Let it begin with me

Those who know me are aware how I feel about politics and politicians. For those who don’t know me, I am not a fan of either. I don’t like to talk about politics, politicians, lobbyists, etc. I am not perfect. I never claimed to be. As I get older I have tried to show my beliefs by how I treat other people, with dignity and respect. I don’t often speak up but I feel I should at this time.

I am a fat, white, imperfect, Catholic woman that has had very little adversity to overcome. With that being said, I need to address what is going on in our country. I am not as eloquent as some of the wonderful write ups I have seen but here it goes.

Dear People of Color,

I am sorry. I’m sorry that you and your families can’t leave your homes without fearing being judged and attacked for the color of your skin. I’m sorry that sometimes people walk to the other side of the road to avoid you due to their prejudices. I’m sorry that the color of your skin makes you a target for hatred and violence from ignorant and evil people.

I want you all to know I see you and I hear you. I see your pain. While I have not experienced your fear and pain, I can empathize.

I will continue to be kind to everyone, to speak up when I see injustice and abuse, to strive to be an example to others in how to treat people, to pray for everyone to do the same.

Please know that this white woman sees you and hears you. Please know that, when I see your children I see how precious and beautiful they are. Please know that when I see you on the street or in the store, I will always have a kind word and a smile for you (Due to the pandemic, if I’m wearing a mask, I AM smiling underneath).

I wish you all peace, love, and justice.

A whole new world.

As I sit here on the couch at the end of a day that saw me working from home AND using Telehealth services to have a doctors appointment, I think about how different thing are from just a month ago.

A month ago, I was working regular hours helping library patrons check out books and return materials. I was teaching craft and technology programs. I was laughing and chatting with library patrons and co-workers.

A month ago, I was suffering with terrible allergies, just like others. I sneezed and no one looked at me like a plague carrier. My sore throat from my head draining didn’t have me worried that I had this horrible virus that is wreaking such havoc on the world.

A month ago, I would have gone to my doctors office and sat in the waiting room not concerned that the person next to me was infected with Covid-19. Now I hop on my computer and video chat with a doctor I’ve never met before. Convenient? Yes. As thorough as a face to face appointment, not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, the doctor listened to me and I was satisfied with his conclusion and think I will be feeling better soon.

A month ago, I could sit next to my friend and chat without worrying that we would transmit a virus. Now I have to be at least 6 feet from everyone. I miss hugs and shaking hands. I miss high fives.

A month ago, Mike and I would be thinking where we could go to watch the sunset and have dinner on date night. Now we either cook at home, have food delivered, or go through a drive thru for food.

A month ago, I wouldn’t think twice about running out to Publix, Walmart, or Target. Now I have to think about gloves and a mask and whether the store will have what we need. I make sure that I thank all of the people working at the store because I have seen customers be very nasty to them. How is it the checker’s fault that there is no toilet paper? It isn’t their fault that they have no (insert what you are looking for)! Be kind always.

A month ago, many people went to work not knowing that they were considered essential during a pandemic. They went to work and did their jobs without thinking they might be called on to put their lives (and their families) on the line to make sure your cell phone worked, the shelves were stocked at the store (as much as they can), or provide you with entertainment (books, movies, liquor). Now most are working crazy hours, dealing with angry people, and still getting paid exactly the same as they were doing their regular jobs. There are some lucky ones who are getting a little more per hour, but there are just as many killing themselves for the same pay. Make sure you say thank you. Make sure you remember them when this is all over.

A month ago, doctors and nurses, first responders, healthcare workers were taking care of all of us without the thinking they might catch something from us and die. They have not stopped taking care of us now that this horrible virus is threatening them. They are doing this, in many cases, without protective gear. The fact that a nurse doesn’t have the correct mask to protect herself while caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients is so shameful. I hope the people in charge of purchasing for all the hospitals and medical offices can get some protection for their staff.

A month ago, students and teachers were looking forward to the end of the school year. There were graduation parties being planned and end of year teacher gifts being made. Now teachers are reworking their lessons so they can teach online. Parents are scrambling to make sure someone is home all day to take care of the children and help with the home schooling.

I know there is more that is changed in this whole new world but these are the ones that strike me today. I know we will all come through this completely changed. I hope it is for the better. I pray we don’t forget the lessons learned during this time and fall back into our hateful, hurtful ways.

World death toll from Covid-19 as of right now is 88,433.

Covid-19 stats can be found https://ncov2019.live/data.

