Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Here Comes the Storm

So, St. Louis is about to get pounded by some pretty bad storms.  They've already been reporting some nice sized hail about 30 miles northwest of here and I suspect we're going to get the same any moment now.  I went to work extremely early today just so I could make sure that I wouldn't be caught out in it, and I'm glad I did.  The rain just started pouring down.

In other news, plans on my wedding are stalled a bit while I wait for a co-worker of my fiance, who is also an ordained minister, to get back to me.  It's actually been over a week since he got my name and e-mail address from my fiance and sent out an initial e-mail.  I responded back asking him some basic questions about how he conducts weddings, and have yet to get a response from him.  It's frustrating and making me think it may be better just to get married at a courthouse.  The problem is that the courthouse where we would like to be married only perform weddings once a month and I won't know until June when they will be doing August weddings.  It leaves little time to really plan, not that I was going to have a big wedding anyways.

Otherwise, work is the same.  I'm working on creating more of those animated training videos for the students, and they've been going over pretty well.  My boss and I are also in the process of creating a survey for students to see about setting up a location nearer to the dorms where students can pick up books they have requested.  We're going to see which days and which times of day (in 3 hour blocks) are the most popular, and whether this service will be worth doing or not.  Assessment is always fun!  We even have a couple of our own student assistants who are helping with the effort.  Another work experience I can put on the old resume!

Last, but not least, Saturday at Wizard Con is coming up and I'm still very excited to see this guy!

Matt Smith as the Doctor

But mostly just excited to see this guy

My fiance!  Doesn't he look a bit like Capt. Jack Sparrow?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A little bit of bling means a whole lot of changes

Hi everyone!

So, looks like it's been a bit since I updated this.  Time to let you all know what's going on.  First off, here's just a little pic of a little old something I got about 2 weeks ago.


Pay no mind to my silly face on the left side of the picture.  The ring is what's important here.  That's right, I'm engaged to be married.  We're looking at August, but a final date hasn't been set yet.  We're still trying to figure out where we're getting married and who's marrying us.  However, I bought a David's Bridal dress for real cheap off Craigslist, got the shoes, got the veil, and got a great guy.  So, pretty much everything is set!  Scary to be getting married at the age of 35, but I finally got the right guy, so all will be well.

Also, in other news, since I am turning 35 in less than a week, my eyes decided that they had enough of me always reading, always on the computer working, and decided to let my head know about it.  So, after a month or so of really stinky headaches, I got a pair of glasses.  They are miracle workers!  I don't have headaches anymore and they're super cute.  Here's me on the day I got engaged:


That's me under the knee of a really huge statue near where I live.  This is what the whole thing looks like.


Lastly, my fiance got tickets to the St. Louis Wizard Con for next weekend and guess who's going to be there?  Matt Smith!!!  And Karen Gillan!!  Otherwise known as the 11th Doctor and Amy Pond.  Oh, I'm too excited for words.  I'm definitely going to dress up as Donna Noble, which I did for Halloween a few years back.  The following day, we are going hiking.  Best birthday weekend ever!

Otherwise, all is well at work and at home.  I'm plowing through "The Tudors" on Netflix and am obsessing a bit on the reigns of the Tudors now.  History has always really interested me.  I'll write again soon when I have more wedding news to announce. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Home in St. Louis in 2014

Hi everyone!  So, apparently I am a horrible person for letting this blog languish so long.  I've just had the craziest, weirdest, but not necessarily bad year.  So, I spent six months on a ship.  Who does that anyways?  I saw tons of awesome things, spent many hours missing my boyfriend, and helped countless of old people figure out Facebook and how to download books onto their brand new Kindle Fire.

However, six months was enough for me.  I made $50 a day working on a ship and sharing the tiniest cabin with another employee.  That was enough for me.  I was offered a second contract that would have started in November, but I ended up getting a paraprofessional position with a nice private university here in St. Louis, so I said "sayonara" to the ship life and headed back to the good ole Show-Me State. If you want to know more about the ship life, head over to http://inalj.com/?p=60311 where I just posted a blog about it all.

