Moment of Zen: Travel Edition

I rarely go on vacations, mostly because I can’t afford them or the time off from work. But for a week after Christmas I traveled by car with my mother and son to Alabama, to visit my grandfather, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I also hadn’t been to his house in about seven years, nor seen my brother and his family, so it was very overdue. Let me just say first off that I will never spend 25 hrs in the car with anyone again, as it was way too exhausting, especially as we were spending 13-14 hrs in the car per day. Discovered a few things about the states in the process, for example my thoughts on West Texas (as we drove through pretty much the whole bottom half of the state) were a ton of dead skunks on the road – which smelled horrible, bad natural gas smell from all the refineries, and a whole lot of nothing for miles and miles (which doesn’t change in the daytime). Whereas Louisiana had miles and miles of bridges b/c it is all swampy, including the longest one, a five-mile causeway across Lake Pontchartrain (see satellite image below). Most of my happy moments involved food. 

lake-pontchartrain-causeway-66

Tues Dec 27: I found this cool visual map for my son to keep track of the states we were visiting during the course of our journey, as we were going through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. That way he was involved with our progress and learned something about each state. It was very popular and he really got into it. 

Wed Dec 28: Got to have Cajun food in Louisiana. My mom had Crawfish Etouffee and I had a Crawfish Po-Boy. 

Thurs Dec 29: Got to have Zaxby’s for the first time since we left South Carolina (about 5-1/2 yrs before). Not sure what they use on their chicken or in their Zax sauce, but it is damn tasty and hard to replicate. 

Fri Dec 30:  Got to see my brother and his family for the first time in seven years, and meet his daughter Kayleigh, who I’ve never actually met before. It was nice catching up with them. 

Sat Dec 31: Had boiled peanuts today and next day – the one Southern food I actually miss and can’t get over here. They were pretty good for being from a gas station. 

sunset-in-new-mexico

Mon Jan 2: Prettiest sunset of the trip driving through New Mexico. It doesn’t quite capture it in the picture, but it was gorgeous with all the orangey-reds, pinks and purples reflected off the fleecy clouds. 

Moment of Zen: Oct 21-27

This has been an insanely long week for a number of reasons I won’t go into right now. Suffice it to say, that I am very much looking forward to the weekend, especially as my favorite holiday is coming up, aka Halloween! Plus it will be a nice distraction for my son to play in his newly finished costume and have a little fun. 

Fri: Human Body DiscoveryTime went better than I would’ve thought. I found this adorable Brain Hat and used it in the storytime, which went over really well. So well that a colleague wants to use the idea this weekend for one of his programs (so yay for Brain Hat! or as my friend called it, the Brain yarmulke!). 

brain-hat

Sat: Going to Bilingual DIY storytime for Dia de los Muertos with Liam at the library I work at, led by my friend Joanna and new acquaintance Cassi, where I learned how to do “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Spanish. Then he got to decorate sugar skulls as an ofreda, offering for a Dia de los Muertos altar. Then we went up to the 5th floor, so he could pick out another adult dinosaur book. 

Sun: Oct Bookclub meeting, where we discussed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and ate some yummy French food prepared by our members. We had seven people and had a nice discussion about love and war. 

Mon: Eating the second half of my sandwich from Wildflower Bakery – the Roasted Sweet Potato, it’s amazing and enormous : roasted sweet potatoes, fresh mozzarella, fig confit, arugula, marinated fennel and balsamic vinaigrette on Herb Focaccia, whilst reading more of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Also started listening to Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, for our November bookclub as a refresher, as I have read it before. 

Tues: 5 years of blogging on WordPress! Creating an activity sheet for my Construction DiscoveryTime for Friday, glad to feel semi-productive as I’ve been pretty distracted. 

Wed: Getting to go to my son’s school and observe him and his teacher in his slightly advanced Kindergarten class. I was fascinated by what they did, and managed to cram into 3 hrs of school, which included: phonics, reading, comprehension, learning to tell time, math, and learning rhythm with drums in music class. 

