From Scrabble to Scrambling

It struck me, as I came out of the numbness of winding down my time at school, that my really good health insurance would be ending and I'd have to pay for my own inferior coverage--and then the light bulb went off that there were some tests I'd put off, and a July check-up with the specialist who was keeping an eye on my anemia, so if I wanted them taken care of, I'd better squeeze them in before July 1.

So I'm running off to the specialist this evening, and doing the tests tomorrow afternoon.

Well, it's a nice distraction from being home and wondering why won't the phone ring, dammit?

Anyway. . . I also am finishing watching Coal Miner's Daughter, and I know I still owe posts for "Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything," so thanks for your patience. Oh, yeah, and I think I have to get two new tires for the car because the one tire that had a plug replaced went completely flat again. The timing on that is just soooo perfect. But hey, maybe the minute I take the car in to get worked on, I'll get called for tons of interviews! Hee hee hee hee. I love irony.

Normalcy should resume eventually. I'm hoping it will, anyway!


The Agony of (Scrabble) Defeat

I lost to my sister--my business-degreed baby sister--by 40 points.


Worst tiles ever.

In fact, at one point when it wasn't my turn, I needed to leave the table and said, "Don't look at my letters- On second thought, take a look and see if you can come up with anything."

We had two dictionary challenges (Mazda: nope, proper name from Zoroastrianism; and yup: did not appear in our dictionary) but neither one was mine. And yet I still managed to lose!

Even with a cool word like velour.

Oh well--at least there was chocolate cake.


Nooooo, Kitteh!

When you want my attention to get me to feed you dinner, you do NOT walk across the laptop keys, close my browser, and attempt to delete all the New Order songs out of iTunes!!!

Oh, for Pete's sake, sit down, already. Don't stand there and wolf down your food.


I'm Getting to Be a Regular at Staples (Again)

Yesterday's interview went pretty well, once I figured out how to get inside the building. The problem with working at an open campus is that you forget most other schools lock their front doors and require you to ring a bell to get in. So after that mild embarrassment of using my cell to call and confirm which door was the entrance to the building (the one with the bell and intercom, dummy), I did the whole application and interview thing. Nice people. I think they secretly found it endearing that I couldn't get in the front door.

This was at a private school, for the middle grades, and one advantage I have--that I totally forgot about--was that this school is a feeder school for my high school and has been since before I went there. As in some of my high school classmates went there. So that gave me a chance to brag about my being a scholarship kid there. (This has been a sticking point with us librarians lately, that we don't blow our own horns enough when it comes to who we are, what we do, what libraries do, etc.) Oh, and the rest of my Solid Christian Upbringing came in handy, too.

I don't know if it's enough to compensate for the fact that I haven't done as much teaching at that grade level as I have high school, but I have a good feeling I will make it to Round Two. Just as soon as I knock out this thank-you letter and get out the door to do my faxing and mailing.

The whole not-going-back-to-school thing hits me every once in a while--stuff like Where do I get health insurance and Where are the jobs and It's scary to be starting over, and of course the sting of rejection--but it feels too pathetic to cry alone, and I have too much to get done, so I have to just keep on working and try to salvage something of my so-called summer vacation.

At least it has some time to get better.


A Raincheck on That Sleeping in Wednesday Plan

Got home tonight and there was a message on my voicemail from a school where I'd sent an application nearly two weeks ago. They want me to come in for an interview Wednesday morning. I will have been out late at a ballgame, but that can't be helped. Heck, it might even help me de-stress a bit. I used to go to concerts with my late friend J right before finals when we were in college.

That message was just one of the unusual things that happened today. Earlier in the day, we had a faculty breakfast with some silly stuff and announcements (who got moved to another school in the district, who's going on maternity leave or sabbatical, that sort of thing). I got a paperweight as my parting gift. A lovely pewter paperweight with the symbol of the school where I won't be working anymore. The hot-headed part of me was tempted to see how far I could fling it.

