This should really be two separate posts. But… it isn’t.

So, I worked nine to five yesterday (yeah, cue the cliches) and had an oddly fun time. Because I got to, first of all, feel very official. (I mean, for some reason I felt like I was supposed to be there, unlike usual when I feel like… an intruding elf who sorts the books? I dunno.) Secondly, I got to hunt down books like Easter eggs for the first half of the day, talked to a lot of patrons (the place was hopping), and best of all, I got to spend some quality time listening to the circulation desk ladies chitchatting.

It’s true; the “Circ” ladies are maybe my favorite part of working at the library. Since the library is so large and busy, there are a lot of these ladies working at once; a couple of them behind the checkout area, three or four processing materials in the sorting room, and another one or two milling around taking care of odds and ends.

It’s a writer’s gold mine. The distinct characters! The dialogue! Not to mention, it probably fills some internal, subconscious need within the old-fashioned me to be surrounded by chit-chattering ladies while we all do some mindless task like weaving, or picking berries (or in my case, picking gross, faded pink “new!” stickers off of not-new-anymore books).

So, anyway, seeing as I was working a full day, I got a real lunch break. And this is what I heard as I ate my potatoes.

Guy librarian: “The new branch– have you seen it?”
Circ Ladies: “Oh yes, we hear it’s very nice.”
Guy librarian: “Lots of wood… And the kid’s area– They even have a little train going around above it.”
Lady A: “Yeah, a noisy, squeaking train–”
Lady B: “Someone needs to oil that thing.”
Lady A: “Ugh.”
Lady C: “I hate trains.”
Guy librarian: “Why?”
Lady C: “It’s a childhood thing. Always hated them.”
Guy librarian: “Oh, but did you hear what else? They have a fireplace, too. It puts out a nice bit of heat.”
Circ Ladies: “Psh!!”
Lady B: “And what’s going to stop some kid from going up and sticking their hand right on it?”
Lady A: “Parents.”
Circ Ladies: BAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA
Lady B: “You wish.”
Lady C: “Yeah, that happens one time, and they won’t turn it on anymore.”
Lady A: “Right! Why would you even put a fireplace in a library, anyway?”
Me (finally piping up): “Because it’s old school.”
Guy Librarian: “Yeah, it’s old school. It makes a nice mix of old school and new school.”
Lady C: “Yeah, there’ll be a fireplace and no books. Just stare at the wall!”
Me: (internally) Hear, hear!
Lady A: “I heard that the break room is like two chairs and a table. And that it’s practically in the middle of a hallway.”
Lady B: “And what was that one door…?”
Guy Librarian: “That was the staff bathroom.”
Circ Ladies: “That was the staff bathroom?!?!”

Totally worth the sore feet at the end of the day, that.

Well, I have been very negligent of you, blog readers. Sorry. I was going to blog about how Super Awesome my vacation in Kentucky was, but then I… didn’t. I really have no excuse.

This is the part where there’s a long silence and somebody coughs way in the back of the room.
And then you feel like you have to cough, but you can’t, because it would seem so loud–
But then–
Your throat itches–
And you decide, okay, I’m going to cough, but then you can’t cough so you do that awkward not-cough thing and…
Yeah.

Anyway, what else has been going on around here? Oh. Right.

WAAAAA-a-a-AAAAAA (Wua, wua, waaaaaaaaa). Aka the theme music from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. Or, as my dad calls it, “The most epic cowboy movie of all time”.
I would have to agree.

I don’t normally like cowboy movies, especially not long ones, especially not long ones where at least one person dies every five minutes. All of which apply to “GoodBadn’Ugly” (which is another name my dad calls it. As in, “Let’s watch a movie.”
Everyone: “What movie.”
Dad, in one excited breath: “GoodBadn’Ugly!” …. “What, we have to watch it at least once a week.”).

