Failed Beatrice

ImageOur mothers gave us names that were impossible to live up to, heavy with silent letters and les accents graves, names that had already been claimed and fulfilled by greater women who came before us. Anaïs and Siobhan and Calliope and Vivienne: we would never match the elegance of our first names. That much was obvious in our first colicky years, in our perpetually skinned knees and tomato allergies and lazy eyes, and by the time our classmates thought to call us Fatty or Too-Tall or Lump, our disappointing destinies were confirmed.  We were unworthy Marguerites and Rosalinds, ugly Stellas, clumsy Astrids. We were failed Beatrices.

All I wished for, back in the days before I met you, was to be called Jessica.


Dark Chocolate, Ode to

77% Dark Chocolate: the eternal vice of the feminine middle class, scourge of the yoga set, albatross ’round the neck of the pre-menstruating!

dark-chocolateIt began February last. I’d always considered myself the milk chocolate sort (it’s easy to get your hands on, cheap, the gateway cocoa — child’s stuff). Sure, I enjoyed darker now and then, at bohemian potlucks and when Special Dark was the only variety left in the Hershey Variety Pack, but I didn’t seek it out.

Eventually I needed something stronger. Began dabbling in 55% with fruit and nuts. Then, one day: 55% — no fruit, no nuts. From there it was an easy slide into the rich, dark ignominy in which I currently wallow.

Now I import a steady flow of the stuff from hand to mouth (…to thighs [am I right, ladies?!]). Its caffeine content keeps me up a night, makes me under-perform at work.

But I won’t quit! I will never quit. It’s, erm, possible I can’t quit.

(Please don’t make me quit!)


It’s got…tannins…and stuff? I think?

Night Vision

She was useless at dusk, a squinting mole of a woman, unable to drive, unable to distinguish faces or fonts or numbers of fingers being held up until they were inches in front of her—and by then, too late to react properly. This was genetic. Like her mother’s mother’s mother’s mother (and so on and on, she imagined, back to the Neanderthalic foremother, who died when she  stumbled  into the open maw of an unseen twilight predator), she sighed and put her book aside each day when the sun set.


Homeless People in Libraries

Good morning from the blogger who brought you such hard-hitting posts as “Should I Have Bangs?” and “ME LOVE SHOPPING”!

(Just kidding, “ME LOVE SHOPPING” is an as-yet-unwritten blog post, but this unnecessarily winter-y winter is killing my intellect and it’s only a matter of time before I sink to these depths. I signed in here after being away for a while [“away” = “watching Internet television and napping”], and was mortified that the message I’d left for the world to find was about bangs. I mean, what if I’d DIED? What if I’d died in some interesting, tragic way and CNN scouted out this blog and slathered a screenshot of my bangs post all over the TV?! What would the community think?) </prolonged parenthetical aside>

So, a few months ago I got this job as a Reference Manager at one of the library branches in a slightly sketchier part of my hometown — you know, the part that you would call a ghetto if ghettos existed in such mid-sized, white-bread-n-Jesus Midwest towns such as mine. I’ve since transformed from a wimpy suburban librarian who actually, like, helps people find books to read into one who regularly kicks violent drunks off the premises, dabbles in pee and other bodily functions that end up in places they were never meant to be, and once fished two used tampons out of the men’s toilet with a bookend. AND helps people find books to read!

In short, I’ve become (completely against my will and natural inclination) somewhat of a badass, Dear Reader.

Since October, when the train dropped me off in front of this branch, fresh-faced and innocent and full of all sorts of romantic notions about what a public librarian could be, my eyes have been opened to societal problems that I knew, intellectually, existed, but hadn’t ever experienced in a direct, un-ignorable way.

I.e., homelessness. 

My thoughts on homelessness can be organized thusly:

1. It is a horrible, degrading problem that is not being adequately addressed by the government (OKAY THANKS REAGAN) or society in general.
2. The vast majority of homeless people are untreated, undertreated, or mistreated mentally ill and we have failed them.
3. Public libraries are disproportionately picking up the slack of sheltering and assisting the homeless, a task that, though worthy, we have neither the funds nor the staffing to do. 

Every day, my small staff and I play social worker, police officer, and therapist to anywhere from 15-40 homeless citizens. So you can understand why it’s occupied my brain these last three months. Sometimes I’ll wake with a start, sit bolt upright, and shout to the empty bedroom, “Egads, the HOMELESS! What do we do about the homeless?!”

I’ve been doing research to see how other libraries handle their homeless demographic, and considering it’s such a big issue for so many librarians, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of practical advice out there. Opinions that do exist seem to fall on the extremes:

1) the people who believe libraries should accept their new role in society and install showers and social workers and lift any rules that might discourage homeless people from using the building as a day shelter


2) the people who get angry at the idea of homeless people using the library at all, and feel we should crack down on it by creating rules and conditions that specifically prevent homeless patrons from hanging around and sullying the average upstanding citizen’s Janet Evanovich reading experience.  

