Forgotten Ghosts, Abrupt Memories

Yesterday, The Pitch released an article that discussed the voucher system both DeVoss (current sham of a Secretary of Education) and Greitens (current MO governor) want you to believe actually works, when in reality, it’s been shown that it hinders: the less than average education and testing abilities of students who had used a voucher system to attend a private school, for one thing. However, it mainly focused on the dark side of public money funding private, religious schools: the emotional, mental, and often times physical abuse students are subjected to under the protective, blindly-tolerant umbrella of fundamental Christianity. Specifically, the article tears apart the carefully created, but easily destroyed image of Tri-City Baptist Church & Christian School: a monster of a church that squatted on a hilltop, cold and foreboding in the middle of Independence, Missouri.

As I began to read the article, I was not prepared for the torrential downpour, the flood of emotions that surged through my body. Memories that had been buried for 15 years came bubbling back to the surface, their slime oozing out across the waters til I was overwhelmed with it all. There was a reason I had purposely forgotten, left behind those memories I experienced, or heard about from friends and their  older siblings, or alumni of the school that I reconnected with in later years. After sharing the article on facebook, I wrote that there were far too many thoughts and emotions to include in an article comment. However, I couldn’t leave them festering in my mind.

  • I remember the prayer chapel after hearing about the 2000 shooting.
    I remember how, instead of sadness and remorse, and prayers for the husband and father left behind, everything was focused on the daughter- the adult woman who chose to leave- and how selfish and sinful her choice was, driving her mother to commit murder. I remember people lamenting that the daughter’s rebelliousness had caused her mother to take her eyes off of God. (No. The mother’s eyes were so full of self-righteous religion-based hate, that all she saw was God, and THAT is what drove her to murder.)
  • John Logan was a father of a classmate.
    I remember the church essentially forcing those he abused to identify themselves and come forward. I remember it being used as a publicity stunt for a new young boys’ program.
  • Dwight Free was the husband of the BEST teacher I ever had in my life.
    I remember the church and the pastor blaming his $1.5 million embezzlement for the $15 million in debt. (yes, he committed a crime, but being crucified as a scapegoat is prideful, selfish, and unnecessary)
  • Ed Greene would have been my youth pastor if my family hadn’t moved from Tri-City to New Hope in summer of 2002.
  • Mark Greenway was fairly prominent in my childhood- one of my father’s friends & (former) business partners, and the cause of ruined credit, financial stress and the almost bankruptcy of my family.
  • Mark Herbster was, and still is a misogynistic narcissist who used his position to better his personal finances, leach funds out of the congregation under the guise of “donating to his family doing the Lord’s will.”

I grew up in the church and school, which I attended from preschool to the end of my 8th grade year. Upon being dismissed from the final family chapel/graduation service & awards ceremony, I turned to my mom and said “Alright, I’m done. I’m sick of these people. Homeschool me.” The quote “The school operated on a caste system, which placed students whose families attended Tri-City Baptist Church on a higher rung… Tri-City would cover up the sins of families, and the families would cover up for Tri-City.” is insanely accurate.

The only reason my family was accepted the way we were: what was seen as a ‘lax’ attitude towards parenting/enforcing the ridiculous school rules, our open-minded & accepting view of Christianity, our blatantly pro-equality & feminism stance (which had been instilled in me and my sister by my mother, my aunts, my grandfather), was because the church thought we were rich. My mom remembers the underlying tension well. “The only reason we were accepted the way we were into that community was because we had a big house, people thought we were rich, and we sent all of our daughters to the school.” We- my sisters and I- were blessed with what God gave us. We would make perfect wives and mothers. We were the ideal breeding mares.
If my family had not grown up in the church (I was the first baby born to the church when they moved from Truman to their massive, white building that’s now iconic), I would have been on much rockier ground than I had been during my years at the school.

  • I read books that weren’t approved. I read more than a girl should.
  • I loved school & getting an education. I was better at it than most of the aspiring preacher-boys in class.
  • I didn’t want to ever go to a Christian college.
  • I wasn’t ever going to be a stay at home mother. I was going to have a career.
  • I loved “boy things” – sports, pants, being loud & rambunctious, fixing things, being outdoors. I was the opposite of their ideal quiet, compliant, submissive girl.

