Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, January 30, 2003

It's a girl...

Well, sorta. It's actually a blog that mine inspired. So now I'm in an actual middle bracket of a blog family. Check out:

to see what I'm talking about. And check out Dwana's blog at http://open-escape.blogspot.com. She's still working on customising the template, but she'll get it soon. :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

TV night has been called on account of school...

Which is fine, since it's been so crazy at work, and I doubt I'd be much company today. I wish it were warm. I'd love to lay in the grass and watch clouds--or even better, one of those warm spring days before the mosquitoes hatch. In the summer, I take small breaks outside when I'm feeling boxed in. It's a little harder with snow on the ground. :(

Actually, generally I'm having a good day. I'm downloading something right now, which is why I'm taking a little break from work. And I'm not in the thick of all the drama around me, at least--I'm mostly just watching it go by. But I am slowly coming to the realisation that everybody--all humans--are just a bit crazy. Makes me feel a little better, anyway. :) I'll probably write a little more tonight. Hope things are quiet where you are.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Experiment time...

For awhile I've been thinking of blogging as a form of writing fiction. So, I've started a little experiment. Every day I'm going to try to write a little more, and let the story unfold sort of like our lives do. I'm sure it's not an original idea, but I liked it. If you're interested, you can check it out at: eternal-city.blogspot.com. Eventually I'd like to try a sort of tag-writing where a team of bloggers create a story. What do you think? Is it doable?

PS Note, I didn't say it would be GOOD fiction, although this is partly derived from a very intriguing dream I once had. I hope you enjoy. I'll eventually get a counter and comments up there, but for now, you can leave a message using the link below.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Happy Friday

1. What is one thing you don't like about your body?
My size. For years I was a pretty normal size and didn't realise it. Now I'm pretty big and just want to get to a point where I feel more energetic and healthy.

2. What are two things you love about your body?
My eyes remind me of agates. The fact that it gets me places--I'm stronger than I look and it's holding up pretty well all things considered.

3. What are three things you want to change about your home?
I'd like to own my own home, I'd like to have more room/permanent yard for gardening, I'd like more antiques and less pressboard furniture.

4. What are four books you want to read this year?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Devil in the White City, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

5. What are five promises you have kept to yourself?
That I will learn to love myself. That I will not fall for another abusive person. That I will grow a little every day. That I will listen to others better. That I will use my past experiences to forge a better future for myself and for those I can.

Thursday, January 23, 2003


Well, nothing with me is easy, but I know this, and I take precautions. I went to run some errands before work because of payday, and I also had to get the aforementioned pet food. This morning the temperature was about 4 degrees, with a lot of wind, so I bundled up: underwear, two sets of socks, two pairs of pants, tank top, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, flannel, wool sweater of doom with scarf, head scarf, fleece hat, coat with hood, gloves, mittens, and heavy boots. There was about three inches of snow on the ground, too. Unfortunately, part of the errands involved getting a money order and the place just across the street hadn't opened, no doubt due to the weather, so I walked down past the useless bank (they don't do money orders) to the BP station, then back to the apartment to feed the kiddies, and on to work. Total time out in the cold: 1 hour, 10 minutes. I'm glad I didn't trust it to be a quick job. I'm also glad I got up early. Fortunately I have a ride home in a bit and one in the morning, too, although I am going to a friend's tonight on the bus.

I've been busy helping our performance improvement head with some graphics stuff. I'm not the graphics person, but he's pretty swamped and I like doing that sort of thing. It's made the day pass very quickly. Nothing like colouring something in Paint to do that. :) Just imagine where I could go with the right tools!

I'll probably blog again tonight when Friday rolls around. But for now, time to close for the day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

I keep meaning to blog about this, but the words kind of fail...

Still, let me just say kudos to those who marched on Washington this past weekend to show that many of us, while believing that war is inevitable given the present administration's foreign policy, do not agree with it.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Saddam Hussein should be applauded in any way. I was disappointed that, given the last War in the Gulf, all that deployment, etc. did not end in his ouster. However, I also believe that a war with Iraq was nearly a given from the moment George Bush was elected. I believe that he erroneously believes he must "finish" what his father started. I also believe that the lack of progress in capturing high profile terrorists like Osama bin Laden has led the Bush administration to focus on Iraq because, quite frankly, it's not a moving target. While I believe there has probably been a lot of success in thwarting new terrorist actions, I think this administration has basically used the rhetoric of war to prop up an otherwise lukewarm record. The last War in the Gulf was presented at the time as a sort of video game war where most casualties were in the deployment, not in battle. I do not think that will be the case this time--and indeed, there are long-standing issues that have not been resolved from the Gulf War, such as Gulf War Syndrome, that make me wonder if it was so "painless" after all. Certainly it was not painless to those on the other side who were killed.

For the first time in years they're talking about reactivating the draft--this in a country which relies on a volunteer military that is paid even more pathetically than I am. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and career Air Force NCO and the grand-daughter of three veterans of World War II, I have always been pro-military in terms of benefits, career, and aid to military families. I know how hard it was to scrape by when my dad was in the lower ranks, even then. I also know it was very difficult to make the transition to civilian life. The military is finally getting a clue and doing things like working with temp agencies to allow spouses to keep benefits over the several moves and actually progress in a career, rather than starting over every couple of years like my mom did.

That said, I think it's criminal what we pay for one warhead given all the more humane things we could do with that money. I'm not saying disarm, put our heads in the ground, etc. But if you're going to be sending young people off to die, make sure the reasons are clear cut and not merely political machinations. I am concerned that in a post-Clinton attempt to "reassert" the worth of the presidency, Bush and his people are undermining the very things that make America great, all in the name of a war against terror.

Even though I couldn't join the marchers this weekend, my heart was with them. When war comes (and it will), I hope that we won't be looking back thinking it was just utter stupidity. But I'm not so sure. I would prefer wars to be a matter of defending our country rather than meddling in everyone else's. I don't have a problem with "policing" done as part of the United Nations' effort to keep peace. But I do have trouble with unilateral action, and do think that in terms of drumming up support for the war amongst the rest of the world Saddam Hussein has virtually trumped Bush in terms of manoevres. So unless he slips up terribly or something conveniently happens to outrage the rest of the war, we're going to wind up being the bad guys not only in the eyes of the world in pressing for war, but we're dangerously close to breaking our own "cowboy" taboo of shooting first. That makes us the guys in the black hats, you know. While I sometimes doubt the intelligence of Bush--and no, I didn't vote for him, so yes, I can bitch about it--I don't doubt the intelligence of his staff. Somehow I thought politicians would be better at managing public opinion and foreign opinion than this.

Sigh. Two more years. Let's hope the world doesn't go out in a whimper in that time. And for those of you out there from other countries, let me just say I'm sorry our leaders are a bunch of pricks. We don't necessarily like them, either, regardless of their parties or policies. We're not all "the ugly American". We just muddle on like everyone else. America is a wonderful ideal that sometimes fails to live up to itself in reality, but I love it anyway. I hope you can at least see Americans as other people and not just a part of some blanket idea based on the actions of our government. I've had several friends who have been overseas who people refused to believe were American simply because they were, well, nice. Really, the majority of us are. And most of us aren't money hog capitalists, either. Sigh. Well, I'm not sure how coherent that is; it's around midnight after all. But for what it's worth, that's one small opinion and use of my right to freedom of speech/press.