This is going to be difficult for me

On Monday, I had a follow-up doctors appointment that I was NOT looking forward to. When I saw my doctor in January, he told me to lose weight. I lost 9 pounds, started yoga, and was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, work started getting stressful. I was trying so hard to deal with it cheerfully and just keep on keeping on. Then it got even MORE stressful and things started to happen to me. In the past month, even though I was eating ok, I gained that 9 pounds back PLUS 5 more. My blood pressure was up. My weight was up. The doctor said I had to COMMIT to do something about both. I could not agree with him more.

I then explained that I get home from work and I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean. I don’t want to craft. I told him I hurt everywhere and that I wanted to get happy Kathy back. So…we went through the PHQ-9 screening and bingo…Kathy is severely depressed. So, between the stress (causes weight gain due to high cortisol – the stress hormone), pain (stress and depression can cause physical pain), and my lack of desire to do anything much less get up and move – I’ve gained all that weight back and then some. Working with the doctor on the depression, pain, and stress part since Monday, and so far I’m feeling a lot better. Now, I have to work on the weight. The doctor told me to join Weight Watchers.

When I got home from the doctors appointment, I joined Weight Watchers online. I’m fully invested in getting healthy again. I have never done the before and after photo or posted my starting weight, current weight, and goal weight. EVER. I was always to embarrassed. I’m posting this to make myself accountable and to help me stay on track. This is my BEFORE photo and weight.

Starting weight: 315. Current weight: 310.3. Goal weight: 280

So there it is. Me in all my chunky monkey glory. Yes, I have lost 4.7 pounds since Monday. I’m darned proud of that. I’m feeling so much better and I really think I can do this.

Thanks for putting up with my long, involved, and overly personal story.

The Public

Today I took a break from reading children’s books and, instead, watched The Public. I will read two books tomorrow. Today I need to address this fabulous and moving movie and MY experiences working in a library.

It took Emilio Esteves 10 years to get this movie made. It is the story of Stuart, a librarian at an urban Cincinnati library, and the homeless patrons who decide to occupy the library during a vicious cold spell that is leaving frozen homeless people all over the city. The film touches on the causes of homelessness, the opioid crisis, mental illness, sleazy politicians, and the importance of libraries and their staff. I don’t want to give away the whole movie, so I will just say that it is really worth watching.

In 2009, I lost my administrative assistant position during the economic downturn. Like thousands, I was laid off. An angel named Angie Patterson, swooped in and saved me. She was the Library Manager and I knew her through my administrative assistant job. She offered me a part-time Library Technician position and kept me employed. I owe her so much.

Everyone thinks that people who work in libraries sit around reading all day. This is FAR from the truth. Let me tell you about my experience.

First, it is a non-stop, physical job. After my first part-time shift at the library, I slept for two days and could barely walk. Between standing for hours on end, bending to pick things up, emptying book drops, and reaching to shelve materials, I didn’t stop the whole time.

Second, every day is different. You never know what each day will bring. From odd objects found in the book drop to backed up plumbing, every day is an adventure. Since I don’t work in a large urban library like Stuart, my experiences haven’t been quite as news worthy. Some of my experiences in the past 10 years:

  • During the recession spent many hours helping patrons, who have never used a computer, to file for unemployment or assistance which had gone totally online.
  • Provided first aid to a patron that overdosed in the library and then later in the same day had a patron drive her car into a wall at the library.
  • Cleaned up poop left strategically in the middle of the floor in the men’s room.
  • Taught patrons how to get eBooks, stream our movie services, learn languages, and listen to audiobooks, on their electronic devices.
  • Entertained patrons with craft and food programs.
  • Helped a library school student with her homework (keeping in mind that I did not go to library school).
  • Found some interesting things in the book drop (partially eaten food, disgusting porn magazines, a tree branch, empty drink cups, beer bottles).
  • Found interesting things when cleaning up the library at closing (box of melted ice pops in the shelf in the children’s room, underwear, marajuana leaves in books, toys, papers with personal information, cell phones, power cords, purses, bags of change, shoes, library cards, drivers licenses left in the copier).
  • Helped newly diagnosed patrons research their diseases.
  • Met some amazing authors and read many wonderful and not so wonderful books.
  • Provided comfort and shelter for patrons after Hurricane Irma left people without electricity.

This is just what I could remember after watching the movie. My point here is that working in a library is not what people think it is.

Watch The Public and next time you visit your local library, share your appreciation with the staff. It will mean the world to them.

Thanks for reading.