What I do

Here’s a little sample of what I do:

  • Assist library patrons with tax forms, computer issues, and downloading e-books
  • Suggest book and film titles to patrons for both research and leisure
  • Catalog new materials for the library by using the Dewey Decimal System, our automated system and my vast knowledge and years of experience

What I don’t do:

  • Read books all day
  • Shush people (I do yell at people, though.)
  • Try to scare children (I don’t try but sometimes my size freaks them out. They either love a giant or run away from them. You get used to it.)

What you didn’t realize I do:

  • Plunge toilets
  • Clean up scary unidentifiable messes with rubber gloves
  • Put up with LOADS OF CRAP from many people ALL DAY LONG

I’ve said before how much I love what I do. I’m not disputing that fact. I feel privileged to be in a profession that I am not only well suited for, but one that I’m really good at. I work with and for so many wonderful people that make me laugh and bring me joy and I am so grateful for them.

But then there are days like today. Days when I wonder why I do what I do.

As a librarian, I have had my fair share of scary or disgusting people to deal with. Like the Masturbator–the teenager who sat on the beanbag chair and who apparently didn’t realize that I could see what he was doing. A laptop on your lap really doesn’t cover up much when you have a sweaty face and glazed eyes…and I can see your hand move, you idiot.  (As a side note, the beanbag chair was removed by me wearing rubber gloves and was stuffed in a closet. I haven’t stepped into that closet since.)

Or the Greasy-Haired Dude who always talks to the computer and pounds on the keyboard calling it a piece of junk. I have to continuously threaten to kick the guy out (and ban every so often).  He at least doesn’t look at as much porn as he used to…although he may be stalking young women on Facebook. I’m not sure.

Or the Smelly Ones. The folks that don’t do anything “bad,” but you have to keep your mouth open and try not to breathe in too much when they’re at the desk.

And then there are just the people that are rude for whatever reason or the ones that hit on you or just the folks that are lonely and linger a little too long. You expect these types of folks when you work with the public. It’s just how it is.

But today, I experienced something new. And something vastly unpleasant. Something that made me angry and hurt and honestly, I wanted to hit this person.  Today, I was accused of stealing.

Here’s the situation:  A patron called to say she got her overdue notice in the mail and would be returning her books. Great! I knew the patron and when I sent her this “final notice,” I was never worried if she would return her books or not. She’s often late and pays her fines and it’s no big deal. It may take a while, but she’d be back.

Apparently she had never read any of her “final notices” before and was astounded that we mention prosecution in the letter. I assured her that this was a form letter that every single person gets when items are a month overdue, but yes, it would be stolen property if you don’t return the books so I think the language in the letter is appropriate.  I do want the items returned, but in her case, since she was returning them, she had nothing to worry about. She then went on to say that she found it interesting that our maximum fine is $2 per item, when she had to pay nearly $50 in fines last year and there was no way she had checked out 25 books.

Ok. Here’s the point where I kind of lost it. She kept repeating that “someone” at the library charged her this amount and “there’s something wrong there.” I asked her point blank if she thought we maliciously charged her more than what she owed or “padded” her overdue fines. And then she repeated that “someone at the library” business and I thought I was going to bitch slap her through the phone.

Here’s the thing. We have 4 employees at the library. F-O-U-R. I have worked with two of them for nearly 10 years. NO ONE PADDED ANYTHING. I’m quite certain that *I* was the one who collected her fines last year. And you know how much money and for how many books? $42 for 21 LATE BOOKS.  Not 25 books mind you, but 21. (“I never check out that many!”)


I’ve said before that I don’t make much money doing what I do. But would I pad someone’s fines to pocket a little cash? Would I steal from my job, from my library? Absolutely fucking not!! I, in fact, have some friggin’ integrity. (Probably not for everything, but most definitely in the workplace.) To be accused of something I find loathsome….it just burns my butt.

And yet when this patron did come in to pay her fines with her two young children in tow, do you know what I did? I pasted that smile on my face, thanked her graciously for her books and her money, asked her young son about coloring Easter eggs and if he wanted to find more books to read. I was downright delightful.

I didn’t shove her fine history in her face and tell her horribly wrong she was. I didn’t tell her what a rotten person I think she is for accusing me of stealing from her and from the library. I really wanted to tell her that she was so fucking wrong. Wrong about everything.