Now, not to go all capitalist on you, but there is much rejoicing because midnight means Thursday, which means payday, which means the automatic deposit just went through (yea--money for rent, heat, and pet food). The question is, do I go brave the snow and cold and go over to Walgreens now to pick up some medicine and food for the animals, or do I wait until tomorrow morning where at least I should be able to see where I'm going, but it'll be far colder and windy?

Groan. I think the animals are okay for tonight--they still have some food. I will not expire without medicine. With my luck and grace, I'd fall down and die in the snow without anyone the wiser, and I don't want to make any 911 calls saying "I've fallen and I can't get up because I'm too stupid to stay home in the middle of a cold, wet night." :) So, 'night. Oh, and Thursday means it's almost Friday, yea! Seven more days until Joint Commission comes. It's only going to get battier on this blog until then, I can assure you.

We're almost at 4,000 visits

and I think I'll take a page from Zabet's book and offer a presie to the person who is #4000. Go ahead and e-mail me at rabid_librarian@yahoo.com. I'll warn you, it won't be an expensive presie, and it'll probably be a book. But, really, all you had to do was click and mail, so that's not so bad. :)

One other bit of news that's good is that our workplace filtering software must have gone through an update or something, because I can finally read things at BlogSpot again. That's nice, because in addition to keeping up with friends, I actually read a couple of library-related sites on that domain.

Okay, I'm not going to read just now. I'm too sleepy to read. I'm going to go pretend to be a cat, with no real responsibilities, and nap for awhile. I picked up a little around the house earlier; I can do some more later. For now, it's time to concentrate on napping.

Oh, I so need some rest! I'm starting to sound like Abbie the Cat!

Ah, so tired...but life is good. :)

I have come home every day this week just drained. Everyone at work is worked up into an absolute ball of anxiety over the impending SURVEY [drum roll, please]. It's affecting me, too. Usually, we do fine (last time was a 98 out of 100), but apparently this year we just don't know what to expect. It's rather like a kid who's made high marks all through high school afraid of making that first 'C' in college. The thing is, everything in your facility can be damn near perfect, but if one mistake on one record is found, you can get branded with something called a "Type I"--not good--and no matter how good we are, perfection is a little unrealistic. Also, over the last few years, they took away language like "accredited with commendation", etc., so it reads now that you either just passed or failed miserably. So, life at work has been very busy. We're not actually doing anything except our normal practice, but we're doing it with more vigour and mania than normal, I suppose, with everyone wondering if they'll be the one to drop a wrench in the works.

Last time I never even saw the surveyors. This time I'm much more likely to, because I'm now a patient area with our family resource centre. The librarian at one of our other hospitals was brought in to one of the meetings, too. So...well, among other things, I really need to leave work behind and enjoy myself.

It's also supposed to get very cold tonight (1 degree Fahrenheit, colder than it's been here in about five years). Fortunately, I have good heat and warm animals. But for those who have drafty homes or, Gods forbid, are homeless--it's going to be an awful couple of days, and it's snowing, too, at a temperature too cold for salt to do much good. Our nursing administrator gave me a ride home this evening and actually gave me her home phone number for tomorrow because she was concerned about me walking. Unfortunately, I have some errands to run (being payday) earlier that morning, so I probably won't be able to take her up on it.

However, I did receive good news. Last Saturday I went to see Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as I reported earlier. What I didn't blog about was being left out in the cold for 20 minutes before the theatre would open the doors despite very cold, windy weather. They had been short-handed so didn't open the doors until just before the movie because they had no one to cover the cash. The manager was singularly unresponsive (I doubt she was more than twenty, and she was more defensive and genuinely didn't seem to understand why the twenty or so people who had been freezing outside might be upset). She never once truly apologised, or offered to make things right. I wrote a complaint in to the corporate website on Monday, and today got back a very nice letter from someone above her which apologised, made it clear that they usually would have opened up, and should have done so, and offered to send me free passes. I'm not really used to having my complaints taken seriously, especially by corporate giants, so this was a pleasant surprise. I thanked him immediately.

Well, I've eaten pizza and I'm all warm and snuggy and I think I may go read for awhile. I'm almost halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring. I'm actually enjoying myself, once I ploughed through the slower bits at the beginning. I think I just needed to be in the right mood. I'm slowly being converted to Macs and Tolkien. What's next, oh dynamic duo (Zabet and Hubby)?

Chortle of the day...

Received this via e-mail. Personally, I think librarian insides would be classified by various schemes--Dewey (Public), Library of Congress (US Academic), or MESH (Medical), etc. But, still. :)

Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on.

The first surgeon says, "I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered."

The second responds, "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded."

The third surgeon says, "No, I really think librarians are the best; Everything inside them is in alphabetical order."

The fourth surgeon chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers...those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end,and when the job takes longer than you said it would."

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the ass are interchangeable."

Monday, January 20, 2003

Onward, phantasy...

I finally saw The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I enjoyed it, mainly because I haven't read the books (although I am, finally, in process of doing so). I was talking with a friend, the woman I game with, about it, and she was telling me some of the differences. The one incredulous moment I had was when Frodo walks up the the Nazgul on the precipace. Apparently this isn't in the book. I said that if it were that close, it should have just eaten Frodo and gotten the Ring, end of story. Brenda started laughing, cackling, indeed. I am apparently a muse for others. The result of our conversation was put into a short bit of fiction that Brenda wrote and put up online. You should read it. (And, Zabet, P should definitely read it, especially as it takes a problem with the movie to its logical conclusion.) Enjoy.

Friday, January 17, 2003


We did get the snow, finally (about the time people headed home for rush hour). It came down pretty hard, but I think we got off with maybe a couple of inches. The morning commute may be a little nasty, though. My friend Dwana called to let me know she was going to have her husband drop her off (her car is rear wheel drive, and damned near useless in this weather), so she'll be going in early. She wanted to let me know she couldn't pick me up unless I wanted to go so much earlier. I told her that was fine. Walking isn't really too bad, as long as the snow ploughs haven't gone completely crazy. Anyway, it was nice of her to let me know.

My dog loves to run in the snow. Her black fur just seems so much in contrast with a white snowscape. I went outside with her earlier and just listened to the snow fall. It was very peaceful.

The other day when I was walking home, I saw robins scurrying about the creek trying to pry what food they could from the slightly warmer streambed. Their feet went crunch, crunch, crunch. I had haiku come to mind:

Swift bird feet on snow--
Brook flows over stone with steam
Worms for the taking!

Hey, I never claimed to be a poetess. Still...I guess having grown up in the deeper South I've never gotten over the excitement of snow, even if I don't often get to stay home anymore. It's still not quite deep enough for a good batch of snow cream, though. :)

Well, I guess I'll guess I should go to sleep. Hope you're having a good end of week. I know mine seems to be doing better than the beginning.

Oh, how apropos...today's Friday Five:

1. Where do you currently work? Given my recent blogs, I don't think I should say, precisely. Let's just say it's a charity children's hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. If you're really curious, there's only one, and I'm the only librarian.