The more sensible side of me shrugged and went for some more coffee to take back upstairs with me.

Definitely the coffee was necessary--it was close-out day, which turns out to be a scavenger hunt of sorts. The checklist you're given requires signatures from various departments, one of which is the library. So we had a parade of teachers coming in, some with arms full of overdue materials, asking us to sign off on the library part of the list that states they don't owe us stuff.

Some teachers owed us a lot of stuff and had no idea where half of it was. I wound up doing some September renewals just to make it easier. (Forgive me for feeling this way, but it's not my problem after tomorrow. Yee-ha.) And you know what? I got thanked by a lot of my fellow faculty. Two of the Social Studies teachers specifically said I helped them be a lot more flexible with their classes. And many teachers said they were sorry I wasn't coming back. (I'm sorry, too!) One teacher apologized because she honestly thought I was under contract and had no idea what had gone down. They're nice people and good teachers--I truly am sad not to be working any further with them.

After the parade slowed--which we realized was because it was lunchtime--my co-librarian and I swept through the building trying to get OUR scavenger hunt for signatures done. It was urgent for me, because I needed to leave early and I couldn't get hold of the principal (last on the list). The secretary wound up pulling the principal out of a meeting so I could get the signature, leave my keys, and get out the door.

Because I had to go get changed and head downtown for an audition. For a game show.

IT WAS A LOT OF FUN!!! I'm pretty tired right now, and my head hurts (probably from being all over the place mentally and emotionally today), but that was a great experience. I don't know what the results will be, but that's O.K. It was good to get my mind off things for a bit and spend time with my dad who only nearly got us killed in traffic once. (New record.)

Tonight, I need to wrap my thank-you gift for my co-librarian and write her a nice card. I have one more book to finish reading and return. (Yeah, technically my list wasn't completely true, but I also didn't hand in my hideous ID badge right then, either.) My library keys are gone so I will not be rushing to get there first thing in the morning, and actually it's not first thing because they decided to make all the schools in the district start at the same time which is the latest time (boooo!).

On second thought, I do get to sleep in a little bit on my last day.

I guess that's all right.

I have some things to look forward to.


Today's Thoughts

1. Today was the first Sunday of the summer where my little chapel is closed and I have to go elsewhere for Mass. (Next weekend I get a two-fer because I'm cantoring at the other parish where I help out.) I went to Mass at a family parish in the next little town over. I'm not going to criticize; it's just different from where I'm used to going. (Not to mention a half-hour earlier.) One thing that is the same is that they have a statue of St. Joseph in the sanctuary, so I paid a little visit after Mass and had a talk with him (the saint, not the statue). About work--or lack thereof--and dads, and decent men, and chastity. I asked him to pray for all of the above for me. Never hurts to ask for help.

2. Today, in the U.S., anyway, is Father's Day. So I wish all the dads a happy day, I pray for those who are missing their dads today and all the dads who are missing their kids today. It's a sweet day for some, a bittersweet day for others, and a day some people would rather avoid. That's life in all its human brokenness, I guess. I will be taking my parents to a casual dinner later today; Mom says Dad went and got himself some sticky buns for brunch. The man is a party animal, I tell you. (That's another thing--it was weird I didn't have brunch with my parents, because we didn't go to Mass at the same place as usual.)

3. Today I also am trying to prepare myself for tomorrow. In the morning, there's a faculty breakfast that should be hilarious because one of the teachers plays the M.C. and gives out awards (real and humorous). I was warned that he does a recognition for the long-term subs as well, and I fear it will stir up my sadness at leaving, not to mention my resentment of the whole unceremonious "dumping." I really don't want to cry in front of 75 of my co-workers.

4. Lately I keep hearing things that remind me of my late friend J. I can't remember what the last one was, but a weird story about a musical based on Depeche Mode's music (6/19 entry) just came up on Twitter. . . she would have laughed pretty hard. And then done everything she could to see it, I'm sure.

