Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of School...

The first day of school evokes happy emotions within me. As a child, I was always excitedly nervous for the first day of school. No big surprise, I was a shy introvert then too, but I had some good friends and I *loved* learning new things. As an adult, likely due to the fact that I work at a college, the first day of school still feels so fresh and new to me. Everything seems different and exciting, the air feels crisp and cool, and there's just a buzz of new possibilities in the air.

So, today is the first day of school here at the college where I work. I've been looking forward to it all summer. I was a little concerned, however, with the prospective state of my mood given that we had an extremely trying weekend with young Henry. *Extremely* trying. We had to finally make a move that I was dreading - transitioning him from coming into our room to sleep on our floor in the night to spending the whole night in his own big boy bed. This is tough stuff, people. Around hour 3 of the nighttime ruckus on night 1 of Project Big Boy Bed, I was ready to keel over and put up the white flag. Any parent of a new baby or young child I'm certain will agree with me that lack of sleep is one of the absolute worst things in the world. There is a whole pleothra of awfulness that we can all deal with assuming we're getting decent sleep.

As a result of the nighttime ruckus, we were all overtired and cranky for the entire weekend. Henry was miserable, grumpy, parsnickety, shrill and needy. Joy. By midday yesterday, I was on round two of Motrin for the day, and desperately needed a break. Thank the Lord God, Mike whisked Hank away to the auto parts store, and I spent an hour sipping iced tea, crocheting an afghan and watching Legally Blonde. I can't tell you how much I needed that.

"Oh my GOD! Look! How cute, it's like, a *real judge*! And jury people!!"

I love that movie. I just put it on my Amazon wish list.

At any rate, night 3 was last night, and thankfully, we had no nighttime ruckus. Granted, Hank climbed out of his bed at some point and decided to sleep on the hallway floor, crazy child. How is that better than his comfy bed with the soft fleece Batman blanket? I just don't understand.

Anyway, this morning we all woke up in a better mood and off I skipped to my first day of school. The campus was bustling; parking was harder to come by; campus shuttles were everywhere; the air was cool. I was happy.

And then I tried to make photocopies.

Something horrific has befallen our already bedraggled staff photocopy machine, and it's been making my photocopy life even worse than usual. I only had to make 25 copies of a 2-sided document. This should be routine work, if you are, you know, a photocopy machine. I pop my document in and press the pertinent buttons. I stand back, and...before even a single copy is generated, the machine jams. It starts showing me that little diagram on the display screen of the things I need to open in order to clear the jam. I obey the instructions. It makes noises, starts groaning again, and jams. AGAIN. Already, the little diagram is starting to get on my nerves. I do what I have to do, and again stand back. It makes a copy. Happy day. And then it jams, AGAIN.

At this point, I implement the surefire approach to fixing equipment that I use whenever my mood starts to sour. I (a) swear at it, (b) insult it, (c) bang on it, and (d) handle it in an overall rough manner. Shockingly, this does not work. I follow the obnoxious instructions once again. By this point, I have ink all over my hands, and scratches, from wrenching paper out of the bowels of the machine. It's hangin' on in there, thwarting my efforts at every turn. Every couple of copies, a jam occurs, and by this time I'm beside myself. Each time I have to open all those little doors and shut them again after clearing the paper, I slam it shut *harder*.

Finally, I wise up and investigate the machine's guts a bit. It does not like this one bit, and I swear I could feel the pieces getting hotter when I touched them. I manage to extract a nefarious little crumbled up piece of paper that was stuck behind a wheel. Eureka!! Obviously leftover from an earlier struggle. It's like a horror movie where the main character happens upon a stray foot stuffed down the garbage disposal.

After that, the photocopier reluctantly spit out about 10 copies before it jammed again. I cleared about 5 jams to get out the final 5 copies, and by that point, I was really on the edge. I was barely out of the room before I reported the nuisance to our assistant for purposes of calling in to the photocopy repair people. A librarian can only take so much.

After that exhausting experience, I was scheduled on the reference desk. And now the real fun begins. I love beginning of the semester reference. The students really need me and appreciate me and it makes me happy. And it's always simple things that I can answer in a heartbeat, like "where are the bathrooms?" and "where is this classroom?" I tell them, they glow happily, thank me, and hurry off excitedly. It's all very happy and glowy. As opposed to the end of the semester, when the questions are: "Um. I need, like, articles? For my paper? Yeah. My topic? Um, right. The history of China. It's due in the morning."

The beginning of the semester stuff just garners so much more satisfaction from the student, rather than being told that they need to seriously narrow down their topic, spend some solid time searching for books and articles on their own after I help them get started, and then actually write the paper themselves. They don't like that so much.

However, there is one beginning of the semester question that vexes all college librarians, and I got asked it before I even took the "closed" sign down from the reference desk as I was setting up for the first shift of the day. And that is: "Um, hi. Do you have my textbook?"

I always scratch my head at that one. There are students who seem to believe that the library has a "textbook section" that they can peruse and perhaps borrow from for the entirety of the semester. This does exist, but it's not the library; it's called the bookstore. I do know how outrageously expensive textbooks are, I feel their pain, really I do. I recommend buying used where possible, either at the bookstore or on a large commercial book distributer.'s the thing. If the library had their textbook...are they so super speedy that they would be able to snag that 1 copy of the current edition and horde it against their snarling classmates for the duration of the semester? This makes no sense. There are over 20,000 undergraduates here. There are a LOT of students in each class. See where I'm going with this? I cut them some slack; they're new, they're confused and they're a little scared. But seriously. You have to buy the textbook. It's sad, but true.

So anyway, I'm off the reference desk now, and enjoying the sound of student chatter outside my door. I wish I could take classes again; I miss it very much. I would love to take courses toward a Masters degree in theology someday. Someday...

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