Monday, November 16, 2015

Who are you?

I'd guess most of the people who read Things Left Out know me IRL (In Real Life). However, Google Blogger gives me lovely statistics about my readership, and there are definitely readers who I have not met IRL or virtually on social media. 

First things first, how did you read the title of my this blog post, "Who are you?" In my head, the voice of Alice in Wonderland's hookah-smoking caterpillar (according to Disney) poses the simple yet deep question about my perception of my being. I am an elementary school librarian, champion of public education and literacy. Occupational hazard: I experience much of life though book references. Granted, the voice of Disney's version of Alice's caterpillar popped into my head, but I have read (and loved) Carroll's original. 

Alice in wonderland illustration by John Tenniel Find public domain images at
I am in my seventh year as a school librarian and tenth year as a public school educator. I taught middle school science for the first three years of my career. After ten years as an educator, who I am and what I do are no longer easily separated. At a social event last week I was conversing with an old friend about his experience as a mentor for a school-aged child and I pulled a relevant book OUT OF MY PURSE and gave it to him. I carry books around in my purse. As of last night, I carry books around in my purse and give them away. I was thrilled to have the right book at the right time. It was poetic, really. I hope to do it again soon. If you're wondering, the book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. I'm late to the Wimpy Kid party, but they really are fantastically engaging books.

Another defining characteristic and occupational hazard: I also attempt to solve poor social behaviors and parenting problems with books. Case in point: Chugga Chugga Poo Poo! Time to potty train? Love of trains? There's a book for that! I could go on, but I'll spare you. If you need a book recommendation, let me know!

As I previously stated, I've been in the "business" of public education for ten years. I have no plans to leave my profession and am ever-seeking opportunities to improve as an educator and as a librarian. One of my professional goals is to form a partnership with the public libraries to better serve my students and families. There are may ways I am accomplishing this community partnership, but last fall (before my illness) I decided to run for public library board. I was elected, and I now sit on the Messenger Public Library board to not only perform the public service of library trustee, but to help further the connection between the local libraries and the school district. I am grateful for my elected position. If you are interested, here's my candidate profile from the Daily Herald.

I've mentioned this before: I am a mom of twin boys. They are about to turn three-years-old. "Who are you?" I am a mother. My boys are my first priority and the best parts of my life. They, too, suffer the consequences of my librarianship. One of my favorite hashtags to use on social media is #librarianmom, though #teachermom works really well in context. Yesterday my son showed me a block of cheese he had swiped from the fridge and said "I found a rectangle!" I excitedly replied: "YES! You found a rectangular prism!" Nitpicky, yes, but accurate. My kids will go to kindergarten minding their p's and q's, but also knowing the general difference between monkeys and apes (monkeys have tails, apes do not). I find the development of my children utterly fascinating, and I could go on about them for a length more suited to a book than a blog.  

This is one of those fortunately/unfortunately things, but I can no longer honestly answer the "Who are you?" question without considering my illness, diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. Unfortunately there are lasting physical and mental effects after undergoing such an ordeal. I have medication to handle most of the physical stuff and as long as I watch what I eat, I feel pretty good most of the time. Normal, even. A new normal, but a totally livable normal. The mental stuff is a little harder to deal with at times. I have medication to help me with that, too. I have a half-written blog post about my depression and anxiety. I'll get around to writing the other half of it someday. The tumor is gone, and it "probably" won't come back, but it could. Living with that knowledge has been a struggle. The changes of my body and mind aren't all negative, though. That's where "fortunately" comes in. Fortunately, I no longer have a tumor. Fortunately, I have learned to let go of things that don't really matter. Fortunately, I have become unapologetic about my views and actions to make my world (and the wider concept of "the world") a better place, though this change may have come with age and experience rather than as a result of my "sort of" cancer. I'm not specifically referring to politics, either. By my estimation, pulling the right book at the right time out of my purse and giving it away has the potential to improve the world, if only a little bit. This small action accurately defines who I am, or who I think I am, anyway. If the people in my world see me as the enthusiastic (if not a little nerdy) librarian who talks too much about books (or pulls them out of her purse at social events), I'm being true to myself, because that's who I want to be. 

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