5. Still working on finishing the questions you brave blogreaders posed. Sorry it's taking so long. And while I'm apologizing for that, sorry for just being on one big low-grade bummer lately. I mean, I have moments when I can laugh, but then there are other moments I don't think I can keep it together because suddenly I remember crazy stuff like needing to figure out what I'm going to do for health insurance. I know there are brighter days ahead. They're out there, somewhere.

At the very least, I get to sleep in Wednesday morning, so I'm looking forward to that.

Have a good week!


Because I Need Something Normal. . .

. . . I'm posting the first two answers to the Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything questions.

From artiste extraordinaire Annie Coe: [W]hat is your fondest memory from childhood?

Oooh. Annie gets right down to business. Believe it or not, this is a bit of a toughie. I don’t want to be one of those “had a lousy childhood” whiners, but there were definitely issues—undiagnosed food allergy, transfer to a bad school, camping trips from hell, and so on—that don’t really lend themselves to Great Moments of My Youth. Instead, I had bits and pieces of brightness that I remember with fondness, I guess. I’ll share a few of those:

--Definitely any time I spent with my cousin “
Sonny (like the one mentioned in question #2 here). Also along those lines, there was this one time that my mom's extended family got together (not sure if it was a wedding/funeral, but it was in a restaurant), and I remember one of my other first-cousins-once-removed just took such an interest in me--one of so many kids! I wasn't even sure he knew who I was, but there we were, chatting away. He's still like that with me today at family get-togethers. I can hardly believe he's got a daughter in college and a son in high school now.

Late nights when Younger Sister and I would be getting along and could not stop talking and giggling, in spite of repeated visits from our annoyed parents, ordering us to be quiet and go to sleep. In the same category, the time we figured out the corner of the living room concealed by the Christmas tree and the sofa was the perfect secret reading spot. We laid down a kid-size sleeping bag on the floor and read all the books we got for Christmas. (I know, sounds nerdy but getting books for Christmas was a big deal. Sometimes we picked them out ourselves but we wouldn’t have them until we unwrapped them. I remember anticipating reading this one.)

Art classes at the community center after school. Maybe my parents didn’t have a lot of the necessary skills to deal with me, but at least they gave me something that was all mine (my sibs were never in the same class as me), some space to breathe for 90 minutes or whatever, where none of the other kids knew me—and trust me, a bullied kid is grateful to have her school-day reputation stay behind, even if just temporarily—and I could just work creatively, no hassles. The teachers were encouraging and not critical (which I felt most adults were towards me at the time, e.g. it's your fault the other kids tease you mercilessly). Maybe I don’t make art per se nowadays, but it’s always with me.

Question #2 comes from the lovely Amy G: If you were to give the commencement address at the high school where you work, what would you say?

Hmmm, another thoughtful one. I think I’d start off telling them it was a tremendous experience working with them in the library and the classrooms this past year--how enjoyable it was seeing them grow intellectually. I'd congratulate them for having come this far. . . and then I’d keep challenging them. The idea of “Do Hard Things” comes to mind. I can’t talk about religion, but I can still talk about character and ethics. Because my job involves a lot having to do with the digital sphere, I’d probably talk about what it means to be a responsible citizen, in the immediate community, in our country, online—and because of the online aspect, in the world. Whether they like it or not, they’re growing up and leaving behind the chances they were given to let things slide. In the world beyond school, deadlines mean something. Nobody’s going to write them a pass if they’re late heading to their next destination. They often complain that they’re never going to use what they’ve studied in “real life,” but now they are coming to the point where they realize our efforts were to teach them to think more than anything else. They are going to find out what really matters, and to what (or whom) they’ll be wishing they’d paid more attention.

And I really, really hope that if they’re heading to college, they’ll make friends with the university library staff.

More to come. . .