2. How many other jobs have you had and where? 13. In reverse chronological order (I think): Cataloguer for a book distributor, comic store assistant manager, telephone researcher for a university, clerk for a bagel shop, graduate assistant in library catalogue maintenance, public records intern for the state library/archives, cashier at grocery, deli clerk at grocery, stock clerk for a toy store, work-study student preparing newspapers for microfilm in library, work-study student in medical school financial aid office, food service worker for university (which is also the longest-running job, which I kept through most of the rest, if you take it as one long position rather than the various jobs at the different locations), and work-study interfiler for catalogue department in library.

3. What do you like best about your job? Well, it's a chance to make a positive impact on people's lives. It's amazing how much good you can do by just pointing someone to information that may seem rather minor but could make a very real difference. In my case it's usually either finding something that will help with patient care or helping a family find out more about a diagnosis. I also like the amount of control that I have had in my job. Also, by far the majority of my co-workers are pleasant to be around and I usually look forward to being at work.

4. What do you like least about your job? Well, I feel like I'm losing some of my autonomy. And the pay is pathetic, although the benefits make up for that a bit.

5. What is your dream job? Professional student. Oh, yeah, I did that one. Actually, I'd love to have my own store, a combination bookstore and nursery where people could drop in, buy herbs, have tea, and maybe do crafts.

Thursday, January 16, 2003


June 21st. 156 days. 'Til what? Summer Solstice? Well, yes. But also...Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be released. I may have to take off that Friday to get in line with the kids at our local bookseller. Or maybe it'd be faster going through Amazon? Anyway, go Griffyndors!

I want it to be Friday so badly, that I'm going to do a special Friday Five for Thursday.

It's one of the old ones I never managed to do.

1. Where were you born (city or state or just country)?
Danville, Kentucky, United States of America

2. What is your favorite number?

3. Vanilla or chocolate?

4. What section of a bookstore would I find you in?
Usually mystery, spirituality, or gardening. You would think sci-fi, wouldn't you? I got trained to stay away from sci-fi so people wouldn't think I was with a guy who was checking out other guys.

5. What kind of mattress do you have on your bed? soft? firm? water?

Happy Thursday.

Waiting for snow...

We're still waiting for our promised 3-6 inches of snow. Not that I think most of my co-workers are really looking forward to it, but it's been patently unsnowy all day. But then, the weather is always a crapshoot. I suspect we'll get the bulk of it this evening, if at all. And better to have people cancelling school and running out for milk and bread than the way it was a few years ago when we were supposed to have a dusting that turned into fifteen inches that shut down the entire state.

Today's been pretty decent. I was in a lot of pain last night. Fortunately Blogger was down, so you didn't have to endure my whining. I don't know what the problem was--it was a constant pain in my left abdomen that was shooting up into my shoulder and down into my leg. Fortunately, it cannot in any way, shape, or form be an ectopic pregnancy, which is one of the first things they check with those symptoms. For now I'm going to put it down to too much dairy, but if it continues I'll check with my doctor. Hopefully, end of story.

Everyone seems to think I'm being incredibly efficient at work now--which I am, I'm just not used to them noticing. I guess the newsletter helped.

Yesterday before I left work my old boss, Kathy, popped in and we chatted. I told her about the problems earlier this week. She agrees that everyone is testy over JCAHO, and that I shouldn't take any of it to heart.

Well, I'd better get back to work. I have an article to deliver and mail to pick up. Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Things are a little better...

Today in preparing for work I dressed in my favourite sweater and selected jewelry that reminded me of the beauty of life and how much bigger it is than my workplace. A small thing, but it helped. I was a few minutes early, and before I'd even had my morning caffeine began to tackle the complaints of yesterday. Indeed, I used our performance improvement system to analyse how I could make it better. Since the printer only holds a fourth to a third of a ream of paper, it makes no sense to expect me to guarantee that it will not run out overnight. So I went to the tech guys and asked about the possibility of a high-capacity tray for that printer. Turns out they were thinking along the same lines. It'll probably run about $500 but they have a little leeway this month in the budget, and it would certainly be worth it, if only for my sanity, and everyone else's. And, while external validation is not always necessary, it can sometimes be nice. They both reacted to the news about the complaints with "but it's not your job to babysit the printer. It's not even your printer. If anything it's our job." I was immensely grateful. I then told my boss "good idea!" and the woman I suspect instigated the whole thing in the first place. So, everyone's happy on that one.

As far as the copier goes, well, that will sort itself out shortly when we get the new machine. I did put out a newsletter stating that fact to anyone who bothers to read it.

In terms of the issue with me supposedly on the phone and uncooperative, well, I know better and so I'm going to put that down to someone's bitchiness before the JCAHO survey. I just wish my boss had asked me about it rather than just assume they were right.

I did try to talk to my boss several times today, but never found her in her office (although I did catch her the once in someone else's laughing and having a good chat). Not a good time to talk about this. I'm not sure I can get an appointment with her before the survey. If nothing else she's going to have to sit down with me for my performance appraisal in February. But I'm definitely going to keep looking for a better job. This will blow over but the basic issues of lack of respect, pay, flexibility, and upward mobility are not going to go away. Let's face it, I can't guarantee that I can get a boss like the one I bloomed under, but if I'm at least able to support myself modestly and feel like I'm growing in my field I can deal with unpleasant personalities.

Blogging this morning did make me feel better and at least took the edge off.

I am so indescribably and sustainably angry that I'm sitting in front of my computer, before 6 am, wondering where to go next.

Obviously, that means I'm going to rant. But it's library-related. ;)

Yesterday, I got up, ran some errands before work, and then went on in to the office. Life was good. I was five minutes early, and had been consistently on time for quite a while. I was raring to go with a rare Monday zeal. My days of depression seemed a distant memory. I should have known it couldn't last.

My boss walked in and proceeded to tell me that she'd had several complaints about there not being paper in the printers and copier, staplers wouldn't work, that I had sometimes been rude, and that I was on the phone all the time and wouldn't bother to get off or interrupt my phone conversation to ask if someone needed help, and that people didn't find me approachable.

This floored me. If you look at my performance appraisals, you will consistently see marks like, "she treats everyone the same, whether doctor or cleaning staff", "very helpful, very approachable". Mind you, that was the case even during the darkest days of my illness when I was suicidal and probably should have been in a hospital.

We have had long-standing issues with our copier. It jams a lot, its staplers cease working, only to be "fixed" for a day or two, then stop working again. In essence, it is very nearly an ex-copier. Sometime within the next two weeks, we are finally getting a digital, top-of-the-line model that will allow people to build their jobs from their desktops, do all sorts of image adjustments, take each original through only once, and even hole-punch for them. Through the other copier's demise I have tried to help people get their jobs done, explained the problems we were encountering, etc., etc. Once I got I supply cabinet, I labelled it with a big sign that said "copier supplies". Unfortunately at issue isn't whether the supplies are available, but that people have to put in their own paper. While I do provide equipment assistance, I am not a copy service. I am a librarian. My focus is patrons' information needs and the maintenance of not one, but three collections.

There is a colour printer in the library that essentially is for the whole hospital and goes constantly. I check the paper often, but I can't do any of the other maintenance on it because it's apparently a sensitive machine (you have only seconds to change to drum, for example, or it ruins) and I don't even have a manual for dealing with jams, so I've mostly had to figure it out on my own. It can be very fussy if you open the paper tray to check on the paper if it's in the middle of a job. The only thing I can think of is is someone must have sent a job before leaving for the day and then got upset when it ran out of paper. Mind you, it doesn't hold even a third of a ream at any one time, so if it's a big job, it won't matter if you check or not.