Did she forget that I was the one who forgave her fines after she had a baby? (Seriously, that was the least I could do.) Or how much her son enjoys story time at our library? Or that we help pack her book bags and make sure she’s all set before she leaves the building with her little ones? Did she really forget all of those kindnesses and instead just thought horrible things about the library and our staff?

I think I’m heartbroken.

I shouldn’t be, right? This person doesn’t really matter. She’s going to think what she thinks and maybe there’s nothing I can do about it. I probably need to teach myself that little lesson I tried to teach my son a few weeks ago, about not trusting everyone. Not every person can be your friend and not everyone will like you. I’m just coming to terms that not everyone likes me. I think I’m ok with that.

But accusing me of ripping off a library patron? It’s not only inconceivable, but unforgivable.




Don’t Mess with Mama Bear

As the youngest of three children, being teased was a daily part of my life. Being a fat kid made me a target at school, on the playground and on the bus. Especially the bus. Remember Molly Ringwald’s line from Sixteen Candles? “I loathe the bus.”  Yup.  That was me and probably 90% of the kids on it. There were always a few guys (usually) in the back that would pick on a variety of kids and typically if my siblings were with me, I wouldn’t get picked on. No “hippo” or “fatso” shout-outs on those days. But any other time? I’d try to shrink as much as this big girl could shrink and hope they didn’t notice me.

And now it appears my son is being teased, bullied, picked on, whatever you want to call it. And, of course, it’s happening on the bus.

There are a few kids involved, although we initially thought it was just one. Let’s call him Mark and his friend is Tony. Apparently, since last year, Mark has been calling my son names–“baby” and “c.o.o.l.” being the ones I’m aware of. Cool is no longer a good thing, I guess. It’s an acronym, but the only words my son knew were “overweight” and “loser.”  So I’m guessing that fat loser is really what cool means now?  Un-fucking-believable.

I didn’t know about this happening until last week. My son mentioned that a boy was teasing him on the bus and sometimes teased other kids, too. Ok. I’m going to confess something that sounds unbelievably horrible, but here it is. Initially, I was just happy my son wasn’t being singled out. Not being the only target can make things easier, you know? Not every day will be hell, just some days. But yesterday he tells me that he doesn’t think Mark is teasing anyone else, or at least it doesn’t seem like it. When I asked him what he did when Mark called him a name, he said he told a teacher. Awesome! Good boy, that was the right thing to do. Yet once the teacher was gone, Mark’s friend, Tony, picked up where Mark left off.

These kids are only one year older than my son. At dinner last night, my boy was already wishing to be in 5th grade because those boys wouldn’t be in his school anymore. A 7-year-old should not be wishing the next 3 years of his life away!


At that moment, I wanted to hurt someone. Human mothers are very much like mother bears–we want to rip your throats out if you touch or hurt our babies. End of story.

But, since we are supposed to be civilized, then other solutions must be found. I told my boy that wishing to be older was not going to solve anything, so we needed to talk to his teacher. This morning, I wasn’t feeling well, so he went into school alone but went directly to his teacher to tell her what happened. Meanwhile, I went home and immediately emailed the same teacher. An hour later I had an email from her. She ended up personally talking to the student and made the principal aware of what was happening. This woman was “all over it” so fast and it made me love her even more than I already do. She made my son feel safe and cared for and reassured that everything would be ok.

When my boy got home, I was here and I got to ask him how his day went. He told me that Mark was now his friend, but Tony was calling him names now.

“Your friend? Mark is your friend now?”

“Yup!” my little innocent replied. “He gave me a pencil!”

Oh. Oh my sweet boy.

I couldn’t say anything right then. I just couldn’t burst his bubble. Not yet. Instead we worked on his homework. As he read aloud the instructions without stumbling once and sounding older than his 7 years, I started to cry. He looked up at me and just smiled. I gave him a hug and told him to not let *anyone* tell him he wasn’t smart or awesome or my kind of cool. He smiled again and said, “I know, Mom.” But does he?

After dinner, before we started chores, I sat my boy down and told him we needed to discuss Mark. “Honey, I know you think Mark is your friend now.”

“He is, Mom!”

“Just listen for a sec, ok? I need you to be…wary…to be cautious about Mark.” He had no idea what I meant, and what little kid would? Hopefully not many.

“Look, this boy has been calling you names for a year, it’s seems a bit odd that he’s now your friend because a teacher told him to be nicer.  If he *is* kind to you, then great! Maybe he’s realized he was doing a bad thing. Just…try not to get too close to this boy until he can prove he’s your friend.”