I decided to be up front with my principal and ask to leave early. She's in the middle of chaos (long story for another time but let's just say the budget got voted on earlier this week and there is FALLOUT) so I e-mailed and said sorry for the short notice, but I got called in for an interview and needed to leave early.

"No problem," she wrote back. "Best of luck."

There ya go.

The principal was being held up by some really long meeting (probably being run by the superintendent or curriculum supervisors or something). I had been waiting about fifteen minutes when she came out and apologized. . . and said it looked as if it would be another half-hour, easily, so could I reschedule?

Well, at least I got to see where the school is and meet some of the faculty as they were seeing the last of the kids onto the bus and grabbing things from the principal's office. One of them said she liked my red purse (courtesy of Dr. Red).

I dunno. I'm almost afraid to admit I got decent vibes from the visit. Yeah, yeah, it still took me 45 minutes to get there, and it's wall-to-wall little kids, and I haven't seen the library yet, but. . . not awful.

I guess I'll know a little better Friday morning. I am tempted to pretend it's a different interview just to make my school think I'm in high demand.


Round 2 Interview

So, while I was checking my home voice mail messages before meeting up IRL with the one and only Amy G (and the rest of the very cute G-fam), I found out I got called back for a second interview. . . for the elementary school position. You know, the one I didn't apply for but was mentioned while I was at the interview for the middle school position a couple Fridays ago.

The middle school position's off their website, so I guess in combination with the callback for the elementary position that means I don't have a shot at it.


I agreed to go to the interview anyway. I have no idea how I'm going to ask to leave early, because I'm not even sure where it is and how long it will take to get there, but. . . seriously, I don't know why I'm going. I do not want to go between two separate sites and the little kids are not my top preference. I haven't been keeping up with kiddie lit and all I know is the final Knuffle Bunny is coming out. That's it.

Smells like. . . desperation. I came home from school on Friday and there was a big envelope waiting to come out of my mailbox to tell me all about the options I have for COBRA medical insurance, because the school district hasn't made any hiring decisions yet for the coming school year. The monthly amount brought tears to my eyes.

It also smells like whining, so I think I'm going to go look up directions and then get my whiny, downtrodden self to bed.


Set Up

It was a mockery of an interview. . . a rejection disguised as a performance review disguised as an interview.

Apparently they were flooded with some stellar resumes, and I can't compete with more experienced candidates. I don't fit the picture they had in their minds for what probably will be my co-librarian's (sole) successor in a year or two. She knew, too--the minute I came upstairs and told her how hard they were on me, she said, "Yeah, I had a feeling they would be."

It was pretty hard to keep from crying the rest of the afternoon. I was hurt by their criticism (they brought up that last review as if it epitomized my entire year! WTF!?) and the "thanks for playing" compliments at the end. I'm sure the compliments were sincere, but thanking me for what I've done this past year pretty much signals the end.

Oh, and the advisement that they would be bringing the top candidates to the library at some point in the next couple of days so they could see the goings-on. They wouldn't be doing that if I were in the running.

My parting gift is that I have a prestigious school district on my resume'.

A broken heart, too.

I need a new school to love.

Here endeth JobQuest 2009.

Enter JobQuest 2010 in earnest.


It's Showtime

The first e-mail I read at school today was from one of the assistant principals, asking if I could come in for an interview tomorrow. I'm all keyed up.

Don't I get an e-mail a few hours later from the community relations person at my former bookstore that's all, "Hi! I heard there's a position open and [name of librarian she knows] is applying for it. I told her you work there and I'd ask if you could give her some pointers to help her out. Her e-mail is. . . I mean, you're the one staying, right?"

O.K. I've been getting zinged for the past week with not just, "Do you know if you're coming back next year?" but also the unwitting, "I saw a library job posting on the school district website, so who's leaving?" (Grrrr.) So that e-mail from the bookstore person just really turned things up a notch, because I now have a lot of information about a competitor. Talk about a surprise punch to the gut.

