Unplanning My Day

Nothing Happened

I’m taking the day off today for no reason.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have reasons.

There’s a list of errands I’d like to get done before Saturday.  I need to do a couple ten loads of laundry, write some e-mails, fills out some forms, meet a deadline or two.  And perimenopause—which is what this had better be, or I’m quitting the biological lifestyle for good—is making certain things suck in a truly sucky way that makes me want to build a statue to the creators of Midol, sit on the top of it, and keep the pigeons away with the sheer power of my unreasonable irritation with everything ever, and also Jane’s marshmallow gun, because pigeons are not only naturally immune to annoyed glares, they appear to thrive on them.

But what I really need a day off without expectations.

I don’t have any appointments today.  The children are at school.  The library patrons are at the library. My MIL has no appointments she needs to be driven to and my husband is teaching classes.  The cat, who has developed the nasty habit of howling in the bathrooms at 3am, has fallen silent.

Nobody needed me this morning.  I didn’t have anything I needed to do.

So I slept in a little, got up to take a shower in a pre-warmed bathroom, dressed in my ugliest Not Leaving The House separates, and bestowed hugs and lunchbags on the kids before my husband took them to school (the kids and the lunches, though I hope the hugs went, too).  I sat down with a mug of coffee and a slice of homemade rice bread and did the sudoku in the paper, something I never have the time or the pencil to do in the morning.  It took me a while without the help of the familiar electronic grid, but that was fine.

Just in case I might want to go out to lunch somewhere when my husband returns from his morning classes, I started a load of laundry. I read a little, which led me to edit a bit I’m doing for a new Round Robin project, which led me to write a letter—a real one, longhand, with an envelope and everything—to a friend.  I put the laundry in the dryer, brushed my hair, and then chose to brush my teeth over having another cup of coffee.

I turned on the computer, wished my SIL a happy birthday on Facebook, finalized my Halloween costume, and brainstormed the next couple of steps on two projects, without worrying about carrying out any of those plans, and ended up with several pages of notes.

I didn’t quite sign up for Nanowrimo, but I thought about it.

And now I’m here, writing a blog post that might be the closest thing to a Must Do I’ll have until the kids come home at four.

For someone who had no To Do List, I seem to be compiling a pretty good Have Done List.

Funny how that works . . .


Too Tired to Type


Where it’s (going to be) @ (maybe)

Bought my own domain name this morning, shortly after reading yet another terrific post over at Murderati, featuring Madeira James, a website designer who has done gorgeous work for several of my favorite authors, whether traditionally- or self-published.*

She also takes on a few not-yet-published writers as well, which had me thinking.

Despite years of therapy, chocolate, and the encouragement and rear-kicking of friends, I still have a difficult time with the essential immodesty of sharing my wishful thinking optimism—it’s always seemed a little forward/presumptuous/overreaching /fate-tempting to establish a website and a brand and all that before I have anything to show for it, or on it. And since I still have to get Rocinante fitted with a new windshield and the kids fitted with new shoes and school supplies and a hundred other more immediate Life Expenses™, it’s not practical to pay for professional assistance before I have the profession.

But it did seem sensible to reserve the name of my choice, so if/when the time comes, I’m not stuck with swessonciderearful5639.com.**

So, courtesy of GoDaddy, I am the mistress of my own web domain for the next five years.

cute animals - Daily Squee: Creepicute: Raindrop Hat

Since I’ve only held the position for eight hours or so, I’m not really sure where I’m going from here or when—or even if. But five-year plans are supposed to be good and this gives me a concrete goal incentive, like buying a bikini and sticking it on my fridge with magnets, except, you know, realistic.***

And speaking of optimism, I believe I’ll be saving up my pennies to hire Ms. James, if she’ll have me as a client when/if the time comes—her designs are amazing.

What’s the best/worse/weirdest domain name you can think of for yourself?


*Her FAQ page is extremely helpful.

