Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flashback: The Thing About the Library . . .

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.--Samuel Johnson


When people find out I worked in a library, surrounded by the glory of literature, they are absolutely boggled when I said I left quickly and happily after only a year. Why on earth would I want to leave such a wonderful place? Well, I'll tell you. You see, you collect a lot of stories working in a public library on the wrong side of town.  Before I start with my stories, I do want you to know that, for the most part, our patrons were very normal people, and some were even very, very sweet.  Sadly, it's the nasties who stick with you.  It's the ones that are so rude or so strange you see them more than anything else.  Try as I might, I see a couple of faces who were pleasant, kind, but most of the faces and events are things that leave me either laughing or with a bad taste in my mouth.  The library is a strange, strange place . . .
  • There's a couple that comes in often. The man is all skin, grease and angles with the same American bandana and slick, weasly pony tail. Both of them slur so badly you wonder if they've been drinking since dawn. He smells so strongly of cigarette smoke and unbathed human that you have to hold your breath (we have LOTS of people like that). . He asks for religious movies. Why? "I keep trying to get him to read the Bible," the woman says, "but he says 'I don' haveta. I've seen the movie.' "
    "Yeah," he calls from the DVDS, "they need to hurry up and make the rest of em so I can see the whole book."

  • A lady brings a DVD up to the desk. "There's something wrong with this. No matter what I do, it just won't play in English."
    A coworker and I examine it. "Well, ma'am. It's a foreign film. It doesn't speak in English."
    "Naw, it's just broken."
    Despite the "Foreign" label, every DVDs first language should be English, apparently.
  • One day, a fellow decided he wanted to chatter while I registered him for a library card. He asks, "So what school are you going to?"
    "Oh, no, I graduated."
    "Which high school?"
    "Oh. You look really young. What was your major?"
    "Oh, so this is like your DREAM job."
    I should have shut my mouth right then. I should have agreed with him and said, "Yes, sorting books, shelving DVDs, and registering library cards is all I've wanted to do with my life" -- don't get me wrong, the librarian is an extremely NOBLE profession, but it just wasn't in my list of life goals. But I didn't. I said I wanted to be a writer, which sent him into a speal about the video game he's creating and how he'd love to collaborate. I wish him best of luck as he leaves and begin organizing returned books. Fifteen minutes later, he's back at the counter.
    "Well, I'm leaving now."
    "Umm . . . ok. Bye. Have a good day."
    "So, when do you want to get together to exchange stories?"
    I am flabbergasted. I mean, seriously. "Um . . . I'm sorry, I'm really busy."
    "I'm flexible."
    "I'm planning a wedding!" I burst out.
    "Oh, you plan weddings, too??"
    At a loss for words and completely frazzled, I hold up my left hand sporting a brand new engagement ring. "My wedding."
    "Oh . . . uh . . . ok then. Bye."
    That was day two of my employment.
  •  A very pregnant girl came to the front desk asking for a baby name book. Her boyfriend, a skinny fellow with a mullet and jean overalls (no lie), came up behind her and said, "She don't like the names I'm picking for my boy. Every one in my family has been named Billy Bob or Joe or somethin' but she don't like none of those!"
    I really, really hope that it was a big prank because, oh my golly . . .

  • Once upon a time, our power went out and our system went down. Power outages are common in thunderstorm-ridden Florida summers, but it's a big deal, here, because suddenly everyone's fussing because his or her computer went down and they want more time NOW. Well, this time, not only did our computers go out, but our system . . . OCLS could not check in any items anywhere by the main branch. For a day and half. the afternoon following system failure, it suddenly decided to start working. A regular, a perfectly round fellow in a wheelchair with Jehovah Witness pamphlets in the pocket, zoomed up to the desk. "Did you check in my DVDs?"
    "No sir, we--"
    I was cut off by his sudden collapse onto the counter head in his hands, wailing, "WHY DIDN'T YOU CHECK THEM IN?!?! THEY WERE TURNED IN YESTERDAY!! I GAVE THEM TO HER!!! NOW I CAN'T GET NO MORE MOVIES!!!"
    "Sir, the system just started working again. We will check them in as soon as we can."
    "I don' wan' no late fees," he mutters glaring at me from under his arms.
    "You won't have them, sir."
    He sits there, despondant, glaring at me in an odd mix of anger and pitifulness, until he finally sighs and wheels away, stacking more movies in his bag.
    DVDs are a serious life or death matter here.

