For one of my graduate degree courses I was tasked with creating a podcast on any subject I wanted. Because I love theatre and libraries, I created this gem. I hope you enjoy the first episode of my Podcast Arts in Your Library: Beyond Disney Musicals: A Family Guide to Broadway in Tampa Bay and at Your Pinellas Library.
Clearly, I wrote this before everything was cancelled, but still think it’s worth sharing in its original state. So here it is.
This past weekend felt decadent. I flew to NYC to spend the weekend with two of my favorite people – Marcie and Vanesa – without kids! It’s one of my very favorite places. I can never spend enough time there – I start smiling when I see the skyline and don’t stop until it is past me, waiting until I return. And I never leave without promising myself there will be a next time because the magic I feel while I’m there cannot be duplicated.
I witnessed one of the most beautiful art exhibits, Vida Americana, at the Whitney and although I was stunned by the level of artistry I was angered by the fact that the more things change in this world, the more things stay the same. The wealthy get richer off of the poorest among us. Workers can’t get a living wage. Racism remains an oppressive barrier in this country because we refuse to acknowledge it within us and commit to true change.
On a lighter note, I channeled my inner Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2 by wearing a robe in the chicest hotel room of my life and using my friend’s per diem for fancy drinks and breakfast.
I walked with a purpose through Midtown to the main New York Public Library building where I could feel the presence of those who had loved the space before and with me.
I noticed the first signs of spring (crocuses) on the High Line.
Even being in the city during winter was wonderful (and that’s saying a lot knowing I hate the cold). The wind blew so chillingly it chapped my face as we walked but I could ignore it because I was in New York! I left my glove at the Kerr Theatre but that’s okay because I got to see Hadestown and experience its tragic beauty. I want to be like Orpheus and “make you see how the world could be, in spite of the way that it is.”
I’m reminded of a poem by Robert Frost where he says that all wonderful things in life are fleeting at worst or ever-changing at best:
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
That’s true, nothing lasts forever. Even life. Maybe even especially life. So why do I make choices like I have infinite time? Why do I agonize over what I said to who and whether people like me when they aren’t the people in my life who matter most to me?
I’m giving up on this “next time” way of thinking by attempting to switch my mindset to the now. I gave a mighty effort last year following my surgery to remove my melanoma, but have reverted back to my own circular reasoning of next time it will be better, I’ll have more time later, just wait. My time is now, not tomorrow. Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” That seems like a solid way to live.
I know this doesn’t mean that my life will be all joy and no sorrow. But it means I can take steps to work through the pain and eventually rise. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m working my way through Glennon Doyle’s new book, Untamed. She writes that returning to our dreams is the path we take to remember our reality, to discern God’s plan for our lives, family, and world. This plan will disrupt the world’s order because our being alive is something wholly new and never before seen. I’m starting the work to reimagine my soul’s dreams to live my “truest, most beautiful li[fe]” right now. “May [my] dreams become [my] plans.” I should get to writing…
And now to return to this shitty week where everything is cancelled indefinitely and routines are out of whack, I’m still singing the lyrics from Hadestown – “…here’s the thing. To know how it ends. And still begin to sing it again. As if it might turn out this time.”
It’s going to work out this time, just not as we expect. The world will be changed once this pandemic has worked its way around the planet. And I hope it brings about a new way of thinking, especially with our jobs as planet protectors. We don’t get an again. Just a now. So let’s live it up on top!
“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.” ~Erin Morgenstern in The Starless Sea
Confession – I may have read too many books this year. 70 actually, not including the majority of my 5 textbooks for the fall semester of my master’s program and any book I gave up on after the first 50 pages or so because life is too short to read terrible books or books not meant for this reader at this point in her life. I intentionally attempted to read books with perspectives unlike my own, and have discovered several treasures I intend to keep close to my heart and reread.