I just replied really quickly (just to get it out of my face) that the short answer is the posting is for my position because the person for whom I'm subbing resigned, and that I was applying for it.

Pretty soon after that I got an "Oh my gosh!" response, that the person had just assumed that I had been working a permanent position. That was appended with the assurance that *I* was the one being rooted for, and that no more info would be shared with the competition. So I guess all's well that ends well.

Sort of.

Friday's interview went O.K. They were running seriously late, so I got to hang out in the main office and see the usual goings-on with the faculty and students. The library was closed because the librarian was chaperoning a field trip. (Go figure.) They kind of rushed me at the end so I didn't dare ask to see the library, which was a bit of a disappointment, but then again this is only the preliminary interview. For a job I'm not sure I want and hope I don't need. Oh, it's not a horrible school or anything--it's a middle school* and everybody seems nice enough and the kids are polite--but it's very far from where I live. It also is in a school district that is ranked low for salaries in its county, and if the numbers I have are enough to make an estimate, it would be a moderate pay cut that would make things a bit hard for me. Especially if car stuff happens again, which would be more likely on a round-trip commute in excess of 50 miles, five days a week.

*They told me they also were considering me for an elementary position that's open but it's split between two schools, and we all know I prefer the older students anyway, so I really hope that's off the table.

I also sent an application packet to a private school (middle grades, again) this afternoon.

The big deal's at 11:30 tomorrow morning, so you've got a little time to pray and think positive thoughts.

Heck, even if you miss the time just pray/think positively anyway. Please!

I was able to rustle up just enough quarters so I will have clean things to wear with my interview suit. (I'm not talking "lucky draws" or anything like that, but, you know, I plan to be dressed for the part completely.) Of course, I managed to piss off one of my upstairs neighbors because I dared take her stuff out of one of the dryers so I won't be going to bed at midnight after folding clothes. You know, because she was hogging all three dryers. It figures I couldn't have gotten out of there before she and her boyfriend walked in.

Me: "I'm sorry I had to take your stuff out. I have a job interview tomorrow morning and I had to get these done."

Her: (Huffing) "Well, I wasn't going to leave it forever."

Me: "Oh, I know that." (I don't know why she got so defensive. I was assuming the best, and honestly if it hadn't been dry I wouldn't have taken it out.)

The next thing after the permanent job is better living arrangements.


Oscars Project: Movie #18

(Explanation of the Oscars Project here. If you haven't seen this movie before, there might be spoilers ahead!)

From 1982: An Officer and a Gentleman

Summary: Zachary Mayo, messed up equally by his mother who committed suicide (he found her dead) and by his (found) father who reluctantly acknowledged him and raised him without giving up his own licentious crazy-sailor lifestyle, signs up for training camp to be a navy pilot. He's got thirteen weeks to prove to his drill instructor (Louis Gossett, Jr., Oscar winner) he can cut it as well as to win the heart of townie/paper factory worker Paula (Debra Winger, Oscar nominated).

What I liked:

--Louis Gossett, Jr. as Sgt. Foley. According to Pickard's The Oscar Movies, "Gossett became the first black performer to win an Oscar since Sidney Poitier" for "The Lilies of the Field" in 1963 (pgs 114, 93), and he deserved it.

--Maybe I was fooled, but there seemed to be a lot of authenticity with respect to the training exercises.

--I did find it funny that Mayo was raking it in by selling his fellow officer candidates shined-up boots and buckles.

What I didn't like:

--Oh my gosh, the dialogue. It was pretty much all foul, all the time. I seem to recall as an elementary school child some of my classmates (boys) would quote some of the tamer things. . . I guess it was airing on HBO at some point, and back then parents couldn't lock channels the way they can now. That, my blogfriends, would be one of the major reasons I grew up without cable.

--The token woman who needs to prove herself in the training program. I get it, it was the early '80s, but it seemed a bit overwrought. Lisa Eilbacher was good in the part, though.