**Which at this posting is still up for grabs, should any of you be tempted

***Any bikini that is intended to keep me out of that particular appliance had better be made of electrified barbed wire and C4 primed with motion sensors. The dishwasher, on the other hand, could easily be defended with three strategic Kleenex and some Scotch tape.

I Believed I’m Owed a Nap Now

My first day sans kids, and I end up cleaning their playroom.  How do these things happen?

The day started well.  I slept in until 7:30, had breakfast—how decadent can you get?—took a shower, crockpotted a turkey, and fired up my laptop.  After a half hour of reading my bloglist and webcomics,* I actually got to work and stitched together another chapter—Oo-rah!

I’d earmarked the hottest part of the afternoon for a movie or a nap or even more WIP, secure in the knowledge that offspring would not be descending in all of their delightful, yet distracting, joyful noises and my next obligation would be dinner for an appreciative audience.

But then my MIL needed  something from the big floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinet** and my husband ended up pulling half of the contents out . . . and then the other half . . . .and somewhere along the line it was decided that enough was enough.

Watson and I were sitting there in the coolest part of the living room, minding our own business and swapping LOLs when we noticed the sounds of other people being conspicuously industrious.

I’m not saying I felt guilty . . . but I like to avoid situations where people can tell me with that certain smile, “Well, we’re all tuckered out because while you were on the couch all day doing whatever it is you did, we worked so hard.”

Watson allowed herself to be recruited and we headed for that brightly colored Den of Iniquity, the kids’ playroom.

While she tackled the closet, I scootched around the perimeter of the room, gathering rosebuds as I might, as well as a platoon of army men, a Mardi Gras-worth of necklaces,  a menagerie of stuffed animals, an Alexandria of books, a fancy dress ball worth of costumes, a mystery of puzzle pieces, a plain waste of dried markers and broken crayons, a Pleistocene epoch worth of plastic dinosaurs, an insanity of lost marbles and loose beads, a stupidity of Barbies and all their accoutrements, an assortment of very small rocks, deathless macaroni artwork, and enough tiny handbags and purses and baby doll diaper bags in which to store it all.***

No, my kids aren’t spoiled—why do you ask?

It’s not all sorted out among the fabric bins, as Watson called me to a halt mid-OCD frenzy before I started pairing doll shoes by size, but it is all off the floor.  And a lot of it is in garbage bags destined for donation or dump.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw away a single stuffed animal—they can’t be donated—but at least they’re restrained for now and a few have been removed from the general population for any grandkids that might eventually—and we’re talking at least a twenty year eventuality, thank you—make an appearance.

And then we collapsed with iced tea and Doctor Who, wherein Doctor Ten fought Daleks who were tinkering with DNA using toilet plungers, as they’d already blown the budget on the twitching tentacles and valiant chin prosthesis of their Fearless Leader, plus pig masks for their flunkies.  Good ep.

Once I hit publish, I’m going to lay me down to nap and not get up until someone asks me if the turkey is done.

After dinner, during which no one will say ick or stick their fingers in the food, I will get back to my editing . . .

And wait fretfully for my children’s bedtime call so I can hear about their day.


*Okay, okay, forty-five minutes tops.

** Also known as the Improbability Closet of Calcutta, since everything you can possibly need is stored in there, but finding it when you need it is demonstrably unlikely to the power of Gah—The Big Flashlight Just Hit Me In The Head Again!

***I was not the one who found evidence that our elderly cat has spent some, ah, quality time behind the desk.  But I did find Janie’s play medal and I’m awarding it to Watson.

Rant of the Wild Librarian: Day in the Life

Many people seem to think that libraries are just rooms with books and that librarians read all day and shush people.

But libraries, as I’ve said before, are like swans:  they look quiet and serene, but there’s a hell of a lot of activity underneath.  Library staff—admin, reference, circulation, tech services, maintenance, student pages—are the ones paddling.

To illustrate this with reality rather than metaphor, here’s a look at what I did today in the genealogy and local history department—keep in mind that Tuesdays aren’t our busiest days, our department isn’t the busiest place in the library, and my job is relatively sedentary.


