You Like Me. You Really Like Me!

Photo courtesy of 101fundraising.org

Photo courtesy of 101fundraising.org

So back in 2011 and 2012, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by two bloggers. I responded to both of them, saying that I was honored they thought to give me this award. That’s the good part. The bad part is that it’s taken me the better part of two years to actually getting around to what the award entails.

First off, thank you PoeticJourney and Write, Wrong, and Everything In Between for nominating me for this!

Second, I’m supposed to list 15 blogs I like/regularly follow. I don’t know that I regularly follow that many, but here are a few I really like and regularly comment on:

Don Miller’s Storyline Blog

Tara Anderson’s The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh!

Sarah Clare’s Behind on Books

Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half

Dave Williams’s Zooky World

(5 out of 15 ain’t bad, right?)

Lastly, I need to list 7 things about myself:

1. I think I overuse the word “anyhoo” when I write. I know I overuse the word “awesome” when I talk AND write.

2. When I was little, I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. I still do….

3. I think proper grammar is sexy (this includes the serial comma).

4. I’m a big sci fi nerd. Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Supernatural. Love it! (Haven’t gotten to Stargate yet, but I will.)

5. I hadn’t seen the movie The Goonies until last year (Stop judging me! I feel those stares…)

6. I love ice cream and milkshakes.

7. After some years of denial, I must admit that red is my favorite color, followed closely by midnight blue and black.

Thanks again for the award! Now ends my acceptance speech.

Librarian’s Spotlight – Alyssa Bussard

I am super excited to kick off the feature “Librarian’s Spotlight!” I love art (as showcased with the “Artist’s Spotlights”), but I also wanted to give exposure to books and libraries as well.  Thus the concept for this feature was born.

The inaugural interviewee is Alyssa Bussard. She is a New England librarian that has experience working with children. I love reading her bookish tweets. Enjoy the interview!

image (3)

Roaring Out: Please introduce yourself and speak a bit about your background with libraries.
Alyssa Bussard: The fun (read: real) answer (thank you Twitter profile): Let me ‘splain, no there is too much. Let me sum up. Librarian, Slytherin, villain lover, cat whisperer, embracer of the macabre. I read, I blog, and honey you should see me in a crown.(That last bit being a smile and wink to Sherlock…ahem, I mean, Moriarty – I am not totally obsessed with myself that I think I deserve a crown) The professional answer: I have been a librarian on and off for 10 years, and I have experience working in every department in the library. The best thing about making my way through multiple types of libraries and jobs within the library, is that I was able to find out exactly what I want (and do not want) to do for the rest of my life! I have been working in a high school and middle school library for the past three years but I recently obtained my DREAM JOB that I have been waiting for! Say hello to the new Information Services Librarian at a very busy and amazing library in New England!

RO: What made you want to become a librarian?
image (4)AB: You know, I never really had the slightest idea that I could even be a librarian when I “grew up,” it was never a profession that seemed real to me. In terms of dream jobs, all I ever wanted to be was an English teacher. Being able to share my love of literature was something that I always wanted to do. Then, when I was a senior in college and in the education program, I realized that I really had no desire to teach. At all. Imagine my surprise! I was working part time as a librarian at the time and it was becoming more and more apparent that the job was changing and merging into something more than what it had been in the past. I took some time off and pursued my Masters in Library Science and the rest is history!

RO: What is your least favorite aspect of being a librarian? What is your favorite aspect of being a librarian?
AB: I think my least favorite thing about being a librarian has to be the stereotypes. The wide-eye stares and to the point questions like, “You need a MASTERS to be a librarian?” Or “Why would you need a degree to do this, don’t you just Google things?” This misconception that all librarians do is sit around, reading, and shushing is laughable. Librarians have to be able and willing to wear multiple hats at any given time, and we are expected to know everything, always! Which in a way, is my favorite aspect of being a librarian. I love that my job encourages constant learning and adapting to new trends, technologies, and education. It constantly keeps me on my toes, every day is different, and I am able to use and expand my thinking constantly. It also doesn’t hurt that I can rock literary tattoos, superhero shirts, and a picture of Edgar Allan Poe on my lapel with no one blinking an eye!

