Archive

Posts Tagged ‘work’

Friday Fun! (May: MLA Chicago and Boston Calling)

Hello my lovely readers!  You may have noticed the blog was a bit quieter than usual this month.  That’s because I had my annual conference for work, and I extended my Memorial Day three day weekend into a five day one.  The month was so incredibly full of both good and stressful busyness, I’m kind of amazed I managed to blog at all!

Image of a sunset over a lake. Buildings are right on the water's edge.

Lake Michigan at sunset.

Every year for work I attend the Medical Library Association’s annual conference.  This year the conference was in Chicago.  I’d never been to Chicago before, and I made sure to make the most of my limited free-time to see the city!  I walked through Millennium Park and got a selfie in the bean, went to American Girl Place on the Magnificent Mile (and bought a mini version of the Native American doll, Kaya), and went to Navy Pier.  I also checked out the Chicago History Museum and got to see items that were melted in the Chicago Fire, such as marbles.  I walked through Lincoln Park and went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where I got to hang out in a butterfly conservatory room.  None landed on me, but I got some great pictures! My partner’s sister and her husband live in Chicago, so I went and had dinner with them at a Chicago style hot dog restaurant that actually had vegetarian hot dogs.  Score!  They also took me to see Lake Michigan, and I was blown away by how soft the sand is and how the lake is so large it looks like the ocean.  I guess they don’t call them the Great Lakes for nothing!  I know that sounds like a lot to squeeze into the amount of time I wasn’t at the conference, but I am the queen of getting a lot of sightseeing done in a short amount of time.  I pre-plan, using Pinterest and its great maps feature, and plot out routes and timing so I can get everything in.  Plus, in museums, I only check out the exhibits of greatest interest to me.

Of course, the main reason I was in Chicago was for work.  I attended the conference, listening to many excellent plenary speakers, as well as presentations by various librarians and library students on their projects and papers, and networked with vendors at the opening event.  This year I was an official blogger for the poster sessions.  You can see my blog posts here.  Our library director also took us all out for Chicago style deep dish pizza.  While I enjoyed the deep dish pizza, it was a lot like lasagna without the pasta, I can’t imagine eating it more than a few times in my lifetime.  I still prefer the thin crust brick oven or thick crust New England styles!  When I got back to Boston, I taught a library skills class and presented a poster at an education event on my work’s campus.  After all of that work, I took my five day Memorial Day weekend!

A stage surrounded by blue signs with a dog in a suit and the words Boston Calling. A band is on the stage and a large crowd is in front of them.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performing at Boston Calling.

The reason I took the long weekend was because my bf and I wanted very much to attend Boston Calling, Boston’s live music festival.  My favorite band, The Decemberists, and his favorite band, Built to Spill, were both playing, as was the band that sings our song, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  The festival was Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.  It’s held in the center of Boston, at Government Center, on two stages.  The architecture there is very brutalist, and the entry to the festival had signs up denoting male and female.  We figured out later the signs were just telling you if the person doing the wanding was a man or a woman, it wasn’t intended to split up the crowd along gender lines, but the whole thing felt quite dystopian when we arrived and lent the concert a pretty damn cool vibe.  I had such an incredibly wonderful time at the festival, I can barely put it into words.  Hearing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sing our song live was stellar.  I had seen The Decemberists once before, but not as up close as I got at this concert.  It was raining when they came out, which, if you know their music, gave the performance such a perfect atmosphere.  They sang both old and new songs, and it was just amazing.  I also really enjoyed watching my partner’s favorite band, Built to Spill.  They have amazing guitar skills, and their fans are of the cool head bob variety, so it was the perfectly chill performance for the sunny, relaxing day.  When we weren’t at the concert, we went a long motorcycle ride and grilled for the first time this season.  It was a great vacation!

Just because I’ve been busy doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading.  I finished seven books this month, three more than usual, but only managed to review two of them so far.  Definitely be prepared for an onslaught of reviews in the next couple of weeks!