As for next year’s reading list, I am officially over books set during World War II. I get it that it was the war that has defined all wars before or since, but I just don’t want to read about it anymore. Not when there are an unbelievable amount of fantastic books existing in the world. I fully admit to loving historical fiction, however, so I plan to continue to read about any other time period. I also adore reading Young Adult fiction, especially in between more serious books (although young adult books are complicated and seriously messy in their own way). Next year, I hope to read more Science Fiction because that slipped through the cracks (anyone have good recommendations?) Finally, my favorite books are the ones with the truest stories. Not true in the literal sense that everything is rational and factual, but in the sense that I am emotionally transported into the lives of the characters and am along with them for their journeys. Even when they are devastating because as The Starless Sea reminds us: “Important things hurt sometimes.” 2019 was a tough year for me, but 2020 promises a renewal of hope. And I plan to live out my hope, in part, through my reading.
My Top 8 Favorite Books Published in 2019
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Dragonfly by Leila Meacham
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber
A Mostly Complete List of Books I Read in 2019, Organized by Stars via Goodreads:
- The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (December 1-6)
- Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (November 16-25)
- The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4) (2000) by Marjane Satrapi (October 31-December 7)
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (October 25-28)
- Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (October 14-20)
- Neverwhere (London Below #1) (1996) by Neil Gaiman (October 2-7)
- The Shadow of the Wind (El cemeterio de los libros olvidados #1) (2001) by Carlos Ruis Zafon (September 15-October 31)
- The Guest Book by Sarah Blake (August 28-September 5)
- Dragonfly by Leila Meacham (August 4-6)
- 11/22/63 (2011) by Stephen King (July 29-31)
- Normal People by Sally Rooney (June 26-27)
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) by Maria Semple (June 5-8)
- The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (June 3-5)
- This Is How It Always Is (2017) by Laurie Frankel (May 24-June 3)
- Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (April 6-8)
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (March 28-30)
- Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan (July 19-August 25)
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, & Lead (2012) by Brene Brown (June 25-August 2)
- State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland (2016) by Dave Barry (July 23-25)
- Heavy: An American Memoir (2018) by Kiese Laymon (June 12-15)
- Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World by Rozella Haydee White (May 8-19)
- March: Book Three (2016) by John Lewis (February 8-18)
- Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, & the Dawn of a New America (2012) by Gilbert King (January 29-February 28)
- March: Book Two (2015) by John Lewis (February 8)
- March: Book One (2013) by John Lewis (February 5-6)
- Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber (January 29-February 3)
- Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018) (December 31, 2018-February 5)
- The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood (December 17-19)
- Find Me (Call Me By Your Name #2) by Andre Aciman (December 13-17)
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (December 6-11)
- The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippmann (November 11-16)
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017) by Erika Sanchez (October 9-14)
- Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns, #4) by Kendare Blake (September 23-October 31)
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017) by Taylor Jenkins Reid (September 21-23)
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (September 5-17)
- The Alice Network (2017) by Kate Quinn (August 21-23)
- The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (August 18-21)
- Titans (2016) by Leila Meacham (August 11-13)
- Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) (2018) by Laura Sebastian (July 14-16)
- The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (2018) by Stuart Turton (June 21-24)
- Wicked Saints (Something Dark & Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (May 19-22)
- Dear Evan Hansen (2018) by Val Emmich (April 25-30)
- American Gods (2001) by Neil Gaiman (January 22-30)
- Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong (December 24-30)
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living (2016) by Sandra Niequist (May 23-June 20)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou (March 19-May 9)
- Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (April 24-May 8)
- The Library Book (2018) by Susan Orlean (March 21-24)
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) by Stephen King (December 12, 2018-March 24)
- Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner (November 18-22)
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (November 2-6)
- Summer of ’69 by Erin Hilderbrand (August 27-28)
- The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams (August 15-18)
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (August 6-11)
- The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (August 1)
- An American Marriage (2018) by Tayari Jones (July 21-26)
- Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian (July 16-21)
- The Goldfinch (2013) by Donna Tartt (June 25-July 6)
- Lilac Girls (2016) by Martha Hall Kelly (April 25-May 19)
- Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens (April 12-16)
- Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) (2018) by Kendare Blake (April 12-13)
- One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) (2017) by Kendare Blake (April 9-10)
- The Malta Exchange (Cotton Malone #14) by Steve Berry (March 28-April 5)
- Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) (2016) by Kendare Blake (March 9-14)
- Dark Places (2010) by Gillian Flynn (March 9-12)
- Queen of Air & Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) (2018) by Cassandra Clare (January 7-12)
- Look Alive Twenty-Five (2018) by Janet Evanovich (January 7-11)
- I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (February 7-11)
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (September 25-27)
- Once Upon a River (2018) by Diane Setterfield (June 12-19)
The following was written by Donna Jean (Franks) Schmid, my grandmother. All punctuation and poetry are hers alone. I believe it was written for a Wooster Historic Society or Daughters of the American Revolution (or the like) event where she spoke; no date was listed in her handwritten notes.
