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My little brother recently came East for a weeklong visit.  His only two requests before arriving were 1. Whales 2. Pub Quizzes.  The whales thing was all too easy to accommodate: New Bedford Whaling Museum, Mystic Aquarium, Boston Whale Watch.  The pub quiz was a bit trickier but we had the quarterly pub quiz at the Providence Athenaeum, The Wild Colonial Pub Quiz, and Stump Trivia at Union Station.  Unfortunately, the LOST finale kept us from Wild Colonial Pub Quiz, and my brother left town on Wednesday (night of Stump Trivia) to visit another friend, so that left us with the Athenaeum as the sole quiz.

I started going to the Athenaeum Pub Quiz a little over a year ago because I like to support libraries, sit in beautiful, historic buildings, and because it’s $10 for all you can drink.  In the 90 minutes a typical quiz lasts–I can drink a lot.  It’s good value.

The drawback is that it’s not a good quiz–ever.  There are no prizes (I don’t care too much about prizes, but it’s nice to have something) except for first place.  The prize for first is that you get to write the next quiz.  What this leads to is trivia that is not general knowledge, or things you could make an educated guess at, but rather ridiculous, high-brow questions that no one knows, and that make the whole endeavor very un-fun.

I tried to warn little brother about this before we went.  I told him that we would most likely come in last place, as we usually do, and that mostly we go for the hootch.  He didn’t get it, and has happened every time I’ve gone to this quiz, with a number of different friends, we start to get frustrated, a bit drunk, and heckle.

Last quiz, there was a category of questions all in French.  This wasn’t common, you might be able to figure it out based on a working knowledge of romance languages French, it was “write me a sentence in French.” Well, I cannot do that because any French I know is based solely on ordering in a restaurant, or not getting ripped off by a cabbie.

This time around, there was a question about the Icelandic volcano, the question was, “Can you correctly spell the name of that Icelandic volcano?”  We answered, “no, we cannot,” which answers the question perfectly as it was asked.  However, humorless WASPS do not care to be told they write quiz questions poorly, and we didn’t get that one right.

As we languished in last place, all the other players started treating our table like the adorable, scrappy orphan table.  We’d read our score out loud, and there would be a collective, “Aw.”  The guy one table over from us, started giving us an encouraging “You’ll do better this round, guys.”

It was all incredibly obnoxious because we aren’t twelve years old, but were made to feel that way pretty much the entire night.

It was such a strange situation because in my real life, I’m actually starting to embrace this being a grownup thing.  People come into the library and look at me as an ultimate authority.  Other staff defer to me when they have questions.  Gentleman Scholar has two masters degrees from Ive League schools, and little brother wears a suit every day to work.  We didn’t roll in there on razor scooters, wearing hoodies then sulk in the corner, yet, I felt like we were sitting at the kids’ table all night.

Reflecting back on previous quizzes, it’s always a bit like this.  This was certainly the worst in terms of pure, unfiltered condescension, but there’s always some.  When asked by a lady why we had done so poorly in the French round, I replied “Je suis fatigué.”

“If you can say that, why didn’t you answer any questions correctly?” she asked.

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I’ve never heard anyone say anything good about the Philadelphia airport.  I should re-phrase that, I have only heard people say bad things about the Philadelphia airport, so when I booked my connecting flight through Philly en route to Las Vegas, I was a bit apprehensive.  I was not, however, so apprehensive that I was willing to pay an extra $50 each way to avoid Philadelphia, and none of the horror stories I’d heard were terribly specific as to what the hell was so wrong with this airport.  Usually people just said something to the tune of, “It’s a mess” and left me to draw my own conclusions.

I got a voicemail from Baby-Having Best Friend a few months ago that said “Call me right away, it’s important.” Naturally I panicked and called her, leaving her a message with exactly when I would be able to talk within the next two days.  She finally called me three days later and said, “Ok, it’s not an emergency, but I would like to talk to you.”  We continued to play phone tag until she finally cracked and left the message, “I wanted to talk to you about this and have an actual conversation, but this situation is this: I have just watched the Hangover, and I think you, me, Map Fleece, and Cricker need to have a girls’ weekend in Vegas.  Now we should probably just resort to email cause this phone thing isn’t working.”

