Everything Else: 2013 in Review

Top row: S & I in the mountains on vacation, our new dining room, gifts my teens at the library gave me. Bottom row: some of my best friends, my amazing writer friends, and S & I announcing the pregnancy.

I suppose it’s no surprise that, aside from getting a book deal, the biggest highlight of 2013 for me was learning S and I were going to be parents. I mean, you can’t top that, can you? I think not. So even with the mood swings and weight gain, the aches and pains, the cravings and exhaustion, I’m still celebrating the little human that’s growing (and kicking) inside me. A friend said that once you’re pregnant you instantly fall in love, despite not knowing anything about your child. Well, she was right.

Highlights:

S and I took a crazy road trip from Orlando; up to Pine Mountain, GA; over to Nashville, TN; through the Blue Ridge Mountains; around to Asheville, NC; down to Charleston, SC; and then back home. We learned to like country music, swooned over waterfalls and mountains, ate a ton, saw friends, and bought a lot of records. (Ok, S bought a lot of records. I bought a book. Surprise!)

I enjoyed my job at the library more and more with each experience. Sure there are moments when patrons make me want to throw things, but those scenarios are quickly trumped by memories of a girl giggling over her first library card, a boy telling me he likes the books I pick out, my regular kid visitors who made me a bracelet because they like me, the grandmas from my book club shrieking over the baby news. One of our high school volunteers designed her own program, and we successfully put it on (and let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more proud). Summer Reading Program was a HUGE success with some events having more than 120 very happy children. My teen club, the nerdfighters, celebrated its one year anniversary, and they surprised me with a party and scrapbook that brought tears to my eyes. If starting the club, and bringing all of them together, was the best thing I ever did as a librarian, I’d be set.

Also…we bought a house! Yeah, S and I are homeowners which feels so adult (oddly more adult than having a kid.) We fix things and paint things and own a rake. It’s awesome, though, having this little house of our own. It’s ours to do as we please with (like paint the kitchen teal, which I might have done) and ours to love. And now, ours to create a little nursery in.

I turned 30. Scary. But kind of great, too.

Other Favorites

Movies: I think I saw a grand total of four movies in the cinema this year. Maybe more. I don’t know. I love watching movies, but I also get restless. And I hate being disappointed. So I don’t really have favorites of the year. I did really love Catching Fire and Frozen though. (The soundtrack of the latter may be on repeat at our home. S definitely does not want to build a snowman anymore.)

TV: During my first trimester, when all I wanted to do was sleep, I decided to check out Awkward because I love teenage melodrama (surprise surprise). I might have finished the first season in a weekend. And then the second. And then the third (as the last few episodes aired). So, yeah, you could say I’m a fan now. S & I together finally jumped on the Friday Night Lights bandwagon and I’m so glad we did (see: teenage melodrama). We might have just purchased the box set. Riggins! As for old favorites, I’m still highly in love with Mad Men and Parks and Recreation.

Plays: We saw Book of Mormon this year, and it was awesome. I love the songs (as awkward and awful as some are), the story, the whole moral. (Yes, there’s a moral!) It’s just a supremely well-done show, and I’m so happy it finally came to…ORLANDO!

Music: Let’s be honest, I haven’t updated my iPod since college. Aside from radio hits, the only *new* CD I checked out (aside from the aforementioned Frozen soundtrack and other various Broadway musicals) was Rkives by Rilo Kiley. A compilation of previously unreleased b-sides from a band I loved…in college. So I guess my music taste hasn’t changed much. But, man, that CD was great.

And, I suppose, that is it. There were downs, too, but I’d prefer to reflect on the ups, on the ways the year will be remembered. 2013 was great, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

And to you all, thank you so much for reading my blog, and going through these journeys with me. Your comments and likes make me smile. If I could hug you all, I would.

And so, until next year. Thanks for reading!

xo, Lauren

Community

If you’ve been to my website recently, you might have noticed the shiny new Goodreads logo on the right (—->). This means two things:

  1. I finally joined Goodreads. Friend me?
  2. My book did, too! You can mark TNWSY as “to read” if you’d like. Or, “to not read.” Or, “that book some chick wrote.” You know, whatever suits you.

In other news, I run two monthly programs at the library, and am at the cusp of adding two more. (I also run other programs, but they’re usually one-time events, such as the My Little Pony program coming up. Let’s not be surprised that i’m dressing up as the librarian pony, Twilight Sparkle.)