The school, and church, while as organizations didn’t publicly promote conversion therapy, it was something that was talked about in positive and glowing terms regularly – by teachers, deacons, parents, and staff.
The church turned a blind eye to congregation members who left- either the church, or the faith entirely, by claiming that their Calvinistic worldview showed ‘they weren’t predestined.’
From a friend who experienced this first hand: the administrative and pastoral staff hid their racist, pro-segregation, sexist mindset behind the guise of Christianity- forever blaming the bus ministry and those who utilized it for issues in classrooms, programs, etc. The youths who depended on the bus ministry, (who were mostly minorities and non-white) or “bus kids” as the church congregation called them, were kept in a teaching program separate from the “church kids” – those whose families were church members (roughly 95% of the congregation members were white). Supposedly, because the church kids were too knowledgeable of the teachings being given in the bus ministry, they were given their own separate program. However, over the years, busses kept being sold, funding was cut, time was stripped away, and eventually, the church completely shutting down the entire bus outreach branch of the ministry.

There was a cast-iron mold that each individual was supposed to fit into, and if you failed, you were failing as a Christian.

I remember the rampant bullying done by classmates and others, including the teachers. I remember being one of only a few voices that consistently stood up to oppose the verbal abuse. Mental illness and disorders: ADD/ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, etc., were seen as fixable issues between the individual and God. There was a tangible fear between students and teachers, because reaching out for help was a sign that your faith was weak, and you were failing as a Christian.

Body-shaming drove many of my classmates, schoolmates, and even myself and my sister to eating disorders and self harm. As women, working out was proud & selfish. You were drawing attention to your body that should only be shown to your husband (after you were married). However, you were supposed to stay thin and attractive for your future husband, which meant many girls turned to uninformed dieting, bulimia, or anorexia.

Abuse was swept under the rug in the name of Christian punishment. Spousal abuse was supposed to be tolerated, because divorce was seen as a worse sin. Divorce was a selfish decision to tear apart “what God had brought together.” Truly healthy, equal relationships were seen as strange and abnormal. The husband was the true leader of the household. He was in charge spiritually, physically, and in every other aspect. The wife’s job was to preside over the household & the children. It was the natural order of things.
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Humility was so honored and revered, it turned to pride. Self-advertisement for Christ was merely a thinly veiled way to prove, flaunt, how wonderfully Christ-like you were. Bible studies, youth group activities, boasting self-depreciating “confessions” in a class or a program, volunteering and being involved as much as you could, were all ways to wordlessly (or not-so-wordlessly) shout how Christian you were. You could spiritually boast about the gifts God gave you, but only if they were used for the church.

The more you went to church, the more esteemed and respected you were. The more you dedicated yourself to the church, the better you were. Missing a Sunday service was frowned upon-whether you were sick, out of town, or had other obligations. The more you sacrificed, whether it was healthy and wise for you to do so, the more revered you were. If your life didn’t fully revolve around the church as an organization, you were seen as a lesser Christian.

Out of all of this, there were still small, shining patches. In elementary school, I had some of the best, most inspiring & caring teachers of my life.
Mrs. Scroggins, the strongest teacher in that school, was my first grade teacher. She had the perfect balance of no-nonsense and unconditional love for each of her students. It was because of her that my mom was able to remove my younger sister from a mentally and emotionally abusive teacher. (It was also she who headed up said teacher’s firing very soon afterwards.)
Mrs. Free, my second grade teacher, was around through a lot of changes. I got glasses and was worried I would be teased- she came to school the next day wearing her brightly colored specs. I began to play the cello, an all-out weird instrument for a 2nd grader, and was teased because it wasn’t “cool, like a trumpet or a real instrument” – she had me bring in my cello for a special show & tell session. She fostered my love of weird animals like lizards. She LOVED the fact I wanted to work full time when I grew up. She fed my love of reading.

Miss DeShaun, in fourth grade, saw my bookishness and allowed me to take off with it full force. She added fuel to my fire, and inspired to be weird & quirky. She relished my dream of being a pilot like my grandfather, and my idol at the time: Charles Lindbergh.
Miss Swofford, fifth grade, was one of the most understanding, patient people in the world. She encouraged my adoration of costumes, theater, music. She loved that the instrument I chose in band was percussion. She poked and prodded me along when I was starting to feel that being smart wasn’t cool, and showed me how to break away from that fear.
Mrs. Stevenson, six grade, was there when I fully absorbed my bookishness. I began to solidify my path in becoming a librarian, and she was with me every step of the way. She gave me books, guidance, a hug if I needed it. She also made puberty feel not as scary, and in a school where the word “sex” was taboo, and sex education was seen as a way to encourage pre-marital relations, it was a welcome support.