RO: Librarians have been pegged with several stereotypes. Are there any that you find particularly amusing?image (5)
AB
: I sort of touched upon this while answering the last question, but I think I went a bit on the ranty side. I find many of the stereotypes amusing. I especially love the fact that people think we spend time “shushing” all day. Let me tell you, I do not have time to “shush,” nor do I want to. I do, however, have time to very directly use my teacher voice and explain that how you are acting is inappropriate. I was working in a high school this past Halloween and my two coworkers and I dressed up like librarian stereotypes. I was the “hottie,” my coworker R was “the shusher,” and my coworker K was “the bun.” As you can see from our picture, we all have props, including cats, rulers, and Facts on File which have not been used for many, many years. It was incredibly fun to participate in since for as long as I can remember people have always pushed that stereotype on me. Especially in college. I’m sure you can imagine why.

RO: What is your favorite database/online resource? Why?
image (2)AB: My favorite resource might surprise you, I really use Goodreads so much more than I ever thought I would. I do a lot of readers’ advisory at my job and I am constantly searching for readalikes, and I can’t tell you how helpful Goodreads has been. If someone needs to know what the next book in a series is, I can easily search Goodreads. Recently, I was weeding my collection and recycling some old dusty books and there were some I was on the fence about, I simply searched Goodreads to see their overall rating and used that information to help me make my decisions! In terms of professional databases offered in the library, I love helping patrons use ancestry.com, it is incredibly fun to help them as they garner information on their family.

RO: What book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would recommend? Conversely, what book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would not recommend?
AB: I am currently reading an advanced copy of Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers, and I honestly cannot recommend this series enough. Assassin nuns. Enough said, am I right? It is so, SO excellent. I am also reading The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert which is said to be The Night Circus meets Water For Elephants. I am not too far in but so far it is really intriguing, so check back for my full report! I also just finished the first book in an adult fantasy series by Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora which honestly blew me away I loved it so much. I’m going to stop myself, you asked for a book – singular – and basically recommending books is my favorite thing EVER! A book that I would not recommend…if I am being honest, I try very hard to only read books that I know I will enjoy since I really have limited time to read, but I did mark my very first “did not finish” book this year, and I was very upset over having to do so. The book is Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler and the premise is just fabulous, it talks of a childhood friendship between a lonely girl and a kraken. The novel, however, was terrible. So terrible that I tried to pick it up more times than I can count over the past year and I just can’t get over how terrible the writing and concept is. I only got about halfway through and I gave up. Honestly just thinking back to it makes me a little angry!

image (6)RO: What is the best (most challenging or however else you may define “best) reference question you have ever been asked? What is the wackiest reference question you have ever been asked?
AB: My favorite questions are the ones that really make you think and research. I once had a woman ask me for birth and marriage records for her research of her family tree. The town hall in which they were housed in Pennsylvania had burnt down and it took us months to track down an archive that held the information. It was a long but rewarding process. I love when patrons come in with very little hope that we can help them and when we do, though it takes a little time, they are so overjoyed. That is one of the best things about my job.

RO: We all know that kids say the darndest things. As a Children’s Librarian, what is the funniest/silliest thing one of your littlest patrons has said?
AB: One of my favorite things about working in the Children’s Department is when the kids come running in screaming “ YAAAAAAAAAAY!!! I LOVE THE LIBRARY!!!” However, my favorite and funniest moment as a Children’s librarian happened a few years ago while I was leading a storytime in a very small library, with children ages 2-5. In Litchfield county where I was working at the time, we have a lot of hikers, many of these are “barefoot hikers” which makes them stand out a little more. At this time, there was a large group of hikers and campers who were hiking part of the same trail as the so called “Leatherman” (for more information on the Leatherman, go here) many of these people had not showered, or shaved in months, and looked like they were accustomed to mountain living. Well, as I was in the middle of reading The Stinky Cheese Man to my kids, one of the very bearded, barefoot hikers walked through the library with his huge pack on his back. He stopped and looked around at us in surprise, and we stopped and looked at him, my hand paused between turning the page. Then, he winked at us and walked out. Without skipping a beat one of my kids looked up at me, shrugged his little shoulders and said “WELL, everybody’s gotta be doin’ somethin’, Miss B!” To this day I can’t get over the 5 year old quickly responding to an event that stopped everyone else in the room.