I was also too busy for stitching most of the month.  I would have stitched on my trip to Chicago, but fellow cross-stitchers and embroiderers stated that, even though the rules don’t say you can’t have a sewing needle, a lot of the times they get confiscated.  I didn’t want to risk it.  Once my vacation was over, I picked it back up again.  I’m working on the second item for the Foraging New England line, and it is almost done!

Happy reading!

Book Review: Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano

Workboots sit under a bright blue sky.Summary:
What do you call the approximately 1 out of 5 working class American kids who go to college and move into the white collar world?  Journalist Alfred Lubrano calls them Straddlers, and the world they live in Limbo.  Through interviewing experts on social mobility and class, therapists, and Straddlers themselves, Lubrano seeks to establish the unique challenges and triumphs of moving up the social ladder from blue to white in America.

Review:
I picked this up because I happen to be one of the Straddlers Lubrano is talking about, and I was curious to know both what about my experiences are common among all Straddlers and pieces of advice on navigating the interesting experience of being a Straddler.  The book brings to light the often overlooked issue of how changing classes impacts a person’s life, as well as real cultural differences among the blue-collar and white-collar classes in America.

Lubrano begins his book by defining blue and white collar.  A blue collar person can make more money than a white collar person (think of a successful plumber versus a struggling journalist).  Blue versus white collar isn’t about how much income a person generates, according to Lubrano.  What really makes the difference is 1) education level and 2) type of work.  The blue collar person may have an associate’s degree or a trade degree or certification.  The white collar person will have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree.  The blue collar person generally works with their hands or in service industries.  The white collar person works in an office or on a computer.  Thus, what generally begins the change from blue to white collar is attending a four-year college.

The book next establishes the blue collar background the Straddler comes from, as well as establishing statistics on class mobility and class differences.  By establishing firmly the blue collar background the Straddler comes from and how that affects their thought patterns and approaches, Lubrano lays the groundwork for highlighting the unique struggles Straddlers go through in college and later at their white collar jobs and in their white collar surroundings.  The blue collar class elements Lubrano highlights include: being taught that working hard will get you what you want (the ideal of a meritocracy at all levels of society), distrust of the boss/upper-levels of management, intense loyalty to community and fellow workers, high value on obedience and conformity to community, patriotism, straight talking, and emotions being close to the surface and easily erupting.

The next section deals with the blue collar kid starting college.  Both blue collar families that push college and those that degrade it are discussed, as well as the reasons for both reactions by blue collar parents to college.  On the one hand, there are the parents who view college as a straight-shot meritocracy to a better job, better life, and better ability to live your dreams.  On the other hand, there are the parents who are afraid that they will lose standing in their own home if their child outsmarts or outshines them.  By and large, however, most blue collar parents fall in the former category.  Lubrano points out that blue collar parents don’t intimately know or understand the white collar world they are sending their children into, and thus unknowingly often give them bad information or false hopes.  To the blue collar parent, a college degree is a golden ticket, and so the blue collar child is pushed into a culture they are unprepared for.

Straddlers’ parents have such plans for their kids. With strong hopes but scant information, many push their progeny toward the vague realm of Something Better–the glorious middle class. Imbued with these dreams, Straddlers lurch awkwardly out of sheltering enclaves into unknown realms. On their sometimes troubled way, they become educated and awaken to class differences between the past and their would-be future. Priorities shift. Some values change, while some remain constant. Unlike many they meet in the new, white-collar world, these people are hybrids. That duality is their strength and their struggle, and will comfort and vex them throughout their days. (loc 611)