That website is where I do some volunteer work on the side.  Since November, I have served as the Head Editor of Nevada for INALJ.com (I Need a Library Job.com) which is a great place to not only find jobs in the information and library sciences all over the country and the world, but also has great blogs written by a team of awesome people.  They're always looking for more volunteers so hit them up at volunteer@inalj.com if you're interested in contributing.

In terms of my personal life, things are going great for my boyfriend and I.  We are about to celebrate 18 months together next week.  A few weeks ago, he gave me a ring that belonged to his grandmother.  It will act as a promise ring until he gets me a real deal engagement ring.  Until then, we're not quite considering ourselves engaged yet, but it seems to be coming soon. I've never been married and it's taken me a long time to find the right guy, but things are looking really good and we are both definitely matured enough to take that big plunge soon.

Anyways, more coming soon about cool things like Sherlock, social media, and (hopefully) the end of a ridiculously cold and snowy winter here in Missouri.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cruise Ship Librarian: Day 1



Day 1:
After a lovely night’s sleep in what is probably the swankiest hotel I have ever been in, I walked a block down the outer road in San Diego to get an amazingly quick breakfast at the local Denny’s. I always appreciate a server who is on his toes and this guy handled an entire dining room on his own like a champ.  About 20 employees of my new company, some new and most returnees, piled into shuttle vans to go to the ship.  Of course, the ship was massive!  Once we arrived, we all stood around for 15 minutes before being brought into the Port Authority building and go through a security check much like the one at the airport.  From there, we entered the ship on Deck B (aka the 3rd deck) but the lowest one that can be reached by elevator.  

Unlike everyone else, my “buddy” did not arrive right away, so one of the HR people came to show me my cabin.  It’s ridiculously small.  In fact, I was told that it might have been a storage closet at one time, and except for the bathroom inside, I would believe it. My roommate had the bottom bunk already so I psyched myself up for learning how to climb a ladder up to my bunk and how to climb down.  I’m actually scared of heights, although you wouldn’t know it since I have been up some pretty high places.  Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is one example.  Essentially, I have to psyche myself up for the challenge and then I can do it.  I won’t have to get too used to being up on the top bunk however, because my roommate will be leaving the ship in 2 weeks when we get to Florida.  The key is to wake up early that day and, as soon as she leaves, move my stuff down to the bottom bunk.  She’s taking up more drawers than her fair share, but that will change soon enough.

So, after a safety meeting, I was taken upstairs to my supervisor’s office by one of the entertainment staff.  I was only there for a couple of minutes before my buddy arrived.  Today was a crew inspection and immigration also boarded, presumably to make sure the staff is all well, not bringing anything into San Diego they shouldn’t, no stowaways, etc.  My ship just came back from a 28 day South Pacific cruise, so I suppose that sort of thing is necessary.  My buddy, as it turns out, is the current Librarian aboard the ship.  Her contract ends when we arrive in Florida.  Like me, she has her MLS degree, and so I’m really lucky to be trained by a real librarian for the first 2 weeks of my cruise.  When I told her I also had a degree, she hugged me.  Like I had figured, a lot of the librarians in our fleet have no degree and no real aspirations to be librarians.  However, she’s only been on this particular ship since January and she’ll be moving to a different ship after she leaves here.  That means she’s yet to get the library into the best shape it can be.  I hope to leave it in much better shape when my contract ends in September.

I still have some stuff I need to do on Day #2 including getting my nametag.  I have a badge/cabin key, but no nametag.  I also need to get my uniforms which were delivered, or so my supervisor said.  Finally, I need to get internet up and running ($40 for 460 minutes, which is much better than what passengers pay $55 for 100 minutes) and to be reimbursed by the purser for the meals I ate while in San Diego.  

There’s so much more I can say about what I did today.  It was extremely long and exhausting and all the back and forth between decks made my feet hurt horribly.  I don’t need to use the gym; I can get all the exercise I want simply by climbing all the stairs.  Tonight, I went with the other librarian to stand on the stage of the big Showroom and be introduced to all of the passengers who attended as the new librarian.  It looks like it’s a thing they do on every cruise, so I guess I’ll have to get used to being in the spotlight once in a while.  