My opinion falls somewhere in the middle. There has to be a way that libraries can help and welcome all sorts of people without scaring traditional library users away. 


credit: Matthew Thorsen, photo from Fletcher Free Library in VT

Anyway…this is all to say that I think I’m going to start a library blog so I can think out loud about this stuff without annoying my regular readers, i.e. the people who just want to read about my lifelong struggle with what shall henceforth be referred to as “The Bangs Dilemma.” 


Should I Have Bangs?

Should I have bangs? I often feel like I am one of those faces that would benefit greatly from bangs, i.e. from being half hidden (the pimply part: bonus!), but I’ve never had the courage to do it. There is a 30% chance my looks would be much improved, a 50% chance I would have to wear a hat for a year, and a 20% chance my officemate would peer through the window separating our desks and say, “Did you get new glasses or something?” Tempting, but in the end not worth the risk.

I’ll have to leave looking like Amelie to other women and continue Patti Smithing my way through life — unkempt but constantly struggling towards badassery.


Dream Hair: Adorable French Woman With Whom Men Want to Sleep


Reality Hair: Unintentionally Rock n’ Roll, Requiring Little to No Upkeep, Leaving More Time for General Badassery.

Schlub Life

– eat cold black beans from a can 40% of the time
– listen to mediocre bands from your glory days: Air is a good place to start
– gain a little more weight each Christmas, lose a little less each spring
– engage in internet disputes with your ex-boyfriends over grammatical minutiae; win by stamina
– hang out with your Mom on weekends
– curate subtle grease stains on the thighs of all your pants
– wear white sweat socks on all occasions
– keep your apartment more or less picked up but DO NOT ever vacuum
– gather Kleenexes in your purse
– read the first few chapters of self help books
– skip the smartphone trend altogether
– do not wash your hands after peeing if no one is around and/or if no actual urine touched your skin
– throw dirty clothes and papers in bedroom closet when visitors visit
– Googling options:

  • “greasy hair baby powder”
  • “how to make waffles if you’re out of milk and eggs”
  • “who sings i knew you were trouble when you walked in”

– cut your hair shorter than is prudent considering your jawline so you can go at least nine months without making another appointment
– sleep on the couch some nights because why not
– turn down a friend by saying you have to stay home and write; use that time to follow internet beefs about Lena Dunham’s body

Congrats! Schlubhood is yours!

Polar Vortex Reducing Diet(TM): The Quickest Way to Accidental Health…Guaranteed!


If you’ve looked at any weather radar maps lately, you will have noticed the vast blue blob that’s gobbled up all of the North and most of the Midwest. You’ll notice a spattering of seasonally appropriate numbers, but then you’ll squint at the screen and notice that there are minus signs before each of them. It’s not 22 degrees. Nope! It’s MINUS 22 DEGREES. The high today in my corner of Missouri was expressed by the laughable digit “3,” and it occurred at 12:05 a.m., which basically means it was part of yesterday.

But enough of my personal woes… let’s get to the feature I know my faithful multitudes (Tara, Jordan) are waiting for!


Lose Weight Effortlessly During the Polar Vortex Times! Now, that lean, starved look can be yours in three easy steps!

How to do it:

1. Watch blue blob of frigidity approach your state on the evening news; laugh at reports of empty grocery shelves and people fighting over bread in the Dillon’s parking lot and feel smug, like perhaps you are a more evolved version of the common species, the kind of advanced mammal that wasn’t into Beanie Babies in the 90s, wasn’t into Y2K in 1999, and certainly was not into the planking craze of June 24, 2012.

2. Be so busy making fun of these poor, simple alarmists that you forget to go grocery shopping yourself.

3. Eat nothing but canned beans, wilted lettuce, and Ezekiel bread the whole time you are snowed in, which is four days.


Bonus tips: Watch yourself do increasingly horrible things as supplies grow thin, like lick your finger and dip it in a bag of pure cane sugar. Realize you have sugar addiction. Do absolutely nothing to change. In fact, drink rum with Juicy Juice because rum and Juicy Juice both are forms of sugar and you NEED sugar and it’s been seven hours since you’ve had any.
Try to find Sherlock episodes for free online. Fail. Venture out to coffee shop for human interaction, wearing produce bags for snow boots.  Deride yourself for being 30 and not owning snowboots.
It’s so cold the snot freezes in your nostrils when you breath in; proceed to mouth breath. Trudge home. Try spitting on sidewalk to see if it’s true your spit will freeze before it hits ground; it’s not.
Refresh email forty times to see if work is cancelled tomorrow like it was today. It is not.