Thursday, October 29, 2009

Concerning Cliffs and Jumping Off of Them

This is going to be another one of those abstract, late night posts where I may or may not make sense—but at least I will be totally honest.

While serving my mission in Brazil, I believe I learned one of the most important lessons I could have learned. Ever. And that is, if you haven’t developed a certain skill, pretend like you have. Fake it till you make it.

Now wait. Before you say, “But Erin, that’s dishonest. That’s what most people would call disingenuous,” I will add my little caveat: Fake it till you make it…but in the meantime, start making it.

Let me illustrate. I am a naturally reserved person. I don’t like to feel vulnerable, so I avoid putting myself in certain situations. That should tell you right now why serving an LDS mission was…let's just say and act of unmitigated faith. I have always had a sense of humor, but not a sense of adventure. I never did find any thrill in precarious situations. Being thrown into a situation where I for the first several months was, for all intents and purposes, stripped of my ability to articulate a coherent thought was a horrific trial! For me, where words are all I’ve got, words are my only real talent, my only real tool, my only real outlet, my first two transfers in the field was a time of protracted silence. Hardly anybody knew me. I felt judged, and I withdrew even further, because there is nothing more withering than the feeling of being judged.

Eventually, little by little, I figured out that the only thing for it—the only thing for the crippling insecurity I felt as a missionary—was to just…open my mouth. Start talking to people. Not worry about eloquence. It wasn’t really the point anyway, to talk pretty. It scared the devil out of me to approach total strangers. I won’t pretend like it ever became easy, because it didn’t.

But there were days when nothing intimidated me. Where I was on fire!

It took faking it at first. But I learned that regardless of how I felt, I had to foster the habit of Confidence. Whether I was talking to strangers on the street, or teaching investigators, or getting to know members, I started pretending like I knew exactly what I doing. Eventually I didn’t have to pretend. I just did it.

To a certain extent I’ve been just doing it ever since. And, for the most part, I’ve been doing okay with this habit of Confidence. For the most part it’s legit.

You’re probably hoping I will get to the point of this post. Well here it comes: I’ve been doing a lot of faking it lately, (and not a lot of making it). Lately I have felt my insecurities—my countless insecurities—piling at my door. Immature. Uninteresting. Delusional. And every girl’s worst enemy, Ugly. I know I am not…for the most part…any of these things. But lately I have felt these and other demons lurking just outside the fortress I have built around my confidence. My once-feigned, now-real, and ever delicately-maintained confidence.

Maybe it’s because I am on the cusp of the rest of my life. There are so many unknowns and what ifs. But after all. It’s only natural to stand on the edge of cliff and tremble a little.

Okay. I had to include this picture. I was looking for some dramatic shot of someone base-jumping off Half Dome or something...but then I found this. How could I resist?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I feel I have unwrapped too much.

Like I have spread myself too thin. As Bilbo Baggins would say, "Like butter scraped over too much bread."

I have entrusted all of myself to so many people I have almost nothing left over for me.

I just want to wrap myself up in blanket and sleep and just be me, and only me without reference to anyone else.

Sleep, where my reeling mind will heal. And the fragmented parts of myself will become one again.

This is what is known as sensory overload.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Read-er’s Ad-vi-sory

n. 1. The practice of advising a patron what to read next based on a brief evaluation of their tastes in literature. 2. Extremely subjective, and somewhat personal, assistance demanded of librarians by total strangers.

Have you ever tried to set someone up on a blind date? Of course you have. Almost everyone has. (Well, strictly speaking I haven’t, but that’s beside the point.) Let’s just pretend for a minute that you are setting a friend up on a blind date. The fact that this person is a friend is very important. Everything—the success of the date—hangs on you knowing enough about this person to set them up with their next potential snuggle buddy. The success of the date depends equally on your knowledge about the other party, too. Even if your friend and the blind date don’t exactly hit it off, you are responsible for their having enough to talk about for two hours or so.

It's risky, this blind date business. Because if the date fails utterly, you feel like an idiot. But if it works out…you feel like a million bucks.

This, my friends, is readers advisory in a nutshell, but for one important difference—or maybe two. First, instead of lining up a friend, you are lining up a total stranger. And second, you are lining them up with their next book. And it could be their new favorite book!... Or they could hate you forever for wasting their time.

* * *

“I’m looking for a good read.”

Okay. What are you in the mood for? What’s one of your favorite books?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Anything, I guess.”

(This is never true! Nobody, I repeat NOBODY, likes just anything.)

Well, what have you read recently that grabbed you?

“I read [such and such] book.”

