Sunday, January 21, 2018

she had the biggest grin on her face

We've had such a relaxing and fun weekend!  Last night we saw a roller derby bout (I hope I'm saying this correctly).  One of my new coworkers is on a roller derby team, and I've also been curious since reading Roller Girl.  It was... interesting and honestly, kinda too intense for me.  Rachel loved it though, so much so she asked me to buy her a shirt with my coworker's team on it.  So it looks like we are going again.  Before we go again I plan on asking my coworker lots of questions so I know what the heck is going on (when I'm brave enough to open my eyes).

Today we took Ella to the park and parked near a flock of geese.  I was a little surprised she didn't go barreling after them once she got out of the car.  It made me wonder if Ella pretended to be excited about geese for Rose's sake.  Rose loved all birdies, especially geese.

To my delight, once I decided to take out and run into the flock of geese (I'm not the brightest crayon in the box), Ella immediately followed me.  Once we sent all the geese up into the sky I turned and looked at her and she had the biggest grin on her face.  

On our way home from the park Ella was pretty pooped though.

Ok she was very pooped.  Chasing geese is hard work.  

I also happened to notice a house I'd never seen before.  I was so excited I made Robert stop the car so I could take pictures.  I was totally blown away.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jay-Z at the library

One of our regulars, who has mental health issues, came up to the desk and began rambling. From what I gathered, he was upset he didn't have a car and was just letting off some steam.

Suddenly, in a blinding flash of lucidity he said, "I’ve got 99 problems. I just brush my shoulders off."

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Goals

Every time I've sat down to write out my resolutions/goals for this upcoming year a poem by Richard Brautigan keeps popping up in my mind.

Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4

1. Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.


So yes, this poem says most everything I want to say about my resolutions/goals for 2018, but I've never been one for brevity, especially when it comes to lists.  So here are a few extras:
  • Be present.
  • Take time to enjoy the people (and my thug muffin dog) I love and cherish.
  • Be there for those people (and thug muffin dog).
  • Keep Seuss in mind when I'm insecure about my youness: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” 
  • Active listening. Oodles and oodles of it.
  • Make stuff. 
  • Write. Record Everything. 
  • Have an open mind. Be more flexible; slightly more flexible is better than nothing.
  • Relax.
  • Laugh.
  • Critique sandwich the heck out of any feedback.
  • Learn from others.
  • Seek balance.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

he will forever be haunted by the name Bert

My first storytime was as successful as it could be due to icy weather this morning.  My participants included two toddlers and two parents.  I did a slide show to not only provide lyrics and early literacy skills, but also help me stay on track.  I struggled a bit with the transitions but I'm not sure anyone noticed.

Because of the small crowd, I was able to take my time reading both books, and I enjoyed that more than anything else.  One toddler was outgoing, and the other very shy.  One book I read, Say Hello, was about the different ways animals say hello.  It's a very silly book with lots of animal sounds.  The shy toddler, who was very solemn until that book, giggled when I said "bow wow."  His response was awesome because "bow wow" was the animal sound I felt most insecure about.

Later, while reading my second book about a bird who is afraid to jump off his branch into the water below, the shy toddler began chanting "oh no oh no oh no" and only stopped when I closed the book.  Though I tried to dispel his anxiety, the shy toddler could not be convinced that the bird was not only aok, but even enjoyed the jump.  Thankfully once we finished reading the book and moved on to the next exciting thing, the shy toddler was over it.  Years from now, when he's thinking about jumping into a lake somewhere, he may remember Bert the bird and bravely jump as well.  Or he will forever be haunted by the name Bert, and have absolutely no idea why.  

At the end of storytime, after dumping the box of toys out for the two toddlers to play with, I asked the parents for their feedback.  I was delighted when one of the parents gave me a bit of very constructive advice, and hours later, while exploring different options pertaining to her advice, I realized something grand.  While merrily tweaking my slides and adding in the new information, it occurred to me I was having an absolute blast.

