Friday, November 30, 2007

thirty. Minnesota.

Home again, home again. Jiggety-jig.

During my 30th year, I held three different jobs. The first was actually my first, honest-to-goodness job as madame librarian, Erin. It was at a small town library, was part time with no benefits, and was not terribly stimulating. No one sang to me. No singing, no synchronized dancing and stamping of books, and no men in high-waisted pants with surprisingly shapely hips, walking with their noses in books.

My next job was full time as a librarian in a state correctional facility ("prison") that housed about a thousand men at the second to the highest security level. The most curious part about this job was not the men, referred to as "offenders", but the environment. Movement was very controlled. Lots of writing passes to move from point A to B. It felt very much like middle school in that respect. I went through extensive training at the beginning on how to interact with the offenders. The overall atmosphere was very guarded and surficial. Any casual conversations I had with offenders never went beyond reading, television shows, or music interests. Who knows, maybe that was too much by some standards.

I always feel odd saying this, but with few exceptions, the offenders were good guys. I restricted my opinion of them to what my first hand experience was with them in the library. In the end I left because the commute was madness (an hour each direction...and that was after I moved closer), the hours sucked (noon to 9pm), and, yes, it was very isolating. Most other program or education staff went home at 3 or 4, and I was left to either not talk or talk guardedly with offenders, or, on a rare occasion, chat with a guard. One guard would call to chat while he was driving around the building perimeter, bored out of his mind. I never met him in person, and still have no idea what he looked like. I was also at my heaviest during this time since I too often relied on Burger King for lunch and the vending machine for supper.

Job number three was part time as librarian at a county corrections facility ("jail") for adult men and women, referred to as "residents". [The semantics of this business are both puzzling and hilarious.] My office was elsewhere, and I came to the jail once a week with another library employee to visit the different buildings. Movement of the residents was a lot more free flowing, so I was a little stunned at first. After the prison, this place was a total shocker. The visits were organized chaos. We worked madly each week to take and fill requests. I loved it, and was totally wiped out at the end of the day. I still guarded what I said about anything personal, but it was much more laid back. The residents really appreciated what we did and told us all the time.

One of the most rewarding parts of this job was the weekly book discussion group. It was frustrating a lot of the time, but when we hit on something good in a book it made it worthwhile. My absolute favorite, though, was in April when we discussed poetry. I compiled a ton of random verse from a wide range of authors—poets and songwriters—but didn't give out the author's names until the last day. The men told me which ones they read and what their reaction was. One guy chose to discuss this poem. He read it out loud, pausing to say that the guy that wrote it needed to quit smoking the pipe. I had to chuckle. I said, "You don't know it was written by a man," but he was adamant, claiming that a woman wouldn't spend her time on stuff like that.

The most noteworthy of all memories happened on my 30th birthday. The best man (who had caught my eye six years prior had stuck it out with me through all my meanderings and several chafing rough patches) proposed, and I said yes. Turns out long distance relationships do sometimes pan out.

And three years later, I'm 33 and freshly hitched.


Now for some house cleaning...

**Loose end #1**:

The author is Robert Herrick.

Upon Julia's Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me!
Upon Julia's Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then methinks
How sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes

Next when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free
Oh how that glittering taketh me
[Not too damn bad, if I do say so myself.]

**Loose end #2**:

I did it + 3!

My brain (methinks) is experiencing liquefaction.


Cool Ranch Luke said...

Congratulations on your NaBloPoMo!

I will mail you a delicious cookie. With sprinkles.

erin said...

hey, thanks! i'll eat it with relish (the yum kind, not the pickled).

it seems we're ships passing in the night. honored to have you stop by!