RO: In your blog, Books Take You Places, you explore all things bookish, including give reviews. What prompted you to start your blog and take your love of books beyond the library’s walls?image (7)
AB
: I have my Bachelor’s in English, so I have always loved reading and reacting to different forms of literature. While in graduate school, blogs were really starting to become popular, and one of my classes had us discuss which blogs we used for resources and why. I honestly only found two to be much help as a reader and library professional, so I decided to start my own! I promised that I would only do it as long as it was still fun for me, and I wouldn’t conform to become more “popular.” It has really always been more about what makes me happy and not the “perks” that go along with having a blog. Another plus is that it has really helped me forward my career as I have gained more knowledge of different technologies through my blog and Twitter.

RO: What is something librarians do that, in your opinion, should be considered a superpower?
AB: Oh, so many things! We spend our days working with the public! In that sense, I think it is a superpower to always be “on” and able to deal with any type of person or situation despite how tired/busy/hungry you are. Additionally, I can’t tell you how many times people in my personal life call me with the most random questions simply because, “You’re a librarian so I figured you would know.” Well, we don’t always know everything! Given time, we do, however, have the (super)power to be able to find that information for you. I often do feel like a superhero, education does that to a person!

image (1)RO: Going off of that question, if you could have a skill that is traditionally considered a superpower, what would it be?
AB: The superpower I want more than anything…is to be able to read while riding in a moving car. BAM. Or, teleportation, whatevs.

RO: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into the library science field?
AB: Ohh this one is a tough question. One thing I can say is that it is absolutely imperative to have hands on experience. I can’t tell you how many people I went to school with who had never even volunteered in a library. It is an incredibly hard field to get into, job-wise. There aren’t many jobs, and so many applicants. You need to stand out, be able to adapt, and be unique. Always keep learning, and reading. Learn that technology, and focus on changes that you know are coming, but haven’t completely hit home yet. Most importantly, be sure that it is something you really want to do, which goes back to the hands on experience. It is not an easy job, and it is incredibly easy to get burnt out if you aren’t happy being around people all day!

 

Thanks for sharing your love of books and all this literarily quirky, Alyssa! Want to say hello to Alyssa? Keep up with her by following her via her blog, Twitter, or Goodreads!

 

Looking Ahead: My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks

‘Tis a new year, hence new goals.  As mentioned in my 2013 resolutions wrap-up post, last year’s goals, more than anything, served to show me what is really important in my life. As a result, I’ve tweaked the focus of my resolutions and broke them up into two categories: Reading Goals and Creative/Lifestyle Goals. Here’s hoping this new format keeps me focused this year.

Reading Goals

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve recently realized that there are a lot of “classic” books that I was never assigned in high school or college. I’d like to catch up on reading I feel I’ve missed out on.

The cover of the first edition of Adventures o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term “classic” can mean many things, and there are tons of classic book lists out there (seriously, just google it). I’ve come up with my own list to pick from, which is sort of an amalgamation of those I found online:

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
Dracula – Bram Stoker
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
My Antonia – Willa Cather
Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Two Towers – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
The Trial – Franz Kafka
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Tubman
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

2. Read 5 books I already own

I totally failed at this very achievable goal last year. As an attempt at redemption, I’m giving it another go this year.  I posted all the books for this goal last year, so instead of posting them again, here’s a list of some books I added to my shelves in 2013:

Cover of "The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry S...

Cover of The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry Series)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Endarkenment – Jeffrey McDaniel
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

3. Read 10 books on my “To Read” list on Goodreads

This particular list has grown quite a bit in the last year. I have 450 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list. I came so close to finishing this goal last year so, much like the previous goal, I want to try it again.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years

I keep requesting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of books, and publishing houses continue to graciously give me free copies. And I have yet to crack one open and review it. I’m actually pretty ashamed of this fact, so I want to play catch up by reading and reviewing all of the ARCs I’ve received since I first began requesting them two years ago.