I was in the library when the ship cast off and began to move.  I didn’t really feel it, however, until I went down to my room to get changed for dinner.  That’s when I got some major dizziness, but it passed eventually.  My stomach has held up pretty well with being at sea, kind of like I knew it would, but my head is a different matter.  Sometimes I lose my equilibrium, but I think that’s all part of gaining my sea legs.  In bed, I worried that the sway of the boat would cause me to fall out of the top bunk, but I was fine and I soon fell into a very deep sleep.

It is actually Day #2 now, about 6:20 in the morning and I am sitting in my library writing this and hoping I can get my internet going today so I can transmit this.  If nothing else, we will be in Puerto Vallarta on Monday, where there is supposedly a Wal-Mart within walking distance of the dock.  There are a million more things I could write about my first day, but it will have to wait.  I missed my boyfriend at least twice and hoped he was doing well.  I’ll write again soon. 

Sorry there's no pictures.  I haven't had the time but I promise to do so sometime next week.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Big Rush; Or, How Cruise Ship Libraries Differ From Your Average Run-of-the-Mill Library

Wow, the last couple of weeks have been busy!  As I sit now, I will be winging my way to San Diego exactly three weeks from today.  From there, I will get on a big ole' ship and start my first post-graduation job.  For six months, I will sail the high seas and provide books and information to an ever-changing group of people.

That's going to be the weird part.  Although I have been assured by different mentors that this job will help me obtain a professional librarian position elsewhere at some point, I am worried that there's a lot of differences between your average public library and a cruise ship library. 

First, I will not be serving a diverse population

Oh sure, I expect to see patrons from all sorts of countries and from various parts of the U.S., but the average age of those who cruise with Holland America tend to be older.  Furthermore, these are people who can AFFORD to sail on cruise ships, so I will not be serving the economically disadvantaged.  I doubt anyone on the ms Statendam is going to be particularly smelly or mentally unstable (although mental issues don't go away just because you've got money, there are plenty of crazy rich people out there I'm sure) or unemployed.  Retirees perhaps, but unemployed or underemployed, not so much.  People won't be asking me about how to apply for a job or file for government assistance.  At most, I might have to worry about having books in other languages for our international guests.

Second, I will not be actively looking to promote or market the library

Face it, I'm sure Holland America would like for their libraries to be used, but it's really just a service they provide and it's no sweat off their nose if passengers do not step foot in the library.  Holland America has their money regardless.  I'm sure I will be promoting the book clubs discussions that I will be leading on the longer cruises, but that's about it.  This is so unlike public libraries that are trying so hard to stay relevant and become an integral part of the community so they can continue to receive funding.

Finally, I will not establishing long-term relationships with my patrons
Cruises, by their very nature, are a revolving door.  The longest cruise on the itinerary of my ship will be 19 days.  Every 7, 14, or 19 days I will be seeing a new group of passengers as the old group disembarks.  Unlike a public library, there will be chance to really get to know my patrons' reading habits, no way to anticipate what they should read next, or just to get to know them as people.
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However, there are some points that I think will really work in my favor.  Those include the ability to work long hours with no days off, running a library completely on my own, working with my employers to develop the book and resource collections, devising library programming including book club discussions, and teamwork with other members of the Entertainment Staff.  That's right folks!  I'm in the Entertainment division!!

I promise to update again one last time before leaving for San Diego and I will start posting pictures as soon as I can!  Thanks for sticking with me and I hope to provide a clear picture of what life is like working on a cruise ship.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Contract? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Contract!

So, again, I've become far too lazy to update this blog, but then again, I've been waiting on final confirmation on my job search.  Last Monday, I was offered the position I had hoped for, to be a cruise ship librarian.  However, the deed is not complete until I've received the 10-month contract from my new employer.  It's been a week now and I've yet to receive it.  Once I've read it and signed it, my new employer will have, essentially, total possession of me until the end of the year.  My tenure is supposed to begin sometime in March.  The cruises will take me from Florida to San Diego via the Panama Canal, up to Alaska during the summer, and then to Hawaii, Tahiti, and even down to Peru at one point when the weather cools off again.

