I’m not sure when I got old. For most of my life I’ve been the youngest. I was the little sister. My birthday is in June, so I was the youngest in my class. When I became a teaching assistant in grad school I was the youngest TA at 22. Then when I became a reference assistant at a public library at 25, I was the youngest reference assistant. Later when I started working at another public library, I was one of the youngest employees there as well. When I first got my current job, I was one of the youngest.
Than came Young Alice. I call her Young Alice because she has my name. Which is unfair, because I had it first. Not only that, she has a job that makes way more money than mine makes. While filling in, I decided I really wouldn’t like that job because you get a lot more students expecting you to help them, whereas at the moment I work on the far end of the second floor and no one comes here unless they really, really want to, or more likely, they’re extremely lost. So it’s not like I’m jealous of her position per say. But her age disturbs me.
You see, Young Alice is almost 12 years younger than I am. How is that possible when most of the time I feel like I’m 12, even though my eldest child is almost 14? And these babies are just going to keep coming because I keep getting older while new people continue to be born and get jobs and crap. WTF. This is not the way I ever pictured it. You never picture growing old when you’re young. It’s like, I will be this way FOREVER, yay!
Young Alice is where I was so many years ago. Young, idealistic, full of energy. I realize now why some women get really irritated at younger women. It’s like, will you get older and get jaded with life already? But honestly, I bear Young Alice no ill will. I don’t want to be that age again. I’d like to have that energy and awesome metabolism, sure, but you couldn’t pay me to go back to 26.
I like where I am now, because – dare I say it – I actually have a little wisdom to offer. I offer it to my children, all the time. Know when to hold ’em, I say. Know when to fold ’em. I talk to them about my values, and why I have them, while trying to precariously balance between telling them how I feel and telling them what they should feel. Yet it really is a gift to be able to offer the younger generation some of what you’ve learned. It’s something that some of my former bosses, as bitter as they were, didn’t get because they were busy being jealous of that all revered youth. Youth is fleeting, but intelligence (or dumbness) is not. It’s with you forever, or at least until you start losing your memory and pooping in your pants again. Okay, that wasn’t a great endorsement for growing older.
Sure, there is a lifetime ahead of me of working at a job that – no matter how much it fits me – is going to be long and boring a lot of the time. And eventually I’ll get gray hairs and wrinkles – I think I may have some wrinkles on my forehead though I try not to look too hard. Because then I see the very faint mustache that no one else notices but me. I hope. So far my kids appreciate what I have to offer, though I’m well aware there will come a day when, as my mother has said, I will turn into Cassandra from Greek Mythology. She knew the future, but no one believed her. Welcome to the teenage years.
I am becoming living history. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing and the babies that died. I remember 9/11 and the terror we felt. I remember what it was like to carry two babies inside me. I remember what it was like to be a young mom, poor and half-insane from sleep deprivation. I remember what it was like to fail, to feel hopeless, and to rise back again.
Everything that has happened to me, good and bad, has shaped who I am now. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve also made a lot of mistakes – but not nearly enough. Because I’ve been afraid to try. I don’t want my kids to be afraid. I have the power to help them with that. And one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll live long enough to be a grumpy old bag that goes to the library and annoys the crap out of people but gets away with it cause isn’t she sweet? Young Alice may be the one helping me find that elusive book that doesn’t exist cause I just made up.
Till then, there’s a lot of life left to do. Time to get to it. As soon as I’m done watching this youtube video with cats.
I pulled this one from the 2011 archives (otherwise known as when Alice lived at blogger and had no readers sadface). . . just like in a real library!
This ain’t yo mama’s library. I’m pretty sure that’s a library’s slogan somewhere, possibly somewhere in the Bronx, though more likely in some nice suburban area that is attempting to be “hip”. So hip that they haven’t figured out that no one uses that word anymore. You see, the idea is that if libraries are to survive, we must appeal to everybody, because everybody is a stat – er, an important member of society. Plus, they technically pay us through their taxes. So it pays to please them.
If you are a public librarian, as I was for several years, this involves pleasing the public. The public consists of all those huddled masses causing the librarians to yearn to breathe free. Old people, young people, poor people, dumb people, stinky people, weird people, you see all kinds there. And you help them, even if they wear tin foil on their heads and insist the government has caused their open head injury. (Haha, yeah that wasn’t a joke). If you want to meet all sorts of new, interesting, and possibly dangerous people, work at the public library.
There are other libraries to choose from, of course. You could try to be a school librarian. Not bad, eh? Summers off, and all you have to do is read books to kids! Oh, and uh teach lessons to six or seven classes of kids from all grade levels and with various special needs. And do every bit of clerical work, because you have no staff. And listen to teachers tell you how good you have it. They have to be with CHILDREN all day long, for crying out loud, and they want vengeance. This often consists of assigning children projects on subjects like playa lakes, on which the library has exactly one book. On lakes. Period. My mother was a public school librarian for years. Her advice when queried is “Run. Run fast.”
At the moment, I am an academic librarian. You don’t get a lot of bums here. Most of the students know how to bathe. And usually they can find their way to the library without their teachers, at least after they’ve shown them once or twice where the building is, and that it, in fact, exists. They don’t, however, know how to get anywhere without being plugged into at least 3 electronic devices at one time. These cutting edge bionic children are our future. And our future doesn’t know where the reference desk is – that big desk with the giant sign labeled REFERENCE. Not that it matters, since they also don’t understand what reference is, or why one would need it. I mean, we got rid of books years ago, right?
Nope, sorry to dissapoint. Everything has not yet been converted to digital. By the time it is, we will certainly then be writing in midair with our fingers, and paying through the nose for it – perhaps literally through the nose. Until then, while we do have computers, databases, DVDs, and even a coffee shop in the library, we’ve got books too. Many students find they make great coasters.
But I’m being mean to the students. They aren’t all overly connected, out-to-lunch dunderheads. Occasionally you get the stray one that has somehow managed to get away from the pack, who really likes learning, and books, and hanging out in libraries. They’re kind of like those albino lions – protect them! Most are more like cows, wandering aimlessly, mooing here and there and walking into walls and signs labeled with where they need to go. Sure we could warn them, but they can’t hear with the I-Pods in their ears, and they can’t see while texting, so it wouldn’t do much good.
But this is where I am, and it works. Sadly, there are many who don’t see the need for libraries. These people often never used libraries, and it shows on their grade reports. Lucky for them, you don’t actually have to know anything to run for public office. Unluckily for us, these are the people making decisions on where to cut funds. “Heyyy, I know, how about that stuffy building with those – whatchamacallims – oh yeah, the sandwiches with the words inside. Books! And while we’re at it, let’s just knock down the whole durn university, with all them elitist snobs. Let them find a job doing real work, like misusing federal funds to buy new office furniture. That’ll show ’em.”
We have one shot. We must prove we are vital to the future. To all you future librarian hopefuls, I charge you with this mission. Update your resume, and make sure it includes food service.