Outside of school, my parents helped build me and my sisters up as independent women. When I was sent home with notes that my books weren’t appropriate for school (Star Wars, Catcher in the Rye, A Wrinkle in Time, were just a few), my mother showed me to switch book covers before heading into school, so an ‘approved’ book was actually an inappropriate one in disguise. She coached me in being respectful in my arguments, and how to stand up for myself and others. My dad gave me confidence in my love of outdoors & sports. Both of them taught us that equality was a right that was given by God, not taken by him, as many of the patriarchal rules and lessons taught.
The experiences, both good and bad, from Tri-City’s cult-like community made me who I am today: a loud, proud, pro-public school, pro-equality feminist, pro-argument woman who has a partner, not a governor, as a future husband.
I met my best friend in the church’s nursery, and was able to grow up beside her every year from preschool to 7th grade.
I got my love of music from their band, orchestra, and percussion ensemble programs.
I got my fierce, unbending feminist streak by being born and forged in the fire of a staunchly anti-feminist society.

My experience ended better than some. After leaving the church and school, I was able to throw myself completely into my studies, a career, extracurricular activities, and hobbies that kept me occupied, traveling, and far too busy to dwell on the emotional abuse I didn’t realize I had been suffering under for half of my lifetime.
I got lucky.
I had parents who were supportive and saw me as an equal. I had friends who kept me grounded outside of the community. I had a grandfather who was stronger, wiser, and more humble than anyone I’ve ever met, and the most kind, accepting Christian man in my life. 
Tri-City’s cult-like beehive of drone-Christians was cultivated, grown, and weeded by spiteful, hateful men who used the name of religion to further their self interests. They hid behind God’s word to spread their un-Christianlike beliefs to their following, un-apologetically leading hundreds to reject the faith entirely, families to dwell and fester in unhealthy and often abusive relationships, and causing almost an entire generation years, decades of pain, self-hate, and abuse. I’m glad their hypocrisy is slowly being stripped away, and I’m glad its survivors, including me, are able to speak. 

 

Ice

I never have an issue with words. As Glennon Doyle Melton said, “Reading is my inhale, and writing is my exhale.”

However, over the past three weeks I’ve become frozen. My fingers are stiff, stuck to the keys like ice, the words crowded behind them like bodies shoved against locked doors with no way out.
My mind is sluggish, dizzy, unfocused, caught up in the whirlwind of emotions ruling my thoughts.
My body is on edge. While the color of my skin and my orientation grants me privilege to be shielded from much of the hate that has been brought into the light during the past year and a half, I am not blind to overlook the direct change and consequences that have roared into many of my friends’ and loved ones’ lives.

We have slim, weak glimmers of hope about the outcome. We have the mid-term elections. We have the few in Congress who are fighting tooth and nail to uphold the Constitution in the midst of the bought bureaucracy.

But still, we must be ready.

We must be ready to fight for our friends and family. If we have privilege, we must use it to its fullest to protect those that our broken society has marginalized and attempted to silence. The disenfranchised must be heard over us. We have been heard long enough. I have been comfortable in my privileged zone for far too long.

There are so many emotions trying to break free, sort themselves out, but there is not time.
The marathon as begun. The starting shot went off as soon as America swore in its 45th president. Already, our lands, our schools, our liberties, our equalities have been attacked, and we said no. We wrote, we marched, we called, we tweeted, shared, and posted. However, we cannot lose that fire. We cannot hold it so tightly that we get burned, letting it slip through our fingers to get crushed under foot. We have years left.
There is a difference between being angry and staying furious: a flash, an explosion that flings you into movement, or a quiet, seething heat that is stoked daily, kept hot and ready for the journey that lies ahead.

So research, plan, strategize, learn, and stay armed- armed to the teeth with books, statistics, quotes, dates, facts, figures, undeniable proof. Check sources twice, three times, and prepare yourself.
Study history, learn from the past, listen always, and build your arsenal.

Aftermath: An Anonymous Letter

As the occupants of our nation mentally prepare for a new president, many mentally prepare for the new battles that will, most likely, become part of daily lives.
Over the past 24 hours, the reactions I have witnessed from friends and loved ones has gone from incredulous to terror and dread. The actions of the next presidential cabinet  will directly effect groups of our nation’s citizens such as women, those with physical and learning disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, refugees, minorities, and more.
We are now tasked with explaining this blatant disregard to human decency to our children- why our friends, family members, made the conscious choice to put such a man in office.
Below is a letter, sent to me by a friend, who faces that dilemma every day now.


Last night, just after my Google alert notified me that the new President-Elect had been chosen, I sneaked into my daughter’s room. We recently transitioned her to a “big girl” bed- a twin mattress, upon which her two-year-old fame usually looks hilariously small.

But last night the sight wasn’t hilarious.

