Adulting

My 11-year-old son has recently asked for cooking lessons from my husband and I. We’ve tried to get him to cook or bake for his entire childhood, but he’s had little interest until now. We’ve done pasta and scrambled eggs and even a basic frozen pizza so he can conquer his fear of the oven. We had a little lesson on laundry, too, or at least how to work the washer and dryer, but that will take some more time.

All of this got me thinking about the term “adulting.” I will tell you right now that I despise the word.  It’s just some cute, irritating word someone thought up that just means basic life skills that someone should have taught you years ago. (And yes, I realize it can mean more than that, like buying your first appliance, but since I have been a responsible adult since the age of 7, the word just bites my ass.)

adultingSo…if creating a budget or balancing your checkbook (am I the only one who still does that?) is “adulting,” then what have I been doing these past few years? If that crap is adulting, what is taking care of your son and working full-time and attempting to navigate the healthcare system for your dementia and diabetes-ridden mother and now taking turns with your family to be with your father who can no longer be left alone?  And what about trying to maintain healthy and fulfilling relationships, including one with yourself?

Is this “Middle-ageing”? Being a member of the Sandwich Generation Club? Or maybe just Life?

I had a little meltdown a few weeks ago, just feeling tremendously overwhelmed with these responsibilities that I did not and still do not feel prepared for. I might have even stomped my foot. But with tears in my eyes, both my husband and I just started to laugh. I mean, what else can you friggin’ do? I can cry you and every other human being on the planet a river, but laughing is something I don’t do enough of these days. My brother was the one who made me laugh the most.  I need and want him here more than ever. But I guess that’s one reason why I can cry you a river, right? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed if he were here. Or maybe I’d just feel like ME again.

And that’s what I’m really trying to do. I’m trying to figure out who I am without my brother. I can’t be whole again, that I know for a fact. But I should be able to piece me together somewhat. There are facets of me that still exist–a runner (even though I’m currently sidelined with an injury), a librarian, a reader, a writer, a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter and a sister. I am a FBG (Former Big Girl) on the outside but a Forever Big Girl on the inside. I’m mostly kind and generous but fiercely protective of my family. I am often brutally honest but sometimes not honest enough, especially to myself.

Maybe adulting is just another term for growing up. Maturing. Finding your way in the world. And many of us, even at age 45, are still trying to figure that out.

 

 

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My Staycation

This has been one of the best weeks I have ever lived.

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Hiking up South Bubble in Acadia National Park.

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Hiking the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park.

It wasn’t filled with theme parks or pools or even friends. There was no glamour or glitz or even much money spent. Instead it was filled with large chunks of quality time with my son, mingled with short visits with my family and bits of running and reading and cleaning, combined with one overnight stay in Bar Harbor that included two hikes, two library visits, and two ice cream shop stops (where we indulged in two scoops at each place).

In my opinion, this week has been heavenly. I’m sure my son does not have the same thoughts or memories of this week. He probably remembers that we went to the drive-in theater and got to stay up really late. (“I got to stay up until the NEXT DAY!” he proclaimed to anyone who would listen.) I have no doubt that he’ll remember that I played Halo with him–twice–and I was so frustrated that he ended up calling me “Swear Bear” due to the string of expletives cascading from my mouth when I couldn’t figure out how to walk and shoot at the same time.

My son may remember the hiking we did, but it definitely wasn’t his favorite thing. Yet when we reached the top of South Bubble then climbed down some rocks to “push” Bubble Rock, he was so proud of himself and I was so proud of us. There was no whining (except when we first got out of the car and he realized we were really going to do this hiking thing).  He never fell once going up and we went at his speed. I had a bag full of food and water and we could take our time. We moved to the side of the trail when others came and we just did our thing. Yet once we got into a rhythm, it took us no time at all. We talked about Star Wars all the way up. We played a long game of “Versus” in which we try to pair Star Wars characters against each other and argue about who would win the battle and why. For a few minutes, I convinced him to play “Wildlife Versus” where we paired animals against each other, but that turned into “Wildlife Vs Star Wars” and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty for those poor animals.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

My boy trying to push Bubble Rock off the mountain.

But once we got to the top, we sat down on a ledge to eat our lunch, and my boy got a lot more serious. He said that he felt overweight and maybe we could do more of these types of things so he wouldn’t feel that way anymore. I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and broke into a thousand little pieces. I quickly glued myself back together, gave my boy a squeeze, and told him we could do as many hikes as he likes and probably more than he wants to.

The rest of the hike was mostly pleasant, except for the boy falling twice and skinning his knee a bit, but all in all, it was truly extraordinary. I know that hiking with him won’t always be this good, especially if we add other people into the mix. But I intend to try, and maybe he’ll grow to have a love of hiking or the outdoors. Right now I know that getting hurt is frustrating him and why he hates taking walks or runs. He nearly always gets hurt (much like I did at his age) and we talked about how awkward it can be while you’re growing and sometimes you trip when nothing is there and your bones are growing and expanding and it’s all a good thing. It really is.

And this is what I have to remember. This is all a good thing. Somehow, some way, I have to incorporate what I did and how I felt this past week into my daily life, into my daily working life. I often say how much I love what I do and how fortunate I am to be a librarian. But as the days have gotten closer to going back to work, all I have felt is anxiety and sadness and loss. I broke down and cried yesterday, hoping to just “cry it out” and get it out of my system. I understand all of what I’m feeling. I do. I’m feeling anxious because I know I have a lot of work to catch up on this week and I’ll have more of a set schedule that I have to stick to. The sadness and loss is because I won’t be home with my son and his stress level will also increase because of having to go here and there and not just be with me. And you know, I realize how great we really have it. We do. I may not have summers off, but I get to do something I like and my kid gets to be nearby and spend a few hours at a library each day. A library he considers home. He’s safe. He’s ok.

There have been several tragedies in the area just this week, including the death of a 9-year-old boy in my town and the death of a 22-year-old man who was the son of one of my colleagues.  The families of these two have had a horrendous week. I, on the other hand, was given the gift of a beautiful week with my son. I did not squander it. I enjoyed it and grasped onto as many great moments as I could.

So now I need to stop whining and crying and pick myself up. I need to get my ass in gear and appreciate the job that I have and the work that I do. I need to show my son that life is not only worth living, but can be pretty damn awesome. Even when we have responsibilities to take care of, life can be fulfilling and fun.

Now I’m off to do laundry so I won’t have to go to work in my pajamas…and I might go buy a lottery ticket…just one.

I will not give up the dream!

 

 

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!”)

AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!

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.