So, my boss wants me to check the supplies everyday before I leave. And of course, a lot of it will change once we get the new copier. And I'm going to check with our tech people about getting an attachment to that printer so it'll hold more paper, given the constant use.

The thing is, I could see where people are exasperated with the idiosyncracies of these machines. I'm frustrated by them too, and maybe, even conceivably, at times my frustration has boiled over and they've assumed it's directed at them instead of the machine. And with Joint Commission looming, people are only going to get testier. I understand that, and I've tried to maintain the same level of services while dealing with antiquated machines and my own project deadlines. I do not automatically assume the person is an idiot, and jump up and do everything for them. But I do ask if they need help.

No, the thing that floored me was the last complaint. I always greet people when they come into the library, unless they're obviously doing one of those quick in and out copy jobs and are in a hurry, and then I acknowledge them with eye contact and a nod. I am rarely on the phone. When I am, I do not hesitate to put the person on hold if I'm needed. I can't imagine who or why anyone would tell her that. And the thing is, she didn't ask me about it. She just took them at their word. When I was obviously surprised and said that I couldn't understand where that was coming from, it's like it didn't matter with her. Later on I discussed it with two friends I work with and one I don't (the main one I do speak to on the phone). None of them could figure that one out; they thought that this was some sort of nitpicking control issue designed to get me to leave.

You have to understand that in the last few months I have gone from being essentially an autonomous manager with flexible hours to one that is constantly being told I must not be a minute late, that directors must now sign for all requisitions, even copy paper (despite the fact that one manager I talked to who isn't a director never got the same sort of pronouncement, although my boss said that it was policy, not because of any problem), and basically I'm right back to being treated like a glorified secretary. My last boss recognised what a librarian did, and ran interference for me when people wanted me to do projects such as printing, copy jobs, or scanning. My favourite example is the time I was asked, "if you have time, would you mind cutting up some signs for the patient's rooms?" I refused that one. They have clerks, some of whom work overnight, in a tomb-like quiet.

People used to assume that I literally read all day, even though I never even crack a book except on breaks. I had thought I'd put that to rest. I'm always either up dealing with equipment, books, and patrons, or at my computer, after all. My new (and first boss) actually assigns those kinds of things, and it's harder to refuse coming from her.

In March I will have been at my job for six years. In that time I have built up the collection, increased the service tremendously. Almost no one actually used the library. I had to teach them what I could do for them. I've helped people work computers to get their GED who have treated me like I was somehow going out of my way despite my assurances to the otherwise. I've not only found articles for clinical staff, I've translated them. I can honestly say that of the 220 or so employees, I know and I have talked to virtually all but the night shift and some evening people. I've written a grant to start up an early literacy programme and have continued to get donations for it and trained staff to give the books to children and educate the parents. I've set up a family resource center. I've catalogued the collection. I've designed and maintained our hospital web page. I've served on numerous committees, even attended the parent's group to get a sense of what they needed. I've presented at local programs, been active in three organisations, and served as president of one. I've brought the librarians of our system together through e-mail, so that we know each other and can discuss issues.

Maybe what I haven't done is publicise those accomplishments enough, although I've always kept my bosses appraised of those activities. Yet I feel like none of it matters. I'm still being paid a ludicrous amount (I was hired, with Master's degree required, at $9.02 an hour. Six years later it's finally up to $13.11, but only after me pestering them for market raises). This in a market where an entry-level librarian makes $29-32,000 a year and someone with my experience should not be making less than $35,000. There are some who would argue that I should never have taken the job, that I was a traitor to the profession to perpetuate that sort of thing, but let me point out that I'd made $2000 the year before and had gone back to school because the paucity of jobs in the area. After four years of nothing above making bagels for $5 an hour or assistant managing a store on a volunteer basis, I'd nearly given up being a librarian at all. So now, I'm a solo librarian working 35 hours, which is .8FTE. I was originally told that my job was considered full-time, because they'd cobbled a part-time and half-time position together. When I found out, five years later, that this was wrong, the management couldn't figure out why I was upset. After all, the benefits were nearly the same. It wasn't that. It was the idea that I'd been lied to. There have been a couple of attempts to increase my hours, but without success. When I started my job, a Master's was required. Now they've re-written it to be preferred. I think they realise they can't get a MLS for this pay. After five years, I finally requested to go to a national meeting (and meet the other system librarians, most of whom go), and built a budget that even with the requested travel budget was lower than the year before. Denied. Is it any wonder I feel frustrated? I feel like I've done everything I could to develop the library, but they won't let me develop professionally.

When I was ill, dealing with weekly doctor's appointments, sleep studies, and about five different new diagnoses, I got written up for attendance not because I wasn't coming in or having lots of sick days, but because I was having to go to the appointments or was having trouble with medication in terms of getting up in the morning. Kathy, my last boss, was pretty flexible, and understood, although even she eventually wrote me up because of the amount of times it was happening. But my medication and my health have stabilised for the last four or five months. Now, even though I have plenty of personal time off built up, it's things like, "oh, you're still clocking in late" by one minute, or "even though you left a note and told the secretary you were going to a meeting I had no idea where you were and HR tells me I have to write you up." Requests are not phrased as requests at all, just "I need..." or "now (pronouncment)". I'm beginning to feel that if I go to the bathroom at a time when she decides to check up on me or the moment someone comes in, that I'll get written up. My friend Dwana's afraid to come down and chat for even a couple of minutes because of the way my boss looks at her, despite the fact that every time we go down the hall, she is either laughing and gabbing with other women in her office or theirs, or out. I can't ever seem to reach her, either, and in order to talk about even the smallest thing I have to make an appointment, whereas Kathy always had an open door and was generally locatable.

At first I though I was just reacting to losing such a wonderful boss when Kathy took a position closer to where she lived. But now I think it's a matter that my current boss just doesn't have a good management technique, feels out of her league, and doesn't have the self-confidence to explain or make her own decisions. I should confront her, but the thing is, I don't think it'll do much good, except for my own self-esteem. I've talked about some of these issues before. And I've talked about almost all of them once to the nursing administratior, who is above her. They just don't understand. Maybe if I put it in terms of how a master's degreed nurse would feel if treated like a nursing asssistant? Mmmm...I don't think so. There seems to be a bias against non-clinical people. After all, when we were going over the list for the family resource center, they didn't trust my choices (and I'm the one trained in collection development). Instead we went through the list one by one, while they decided things like "Dr Spock's Baby Care? Didn't he take LSD? Oh, no, that was Leary. Well, I guess you can keep it." This is what I deal with.

And yes, I realise I have my own issues but of the people I have talked to, most have be separated enough from the situation to immediately go, "oh, that's passive-agressive on your boss' part", and "you should find another job--it's not going to get better."

So, I guess that's where I am for now. There aren't any library jobs in town at the moment, and I don't want to just take the first that opens. I want a position where I can advance, that has some flexibility, and one where I can afford a cheap but reliable car and my rent isn't half my paycheque. In the meantime I think I'm going to have to talk to my boss for my own sanity, but I don't expect it to make much difference. If you know of anyone needing a slightly eccentric but reliable and generally top-notch librarian with experience in medical searching and subject specialites in the humanities and social sciences who can read several languages, let me know.

