I have a distinct memory of going through my journals and notebooks when I was 10 or 11 and grading my own artwork; I gave almost everything an F. “This is terrible,” I scrawled across one page with the beginnings of a sketch of a minaret, my intense frustration apparent in the big, sharp-edged letters and the dark, hard lines of the pencil. I’ve done art all of my life. My parents and my brother are all artists, and creative expression is fundamental part of my family’s culture. Although I often got encouraging feedback about my work growing up, I was never satisfied with it. I had grand visions of what I would create and was often disappointed with the reality of my ability.
“Who here’s a freshman?” Several students raised their hands meekly. “Sophomores?” One or two. “Juniors?” No one. The doctor running the show looked at me. “Senior?”
I probably was not the only senior in the history of college to have drunk too much and headed to health services to vomit it all out under professional care, but I was the only one that weekend. After a half-night of fitful sleep in a hospital bed, I found myself among the other patients, stupid freshmen who didn’t know what they were doing, for morning-after counseling. The doctor ran through cue cards about alcoholism. I didn’t have a drinking problem; I had a sweating problem that alcohol alleviated. (read more…)
I know, intellectually, that failure is part of life. But it’s not something I’ve had much experience with. My life has never been messy, or far from the beaten path, or out of synch with my own expectations for myself. My first 30+ years have provided stability and many rich experiences, but it is not quite the wild and precious thing that I want for the next thirty.
I am in the middle of a change. I’m at the point where I know something is happening, but my ultimate destination is murky. Even though I can’t visualize it (or maybe because I can’t), I am worried that I might fail to arrive in this new place. And that terrifies me.
Typical conversations about what makes work fun and teams cohesive tend to focus on novel environmental modifications. Think of all the times you’ve heard references to Google’s indoor slides, nap pods, and ping pong tables. Libraries, on the other hand, are known for being quiet, sedate, almost non-descript. But librarians make their own fun using an old-fashioned social construct: potlucks.
Librarians take potlucks very seriously, and generally the food is excellent. This, however, is a story of a potluck dish that went very wrong – and the hilarious efforts undertaken to spare the guilty party from ever knowing about it.
Just recently, Smith College, an all-women’s institution (and my alma mater), announced that they will begin admitting transgender women (women who were born male). Also in the news, a transgender man was in the running to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. These are just a couple of instances of the growing awareness – and acceptance – of alternative gender identities, gender presentations, and sexual orientations. It seems like our society is in a period of evolution with regards to attitudes about those who aren’t traditional in terms of how they present themselves or who they’re attracted to. Still, expectations for how men and women should look, and who they should be attracted to, remain deeply ingrained. (read more…)