Thurs: Finishing up Liam’s Halloween costume with the help of my friends Marlene and Caren (and it is pretty damn adorable) and getting to see the gleeful look on his face when he got to put it on. He’s so excited for this weekend and Monday. Pics below. 

costume1                                                  Toothless Costume Front View

costume2                                               Toothless Costume Back View

costume3

Slightly Clearer view of wings and tail

Moments of Zen: Sept 24-29

happy-banned-books-week

I had a bit of extra zen when I sat outside and watching the Angry Birds movie with my son, on a giant projected screen, the previous Friday night Sept 23rd. It was a nice time and we both enjoyed it, though next time I would probably bring my own food and drinks and a bigger blanket and a cushion. Sept 25-Oct 1 is Banned Book Week, so please do celebrate your right to stand up and read what you want to read. Here is the Banned Book list of 2015 in pictures. I’m hoping to get to at least one of them on the list this week that I haven’t already read. 

Sat: The few minutes of by myself without worrying about Liam during his swim lesson, where I got to float on my back in the pool and not think about things. This is also a time where I feel particularly lovely and graceful. 

Sun: Sept Book Club meeting, where I presented a mini-talk about author Jonathan Swift and a bit about his book Gulliver’s Travels, and we talked about the book, politics, satire and anything else that caught our fancy. The potluck theme was British food and we had homemade pasties, salad, appetizers, scones (apricot oat ones made by me) and tea. It was perfectly delightful. We decided next months theme would be the French to celebrate our reading Kristin Hannah’s book, The Nightingale. 

Mon: Listening to my Spotify music while I write a new Dragon Age fanfiction story. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this one. Honestly it’s just nice to have a creative outlet again. 

Tues: Finally starting to weed my parts of the Children’s collection which I’ve been meaning to do for months but haven’t gotten around to doing; working more on my DA story. 

Wed: Playing SWTOR and enjoying my Sith Inquisitor character Skarnax (Force Lightning FTW!). 

Thurs: Finally finished up The Nightingale, which I really enjoyed reading though it definitely was an emotional roller coaster and had me guessing till the end. Should make for an excellent discussion at Bookclub next month; Watching Green Wing on Netflix and absolutely cracking up at Season 1, Episode 3: The Lodger (probably the most random and hilarious episode ever). 

Moments of Zen: Sept 17-23

Well this week has been a bit better and a bit worse. I had a job interview on Wed for a Librarian position, so fingers crossed on that!

Sat: Got a new car, well new-t0-me car anyways, at the first place my mom and I went to: a Nissan Altima. It’s a nicer car, better than I would’ve thought to be honest. And it’s got decent reviews on Kelly Blue Book/Edmunds. 

Sun: Going to church with my parents and Liam and just enjoying the space. We went to a different church and it was gorgeous inside. Also identified a bit with the sermon, though not in the way the priest intended (he was talking about the true meaning of stewardship and how all our wealth comes from God). Later, it was nice to just listen to some Classic Hip Hop and Rap and relax for the first time that day, even though it was the end of the day. 

Mon: Watching back to back episodes of Mr. Selfridge Season 2. I recently discovered it and love the Edwardian-era Masterpiece Theater show.  My favorite part of the story is the love triangle between Victor, Agnes and Henri (the right three people in the below photo).

meet_the_staff_of_mr_selfridge

Tues: Finally getting to sit down and, in the quietness of the Children’s workroom in the evening, read some more of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale during my lunch break at work. Also psyched that one of my favorite British comedy shows, Green Wing,  is available on Netflix and I got to watch an episode – which really helped me decompress after work!

green_wing_poster

Wed: Got to politely show off storytime skills in an Librarian Interview for Maricopa County. 

Thurs: Sitting down and started to crochet two scarves and finishing up a third, whilst watching Guardians of the Galaxy. 

Fri: Presenting my Cloud DiscoveryTime storytime and eating lunch at Blue Fin while reading Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. 

Moment of Zen: Sept 3 – 9

It has been a crazy week and I’m glad it’s nearly over as I am whooped physically and mentally. Just working until the early afternoon tomorrow and then I’ll be free for the weekend. 

Sat: Even though my face and shoulders are sunburned because of it, getting to relax and just float for a bit, on my back in the pool, while my son took his first swimming class (which he really enjoyed). 

Sun: Getting to have brunch and a coffee with my dad and just talk about stuff going on. I find I need to vent more than ever before, and he’s a good listener who gives his honest opinion about things. 