Friday, January 10, 2003

It's been awhile since I did a quiz..

I really thought I'd wind up as Snuffleupagus. Mmmm...but I always did like Grover, even if he did sound like Yoda, and vice versa.

Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

What time is it everybody? It's Friday Five time!

1. Where are you right now? At my computer, of course. Meaning that I'm sitting at my desk in what's supposed to be a dining room. Well, I guess it is; I normally eat at my computer, and there is a table between the dining and living room.

2. What time is it? 22:28 Eastern Standard Time

3. What are you wearing? Comfy panties. A lavender sweatshirt that's three sizes too big, so it's really comfy--Zabet got it for me for Yule. I also have on a pair of dark purple sweatpants--the first I've worn in my life--that I got at Walgreens, two pair (the other's black) for $6.99. It seemed a plan, because even though I've great heat (and it's included with the apartment), it's supposed to get down into the teens tonight; in other words, nippy.

4. Any people or animals around you? Describe them. Definitely animals. Cerys is stretched out on the floor, carefully eating her food from one side of the bowl to another. (She's a Virgo, after all). She's a black Lab mix; she looks like a 35 lb. puppy even though she's eleven. Spock is trying to steal my Pringles (TM) [and succeeding] and lolling on the keyboard, generally causing havoc. He's a fifteen year old white cat who used to have the Star Trek symbol in grey on his forehead (Get it? Pointed ears+logo=Spock? Unfortunately, unlike his namesake, he's really quite stupid. But he is sweet.) The spot has faded as he's aged. Soon I think it'll be gone altogether. He is also maniacally rubbing against me and nipping my arms and legs. I think there must be some smell to the druggist's because he keeps going over to the bag I'd had everything in and laying on that, too. Buns is sitting on the treadle sewing table behind me, looking rather like a vulture. He wants Cerys' food, even though he has a perfectly full bowl of his own. Darius is rubbing up against Cerys and generally being her cat. The fish are swimming around in the aquarium looking for bits to eat. There are quite a few molly and guppy babies. I haven't noticed any swordtail tykes, but the mums and the catfish are still about in the Java moss.

5. What are your plans for the weekend? Playing with computer innards and (yet again) attempting to survive the latest dastardly plot in Cthulhu. Typical sidekick that I am, I somehow helped the gamemaster come up with his latest nefarious plan by saying something quite innocuous. I shiver at the thought of what will happen this week.

Today went quite well. I had to go in early (8 am!) to work for a meeting, so I got out early. I was actually five minutes early, although my first words were "How can you people function at this time in the morning?" Silly me--I had even left my blinds open to catch the first rays of sunlight only to discover that there aren't any around 7 at this time of year. It was a very productive day. I made many changes (well, sent many to corporate to be made) to the hospital website. Everyone's in a tizzy because our Joint Commission survey is in a couple of weeks. Even though we've always done well, I think there will be a huge collective sigh of relief once February rolls in and the surveyers have moved on to their next victim...um...visit.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Don't you wish we came with these?

I just finished my most unusual gift for the holidays, the V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health, by Elizabeth Stewart. (Ironically given to me by someone else with that same name). I highly recommend it; it's like an owner's manual for the female genitalia, and had a lot of information that was, quite frankly, new to me. I can always count on Zabet to educate me on strange matters of being female. I first learned about the vagina being corrugated from a book she was reading. Ditto on the fact that the Fallopian tube, in an effort to get you pregnant (after all, that's why they're there), will sometimes cross the human abdomen to catch the egg if you ovulate from a side with a defective tube. This book, among other things, discusses what should happen in a gyn exam, tests you should have, what you should ask your doctor, and gives you the vocabulary to ask it intelligently. I had no idea how many skin diseases of the vulva there were. Women have a tendency to just assume it's a yeast infection and self-treat without relief, while ignoring potentially damaging problems. There are excellent sections on latex allergy and prenatal exposure to DES, both of which are very important to me. Amazon.com's rating for the book would probably be higher except for a couple of people who gave the book only one star because the author did not embrace their pet treatment for vulvodynia. The author does, however, discuss that nutritional treatment, the problems with the research as presented in the literature, etc., so I think those low ratings are highly underserved, especially considering the breadth of the book. Dr Stewart is especially concerned with 1) educating women so that they can discuss symptoms with their doctors and not feel embarrassed by a natural and integral part of their health, and 2) alleviating unnecessary pain that many women assume is just "part of being female". She points the reader to many more sources of information for further study, but this book is a good basic text of the vulvovaginal area.

Zabet gave a copy of this book to each of the women she knows, and I have to admit, that's my first inclination, too. I have friends and family who have slowly confided issues to me, all of which are treated in this book. If you're female, get it. If you're male, you might want to read it, especially if your partner is going through any major issues right now. I know I'm somewhat fascinated by books for adolescent boys, because I was never taught what happened to them, and I'm slowly learning all the odd things that can happen to men's plumbing. Granted, a lot of men really don't want to know that much about women's anatomy. But a lot of them are in a very good position to help women explore, and not just by holding the mirror. :)

Yea! No more copy reports!

Every month for the last five years I have gone into the copier's system, recorded (on paper, or later PDA) the use statistics from the copier and then forwarded this to fiscal services so that each department could be charged out for it. This seemed inefficient to me, and apparently the powers that be (in this case, our CFO) agree(s). So, while I should keep them for my own use, I don't need to do the calculations or worry about turning them in on deadline. Yea!

Oh, and...

For those of you in the Orthodox tradition, Happy Christmas. For the Latin countries, here's to singing La Posada and the Three Wise Men. For the rest of you good Christians, it's time to take those trees down. It's Twelfth Night, for crying out loud. On to new things. A word to the wise--you should go ahead and finish partying before Lent.

My own little tree (of the more pagan variety) has been combed of its tinsel and some of the dry bits clipped away. I hope I can keep it alive for next year.

I'm all ready for spring. It's been raining or snowing for so long here that we're quite waterlogged. I want to see flowers bloom and sneeze from the pollen. I want warm, windy sunny days. Spring is stirring in my blood; I guess I'm reacting to the lengthening of days. But it's a long way to March, I'm afraid. :)

But first...

I had to go find a quiz to take. Found this one: How English are you?

Here's my result:

The epitome of Middle England, you prefer your Hovis to ciabatta and believe that England can win the cup this time round. You still feel frequent stirrings of patriotism, but deep down you know the world has moved on from the Empire and warm beer on village greens.

Not bad for an American; I suppose blood tells, although I'm actually more Celt than English, but let's just say British, shall we? I do love the Guardian's quizzes; they also say I should apply to be a royal butler. ;) Ah, Anglophilia!

Ah, another weekend, another game

Well, chalk one up for Arkham Paranormal, the intrepid bunch of investigators who save the world on a weekly basis. Did we win? No, of course not. But all characters that were alive last week are alive this week, and that is no small accomplishment. We didn't even lose any NPCs (non-player characters). When you have a mansion with thirteen guardians, one priest, five "non-combatants", five children, and three dogs, that's no small feat. Okay, so a major part of the house blew up when the zombie with lots of explosives detonated. But considering it blew up outside the house, due to the acrobatic feats of a large Australian bush-pilot, things went pretty well. One of our characters even managed to clip the (by now requisite) sniper who was ready to pick us off if we made it out of the house, and he and my character (fashionably dressed in a silk negligee for bed but boots for hiking past the reporters camped outside and over to the hill we'd been shot at from) nearly caught one of the cultists.