But I do like movies that weave multiple stories together, which this does. And when something is historical, my FAVORITE way for them to be that way is to have a personal story with the historical stuff as the background– for the main action to be about the main characters and their peculiar struggle, and then WHAM, history leaps up out of the dull background like an Asian carp out of Lake Erie and smacks you upside the head. But it never overshadows the main story– it only makes the whole thing more epic, adds depth and whatever.
Actually, I think what it really does is bend your mind. You start out with the main story, which, since it’s the main story,  has a great importance to the watcher. It IS the story. But then the history stuff comes out, and what’s happening in the history can be so huge– yet it seems small because it’s the background here. It’s a reminder of reality, that whatever you’re in the middle of, whatever you’re looking at very closely, is what seems huge and epic. The lives of ants and sparrows are epic if you could follow them closely.
Which is to say, if the story of three guys trying to beat each other to 2,000 dollars in gold isn’t enough to hold your interest, imagine that it also takes place during a (surprisingly accurate, considering this was an Italian film) Civil War.

So that’s partly what makes that movie the most epic cowboy movie of all time. I also think it’s due to the cinematography– the move is so long because they will spend AGES on certain shots, which builds tension (and is also artsy). Plus, it was all shot in real places rather than on a fake set, so all the landscapes and long faraway shots and such are really cool. It also helps that there are some scenes where I wanted them to take forever on the shot, like when the ghostly carriage is racing toward them across the open desert…

The movie is highly quotable, too, I must mention.

And another major factor in making the movie EPIC is the EPIC MUSIC. I mean, the main theme is pretty cool by itself (it’s what I like to call “adventure music”), but when there’s also songs like this, how can it not be epic? I’m sitting here listening to it while typing, and the sky was all gray and brooding, and then right as the song hit the crescendo a sunbeam came out and shone on me. Like I said.
Epic.

Also. There is a scene where Clint Eastwood pets a kitten.
That seals the deal.

Well, this has kind of been like two posts in one… As usual, a perfect example of how my strange mind works.

Yours,
Pen

Breaking News (and news about breaking things)

I got the library job!

I kind of can’t believe it.

It’s a rainy day, and the first day of school for us, and the only people here/awake are Grandma Vegas and Poncho. They’re happy for me, but the atmosphere of quiet studiousness makes for a subdued celebration. Although I am pretty sure I said “yay” on the phone.

Oy.

Well, I’m excited. But there has been other news in this house as well, such as…

I broke Dad’s blender.

The glass part was near the edge of the counter, and as I was putting dishes away I knocked it with my elbow. Crash! Glass everywhere at 11:30 pm. Mom and I started to clean up, and then Dodge joined in. I went to call Dad and let him know what had happened.
Dad: “Hello.”
Me: “Dad, um, I have some bad news for you…”
Dad: “You broke my blender.”
Me: “How did you know?!”
Dad: “I read your mind.”
Me: “No, seriously.”
Dad: “I felt it in the force.”
Me: “…Dodge texted you.”
Dad: “Yeah, and that.”
Me: “I’m really sorry…”
Dad: “That’s OK. I guess I’m just not meant to have a blender… Your mother broke one, you broke one…”
Me: “When did Mom break one?”
Dad: “That was years ago. She put it in the dishwaser and it destroyed all the plastic components.”
Mom: (eavesdropping) “I do not remember that.”

The next day…
Dad: “I was gonna eat a smoothie for lunch…”

So currently he has no real obsession. I mean, he’s been creating and drinking inordinate amounts of sweet tea, but I don’t know if it’s reached true obsession status yet. We shall see.

Yours till the decimal systems,
Pen

P.S. I have come to realize something through writing this blog: I am a klutz. And there is no cure.

“The Knight is sliding down the poker. He balances very badly.”

I just remembered that at the County Fair, I spotted a guy wearing a Wawa shirt. So of course my next move was to clutch the sleeves of the DHFs and stage-whisper, “Look! Look! Look! Over there!” Then we all stared fixedly at the guy until he started to notice and inched away.

Off on a tangent already and I haven’t even started. Well.

Today I volunteered at my place where I volunteer which because I am paranoid I shall not name. (Even though it has ten names anyway.) I’ve told you about this, right? No? Jeez Louise. The summarized/edited version, then: Mom works there, got me to volunteer there on their volunteering day, and I was set to work in the Health Center (where people can come and get checked for free by these nurse/pharmacist/podiatrist people). I like coming, being busy, being out of the house, helping.