So we picked a time, and booked a hotel.  Then I started shopping for flights, settling for leaving Friday from Providence, connecting through Philadelphia, and arriving in Las Vegas around 9pm local time.

Then the curse of the City of Brotherly Love struck me.

I arrived at the Providence airport (which is not in Providence) without incident, cleared security, bought an iced coffee and some trashy magazines, then had a smooth takeoff and landing.  For reasons I can no longer remember, we were a bit delayed getting either into Philly or off of the plane, but I hauled ass to my connecting gate, and made it there just in time for boarding.  Then we sat on the plane for the next two hours.

After 30 minutes of waiting, the captain told us that we were 25th in the queue to takeoff.

After 45 minutes, the captain said that there was lightning and we would have to wait it out before the tower would give us clearance.

After an hour and 15 minutes, the captain said that the direction we were traveling was now clear.  We taxied onto the runway, sped up, then slowed down and drove off to the side.  The captain said that the tower had just said “Just Kidding!” and we could no longer take off.

More time passed with the captain popping on the horn intermittently saying things like “Folks, I’m sure you’re frustrated, we’re frustrated too” and finally culminating with, “We have to go back to the gate since you all have been sitting on this plane for over two hours.”  People were given the option to get off, stay in town, and rebook for the following day, and then about 20 minutes after that, the rest of us who had so foolishly held up hope of getting out of town were told that the flight was canceled.

After re-booking for the following morning, I went off in search of food and beer.  I don’t really eat much when traveling since all that sitting kind of kills my appetite, so by this point, it was 10pm, and I had had a sandwich at noon.  The only offerings at this late hour were fried foods, but I convinced the bored waitress in the first bar that I found to make me a plate of nachos.  I ate nachos for dinner, drank two beers, paid $31 for all of it, and then went off to find a quiet corner to hole up in until 7:55am when my next flight took off.

I managed to find a gate where the seats didn’t have armrests, and CNN wasn’t blaring at an uncomfortable volume, and also found an abandoned US Airways pillow lying on the ground.  With that, my backpack, and a tanktop laid over my eyes, and my pajama pants pulled on under my skirt for warmth, I settled in, hobostyle, for a long night of restless restlessness.

The following morning I boarded a plane bound for Chicago.  I got off in Chicago, ate a bagel, and got back onto the same plane to continue my journey.  Prior to this trip, I had no idea that you could take a plane that behaves like a train or bus, so I guess I’m glad I learned that (?)  This plane’s final destination was Los Angeles, but I got off in Phoenix where the carpet has tiny airplanes on it.

Once arriving in Las Vegas, I hauled ass to the cabstand, got a lift to the hotel, called my ladies, changed into my swimsuit, and went to the pool to drink buckets of beer in the sun.  After the pool closed, I insisted that we go eat Mexican food, since there is no decent Mexican food in Rhode Island and I needed some food in my stomach if I was going to be able to keep drinking.  We went to a Mexican restaurant, ordered a pitcher of margaritas and food, posed for a picture with a mariachi band, and then I passed out at the table.

I have a very dim recollection of my friends fussing over me, and the waitress saying something like “she’s really drunk, huh?  She didn’t seem drunk” and me wanting to protest that I wasn’t actually drunk just exhausted, but I didn’t have the strength.  Map Fleece took our food to go, and dragged me back to the room while Cricker and BHBF went out drinking.

I now have my Philadelphia airport horror story, though I suppose if anyone asks me, I’ll probably just shrug and say, “It’s a mess” since telling the whole story takes too much time.

Gentleman Scholar and I were walking to a dance club in Providence’s Jewelry District one night (long story, completely about free food), and we passed a pizzeria near our house.  The pizzeria had sidewalk seating, like many restaurants in Providence do, and a festive awning with music playing.  The music as we walked by, was a Madonna song from the 80’s (I can’t remember which one) and in that moment I felt an intense longing to go back to the simpler days of the 1980’s working at a seaside pizza joint with my friends.