If this all sounds crazy, let me point out that it's from a role-playing game--meaning that it's fiction. We're usually doing things like preventing Cthulhu from rising or some cultist from getting ahold of the Necronomicon. If none of this makes sense, try reading HP Lovecraft (see link at left under favourite authors). It's a version of Call of Cthulhu, by Chaosium. Four relatively mild-mannerered people get together each week to roll dice, act out characters, and try to save the world. We've been doing it (with various changes in players) for nearly twelve years now. Think of it as a story you add to each time you play. It's an excellent way to work out frustrations and apply problemsolving skills. At the moment, however, I think we're happy to be holding our own.

Game-related fun included an exchange of presents left over from the holidays (one of the players had missed a couple of weeks. That was okay. Her character was in jail for decapitating the last people to invade the house). I got a lovely ceramic pentagram, a purple leather dice bag, and nifty purple dice that had green and purple glittery inclusions--perfect for Cthulhu. One of the other players got a "Summer Fun" Cthulhu. It's just sick. It has Cthulhu (large cephalopod head, front tentacles, and flappy wings) dressed in beach sandals, shorts, and a Hawaiian shorts. He looked like a Parrothead (read--Jimmy Buffett fan).

It's back to a normal week starting tomorrow; there are no holidays for us until Memorial Day (no Martin Luther King or Presidents' Day for us) and our accreditation survey is at the end of the month, so the next few weeks will be busy and tense. We do consistently well, but, like Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, "constant vigilance" is needed. My department comes under JCAHO's (that's pronounced Jay-co for those of you not blessed by working in healthcare) heading for management of information. Sounds reasonable, right? Fortunately I don't have scheduled time with the interviewers, although they can always come in and ask questions. We should be in good shape, but I think I'll review some of the policies, etc. in case I get a "pop quiz".

The other big thing for medical librarians this year is the institution of HIPAA's rules come this April. This is the legislation protecting health information privacy that's going to sweep the country. Again, we're in good shape, and I deal with very little priveleged information. But for those of you who haven't dealt with HIPAA, come April there are new rules for protecting your health information. So for those of you who have had someone shout out "this person is here for an AIDS test" (knew someone that happened to) or who have had someone leave a message on your home machine about a pregnancy or posted your name on a visible tote board, that shouldn't happen anymore. It does mean that it may be more difficult for you to, say, correspond by e-mail with your doctor (he or she may not be able to discuss your case over non-encrypted communications). The medical community has been preparing for this for several years now, with a lot of conflicting information regarding how the interpretation of the law works. So please be understanding if your provider says they can't share information a certain way or if you go through extra steps to protect your privacy. And if you are concerned that there may be a violation of your privacy, don't hesistate to say so. They're required to protect your information. Assert yourself.

Well, so much for that little pep talk. I suppose I actually should go to sleep so I'm ready to greet the week. 'Night.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

PS I heard excerpts last night from something I'm going to have to add to my wish list. They've come out with the soundtrack for Buffy: Once More, with Feeling (a musical episode from last season's Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Definitely something to play at work. :) Heehee.

Ah, the Saturday after a two-day workweek :)

When I woke up: 13:13 EST, then back to sleep from about 3pm-7:30. Didn't exactly mean to do that, but I moved the painting into the other room, let all the animals in (Spock was pining, and he's fifteen for pete's sake, why not let him cuddle, too?), and we all became a solid ball under the covers. I think they velcroed to me.
What I'm reading: The Man Who Fell to Earth, by William Tevis. This was recommended to me some time ago by my creative writing teacher, Gurney Norman. William Tevis had been a Kentucky native, and much of the book is set in this area. Gurney encouraged me to instill my writing, which is mainly science fiction and phantasy, with my knowledge and love of my home. He knew that I was proud to be Southern and of the tie I felt to the land; my family's been here since the eighteenth century, and even though I wasn't raised here full-time, it was always home. Tevis' language is wonderful; it draws you in and makes you feel like you're listening to music or poetry without realising it. I never saw the movie with David Bowie, but I can see why he was chosen for the role. I understand the book is supposed to be very different. I highly recommend it.
High point of day: Going to Fazoli's, getting a broccoli lasagna, drink, freezie, and cookie using a gift card (thanks Dwana!) that I got for the holidays, and reading in the sunshine. The amount of carbohydrates and the lack of metformin at the moment (forgot to get in touch with my doctor) probably contributed to said nap, above.
What I've watched: My Spiderman video--finally, seeing as I've had it for about a month and a-half. Enjoyed the little comic humour details like "incredible", "amazing", and running like he's Superman. [For those of you who have not been graced by comic knowledge, Spiderman is a Marvel title, Superman is DC.] When I was a kid, I subscribed to Spiderman and Star Wars, both Marvel. We moved around so much, and with comic stores off base, I wasn't able to finally get them until I started having them mailed to me in high school, after my parents divorced and we'd moved back to Kentucky. I think Peter Parker was the perfect hero for someone in my position--a geeky kid with no friends in a new place and too much imagination. I never could relate as well to Superman because, well, he just wasn't as vulnerable emotionally. Years later when I worked in a comic store, I tended to read DC, especially Sandman [which is not a superhero thing at all] and Legion of Superheroes [which is, sort of]. Even with a discount there was no way to keep up with all the stories of all the many titles of Spiderman and X-Men, and they'd done strange things in the intervening years where there were alternates to Peter Parker, etc., as Spiderman. I think the movie captured the spirit of the comic I loved.
Looking forward to: Tomorrow's game. I suspect more mayhem that will probably get all of our characters killed. But what can you do but trudge on. I tell you what, though--Spiderman's got it right--it's a lot easier to save the world than to deal with a bunch of well-organised, well-armed bunch of lunatics who try to take out the people you love, superpowers or not. And fiction or real world, it's what people can do to you emotionally or spiritually that's more important than what they can do to you physically.
Also looking forward to: Zabet and P's return. I missed them a little last night, when we usually play Scrabble and watch movies. I hope they're having a good time. I know neither Zabet nor I, who are both military brats, have a great record with keeping up with old friends, and I'm not sure what'll happen when they go away to Oregon for good. Of course, we didn't have e-mail back when I was losing touch with my childhood friends, so maybe it'll be different, especially so long as they don't drop off radar like our friend Tracy who works for NASA, who we finally found but never hear from. [Hint, Tracy, hint!] Still, I know it's important to Zabet to get away, although I'm not sure she's really going to find what she's looking for so long as she is looking for it. I suspect if she does, it's going to be one of those awful Wizard of Oz moments where she realises it was with her all along. I hate those moments; I suspect she does, too, but we all have them. Still, she's worlds ahead of where I was at her age, so more power to her.
Which reminds me: There is someone I would love to hear from, main male friend when I lived in Louisiana. His dad retired and they moved to Bossier City and we lost contact. Some of my best memories of my childhood were spent with him, when we were eight or nine. He taught me to whistle. So, on the rough chance that he ever puts his own name into Google to see if anything shows up, I'm going to put it here. Paul Scarboro (Paul Scarborough?), it's Lisa from Barksdale. Remember tracking what we thought were marijuana growers in the woods, or how afraid Kevin was of your poodle, Astro? Remember saving me from the snakes and stuff at the bottom of Flag Lake, and the day you stepped on a beer bottle there? Remember "fishing" with pop tabs and twine? Drop me a line. :) I'd also love to hear from Jody Sauers, Julia Hollinshead (both from Barksdale) and Deana Headley (from Belle Plaine). You all are even harder to find because you're girls, and who knows what your names are now. We're all in our mid-30s now, how weird.