Next, the book tackles the blue collar / white collar culture clash that begins to occur when a blue collar person attends college and will continue throughout their life as a Straddler.  Lubrano does an eloquent job of addressing both how the Straddler struggles to understand the white collar world she now inhabits, as well as how the Straddler starts to change and no longer fits in among her family and blue collar people she grew up with.  The changes that often make a Straddler no longer fit in among her family include: language, leaving religion, and dietary choices.  College makes the blue collar kids change, and often their families are not expecting that.  Suddenly, the child speaks like a stranger, eats like a stranger, and no longer feels attached to the family religion. The culture clash between the working class college student and her new peers is perhaps a bit more obvious.  The monetary differences are clear immediately.  Peers often don’t understand the need to work or the high value of a dollar to their blue collar classmate.  More subtle and far-reaching than the different approaches to money, though, are the different approaches to life.  White collar kids are raised with self-esteem and feelings of entitlement that blue collar kids never knew existed.  They navigate campus with a sureness of belonging, and that surety will aid them throughout their careers.

The book next tackles how these class differences affect the Straddler’s career.  This is the most fascinating part of the book.  Most people probably expect that a blue collar kid going to college will experience some culture clashes and struggles with the family, but the idea that these struggles will continue past college is not obvious.  College is supposed to prep everyone for a career, but the fact is, oftentimes colleges leave the Straddler student floundering on their own. There are generally no classes on how to be white collar, you’re just supposed to know.  And it’s not always easy for the Straddler to just pick this up on their own.  Lubrano highlights the key areas in which the blue collar culture the Straddler was raised with clashes with the expectations of a white collar job and can hurt a career.

If you come from the working class, you haven’t got a clue how to conduct yourself when you first land in an office. You’re lost if you can’t navigate the landscape–if you follow blue-collar mores and speak your mind, directly challenging authority. Without tact and subtlety, without the ability to practice politics amongst the cubicles, an executive with a blue-collar background will not rise. (loc 2473)

Among the issues Lubrano highlights as frequently arising for Straddlers are a tendency to be lacking in tact, an innate disgust for and inability to handle the inauthenticity demanded by office politics, and a lack of understanding of the manner of dress expected in white collar jobs.  Additionally, blue collar homes often denigrate the boss or the man, demanding only loyalty to fellow workers.  White collar culture, on the other hand, demands loyalty to firm, not your coworkers, as well as an expectation that you will automatically desire to rise up the ladder and become the man.  Perhaps the most difficult skill for Straddlers to learn and appreciate is networking.  Blue collar homes teach you to leave work at work.  Family time is a sacred space.  White collar jobs expect extraneous socializing in the form of networking, additionally they expect the white collar workers’ whole family to participate in their career, when needed.  (Think of a networking dinner in the worker’s home).  This entire concept rubs the Straddler the wrong way.  Networking feels inauthentic and wrong, and the family space feels violated.  Additionally, the Straddler was raised believing hard work advances you, not who you know.  The idea that you advance farther by networking than by working hard can often sicken a Straddler.

I didn’t realize that doing a job well is no guarantee of advancement and opportunity. There are ways to get ahead that have nothing to do with hard work. But blue-collar people are taught that that’s a person’s only currency–you sell your labor and give the boss an honest eight hours….Along with blatant kissing up, networking and socializing with bosses and colleagues also are dirty words to some Straddlers. It all smacks of phoniness and is antithetical to their blue-collar backgrounds, which emphasize honesty in human relations–”real” relationships. (loc 2735)

The book next discusses Straddler’s romantic lives and experiences parenting their own white collar children.  Unless a Straddler dates another Straddler, they will end up dating someone who does not communicate the same way they do.  If they date a blue collar person, the same issues they have with their own family arise.  If they date a white collar (born and raised) person, then issues in communication similar to the ones they experience at work come up.  If the Straddler marries a blue collar person, that person will often feel threatened by their academic interests.  If the Straddler marries a white collar person, communication is often an issue.  White collar people are taught to manage their emotions and shut down when upset.  The Straddler was raised with emotions at the surface in a passionate manner.  This can freak out the white collar person, and in turn, the relative calm of the white collar partner can drive the Straddler crazy.