I stretched out on the covers next to her, and watched her tiny face as she slept, her little legs tucked under her body, her little arms crossed, just as she had been in the womb. I listened to her breath as she dozed, perfectly peaceful and blissfully unaware of the shift we are all about to experience. And in my mind, as I studied her, I apologized. I apologized for our country. For the millions who cast a ballot for the man who will lead us in January. And I apologized for you.

You’ve given me your explanations, in your way. You’ve communicated your fears about a Clinton presidency. You’ve expressed your views of Trump’s powerful presence and no-nonsense opinions. Mom, you praised the way he could “say whatever he wanted” without repercussions, citing that trait as an admirable one. I don’t think it’s occurred to you that maybe he was “allowed” to voice such blatant violence because millions of Americans still have a deep-seated prejudice against people different from themselves. Maybe you didn’t see what I did: that he was “allowed” to continue in his loud hate because half of our country heard, in his voice, their own internal prejudices. Because he wore expensive suits, and had a supermodel wife, and stood in front of microphones, and said things the ordinary among them were not allowed to say.

Except now they can.

Dad, you expressed horror at his cavalier admittance of sexual assault, but said that Clinton had “enabled” her husband by supporting him before she discovered his guilt, which made her “no better” than Trump. You said that they are “at best equally disgusting and I would argue that she is worse than he is.” A little piece of our relationship died that day. As a woman who left an abusive marriage, I was heartbroken to learn that you would not only hold Clinton accountable for the sins of her partner, but consider her equal to an admitted abuser for standing by him.

But while you tried to argue that your vote for Trump wasn’t support of him, your decision, as it has historically done, came down to money. “She will sell us all down the river for another dollar,” you said, “wipe her mouth, and tell us to eat cake.” You claimed she was power-hungry, as though it as a claim that couldn’t be applied bilaterally in this election.

And all of this, you argued, was reason enough to overlook Trump’s faults, and cast your lot in with him. You summed up your position neatly with a cartoon, shared to your Facebook page, of Washington Post reporters straining at a molehill labeled “Trump,” while Hillary’s scandals loomed as large as mountains behind them.

As I held my sleeping baby girl, I thought about that molehill, which, in your opinion, was small enough that your conscience allowed you to cast a vote for that man.

I thought about the fear he fed  dumping gallons of fuel on a fire that should never have been lit. I thought about my Muslim friends who, despite their deep religious convictions, are abandoning their hijabs out of fear for their lives. I thought about the lies he told, over and over and over, like a child who doesn’t have any understanding of modern technology or its fact-checking capabilities. I thought of the fact that your granddaughter’s healthcare is based on the good graces of the Affordable Care Act, which your candidate has pledged to repeal. I thought about the women who tried to step forward about abuse they had suffered at his hands, and who have been bullied into silence.

I thought about how economists who know what they are actually talking about have projected horrifying outcomes, should his policies play out. I thought about women across this country who may face death in a country without reproductive choice. I thought about my dear gay and lesbian friends who celebrated their marriages this year, only to have those unions thrown into uncertainty if Trump appoints the Supreme Court justice he wants. I thought about my Latinx friends who are terrified of losing their parents and grandparents to deportation.

And Trump. I thought about him. His venom toward an entire religion. His prejudice against entire races. His objectification of and violence toward women. His running mate, who thinks it’s okay to electrocute young queer people until they are “straight.” His supporters, the KKK and white supremacists, who looked at his policies and perspectives and adopted him as their champion.

I tried to imagine explaining to my tiny daughter, your granddaughter, how her grandparents, aunts, and uncles all voted to take away her health care, take away her right to choose, and take away her safety, should she discover one day that she likes girls rather than boys.

Should I tell her you were worried about your money? That keeping your tax dollars in your pocket (which won’t happen under Trump anyway) is more important that taking a stand against blatant misogyny? Should I tell her that you decided bragging about sexual assault and standing by an unfaithful partner were “equally disgusting?” Should I tell her that you allowed hate-fueled rhetoric to make you afraid of anyone different from you, so you agreed that it was safest to just deny America to those people?

Maybe you just didn’t see what he is. Maybe you were too steeped in your privileged race, your privileged sexuality, and your privileged religion, too isolated from anyone different from you, to hear all the marginalized voices screaming in fear to please don’t do this.

Or maybe you did see. Maybe you saw his racism, his xenophobia, his misogyny, his elitism, and his brutish, bullying ways, and you decided he was the lesser of two evils.

If that’s the case, then you have to understand that in good conscience, keeping you far, far away from my baby girl has to be the lesser of two evils for me.