Well, I think that's enough for tonight. I have some research on canopic jars to do. :) Toodle-loo.

Friday, January 03, 2003

I'm considered part of a "Wild Librarian" trend!

And as part of Library Juice, no less. :) And here I was worried that I give you all too much content, especially day-to-day diary stuff as opposed to traditional, in the news today kind of blogging. Well, I think I give you plenty of context anyway.

I'm not sure just what the point of this site is. Maybe I should have subtitled it "Diary of a Mad Librarian" since it's usually stuff related to being a librarian, dealing with mental health, etc. I guess that's how I envisioned it, at least. But I hope that if you read this regularly, you get a sense that librarians are just regular people, not those stuffy imposing stereotypes. We're interested in helping, and yes, we tend to have somewhat quirky interests--that's usually one of the reasons we wind up in the field, after all. At least I'm not perpetuating that "partying librarian" stereotype the author discusses. What, me, party? Gee, I don't even know how to start. Oh, and definitely read the article, or I'm afraid this post won't make much sense (not enough context!) The Will Manley quote is dead on, but then, Will Manley is sort of the Peter David of the librarian world.
PS I have no idea why the links to comments were saying "poseurs", which is according to AltaVista's Babelfish is French for layers but according to my French dictionary seemed related to a person with affectations (same as "poser" in English). Enetation's site did an upgrade of their features and so I've gone and chaged the settings, so hopefully they'll make more sense. Hopefully the comment link will change, but in the meantime, feel free to comment. I feel like I'm blogging in a vacuum. :)


Okay, I enjoyed being back at work, but I came home and by 5:30 crashed. I guess I got used to being off. So now I'm up and continuing a long-standing family tradition of eating cereal at bedtime. I'm also spending some time with the cats. I took my dog into the bedroom with me, because I'd had so much trouble going to sleep last night suddenly with so much space (from couch to queen-size) and no warm animals. I could let the cats in, but 1) I have a very fragile painting that needs to be reblocked on my bedroom floor at the moment and I don't want them walking on it and 2) they sleep on my head. I want my own pillow for a change, thank you. I've never seen such greedy, hoggy, pillow-stealers. :) Cerys pretty much is content to cuddle up under the covers, although she sometimes decides to sleep across the bed. But she's extremely comforting.

I did get written up today for an incident back in December when I left for a library conference and my boss didn't know where I was. I'm pretty sure I blogged about it at the time. While I clearly should have made a better attempt to keep her informed, I have to admit that the write-up, which was meticulously accurate, paints my boss, well, as an idiot. She clearly says she didn't see the note I'd posted. She states that she looked for me, yet she did not check with the receptionist, whom I had told where I was going, when to expect me, and where to reach me on my way to catch the bus. So I guess I have mixed feelings about it. I signed it and of course it'll go into my file.

I think my former boss, Kathy, would have handled the incident much better. Among other things, she would have taken responsibility for her own decision rather than laying it onto the HR director. But then, I'm not sure Kathy would have reacted the same way. Kathy was always more concerned that the patrons knew I was unavailable. The posting of the sign would probably have been fine. Kathy, I think, would have checked with reception, since we're all supposed to let them know we're leaving (and I might add, I'm one of the few who consistently does that, even if it's for lunch). Also, I think the basic issue is that my boss got embarrassed when someone looked for a poster that had been put in the library for our annual safety test and it wasn't there. It was there when I left. Given the timeframe involved, someone probably borrowed it (without leaving a note) around around lunch and I probably wouldn't have known where it had gone, either. But I would have just gone and found it so that the other person could use it. I think my boss got very embarrassed because she didn't know how to take the situation. I understand why. But I think the write-up had more to do with her embarrassment than anything else. I am sorry I put her in that position, although I didn't do so deliberately. I was just concerned at getting to the last meeting of the the year (I was president, and we were having elections that day), and between dealing with someone in the library and trying to catch the bus, I made a bad decision in not putting a note on her desk or getting that e-mail sent. I should have informed her earlier. But I think she should have handled it better, too.

Still, the write-up made it clear that there were issues on both sides, so at least that's something. I have made a better effort to keep her informed, and I think she's trying a little harder to not seem as abrupt with me. She's not particularly approachable; she's wrapped up in her own work, and I understand that. I think she senses that Kathy and I had a much warmer relationship. I saw Kathy the other day and just came up and hugged her, spontaneously, and I'm not a huggy person. But I tell you, when I was having my emotional breakdown, I think the only reason I survived, especially professionally, but on a personal level, too, was because of Kathy. When Kathy first took over (and my current boss was the original one which she replaced), I wasn't sure how to take her. She seemed came by more, and at first I thought she didn't think I could work on my own or something. I now realise that she was taking an interest in my work and in me. She was an advocate. She would flatly tell people when they were asking me to do inappropriate tasks. If she knew I was having trouble with depression and my blood sugar, she'd call and make sure I was okay. She knew, living alone, that I could easily have had my sugar bottom out and no one would know. She understood that my medication was sedating. She worked with me to make sure that I could take care of myself, go to my doctor's appointments, and still get my work done. She cared. I'm sure my current boss does, on some level, but it's not the same. I don't feel like I can depend on her to help me, say, go full-time or get to a national conference. Kathy would have at least done what she could on her end. And most importantly, as comfortable as I've become talking about my health issues, including the mental health ones, I just don't feel as comfortable talking with my current boss as I did with Kathy about them. Kathy and I were very open with each other. If Kathy wanted me to change how I was doing something, she told me why. She told me when she'd be out of the office (I never know with my current boss). She had a very open door policy (and was perfectly willing to close it to the rest of the world if we needed to talk privately). It seems whenever I try to talk to my current boss, she's out of the office or talking with one of the other nurse managers or care coordinators. I can pretty much only catch her if I schedule the time, and our e-mails almost always seem to cross so it's hard to do actual conversations that way. So a lot of little daily communication gets lost. Sigh.

Well, I think we're both trying to make it work. So we'll see how the year plays out. I think I need to send a card to Kathy and let her know how much I appreciate her help. I learned so much about dealing with people and putting them at ease from her. And given how much I've ranted in this blog, I suppose the write-up bothered me more than I've been admitting to myself. I feel like everytime I'm pushing forward, something like this happens, and yet the things I do day in and day out don't get nearly the same recognition. But I guess everyone tends to feel that way at work.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I think I'm going to head back to bed and try to get up early in the morning, maybe let Cerys play outside if there's snow instead of rain. 'Night.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

One of the great things about being a medical librarian...

Ample opportunity to learn new words. Today's is intussusception, an intestinal blockage most commonly occuring in infants. It's described as acting sort of like a telescope sliding over itself. Ew. Can you tell I'm back at work? It would be a great word for Scrabble, but I don't see how that combination's ever going to come up; there are too many letters (mostly low points) and nothing to really build upon, unless susception works. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Well, the world's still here, thankfully...