The nice nurse lady was there today, the nice, quiet lady. Then there was the lady of the infamous “Kenyan is not in Africa” shirt story. See, because there’s a college called Kenyan which one of her children goes to (as I was told thrice the first time I met her), but it’s not in Africa. Hence, she has a shirt that says, “Kenyan is Not in Africa”. (Personally I think a Wawa shirt is much cooler.)
Her: “Kenyan is not in Africa… Haha, get it? Because it’s Kenyan but it’s not in–”
Guy in line: (with an extremely concerned look on his face) “Ma’am, Kenya is in Africa.”
Her: “No, it’s a joke, because it’s Kenyan and it’s not in–”
Guy: “But Kenya is in Africa.”

When that happened, the person I was working with decided to use it as a segway to start talking in fifty different accents. Today, I had a different colleage, and she wasn’t very talkative.

Nor did she quite appreciate my comments in what tiny conversation we did have, about the weather…
Her: “What kind of weather do you like?”
Me: “Cold. Chilly and drizzling, bare trees. And winter. I like weather that’s atmospheric, you know?” (And I’m sure you, dear reader, can guess that by ‘atmospheric’ I was not referring to a meteorological term.)
Her: “Yes, that’s a good day for staying inside. Watching TV.”
Me: (thinking) “…’That is not what I meant at all; / That is not it, at all.'”

But it was a good day after all, though, because I got to use a huge walkie-talkie. Also, I got alphabetizing practice.

Which reminds me! I had another interview at the library (a different branch) yesterday! And I think it went really well! And I sorted a cart! And I got it perfectly correct! Also very quick!

Ahem. I did not use all those exclamation marks. I am very deadpan and dry-humored.
OK, not really, but I try to be. I want to be all cool and “Yeah, clever one-line comeback, sly smile”. Instead, it’s usually: “…then I fell into the closet door again! And my dad was like, ‘Please don’t continue to replicate these circumstances.'” (True story, by the way. Happened last night. And that reply came via text message that for once wasn’t accidentally in all-caps.)
I think people find it weird that I tell funny stories about my family rather than myself. Even non-funny stories. The majority of my anecdotes are about my family, and often I am either a side character or a mere observer. Is that weird, really? Or am I just imagining people think so?

~Pen

PS: I have quoted so many things in this post that I believe I have reached my quote quotia. But this, used for the title, has been in my head all day:
‘…”My dear! I really must get a thinner pencil. I can’t manage this one a bit; it writes all manner of things I don’t intend–”
“What manner of things?” said the Queen, looking over the book (in which Alice had put, “The White Knight is sliding down the poker. He balances very badly“). “That’s not a memorandum of your feelings!”…’ ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

sparrows on the windowsill

Finally, finally, the birds have found the window feeder! Well, one of them, a female sparrow. She has been coming for the past couple of days. I thought she was so pleased with her conviently located (around the corner from the eaves of the house/my other bedroom window where a host of sparrows live) food jackpot that she was keeping it to herself. But then this morning there was another sparrow, too! I am so happy! I also have the feeling that with all the sparrows around, I may be soon feeding my own army of winged minions.

So. The library interview.

There were ten questions I had to answer, things like “What do you think are some important qualities a page should have?” (I said attention to detail, ability to focus on the task at hand, and friendliness/being a nice presence in the library) and things like that. A lot of the questions were kind of dumb, actually. Mainly the situational ones, like “Your friend gives you free concert tickets for a night you have to work. What do you do?” Duh. I call and ask if I can trade shifts with someone, but if not, I go to work. And “You don’t usually wear a hat or gloves or boots, and one of the librarians asks you to shovel the front walk until the maintenance crew arrives. What do you do?” Um. Ask another page if I can borrow some gloves, and even if I can’t, I go shovel. Like I’m going to say “I would not shovel” or “I’d skip work” in an interview! Not that I would. I was being honest. But those are dumb questions because no one is going to answer in the negative! Unless they’re incredibly stupid, which I doubt they would be if they passed the test.