  • I don't remember his real name. Paul or Donald or something. I know him simply as "Spittle Man." It's a horrid name, but it was the first title that came to mind when we met--I was mesmerized by the over-abundant ammount of spit in his mouth, and I have been unable to rename him. He's a regular. Everyday. He comes in, wearing that same gray polo with the stain at his paunch, and holds his computer reservation receipt up to a clerk. "This thing says I have a fifteen minute wait, but there's an empty computer now. Give me that one."
    "Well, sir," the unfortunate clerk answers, "the system assigns you the computer with earliest availability. The empty one is either out of order or someone has logged off early and it holds a pending reservation."
    "Well, if there's no one on it now, I should be able to log on. I'm just curious as to why your system won't let me." Thus begins a 20 minute agonizing arguement of policy and system.
    Here's a recent incident . . . a boy has told me his mom is having problems logging onto her computer, so I go to help her, and realize that it is ten minutes past the log-in time, so she probably lost her reservation. Simultaneously, Spittle Man storms up to our customer service lead, proclaiming, "Some woman is trying to get on my computer! I have a reservation for 4:45 and I'm losing my 60 minutes! I want her off! She says someone at the desk gave her a reservation for MY computer!"
    As I am attempting a log in, I hear the smug spittle-filled voice behind me. "So YOU'RE the one who started all the trouble."
    "Is there a problem, sir?" I say as coolly as possible, my face flaming.
    A receipt is shoved under my nose.
    "Her reservation is for 4:30."
    "But mine's for 4:45," he says.
    "I signed her up at 4:00 for a 4:30 reservation." I then turn to the boy. "I'm really sorry, but I think the reservation expired. I can get her another one at the desk."
    Spittle Man is already there, demanding a brand new reservation because he has lost three of his sixty minutes and that is totally unacceptable. He continues to rant while my lead tries to get him his reservation but she can't because she can't concentrate over the noise.
    DVDs are life and death . . . computers equally so.

  • I used to open Tuesday mornings, the new DVD day, the day patrons lined up two hours before opening so they could rush they door and snag every title. When I had time, I mixed up some of the titles so they were harder to find while patrons pressed their faces against the glass, desperate for a glimpse of the DVDs invisible through the distant tinted windows. Maybe I was a meany for hiding them, but I was trying to give the nice people who came in after work and school a chance to see new movies, too. Tuesdays made me sick.
  •  One day, an older African-American woman entered wearing a red hat and rage. She came up to the counter, "Did you check in my DVD?"
    "My DVD. I turned it in, but you're chargin' me late fees. What did you do with my movie?"
    I take her card, look up her account, and begin the search and filling out the claims form--a form sent to several branches asking to locate lost objects. Sometimes, it worked. Sometimes, the patron really HADN'T turned in the item. Other times, it's just so lost there's no hope.  While I type, she begins o describe all of her woes, how the world is out to get her. How they shut down her power just to spite her. How we open at nine just so she has to ride her bike in the heat to get her.  Then suddenly she grows very quiet, leaning on the counter, face turned away from me. "Do you know what I'm doin'?" she asks solemnly.
    "No, ma'am."
    "I'm praying to Jesus. I am renouncing the devils here and telling them to give me back my movie. You find it. No more tricks now. I'm renouncing all the evil spirits here."
    I almost laughed except that we found her movie shortly after that.  She had been asking us to look at the wrong branch.  She had turned it in, just like she said, and all fees were removed.  Demons or not.

  • Each night, we had to check the bathrooms for stragglers after closing. One night, we found a giant penis wearing a superman cape scrawled on the wall. I mean, mural-sized. Genitalia in a super-hero cape. I laughed and I laughed.

