Tag Archives: life

A One-Dog Household Again

The good news: nobody died.

The bad news: After a year and a half of being best friends, Nia and Brinkley can no longer live together. The short version of the story is that Nia developed an aggressive streak that she was taking out on Brinkley.

A little longer version: We think it stemmed from the dog next door. Our two dogs run up and down the fence, barking with the German shepherd next door. It is something we have tried to discourage, using a schedule of when our dogs will be out and when their dog will, but schedules are never perfect. One day, Nia was watching said dog in its backyard, quietly woofing. Brink jumped up to see what she was watching and she attacked him, grabbing his skin around the bottom of his neck/top of his shoulders and would not let go. She would viciously shake her head, which I know is a move dog instinctively use to kill. My husband wasn’t home and it took me a minute or two to get her to let go. I put them in separate rooms and inspected Brinkley. He had some open wounds but seemed more scared of the incident than hurt.

We hoped it would be a one-time thing, but it continued. We could go several days to a week without any fighting, and in the meantime they’d act almost as if nothing ever happened. Brinkley was wary of Nia, but she would be submissive to him and they would play and even cuddle. Suddenly, her posture would change, she would stare at Brinkley, and then go after him. We wouldn’t leave them together unsupervised, and could often catch her before she made contact. Once contact was made however, it was a feat of strength to get her off him.

We had her tested for several health concerns that can trigger aggression, but she was healthy. We met with a behaviorist with no success. She did theorize that it is redirected aggression, which comes up when something is frustrating a dog, getting it worked up, but the dog cannot go after the frustration so it turns on the closest option. She remained submissive to us, but when she was focused on him, it was like the rest of the world faded to black. Food didn’t work. The vet suggested dumping water on her, but then just resulted in a wet dog fight.

Gradually, the fighting became more frequent. Brinkley initially would just run away from her, but started to try to defend himself. Everyone suffered injuries. We finally said enough is enough and Nia now lives with my in-laws. She’s perfectly behaved as the solo dog there, and my in-laws love her and dote on her.

The stress of the constant vigil was terrible. It preoccupied our lives, having to always be on guard. February and March are just a blur. I miss her, but I don’t miss that threat. Brinkley has recovered. Some of his injuries became infected for a while, but those are healing. Happy to be coming home from the vet:

Right after that, he suffered an unrelated nail injury, which required surgery, a cone, a foot bandage, and more medicine. The people at the vet all know Brinkley quite well, and my voice is recognized when I call in. I’m hoping the rest of 2012 involves less vet visits.

So we’re a one dog house again. The good thing is we can see Nia whenever we visit my in-laws. She no longer feels like my dog, which is good. I just feel fortunate that we all survived and I still have Sir Brinksalot.

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Hello There, Dear Blog

Oh 2011, I feel like you just got here. Must you go so soon?

Seriously, this year has been a blur. I really can’t believe 2012 begins in 36 hours. Last year, I over-extended myself with commitments and scaled back this year. Somehow, the world kept life just as busy this year.

I traveled a lot (for me)! I attended ALA Midwinter, and was able to go to Disneyland with my husband for a few days. Spring flew by, and I attended ALA Annual right after school ended. (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) During the summer, I was lucky enough to go to NYC for 24 hours and then spend a weekend at Rensselaerville. I got some beach time in at Ocean City (Maryland) and Wildwood Crest (New Jersey). I didn’t see as much of my family as I would like, but I was lucky to spend a good amount of time with dear friends.

Work has been busier than ever. We have a new library assistant this year, so getting her up to speed has been a focus. In addition to sponsoring the student book club, I am continuing on as the chair of Faculty Senate, and a member of the Climate Committee and two different literacy committees. I was a co-coordinator for our school Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical competition. I’ve been just as busy with book talks this year as I was last year, which is excellent.

I challenged myself, via GoodReads, to read 50 books this year. I thought that would be easy. I just made it, and it involved some last-minute reads of picture books and graphic novels. I have come to accept that reading challenges are not fun for me. Reading (and blogging) is something I do for pleasure. Once I commit to a challenge, it feels like a job. It becomes a finish line and is no longer about enjoying the experience. I won’t be doing that again this year.

Life itself has been a roller coaster, speeding through the highs and lows and dips and flips of love, loss, struggles, and blessings. The health of everyone I know ebbs and flows. I continue to be lucky to come home to a house filled with the love of my husband and two dogs. We continue the never-ending project that is living in a house built in 1951.