Tell me about it. What did you like about it?

“I liked….blah blah blah.”

Alright. (Since I am not nearly as well-read as I need to be to be good at my job, I often respond in this fashion.) Let me direct you to one of these wonderful reading lists that we have compiled by genre and sub-genre. We also have displays against the far wall. By the way, have you read such and such author? They might appeal to you in some of the same ways….etc etc.

“But…can you give me the name of a book?”

(Can I give you a specific book title? What more do you want from me? I don’t know you. At all! And this brief encounter of ours doesn’t count! I have given you—YOU, who know yourself better than I do, admit it!—more than one excellent way to treat yourself to your next favorite book. And yet, you persist. You will not leave my desk until I give a specific title. And if I choose poorly, you will hate me and think me incompetent and unwise, even though I have tried to help you help yourself! All of it screams, Unfair! Unfair! And yet…)

Yep. Right this way. (Have I read any of this stuff? No? Great. Well, here's one he can put in his pipe and smoke.) Here’s such and such book. I hope it works out for you! If you need anything else, just let me know.

Reader’s advisory.
Whenever I am asked to do it, it is just one more reminder of how little I know.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In case you haven't laughed yet today...

...feel free to do so at my expense.

Oh the joy you can find with Photobooth.



a little too...right-brained. Yeah.

bent out of shape

enraged! (personal favorite)


innocent (or just dumb)


what the...

And there are no words for this. (Other personal favorite)

Okay. That's enough. Go laugh at your own dang selves now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

I wish I had something interesting to write about today:

-I fell asleep in my car and was late coming back from lunch. (no one noticed.)

-I’m getting another article of mine printed in the bi-monthly OPL newsletter. Even though nobody reads it, this turn of events still makes me happy.

-I’m glad today is over and that I don’t have to answer any more questions or put out any more fires. It was a day where I felt like everyone was just a little bit more demanding than was strictly necessary.

-I’m tivo-ing Glee so I don’t have to watch all those asinine commercials.

-I could sure go without seeing another human being for the rest of the day.

-I figured out something major that was wrong with my book, and the biggest writer’s block in the history of the universe is lifting. Huge sigh of relief.

-I have been lying on the couch in my room/study for the last hour letting my eyes open and close as they will, watching the light die. Now it is dark and wet outside. I feel nothing. Just tired, tired, tired. I can’t…help anybody else today.


-“What a difference a year makes.” If this thought were a website in my mind, then it would have a billion hits. I just keep thinking…what a difference a year has made for me. For the better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The People Who Haunt the Library

I see the same people in the library almost every day, and I wonder about them.

A.M is a heavy-set, clean-cut forty-ish year old guy who uses the computers almost daily. Faithfully, at 9 o' clock almost every morning, he's there, handing me his library card as a collateral for headphones before he sits down at machine number 9. That's how I know his name: from his card. He's always dressed nicely, in slacks and a colored button-up--he even carries a briefcase. I like A.M because even though he comes in all the time, he doesn't treat me or the other librarians too familiarly. He doesn't try to be funny, and he doesn't make personal observations about our appearance like some people do. I don't know what he does online every day. Maybe some of the time he's job searching.

Another ghost I see is one I will call the Lonely Reader. This one's a strange case. LR is a tall, also clean-cut, maybe mid-thirty-year-old who I see every day. And I mean, every day. He is always there at open. He always sits down in one of our nice, soft chairs with a newspaper or a book off the display shelf. As far as I can tell, he never goes down to the lab (unusual), he never checks anything out, and he never asks for anything at the desks. He just comes, and sits, and reads.

One day, I was working the desk in the fiction area, and I noticed LR down there. A line of several soft and lovely lime-green Ikea benches line the back wall of Fiction, each with a pile of pillows. LR was sitting on one. He had one of the millions of pillows wrapped in his arms. He wasn't reading. He just sat there, hugging that pink pillow looking...sad? Or tired. I don't know which. He didn't move for a long time.

I think LR might be homeless. But you would never, ever think it to look at him.

Speaking of homeless. HL (for homeless) is another ghost I sometimes see around. And not just the library but the whole city center and that intersection of state and center. HL is another skinny, mid to late thirty-yr-old. He has chin-length greasy hair that is well-combed, and wears dingy clothes in a dignified way. I first met HL working--once again--at the fiction desk. He handed me a pink rubber ball that he thought maybe some child had dropped. HL has a strong smell about him and dirt under his nails, but he is as quiet and unassuming as LR.

I hope these guys, whatever their troubles may be, are able to find some rest at the OPL.