“This is my favorite time of year. I am invigorated by the crispness in the air, the gorgeous colors of fall leaves. For me this is a time of renewal, I hope you too can relate to the bounteous harvest and enjoy the fruits of your gardens and trees.
While we are putting our tilled areas to rest, we can dream of next year and the reading and sifting of information during the more dormant months. This is an especially beautiful area and it is no wonder that our ancestors found it to be so. In the coming weeks we can make use of the conveniences? at our command and get to really know those who went before us. Can’t you feel their characters emerge from the thing you read about their lives? Reread portions of Wayne County history books, perhaps the Douglas book, and imagine the wayour area once was. Then place your ancestors in the scenario. Great!
I look out my dayroom window and see the dreamy lilac of the Russian Sage and I think of my grandmother’s starched cotton dress and actually remember the feel of her soft white hair as I plaited and wound it into a bun. Isn’t it odd the things we remember?
I remember the fields of glowing orange pumpkins my father raised and see him in memory with a spade over his shoulder and bending his back, clearing drainage ditches on the lowlands. I see his chambray shirt and faded jeans – you know, I really would like to ask him about the reunion of the Franks family which he attended. What was Grandpa like when he was young? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to peek in a window at evening and see the family gathered around the piano and hear the blended singing of the old songs? How about the homey smells of baking bread, frying ham and then too canning and making jam for the cold days? Do you remember the early orphaned lambs behind the old wood range? Or the bleats of sheep on the hillside? How about the ringing of the dinner bell? The smell of drying hay – the prickly stems as it was tramped into the snow? I remember. I remember and my soul yearns for the old ways.
But then I think of electricity and the inefficient kerosene lamps. I think of penicillin and I guess time and progress is not so bad – just different.”
After discovering the above writing in my grandmother’s Bible, I realized I never really knew who she was or how she felt about life and memory. I didn’t know that autumn was her favorite time of the year, or that she experienced intense desire to return to the old ways. I can’t describe her memories of life on the farm because I never really asked. We visited the farm almost every summer and I never thought about it being a working farm. And now the farm is for sale, and I won’t be returning to it. I’m mostly okay with that since Ohio was rarely a happy place to visit.
There was one visit though where my grandparents were at their finest. Keith and I visited them about 10 years ago for Easter, just the two of us, and they were full of such joy showing us the countryside and their community. Unfortunately, I don’t recall many details from that visit but I wish I did. I do remember my Grandma insisting on making us food to take to the airport because airport restaurants had terrible food. She rarely cooked by that point, but managed to scrounge up a thick slice of ham and fry it up for the best ham sandwich of my life.
I guess what I’m trying to write is this: I am confident that my Grandma loved me, she just didn’t usually know how to show it. But as the generations were added to the family, it seemed like she figured things out a little better with this business of love. She ALWAYS made time to love my boys and talk with them about their lives. She hung their art on her fridge. She loved them.
For my mom’s sake, I wish she could have figured out love sooner. She never really told my mom that she loved her, and that’s something my mom carries with her. Breaking a cycle is incredibly difficult, but my mom and her sisters figured it out and my cousins, brother, and I feel fiercely loved by our parents. And I know I love my two boys no matter what, and tell them as well as show them every day. So in her way, my Grandma taught me to love unlike she had loved, in an infinitely forgiving and exponential way so there can be zero doubt in it.