2012 is largely a mystery for me right now. I applied for the YALSA Board Fellow position. If I am fortunate to be selected, I envision a chunk of my year focused on that. If not, I intend to apply for another process committee position as my term on Teens’ Top Ten ends after Annual. My work commitments will continue, of course. I am not attending ALA Midwinter this year. I have no requirement to attend, and financially it is not a priority right now. I have not made a decision on attending ALA Annual, but I suspect the Board Fellow decision will have some affect on that. I would love to attend the YALSA YA Lit Symposium again, but I have some time to make that decision.

For now, I hope 2012 will pass a little more slowly than 2011 did. If any of my readers have stuck around since my last post in September, I thank you and hope you continue to stop by in 2012.

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A Reminder That Bookstores Are Not Libraries

While skimming Entertainment Weekly’s website today, I found this post: “Borders Employees List Grievances: ‘Ode to a Bookstore Death.'” I got a bit cranky. Yes, the list creator is one person (or a handful of people) out of many bookstore workers. Yes, I think that it sucks that Borders went out of business and lots of people lost their jobs and their bookstore. Yes, these people have a right to vent their frustration.

But this list of complaints is exactly why we need libraries and librarians. Let me point out a few things to you:

Borders employee says, “We hate when a book becomes popular simply because it was turned into a movie.” This high school librarian (here on out known as HSL in this post) says, “If a book-turned-in-to-a-movie gets one person to read, that person could potentially come back again and again and become someone who loves reading. It just takes the right book to hook a person.” Whatever works.

Borders employee says, “Oprah was not the “final say” on what is awesome. We really didn’t care what was on her show or what her latest book club book was. Really.” HSL says, “Again, whatever gets someone to reconsider reading is a win in my world.” I bet the author cares when he/she is able to make enough money to write full-time after Oprah praises their book, and can publish more books which will bring in more money for the bookstore.

Borders employee says, “If you don’t know the author, title, or genre, but you do know the color of the cover, we don’t either. How it was our fault that we couldn’t find it we’ll never understand.” HSL says, “If I had a nickel for every time in the 4 years I have been a librarian when I found the correct book for a patron based on the description of the cover, I would at least be able to buy myself lunch tomorrow.” Part of a librarian’s job is to know your collection. One student asks about “the book with the baby on the cover,” and she is so happy when I hand her Jacqueline Woodson’s The Dear One because that is exactly when she meant, but another student wants “the book with the baby on the cover” and is relieved when I give her Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting from the Current Controversies series. Both books have a baby on the cover, as do several other books in our library, but I am able to do a reference interview and get the right book in their hands.

Borders employee says, “It confused us when we were asked where the non-fiction section is.” HSL says, “If books are cataloged and patrons can search on a computer to find what they want, you would not be asked questions like this.” One thing that I think Barnes and Noble gets right is that in some of their stores, they provide computers for customers to do their own searching. (Not every store does this, though, which needs to change.) I have never been in a Borders where a computer was available for customers; each was always labeled “For employee use only.” Library patrons may not understand why books on fashion will be found in the 700s but books on what to wear for an interview will be in the 600s, but they will at least be able to use a computer to look up what they want and follow the clear layout and signage of a library to find the book they want.

Borders employee says, “We greatly dislike the phrase “Quick question.” It’s never true. And everyone seems to have one.” HSL says, “I love the questions that require some thinking and digging!” What else is a book store employee there to do but sell books? If someone has a question that could result in a sale, why hate the question? I love when students have a complicated question, or a question they worry is impossible to answer, and I can guide them to the answer. No wonder Borders went out of business if the employees don’t want to answer questions.

Borders employee says, “‘I was just here last week and saw this book there’ meant nothing to us. The store changed once a week.” HSL says, “Displays are meant to promote books. Know your recent displays.”

Borders employee says, “When you walked in and immediately said, ‘I’m looking for a book,’ what you really meant to say is, ‘I would like you to find me a book.’ You never looked. It’s fine, it’s our job — but let’s be correct about what’s really happening here.” HSL says, “Do we really need to argue semantics? Does it matter how the need for assistance is phrased? Booksellers and librarians have jobs because people need help in fulfilling an information need and we can help them.” Oops, maybe that is why you don’t have a job anymore.

Okay, in all seriousness, I understand where this person (people?) is coming from and like I said before, it sucks that Borders closed. I know some bookstore employees who are awesome and some librarians who suck, but this is a prime example of what to expect in a bookstore where the job qualifications are minor, and a in library staffed by librarians with a master’s degree. Librarians are trained to answer the unanswerable. The next time someone questions why modern society needs libraries, he or she should try to answer the unanswerable using an ode-writing bookstore employee and Google.

**********************************************************************

Coming soon: my rant about librarians who suck.

