Sunday, November 7, 2010

How I Lost My Sparkle -- or Why I Quit Posting Here.

So, around the middle of August, I sort of quit.

Not just posing on this blog, but lots of things.  I quit exercising, I quit watching what I eat, I quit reading anything new, I quit caring how I looked, I just sort of ... quit.  

I was coming off a successful, but busy, summer at the library.  The popular perception is that summer is a lazy time, but this is not true for Teen librarians.  Summer, and the related programming, is when we kick it into high gear.  In August, when it all ends, I would typically take a deep breath and look forward.

But this year, I didn't.  I couldn't.

My department lost both of it's managers -- the boss and the boss's boss -- within two weeks of each other.  We went from being a department of 8 people to a department of 5.5, with no change in workflow or open hours.  That meant a lot more responsibility, a lot less down time.   Also, you may think you'd get a lot more done without a supervisor, but trust me, you wouldn't.  Because without somebody in charge, everything -- and I mean everything -- must be discussed by everybody.  Decisions by committee are the worst kind.

Also, my library lost all of it's pages at the start of new fiscal year.   Which means that everybody else had to take over shelving and circulation duties.  Understand, I don't think that I'm too good to shelve a cart.  I worked as a page in college and high school.  But, as a degreed professional, it is a little demoralizing.  My professional work -- webpage, readers advisory, programming, mentoring, etc. -- built up, whilst I was busy alphabetizing, doing the same minimum wage job I did as a 17 year old.

Adding to my general malaise were some professional bumps.  My book was done, but there were delays and rewrites and indexing and ... let's just say the cursed tome didn't go down without a fight.  Towards the end, I would have been happy not to look at graphic novels for a long time.   I had applied for a promotion within my library, and even though I "knew" snowballs in Hades had longer odds, I still hoped.  So when I didn't even get asked to interview, it hurt.  It hurt badly enough that I was ready to walk away from libraries entirely.

Writing it out like this, I suppose the malaise that gripped me isn't surprising.  Basically, I folded in on myself.  I re-read all of Dorothy Sayers.  I taught myself to crochet.  I unpacked the boxes from our summer move, and taught myself to make some recipes.  But as far as reading, or writing, or anything beyond the bare minimum of what was expected of me -- it wasn't happening.

And I survived.  I wasn't happy, really, but I wasn't unhappy either.  It would be possible to maintain a life like that for a very long time.  People kept asking me, "what's wrong" and I would shrug and mumble something non-committal.

My daughter, Miss B, is a big proponent of "sparkle."  She means literal sparkle, of course;  in her world, every outfit can be improved with sequins, there's no such thing as too many accessories and glitter is always the right answer.  But she also means something else.  For Miss B.  "sparkle" is the creative spark, the sense of adventure, the "muchness" that makes life and work interesting.  And one day, she looked at me and said "You've lost your sparkle."

The English language needs a term to describe an epiphany delivered by a 9 year old in combat boots.

She was right, I had lost my sparkle.  And I missed it.  I missed feeling like there were possibilities beyond what I could see.  I missed the sense of infinite possibility that working with teens gives me.  I missed finding opportunities to startle or amaze.  I missed my sparkle.

So now, today, I start getting it back.  And I start with this blog.  Watch this space.

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