Thankfully, my son did not roll his eyes, but he did give me a very skeptical look.  When I asked him if Mark defended him when Tony called him names, my boy’s face fell just a bit. “No,” he whispered.

“Then, honey, you just need to be careful, ok? It’s ok to be friends with Mark if that’s what he truly is, but I wouldn’t call him a friend until he can tell Tony to stop calling you names.”

*big sigh*

I think this was the toughest conversation I’ve had with my son yet. More than the “how babies are made” talk, or “what really is sex, Mom?” discussion. Telling your child not to trust another child just sucks. Plain and simple.

I’m not sure what will happen next. We’ll keep talking about it, asking about the bus rides, seeing if things change. You know, I’m grateful for the school and its teachers and how they’ve been trying to handle the subject of bullying. They’re trying and I know that. But unfortunately, bullying will never go away. There will always be bullies at every age and every town. Hopefully there will be fewer and fewer as tolerance and empathy is taught in schools, but how about at home? You can’t force parents to be good examples of tolerant and empathetic individuals, although I wish we could.

You know, I told my son yesterday about the bumper sticker I used to see a lot in the mid-90’s, “Mean People Suck.”

“I like that,” my boy said. “Can we have that sign EVERYWHERE?!?”

Now *that* would be cool.

Meet my nemesis


Meet my nemesis, Mr. Scale

I thought I was like Wonder Woman in the fact that I didn’t have any kind of longtime rival. (I know. Comparing myself to Wonder Woman is foolish, but I *often* wish I was her. Still. Even at the age of 41.) Interesting fact: There is no one villain that opposes Wonder Woman, like Joker to Batman or Lex Luthor to Superman. She has no archenemy. Isn’t that odd? But I digress.

The fact is I do have an archenemy. I’ve been fooling myself by thinking that he was my supporter, not my opponent. I thought, in fact, that we had a decent although sometimes rocky relationship. Yet after a few weeks of bad mornings, I’ve decided that I need to take a breather from this relationship. As of today, like Ross and Rachel, Mr. Scale and I are on a break.

For the past 6 years, I have weighed myself nearly every day. SIX YEARS! I’ve let the scale’s wicked numbers dictate how I feel about my body. He could boost my self-confidence for the day or bring me to tears. He was a cruel bastard while I PMS’ed, and I finally learned to stay away from him during those times. But to be fair, over the past few years he was mostly good to me. Until last fall. When those numbers kept crawling back up and I couldn’t make them go back down.

Now look, I take full responsibility for my actions and the pounds of chocolate I consumed over the holidays. My running days are still very limited, but my eating is not as controlled as before. I try to count calories, but some days I just don’t have it in me. And even when I seemed to be in a good, healthy groove,  those rotten little digits refused to go any lower.

I just can’t take it anymore. I need to cut this toxic relationship from my life….for a month.

I’m not ready to cut him from my life completely, ok? Don’t judge.

Just listen when I need to talk about him. Remind me of the cruel way he kept jumping up past the 170 mark and refused to budge. If I seem agitated and tell you that I just need to see him soon, tomorrow maybe, just to make sure my weight hasn’t skyrocketed….then hold my hand and tell me to hang on.

And if I visit your house, hide your own Mr. Scale. You heard me. Hide him!

I just need this month–the month of March–to find some self respect, to find other ways to define my self worth, to discover that I’m so much more than that damn number.

Whatever that number may be.




That tingly feeling

I’ve been toying with the idea of renaming this blog. I haven’t been able to run for a few months now, and after my PT telling me that long distances were permanently out of the question, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to run anymore. I’ve been walking on the treadmill this winter while watching many episodes of Arrow on Netflix (I have a major girl crush on Felicity and drool-worthy fantasies of Oliver). This has been an enjoyable way to maintain some sort of fitness level.  I’ve only lost 2 of the 7 pounds I gained over the holidays, but I’ve just started to improve my eating habits again so the weight will be lost. Eventually.

This morning, as I walked on my treadmill and watched drama unfold in the fictional Starling City where Oliver is in fact the mortal superhero Green Arrow, my mind drifted to other names for this blog. “See Holly Read” was suggested a while back by my friend, Jess. I do love being a book pusher, but not sure I’m ready to only write book reviews. As I considered other topics to write about, I realized that I don’t have a helluva lot of interests. I love to write, eat, read, visit libraries, hang out with my family, friends and cats…..and run.