The following is my final assignment for my Foundations of Library and Information Science course, and serves as an explanation for what I’ve been up to this fall.
“You’re studying to be a librarian? You need a Master’s degree for that?!”
I have heard these questions asked so many times, and before I applied to USF’s Library and Information Science program I repeatedly asked myself why did I HAVE to get a Master’s degree to be a librarian. Couldn’t I just learn on the job? It can’t be THAT hard. As this is only my first semester working toward my Master’s, I don’t have all the answers but I know this to be true: it would be impossible to do an effective job as a librarian without the educational foundation necessary to have a full understanding of the library’s processes and systems.
I visit my local public library at least once a week. I volunteer alphabetizing and shelving books. I research new and varied materials outside my worldview to check-out for my family so we can be exposed to lives and cultures unlike our own. This would never be enough to step into a job as a librarian and hit the ground running. I would not know about metadata, cataloging, or budgeting, for example. I could learn these things without a degree but it would be less-structured and piecemeal.
And I would not be working together with like-minded individuals who are all studying to be librarians. This collaborative environment is key to unlocking the library and information science code to understanding all things library-related. Although it is more difficult to collaborate via an online course platform, bouncing ideas off my classmates and knowing others stand with me as I struggle with balancing graduate school, my job, and my personal life has been everything.
Seeking a master’s degree in library and information science has allowed me to begin to find my voice in the profession, and discern what values matter to me. What will I stand up for, and who will I stand up for when I am a librarian? I know I will make space to listen and amplify others’ voices. I know that as a white woman I am what people traditionally see when they picture a librarian, and that needs to change. I know that equity for all will be a theme I will repeatedly assert. I know that I want to fight for greater public access to copyrighted works, which means submitting comments and leading action when the Copyright Act is finally revised. I know that my education of the library world will never cease, and that my acquisition of a Master’s degree is the foundation upon which it stands.
Earlier this semester I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Jessamyn West, who spoke about libraries being social justice issues, and social justice being a library issue. Everything she said reverberated with me, but one thing in particular stood out. She asserted that as a librarian, I need to effectively represent the world around me AND my dream world. My dream world is working in a library with a community that knows all are genuinely welcome, and we engage, create, and turn ideas into action. I see some of my dream world present with my fellow Master’s program students, and I cannot wait to build library havens with you and others.
The last time I spent three mornings in a row solo in my house happened…well, I don’t think it’s ever happened since we moved into Little Pink in 2014.
It. Is. So. Weird.
Once the mania of making breakfasts and lunches, encouraging kids to get dressed and helping them with tricky socks and shoes, and walking Henry to his bus stop is over, and Keith takes Elliot to preschool, then it’s just me.
What am I supposed to be doing?
It’s just so quiet.
“In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet
For just a moment
A yellow sky” ~Hamilton
I feel like I’m waiting in the calm of the storm. Having never gone through the eye of a hurricane (with hope that I never will), I can only imagine what that’s like. The anticipation. It feels restless. It feels scary. It feels exhausting. It feels exhilarating. It feels good. It feels free.
I don’t start classes until the 26th so I don’t really have anything I need to be doing so I’m trying to enjoy the stillness. I’ve never been one to take a pause and just breathe. So I’m working on it.
I went to Body Flow on Wednesday and stayed for the whole meditation. I’m figuring out my triggers and how to practice being calm when my anxious fight or flight response rears its ugliness. I breathe.
And I fail. And that’s okay. There’s grace for that.
And I try again.
E: I miss the houses. I miss all the houses.
L: I miss all the houses, too, buddy.
E: I feel sad.
L: I feel sad, too. It’s okay to be sad.
My conversation with Elliot yesterday morning sums up how I feel about being on the tail end of a wonderful vacation. Clearly, he misses the people who live in the houses. Who he can’t keep straight because he is three and there were so so many loved ones we visited with over the past two and a half weeks.
