Friday, July 26, 2013

Repost: What Lies Beneath

This is one from this past winter on the old blog that I liked, so I'm reposting it here.

My library has a piano that patrons can use. It's very popular, with people often signing up for an hour each day to use the private space for practice. It's a lovely service in an area with a lot of people who can't have an instrument of their own, let alone one so large and expensive - but that's not what I love most about having the piano here.

The most beautiful music  flows gently from around the solid door, which locks firmly behind the occupant, leaving them tucked into a little world of their own. The room, the music, is an escape for some of our patrons whose lives contain some hardships. It's a place where they can shut all of that out of the snug little room and lose themselves in creating something beautiful, wrapping themselves in the joy or sadness of the music.

But for me, the very best part is when I need to let someone know the next person is here to use the room. I approach the door, and am treated, for a moment or two, to the loveliest music. We have some really skilled players, and it's a delight to hear their song drifting through that door. Then I knock, and when the door opens, I see someone sitting there. They are always graciously getting ready to leave, appreciative of the time they've had in there, and very often, someone you might not have guessed would have that skill and beauty in them. I love this.

I love that this reminds me that you never know what's in someone, and makes me look twice at everyone, ready to see clues to who they are under a rough exterior, past a smell of smoke or alcohol or slept-in clothes. I love to have it demonstrated so perfectly clearly that there is beauty in unexpected places, in people who don't get the chance to exhibit it in most areas of their life.

The man in shabby clothes, hair unkempt and skin roughened by elements and years and hard living, colours muted to grey with wear, who spins melodies from keys and notes floating in his memory. The nearly toothless man who has just begun to read for pleasure who wants something that makes him thinks about bigger things. The man who lives in a hostel and can only borrow one or two items at a time, but comes each morning after his graveyard shift to read, trading in his book pretty much every day or other day. There is a soul of curiosity, a longing for some beauty in the world, a love for learning or losing themselves in a good story, to which I can fully relate.

It's these things that make me so very happy to do what I do, and be able to give these people the things that make life a little better for them, or give them an escape that won't drag them down. In turn, I get the gift of seeing them more clearly, a reminder to look deeper.

Torn Fabric

One of the things that I love about my job is how you become part of the fabric of the neighbourhood you serve.

The families get to know you, and you get to know the names of the regular kids. You have your favourites. Little R, who looks like Ramona Quimby, with bright, shining eyes and freckles, and who has grown so much since she was in my toddler times. O, with ginger waves and wide hazel eyes that shine with his precocious smarts. J, a pain in the tush, but cute as you can imagine and puppy-dog friendly. Kids who have grown up in front of you, sang with you, laughed at your stories, told you about their little triumphs and woes over the desk. Kids you've picked books out for and parents you've given advice to. Moms who asked you, over baby time, if you had the same struggles with your babies and are relieved to hear that yes, it's hard, but it gets better. I love being part of their world, that familiar face the kids come to, the one parents trust to steer them, the person putting on storytimes and puppet shows that they come out to because they enjoy what we do.

The teachers and principals get to know you, too. They call to book appointments, knowing that their kids will enjoy the trip, that you will share great treasures with them.They invite you to be part of community events and kindergarten registration nights and the like. They are happy to squeeze you in for a few minutes during assemblies to have you come and tell their kids about special programmes. Sometimes, they will even advertise for you in their school newsletters. You support each other's aims, and the dovetailing is a really nice thing.

There are other groups, daycares, camps, support agencies, and so on, who come to know you and work with you to bring programmes and information to more kids, through booths at fairs, arranged visits, sharing of information and referrals. We work together to give people what they need - enrichment, access to stories or addresses or resources or ... so many things. I love feeling like we are a net that can help catch people or lift them up if it all works right, and I love it when I hear it has.

All of this, I love. Being part of a community's world, feeling connected. And yet, as much as I love it, I am about to leave a community that has really felt like home, and it feels like leaving home. The same wrenching away from the familiar and beloved.

It's not just the community, either - it's also the building, which I love. It has been a home away from home, a temple to the books and programmes and kids that I love, a beautiful, beautiful space to work in, which makes more of a difference than I ever knew before I got here. It's the staff, a warm, welcoming, if dysfunctional family that I am going to miss terribly.

It's all these things, all these things that make me feel like I am forcibly ripping myself out of the fabric of the neighbourhood and this community hub. I feel like I'm leaving a little rip in the fabric, and like it's tearing a little hole in me too, as we separate, and I feel like I'm leaving a little bit of me behind.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just Like Starting Over

It's been... a long time since I blogged regularly for myself.

Oh, I write book blogs and so on, but since my second was born, life has been more and more hectic and I just haven't found the time. I had left the old blog up, why not, in case I wanted somewhere to write, but really, I feel like that was ages ago, everything I wrote, and I feel ready to disconnect myself from it and start over, fresh.

It's still there, all the old posts and your comments, just made private. I may republish a few old favourites from it here at some point, and meanwhile, if anyone has reason to want access to it, I'll be happy to grant that, though I think there will likely be nothing new there, ever.

I'm not even sure how much I'll write here, but I just wanted a fresh page. I feel like my writing has slipped from lack of practice, like there have been times I've had things to say and didn't want to pile newer stuff onto the old blog, like I wasn't sure, having become easier about the privacy of who kittenpie is, that I wanted all that old stuff hanging around in the open.

And so, a fresh blog. We'll see what happens around here - at this point, I truly don't know where I'll steer her, but I like the feel of a fresh breeze in my hair and new possibilities open before me.