Sure, I can give you an opinion about nearly anything but I don’t want to write about just anything. Obviously I need to be a key component of what I write about (hence the “See Holly”) and that’s not because I’m so narcissistic. Ok. It’s not *just* because I’m narcissistic. It’s also because there are no rights and wrongs when I write about myself and how the world affects me. It’s my opinion, my feelings, my views. Rarely are there answers, yet typically more questions. But in writing about myself and how I fit into the world, I’ve come to realize that so many others feel just as lost or insecure or uninformed as I do. We all try to put on a good face, but often we have no idea what we’re doing or how we got where we are. We do the best that we can and keep chugging along.

So after finishing my treadmill walk, I climbed upstairs out of my dark basement and away from beautiful Oliver, to discover the sun was out and it was 40 degrees outside (Maine’s mini heat wave). And you know what? Right then I knew I didn’t want to rename my blog. I just wanted to keep chugging along.

And I wanted to run.

As my son buzzed around the house finishing his chores and my husband came inside after snowblowing the driveway, I put my headphones and jacket on and ventured outside for, what I told my husband, would be a mile walk. Just to get some fresh air.

After 5 minutes, I slowly jogged from one telephone pole to the next. I alternated walking with slow jogging, then skipped the walking and just ran. It was slow and I had to continuously “stabilize my core,” but I did it. Instead of that 1 mile, I took my old 5K route and ended up back home 43 minutes after I began. It was slow…but my god it was good. Maybe even orgasmic.

Well…I felt a little tingly at least.

Admittedly I also felt pain during my run. Mostly my hip and just a twinge from my back. But I didn’t feel sluggish. I just felt…grateful….happy to be able to do this with my body, even with the bits of pain. I felt ecstatic to be OUTSIDE, especially knowing that tomorrow’s temps will be back in the single digits. I was curious to see how my neighbors were doing and how they’ve fared so far this winter. It was nice to see some of them out and about, even if they were just clearing the snow and making room for more. There were still more smiles out there than frowns (although I did hear a bit of cursing, too).

This run just made me feel alive. More than I have all winter. I wish everything could make me feel this way, but not everything does. It’s been a really rough few months for most New Englanders–below freezing temps and more snow than we’ve had for a long time. The weather doesn’t affect everyone the same, but there’s no doubt that many folks have felt more blue than normal this year. I certainly have.

Today’s run gave me hope that the winter *will* in fact end some day, and maybe I’ll be able to run like this again when it’s even warmer with no hat or jacket. That sounds amazing! (Endorphins are truly magical, aren’t they? Best.drug.ever.)

But tomorrow, will I wake up in pain and feel angry at myself for overdoing it? Will I be able to walk on the treadmill in the morning and not have back spasms? Or will running be an integral part of my life again?

Maybe all of the above. Although I’m really hoping for the latter, since I already have a summer 5K race all picked out. :) And honestly? I (and my family) really need those endorphins to counteract the effects of the pill I’m taking. Things aren’t going well in that respect. But that, my friends, is another post for another day!




This is just a quick update. Yesterday was my follow-up after all the drama over the last few months (“I made a mistake” from the doc, then the most painful procedure ever with no results and finally knocking me unconscious to get what she needed).

No precancerous cells! Yippee!!! Nothing terribly wrong, just pretty bad endometriosis that I’ve had for years. It’s like kudzu in there, kids. Kudzu.


I lived in Mississippi for a year, where kudzu runs rampant. It’s like the blob!


The only negative aspect about my visit, is the doc wants me on a birth control pill that should help control the endometriosis. I’m willing to give it a try, but I warned her that the last time I was on birth control (20 years ago), I was angry nearly the entire year. That’s angry with a capital “A”. And at that time, besides lashing out at people, I dealt with my anger by binge eating, throwing up and lying about it. That was a really bad year and one I’d rather not repeat.

So far this pill has just made me feel nauseated. But it’s possibly made my husband angry. When I asked him to pick up the pills for me, he responded with, “So…why did I get my balls snipped just two months ago?!?”

Ummmm….I just didn’t see this coming, dear. Sorry! And he did pick the pills up for me, so perhaps all is forgiven?

*fingers crossed*

My village

NPR recently broadcast a story about a man who built a retirement community in Florida, where he invited people from his native country to come and live. (All folks were welcome, but the community was designed to look like India with Indian food and music.) I listened to the story and wondered what kind of community I would like to retire to if I had the choice. What cultural group would I belong to?  I certainly identify with Mainers (and there are a load of communities in Florida filled with Mainers), but I also love being with librarians, women, writers, readers, and very tall people.