Because no amount of fear is justification for racism in my home. No amount of suspicion is enough to vilify an entire religion in this family. No amount of tax money saved is worth repealing a woman’s rights to her own body, or a human’s right to healthcare. And any man who is able to brag about assaulting women, make lecherous and creepy comments about his own daughter, and face multiple accusations of violent rape is fit to be my cab driver, let alone my president. For the rest of my life, when you try to insist that you “don’t support” this man, who is the walking embodiment of everything I hope to protect my child from, we’ll both know it’s bullshit, because you saw what he was, and you handed him the keys to the kingdom anyway.

You failed your granddaughter and niece this week. You dramatically changed the country in which she will be raised, and not for the better. And I’ll be damned if you are ever allowed to influence her further.

I’m the only one I know who’ll impulse adopt a cat.

If you know me, and I know this post will get a menagerie of readers- some who’ve been around my whole life, some who are passerby in certain chapters of my existence, others who know me better than themselves, you’ll know that I’m a planner.
I like lists.
I love bullet points.
I thrive on knowing what I’ll be doing in two hours.
I’m the one who packs those needless “just in case” items on a weekend trip.

“Winging it” gives my brain hives. The only thing I ever impulse buy is tshirts from Target.

And yet, over the past year, I’ve become more accustomed to impulse. Impromptu activities aren’t as stressful. I’ve found a balance between planning and letting go (if any of you starts with Frozen, you’re fired). In fact, last week, I threw caution to the wind, and RSVP’d to a rap music video casting call (which just so happens to be tonight).

I can easily trace these changes back to one instance, or, more accurately, one person.
13900163_10154260010706291_7859489370529882699_nThat one. Right there. It’s his fault.

Timehop- usually a tool of embarrassment used to remind you of haphazard decisions and stances you held 10 years ago- notified me yesterday that was exactly 6 years since the first Western Civ class that threw us into one another’s lives. While our friendship built over the following 5, both of us would have laughed til beer came out our noses if someone would have told us that we’d end up being together. And yet, here we are.

Here I am, impulse adopting a tiny, fluffy, flea-bitten kitten, allowing my friend-turned-boyfriend of 1.5 years to name him, and not batting an eyelash. Here I am signing up for a casting call completely out of my comfort zone. Here I am, writing a letter of resignation to my job, notifying them that my last day will be in December, in 3 months time, when I will be moving to Colorado to finally end this long-distance torture.

Yep.
There it is. I said it.
It’s out in the open. Loud & proud.
I’M MOVING.
Wrapped nice and snug, unassuming, in a warm, fuzzy paragraph about a warm, fuzzy kitten.

I’m moving.

I adore Kansas City- it’s shitty roads, a civil engineer’s nightmare (looking at you, downtown cherry trap), on-again-off-again sports teams (Heyyyyy Chiefs…), newly great sports teams (#rallymantis), and slew of coffee connoisseurs, roasters, and hipster-like shops & bars.
I adore the family I have in the city- by blood, or by choice.
My roller derby warriors, my coaches, my kickass skate fam.
The friends I’ve grown up with, gone to school with, survived puberty and questionable fashion choices with.

But, to throw myself face first into hokey stereotypes and phrases:
Kansas City will always be my hometown, but home is where my heart is, and frankly, it’s not here. 947331_10153748923461291_2816788918412655724_n

So there it is. Most of you have seen it coming, some haven’t. However, now it’s official.

December 9th, I’m saying goodbye to a job that’s taught me so much, and saying hello to a house filled with the one I love, four cats, beer, and more books than either of us will know what to do with.

Here’s to the next chapter, and impulse adopting cats.

So, sometimes I write…

This fall, I joined a group of alumni in a blog series created by my graduate school’s Center for Career and Professional Development (or CCPD, if you don’t have enough time to twist that off of your tongue). While not a lengthy project, it’s been a blast, and I have about two more articles to write for them.

The first was a piece discussing all of the lessons I’d learned while job hunting, moving back and forth (and back and forth) across the country, and just good job seeking advice I’d been given or learned the hard way. From keeping track of job applications to preparing to move, to comparing cost of living and salary calculations, I tried to cover it all. Now, I know that I didn’t cover it all, but it’s the thought that counts (as grandma always said). If you want to read that article, you can click on this link here!

