Friday, June 19, 2009

Vague Admissions

1. I have a lot of growing up to do

2. I don't know nearly as much as I need to know to be good at what I'm doing

3. I hate feeling vulnerable. I feel vulnerable right now. I'm not a very good problem solver. What's more, I'm not above average smart. I just have a big vocabulary. it's not the same thing.

4. I don't know whether the ball is in my court or not. i'm apathetic. I'm tempted to just pretend the ball doesn't exist...

5. Writing is really hard for me. It doesn't come as naturally to me as I say it does. I do a lot of editing. I sometimes wonder if I'll actually be able to compose a good novel someday. Right now, I feel mildly pessimistic.

6. My fear of mediocrity cripples my creativity. Perfectionism is my bane.

7. I'm insecure about my looks. (Who isn't?! Don't respond to this.) I try not to think about them. They are a fair-weathered friend.

Sometimes I just have to get these stupid little insecurities out of my system so I can stop thinking about myself and move on. I don't want my insecurities to be used as an excuse to be self-absorbed. I don't want that.

Okay. Back to confidence.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A funny occurrence that ends in the worst lie I've ever told

Today i was scheduled to work at the Orem Arts Council tent at Orem Summerfest. I arrive, I get set up, the other people who i'm replacing at the table leave, and I get to working hard, manning the table. (It was grueling.) I've been at the table maybe five minutes when this guy and his friend kind sidle up to the table. I can already tell by the one guy's whole attitude that he means business--but not with the Arts Council. With me. I prepare myself for the inevitable awkwardness--but one not without its humor. So here goes: R (we'll call him R and I'll explain why later) comes up to the table.

"Hey!" he says as if I'm supposed to recognize him. Hi. What can I do for you? (Now I can't remember if he launched right into his pick-up lines of if he even attempted to feign interest in the Arts Council. But anyway...he goes on.) "Are you in college?" What?! I'm thinking. What kind of question is that? Oh! I get it. You want to make sure you aren't picking up on a high schooler. Admirable, but a little transparent, don't think, pal? I take about two seconds to decide what tone to adopt with this guy. He seems harmless enough, but potentially annoying. I decide on the "civil, but mono-syllabic" tone.

No, I reply simply. Not anymore.
"That's too bad," he says. He clearly thinks I've dropped out or something. I should have just left it at that, but at this point my sense of mischief is in full gear. I want to see if I can get this guy to actually come out with it and ask me if I'm dating anybody.
I graduated, I say. His ears perk up.
"When?" He asks, obviously still trying to determine my age (which, I know, is difficult for people who don't know me.)
"Where from?"
"Oh! I was going to school up there, too! That's probably where I've seen you around."
I scowl. Seriously? Low marks for creativity, pal. I shake my head. He senses that this tack isn't working, so he adopts a different one: He is suddenly all professional, detached interest in all the pamphlets at the booth. I know he doesn't care about any of this stuff, but I explain in as much detail as I can about ALL of it. I glance at his friend who, unlike himself, seems a little bit of a shady character who's missing a few teeth. Weird. He doesn't even feign interest in the stuff on the table, but patiently waits for his friend to wrap things up with me.

Meanwhile, R has taken one of the volunteer forms--and a free pencil--on the pretext of filling it out. "Oops," he says. "I was writing on the back." He flips it over, but before he does I can see that he has written one letter: R. Probably the first letter of his name, if I had a guess.
Wow. Does he really think I don't know that he's writing his name and number on the front of the form? Does he think he's going to take me pleasantly by surprise when he hands it to me with all of his contact info filled out and a big "Call me!" on the top? (He didn't, but I'll get to that in a minute.) Just at that moment, the gods intervene and the biggest wind/rain/lightning storm on planet Earth at that particular moment descends upon Orem, Utah. I simply cannot spare him another thought as we scramble to get everything under the tent. When we have finally done all we could do (which was not much in the face of such furious rain) I stand up to find this guy still hanging over my shoulder. Really? I think. Are you still here? The sky is falling--the tent, at least, is--all hell is breaking loose and you are taking this inauspicious moment to pay your addresses to me?! I'm thinking all of this inside.
"Listen," he says, making a clean breast of it. He's clasping the volunteer form anxiously in his hand. "Are you dating anyone?" he ask quietly and seriously.

