my thoughts dried up so i wrote this instead

When you isolate yourself, you have no one else to blame when things go awry. There is some small comfort in this. It is possible to go days without talking to anyone. This can be a magical combination of your own self-imposed silence and a general indifference on the part of others. Together we can make it work. The woman in the alley enjoys screaming hateful words at her grandson but she is sweet as pie when I say hello. This dichotomy hurts my brain. The alley is loud in the summer. The ladies across the way gun their motorcycles at all hours. The level of their inconsideration for people living together in a confined space staggers me. Small children yell and sing and talk like adults. I brood at the kitchen table. If it weren’t for the swatch of overgrown vegetation threatening to engulf my porch, I would have to see, as well as hear, the denizens of the alley and that I could not bear. Meanwhile, in the plus column, the city installed four solar-powered compacting trash cans on a main street in the neighborhood. I was overjoyed to throw my dog’s poop in them. Then they took one away. It was the most conveniently located one. Why. On another street near my house the city erected an expensive-looking fence in the median. A few weeks later they removed it. Why. Every day I see the thousands of dollars I pay in property taxes hemorrhage out onto the streets in the form of Kafkaesque activities such as this. It pains me. I could make much better use of those thousands of dollars than by funding the erecting and dismantling of fences. Segueing into the employment realm, it’s summertime at work which results in a curious laissez faire attitude toward attendance. I like it but it confuses me. I am always suspicious of it. Yet there is a natural relaxed cadence I cannot ignore, and so I allow it to carry me in its wake. When I feel agitated, I look at the little pictures in the dictionary and this soothes me. Last night I had a pleasant time in dreamland, but I forgot most of it upon waking. I don’t like that. I need to remember my dreams or waking life seems vacant. Do you ever wonder about the nature of friendships? They are curious things. Coming and going, rarely staying. Sometimes they wane; sometimes they wither. Sometimes they fail over the stupidest things. And you wonder if it could have been avoided, but in reality if it was a strong friendship it should have been able to withstand most of the nonsense we manage to self-generate. Which then begs the question of why the friendship existed in the first place. Convenience, perhaps. Boredom. Desperation for human contact [see: possibility of going for days without speaking to anyone, as outlined above]. I have had many friendships through the years, for all of these listed reasons and more. Not many have lasted, but the tiny few that have are worth more than gold. The question is then, do I now need more friends? What purpose would they serve? It gets harder to make friends as you get older. It’s horrible but I find myself more judgmental than I used to be of people when considering them as potential friends. I am also perhaps even more guarded now. Friendship requires time and effort, both valuable resources that I don’t expend lightly. How can you know if it’s worth it. Most of the time I am content to be by myself. I also have a dog now. The ultimate friend. Always dependable, always happy to see you. Can’t go to the bathroom without your help, which is a little weird. Doesn’t talk, which is both good and bad. Sometimes I wish he’d talk, just a little. See, even though I am content by myself, I have this annoying urge to reach out sometimes. It’s irrepressible. Sometimes everything can’t be found in books. Or nature. Most things, yes. But not all. This is the curse of human nature. We are not 100% autonomous. And I am so restless. This incessant unease shadows my every move. The panic. The urge to drop out. The crushing confinement of your own mind. We’re all so spread out. Held together by weakening links. I trip over my own shallow roots and fall face-down in a mucky bog. Roll around and let the clay harden on your skin. Let it cover all that you see as wrong. It feels so good.

flying the flag over fort futility

I’m at a low point in my job. I have no motivation for it. But it’s not that I’ve lost my passion for librarianship. It’s not that. I still fervently subscribe to Sandy Berman’s adage that “I can’t have information I know would be of use to someone and not share it.” This philosophy, I believe, is the golden kernel rotating inside every librarian. However, my present job affords me little opportunity to exercise this reflex of mine. I spend more time outside of work fulfilling this mission: finding bits and pieces of information, cataloging and sorting them in my mind, and sending them off with a flourish to friends, relatives, and colleagues. But at work I am too far removed from this process. I primarily sit at my desk and wait for the day to end. I answer emails. I review and fulfill (or deny) photo requests. I catalog photos and documents. I select journal articles to include in a database. I attend meetings. I wander around outside at lunch and wonder what the hell I am doing with my life.

I have long known that I am a dreamer. At this point in my life I’m comfortable with this role, but it often interferes with practical matters. I could certainly leave my job and go find some other job. I could do that. However, I know that I would soon also tire of it, because this is a now tattered pattern that I’ve traced my finger along for my entire working life. What this present job has going for it is a four-day week, valuable benefits, decent pay, proximity to home, low stress, and not much in the way of responsibility. Collectively, these aspects would be difficult, if not impossible, to find in another job. So I bide my time, suffering my disconnection from how I spend it, eight hours each day, four days per week.

Leaving my own personal melodrama behind, though, and returning to librarianship, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about access to knowledge lately. This is chiefly because I volunteered to write up a blog post for APLIC about Brewster Kahle’s presentation at the conference I attended in San Francisco. While Brewster is a librarian, among other roles, some of his views are unusual within librarianship. For example, I’d venture to guess that the traditional model of librarian-as-intercessor still carries significant weight among many librarians. And yet Brewster is sending a wrecking ball through this ideal with his efforts to put all knowledge within grasp of anyone with access to an Internet connection. These days such access is becoming easier and more convenient to obtain than access to an actual physical library. The question is, then, does access constitute nine-tenths of the battle when it comes to knowledge attainment?

If so, does this mean librarians will become obsolete? My guess is no, but we are certainly becoming more specialized. And I think our role as intercessor has largely fallen by the wayside, despite our possible reluctance to admit it. At this point, the knowledge is out there (if anything, now in such high quantities as to warrant special skills in navigating it) and much of it is freely available. Now, rather than brokering information, I see librarians as more important in authenticating information, and taking it one step further, in showing others how to authenticate it. And by that, I mean showing them how to determine the trustworthiness of information. Because there is plenty of just plain shoddy information out there.


So yesterday was better than Friday in that productivity was higher, although general satisfaction levels still hovered in the mid to low range. Today was somewhat of an extension of yesterday, with a slightly higher level of satisfaction, despite the persistent fog of malaise that continues to linger. It being Sunday evening, the impending doom of Monday has crept forth from its desolate lair and now squats smugly before me, its red demon eyes narrowed and its curved yellow fangs dripping with the juice of the last few wasted hours of freedom.

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