  • The hoverers make my skin crawl. All of our DVDs are in security cases, and, when we've checked in and double-scanned returned DVDs we case them on a cart near the desk so patrons can check them out. The moment they hear the CLICK SNAP CLICK of the security cases, patrons are suddenly at my side, with no sense of personal space, craning to read the titles or snatch a DVD before anyone else. They react to the sound the way my cat reacts when she hears me pouring food in her dish. It's just a movie, really.
  •  One time, I opened a DVD case, and a little roach crawled out. Another time, I watched a small roach scuttle out of a patron's cloth bag, look around, and then scurry back inside like it was going home. The patron tried to smash it, but I'm not sure there was any success . . .
  • One evening, I was shelving, when I heard someone call my name. I turned, and our shelver's boyfriend was relaxing at one of the many tables used by the Saturday chess club.  "Sarah, why are you working at a library? Why aren't you modeling or something?"
    "Ummmm  . . . I like it here? I've never really had any interest in modeling. Don't want to lose all that weight."
    He laughs, saying, "Oh, no, please don't lose weight!"
    The next week, he's there again, and says, "Sarah, I've been thinking about what you said the other night, about not losing weight to model?"
    "Uuuuuuuuh . . . "
    "And I was thinking, maybe you should model for men who'd appreciate your figure. Like Black Man Magazine."
    "Uuuuhhh . . . no, thank you, I'm fine."
    I'm still reeling over that one. And, might I mention, I had my WEDDING RING on???

  • We had a flasher in, once. Apparently, there have been a handful of flasher stories before my employment, but I was privileged enough to be on the clock for this one. -_-  Oh, and there was a drive-by shooting across the street one night shortly after we closed . . . and the Dollar General next door was robbed at least twice during the year I worked there. Classy spot.
Like I had said, these, sadly are the NEGATIVE stories. There are several good ones--all the nice people I met, the ladies and gentlemen who greeted every clerk by name every time they came in.  There was nothing quite as sweet as helping someone find something or solve a computer problem and having them sincerely thank you. The library was a wonderful service to so many people, and, as you all know, people come in all kinds of conditions with all kinds of attitudes.  Oh, and I loved my coworkers--seriously a GREAT group of people.  Plus there were the books.  Always books. Support your local libraries. Really, do it. There are so many people who NEED their services -- the free internet access, the aid in studies, the education programs, the ESL and citizenship classes -- they offer SO MUCH and can be such a bright light.

But by summer 2010, the time came for me to pursue a teaching career, and that brought on a new mass of stories. Still, the library will live in a special place in my heart, a place of infamy and fondness, in its odd little way. There's always light in the dirty places.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dear Friday Letters

Dear Friday,
Have I told you how much I love you? Because I totally do. It’s ridiculous. Thank God you’re here!

Dear Shasta,
Puppy, you make me laugh. You’re totally spoiled rotten and the worst “pet me-pet me-pet me-love me-love me- love me!” ham alive, but we just love you. You’re a snuggle bug and oh-so-eager to please. Plus, you protect me from dangerous things that like vicious doe in the backyard (yay wildlife!). I have no idea how you’ll survive when we having mini humans around here and can’t devote all of our attention to you. You just might shrivel up and die from spoiling-dehydration.  Eat it up, sweetheart, because you’re adorably ridiculous.

Ok, so I am partially responsible for her behavior as I give her bits of chicken I trim as I'm making dinner . . . still, pretty proud of her because, as badly as she wants to, she won't touch it if I tell her "Wait!" or "Leave it!" . . . she just gives me that expression . . . good grief . . . ;]

So, I get out of the shower, and this is how she's sleeping.  Once our alarms go off, she jumps into our bed to snuggle and wake us up . . . and then she just takes over . . . Upside Down Dingo, anyone?

Dear Hubs,
 I am going to miss you like mad this next month. It’s not even funny. I’m so glad you get to be home on weekends, but being by myself in the office, with no one to send stupid Pinterest photos to or flirt with over the company IM system or remind me to grab my phone . . . I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day. Plus nights alone? In bed? ALONE??? Oh, dear dear dear! And for a whole whopping month and a half, too! Ugh.
Still, absence makes the heart grow fonder . . . or something . . . Or, like you said during our long-distance dating, "No, distance just SUCKS!"
Yeah . . . but it will be over before we know it, and then we're off on another adventure!
Until then . . . I'll just wallow in lonely misery and have Shasta occupy your side of the bed . . .

The Hubs outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium during our Cali vist this past July

Dear October,
You’re my favorite.  You bring pumpkin-flavored everything, almost-chilled air, and pumpkin carving.  If we lived up north, you’d bring orange, red, and yellow leaves. Here it’s just . . . maybe less mosquitos?  Oh, October, I love you so.

The leaves were just starting to change during our  trip to Tennessee last October.