Of course, I never worked at a seaside pizza joint in the 80’s with my friends, I grew up in a land-locked state. That was the movie Mystic Pizza, which I actually only saw for the first time about a year ago, and wasn’t terribly impressed with.  In the 80’s, I topped out at age 10, but the feeling of nostalgia was so intense I was taken aback by it.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up.  As a grownup, I would be able to wear radical outfits, and drive a car like the one my Barbie had, and have tons of cool friends who also had cars and outfits.  We’d party, and have boyfriends, drive our cars and wear our outfits (really, that’s all I thought twentysomethings did, at least in the summer).  Of course, my life hasn’t quite worked out the way I envisioned when I was a pre-adolescent, but does that really mean I should be nostalgic for a life I never had?  It’s weird, right?

Maybe this is what happens when you have to admit you are officially a grownup, and things aren’t the way you once planned.  I don’t even covet any of the lives in Mystic Pizza, and my idea of what my life was going to be, wasn’t much of a full life, so I’m not sure what I’m clinging to.  The idea of things being simple and straightforward enough that you can act like a total moron about petty issues?  Teen sex and sports cars?  Being screwed over by an older man?  What else even happens in that movie?  None of that sounds particularly appealing.  Perhaps this is my latent crush on Vincent D’Onofrio waking up.

Rarely have I ever had such an intense reaction to a song/setting/smell.  I guess that in that moment I realized that the world I thought I would be a grown up in has changed, which I never thought about before.  It’s less about any choices I’ve made than it is about…progress, I guess.

I’m going to deal with this strange sensation by listening to old school Madonna and eating pizza outside.  I think that’s healthiest thing to do.

My boss asked me last week if I had anything fun planned for my three- day weekend.

I’m running a 1/2 marathon on Sunday,” I told her, “So really, all I’ll be doing is eating a lot of protein, and getting plenty of sleep.”

“This Sunday!??!” She asked, “But it’s supposed to be hot! 80 degrees!  You can’t run in that!  It’s too hot!”

I thought about this momentarily and remembered that the first 1/2 marathon I ran was in 95 degree weather with about 90% humidity, my second one was 38 degrees, and third was torrential rain and gusting wind.  I started to perk up realizing that I technically would have ideal conditions for this race, and therefore, may actually be able to meet the personal goal I set of two hours–cutting of 33 minutes from my best time.

And then there were hills.

I live and run in Providence, and I looked at the course elevation map before:

but I was still ill-prepared for how much those hills suck.  I’m from the prairie; Fargo is possibly the flattest place in the world, and even though I did hill training in preparation for this race, I never ran up and down ten large hills in a single day. That was my undoing.

At first I was enthusiastic, none of the hills were terribly steep, so I practiced my lean forward and shuffle up the hill technique, which was working just fine.  Once I reached the longest hill known to man, started my shuffle, and then glanced up to realize that I couldn’t even see the top of the hill, I lost it, I walked, and I walked on the next one too.

Even though I loved the convenience of walking to and from the start line of the race, and seeing all kinds of new scenery in my own town (and neighboring Pawtucket), this race left me a bit underwhelmed.  Around mile 10, I just wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t get my running euphoria going.  It just wasn’t my day.  I think it might had have something to do with the fact that this was my first big run since my injury-plagued winter, and in the two days that I took off before the race, my leg was really stiff.  That made me more nervous than I’ve ever been, or again, it just wasn’t my day.

Overall, I’m disappointed in my performance since I had planned to do no walking of any kind, but I still cut at least 22 minutes off my previous best time, so I’m not going to beat myself up too much, but I feel like a bit of a pansy.  Am I a running wimp?

At the finish line, I had a free beer (the 5K was sponsored by Harpoon), and a couple slices of pizza, then walked home.  As I was trudging up the hill to my house I passed an old man loading stuff into his car.

“You look beautiful!” he yelled.

“I don’t believe you!” I told him, “I don’t feel beautiful, but thank you.”

Then I got home, took off my shoes and socks, and found this.

That is the twinge I felt around mile six.

