Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Levels of Excitement: the Library

This post's original title ideas were "I Hate the Library" and "My Frenemy the Library," but then I thought I'd stick with a familiar title I'd already started this month - "New Levels of Excitement" - and it would apply just as well. These titles aren't meshing are they? Let me explain.

I've always loved libraries. When I was two my grandmother told my mom she didn't know what to do with me, I just wanted to sit and "read" my little books. My high school librarian told me once she loved that I took books out - not just books, but classics. I paid for lifetime alumni status at my undergrad university so I would have access to their library forever. I helped fundraise to establish the newer library in my community after spending a childhood walking to and perusing the smaller, out-of-date one. My longest standing car window sticker reads "I ❤️ my library."

Given my history of love affairs with libraries, where can the words hate and frenemy possibly fit? On a Saturday night, 9:30pm, the cold seventh floor of Kent State's library. On hour 12 of work, with only a 45-ish minute interruption around dinnertime to drive from Youngstown State's closing library to Kent's open late library. Nose running from the cold and the one thing my backpack the size and weight of a small child doesn't have is tissues. McDonald's for dinner, again, and feeling like it's been one McDonald's meal too many. Confusing books scattered around while I alternate between my document and another confusing reference guide online. My right hand is freezing from using the mouse; hours plugging away at my laptop.

In that moment the words came unbidden to my mind: I hate the library.

I think I physically flinched from the blow to my mind. What a grievous sin for a lover of everything a library represents. Surely I could let the concussion subside and no one would ever be privy to the thought? And yet, the feeling lingered, demanding to be felt. So, I'm breaking the first rule of this fight club; I'm talking about it.

Life, and everything in it, is multifaceted. Think of the people and passions you live for. I love my husband and kids dearly, but they can also drive me crazy (and I them). I have some of the best people on earth for friends, but they can disappoint (as I disappoint them). I live my passion teaching high school English, luckier than most people get in a career, but it's hard to roll out of that warm bed every morning. I love books, learning, education, searching and finding, but I loathe heading to the library as of late.

Do I deny the crazy of my people, the difficulties of my job, the challenge of my current dream just because I love them? No. I can't. Everyone and everything has multiple sides, the good and the bad. How can we truly claim love when we only want to accept half of the person or the easy side of the situation? This life and world are not perfect and we set ourselves up for disappointment and despair when we sweep hard feelings under the rug in the name of a pretentious peace and contentment. The hard feelings demand to be felt and allowing the feeling to come and go is the only way they will resolve. Once resolved, what's left? Love. Real love, as it should be, for everything a person, passion, or dream really is, not just what we want it to be.

I left soon after my hard thoughts in the library that night, unable to understand why I felt so wronged by something I'd faithfully devoted myself to for so long. It wasn't half an hour later that I took the nighttime photo of the library posted here, texting it to a friend in my sudden awe. Twelve stories of wondrous humanity, with the school's beautiful blue colors streaking up the front, lighting the darkness. And just like that, I'm in love again, for better or worse.

Monday, October 3, 2016

New Levels of Excitement

New things bring new and different excitement...marriage, babies, cars, jobs, houses. Up til now my new excitements were identifiable by most people because most people have shared similar experiences in their lives. And if they haven't, the experiences are understood by people in general. My PhD adventure has turned that on its head. The things I get excited about now, well, I'm not sure what to say about it. Imagining the conversations makes me want to laugh.

Friend 1: My daughter lost her first tooth and my son made the travel soccer team!

Me: Oh wow, that's awesome!

Friend 2: Nice. Hey, that new restaurant opened, we should try it out.

Me: Good idea. Oh, guess what?!

Friends: What?!

Me: I found a copy of the Cambridge edition of The Great Gatsby online for $11!


Hyperbole, yes. My friends would likely smile and nod at least. Haha, but that's my life right now, full of weirdly exciting moments here and there, but with whom to share them? You think I'm kidding? Here is my list of personal excitement for the past week or so:

*One professor told me I read very well (it was poetry, Wordsworth, and chock full of crazy punctuation...I impressed myself)!

*I had a less than ten minute conversation with a professor whose focus is in the same time period as my studies, discussing American canon and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it was among the best minutes of my week.

*I didn't cry once on the way home from my Thursday class last week (this could change; I have nine weeks to go).

*I found and bought the Cambridge edition of The Great Gatsby online for $11 (yes, that was true. Yes, it's a very good thing. No, I didn't try to put it into conversation with my friends).

*Purdue Owl's site has literary theory definitions AND help to form your thesis!

My husband is crazy supportive with all of this. I've told him all of these excitements and more and he is excited with me. He sees behind the scenes and understands a little better how these things could be exciting. I have a couple of extra supportive friends I tell some things to, but these kinds of things don't always communicate well via text message. And I do have the blog. So, here they are, my new excitements for the week! You have been great cheerleaders from the time I thought about doing this til now. Thank you for your nerdy willingness to read and comment and cheer me on! Maybe we'll make a meme of it:

"New Levels of Excitement - Things Only a Nerd Could Love"