When it comes to kids, most Straddlers talk a lot about trying to keep their kids from having a sense of entitlement.  They want them to connect to their blue collar roots, to appreciate blue collar work, and to have blue collar values.  The Straddler wants their child to have to struggle, because they value the personal growth they themselves got out of it.

The book closes out with a discussion of what makes a successful Straddler.  Ideally, the Straddler will become bicultural.  Able to navigate both blue and white collar worlds, and appreciate the positive in both. Unashamed of where they came from and unashamed of where they ended up.

The more successful Straddlers–and by this I mean people who are comfortable with their lives–embrace their middle-class reality while honoring their blue-collar roots. Though they live in limbo, they choose to concentrate on the upside and what makes them unique. (loc 4175)

The book addresses a topic that badly needs to be addressed.  If one in five working class kids becomes a Straddler, that’s a huge sociological group that is often not discussed.  However, there are some weak points in the book.  Although Lubrano acknowledges that Straddlers can come from the city or rural areas, since he grew up in Brooklyn, he tends to focus in on those who come from the city.  He could have sought out more Straddlers to interview who grew up rural poor to get a firmer grasp on what their life experiences are like.  There are some subtle differences between city and rural blue collar.  Similarly, Lubrano mostly interviews people of the same generation as himself.  He conducts one series of interviews with three people from a younger generation, but primarily he interviews people from the same age-range.  Although it’s obvious these issues are consistent across generations, it would be a stronger book with multiple generation’s voices.  Similarly, the book came out in 2005, and an updated edition would be nice.

Overall, this is an engaging read that addresses the sociological issue of moving from blue collar to white collar class.  Interviews with both Straddlers and experts brighten and enlighten the text, although the book would benefit from a bit more variety in the Straddlers interviewed.  Recommended to anyone who is a Straddler themselves, as well as those who may educate or work with Straddlers and those with an interest in class differences.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Friday Fun! (April: Busyness and Hiking)

View of Boston city skyline

The view of Boston on our hike.

Hello my lovely readers!

April was such a busy month, I can actually hardly believe it’s over already!  It’s always a busy month for me at work, as I help organize and run an annual event on-campus.  In addition this month, we also welcomed a new program to our campus, so the library was very busy putting in the groundwork for supporting students studying that new subject area.  I also submitted my first-ever poster abstract.  So busy!  On top of this, the weekend of my work event was the same weekend as the first motorcycle race weekend of the season for my partner.  He was incredibly busy prepping for the races.  Instead of just the normal getting everything running again after the long winter, he also was prepping a new (to him) race bike to be track ready.  Since I couldn’t go with him for the first race weekend, I wanted to send along something nice, so I made him a pie and cookies for carb-loading at the track.  I honestly found the baking to be stress-relieving and really enjoyed it.  I’m happy to report both the work event and the first race weekend went well!

In spite of the busyness, we were able to squeeze in quite a few hangouts with friends and dates for ourselves.  One of our dates was to hike a local trail on Easter Sunday.  It was gorgeous weather in a month of a lot of iffy weather.  I always find it so refreshing to get outside and in the woods, and even more so with my boyfriend.  We saw lots of jack-in-the-pulpits and also got a great view of Boston.

My stitching slowed down a bit this month, although I did release the first design in a new line–rhubarb in foraging New England.  The rest of the patterns for the line are designed but they still need to be trial-stitched! I hope to release at least one of them this month.

I read and reviewed four books this month, sticking to my overall goal of one book a week.  I’ll be happy if I manage to stick to that during my upcoming even busier month of May! In my own writing, I’m still working away whenever I have the time on my new book idea, writing background short stories.  The typewriter my bf got me for Christmas is coming in really handy, freeing me of distractions.

Happy reading!

Friday Fun! (Where the Hell Has This Weekly Meme Been Anyway?)