Dear Matt,
You’re awesome. I love our random movie nights, conversations on just about everything, and your enthusiasm for music, video games, and everything else.  You've been my best pal for pretty much my entire life, and I'm so excited that you're staying over a couple times a week while you're attending college. I know it makes the drive easier on you, but Chris and I so enjoy your company and just hanging out. You rock. 

  P.S. Thanks for showing Chris the Plague game on the iPhone . . . he’s now slaughtered the populous through virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite, and Lord knows what else. He’s way better at that game than he should be . . . hmmm . . .
Matt and I, circa 1993, rocking out red hankerchief headbands

Dear iPhone 4s,
Oh lovely, I know we’ve only known each other for three days, but, darling, it seems like a lifetime. We were always meant to be, you and I, forever and ever amen.  Why did it take me so long to see it? Why did I wait so long? But now, here you are, and here I am, and all is well with the world.  You’ve made a believer out of me . . . ibeliever???


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grilled Veggie Wraps

Wow, it has been too long since I've posted a recipe.
But, maybe that's a good thing?
I'm going to pretend you didn't say yes ;]

This was one I found in the Cook This, Not That cookbook. It's technically vegetarian, but could easily be vegan by swapping out the cheese and mayo for their vegan counterparts. Or, if you crave meat, tossing in some chicken or beef wouldn't be half bad. It's very tasty and filling without the meat, but I understand a carnivore's needs ;]

One thing I love about this recipe is that it's super easy to mix and match. Don't like the veggies or cheese that I used? Great! What would you like? Don't be afraid to branch out and use the veggies and toppings other than what's listed here--this recipe isn't a law it's "more like guidelines."  Either way, it's a canvas to paint your super tasty masterpiece. The sauce, I think, really makes the wrap--it's strong and tart but blends wonderfully with the goat cheese. Dear golly, I'm actually starting to salivate. When I crave vegetarian, THIS is what I go for.

SOURCE - photo and recipe

Here's how it all goes down.


  • 2 large red peppers
  • 12 (give or take) asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 package of Baby Bella mushroom slices (or 2 Portabello caps)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Spinach or arugula to your liking
  • Crumbled goat cheese to your liking (or any other cheese--a strong cheese compliments this veggie combo best, though)
  • Whole Wheat, Spinach, or Tomato tortilla wraps
  • Salt (or Garlic Salt) and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin

Ingredients for Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
    --(I tend to like as much/more vinegar than mayo--start with the 2-1, then mix and taste until you have a balance you like)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  1. Put all your veggies in a large bowl, lightly sprinkling with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss to coat.
  2. If you're using a grill, heat it up, then place your veggies (all except beans and spinach/arugula) on the hottest part of the grill, turning occasionally, for about five minutes until the skin is slightly charred and tender to the touch. The peppers will take longer than the other ingredients
    ---If, like me, you don't have a grill, no worries. Simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees, put your veggies (except beans and spinach/arugula) on a single sheet of tin foil and place it on the middle oven rack. Cook until skin is slightly charred and the veggies are tender. My peppers took about 20 minutes (but I like them well done) while the other veggies took closer to 10 minutes. The asparagus can be tricky--you want to cook it until it's tender but not mushy.
  3. Heat your beans in a small pot on the stovetop. Mix in your lime juice and cumin. Cook on medium-high until heated through, stirring occasionally.  
  4. Cut your peppers into long strips, removing the stem and seeds. If you used Portabello caps rather than Baby Bella slices, remove the stems and cut into thing strips as well. 
  5. If you're using a grill, heat your tortillas on it briefly, or, if not, in the microwave for about 30 seconds. 
  6. Mix together your ingredients for the sauce and spread over your warm tortilla
  7. Add your cooked veggies, leafy greens, and cheese of your choice
    --I'm not gonna lie, big goat cheese fan here, and I thought it complimented the veggies beautifully. 
  8. Wrap it up and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite veggies to cook with?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Third Time's the Charm . . .

So, last Tuesday, Chris and I packed our bags, gave my brother the keys to the house and how-to-feed-not-kill-the-furries list,  and escaped.
Never looked back, not even once.
You see, the next day was our three year anniversary. Maybe it's not a milestone to anyone else, but, to us, it's kind of a big deal.  Maybe it's a little because we dated for three years before we got engaged. Maybe it's because, once we reached three years, we planned on making some major changes.  Maybe it's because we realized this is very likely our last anniversary in Florida--or, at least, our last one for a long time.
So we ran away to our island paradise on Sanibel Island and decided to make it a real vacation.