After the interview, I walked home under the assumption that Dad was there. He wasn’t. The house was locked. I couldn’t walk back to the library because my shoes had rubbed my heel raw and bleeding. I tried riding my bike back, but the tire was flat. In short, I was trapped outside for an hour and a half praying I would make it through the ordeal with all my toes intact (it was snowing. Of course. And just the day before I had been talking about frostbite). Which luckily I did. Mom eventually came home and found me and had about two seconds of “WHERE THE BLEEP WERE YOU???” before she made me lie on the couch covered with blankets and felt sorry for me because of my frozen state and the bloodstained shoe.

I still can’t wear regular shoes. I’ve been wearing moccasins even when they completely don’t match because oh the pain. But I have all my toes.

Then, yesterday I was incredibly ill all day with some mysterious illness that we thought could be anything from an about-to-rupter appendix to a food allergy to just a weird stomach “blup-blub” as Rachel would say. This morning I feel much better, almost completely well again, except kind of weak because I’m afraid to eat anything. I’m pretty sure the appendix thing isn’t going to happen, though.

Now I have to get ready to go to the doctor’s…. Hurrah. (That was definitely sarcasm.)

Basically the lesson is: There’s always a mishap when I’m involved. Sigh. Soon I will hear back from the library, and maybe the whole survival episode will be worth it. Perhaps I shall soon be writing you as a newly-minted minimum-wage slave!

Yours till the sunflower seeds,
Pen

Look to the books, men! (and always carry a pen!)

The library called me yesterday! The library right by my house! The one I can walk to! The one that I just took a test at! And the test was like this:

Me: OK, everything is going to be fine. Deep breaths. I can take my time on this, check my answers–
Testing Lady: “Although we don’t value speed over accuracy, if your scores tie with someone else’s, your time will be taken into account.”
Me: Oh crap. Then my pulse started racing, and I realized the pencil I was holding was adorned with the logo for the city’s sewage department and that seemed like a bad sign. 

I finished the test (came in third on the race to finish) and I thought I did well, but at the same time I was sure I’d flunked it. But then the library called me! Well, actually they called the house and I was gone, with Dad, who was driving the scenic route to Lowe’s. Mom called us and told me to get a pen but there was no pen in the car (even though Dad usually has two pens and one good pencil in his shirt pocket– of course he didn’t this time) and long story short we scraped into Lowe’s just before time ran out, I borrowed a pen from the girl at the customer service thing, and called the library back whilst hiding behind stacks of neon plastic lawn chairs.   

Apparently I did “very well” on the test, and I am getting an interview next Saturday! In a cold room at ten o’ clock in the morning, according to the lady. Whose name is Cynthia. (These facts are what I had to write down with the pen.)

So, I’m very excited! As if you couldn’t tell. I ran around in the garden center and did a treble jig in the lumber department. Now I just have to worry about what questions they’re going to ask me….

Should I check my watch, my calendar, or phases of the moon?

A week ago today I went to take a test as part of the “application process” to become a page at the library. This is the first time I’ve ever applied for a job– and gotten called in as part of Round Two Eliminations (sometimes I feel like my life is one big long game show that I can’t escape…). And it’s the first job that I’ve really wanted.

After I took the test (which was basically four pages of putting numbers and letters in order, and one page of answering questions about how often I could work), the library lady said I would get a phone call whether I was going to make it to Round Three: Interview or not, and since then I’ve been waiting.

And waiting.

And also, more waiting.

I mean, she said she would be done grading the tests at the end of the week. Well, the week’s over and we’re clear into the next one. And I’m still waiting.

And I’m thinking:

I bet I’m not getting the library job. Because they still haven’t called. And I bet they called the finalists ages ago but they’re stalling on calling people to say no because who wants to do that?

But, she promised. So maybe they haven’t called anyone yet.

Besides, based on how often I said I could work how could they not hire me? Especially when I am pretty sure I did at least average on the test, if not superb.