So who would live in *my* community? I want to hand pick them. Right now. I don’t want to wait until I retire. Do you know how many times I’ve wished all of my friends and family lived within walking distance of me?

I wish all of my college roommates could meet and talk about how horrid I was to live with. (Aymie and Becky, I think you would really get along. You’re both educators and great mommas and honestly, you’re both so sensual that being in the same room might make the room explode but it would be awesome!)

I wish some of my writer friends and family could meet and talk about literature and writing and wow each other with all the shit they know. (I’d love for Sean to meet Phil so they could discuss the books they’re writing or want to write. Of course then they’d end up talking about Star Wars at some point and would have to have THE talk. Han or Greedo?)

I want my work friends from all the libraries, bookstores and video stores to meet and talk about books and reading and how freaky the public can be. Share stories about the most disgusting thing (or person) you ever had to touch. (Judy from the bookstore could tell her tale about throwing away the pen the “urine lady” used and Heidi could talk about the many sticky videotape cases she had to clean.)

I want my college friends to meet my high school friends. I want my new friends to meet my old friends. I want to introduce Jess to Jo because I think they were sisters in a previous life.  I want Moriah to meet my son because I think they would love each other, even if my son will be taller than her by the time he’s 9. I want Leanne to meet my husband because they’re both such excellent and creative cooks and would have the most spectacular cooking competition ever. And Sarah and Lyn should be there to judge it because they have the best palates!

But I also want Tiffany to live closer because she seems to calm me. And Gary could work on my back with his physical therapy mojo. And Trish inspires me (and makes me cry). And Theresa makes me want to do good. And John makes me feel good about what I’ve accomplished in life. Denise and Jean bring me common sense. Chrissy makes me laugh. Monica makes me feel better about myself. Ang brings love and reminds me to be who I really am. And I want to meet all of Nichole’s family and Shannon’s kids and see Andrea and Casey in person again and oh my word this will never end! (Don’t worry, I know you were thinking it.)

On Valentine’s Day (or Dress in Black Day), maybe don’t worry so much about getting flowers and candy for your honey or get upset because you don’t have a honey to begin with. Perhaps you could think about all those fantastic people (and animals!) you have in your life instead. Who would you want to live in *your* village?

Weirdness upon weirdness

This is probably a really bad idea, but I just had to blog while the drugs from anesthesia are still swimming through my blood and my brain. Typically I just feel super tired and woozy after having a quick procedure with anesthesia, but today? Today is just plain freaky. I feel a little drunk and that all of my inner censors are on the fritz. Maybe a bit like truth serum? Like I’ve been hogtied with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.Lynda_carter-wonder-woman-golden-lasso1

I had to stop myself from commenting on other people’s FB statuses.  Seriously, the shit I nearly said was ridiculous. Truthful, perhaps, but not necessary and sometimes hurtful. As much as it feels like my brain is going wacky, I was glad I had at least a smidge of self-control.

And my family? Well, they’re still here. I didn’t scare them off too much. I *did* spray my husband with the squirt bottle we have for one of our cats, but hey! He was seriously irritating me and being a male chauvinist pig. So I let him have it. And it was truly awesome. (And he still made me dinner, so I guess all is good.) My son is doing well although I did yell at him. There was a lot of him whining this afternoon about a topic we continuously argue about, and I just couldn’t deal with it. I yelled, he whined again, then somehow I found some inner calm that I didn’t know I had. I said no to his request AGAIN, the reasons why, and the list of toys he was about to lose. He cried, I cried, we hugged and at this point we’re doing ok.

Oh. The crying. There have been a few bouts of that off and on since the hospital visit. The tears feel like they’re swirling in my gut and slowly rising up, winding around my heart and in my chest, until a little strangled cry comes out of my mouth and just a few trickles of water from the corners of my eyes.

I’m not sure what the crying is about. Relief it’s over? Yes. Still a tiny smidge worried about the results? Yup. Emotions a mess because of the drugs? Absolutely! But since I held my boy and we both had a good cry? I think those scary little convulsions may be over. I certainly hope so.

I think the rest of this evening will be filled with watching Big Bang Theory with the family, reading to my boy and hopefully dreamless sleep. Or at least no bizarre dreams. Unless Wonder Woman is involved. :)