--Gere, on the other hand: not convincing. Every time he got upset and started yelling or half-sobbing or whatever that was. . . he sounded like a completely different person. Maybe I'm being too tough on him. I don't know.

--It honestly wasn't my kind of movie. I didn't find it romantic (I guess I've seen that stupid carrying-her-out-with-his-cap-on scene parodied too many times) and it's too gritty yet simultaneously superficial for my taste.

--Finally, the Oscar-winning song (don't make me say the name) just makes me think of a K-Tel Records collection commercial. (Shoot, I feel old just saying that.)

Peske and West listed this movie under the chapter's subsection called "War. . . What Is It Good For?" and said along with "Top Gun" this movie "made being a soldier look better than being a rock star" (p. 84). I think I'd have to agree with that, as well as with their inclusion of this movie in this chapter which you might recall had to do with all the '80s movies about being in denial. The denial here would be. . .

(1) people who had it hard growing up always will make it [Note: don't get me wrong; I tend to cheer for the underdog], and

(2) training to be a soldier is all about exercises and flying jets but not actual combat.

Feel free to disagree with my cynical opinions herein.

This review technically ends the chapter. I just realized this is the sixth movie from the 1980s I've watched, but for some reason I thought I still had one more to go and borrowed "Coal Miner's Daughter." (Funny how I mix things up when I'm stressed out.) It's not due back at the library until later this week, so I might watch it anyway.


This Parody Will Get Stuck in Your Brain

Survived the interview--will discuss more later. Man, I have a backlog. I hate that. Sorry about that.

In the meantime, yesterday my co-librarian showed me a pretty cool video that the University of Washington iSchool made to promote its research services. Yeah, there are a few librarian stereotypes, including the standard dreads-wearing MLIS student (who is cute anyway), but then again, library rock star Nancy Pearl (yes, she has her own action figure) is also in there.

We were thinking about showing this to the incoming 9th-graders, but the large martini glass has given us pause. These are 13-14 year old kids we're educating. Maybe we can edit that part a bit.


Still Trying to Get Myself Together. . .

So in the meantime, here's something to think about.

Had a lovely time with my 80-something great-aunt and great-uncle this weekend, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. (I know, wow, right? More about that, eventually. Plus unexpected other relatives' showing up.)

I didn't get the chance to pick up a card for them beforehand, so I went shopping for one today to drop in the mail and tell them how fun it was to see them. There are not many cards out there for 50th anniversaries, in case you haven't browsed the card aisle for one recently.

What struck me was that one of them said something like, "Look at all you've done," and there's a list of what I guess reads like a history of the average couple that's been married for decades. On the list is "raised a family." Well, I guess they did, just not an immediate one. See, my great-aunt and great-uncle didn't have any children. They doted on my mom and her siblings (my late grandmother was the older sister of my great-uncle), and I think also on my great-aunt's nieces and nephews. And then down onto the next generation--me and my sibs especially. I know there are some of my second cousins who aren't exactly on a straight path that worry my great-aunt a bit, too. She's very caring, almost to a fault. And she's the in-law! (Or "out-law" as she often jokes with the other women who are in-laws in my family.)

They often insist I come visit them at their retirement community to have dinner with them, and I never leave empty-handed after a visit.
It is amazing how they want to keep fussing over us kids when they both need oxygen on occasion and can barely walk.

Obviously, I didn't buy that card. That seemed a bit insensitive, you know? (And how many people married 50 years have had the sadness of burying one or more of their children? That happens, too.) I got a Sunrise card that has an illustration of a snazzily-dressed bear couple by Tim Bowers (scroll down to the "Bears" CD cover and you'll get the idea). Inside, the card says, "Side by side/ Year by year."

That idea seems to exemplify them well, and with all the crazy health drama stuff that's gone on in the past year (and man, summer seems to up the medical scares with them), I am sure they are happy to have another year at each other's side.