However, this past month, my second piece was published (check it out in its entirety here!) on a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart- libraries. Since the introduction of the personal computer, societies at large have been leaning towards digital formats more and more, until the last few decades or so was dubbed “The Digital Age.” In fact, we’ve gotten so dependent on digital media, technologies, and formats, that over the past ten or so years, the necessity of libraries has been called into question (*wince).  As a member of the generation that never knew a time without technology, we’ve often been accused of not appreciating or respecting solid formats- books, vinyls, the tangible, not the terabyte. Obviously, that’s a gross miscalculation, and far from being correct. Printed media has seen a rise in the past 5 years, with the all-hailed ebooks seeing a sharp drop in popularity. In fact, this phenomena has been reported all over the world, and not just in the US. Despite these numbers, I am consistently asked a variant of the same question whenever I mention my profession: “How are libraries going to be kept around since everything is going digital?” The answer is simple: libraries aren’t going anywhere. Libraries have always been a keystone to community organization, education, and activity. Their roll won’t change, only expand.

So, in contrast to my first post, this one ended up being more biographical than educational (although, I could argue that learning ANYTHING about libraries is educational). Growing up, I was more prone to pick up a book than a Barbie, and while I adored the outdoors, it was rare to find me unaccompanied by a book or two (even if it usually reeked havoc on the poor pages eventually). Books caught me from the beginning, and it should have been a warning sign that I would be doomed to being a librarian, but my adolescent mind was set on being a pilot. (or a Naval strategist. or a forensic scientist. or an Egyptologist.) So, despite being nicknamed after Shirley Jones’ character, Marian “Madam Librarian” Marpoo, from The Music Man, at age 4, I doggedly set off after my soaring (literally) dreams, books clutched under my arm like a safety blanket. However, little did I know it, but I wasn’t anywhere near the path that would lead towards a cockpit (or a lab, or a tomb for that matter), but actually strode along in the dead center of the road that led to call numbers and card catalogs. 

Naturally, when sorting out post-college career plans, I gravitated towards the library sciences & the associated professions: archivist, curator, museum researcher, librarian. Libraries had always been an integral part of my childhood (see previously mentioned nickname “Madame Librarian”), and books were in my blood. By the age of 16, I’d amassed a library that filled 3 six foot tall by 3 feet wide bookcases (roughly 48 feet of linear storage), and the ONLY thing I was worried about while prepping for college was what to do with the books when I left for school. (Of course, I am once again reunited with my library after being away from home for 6 years, but I digress.)

The true point of this article is to really hammer in, drive home, make the concept stick, etc. the fact that books are forever, technology is fleeting. The printed page is far from dead; it is, in fact, quite virile and thriving. An article from the NY Times (Alter, 2015) written in September of 2015 talked about the drop in e-book sales as print sales rose. Now, whether this is due to the amazing increase in the creation of adult coloring books or not…I cannot say. As an owner of several of said coloring books (the cuss words one is quite fun), I can happily say “wheee!” whilst being careful not to upset the organized piles of colored pencils placed carefully around my sleeping cat (who, in true cat fashion, has taken up the most prominent position on my bed, regardless of the project I am working on).

I will forever be in love with the written word, and while I do adore the newest shiny gadget as much as the next girl, give me the smell of a book over the zing of a hot computer any day. The issue with society waxing eloquent about the fall of print and rise of processors can be summed up in one question: How many copies of Beauty and the Beast (or insert your own album here) do you own? Personally, I have it in four formats: cassette tape, CD, an itunes download on my phone, and a digital remastered version I bought on my computer. Now, take older albums: Guns ‘n Roses, originally released on vinyl, had to go through three different formats in order to be played on iphones today (I’m choosing to forget that ill-fated ‘minidisc’ that came before CDs); or The Beatle’s albums, who survived 8-tracks, vinyls, and a plethora of now outdated and virtually unplayable formats.

We can thank hipsters for reviving the record player and the reemergence of vinyls onto the current music scene.
HOWEVER I WILL CONFESS RIGHT NOW IN ALL CAPS THAT I AM INSANELY JEALOUS OF ALL OF MY FRIENDS WITH RECORD PLAYERS. …i want one…

At the library where I work, we have files on microfilm, microfische, and countless cd-roms that are unusable, their contents lost to us, because of the format on which they were digitized. Digitization is constantly changing, and if you’re in that field, bravo! you will forever have a profession because with every new form of technology, the one after it will render its predecessor completely irrelevant, creating a vicious cycle of “update/digitize/update/digitize” when over on the bookshelf is the original content, still  printed and available for anyone anywhere to pick it up and use it at a moment’s notice.

People don’t realize that a library’s existence isn’t to merely provide entertainment to the community. While this is a large part of what we do, it isn’t the only thing, and it isn’t the most important thing. *gasp. did a librarian just say books aren’t the most important?!* Yes, I did, and this is why: Libraries are the community’s heartbeat, nervous system, the backbone; they are everything vital that a healthy community needs. A community without a library is like a body without a mind. The library fosters learning, imagination, innovation, and most importantly: life. Paula Poundstone, actress and comedienne, struck a serious note when saying: “The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy, and community.” When the Digital Age dawned, both academic and political communities began to question the relevance of public libraries. In reality, with economic inequality at an all time high, the need for accessible, free programming has never been stronger.