So, with complete sincerity, I hereby proclaim that storytimes are officially on my list of All the Reasons I Love Working at the Library.  Yesiree, that list.  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I'ma say all the words inside my head

2017 was an awesome and interesting year for music.  Over half of my top ten list were surprises, music I checked out from the library on a whim. Another surprise favorite was Lauren Daigle's Christmas album.  I love Christmas music and probably have about a dozen renditions of each popular Christmas song.  This is the first time a Christmas album has made a yearly favorites list. It's that good.

Top 10 Favorite albums of 2017 (with a few 2016 albums I didn't get my hands on until after 2017)

10. Lauren Daigle - Behold (Favorite song - O Come All Ye Faithful)
9. KB - Today We Rebel (Favorite song - DNOU)
8. Allen Stone - Radius (deluxe edition) (Favorite song - Where You're At, which is on the 2015 version I know)
7. Bernz - See You on the Other Side (Favorite song - Dancing with the Devil)
6. Odesza - A Moment Apart (Favorite song - Falls)

5. Johnnyswim - Georgica Pond

I love everything about Johnnyswim - their partnership, harmonies, musicality, and lyrics.  The married duo sing about the details of their lives - their marriage, baby (who sings a little on one track), and life making music together.  I get chills every time I listen to my favorites on this album.  I can't decide which song is my favorite either.  "First Try" and "Touching Heaven" are too close to my heart to pick just one.  Both are love songs and make me think of my Robert.   When the choir (yes, there's a choir!) starts singing in "Touching Heaven," you're my hallelujah, I know without a doubt, that's exactly who Robert is.  And I hope that I'm his too.  In "Georgica Pond" there's a line - I'll be your lighthouse, and it makes me think of everyone I love and cherish.  I think it's a beautiful metaphor for unconditional love.  Johnnyswim's lyrics give words to so many feelings I've never known how to describe.

4. Nahko and Medicine for the People - Hoka

I checked out this album from the library on a whim.  The album artwork is most attractive and absolutely impossible to resist.  Lucky for me, the music is just as beautiful as the album cover.  Every instrument and type of music under the sun is lovingly tucked into each song on Hoka.  There are so many influences - Native American, rock, folk, world, hip hop, country - all of which seamlessly blend together.  The overall feeling of the album is enchanting, cathartic, and empowering.  This six member band sounds a little like Tom Petty, Hootie and the Blowfish, Randall Paskemin, and Toots and the Maytals all mixed together in what I can only describe as pure musical bliss.  Nahko Bear, the lead singer, has a caramelly, probing voice that is balm for any soul, but especially a weary one.  My favorite song, "Backbone," showcases some incredible lyrics - And the wind becomes my blanket... And I will sit alone on mountains and breathe the name of all.  It's an album I'll listen to and love forever.

3. The Hamilton Mixtape

I'm not sure this is surprising, but I am one of those people who haven't climbed aboard the Hamilton bandwagon.  I can count the number of musicals I like on one hand, dead presidents aren't my thing, and I'm just not that brainy.  Though I haven't seen the musical (and am not really planning to), I did listen to both the original album and the mixtape. And I love the mixtape.  This probably doesn't surprise you, but I have a very complicated formula that decides my top ten albums of the year list.  There's a lot of omg this is great going on, yes, but that's only one part of the formula.  When this album popped up on the list I thought I had made a mistake.  But yes, Hamilton has somehow touched the most sour of anti-Hamilton hearts.  This album made the list because I listen to it a lot while writing.  Any music that makes the writing playlist is pretty special. Also, the variety of amazing artists on this album is very impressive, for example, K'naan, Kelly Clarkson, and !Llmind, who does my favorite track, "Take a Break (interlude)."  It's a track you can put on repeat for an hour or two of writing.  Fantastic stuff.