Eve and Adam – Michael Grand and Katherine Applegate
Zealot – Reza Aslan
Trying to Be Cool – Leo Braudy
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Back to Christmas – Dennis Canfield
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro – Joao Cerqueira
Dukkha, the Suffering: An Eye for an Eye – Loren Christensen
Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Matters Familiar – E. G. Frabricant
Love & Math – Edward Frenkel
After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey
Hunted – Elizabeth Heiter
The Psychology of Twilight – (Eds.) E. David Klonsky, Alexis Black, and Leah Wilson
The Devil You Know – K. H. Koehler
Defy – Sara B. Larson
I Love My Slow Cooker – Beverly leBlanc
Sugar Hill: Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem – Terry Baker Mulligan
Doing Harm – Kelly Parsons
Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey – (Ed.) Lori Perkins
The Last Stratiote – LeAnn Neal Reilly
Lost at Sea – Jon Ronson
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
The Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
A Conspiracy of Alchemists – Liesel Schwarz
Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli
Son of a Gun – Justin St. Germain
Growing in Wisdom and Love: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation – Susan Stabile
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
You Got to be Kidding! – Joe Wenke

5. Read the four Gospels

I’m really bad at reading the Bible. This goal is my attempt to bring spirituality into my resolutions by incorporating something I already love to do: read. I think the Gospels are a good place to start since they are a manageable amount of content to cover in one year. Plus, I think the research nerd in me will love diving into lexicons and concordances in conjunction with the readings.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

Line art representation of a Quill

Line art representation of a Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests

The two years of my MFA led up to this manuscript, and I think it’s time I dusted it off and took it for a spin. I haven’t sent out my full-length collection since 2011 because I didn’t think it was ready. If I don’t work on it, the book never will be.

My writing has changed quite a bit since I graduated three years ago, and I’d like my collection to reflect that. I’m not looking for my book to be earth-shattering or print ready. I just want it to be a collection of poems I’m proud to put out into the world. I’m giving myself until the fall to send it out because that means I’ll have the summer to work on it. This time frame also gives me enough time to save up submission fee money.

Lastly, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with contest entries, so I gave myself the very low-key goal of submitting to two fall book-length manuscript contests. The more concrete and realistic the goal, the more likely I am not to be overwhelmed.

7. Send my chapbook out to at least five contests

This is a tweaked goal from last year. I wanted to publish a chapbook last year, but then realized there’s no way I can predict that. I can make publishing a chapbook a goal for years and never cross it off because I can’t control whether my book gets picked up or not. However, I can control how much I submit the chapbook. As a result, I’m going to give myself a number and stick to it.  This number, much like the previous goal, is very low-key and manageable. And, hey, if my chapbook gets picked up this year, even better!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig

This goal is a more “grownup,” practical one. I’d like a full-time job that allows me to be creative and have free time. Teaching is great for that. Last year, I sent out quite a few teaching applications. I hope to reap the fruits of these efforts this year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week

 

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This goal is another tweaked repeat of last year. I tried to work on art each week, which proved to be a bit too hard. Art is still very important to me, and I want to make time for it, so I’m setting a more realistic goal for myself. Hopefully, the amount of time I dedicate to art will increase as the year progresses and I learn to manage my time better.

Note: “Piece of art” here is defined in very broad terms. I’d like to work on a project related to the arts (poetry, painting, mixed media, jewelry, sewing, video, etc.) once a week.

10. Blog at least twice a week

I’ll do it this year, I really will!  I know I may fall off the wagon a few times, but I hope to post twice a week more often than not.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards

Here’s another “grownup” goal.  Being in less debt will make me happy, so I’m setting a goal for it, even though it isn’t as exciting as getting my hands dirty with paint or ink.

 

One thing I know I will constantly be reminding myself of in 2014 is that while goals are nice, the journey is just as important. I also tend to be super hard on myself sometimes. So, as I mentioned in my teaching post, I’ll also be practicing being kind to myself. Be kind to yourself too in 2014.

What’s one resolution you’re making in 2014?

2013: The Year in Review

It’s the end of the first 2014 day, so I’d like to recap my 2013 goals:

1. Work out at least once a week
Mission accomplished! I wasn’t doing so hot with this one earlier in the year, but since August, I’ve been consistently kickboxing each week.  I hope to keep this up in the new year.

Book collection

Book collection (Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

2. Read 20 books I own that I have not read yet
This one wasn’t as successful. I only read one book in this category (Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey – Crystal Bacon), but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

3. Read 10 of the books on my Goodreads list.
I was so close to reaching this goal.  I read 8 books (list below), and I’m hoping to get in a full 10 this year.