Studies show that children from poor economic backgrounds develop literacy skills at a slower rate than those from middle or upper class households. Statistics by the Literacy Project Foundation have found a direct correlation between low literacy levels and low income. If we as a society ever hope to increase the quality of life for our current and future generations, we need look no further than the library. Its open doors provide attainable knowledge for children, immigrants, and every-day curious minds alike.

The library is a necessity for those who don’t have access to educational, professional, or research tools. It offers services such as early and adult literacy programs invaluable to ESL households, free internet and computer access for those seeking employment, a warm and quiet environment that can mean life or death for the homeless, after-school activities, and an uplifting environment that fosters a love of learning and reading in youths. These free programs are a library’s best weapons in the battle to better society.

Libraries have transformed themselves to meet the needs of their surrounding communities. They have strengthened their role as the very backbone of civilization and provide much needed refuge and guidance for future generations.strengthening their role as the very backbone of civilization, and providing much needed refuge and guidance for future generations.

 

 THAT is why the library is always going to be necessary, needed, and valued.
There will always be books, there will always be librarians to keep them.

 

Sources

“The Plot Twist.” 22 September 2015. Alter, Alexander. NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/the-plot-twist-e-book-sales-slip-and-print-is-far-from-dead.html?_r=0

“E-books slow as Print Sales Rise.” 02 Nobember, 2015. ConnexiconFrance. http://www.connexionfrance.com/printed-book-sales-rise-slow-growth-ebooks-17396-view-article.html

Illiteracy Statistics. Literacy Project Foundation, via National Institute for Literacy. http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/

“Closing the 30 Million-Word Gap.” Bayliss, Sarah. July 9, 2015. School Library Journal. http://www.slj.com/2015/07/standards/early-learning/closing-the-30-million-word-gap-up-front/

“Key to Vocabulary Gap is Quality of Conversation, not Dearth of Words.” Sparks, Sarah. April 21, 2015. Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/22/key-to-vocabulary-gap-is-quality-of.html

Something’s Gonna Happen

Today’s bound to be one of the most beautiful…

I haven’t posted in a while, but long update short: work at the library has been phenomenal over the past three months I’ve worked there. Kansas City has been amazing, and I am constantly surprised by how much I’d missed this city.
I’m playing my cello again, I’m singing again, I’m chipping away at my student loans and saving at the same time, possible new musical opportunities have appeared-ones that would stretch me as a musician and a person, and I’m getting back in the shape that I used to be last summer.

Yeah. Something’s gonna happen.

New York Mornings

Everyone’s always said that you have a love/hate relationship with New York: you either love it, or love to hate it.
I beg to differ. My two years in NYC were filled with music & laughter, heartbreaks, losses, gains, and the most amazing people I could ask for. While I wasn’t in my element in the City, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Some days I miss New York more than most, and when that happens, I turn to the bittersweet melodies of Elbow’s New York Mornings, to remind me of the experiences & love I had for that city.

Dear New York, 
You haven’t seen the last of me. 
I’ll be back.
Love, 
E

2015

I know I’m a bit late by society’s standards at making a list of “to-dos” for this new year, but I sincerely believe that you shouldn’t make resolutions, life-goals, whatever you may call them, right off the bat. As I do in everything, I ponder, reflect, and plan my next moves for the upcoming year. Too often, New Year’s Resolutions are left in the dust, because people aren’t able to follow through with the list, or because they didn’t truly find things they believed in. Yes, “loosing ___ pounds” is a good goal, but is it actually something you want to do, or are you throwing it out there so you aren’t the only one in your friend group without a Resolution?
Well, by the end of 2014, I was no more than a pile on insecurities held together by whiskey and the arms of my close friends. Bad decisions, shaken confidences, broken dreams and ideals, coming to the end of my rope…things piled up, and I was a bit worse for wear. Essentially, I felt that if life had a yard sale, I’d still be forgotten in the back garage while the chipped kitchen ware and 30-year-old golf clubs could be bought for a dollar. This year is different (I’ll be sold for TWO DOLLARS!! …just kidding), so here they are:

15 for ’15

  1. I will be at peace with myself (myself meaning: my PRs, my body, my education, my emotions, my everything).
  2. I will have savings. (With New York inhaling all of my earnings, I’ve found myself with no savings at all. This will change)
  3. I will be stronger, both emotionally and mentally.
  4. I will treat my body with respect. It will be clean, healthy, and the strongest it’s ever been.
  5. I will start savoring memories, not things. I need to reduce my life. I’ve dwelt on meaningless things for far too long. More photos, more writing, less possessions, more space for the people I love & the things that are truly valuable.
  6. I will read more. Believe it or not, I haven’t finished a book for leisure in some time. (#gradschool)
  7. I will become less attached to technology, and more attached to the people physically in my life. Let bygones be bygones. Technology keeps strings tied to things that would otherwise be long gone.
  8. I will travel more. I need to appreciate being young and having time. This is a beautiful country, and a breathtaking world we live in, and I need to see more of it.
  9. I will become fluent in a language. I don’t have a particular one in mind, but being bilingual is a necessary life skill.
  10. I will find a job that I love. I will stop looking for “this will work” or “this sounds cool” or “it’s good for now,” and start looking for “I want this” and “I can live here” and “I would kill for this job.”
  11. I will love me for my own sake. A certain amount of self-love is healthy. Too much is narcissism, yes, but like mom always said, “all things in moderation.” and this is no different. I have skills, memories, traits, unique to only me, and that’s pretty amazing. I need to believe that I am worth something.
  12. I will spend more time alone. I don’t mean in my room with my computer and iphone and netflix and day-old pizza with Murder, She Wrote reruns, I mean truly alone: myself, my thoughts, peace & quiet, no distractions, just reflection.
  13. I will pick up a new hobby. Why not?
  14. I will pick music back up: I’ll sing again. I’ll play the cello again. I’ll pull out my guitar, I’ll dust off my piano sheet music…
  15. I will live every day to the fullest. No more “accidentally wasted __ hours online” no more sleeping til noon. It’s time I grow up.

 

New Year, New Chapter

2014 had more ups & downs than a soap opera, but then again, so does life. After all, what would we do if everything was just as predictable as an old rerun of Happy Days?
There was always a light at the end of the tunnel (thanks Third Day), even though I had no idea what was in store for me afterwards. December saw me finally complete the academic rat race that I’ve been running for the past six years, when I completed the final courses and graduate portfolio that fulfilled the requirements for my Masters of Library & Information Science from Pratt Institute. Soon after that, I flew home for an extended holiday as I recharged and threw myself into the job hunt full time.

During the holidays, I was able to pull myself away and focus on the uncertain path ahead. I’d never quite planned past getting my graduate degree, so for the first time in my life, I was directionless. The idea terrified me, and the feeling of being completely untethered to any sort of goal or endgame unnerved me to the Nth degree. However, God blessed my life with amazing, wise, & understanding parents, and a sweet sister who were willing to help me through the murky process of creating a solution, however temporary.

This brings me to the whole reason for this novelesque post: I’m moving away from New York City, and back to the Midwest for an unforseen amount of time. This decision was deliberated carefully, and honestly, debated hotly. However, over the past few weeks, thanks to the clear head of my parents, & a nice stock of whiskey,  I’ve come to terms with the fact that my time in New York is at an end.

My flight back to New York is January 24, and I’ll take a few days to pack & ship my clothes & books, and say my goodbyes. As LCD Soundsystem says, New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. I always knew that my endgame was never to live in New York, but over the past two years, the Big Apple has carved out a niche in my heart all its own.

To all of the amazing people I’ve had the blessing to meet, you guys have changed my life, and have become a permanent part of it.
I’ll always be DCH4Life & a Waterbaby, and dragonboat is forever in my blood (and on my arm). I won’t stop working in hopes I’ll find myself in a boat again (along with those really weird tan lines).
DCH 2014

To my wonderful roommates, MJ and Wendy, you guys have become like sisters to me more quickly than I thought possible. I can’t believe how lucky I was to find such amazing women quite literally overnight. We took an empty apartment & made it ours, and if there was any way feasible for me to still live with  you guys anywhere in the US, I would.
I can’t possibly name every amazing person that I have the privilege of having in my life because of New York, but the memories (hazy or no) will always be with me.
The happy hours, the road trips, the weeks with only $5 to last you til Friday, the late night tattoos on St. Marks, street meat at all hours of the day (or night), and somehow being able to navigate traffic with a full cup of coffee, bagel, phone, & laptop case in hand…with the occasional umbrella (I’m still not sure how I did that)- they’ll all be missed, and there is no way they can be replaced.
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sleep nyc tuesday

times square morning 10170819_10152316114676291_2041918772877260276_n

Who knows, perhaps I’ll end up back on the East Coast someday, but til then, keep it classy, New York. You’ll always have a portion of my heart.