Here's where I lie. I briefly contemplate telling him I'm married. But then, I'm wearing no ring, and my sense of fair play tells me I shouldn't go that far. (I think he would have ring-checked.) So, I just smile apologetically, and nod my head. I see him grip the piece of paper and it crumples a little. "Oh, okay, then. you remember the website for the Arts Council?" he asks. "Oh wait. It's here on the pencil, I guess." I nod again, still apologetic. Poor guy. He's desperately trying to backpeddle out of a blunder he could have easily avoided if a) he hadn't so clumsily picked up on a girl he knew nothing about, and b) if I--and I admit fault--hadn't tightened the noose by fibbing. Well, the tempest is in full swing by then, so R and his buddy take off at lightning speed (no pun intended) to some other tent to wait it out.

Phew. Perhaps I shouldn't have lied. Undoubtedly, I should not have. But I could think of no better, faster and surer expedient to get this guy away from me. He was clearly the persistent type. Let me clarify that I did nothing to lead him on. i didn't even smile at him--other than apologetically, that is. But this whole thing is the kind of thing that never happens to me, so I wanted to see where it would go. So, ok. it probably wasn't the worst lie I've ever told.

But oh! Would that it had not been a lie after all! For more reasons than one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life at the OPL

As some of you may know, I started a four-month internship at the Orem Public Library this week. I won't go into the nitty gritty about HOW I got this internship--but suffice it to say that is was through the Stimulus Package. It's an internship specifically to create summer jobs for people in my age bracket, 18-24, who are having a hard time getting a job this summer. That's me. That WAS me, I should say. Now, I have an almost full-time job for the next four months at exactly the place I wanted to work. I definitely got the sweet end of the lollipop.

Okay, so my verdict after five days employment at the OPL: how can I put this... I am frequently asked what I plan to do with my English degree. They immediately ask if I want to teach. No, I say. Their bewildered looks speak volumes. It's as if they are saying, "Well, what else can you do with an English degree?" They seem genuinely surprised that there are, in fact, many things to do with a degree that helps you be a more analytical thinker, writer, and conversationalist--one of which happens to be librarianship. Or as I like to think, getting paid to learn everything, on your own terms--test free--for the rest of you life. And getting paid to help others do the same. Hm. sounds pretty great to me.

Once when asked what I planned to do, (and I said library school, etc. etc.) this nice young man had the audacity to say, "There are few things I think would be more boring than Accounting, but Library School is one of them." In his defense, he was studying Accounting. But defense aside, what an unpardonable thing to say! Especially when one's library experience is limited to the stifled, quelling atmosphere of a huge academic library! (not that academic libraries are even necessarily thus.) For heaven's sake. I hope I don't find myself going around saying that people's professed ambitions are "boring." Any job can be tedious at times.

My first week here at a public library has been anything but. Between extensive training at the reference desk (desks, actually) having to teach myself InDesign AND Excel, having to perform any little tasks AND assist patrons (which I am somewhat underqualified, at this point, to do) I have had anything but a boring week. I love the action! I love the energy of being surrounded by all kinds of people. I like that not everybody's Mormon; I like that not everybody is the same age; I like that everybody's got a different agenda. Everybody's got different wants and needs. I love working behind the scenes and seeing the delight of someone having found exactly what they wanted. The associate librarian who has been training me all week has given me a rather extensive tour of everything available at the library (databases included), and's amazing. I am suddenly filled with this unspeakable desire to know everything! And guess what? I sort of need to if I'm going to be any good.

Boring? I think not. I haven't met a single boring person at the library--and some of them have been there for so long they're starting to rot. On the contrary, I find myself surrounded by kind, well-informed, liberal minded public servants. (I hope you are all smart enough to realize I'm not talking about politics.) This environment embraces everything I stand for. At the end of this week, I am as tired as I ever was the on the mission, and the only thing that sustains me when I lie down at night is the knowledge that I felt more tired than this every day in Brazil, and survived. But at the bottom of this fatigue is a kind of deep satisfaction. Maybe I am seeing all of this through rose-colored glasses. Maybe I am just dazzled by the idea that work can be interesting and not tedious, as I have found it in the past. But I am definitely okay with being dazzled right now.