I’m sorry you had to see it, but popping it was pretty awesome.

1452 ANDRIA  30 F 4312 PROVIDENCE RI 2:12:20.9 10:07 2:13:25.6

I’ve never had the temperament of a leader, or someone who really likes to be in charge of things.  I do like to be in charge, to a point, but once things get a bit difficult, I like to be able to foist responsibility onto someone else better equipped to deal with it.  This is probably quite an immature attitude to have, and probably something I should be working to remedy, at least that’s what I’ve been thinking since I became a professional librarian, and began the quest for a professional “grown-up” job.

At this point in my career, I should be hustling, and networking, and making contacts, etc.  I should be wowing people on a daily basis, and thinking outside the box.  The problem is, I just don’t think I can operate that way, and I can’t decide if I’m being lazy, or just realistic.  Even though I love my job and the people I work with, it’s not full time.  Does the fact that I’m not breaking my ass to find full-time work mean that I’ve given up, or just that I’m aware of the economy?

I was talking to another girl who graduated library school around the same time as me.  She is another one, like so many librarians–including me, who floundered around for a while not knowing what to do with her life, and then got an MLIS. After a few months of post-graduation unemployment, her mother finally asked her something like, “are you finally going to get a real job?”  My friend then had to explain that yes, she would love a real job, but there just aren’t any.  Even though that’s 100% true due to the fact that most public libraries are working under extreme budget cuts and can barely afford to keep the doors open, most colleges and universities are in hiring freezes, and private libraries and archives never have money in the best of times.  It’s all true, and none of it is our fault, but we still both feel like we’ve failed somehow.

After I graduated I had a similar conversation with my mother where she basically said, “You told me that you were going to get your degree, and then get a job.  Why are you now saying you’re not going to do that?”  The fact that I really like where I live, my friends, my boyfriend, didn’t seem to matter to her.  Why should it though?  When I tell people “my boyfriend is in a PhD program for another three years at least, and I like being around him” it sounds pathetic even to my ears.  It makes me feel like I’m choosing relationship over career, even though I’m not.

My mother also clings stubbornly to the idea that as long as you have a degree, that’s all that matters, not what the degree is for, which is just not the case anymore, of it ever was.  She drilled that idea into my head throughout undergrad, and I repeated it to other people as well.  I’ve since figured out that the degree may matter less, but the work experience is what people really want, and that people only want to hire you to do what you’ve already done.

I started working at Dairy Queen when I was fifteen, and it took nearly ten years for me to get away from food service.  Then, naturally, I wanted a food service job again last summer, and my experience seems to have expired.  Even when I decided that I was sick of food service and went to a temp agency, the woman tried to hook me up with a new cafe that had opened at a truck stop, “I told them about you, and they’re really excited!” she promised.  When I told her that that was the opposite of what I wanted to do, that I wanted an office job where I could wear nice clothes and not smell like baked goods or a fryer at the end of the day, her face fell and she told me that that would be a much harder sell.  Even though the qualities she had espoused to the truck stop people were some that could apply to any industry, I had passed my typing test like a pro, and had plenty of computer, filing, and multi-line phone knowledge, she was not willing to go to bat for me because I had never worked in an office.

Similarly with librarianship, I’ve got a lot of experience, but not a lot of professional experience, and practically no experience working in an academic library, which is where I ultimately want to end up.  I spoke to the Dean of Libraries of a small college in Massachusetts last week who told me flat out, “If I see a resume, and there’s nothing but public library experience on it, that person won’t get an interview.”  Basically, I’m working in public libraries to gain experience that won’t parlay into the kind of library job I want.  It’s like my career has stalled in year one, and all I can do is hope that not all deans of libraries have the same attitude as her.

I’ve accepted that it may take a while to get a full-time job, and I’m also damn lucky to have a job in my field that I actually love and that’s not just a filler position to pull in a little bit of cash.  Being poor is boring as hell, but never having had a real job, at least I don’t know what I’m missing.  I just want someone else to acknowledge that it’s not me, and that I am capable of getting a real job; or maybe I need to accept that it is me after all.