2. JL - Dibkis

My favorite rap album of the year is by someone I've never heard of.  This was another album I picked up on a whim while working at the library. Because JL is a product of strange music and Tech N9ne, I couldn't resist taking this album home. Interestingly enough, I loved this album but did not like Tech N9ne's latest album.  Tech N9ne's cameos on this album are wonderful, however, so I still love his music.  I must say I was very disappointed in rap music overall this year.  I thought most of it sounded like a bunch of mopey and sluggish old school rap that was much too serious for my taste.  JL sounds like he's having fun, like he enjoys what he's doing, and I appreciate that.  The lyrics are really quite tasteless, of course, though there were a few exceptions.  I really like a few lines in "Own Thang" - looking like I'm bad news and bitch I do my own thang, which no librarian needs to be rapping while tootling around in their fancy station wagon.  But I do. Though I had few bad days last year, "F**k Everything" always put me in a better mood and usually had me giggling by the end of the song.  "Elevated" was my favorite song though, and I listened to it constantly.  He really nails the rapping in this song, and it's a boo-yah song, which always gives me fire and energy to go after life. 

1. Imagine Dragons - Evolve

Ha, I bet you thought this list was devolving.  Turns out it Evolved into this moment, the number one album of the year.  I'm sure you are totally surprised.  I'm sure you have no idea how much I love Imagine Dragons.  They can do no wrong, really.  When I sing along with them I feel like I'm connecting with some unknown part of myself that I can only reach when listening to their music.  Like millions of others out there, I too, love "Believer."  It's my favorite song of the year. I particularly like the lines, I'ma say all the words inside my head and I'm the master of my sea.  It's the ultimate boo-yah song.  "Yesterday" is a very close second for me.  Is he singing into a can attached to a string that's strung between my heart and his mouth?  Yes, that's exactly it.  Every time the word yesterday comes up I always yell it as loud as possible.  It's so unbelievably cathartic. Thank you, Imagine Dragons for another outstanding album.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Rosie Posie

Last Friday we lost our lovely Rose.

The sudden loss of such a positive and intregral part of our family has been devastating.  

Last Wednesday, the day after we returned from Texas, Rose threw up several times.  This wasn't too concerning because she had a tendency to do this whenever she drank too much water.  Robert was also very sick with the flu. When I woke up Thursday Robert was struggling to breathe so I rushed him to the emergency room. On the way there I realized I hadn't checked on the dogs.  I texted Rachel and she said Ella had been out to potty but couldn't get Rose to stand up.  Rose often struggled to get up because of what we thought were her hips. I dropped Robert off at the emergency room and raced home.  

I couldn't get Rose to stand up.  I've never felt so helpless in my life.  Oddly enough, when I thought of asking for help, the first person that came to mind was our introverted, very unfriendly neighbor.  Thankfully I didn't doubt myself because he helped me carry her to the car without a word. On the way to the vet I felt like I was falling apart.  I called Scott, my brother, and he talked with me and gave me strength.

On my way back to check on Robert, my chest hurt so bad I knew I was in trouble.  Thankfully Robert only had a touch of pneumonia due to complications from the flu and I was able to take him home later that day where we could both rest for a bit.  

When the vet called and told us to pick up Rose, I was so hopeful.  But she needed a sonogram, which our vet didn't have.  We spent one last evening with Rose, who grew increasingly worse.  Robert was still very ill.  I had just caught the flu myself, and we were all trying to grapple with the news that Rose was leaving us.  But I'm glad we were together.  Friday morning Robert and I took Rose to the vet where they did the sonogram of her tummy.  When we found out she had cancer and there was nothing that could be done, Robert's mom picked up Rachel from school, and we all crammed ourselves into the small examining room with Rose to say goodbye.  

I have been mired in negativity the past few days. We were so sick over the weekend I hardly remember anything except grief and pain, and the two blended into one solid lump.  Oddly enough, when I woke up this morning, I knew I was getting better because I could feel the emptiness.

But I got up.  As cheesy as it sounds, Rose wanted everyone to be happy and I've decided I'm going to fake it until I make it.  

Rose lived for the happiness of others.  She knew we loved her unconditionally and was always happy so long as we were happy.  She lived a long life, 11 1/2 years, and spent her last days on a trip where she was cuddled nonstop.  And she must have told Ella not to worry because Ella is handling her absence better than the rest of us.  And I've always trusted Ella.

Dear Rose, here's to 11 years of love, kisses, tug of war, cuddles, fountain flopping, squishy mud, swimming, walks galore, talky box places like the bank, friends aplenty, bedtime, and belly lovins'.