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Ten Years After

Ten years ago, I remember commuting with my then-boyfriend/now-husband to our jobs at Tyson’s Corner. It was a beautiful September day. We’d moved to Fairfax, VA from NYC just 3 months earlier. I was adjusting to life in the suburbs again. I didn’t miss the crowded NYC subway, but I was missing my friends, my favorite haunts, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to celebrate my birthday later that week without them.

I remember IMing with my friend Jenn Carlile Foley that morning at work. We had gone to college together, and she had been a stage manager like me. When she graduated a year after I did, she followed in my footsteps: moved to NYC and did a year as a stage management intern at The Juilliard School, which I had also done. Jenn and I had our ups and downs, but she was an amazing person, so full of love and laughter. She was a loyal friend, and many people received more from her then I think she ever got back. Sometime after finishing at Juilliard, Jenn had married Tony, her college sweetheart. A few months later, I moved from NYC to Fairfax, and she was soon diagnosed with cancer. I made sure to keep in touch with her often, and IM was handy for easy chats where the haunting specter of the cancer was less pronounced.

I don’t remember how I first learned about the attacks; I just remember sitting in the office kitchen, watching the events unfold on the television. I went back and forth between the TV and my computer to talk to Jenn. She could see the towers from her office window, and she is forever connected to 9/11 in my head because of this.

When we learned that the Pentagon had been hit, the fear in our office escalated. The husband of one of my co-workers worked at the Pentagon, and she could not get a hold of him or any of his co-workers. She went home to wait for news, and the whole office went home soon after. I remember my boyfriend and I deciding to go donate blood, but the lives at every center were so long, they were turning people away. So we just went home.

I’m sure the way I felt that day is similar to what we all felt: sorrow, fear, patriotism, uselessness. I felt so far away from NYC, like I had abandoned it right before I needed it most. I worried for my friends there, I worried for the city.

I remember reading Sars’ story about how 9/11 happened to her. Every year, I return to her site to see if her mystery has been solved. Right now, it doesn’t look like it has.

At the end of that day, everyone I knew was safe, including the Pentagon husband. But of course, none of us were fine. In the summer after 9/11, the cancer took Jenn. While 9/11 and her cancer are not connected, I can’t think of one event without thinking of the other.

Several years later, I was introduced to PostSecret through this secret:

Sometimes, I want to believe that this secret isn’t real; that someone’s family and friends aren’t missing and mourning a person who is actually still alive. Yet, I also hope it is real; that one person didn’t actually die that day. 9/11 was such a tragedy, but the postcard gives me hope. I know we lost Jenn, but maybe someone escaped fate that sunny day.

It’s strange to think back to September in 2001 and how much has happened since then, how much has been lost, but also how much happiness has been found.

Memories of loved ones in happy times always help us heal after loss. I am grateful to have memories of happy moments with Jenn, such as this:

I’ll close with one of my favorite portions of poetry:

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

– William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

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Photo Friday 8/19/2011

While I have had several work obligations this week, Monday is when I go back full-time. In honor of my last day of summer break, here is a quiet reminder of relaxing during the off-hours.

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One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls. Published by Random House. Read in August, 2011. Copy purchased for my personal collection.

Description from GoodReads:

It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives—lives very different from the people they once dreamed they’d become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

When One Day came out, I put it in my to-read list, but kept putting it off. It sounded interesting, but not being YA pushed it off my radar. When the trailer for the movie came out, I finally bought a copy and swore I would read it before the movie came out. I finally did.

I have mixed feelings about the novel. Sometimes I found Dexter Mayhew insufferable and just wanted to punch him in the teeth. Other times, I could see exactly why Emma Morley loved him. Sometimes, I could relate to the book so much, it took my breath away. After I was done, I couldn’t start another book for a while; it lingered with me. This is not a romantic comedy, and I also would not label it chick-lit like I have seen others do. It’s not fluffy, or fun, but I also could not put it down.

I did like the way Mr. Nicholls wrapped up the book in the last 5 or so chapters. While the ending was not the end one might wish for, the way he goes about revealing the last chapters is a warm, soft blanket on a chilly night.

One Day did remind me of two plays I have read: Love Letters by A. R. Gurney and Jack and Jill by Jane Martin. The plots are not the same, but the relationship between the two main characters is similar.

I want to see the movie, although I might wait for the DVD. I’m not sure I am ready to rehash this story so soon.

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Photo Friday 8/5/2011

In July, I visited my friend Jenn in NYC for a weekend. Among other things, we visited the Harry Potter Exhibition. If you are a fan of the movies, it is well done and worth seeing.

My favorite part? I picked up a Time-Turner for myself!

Yes, the sand really moves. As of right now, it doesn’t actually turn time. But, being a Muggle, it’s possible I just don’t know how to harness it.

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