March 30, 2013 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

So, I knew I hadn’t written a Friday Fun post in a while, but was floored to see it hadn’t happened since November 16, 2012.

o_O

I know we all hate it when bloggers talk about their crazy busy lives, even though it’s true, because, hello, we all have busy lives!  Suffice to say, what I thought was a busy phase is actually the new stasis of my life.  I’m proud of the fact that I’m still managing to find time to blog, because I do love book blogging.  But I want to continue to touch base with you all periodically.  Weekly is just too overwhelming though.  So I’ve decided to move Friday Fun to just occurring on the last Friday (or Saturday) of every month.  Treating it more like a special event instead of a weekly meme will help me keep up and enjoy it.  I hope you all enjoy the new change!

On a similar note, I am still closed to review requests, and I don’t expect that to be changing anytime soon.  I still periodically request ARCs, if I’m highly interested, but that is a rare occurrence.  I also, you may have noticed, switched my reading from about 50% things I felt I “should” be reading (for ARCs, to better myself, etc….) down to about 10%.  This means 90% of my reading is for funsies, because frankly I need that stress relief in my life.  Reading “should’s” worked great when I was in a life limbo and needing to fill the time with actual things to do that made me feel like I was accomplishing something.  But now when I read, I want it to be for fun.  I need it to be a stress reliever.  Something that helps give me a few moments of internally-focused peace in my day.   So any changes you’ve noticed in the books being reviewed here reflect that choice I made at the beginning of 2013.

As for my non-blog life!  The holidays happened.  I taught my first library orientation by myself for the incoming class of one of the schools affiliated with my library.  I created my first library tutorials.  I finished my first archival finding aid.  Those have been the big-hitters in work life.  In regular, non-librarian Amanda life I went on vacation with my boyfriend to an off-the-grid cabin!  We snowshoed and built fires in wood stoves and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I went home to visit my dad in Vermont and learned how to make the perfect grilled cheese.  I got an iPhone.  I became addicted to Instagram and taking photos in general.  I survived Blizzard Nemo and got my first real snowday in *years*.  I learned how to play the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game.  Finally, I just last week joined my gym’s 60 day fitness competition, and I am loving how much it has reinvigorated my passion for fitness.  And I’m still trying to figure out how to be a part-time indie author in amongst all of this.

How was everyone’s March?  Ours came in like a lion and out like a lamb, just like the old saying goes. 🙂

Friday Fun! (What Goes Up Must Come Down or I Order Zen Flesh Zen Bones From My Library)

October 21, 2011 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Those of you who follow me on twitter know that this week turned into a doom week from hell for me after my cheerfulness last weekend.

I really need to learn to stop tempting the fates thusly, DAMMIT.

It’s not that any one horrible thing happened; it was just one of those weeks.  First off, I’ve been seeing a guy for a couple of months who I was really liking, but I wound up having to break up with him on Tuesday.  Let’s just say, he wasn’t treating me the way I deserve to be treated, and I’m older and wiser and don’t put up with that shit anymore.  But still!  It’s sucky.  It’s sucky to be backed into a corner and have to do something that sucks.  It’s sucky to think you’ve met someone who might be right for you, and it turns out they’re not. It’s just sucky.  It’s also sucky to have that happen and currently be working on a paranormal romance novella then discover that you’ve written the last 3,000 words without the male love interest showing up because you’re just not into that right now and have to write just short stories all week.  That sucks too.

Second, I somehow wound up working both of my jobs three days in a row, which means that I’ve been gone from home from 7:30am to 11pm.  Not. Fun.  I need to learn how to say no to the part-time job sometimes.  It is, after all, part-time.  At the very least I need to never do three days in a row again.

Suffice to say all this stress and emotions (damn them) added together to lead to me walking home from work in the rain. Crying.  I was a walking, eye-roll inducing scene from an overly dramatic movie.  Only I ended my walk with whiskey and whining to @bitchylibrarian on gchat.