We will love you always, Rose.  You were such a good friend, protector, and beautiful soul.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Robert, Rachel, Audrey, the dogs, and I just got back from visiting my brother, Jason, in Texas! Though we were iced in one day, and pretty much everything was closed for both the ice and holiday, we had a fantastic time.  We spent most of the time cuddling with the dogs.  Jason's two dachshunds are even cuter than our dogs and insist on cuddling with whoever is sitting down.

I also met Jason's brother, Bill, and he was just as awesome as I imagined him to be.  We met with the whole family for pizza the night before we left and had a wonderful time sharing stories.  

It was such a fun and relaxing trip.  

Rachel with Spanky and Cooper

Ella, Rose, and Robert had their own cuddle party going

Though we were too cold to take many pictures, Robert did snap one of Jason and me.  We look like two people who have no idea that ice is on its way.  

Even though it was cold, Robert, Rachel, and I added another state picture to our collection

Monday, January 1, 2018

Art, Dancing, & micro memoirs

Happy 2018!  December was another great month for reading.  Here are my favorites!

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say

Another beautifully illustrated book by Say. I am enormously impressed by the amount of research Say put into this book so that he could draw and paint like James Castle did with the same limited materials. The story of Castle's life starts out sad. No one can understand Castle, who was born deaf and autistic, and the neglect he endured is appalling. But once he finds a way to draw his happiness, he never stops, and after many years, his art gains recognition and praise. Say has written a very interesting biography, one that can easily stand alone without illustrations, but it is elevated and brought to life by Say's incredible art. My favorite illustration, which is on page 14, is a very raw and chilling drawing of Castle’s frustration. I also loved reading about how Say's wife helped him create this book. If you want to find out how, you must read the Author's Note. You won’t be sorry!

The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler

The illustrations are gorgeous and many of the lines are both simple and descriptive. For example, I love the line "A blue fox slips through the arctic cold." Occasionally, Simler gets a little carried away with the big words - vulturine guineafowl comes to mind. The illustrations are absolutely magnetic though, and they pop right off the page. If I were reading this with a young audience I might omit a few of the bigger words because this book is just too beautiful not to share with everyone. 

Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley

The very first time I read this book, I couldn't help but act it out. The excited kids and smartly-dressed animals look so affectionate and ready to share the fun they are having. I've read it many times since then, and each time I noticed something different. The kangaroo mama is wearing a kerchief, the bear is wearing a straw bowler, the mole/squirrel/rat has custom-made pants for their mole/squirrel/rat caboose. This is one of those special books that both ensnares its audience's attention and encourages movement and play.

Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly

Fennelly is hilarious, concise, and brazenly candid. These uniquely-shaped chunks of poetry are beautifully written. For the most part, Fennelly is straight to the point in a singsong, rambling kind of way, very conversational-like. But she also cleverly sneaks some flourishes in. These sparsely-sprinkled flourishes hit like a punch. The best example, I believe, is the poem Small Fry, where her friend's grandpa "held [a fry] out to [her], a tiny sword, cold as if pulled from the heart of a stone." Small Fry is only one of many poems that resonated with me. I loved her Married Love poems for their hilarity, sly romanticism, and perverseness. Another favorite of mine, Small Talk at Evanston General, was quite direct in its intimacy and pain. I felt like the scalpel was slicing through me when I read, "He untied her gown with one hand and slipped the black Sharpie from his pocket with the other, clamped it between his teeth to remove the cap, then drew dashes on my mother's naked chest, indicating where his scalpel would go." I also appreciated the structure of the poems; some read like micro essays, others more like aphorisms.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Scenic Rail Tour

Something very big has happened...

We received the issue of Rosebud Magazine that features the 2017 Dylan Thomas American Poet winner.

And that winner is yours truly.

It's really a great issue.  And I'm not just saying that because my poem, Scenic Rail Tour, is in there. This issue is simply packed with awesomeness. Awesomeness that includes some very special artwork.

Including what is now my new favorite back cover:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ok library holds, your message is loud and clear

Yesterday I had three holds to pick up at the library.  

I think they were trying to tell me to get the heck out of Kansas and go some place warm.