Happy New Year's, everyone.

I'm thinking back over the year, and all the changes, and while there were times I didn't think I'd make it, I now realise that I'm in better shape emotionally and socially than I have ever been. This year was one for building (and rebuilding) relationships, which happened as I started to get back my self.

While I was doing some work to reclaim my bed (it's been storing a painting, clothes, and many books for a long time, and I've been sleeping on the sofa) I came across a poor book that was falling apart (and yes, it came and that condition). I very nearly tossed it, thinking to get a better copy later. It was Sybil by Flora Schreiber,a fictionalised account of a woman's struggle to become whole which, with the TV movie that won Sally Field and Emmy as the title character, spawned a generation of diagnoses of Multiple Personality Disorder along with a predictable backlash. I read a copy from the library years ago, and I remember that it made me very, very uncomfortable--like finding some sort of forbidden thing and being titillated by it. Now, as I read it, I find that I mainly have sympathy for her. She was so talented, so strong, so fragile. She was overly dependent, I believe, on the people who did care for her, and there were people (such as the Teddy in the book) who perhaps had their own psychological reasons for protecting her, but it seems they helped her survive. There's a lot of controversy over whether her illness was truly multiple personality and evidence has surfaced to counteract the beliefs presented within the book. While the diagnosis may have been off, I think the essential issues were not--the abuse, the lack of love, the need to be accepted and the continual rejection she felt. This was someone who at the core did not believe that anyone could truly care about her, and in the end, I think it was a story of accepting herself--all of herself. That seems to be the main way road to recovery, from what I can see, for anyone. To love and be love, we must first learn to love ourselves and to be able to rely on ourselves for care, not abuse. I think the hierarchy of personlities depicted in the book may represent a way that the psychiatrist and patient could understand what had happened to her, a framework that helped them reach those core issues. I think dissociative identity disorder, which is what MPD is known as these days, which is seen as a spectrum of presentations, would still apply to Sibyl, though. The rise and fall as MPD as a psychological fad put a lot of confusion into the mix, but in the end, maybe those who are having similar issues will get better treatment as we learn more. I know that as I read, I felt close to Sibyl, for reasons I'll go into. Ironically enough, she lived in my own town until her death in 1998; in fact, we lived only a few blocks away from each other. She lived in a nice, quiet neighbourhood with her pets and with good friends. I hope her life after she came here was a happy one, and that now she is at peace. She seems to have had the life she longed for.

I have to admit, the historian in me is very intrigued by the relationship between Ms. Mason and her doctor. I have to admit I'm curious as to what Dr. Wilbur's papers will reveal when they are unsealed in 2005. According to one website those papers were bequeathed to a friend, Dr. Leah Dickstein, for eventual publication--but that site also contains errors, including the location of the University of Kentucky. The 2005 date I got from the above Newsweek article, and so I'm not sure where that archive is presently located. Because of the death of all three principals of the book (the author, the patient, and the doctor) and the revealing of Ms. Mason as Sibyl elsewhere, the library of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which has archived Flora Schreiber's papers, has unsealed the last of those archives. While on one hand, I think that it's a shame that opportunists chose to "out" Ms. Mason, who was understandably concerned with her privacy, I think the world itself would benefit from a study of her life and those with whom it intertwined. Certainly I think their relationship is not fully understood. It rather reminds me, at least superficially, of how the relationship of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller was perceived by outsiders. People accused Anne Sullivan of "creating" Helen Keller in much the same way they have accused Dr. Wilbur of "creating" Sibyl. Hmm...maybe that's a doctoral thesis in the making.

Anyway, I can sympathise. My own mentor and I have very different personalities, although similar interests, but people assumed that I was some sort wind-up toy he'd created. The truth is we approach life quite differently and disagree on some very basic ideas. [Ironically, a friend of work, whom I am probably closer in terms of approach to life and personality, and I are seen as quite different by our peers because they don't know how similar our experiences have been and have preconceived notions about each of us, like that she's a "good little church girl" and I'm the "liberal pagan who's so academic". It's kind of funny, really. We instantly saw the similarities in each other once we started talking, and no one else can figure out why we bonded so quickly].

As to why I relate to the character of Sibyl as portrayed in the book--while not splitting into full-blown personalities, I spent my entire life dissociating when threatened, often losing time and memory of my life, although of course I didn't realise what I was doing until much later. My actions often came from child-like impulses that attempted to express my frustration over feeling unloved and unwanted. Unfortunately, while they allowed me to express emotions I normally buried away, the behaviour was often self-destructive, typical borderline personality sorts of things.

Everytime I started therapy (and there were several attempts over the years), I would describe how others saw me, or about things in my life--never feelings. Feelings were too raw, too terrifying. Eventually, though, my careful reserve fell totally apart. Reality and fantasy clashed when wanted something so badly to be true that couldn't be. Most terrifying of all was when I would fall into those labile "fits" where I wanted to run, wanted to die, wanted to do anything but deal with being me. Like a seizure, they came and went. After several, I realised that if I could just curl up in a ball--either in a bathroom, if at work, or in my bed, if at home, it would pass. The rare times it happened while I was driving, I'm surprised I didn't wind up a statistic, taking others with me. Those who saw me like that thought I'd gone totally mad. Most people never saw me in my full state of breakdown. They just thought I was moody. They didn't realise that every day was an exercise to see if I would make it to the next. I don't know really what to call that state--it was depression, and anxiety, and a host of other things, but the best way I can describe it is that my self unravelled almost completely. The medication helped stabilise the physical imbalance. The therapy helped me gain control and start rebuilding. I slowly started to live every moment, almost a hyper-reality, after so long. With help I started recognising when I would start to "squirm away" and go onto auto pilot. I started to deal with the consequences of my action. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like there are fewer hiding places inside me, that I can walk through the rooms of my mind without flinching. That's a lot.

So now as I read the story, I understand it in a way I didn't before. I think that's the key. I've connected to several people simply by admitting that I'm dealing with depression and anxiety. Mental illness isn't a thing that just a few have. Mental health is something we all have--and just as some vary from others in terms of physical health, the same holds true for mental health. They shouldn't be treated as separate things--a person dealing with a physical illness is more likely to deal with mental illness, especially depression, as a result of dealing with their disease. By the same token, a person who is mentally ill is less likely to have good physical health. Until we start treating the whole person, and indeed, the whole society/environment, people will suffer in silent agony.

I talked to my psychiatrist the other day. She suggested getting involved in the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill's programmes as someone who has been there and is doing better--a sort of peer advocate, I guess. I'm lucky. I do have supportive people in my life that help counteract the negative. Maybe I can have a chance to "give back" by helping someone else.

She was also curious about my blogging. I've never been able "to journal" my feelings, my activities, whatever. I was so strange to answer, when asked whether I keep a journal, that yes, I do--online. I think she was surprised that I chose to write in a forum that anyone can read. How people use the Internet fascinates her, she said. I told her that someone could do a search on "OCD", etc. and get this blog. I suppose someone might use it against me. I could see not getting a job I applied for, etc. But really, I think the benefits outweigh it.

For those who do put up with my long ramblings, thank you. On the one hand, it's like I'm writing out in space. But it's sort of reassuring that there are humans out there who bother to click here. :)

Have a great new year. Peace.