Thursday, January 25, 2007

Full-Speed Ahead

Tuesday night was our Relay for Life Kickoff celebration. Last year, with the help of many people in our school district, I revived our county's Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. It was the most exhausting thing I've ever done, but also one of my proudest moments. We're organizing it again at my school this year, and I was starting to feel the sophomore slump. Until Tuesday night.

Tuesday night I found out that our humble little Relay was recognized by the ACS as an "All-American Relay." We were the only Relay in northern Kentucky to win that this year. We have a cool sign we will be able to display at the next Relay showing our "All-American" status. In with our swag there was also a very classy glass plaque recognizing me as a "Mid-South Division Community Volunteer of the Year." I am such a sucker for awards; somewhere in my mom's house I still have all the certificates and pins I won in middle- and high-school. Everytime I win something, I get all misty and start pretending I've just won my Oscar:

"I'd like to thank all of you for supporting me and for helping a young librarian from Kentucky to overcome so many obstacles so that I could acheive what I've always wanted to achieve--to be named the Mid-South Division Community Volunteer of the Year. It's an honor I couldn't have dreamed of years ago, when I spent the last weekend in June inside in the air-conditioning drinking Icees and eating frozen Snickers bars and falling asleep listening to a Reds game instead of staying awake for 24 hours straight and watching people walk around a high-school track all night.....Wait, why did I say I was honored again?"

Seriously, I am honored and moved. Mostly because I couldn't have done it without the commitment and dedication of a whole lot of people that I didn't even know that well before I asked for their help.

We're doing a good thing. And doing good things feels good. So I am energized that we will get past some of the bad luck that has dogged our 2007 Relay team and have another successful event. And after it's all over and the money has all been counted, I know I will probably have an Icee, a Snickers, and some drowsy Reds-game-watching just waiting for me.

My Snow Dance Worked!

We finally got our long-anticipated snow day. I read more of Hannibal Rising. And I'm still disappointed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cannibals, Snow Days, and the Most Depressing Day of the Year

I heard yesterday morning that, based on someone's calculations, January 22 is the most depressing day of the year. I wasn't surprised, since I was pretty blue when I caught this story on the radio. First, I shouldn't even have been in my car driving to work yesterday--the weatherman had predicted some serious snow for the first time this year, so everyone in my school was expecting a snow day on Monday. Alas, the snow stopped falling and started melting sooner than expected Sunday, so we only had an hour delay. Which is good in theory, but ends up feeling like a longer, more hectic day than a full school day.

I also had started reading Hannibal Rising over the weekend, and I'm just as bummed about it as I thought I would be when the first reviews of it came out. I asked for it for Christmas long before I started hearing all the negative comments, but I put off reading it because I didn't want to be disappointed by one of my favorite authors. Since I am one of those people who always must have something to read (I'm truly addicted--I've been known to read the same issue of TV Guide three or four times if there's nothing else in house), I found myself craving a book on Sunday with only Hannibal Rising as an option. I'm sad to say that it's as big a letdown as I was afraid it would be.

When the Silence of the Lambs film came out, I was a poor student with no disposable income and no car of my own. I didn't get to see it in the theater. My sister loaned me the paperback, and I went into reading it thinking it would at best be a pleasant diversion until the movie came out on video. I was shocked by how good a book it was. It wasn't just a thriller; it was a work of art. I've always been a member of the "the book is always better than the movie" camp, but I had expected this to be the exception to that rule. When I finally did get to see the movie, I was spellbound and awed. But for years afterward, I would pick up The Slience of the Lambs in that old, grocery-store-bought paperback edition when I wanted to visit Hannibal and Clarice again. Thomas Harris made them--and "Buffalo Bill", and Jack Crawford--such rich, interesting characters that I preferred his dramatizations over even the award-winning ones created by Foster and Hopkins.

Eventually I devoured Red Dragon, too, and when I took a creative writing class in college with visiting author Larry Brown, he listed Thomas Harris as one of his favorite authors. Mr. Brown spoke so highly of Harris' gift for detail, for being so accurate and well-researched in his desciptions that you become a part of the world he creates. I forgave him the long lapse he was taking between novels, and anxiously awaited Hannibal.

And I didn't hate Hannibal. Yes, I was frustrated over how it seemed to be more a sequel to the movie of The Silence of the Lambs than of the book. And I was as disgusted by that turkey of an ending as anyone else. But I was hoping Hannibal was Thomas Harris' way of thumbing his nose at Hollywood, of giving them what they wanted for a lackluster sequel and then dispatching Dr. Lecter forever so he could go back to writing his novels his way.

Now I don't know what to think. I'm trying to go into Hannibal Rising with an open mind, but it hasn't taken long to become disenchanted. This early in, I can't even put my finger on what it is that I don't like. Though I think I can come pretty close by saying it's just too, well....ordinary. This is not the Thomas Harris who knocked my socks off so long ago.

A snow day sometime soon would allow me to finish the book and to make up my mind about it. If not that, then it would at least help me recover from the most depressing day of the year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The cranky librarian is at your service

Wow. I've always wanted to be a published writer. In college, I always thought I would be able to teach high-school English full-time, and then keep up with my short stories and maybe write the Great American Novel in my "free time." It didn't take too many days in the real world to realize that teaching is more than a full-time job, and more often than not, "free time" was spent grading papers and collapsing into a couch coma after long days of trying to get 15-year-olds to appreciate Shakespeare and handling problem children (and the parents who love them) who simply didn't want to learn.

So, I became a school librarian. And while I no longer have to take home personal narratives about first car wrecks and teenage romance gone awry, I have found that managing a high school library that serves 1600 and being the gatekeeper for all the instructional technology in our building is just as taxing as explaining what the bard really meant when he wrote, "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" And once I became a mom, well..."free time" became as rare an event as talking to an actual human being during a customer service call.

So here I am, blogging. Since I am a librarian (or, as I am called at my school, Library Media Specialist), I'll be talking about books. But I'm also a mom, wife, pop culture freak, cancer survivor, and all-around grouch, so I'll be talking about some other stuff, too. Not everything I post will be sunshine and roses, but it will be an honest picture of my life as a librarian, mom, avid reader, and overwhelmed school-technology guru. I hope you'll stick around.