Sunday, June 13, 2010

A habit to be thankful for

One of the earliest memories of my grandfather involves him sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper. He read it from cover to cover; a good sports day required a back to front reading. He was a devoted Cubs fan, so those days were rare.

Therefore, it was no surprise that I would mimic the man I so admired and started reading the newspaper at about 5. At first, it was just the comics, but gradually I read the whole paper. I felt like such a grown-up, eating my cereal and getting ink on my fingers.

The Chicago Sun-Times gave me quite an education. I grew up in a fascinating city filled with history and intrigue, happiness and despair. I read political columns by Mike Royko and learned about film from Roger Ebert. I discovered that Billie Jean King was a lesbian and a serial killer was my neighbor.

The paper left me with a thirst for knowledge, outrage at injustice, and a desire to see the world. I even worked at a Florida newspaper for almost ten years. It seems like yesterday that I sat at that kitchen table with my grandfather, sharing the newspaper. I wish I could thank him for helping chart my course.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Everyone's Loss

I just read Delia Lloyd's column about The Death of the Library. I hope it's a premature obituary because libraries are my livelihood.

I've heard the argument before: Google will render the librarian useless. But in this age of constant information, the need for someone to help you sift through the junk is even more apparent.

I'll never forget my first day at a very busy reference desk in a Pacific Northwest public library. An elderly woman handed me a slip of paper withURLs scrawled across it. Her doctor had rattled off these sites for her, to help her make a decision. She didn't even know how to use a computer, let alone pull up the information she needed. What decision did she have to make that very next week? Whether or not she should have a kidney transplant! The importance of my job really hit home that day.

For me libraries are the Great Equalizer. All are welcome: from homeless to millionaire, toddler to retiree. Your local library provides programs for all of these people, with shrinking budgets, hours and staff. If we lose our libraries, it's really a loss for us all.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Love Letter

I remember the day I became a Floridian like it was yesterday.

It wasn't the day I moved here. It wasn't the first Christmas I went swimming. It wasn't my four long high school years when I wished I lived anywhere cooler or the years I spent in college. It was in my 20's when I lived in Miami. I was driving back to St. Pete for the umpteenth time over Alligator Alley and I looked out the window. I saw the Everglades and finally saw Beauty. I felt this ache in my heart and this need to protect Her.

I am so sorry I let you down. I became complacent. I let others do my fighting. I became cynical and thought that your days were numbered, so why should I bother? I left you behind, like a jilted lover. I came back and kept my distance.

I hope it's not too late to protect you. I hope it's not too late to say I Love You.

I just wish you could answer back and tell me what to do.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Obsession or Single-Minded Determination?

I flip through the pages of the paper and catch a glimpse at Obsession.

There's the boy who created 20,000 flash cards to prepare for the National Spelling Bee. I'm not sure I even know 20,000 words, let alone how to spell them. I was a finalist in the grammar school spelling bee, but my nerves caused me to flub such an easy word that I know I would crack under pressure way before I got to Laodicean.*

I read about Celine Dion and her crusade to have babies with her geriatric husband. That woman has devoted her life to bad music and Rene. I guess I should have seen it coming when she had her wedding veil stitched to her scalp. Nothing was going to stop her beautiful day or her beautiful life. Not a bleeding scalp or nature.

But part of me is jealous. I don't know if I've ever felt that passionate about anything. Is it obsession or single-minded determination? Is there even a difference? Perhaps if I collected 20,000 sentences I would have the book I'm supposed to be writing. Perhaps if I believed in myself as much as Celine believes in her destiny as a Mother I would be published.

It's easy to mock from the sidelines. But maybe, just for today, I'll relish in their resolution.

* 2009 Spelling Bee Winning Word