My first monthly program is the book club. Mostly full of ladies my mom’s age and older, we meet once a month to loosely discuss a book. I say loosely because usually about 30 minutes are spent on the book, while 30 on personal lives, gossip, normal chatter, etc. The ladies are lovely, and while we sometimes have disagreements (was I the only one who enjoyed A Discovery of Witches?), we always meet back up happily. And the older ladies are hilarious. (We just had our one-year anniversary!)

My next monthly program is my prized possession, my nerdfighter meetup. Once a month, teens and older meet to simply hang out. We make crafts, we play board games, we chat. They usually stay from the beginning of the program until the library closes (four hours!) and in the process talk about everything, from books they like to serious moral debates (seriously!). I love this program so much because it’s given an outlet to those looking to find fellow neat people, and simply hang out. Those wanting a safe, fun, judgement free zone. My ultimate goal as a librarian was creating something like this, and i’m so glad it’s come to be. These nerdfighters are my favorites. (Sept marks the one-year anniversary of the first meet up!)

I recently received a grant to bring technology to the library for teens, so I invested in filmmaking equipment. We’ve had a few programs since, and eventually, come fall, i’ll make it a monthly lesson/activity. I’m excited about this.

Last, two nights ago, a co-worker and I hosted a Tea and Talk program, in which ladies in their 20s and up came to drink tea, eat scones, participate in Downton Abbey themed games, and create British-style fascinators. Though we weren’t sure if it would be a success, it was an absolute blast with more than 20 people showing up. All of the women asked for a follow-up, a monthly event for them to have a ladies night out.

Upon creating the next Ladies Night Out event, I realized something very cool – people just want to hang out. Young and old, they just want excuses to meet new people, try new things, and be involved. And I’m so thrilled that the library can be a place for that.

There’s the continuous debate about the importance (or, to some, the lack of importance) of libraries. They’re just holding grounds for books! We have the Internet, who needs them? The thing is, they’re so much more than that. Yes, they have books and movies and such, but they also have community. They’re an open place to simply hang out and meet new people. They put you in the middle of a group, or an organization. They’re a fun zone. They’re a safe haven.

One of the teens messaged me a while ago, and told me that since joining our meetups, she’s made real friends. And that, thanks to these meetups, she’s not as embarrassed by herself, and feels part of something.

I’m so amazed that something I created can cause that much of a reaction. And i’m so happy that libraries are around to make this girl feel that accepted.

Life, The Universe, and Nerdfighters

Permit me to be sappy for a second.

The above video was taken last weekend. After planning it for quite a few months, my Nerdfighter Library Meetup* happened, and it couldn’t have gone better. Twenty-one awesome people showed up, 17 of which were teens (which is a very high teen count for our library. Very high.) Everyone was so nice, and so excited. We were all unified by one common interest, and it showed. And, really, by the end, I couldn’t have been happier.

That is, until one of the teens posted the above video and I kind of teared up. Because, you guys, this is my life.

At 28, I’ve had three different careers. Not jobs, careers. I was a high school English teacher. (I quite\ after a year because it was just so hard. I loved some of my students, and I would have continued for them, but there’s just so much pressure, and honestly, I was only 23 at the time. And I sucked at discipline.) I was a copyrighter/magazine editor. (Fine jobs, but I never wanted to write for myself when I was writing all day. I started hating writing because it was forced and assigned, not creative and fun.) And now I’m a librarian. (And, yeah, still a writer, too.) I was so scared to start library school because even though it sounded amazing…what if I didn’t like it? What if it was just another failed career move? I went into the degree knowing I wanted to work with teens again, and I left confident.

And now, a year and a month after I graduated, I have that job. I’m a public librarian working with teens. And for the first time in my career, I can honestly say I love my job. I know how rare it is to hear that. I know how lucky I am. And don’t think it’s all cotton candy and unicorns and happy soundtracks. There are bad days. There are bad patrons. But I get over them because I know there’s also so much more.

There’s a little boy who called me his favorite librarian after I recommended a book he ended up liking. There’s a little girl who visits me weekly, just to say hi. There’s a teen who asked for relationship advice, and other who asked for career/college advice. There are the moments I know I’ve made someone’s day better just by having the one thing they were looking for in stock. And there are teens who make videos of my events and post them to YouTube because they genuinely had a good time.

This is my job. I honestly couldn’t ask for me.

*For librarians interested, I’ll post more on planning this meetup later.