It’s ok though. Really, it is.  One huge thing I’ve been working on in my 20s is accepting reality for what it is.  Which leads me to why I ordered Zen Flesh Zen Bones from the library this week.

The day that I was preparing myself to accept the fact that, yes, dude I was seeing wasn’t treating me right and I needed to stand up to that shit, I saw this excerpt from the book on tumblr:

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

That’s all there is to it, isn’t it?  If someone really cares for you, everyone will know.  It won’t be in secret, and it won’t be something hidden.  If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.  Here.  In front of everyone.  And you know what?  That’s what all my lovely friends do, which is why they stay my friends.  They tweet me encouragement when I have a shitty week.  They tell jokes to try to get me to laugh.  They text me to check in.  They are just generally awesome, and that’s the kind of people we should want to have in our life.  People who ease the stress of living, not people who add to it.  And I’m pleased to say that tomorrow I get to see at least some of them for an awesome fall potluck I’m hosting.  I can’t wait!  Although I will miss those who can’t make it.

As my yoga instructor says:

Shanti Shanti Shanti Namaste

Or as myself and Regretsy like to put it:

Namaste, Bitches.

 

Hey Ya’ll!!

April 27, 2011 1 comment

I just wanted to write up a quick post to tell you that

I AM GOING TO BE ON VACATION FOR A WEEK!!!!!

Until Wednesday to be exact.  Granted, it’s a staycation, but it’s my first holiday from work since when I graduated from undergrad.  I know, I know.  Anyway, if I feel so inclined I might post before then, but don’t count on it. I am, after all, planning on being out and about taking my lovely city of Boston by storm.  Also possibly sleeping periodically.  Maybe.

Eh, who am I kidding, I rarely sleep!!  But there will definitely be sake involved.

Librarianship Is a Service Career

Librarianship is a service job.  I think a lot of librarians tend to forget that.  Oh sure, the general public can be annoying.  Anybody who has ever worked with them is fully aware that the more people you interact with in one day, the more likely you are to come across someone who is conniving or making insane demands.  The fact of the matter is though, most of the people who come to you for help aren’t that type of person.  They’re generally good people who will respond to the tone you’re setting.  That tone should be I’m here to help you in a non-judgmental manner not I’m suspicious of you and am going out of my way to make your life more difficult.  Unfortunately, a lot of people’s experiences with librarians are falling into the latter camp.

Part of this is because people get stuck in their ways.  “Well, the old manager never let patrons use the fax machine, so I’m not going to let patrons use the fax machine,” instead of allowing for extenuating circumstances or setting up a pilot program to allow use of the fax machine and see how it goes.

Part of it is because it can be hard to stay cheery when working with the public.  Maybe the previous person you interacted with was screaming at you for no reason.  Maybe something upsetting is going on in your personal life.  The fact of the matter is, though, that this next patron coming up to you didn’t do either of those things to you, so you should give her the best service you possibly can and not rain on her parade.

Finally, part of what I’m seeing is quite frankly librarians not wanting to actually have to work at work.  A librarian on twitter today said he would like to design his own summer reading program theme, and another librarian responded why would he bother?  It’s so much more work to make your own theme than to use the pre-packaged one.  Similarly, I’ve seen librarians visibly groaning at needing to go acquire an item from the stacks for a patron or hoping for no in-depth reference questions.  Excuse me, but helping people is our jobs.

Our job isn’t to sit behind a desk all day hoping no one will need us.  Our job isn’t to pick the easiest summer reading program.  Our job isn’t to refuse to offer a service that patrons want because we think it’s silly.  Our job is to make the library a welcoming place where patrons know there’s someone who will do his or her darnedest to make their day easier and more fun.

There’s been all this hullabaloo in the past week over whether or not librarians are “professionals.”  It’s time librarians stopped worrying about terms and started actually working at providing the excellent service our patrons need.