August 24, 2018

You know when you have a problem that has been bugging you for weeks? Like a door that doesn’t fit in its jamb anymore, or road work on your commute that slows everything to a crawl for a crucial 15 minutes. For me, one of those problems was my desk chair at work. I typically avoid office chairs – the ones that spin, roll around on wheels, tip backward, and are adjustable by height give a fidgeter like me way too many opportunities to get distracted. So for the past 2.5 years, I’ve been making do with this chunky, semi-upholstered old thing. Wooden legs, wooden armrests, and a saggy cushion. But the other day I got to a point where I wanted to go home sick, my back was so uncomfortable from sitting. So I grabbed this other plastic chair, bought a yellow throw pillow from Target to put in the back, and I’ve given that set-up a shot this week. And it’s amazing what a difference a small change like that can make. I had it in my head that this was always going to be my seating situation. Just, “Guess this is my life now.” It was a click moment for me that I could change my circumstances, even slightly, and be able to breathe a little easier.

  1. Crying in H-Mart, The New Yorker. “Korean people tend to disavow measurements and supply only cryptic instructions along the lines of “add sesame oil until it tastes like Mom’s.” Though we aren’t Korean, this reminds me of the way my mom cooks too.

    “I wonder how many people at H Mart miss their families. How many are thinking of them as they bring their trays back from the different stalls. Whether they’re eating to feel connected, to celebrate these people through food. Which ones weren’t able to fly back home this year, or for the past ten years? Which ones are like me, missing the people who are gone from their lives forever?” This is a beautiful piece that my mom sent me, and I’ll pass along her warning – don’t read it in public (unless you don’t mind ugly-crying in public, I guess). And then if you can, maybe call your mom.

  2. Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik. I loved this book. It’s a retelling of some familiar and some unfamiliar fairy tales, in a quasi-medieval fantasy version of Poland. It’s rich with Jewish culture and Naomi Novik’s exquisite gift of twists and turns. Something I love about her fantasy novels is that she is somehow able to spin incredibly high, even fantastic stakes alongside believable human motivations. I wish there was more fantasy like this out there.
  3. America is terrible at summer vacation, The Week. “As has been well-documented, America is the only advanced economy that does not mandate paid vacation time for workers. We also skimp on national holidays, many of which employees have to work anyway.

    But even the roughly three-quarters of private sector workers who do get paid vacation time from their employers are leaving that resource on the table. Per Project: Time Off, American workers collectively leave more than 700 million vacation days unused per year — even though that time is considered part of their overall compensation.” Grrrr! It’s so hard to take them, not just because we’re overworked but because of a sense of loyalty, or a feeling like, “Why should I take a vacation if I can’t afford to do it RIGHT?” Girl, just sit on your porch with some pink lemonade. I took a short trip to my best friend’s house, a longer trip to Georgia, and then two short “staycations” this summer, and I’m glad I did. Especially as I look down the mossy, winding path of the new school year!

  4. Group Cleanse? “As humanity flocks more and more to cities, I support anything that nudges us out of them periodically, and, hell, I support anything that reduces pain and inflammation.” This was interesting to read about. The author didn’t come right out against some of the weirdness (cultural appropriation, how social media influences our experience of nature) but he leads you there. This blog post introduced me to the concept of forest bathing, and while it definitely doesn’t sound like something I’m interested in doing with a group of strangers, mindfully experiencing nature is something I’m always going to be in favor of!
  5. My Service Is Not Selfless, Veronica Arellano Douglas. “This is my reality: I feel as though service is performative. The ethos of service in libraries makes it solely for the benefit of others. I have to actively work to prevent my service from becoming a drain. … I think we need to value the emotional work we do as teachers, researchers, and librarians and compensate it accordingly. Just because we can’t quantify our relational work doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It is the bedrock of our profession.” I have admired Veronica Arellano Douglas’ thoughts when I’ve come across them in her blog and elsewhere. I’m glad to join in with other librarians contemplating labor and service.

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