks and mirrors. New break resistant dishes and non skid mats in the galley.

Cook and bake more often: I’ve been making a lot of bread. 8 grain, and a baguette that’s improving nicely. Not enough to share with coworkers yet.

Organize my work life better: should probably get on this one.

Run and practice yoga and mediation: running is happening a few times a week. No yoga yet.

Go to Europe: tentative dates for 2016

Spend more time with my siblings and friends: failed mostly. I have been able to run and have coffee with a friend, but I haven’t seen my nephew in about a month. At this age, that’s like missing a years worth of personality and development.

Pay off my debt: +got a debt consolidation loan at a good interest rate and used it to pay off all of my existing credit cards. -Still have not called about student loans.

Get a kayak and go kayaking often: I’ve only gotten to go twice, but otherwise successful. If the temperature goes up above 40° today, I’ll get in a third.

There you go, both more and less than you wanted to know. My next post will be a Raven update. I think I’ll be moving my recites to another blog address as it seems to interrupt the flow here. I’ll post the address when I finally get around to it. I’ll probably use the old blogger I still have that’s languished for years.

Work has been an energy suck lately. While I love my job, I sometimes let it make me anxious and this last month has been one of those times. I’ve also had a set back on the Student Loan Forgiveness front that left me feeling sad.

My friend wrote recently about creating a wish list with some reachable goals and how she’s come along in the last year. This sounds like a great idea, as far as setting a few goals, some easily reachable, but needing some attention, to some things that might take a little longer or a bit more work.

Here it is:

  1. Be more present with my chosen family–The Mister and the girls
  2. Complete craft projects that clutter the basement (some progress already)
  3. Get Raven outfitted in an efficient, useful and stylish manner (more on this next post)
  4. Cook and bake more often
  5. Organize my work life better
  6. Run and practice yoga and mediation
  7. Go to Europe
  8. Spend more time with my siblings and friends
  9. Pay off my debt
  10. Get a kayak and go kayaking often

Some of these things require more time than I feel like I have. I can’t work less, so I have to figure out how to fit them into my daily life. I’d also like to be flexible, as The Mister is sometimes a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy. Planning too much puts a cramp in his style, and really mine too–sometimes when I plan too much, I start canceling on everything so I can just chill.

I’m putting a monthly reminder in my calendar to check back in on these wishes to see how they’re coming along.

Seattle on a fine October day. Taken from Gasworks Park.

I am officially going to ALA.  I was pretty sure a month ago when I bought my registration and said I would facilitate a panel.  I bought my plane tickets this week though, after realizing I missed the inexpensive window.  I should say less expensive, because when does flying ever feel inexpensive?

But I am excited to see New Orleans, and the Mister will be joining me, at least for a bit.  I am doing a day of volunteering, although I don’t know what my work will be, yet.  It could be anything from construction to cataloging.  The conference sessions sound good–hopefully that pans out.  Sometimes they sound useful and then you get in there and realize that it just isn’t, or that you’ve taken something really similar in the past.

Even more exciting than a bunch of librarians in a convention center? I have a camping trip with the Boy and dad-family the week before.  We have a couple spots out at Kalaloch, a place I love.  I hope the weather cooperates, but honestly, this spot I will go to in the pouring rain.

Which is what I got to ride home in tonight.  I went to the middle school and saw their a production of The Wizard of Oz.  It was amazing!  Not every note was on key but it was well executed, the acting was top notch and so was the orchestra and singing.  It was easy to see that the kids had put their all into the show.

And then I rode my bike home and got soaked.  It was so nice earlier today.  So far I am meeting my goal of riding every day.

It’s too late (I am too cold and tired) to add what I am reading.  Actually, I can just say that I am still reading The Scar by China Mieville.  It is a frickin’ long book, but worth every minute.  I don’t think I am going to finish during the check out time.

We have a new city librarian.  He doesn’t start until mid-August, but he comes with good references.

Bike to work month is wonderfully under way.  We had a great start on Sunday with temperatures in the 60’s, followed promptly by 2 days of frigid rain.  I have ridden every day and even included downtown in my commute when I had meetings down there 2 out of the 3 days.  The rainy ones of course.  And I’ve been running.  I can make it around Green Lake, even with all the biking, without walking or stopping and in under 3o minutes.  I keep forgetting to check the time when I start, but I know approximately.  I’ve been going to bed at a fairly normal hour and getting up EARLY!  So early for me–6:30am.  And not feeling dead.  So yes, exorcising…exercising, I mean…is good for me.

Some of those early meetings downtown were the staff interviews for the City Librarian candidates.  I missed one, but hit the other two.  I won’t state my preference, or even my opinion on the individuals, as I think it is too touchy a subject to air here.  The one I missed, though, is one I hope to miss entirely.  Forever.  I don’t think I have to worry about that.

What am I reading?  Well, almost done with Brain Jack, and it is shaping up and becoming a little less like Little Brother, but only a little.  I like the characters and the premise, minus the feeling that Brian Falkner and Corey Doctorow were sharing half a brain when they wrote these books.

I was away from my print books and needed something to read, so downloaded The Scar by China Mieville from the library.  It’s good so far, but I’m only a few pages in.

I am also doing some nerdy reading: Exemplary Public Libraries by Joy Marilyn Greiner.  I am mostly finding it interesting because the first couple of chapters are about libraries in the UK around the year 20o0, and now those libraries are in desperate jeopardy.  So much that the Guardian UK felt the need to post this op ed piece, somewhat late, about how great libraries really are and now necessary.  I agree with one of the goodreads reviewers that the book could have used a bit more editing and a better structure.  Plus now it is 10 years out of date and could use a brush up.  I was reading it to refresh my library theory and I am getting some of that, but finding it a bit repetitive.