I've been lucky because I have been able to trade messages with another librarian with the same cruise line and she's been able to give me pointers about what to pack, what a typical work day looks like, et cetera.  She said it took about a week or so to get her contract as well, so I know waiting this long is pretty typical.  After I've signed my contract, I need to make appointments to do a full physical exam including a CBC, chest x-ray, and a full medical history.  I also have to visit the dentist, order my uniform, and make up a shopping list of what I need for the next ten months.  Furthermore, I need to pack up my entire life, find a sub-leaser for my apartment, get a storage unit, and move everything out.  

Today, I am being featured on INALJ as a Success Story, which is poignant especially since I first saw the job advertisement on INALJ's Daily Digest.  Seriously, if you are a librarian, subscribe to the Daily Digest.  It is the single best place to find library jobs.  I had volunteered to be the Missouri editor for the site, but had to resign before I even began since cruise ships and the internet do not mix very well.  Plus, it costs an arm and a leg to access the internet from cruise ships.  Hopefully, one day, the internet will be a lot more accessible from out in the middle of the ocean than it is now.

Okay, I'll try to get back on here again soon to talk more about getting my life in order for my first post-graduation library position.  If you came to this blog for the first time after seeing my INALJ feature, I'm sorry this blog isn't the best, but I hope you come back to read about my adventures on the high seas.  If I see Captain Jack Sparrow, I'll let you know!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Melting Snow, Hy-Vee, and Learning How to NOT Constantly Sit on Pins and Needles

This whole past week I have been a big ball of anxious energy, checking my e-mail every fifteen minutes and figuring out what I would need to do to close up shop in the U.S. and live on the high seas for nearly a year. I was supposed to hear back by now from the employer with whom I had my second interview last Friday, but alas, nothing was sent to me.  There could be many reasons why.  No doubt the holidays slow things down, or the position could have been offered first to someone else.  Who knows?  All I really know is that means I have another weekend to endure (at least) until I hear something.


                                                     Future Home/Place of Work?

Frankly, I haven't really applied to any professional jobs in the last two weeks.  There's so many jobs that I've yet to hear back from (probably because of the holidays) and I've kind of burnt myself out on the whole cover letter/resume/application/transcripts hoops I have to jump through for each and every position.  I'm starting to treat the whole process kind of like college essays.  I think the only way to get me back into the game is a change of venue.  While in college, I would often make myself go somewhere with good wi-fi, buy some food, and then sit at an uncomfortable booth and stay there until I had made considerable progress on the paper, or finished it altogether.  Often, this would happen when a big deadline was looming over my head.  Well, the thing with applying for jobs is that there is no real deadline, but then again, I am about to lose my assistantship, which means I'm out of income, which means the rent doesn't get paid.

So, I think I need to head to Hy-Vee for some Chinese food.  Seriously, for those of you unlucky enough to live in an area without Hy-Vee, I pity you.  That place is like how I imagine heaven will be, only there will be no such thing as money or payment for services rendered in heaven.  There, I'll start applying again with my trusty laptop.  I do have an interview on Monday with the local public library for a little part-time job.  Hopefully, if I did get that position, I could find another part-time job (or full time) and work until something better came around.  At least then I could continue some sort of library employment and get some practical public library experience to boot.

By the way, the snow we received on New Year's Eve is finally melting away.  Water is dripping from the roof of my third floor apartment and my flatmate is singing away in her room next to mine.  She's been waking me up with her singing this past week long before my alarm is set to go off.  I've been considering that preparation for "ship life" where I'll be, no doubt, getting into a routine of waking early, working out, showering, eating breakfast, and going to work in my library, but now it's just plain annoying.  I console myself with the fact that her singing means she's in a good mood and flatmates in good spirits are always a blessing.  If I hear anything back from the cruise ship job, I'll make sure to update you all here!

Hope everyone has had a great start to 2013!