Maybe I should have sent a thank-you note. Maybe they all sent thank you notes and I looked like the stupidest jerk ever in the whole universe.

Although I did thank her in person. I was very friendly. Doesn’t that count for something?

And doesn’t it count for something that I can basically work every single day?

Didn’t my last page scream HIRE ME I HAVE NO LIFE I WILL BE YOUR MINIMUM-WAGE SLAVE HIRE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Maybe they’re ageist. And schoolist. And meanest. So I wouldn’t want to work there, anyway.

I mean, right? How could anyone not want to hire a hard-working, flexible-scheduled homeschooler? Whose purse is adorned with an image of a book fishing below the tagline “I’m Hooked on Books”. (Yes, that button thing has been on my purse for half a decade. And yes, I took said purse to the test in the hopes that it would give off some subliminal messages or something.)

Dear Library, I LOVE books! I love reading! I love wearing a watch and a pair of glasses on a chain! I will even pretend to love your overcrowded teen section, your dimly-lit study area, your nose-picking nerd patrons who swear profusely! I will dutifully and cheerfully report to work and go about my tasks– well, I would say skipping and whistling, but of course a library is a hallowed, quiet place of learning and literary pursuits!

Just…. HIRE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

a slightly sarcastic library letter

To Whom It May Concern:

Dear sentries of knowledge, dear keepers of treasured volumes, I beseech you.

Please sort your teen section.

I am an avid reader and frequent patron of the County public library system as a whole, and of the Brooklyn branch in particular. What I have found during my forays into the so-called “teen” fiction section is this: there are so, so many books marked “teen” that should not be.

I must express my intense frustration at the categorizing of many of these books. In the publishing world, there are categories called “Middle Grade”, “Upper Middle Grade”, and “Young Adult” (also called “YA”). Note that nowhere is there such a word as “teen”, for the simple reason that it does not work. Specific age does not determine what a person reads; reading level, intellect, and personal maturity do. There is no way to categorize such things, because it so vastly varies from person to person.

Now, I do see the benefit in having a label such as “teen”. Lots of people fit into it. It sounds “cool” (note my use of quotations here to convey my disdain at this notion). Besides, those younger than YA will happily glide into a section marked “teen”.

That is just the problem. I am on the older end of YA, and do not enjoy having to sift through innumerable titles that seem plucked from my fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade bookshelves. Instead of feeling welcomed and relaxed in the section of the library allegedly set aside for my age group, I feel foolish, forced to browse through titles written for people four years younger than myself. Again, I must stress that it is the personal which determines what one will/won’t read. There are certainly enough mature thirteen-year-olds out there, but they will naturally read ‘ahead’ of their years— whereas someone like me is bothered by books that are too young for me being labeled as for my age group.

This is why I propose—nay, beg—the separation “teen” and “YA”. Vaguely aged and/or Upper Middle Grade could be put into a “teen” section, and books for older teens/young adults into a “YA” section. At the least, they need distinctive stickers on their spines. I feel that this will make things clearer for everyone, while also easing and enhancing the browsing experiences of your youthful readers.                                                                                                                     

Yours Most Sincerely,
Pen

I died and went to Heaven. Then we ordered Chinese.

Last week, I finally got to see it.

The Public Library.

I mean, The public libary. The main branch downtown. It was ENORMOUS. There were marble floors and marble stairs with marble banisters. Mom, Poncho, and I always took the stairs, but Dad and Dodge took the elevators the whole time. The first floor was like a grand cathedral, with those library windows with the arched panes at the top looking like a sunrise. It was so quiet, too. Then up we went to the second floor, which had the same cool windows, but also so many shelves that there was like two floors in one where you could go up on a little balcony. The shelves stretched from floor to cieling, their rows interspersed with lots of antique books, the spaces between stacks narrow. There were also these long wooden tables with little lamps sticking out of them, and comfortable circle-backed chairs to sit in. We explored some more, and found a grouchy-looking bust, and a room full of chess, and a gated courtyard. It was my dream, a place of wonders wild and new… I left with my head full of idea for stories and future homes.