As we drove home, I just wanted to be home already. If we couldn’t be en route to a loved one’s abode, then I just wanted the trip to be over. Especially when we were stopped in traffic in Maryland and Virginia and the we were all achingly sad with leaving our final friends’s house. We all dealt with our feelings in different but typical ways. Henry kept scratching his brother. Elliot threw things around the vehicle. Then Henry would throw things back. I anxiously tried to ignore everything, but did a terrible job because of the confined space. Keith stayed level-headed until all the other mess happening in the car got to him and he exploded once.
These bad behaviors occurred so briefly on our vacation that they stand out in memory as exceptions to the overall awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, they often occurred when we rode in the car for an extended period of time. But then laughter would fill the air as Henry decided to make Elliot laugh instead of hurt him because that was more fun. Or we’d all listen to an audiobook waiting to hear how things would end for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Ugly Cat and Pablo.” Or a kid would fall asleep mid-sentence bringing the car to a peaceable silence. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions. I love them all the most.
We stopped at Santee State Park on the edge of Lake Marion before checking into our hotel for the night. A last-minute decision, its beauty at sunset filled the sky with warmth. We stood near the docks enjoying the cool breezes the end of the day brings, and then raced to the playground for the kids to burn off their sitting-all-day energy. We’ll have to return another day to conquer its several hiking trails. On our way out of the park as darkness surrounded us, we discovered 7 deer alongside the road including a fawn. The boys found them especially delightful. I forget how rare it is for suburban kids to see wild animals outside a zoo. I think I’m going to work on finding the wonder in the ordinary and see what happens.
A nice way to close out a fantastic vacation is to not really have anything planned and to simply enjoy our friends’ company.
Kate and I (and all the little boys plus Keith) took a walking tour of two playgrounds and a trail. The littles liked climbing the rocks more than the actual playgrounds, as they should. Keith loved the large trees towering over the trail. We could have hit up a third playground to complete our play triangle, but our hunger for second breakfast persuaded us otherwise.
Swimming wore out the kids and created a meatball monster in Elliot. We calculated that he ate at least 10 meatballs as part of his lunch that included pasta and peas. During nap time, Henry pulled out his first tooth! It was a bit of a production before he got it out; ibuprofen plus a special placebo concoction created by Jon helped make the pain go away.
We finished the day was some blue bear ice cream sandwiches and loads of running around. Fueled by dessert or just full of energy, it was a joyous end to our day.
When did I become the kind of person who attends church services while on vacation? Sometime during between Keith graduating Seminary in 2011 and now. I think it’s because it’s just so rare for all 4 of us to sit together during worship that I want to take advantage of it whenever I can. Also, it definitely helps to attend our friends’ churches where they’re preaching and presiding. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a close friend give you the bread of life for communion, but it’s an indescribably special moment that keeps me smiling all week. It makes me happy just thinking about it, and I typically receive communion from my own husband.
We worshipped at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland yesterday, and Kate gave an excellent sermon. The band played some of my favorite songs, and we noisily sat with the Costas (although Elliot moved up a row so he’d have more dancing and playing space).
Afterwards, we swam and enjoyed each other’s company. And ate tacos. A great day on a vacation full of great days.
Beavertail State Park in Jamestown got its name because of its shape – people thought it clearly looked like a beaver’s tail. I didn’t really see it like that, but it’s possible. Before we headed off the island, we visited this park because it’s Hudson’s (Cindy’s dog) happy place. Not only that, it’s incredibly beautiful with its rocks jutting out into the sea and a lighthouse overlooking the southern tip of the peninsula.
We climbed some of these giant rocks that were mostly safe for kids to be scurrying over, and walked along the coast. I’m so happy we made it, because it’s such a peaceful place. Especially when contrasting it with driving among the vehicles on I-95 (our main portion of the day).
We took a break in Metuchen, New Jersey to see our good friend Chris (we hope you feel better soon, Lisa!) It had been eight years since he and Keith graduated from seminary, so you can imagine the catching up that occurred. On our southerly drive, we ticked off the last few new states for the kids – Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware – so now the only ones left are ones we’ve traversed before.
Arriving in Maryland, we received Costa love and Henry relished his big brother role by reading to the three-year-olds at bedtime. More fun and hijinks to ensue in the next couple of days here.
Total miles driven = 412 Miles