Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, March 29, 2002

To paraphrase: I feel giddy, my head is spinning...

Today I felt the best I had in a very long time. It was sunny, warm enough to not need a jacket and to push the envelope on wearing sandals (hey, they weren't white, and I try to let my feet breathe from about March to November when possible), with a nice spring breeze. We've had lots of rain (too much rain--it's been flooding all over the area) and everything is greening up. The forsythia and sweetblossom shrubs are blooming. There are crocuses (croci?) and daffodils, and...well, you get the idea. I have spring fever. I very nearly danced on the way in to work today. (Okay, I did actually spin around a couple of times, although not while I was walking up the road, just in the hospital driveway with no one about. What can I say? I had on a folksy full kind-of-broomstick skirt on. It's fun to spin with the skirt out.) The little creek that runs by my house was at that perfect babbling-but-not-inudating/carrying you away stage. There's a mourning dove pair already nesting in our courtyard at the apartment, and the cardinals were making out like crazy on my way to work. (Yes, for those of you who are uninitiated, birds have sex. I've had to explain this to no less to two coworkers in the last few months. Yes, that's a strange topic for work. But as a librarian, I have a reputation as a 'font of all knowledge', so they tend to do things like point at a random duck couple that spent a couple of days in the hospital courtyard to take shelter from the storm and ask 'so how do they get ducklings'. I might add that these people are normally a good deal older than me, and probably never had sex ed in schools. Maybe they just think birds are fighting when they're doing all that flapping. But hey, it's nice that they're curious enough about their world to ask. I have to admit, I had a hard time with the follow up, "but how could a dozen eggs fit in that little bird?" I should probably look it up; one, I'm curious myself now. Two, it'll no doubt come up again.)

I love my work, my work environment, and my coworkers. They are usually very savvy people; many after all make life and death decisions all the time, and even the non-clinical people have managed to raise families and overcome a good many obstacles. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, especially since most of them have no clue that our journals are alphabetised by title, or that the labels on the book spines have any real purpose. But its not the academic environment I'm used to. I'm probably one of the most liberal people there, and there's one person I'm slowly exposing to my radical ideas (mainly because she comes in, reads the papers, and asks what are probably rhetorical questions that I go ahead and give my take on). And there are sometimes some handicaps to being a reader. I can't use words like "drake"--see aforesaid duck discussion--or "gnosis" without getting strange looks or a request for a translation. There's one woman whose dialect (I'm being very kind--one thing they drill into your head in linguisitics is that you study descriptive grammar [how people talk] rather than prescriptive grammar [how you think they should]) I can barely make out--and I can understand everything from Yorkshire to Harlem English to someone with major Turette's syndrome. But I have a lot of respect for her. She was orphaned as a young girl and grew up with a foster family who saw her as more of a servant than a child, I suspect. I think she was sick a lot, too, and so wasn't in school much. I'd say she's in her 60s, probably from that last generation where rural kids weren't always sent to school if there was work to do on the farm. She married very young to get away from the family, then farmed, raised her kids, and worked very hard to make sure they didn't have the same sort of upbringing that she had endured. This all came out in a talk we'd had around Christmas about what kids expected today vs. in her youth. She was describing her childhood unselfconsciouslly--she couldn't imagine any other sort of upbringing, and while she realised it wasn't ideal, I'm not sure she realised how abusive it was, because it was normal for her. But she was proud of overcoming it. I remember thinking at the time how much more she deserved, how much more all children deserve, and I was proud with her. I'm sure a lot of people I went to school with would just see her as an ignorant hillbilly. But I understand the older rural mentality so prevalent here--some of my family come from that world as well. It's a world where independence is valued far more than education, land is more important than salary, community influence is more important than money or things, and family is sacrosanct. In many ways, rural Kentucky culture is a continuation of the highland cultures in Britain from which it derives. I kind of feel like I'm somewhere between that world (which I grew up in only tangentially) and a more cosmopolitan world (the legacy of my travels as a child and my education). I guess one of the best things about my workplace is that there are so many different "real world" viewpoints that I wouldn't have been exposed to if I'd stayed in academia. And I've learned that one of my greatest strengths is that for all that I'm phobic about groups, one-on-one I can find some common point to connect with just about anyone.

Hmm...I'm not sure whether there was a point to that rambling bit of prose. Suffice to say I'm glad it's spring, I'm already tired of rain (although it's doing a lovely job of greening everything up), and I'm just, well, happy. I took a long walk yesterday and walked my dog along the brook today and let her go for a roll in the grass. I can't watch her roll with such abandon without being happy. It's just so unusual to get a break from my normally depressed mood that I've felt almost manic in comparison, ,but it's just really being content and happy and enjoying being alive. I highly recommend taking one bit of nature today and focusing on its sheer beauty. You'll be glad you did. :)

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