On our way . . .  I love watching Florida skies--they're anything between vibrant blue to Dooms Day black and ALWAYS with the most spectacular clouds.
P.S. Do you know how difficult it is to get a decent shot in a moving car through a bug splattered windshield? I had to frame my shots based on the location of bug guts. Blech.

Oh, Perfect Beach Day, I love you so . . . and, really, Sanibel is the place to be--white sands and crystal blue waters. It's a sleepy little place with one grocery store and everything closes by eight, but, gosh, no better place for relaxing.  Adore it.

We spent our days sleeping in, watching cable television, eating great seafood, and lounging on the beach. It was so very needed.  We left house-hunting, office projects, and the internet behind. It was five days of just the two of us with no responsibilities. Perfection.

You can't really see it in this picture, but Chris bought himself a fishing pole. Every trip, he has watched other fishermen with great evening, mourning the loss of a beloved pasttime, but NOT THIS YEAR!!! He was completely in his element.  Sadly, the only thing he caught was the attention of an elderly German in a purple and pink plaid speedo. Yep.
We did, however, see a ginormous red fish, literally three feet from us, and a large snook (best fish name EVER) . . . but they just weren't biting, try as we might. I was more upset about it than he was. *sigh*

This crow was hilarious. He loved to perch on the beach umbrellas and scream until someone fed him . . . then he'd snoop through beach bags. Not even kidding. He got into ours three times when we weren't looking.

So, I dropped a cracker and suddenly SEVENTEEN seagulls surrounded me.  For being irritating scavengers, they were kind of adorable, giving me puppy eyes and creeping closer, cocking their little heads.  The hubs, however, frowns upon them with good reason. They're merciless.

Remember what I said about Florida skies? Yeah. Sunset thunderstorm looming. Oh, I will miss these.
On the last night of our trip, we take at least one photo. Couldn't let this year pass without one!

I'm not a mushy person--I tend to evade Nicholas Sparks like the plague and scoff at cheesy declarations, but, I tell you what, that man turns his giant green eyes on me, smiles, and whispers, "I love you most," and I melt.  I mean, seriously, I am a bloody puddle, giggling like a school girl.

We've had our share of tears and fights and storming off, but there's never been any doubt in my mind that he was always the one intended for me. He challenges me with truths I so desperately NEED to hear even though I don't WANT to hear them, but, at the same time, he is my encourager and my comforter. Even after all the fury, we come back understanding something a little deeper, even if it's just that we need more faith in each other and more faith in Christ. Chris sees me deeper than anyone has seen me and knows me better than I know myself. He has lived through my ugliest, my strangest, and my loveliest, and, daily, he still wraps his arms around my waist, kisses my face, and says "I love you. I don't want anyone else but you. Not ever."  True love isn't honey and sugar and butterflies. It's hard work, but it's good work.

 And did I mention that we have fun?
Oh, good GOLLY do we have fun. 
I laugh more with Chris than I have laughed with anyone else.  We might be boring hermits to most people, but we're insane and having a blast.  The things we come up with  . . . we laugh until we cry at things no one else would understand.  And can I just say that the flirting is ridiculous? I mean, really. You don't even know.

So, in a few months, we start a HUGE adventure heading across the country, and there's no one else I'd rather run away with.  Why? Because he's Chris, and that's just who I need. God knew that three years ago, six years ago, ten years ago, twenty-five years ago.
One day this awkward little redheaded teenager would see her best friend's brother asleep on the couch, and that he would see her, too.  They'd meet, they'd crush, and then they'd take a leap.

"Sarah Wimberly, I like you."
"YES!!! I like you, too!"
"Really! How long? How long have you liked me?"
"Since I first saw you.  You were special. I just knew. I'd see pretty girls, but it always came back to you."
"Every guy I liked even a little, I always wanted him to be you because I never thought I'd actually get you. I thought I'd have to clone you, but, no, I get the real thing. This is AWESOME!"

Three years later, he was down on one knee with the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen.
On October 3, 2009, I was trying not to trip on my dress, walking down an aisle, crying silently through my uncontrolled smile.
I got the real thing. I really had him.  And he had me, totally and completely.

I can't imagine existence without him, the second half of my soul.  I thank God every day for that.
I wouldn't have it any other way. 
Not even a little.