Thoughts on Kindness

Kindness, I’m learning, is a powerful thing.

Working in a public library, people from all walks of life come through my door.  I love this because it gives me the opportunity to interact with people who are very different from me.  One of the joys of being a small town librarian is the ability to really build relationships with my patrons.  They aren’t just faces checking out books.  I call them by name, remember what books they like, and get to be part of their routines.

You find the most generous people in small towns.  My patrons, in particular, have shown great kindness to me over the past two years.  They know I have a long commute and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been offered a place to stay on winter nights when driving conditions are hazardous.  A year ago, a family who knew I love cats surprised me by bringing in their litter of kittens.  Having a kitten party in the library was pretty much a dream come true and I glowed the rest of the day.  Recently, one of my regulars attempted to recruit my help in tapping maple trees and boiling syrup.  He’s a prankster and, when I said no, gave me a hard time.  A week later, though, he gave me a jar of homemade syrup anyway.

These relationships are one of the things I love most about my job.

One of my goals, and something I work very hard at, is to treat each person who walks in the door with dignity and respect.  I want people to feel seen and known when they visit the library–they aren’t just another faceless consumer.  I want people to feel like they matter.

This is no easy task and, so often, I fail to live up to it.  When people show you incredible kindness, it is easy to be kind in return.  When people are friendly, responsible, capable, and don’t argue when you tell them they have late fines, it is easy to show them love.

But people are hard.  They’re messy, complicated, and difficult.

Continue reading

2016: A Story in Three Parts

As another year comes to a close, it’s time to reflect.

By global standards, 2016 was pretty much a train wreck.  Personally, though, it was a beautiful journey that I will tell in three parts.

INTRODUCTION:

A year ago, I was an unemployed college graduate with no idea of what I wanted to do with myself.  You see, for the majority of my life, my intuition has been my guide.  Until this point, early every major life decision has been guided by instinct.  College?  My gut lead me to the right fit.  Major?  My heart found home in the English Department.  Work at camp in the summers?  It just felt right.

The future, however, holds infinite possibilities and the prospective paths had me absolutely paralyzed.  I had absolutely no idea of anything.  My intuition, the little tug that pulls me in the next direction, had failed.

So, at the beginning of 2016, I felt my heart tugging me back to Europe and, against all logic, I followed. Continue reading

Thoughts on Being The Cute New Librarian

I have been flirted with more in the past few weeks than my entire twenty-three years combined.

When I took a job as the librarian in a small town, my mom teasingly hinted that this would happen.  “Word will get out, Amelia,” she laughed.  “A young, cute, single librarian… they’ll be lining up to meet you.”

To my great surprise, she was right. Continue reading

Disorganization is the Worst

I started a new job this week… oh boy is it stressful.

My first training session was 2.5 hours from 7-9:30 PM.  My predecessor essentially sat me down, showed me programs on the computer, and told me stuff.  Aside from lists of computer passwords and such, there was little to no organization.  No concrete list of “These Are Your Tasks”.  Just a bunch of do this, do that, call this person, figure this out.  Here you go, Amelia.  Have at it.

My brain needs structure in order to understand things.  Throwing information at me and plunging me into a situation does nothing but render me overwhelmed and stressed.  I got home at ten and went straight to bed.  It took me until midnight to fall asleep, mostly because I gave up trying and transported myself to another planet reading Andy Weir’s The Martian until midnight.  Even after that, I didn’t sleep much.

Since the job was left vacant three weeks ago, an overwhelming amount of emails, phone messages, and mail have been piling up that need to be addressed ASAP.  However, in my current semi-trained state, I don’t feel comfortable or confident addressing half of these things.

So I am going to do what my brain knows best: compartmentalize and prioritize.  My first priority is making sure I’m up to speed and comfortable with the various software and programs.  Once that’s done, I’ll figure out what needs to be done NOW.  I’ll make lists of what I don’t know and save the rest for another day.

My goal is, by the end of the job in a couple of months, to add some organization.  If I can get to a point where I can make a concrete list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, I’ll be satisfied.

Now on to actually making sense of the chaos.  Wish me luck!

Closed for the Season

Well, friends.  Strawberry season has come and gone.  Thank goodness.

