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I’ve been writing this blog now, for about 3 and a half years–my god, that’s a lot of time to spend talking about yourself and petty grievances, but it shows no sign of stopping.  Typically, when I’m writing a blog, it’s because something funny/tragic/irksome has happened to me, then I reflect on it.  It’s a system that has served me well over the years, and has paid me no money whatsoever.

Now, I’ve found someone willing to pay for me words of wisdom, namely a smallish publication in New England.  This is delightful because I basically get to be myself, and hate on things.  I’ve never been particularly successful in the realm of journalism because I haven’t actually pursued it, and because I have trouble sticking with the “just the facts” approach. Now I don’t have to.

It’s also good because I’m someone who responds very well to outside pressure.  I try to force myself to blog more (and Culture Friend tries to force me as well), but sometimes, it just doesn’t come.  As inane as my ramblings usually are, I have scads of drafts that never quite panned out–pretty crappy stuff that even I don’t want to read, and I usually crack myself up regularly.

Considering that my magazine column is pretty similar to my blog (albeit with a bit more focus), it’s amazing how much keeping the two up is playing with my head.  When writing for magazines in the past, I typically took on topics that were, for lack of a better word, timeless.  I interviewed soccer players (I know nothing about soccer), and spoke to real estate developers (I know very little about real estate development, though I bet more than most), I took on covering stuff that had already happened, or that was not affected by the goings on in the world.  Now my column is dictated by major month events i.e. holidays, which is no problem, but I write these columns two months in advance.

This means that in September I’m thinking about Thanksgiving, October–Christmas, November–New Years, etc.  It’s making me a bit addled, and making it hard to remember what day it is (though I kind of always had that problem).  It’s also making me wonder about people who do this kind of writing full time.  Do you just get used to it?  Do they feel like life is passing them by?  Maybe after a while it just becomes automatic, or maybe I’m way overthinking things, and that’s why I’d never make it as a real journalist.

It’s more challenging than I though it would be to get into the mindset of the christmas season when the rest of the country has Halloween on the brain.  I feel like I’m operating on a slightly different rotation.  If this were a Venn Diagram, I would be only slightly overlapping the rest of the country in my holiday thinking.  Plus, I never really thought about holidays at all before.

All I know is, it’s January 4th, and I can’t quit thinking about St. Patrick’s Day.

openbook_bannerWhen seeking employment in these trying economic times, one has to be everything to everyone.  The key is to create a melange of talent– a sort of “You need this?” “Of course I can do that!” approach.  Cultivate every skill you ever learned, and showcase them is a way that make you indispensable.  Case in point, among my library school classmates, I am back to editing, which is a place I never thought I’d be after library school– it’s a job.  Jewish Friend is back working in an office lamenting how bored she is; a former event planner may be back working with brides; and a former pharmacy tech is working at CVS.  It’s almost like library school never happened, yet the painful memories still haunt me.

After finishing the MLIS, we are all in the murky waters of over/underqualified.  We are overqualified for paraprofessional jobs (jobs that don’t required a library degree), and underqualified for professional jobs compared to all of the other people who apply and have much more experience than we.  I’m not saying that employers shouldn’t pick the best, most qualified person for the job, but doesn’t ANYONE want to take a chance on an unknown kid? We know how to use computers–for reals.

Recently I taught a screenwriting workshop at a public library. I had done a similar one last year, for teens, and when the assistant director of this library said she had heard good things and wanted me to do a program for adults– I jumped at it.  It went really well, and since then I’ve tweaked it a bit and tried to pimp it out to other libraries (If you’d like to request my services, just comment on this blog and I will email you back).

It occurred to me immediately afterward, that I had been in a room with 20 wannabe writers who look to me as an expert.  So naturally, as one does when one decides to claim expertise in a field, I had business cards made up to offer my editing services at a very reasonable rate (If you’d like to request my services, just comment on this blog and I will email you back). I now have one set of business cards announcing that I am a librarian, and one set calling me a writer/editor.  The only problem is that the set that say writer/editor have a typo on them.

I misspelled my own email address, and now have a box of 250 cards that are unusable.  In a moment of “Use every part of the buffalo/ lame high school artist” thought, I considered taking the fouled business cards, along with the small stack of rejection letters I’ve received, create some kind of sculpture thing.  Of course immediately after having this idea, I realized I would not like to own such a piece of art, and also that this has been done before by many, many people.  Also, I’ve ripped up all my rejection letters to date, so I’d have to wait for a new stack to come in.

I think I’ll read my Nancy Drew books instead.

A while ago, at the public library, I was sitting behind the desk when a middle-aged gentleman came in, looked at me, and said “Are you Andria?” I should have immediately been on my guard because the last time a middle-aged man approached me in this way while I was working at a place full of books was at Barnes & Noble.

I was sitting on my break reading a book when Friend from Cowboy/Ski-Pole country (before she moved there) came up and said, “I have a simply stupid question that I think you might know the answer to. What does R.S.V.P. stand for?”

“Repondre sil vous plait.”

She handed me a scrap of paper, “write it down.”

I went back to my book until I heard an unfamiliar male voice calling out, “Andria?”

“Yes?”

A stranger sat down in front of me, holding the piece of paper I’d written on and said “What does repondre mean?”

“Respond”

“and Sil?”

“Sil vous plait means please, it’s one word.”

He looked very skeptical.

“We have French dictionaries right over there,” I indicated, “you can look it up, if you don’t believe me.”

Of course he had no interest in doing that, so he thanked me and left.

The gentleman who approached me at the library sat down and explained why he was seeking me out, thankfully it had nothing to do with French.

“My daughter attends a Waldorf school in the area and is entering 8th grade. All 8th graders have a year-long project of their choosing, and she would like to write a novel. I was thinking that you might help her do this while you’re working at the library.”

At this point I had never heard of Waldorf Schools, but I looked it up, and it’s kind of like Montessori, only called Waldorf. Either way, it’s a school full of kids who ACHIEVE, and apparently write novels (with a little help from me). My Jewish Friend likes to tell stories about the Waldorf kid she dated years ago who played a dozen instruments, spoke many languages, and drank his own urine to keep from getting sick.

“I’m really not sure that that’s something I can do on library time,” I told him, “I mean, I’m meant to be working while I’m at work, not tutoring.”

“Well, it does seem like helping her is in keeping with the mission of a children’s librarian, doesn’t it?”

It seems like it’s in keeping with the mission of a tutor, I thought. “How long does she think the novel will be?”

“Probably about 130 pages.”

“That’s the same length as my master’s thesis.” I told him.

He just shrugged, “Kids have done this before; are you unfamiliar with Waldorf education?”

I was reminded at this point in the conversation, of the MFA program and the pressure to produce and the fact that while my colleagues spent summers writing novels, and full-length screenplays, I… didn’t. I was more interested in the drinking aspect of this writing life, so I re-worked the same drafts from undergrad over and over again, and wrote very little new material for the first year and a half. Now I was staring down the father of an overachieving kid who planned to produce in one summer, what it took me 4 years to accomplish.

I contented myself with the knowledge that while this girl may write 130 pages, it is unlikely that they will be very good. Also, as smart as she may be, she probably has no idea what she’s getting into.

Turns out that private tutoring while on the city’s dime, is expressly forbidden (shocking). I told the Waldorf dad this when he brought in his daughter to meet me. I waited, hopefully, for him to just acknowledge that he should hire me as a private tutor for an exhorbitant amount of money– but he just said, “Really? That really surprises me. Do you have some books here that will teach her how to write a novel?”

I directed them to the proper section and wished them luck, which is much more in keeping with the mission of a children’s librarian.