  • Arrived at 8am, did one last check of personal e-mail, blog stats and comments, and Facebook to get it out of my system.
  • Clocked in at 8:25am, grabbed indexing copy of the newspaper from Tech Services on the second floor, returned to my desk on the basement level and looked at the schedule, where I found a notice about a pre-opening fire drill seconds before the alarm shattered my ear drums.
  • Fire drill at 8:30, ambient temperature outside the building 38F.* It took us five minutes to check and exit the building and thirty seconds to get ourselves back inside after the all-clear.

Morning accomplishments:

  • Answered four of sixteen e-mails and sent two research requests to the departmental e-mail account.
  • Indexed five newspapers and added three new subject headings to the list for review. Noted in passing that Dennis Quaid just turned 58 and that this has made no impact whatsoever on my appreciation of his sex appeal, noted that Peter McNichol has also turned 58 and I still feel no impact whatsoever.
  • Bound the leaning tower of indexed newspapers that has been looming overhead and sent it up for intra-library delivery to the librarian who normally enters the data into our local index database but who has been assigned to the cross-town branch for the past couple weeks, hence the tower.
  • Discovered that some of the Publisher’s Weekly romance reviews several issues ago (don’t get me started) were part of series we don’t own and determined whether or not we should order the first books, too. Looked at my remaining budget and ordered the urban fantasy romances because those are circulating better at the branches than the regencies right now.
  • Fielded an assortment of switchboard phone calls while a co-worker was at a meeting and helped patrons with computer questions our morning volunteer couldn’t answer.
  • Sent one donated book and two genealogy-society-purchased Civil War Volunteer Regimental histories to be cataloged—hi, Grace!
  • Indexed several fifty-year old photograph negatives from the local newspaper into our historical image database while listening to my stomach growl and contemplating whether I should give up my nightly bowl of ice cream for more breakfast . ..



Free Pizza for National Library Week Staff Appreciation Day!

And Diet Pepsi, too!



Questions answered/Problems solved during afternoon desk hours:**

Do I need a library card for the computers?
(Yes): 3

How do I get a library card?
(Go see the nice people at the circulation desk): 2

Can you tell me my library card number so I can go online?
(Yes, with valid ID): 1

What’s my PIN?
(Depends on when you received your card and if you ever changed the . . . Never mind, I’ll reset it for you): 2

Where are your old newspapers?
(Depends on your definition of old—most recent week is on the first floor, the three prior months are in paper in closed stacks, and the rest back to the 1800s are on microfilm—choose your poison): 1 group of 4

Can you help me find an obituary?
(Yep. Do you know the exact date? The year? Decade? Century? Okay, then, follow me to the indexes): 2

Can you help me find marriage records?
(Yep. See above): 1

How do I use the microfilm machines?
(Job security!): 5

How do I make microfilm copies?
(More job security!): 3

What does this blinking light on the microfilm machine mean?
(Aw, &#!%) 2

The change machine ate my twenty!
(Huh . . . This machine only takes ones and fives, but I can check to see if there’s a twenty in the hopper—sir? Where did he go?): 1

The photocopier/scanner  keeps beeping at me!
(Say it with me: Job Security!)

Can you tell me which tax forms I need?
(No, but I can find you the instructions that will help you make that decision): 2

Can you help me find a copy of this specific tax form from 2005?
(Yes and good for you): 1

They said the library would help me do my taxes for free.
(They were mistaken, but I can loan you a pencil and a calculator): 2

Can you help me with my taxes for free?
(Not even if you paid me, but I have another calculator): 3

Who can help me do my taxes for free?
(The reference department has a list): 2

I need print reproductions of these historical images—how do I do that?
(Give us three days and twenty dollars, please): 1

I meant digital reproductions.
(if we’ve already scanned ’em, give us an hour and sixteen dollars—if not, three days and the sixteen)

Did my microfilm come in yet from the State Historical Society?