IMG_5118-0I’m not going to lie, I’m happy to see it go.  Although it was our shortest season yet (clocking in at two and a half weeks of picking), it felt like my family’s pick-your-own patch was open forever.  For two weeks, I was in the fields every day without break.  Although things slowed down significantly after the 4th of July passed, I got really sick of making small talk and trying to find pleasant ways to explain why the berries at the end of the season were smaller than those at the beginning.

Now that we’ve closed, it’s back to full-time fieldwork.  We’ve been hard at work during the non-open hours  over the past few weeks fighting what I affectionately call the Battle of the Weeds.  Now that we don’t have customers consuming all our time, a few days of solid hoeing should help us finally gain ground in our newer strawberry fields.

Now that we’ve closed, I get an extra half hour of sleep every night.

Now that we’ve closed, I hope to spend less evenings crashed on the couch and more on my bike.

Now that we’ve closed, I ACTUALLY need to figure out what I’m doing with my life.  (But more on that later.)

Here’s to the end of a short, but good season!  If you need me, I’ll either be sleeping or pulling weeds.

Pleasant Valley Thursday: Plodding Along

Work at the orchard continues to plod.  The zeal that kept me enthusiastic during my first couple weeks back is starting to fade.  I find myself wanting to forego this week’s PVTh post (as I refer to them in my mind).  So we’ll keep things brief.

Our crew has, once again, expanded.  One of the neighbor boys (whom I have known since kindergarten) has returned after four summers elsewhere.  It’s great to have another person around–jobs go by more quickly.

We DID install a brand new water line that goes from the well out to the strawberry patch.  It was pretty cool–my dad has a trenching machine that attaches to the back of the tractor.  After we laid out the piping, all I had to do was guide it as it went through the tube on the machine and into the ground.  See photo:

IMG_4782-0
My dad and younger brother check to make sure the machine is working. You can see the hose sticking out on the left. It goes through the tube and the machine buries it, leaving behind a lovely trench.

Other than that, we’ve been hoeing a lot.  We got through all the newly planted fields.  The sad thing is we’ll have to do them again next week… and the next… and the next…

Jobs This Week:

  • Mow around barns
  • Remove frost covers
  • Install new water line
  • Haul plastic out of old pumpkin fields
  • Clean high tunnel (which is similar to a greenhouse)
    • Haul out dead raspberry bushes
    • Spread mulch
    • Trim rootstock plantings
    • Plant more rootstock
  • Clean kitchen in Apple Shed
  • Fertilize all strawberry fields
  • Haul old plastic and drip lines to dumpster
  • Hoe new strawberry fields. (3 days this week)
  • Prep for pumpkin planning
  • Clip flowers on new strawberry fields

At least there’s variety!

Lows:  While hauling out all the dead raspberry bushes from the high tunnel, I made the mistake of wearing shorts and my legs got super cut-up.  Later, we moved plastic out of the fields… but it had rained so we got covered in slime pushing the plastic into the dumpster.  To top all it off, I spent 45 minutes washing moldy baking pans because someone forgot to clean them after our pre-Christmas sale last December.

High: Last Friday, in the midst of removing the frost covers, we had an extra-long break ’cause my dad brought us out for lunch.  Also, today I got to drive to the cities to pick up a shipment of fertilizer, which took up the whole afternoon.

Straight from the circulation desk

Working at the library is akin to riding a bike.  No matter how much time has passed, the second you step behind the desk, all the rules and procedures come flooding back.  You don’t need to review how to check in and out books, handle interlibrary loans, or shelve according to the Library of Congress system.  Your body and mind remembers it, just as you remember how to drive or how to spell your own name.

There’s something incredibly peaceful about an empty library.  You stroll through the stacks, trailing your fingers over volumes upon volumes of beautiful old books.  You push your cart through the aisles, searching for the gap between  BS.4 and BS.45, feeling that rush of satisfaction as you press the book into its home.

During library shifts, your biggest worries are freshman not understanding printing and making sure you find time to do your shelf-reading.  When you’re not handling books, you’re talking with people and helping them figure things out.  More often than not, though, you’re sitting behind the circulation desk (as I am now) doing homework, pleasure reading, or blogging.

It’s a great life I lead.  And yes, it kind of sucks that my first shift of the year is a late-night closing shift, but hey.  I’m just glad to be back!

What job did you have in college?  Did you love it like me, or was it miserable?