Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Apartment 3

Mr. A. has been playing in a band with a couple of friends of ours. They practice in our friend's apartment, which, even though it's not my apartment, has always worried me a little bit. Like, don't the neighbors hate them? It's not like they're playing death metal at top volume, but still. I've had vicarious neighbor anxiety.

So anyway, Saturday they had practice, and when they came out they found the following taped to their door:

Saturday, April 25, 2009


A woodpecker (apparently a Northern Flicker, if you happen to take an interest in such things) has pecked a giant, perfectly round hole in the tree right next to our back deck. At first I was disturbed, because from what I could tell peering into the hole, that tree no longer has any innards, and probably is not long for this world.

But then I remembered I hate that tree and it might as well function as a woodpecker habitat in its final days. Normally I am pro-tree, but seriously, this tree is an asshole. I haven't been able to definitively identify it but I think it might be a Flowering Pacific Jerkface.

In the late summer it develops giant, strange, stinky blossoms. They attract--not bees, not hummingbirds, not butterflies, but WASPS. Hundreds upon hundreds of terrifying, angry-seeming wasps. And then, once the blooming is over in the fall and the wasps have finally gone away, the damn tree looses not just its leaves but its BRANCHES. Every single bit of the tree except for the central trunk falls right off, which makes an insane mess and leaves us with a sad, stubby-looking tree throughout the winter. So as far as I'm concerned the woodpeckers are welcome to it. Maybe we can set them to work on the linoleum in the bathroom.


One of our regulars at the library is a woman who is apparently learning English, though her exact mission isn't quite clear. She carries around pieces of paper with English words on them and asks us to pronounce them for her. Most of us limit her to just a few, since this falls sort of outside our job description and she would otherwise hang out and pronounce with us all day.

The other day my coworker and I were talking at the reference desk when she approached. I asked her to choose just a couple of words, and she said, "Okay--this one please," and pointed.


She leaned toward me and pointed to her ear. "Heh?"



"The first part is BANG. BANG." She scribbled furiously to write the word down phonetically in her own language.

"Okay. Other part?"

"The second part is 'cock.'"



A puzzled look on her face.


At this point I was screaming and I had the full attention of the room. My coworker had pretty much collapsed on the floor in a giggle fit.

The patron said, "One more time?"


"Oh, okay! Bangkok. Thank you!" And she gave me the sweetest smile in the world.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Exactly akin to a fart

My aunt is a really nice lady. Seriously, she is so sweet it's kind of astounding and I love her, so please take everything that comes after this as the venting that it is. She and her family live in a McMansion outside Atlanta, and they have an even bigger vacation "cabin" (6 bedrooms, 32 baths) on a lake. They are afraid of a lot of things. For instance, whenever one of her two kids has to drive a distance farther than three miles, she's in contact with them via cellphone throughout the trip lest they meet up with some kind of calamity. Her kids are 30 and 26.

Anyway, she sent me an email this weekend. Mostly it was a really nice email about family stuff, but unfortunately she felt the need to attach this lovely op-ed piece. (If you are enjoying your blood pressure at its current level and you don't think all poor people are lazy and/or stupid, you might want to pass on clicking that link.)

I think what happened here is that sometimes over the phone, my mom tells me the political views my aunt shares with her. I say things back like, "Mom, don't worry, Obama is not killing babies. He is allowing access to birth control. You like birth control." Then my mom passes this new info back to my aunt, and the cycle continues. To her credit, my aunt probably thought it was time to cut out the poor middlewoman; she said in her email that she knew this piece was a little too far to the right for me, but she wanted to pass it on because it "well expresses my and [her husband's] feelings on many pertinent issues."

In my mind I wrote back a really awesome email. I pointed out, among other things, that if you really want to see some lazy, stupid people you should head over to the local country club. I suggested that if ever any kids had actually been "entitlement handicapped," then her kids were certainly at the top of the list. I went on to explain that my whole salary is tax payer funded--does she think that I and all the other lazy tax-mooching librarians* should be fired immediately? Does she really feel so put-upon and tired, with her two mansions and five cars and no job? REALLY?

But I didn't send it. I pondered sending a milder version, and then I pondered just saying something like, "Thanks for sharing!" But Mr. A. said that her forwarding of that op-ed piece was an action exactly akin to a fart and should be ignored. So I just responded brightly to the non-hateful parts of her email, and I'm sure that was the right thing to do but GAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Is this how everyone else handles these things?

*Who, it was announced this week, will be getting a one-week furlough this year in the city of Seattle. I had been expecting two unpaid weeks so I am actually a bit relieved, but we may have to wait until next year to put in that swimming pool tiled with diamonds.

Friday, April 10, 2009

File under awesome

To the patron who informed me that by having a (small) area just for teens and their families, the library is "basically engaging in apartheid":

Apartheid? Really? Apartheid?

I mean, I get it. You needed a computer. Could you use the teen computers? No. Instead, you were forced to step onto either an elevator or escalator and then travel upwards of 28 seconds to get to the floor that contains over 100 computers for adults. And that is an indignity no one should have to put up with. It is exactly the same, in every way, as a legalized system of systematic racism and segregation.


Mr. A. sent me this email this morning, which I will file under "Awesome":

"The bus was super empty today, I guess because of Good Friday. The one person who got on at my stop was a kid who looked like Eminem, but totally muscled out. He was around 18 and had on a tight t-shirt and a stocking cap pulled kind of low over his eyes. Anyway, he was reading Eat, Pray, Love."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Saintly, exalted, or curly-haired

I'm so tired of hearing the words "professionalism" and "professional" thrown around as though they mean "saintly" or "exalted" or "curly-haired." Being professional is like having manners--it just means being nice and making people feel comfortable. And, okay, probably not wearing your cut-off jeans to work. (But you didn't really want to wear them anywhere, did you? Of course not.)

It should NOT mean draining every last drop of personality, humor, or warmth from every aspect of your job. That's "dehumanism." Or something.

However, this made me laugh.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pep talk to self

I don't know if you have noticed, mes petites amies, but shit is getting scary out there--not least at the library. We're getting busier and busier, and tense situations do arise. People are effing edgy and I don' t blame them.

Just today I told a woman (very nicely and apologetically, the way I always do) that the seating in the teen area is just for the teens. She accepted this very sweetly, thanked me, and then suddenly started screaming something about being stalked and pretty much ran away.

I'm lucky that I work in a building where we have security guards on duty the whole time we're open. If stuff really starts to go down I don't have to kick people out of the building myself, or get in the middle of a fight (not that fights are common), or even take much guff, which is a huge, huge blessing. And every single person I work with on a daily basis is a shining gem of a human being, so there's never a doubt in my mind that I could count on them in a moment of crisis.

I've been letting dumb things about my job get me down, but I'm going to really, really, REALLY try not to do that any more. Because I have a job--a good job, with benefits and everything. I should enjoy all the parts of it that can be enjoyed and grin and bear the rest.

Besides, without being too "I Contain Multitudes" about it, my job is actually kind of important right now. Coming to the library is serious beeswax if it's the only place you can access a computer to type your resume, or search for jobs, or write a cover letter. And I can help with that! Which is cool.

Also (cue violins) I am in a position to make people's days a little better by treating them decently. It's hard sometimes. I do have a temper, and sometimes when people roll their eyes at me, or insinuate that my outfit is an indicator of my inner cowardliness, I kind of want to give them a good solid kick to the shins.

But if not kicking the citizens of Seattle in the shins is what I can do to help us get through this current crisis, I'm happy to oblige. I'm a giver that way.