Are you sure?
(Yep–it takes 8 to 12 weeks and you ordered it last Thursday)

Where are the restrooms?
(Behind you to the right): 3

I want to find my relative in the 1940 Census.
(The 1940 Census isn’t indexed by name yet, but if you know his address, we might be able to browse the right section, as long as it’s local): 1

He lived in New York City.
(That’s not local and we don’t have a 1940 ward map for New York)

I want to try anyway.
(All right. I’ll set you up at that computer over there)

I don’t know how to use a computer and I don’t have my glasses–can you do it for me?
(I’m afraid not—without a ward map, I’d be searching the entire city for one name)

Go ahead—I don’t mind waiting.
(**headdesk** Ow.  That kind of search will take several days to complete, especially as we only be able to search one ward of one borough at a time . . .  And we charge $15.00 an hour for research requests of this kind)

Maybe I’ll just wait for the index.
(Thank you)

Can you help me get my resume off my e-mail and attach it to this online form?
(Do you have a flash drive? Never mind, you can check out the temporary one for two hours): 1

Do you have headphones I can borrow?
(No, but I can sell you a set of earbuds for a buck): 2

These things fell apart when I took them out of my ears!
(What do you expect for a buck—shoot, did I say that out loud? The circulation desk might be able to give you a refund): 1

How do I print from the computers?
(Explanation of printing station omitted for sake of post length and blogger’s patience): 2

  • I also mailed out three research packets, recorded two research payments, received three e-mails and answered two, and took down two phone requests.
  • And took a potty break in the middle there.


Late afternoon accomplishments:

  • Finished going through my back stack of PW,  then went through a pile of historical and genealogical catalogs and checking items against our current holdings, while drinking the rest of my last diet Pepsi of the day.
  • Did more newspaper image cataloging.
  • Answered three e-mails.
  • Helped shut down the department for the night.

Clocked out at 5:34pm.

Anyone still confused about why libraries and librarians might be handy to have around?


*We do this for you—we already know where the exits are and we don’t argue with each other about why we have to cut our computer sessions short just because the building is on fire. Whine, yes. Argue, no.

**I’ve left out two patron interactions because of patron privacy.  I left in the  New York question because it was the same as several other questions I’ve had for the last week—and New York wasn’t the city.


Attention Please!

Not much time left to
Enter Sarah’s fun Contest
Write a haiku now!

I know I said Wednesday was the deadline  but I’m cutting entries off at midnight tonight, Central Time.   So send me your seventeen syllables soon!

Ahem and Woo-hoo!

Okay, first, this is for glasseye, who accused me of being one of those people who organizes my tupperware:

My storage container shelves.

And now you know why I had to stop laughing first.

Tidy kitchen cabinets are a sign of a . . . well, heck, I’ll never know.

But I’m hoping that if I think of my WIP’s bible as one of my writer’s nests trapped between portable covers—and maybe divided into sections—I’ll have half a chance of keeping it up.

And now back to our regularly cobbled-together post:

You’ll never guess what I did today!

I took mandatory defensive driving training** in a decommissioned squad car! With a police department rep in the passenger’s seat! In three inches of new-fallen snow!

And I passed.   In fact, the instructor told me that my control of the car was impressive.

So impressive that it took his precise directions* to get the car to slide enough on the designated ice field so I could show him I could handle a skid—it seems I’m as psychologically incapable of deliberately losing control of a car as an arachnophobe is of choosing to snog a tarantula.

Good to know.

The only thing that stuck me was the parallel parking, which I haven’t done in roughly 24 years and don’t plan on doing again—especially when I’m driving a full-sized Crown Vic instead of my bite-sized Honda. But he only had to talk me through it once, and the second time I managed to get it within eighteen inches of the curb.

Proof of victory:

Now . . . I wonder if the PD would let me audit their firearms training? 


*”Floor it! BRAKE! TURN NOW!! Good! Now steer into the—oh, you did.”

**City employees are supposed to take refreshers every five years, but this is the year the city noticed that the library staff was also driving city vehicles on city time. I’m not saying that someone got a speeding ticket while driving the library van . . . but it wasn’t me.