Then in the car, Dad and Dodge told us about the elevators. Turns out they’d taken the employee’s only one by mistake, and had gone on an odyssey of their own through levels they weren’t supposed to know about. Until an actual employee got on, freaked out, and helped them find their way back.

Later that day, Poncho went to Grandma Vegas’ house and the rest of us at home were hungry for dinner. So everyone finally convinced me to get Chinese food, which I had never had, and it turned out to be very, very, very yummy. Even if the sweet & sour sauce looked like syrupy children’s ibuprofin– it tasted amazing. So did the wonton soup.

So, it was an awesome day last Friday. And this Friday I will get to do something fun again– I am going to the Ripe Festival with Bug! We shall go all garden-nerd-y about delicious things that grow on plants, and eat some of them too. Plus we will get to hang out for the day… 

~Pen

PS: Yes, Mom, I am tagging you in this post. Because everyone, I would like the record to state that it was HER IDEA to go to the library. And she was right that I would love it. :)

“Everything shipshape in Bristol with the fake mustache?”

I felt like quoting The Thief Lord movie today.
I need to watch it again. (Riiight. For about the thousandth time. ;P )

Well, I have a very funny story to tell you today. 

To begin, I must say that I am supposed to help the DHFs work on a project. We’re making something on movie maker for a dinner that is being had for a bunch of priests, it being the year of the priest and everything. We decided that I would be dropped off at their house on Tuesday morning.
So I woke up this morning (Monday, but I didn’t know that yet) and FREAKED OUT. Mom had already left for work, and I suddenly panicked because I thought for sure it was Tuesday, and I flew downstairs and shot off an email to Eliza, FREAKING OUT on her and basically blathering crazily. I hit send.
Then I looked at the date on the lower right hand side of the computer screen.
I sent another email, which said:
oh hey today’s monday.
heh. 
yeah i’ll be there tomorrow.

Eliza happened to be on the computer the same time and called me to say that she was cracking up, and “Did you get the days stright now, dear?” (We call each other honey, dear, etc– and then sometimes laugh at ourselves because we sound old. How we got into this habit I don’t know, but it’s our pet names for each other now.)

Everything is shipshape in Bristol with me and my calendar now, happily. ;)

And guess what?!?!?!?!?!?!???
Dad took me on a field trip today, to the library!!! (thereby saving me from certain death– or at least extreme boredom.) I got 11 books, one of which was for Dad, since he finished Catching Fire yesterday when he was “watching” the superbowl. In fact he was sitting on the couch reading while the TV blared irrelevantly in the background. None of us watched the susperbowl. OK, we did for like five minutes, but then it was 9:00 and I changed the channel to watch part 3 of Emma on Masterpiece Classic. (Love! a perfect movie before Valentine’s day.)
But anyway… I spent a good part of my day reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I finished tonight at Mom’s work (I went to help her answer the door and then only 3 people came; but I digress) and it was SO GOOD!!!!! I’m putting it in my Hall of Fave right now!!!

I will write a review for it later… I have to stuff a pillow for Girl Scouts. Oh, and I must mention before I go that Mrs. Dockril, my flute teacher, gave me a mini loaf of banana bread today…. I had some and it was amazing. I’ve been wanting banana bread so badly lately, too. 
Mrs. Dockril is awesome. :) I love her.

Well, ta ta for now….

Peace,
Pen

Oh No, it’s Friday!

I usually like Fridays, except I have a cold and I have to get better by Monday, or preferably tomorrow because I hate to blow my nose in church. It’s totally silent right at the moment you’re nose is dripping and you have to sneeze and then it echoes and everyone looks… not fun. Alas. And I wanted to go to the library today but it’s almost closed, practically. It’s only 4:15 and the library closes at 6, but by the time I convince someone to go with me, then get ready, it’ll be too late becuase I take forever to pick out enough books for a week becuase I can read two every day. One is my average, though. Ha. Anyways, that means that every trip to the library I have to get out at least eight books. And that means that I read all the good books fast. But this library I actually haven’t grown out of yet. It’s brilliant, even if it isn’t very pretty. Hurray!!!! :o)