Mon: Hanging out in Prescott, for the first time, with Joanna and my son. It was a perfect sunny 82 degrees F and slightly windy. Hopefully by next month, the weather will be even better for the mini-break I’m taking with my parents and son next month. 

Tues: Having lunch with Joanna at one of my favorite local restaurants, Blue Fin. This is actually the place where I first thought about doing these posts as whenever I go there, it makes me totally relaxed plus I love the food. It’s right across from the library where I work and the people there are so nice and always make me feel welcome. It’s been there for nearly 35 years, and they make excellent panko chicken with brown rice and tonkatsu sauce, and my favorite Oyako Chicken (eggs, chicken, cabbage and onions all mixed together with a sweet sauce) over brown rice. The Oyako is just so comforting, so if I have time as it takes a little longer to prepare, I usually get that. 

Wed: Weirdly enough, my favorite part of the day was the small staff meeting we had to discuss some routine stuff, in addition to learning that I will do more outreach for The Amazing Library Card Campaign (encourages public school kids in target low-literacy areas to get library cards – 3rd year they’ve done it) and this year’s theme is Peanuts (last year was Star Wars so we had the local Star Wars charity group come shoot photos at the library in promotion). Also my duties at work have changed a bit. They’ve added me to the “Ask a Librarian” team, which I’ve never done, but am a bit excited to get a new task

stormtroopers-in-the-archives-at-burton-barr-sept-2015

Last year’s theme (Stormtroopers in the Library’s Archives, Sept 2015)

peanuts_web_psa_336x280

This year’s theme

Thurs: Today it was just nice to relax and not have to do anything except my counseling appointment first thing in the morning. I’ve not really had the opportunity to do so in the last week. 

Fri: Ok this one is kind of weird, but it made me happy. Finally got a chance to talk to two of our interns and assign them tasks to start next week that will mean I get to fill out less paperwork and give them a bit more ownership of the program. I will be talking to them more next week to set it up properly. Yay for interns!

Moment of Zen: Aug 27 – Sept 2

This week has been pretty interesting, with the exception of Monday and Wednesday, which were just kind of a blah days. Tues was my last day at the branch library I’ve been helping out at for the last month and I was a bit sad to leave as it is nice to meet new people and work at a different place every now and then and see how other libraries work. The manager will still need help in the future, so I’ll keep my ear out for more opportunities and I’m on the substitute list for other branches, so if not there than someplace else I’m sure. 

Quote of the week, taken from Brian Selznick’s The Marvels pg 599, writing about Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: 

“Maybe the play wasn’t about miracles. No, maybe it was about the passage of time, and the need for patience, and the ability to forgive. Maybe Shakespeare was saying that even in a world where miracles can happen, there’s still going to be pain, and loss, and regret. Because sometimes people die and you can’t bring them back. That’s what life is, Joseph realized, miracles and sadness, side by side.”

Sat: Late night drink and talk with my dad about food, cooking and travel; apparently Guy Fieri makes the worst descriptions of food on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, according to my dad

The Japanese Lover

Sun: My friend Joanna and I started an adult bookclub called “A Novel Idea” in July and Sun was the second meeting and we doubled our attendance! We discussed Isabelle Allende’s The Japanese Lover, and had some very interesting discussions about race, prejudice, immigration, growing old and much more. It was cool because all but my mother had worked or was currently working in a library, and everyone was a reader and it is always awesome talking about books with educated ladies. I’m hoping we’ll get even more people the next one and for Sept we are reading the classic by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. This was the nicest time I’ve had in awhile and it was so much fun to be a part of the group. 

Tues: Going out with my friend Joanna and her friends and doing 90’s trivia night at a local market downtown. We came in 15th place but it was still a lot of fun, even though the questions were a little obscure. I would definitely do this again. 

Wed: Snuggle time with my son watching Hotel Transylvania 2

Thurs: Getting to talk to my new counselor about everything going on and setting up a plan to help sort me out in the future

Fri: I had an epiphany moment this morning during my DiscoveryTime storytime (storytime plus STEM) where I was reading the book Big-Mouth Frog by Keith Faulkner and the parents and kids were so into the story and I felt like “Wow, this is really what I’m meant to do (being a librarian).” So I need to keep that in mind when I’m having moments of professional self-doubt.