  1. Bake Sale – Sara Varon (January 2013)
  2. The Medusa Plot – Gordon Korman (January 2013)
  3. A King’s Ransom – Jude Watson (January 2013)
  4. The Dead of Night – Peter Lerangis (January 2013)
  5. This is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz (February 2013)
  6. Slapboxing with Jesus – Victor LaValle (July 2013)
  7. Drown – Junot Diaz (May 2013)
  8. Matched – Ally Condie (July 2013)

4. Publish a poetry chapbook with a press
This one, I now realize, may have been a misguided since I can’t control whether or not my chapbook gets picked up.  I can really only submit and hope, but I’m glad I at least tried.

5. Create more art (which is to say, work on a piece at least once a week)
This one had the opposite progression of my first goal: I started out really good, and then the art productivity steadily dropped. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked on a piece of art in months, but I do hope to change that as I have a couple of weeks off before the start of the semester.

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

6. Practice guitar at least once every other week
I don’t think I touched a guitar this year, which saddens me. However, this result did show me that while I like guitar, it’s not a priority in my life right now. I’d rather focus on activities that really excite me. Once time for those things is carved out, perhaps I can branch out into guitar.

7. Watch every Jason Statham movie
This is another mission accomplished! I finished back in September, and it was a great feeling. This was definitely a fun, quirky resolution, and perhaps I’ll pick another actor’s movies to watch in the future.

8. Try to post something brand new on Etsy at least once a month
This goal, like my guitar resolution, showed me what is important—right now, Etsy is not. Honestly, I grew weary of working on a piece of art and wondering if it would sell.  I want to get back to working on art because I love it, because it’s therapeutic, because it helps me relax. For the time being, I’ve closed my Etsy shops.  I’m not sure if they’ll make a reappearance. I’d like to hope they will, but time will tell.

9. Post on this blog twice a week
The progress with this goal was sort of a wave curve. I started off great, then dropped off, then got back on track, then dropped off again. It was definitely progress, but I don’t know that I’d count it as a solid win.  

Money cash

Money cash (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

10. Pay off one of my two credit cards
Another not-quite-win here. I paid down one of them, but it hasn’t been paid off yet. Meeting financial goals is hard, but, like most goals on this list, I’d rather try than make no progress at all.

I definitely didn’t keep as many resolutions as I thought I would, which left me disappointed. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this list helped me to establish what is important to me and what can fall by the wayside. This new knowledge has helped shape my 2014 resolutions, and I’m hoping that I’m able to stick with them a bit better than last year’s goals. Then again, it’s not always the items ticked off the list, but the journey, that counts.

I’m not that funny…

When I first started this blog, I didn’t have a clear vision for it.  I still don’t.  All I knew and still know is that I love to write and want a space for my random thoughts.  I really admire funny blogs, like Hyperbole and a Half and Second Lunch.  For a while, I tried to write like them in posts/e-mails/etc.  And it just didn’t work.  But I think I’ve come to the conclusion that just because I can’t really wit in the blogosphere, I can still add something valuable to the internet discussion, like this poorly rendered drawing of a bowtie attempting to smash a house:

Why yes, that house’s door is TARDIS blue, thanks for noticing 🙂

And yes, I can draw a straight line.  Just not in MS paint.  I also signed this masterpiece in the corner…like a boss (or a nerd. Either way, really).

For some reason, the bowtie’s head reminds me of a pterodactyl.  I should make another version of this drawing with huge wings on the bowtie….and a fez. (Update: those drawings can now be found here!)

Also, while tagging this post, WordPress suggested “blissdom” and I couldn’t resist.  It sounds so cool, like being in a dome of bliss.  What would that even look like?  I think it would be blue.

I changed my blog’s theme about a week ago to the snazzy one you see before you.  I thought it looked professional and modern with the pictures of nature and whatnot.  This post made you unsee all of that legitimacy, didn’t it?  Well poop…if you come back, I promise to be insightful at some point.  Here’s a think-y face to prove it /-{  <—– me with my eyes closed (crookedly) and my lips pursed in deep thought.

I really should have called this “Post Scripts, the Blog Post”