Monday, January 11, 2010

Stressed librarian...

Today is the first day of class for the spring semester, and I'm feeling a goodly amount of trepidation and anxiety. With a shrinking staff, I have a lot more work to do this semester than I ever have before, and on top of all of that, I need to keep writing/publishing in order to achieve tenure in a few years. For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling truly stressed out at work.

I received a request for library instruction last week that has got me so keyed up that I literally can't sleep at night- a request from a faculty member teaching World Civilizations for me to come teach his ENTIRE 230 STUDENT LECTURE CLASS about library research. When I first got the email, I did the most logical thing: I panicked. Then I hyperventilated. I let it sit for a day so that I could gather my wits a bit, and then I wrote to the instructor making as enthusiastic a pitch as possible for the merits of presenting the library instruction at the smaller, recitation (24 student) level: the class can be scheduled in a computer equipped room and thus students can participate and follow along, becoming active agents in their own learning...

He didn't go for it. He's always had instruction provided to his students at the lecture level, and that's the way he'd like it to stay. I'm the new liaison to the World Civilizations faculty, and thus this now falls within my purview. *cries* As graciously as possible, I told him that I'd be happy to present to his students. Privately, I feel sick just thinking about it. Teaching is hard enough for me in front of 25 students - I don't want 230 people looking at me at the same time. And listening to me attempt to make the research process interesting by spicing it up with jovial anecdotes. It's just...unnatural.

The class is next week, and in the mean time my anxiety level is so high my hair may start to fall out. Forget mere sweating - this goes far beyond that. I'm certain that you'll be hearing more on this situation as events transpire.

Sigh. In another high intensity moment, on the way to Mass yesterday, Hank hit me with a tough question:

"Mommy, when we go up for communion, why the priest say 'body of Christ?' What does that mean, Mommy? Who is 'Christ'? Why would we want to eat his body? And why is it called 'communion'?"

Whoa. I didn't have any preparation time, so I just did my best. I tackled the easier one first: the fact that 'Christ' is another word for 'Jesus.' Whew. Got that one out of the way. It took lots of explaining about the 'body' and 'why do we want to eat that?' issue. But I think I did ok.

"In the Bible, honey, this is what Jesus told us. That the bread used during communion is actually his body. It still looks like and tastes like bread, but in a special way it's actually his body."

And I wove a nice explanation about 'communion' being a word related to the 'community of believers' that I hope, (a) didn't go over his head, and (b) is true.

The Children's Liturgy of the Word was back this week, making Mass a little easier on Mommy, and Mike came with us this week, which was wonderful. We're back in Ordinary Time now, but Lent is just over a month away and it's one of my favorite liturgical seasons. I'm already preparing my reading list, which I will post shortly :)

I can't wait to go home to my boys tonight...

My one consolation during this long, long Monday is my experience with LL Bean. I enjoy doing much of my shopping online - it allows me to obsessively research everything before I buy it, just the way I like it. Simply looking at a garment/electronic device in a catalog or even in a store can be deceiving. For instance, I often see blouses in the Victoria's Secret catalog and think to myself,

"That looks great on her, but I bet on me it would look like I was attacked by wild dogs."

I'm a big review reader. And several years ago I purchased a pair of well-regarded Storm Chaser Slip Ons from LL Bean online. Around here, I need solid footgear to protect my feet from snow and rain, and a good friend of mine had a pair of these and highly recommended them. They're not cheap, certainly, but they are extremely well made and LL Bean is known for it's outstanding customer service and return policy. So I bought a pair.

Love them. Mike is a little bewildered by them, because I normally go for more traditionally cute footwear, but these shoes are like pug dogs; they're so ugly that they're in fact cute. The current model actually is fairly traditionally cute; when I bought them, they were more duck bootish but I still loved them to absolute pieces. Every winter I couldn't wait to bring them up. They slip right on, no need to stoop down in the cold and lace them up, and they're waterproof and toasty warm. I wear them constantly.

Last week I noticed that one of my beloved boots had developed a split near the toe, right in the rubber. I was chagrined, because it wouldn't take long before that foot started getting wet. And I don't have $70 to spend on another pair of boots right now, but I just love them so much. Then I remembered LL Bean's return policy. You can return anything to them, anytime, with or without a receipt, and they'll exchange it or give you your money back. I looked this up online just to be sure, and yep, that's what it is.

Still feeling a little unsure, I called their customer service line. It rang once, and I settled in for some automated menu surfing. I was absolutely shocked when I instantly heard:

"Hello! This is LL Bean, Cindy speaking, how can I help you?"

I mean, seriously? A *real person* answered the phone on the first ring? I was utterly flummoxed. I quickly explained the situation, and confirmed that I can indeed return my damaged boots. I told her that I simply wanted a replacement pair, not a refund, and she processed the exchange for me right away. I do have to be charged initially for the new boots, but once my damaged boots arrive to them (with a pre-paid packing label from the web site, no less) they'd refund me the original cost of my boots. Xanadu.

I felt a little bereft packaging up my old boots, beloved as they were, but I was terribly excited to have a brand new pair on the way. I took the package to the UPS store, and the guy working there took one look at my pre-paid label and said:

"Oh, you're all set ma'am."

I'm not used to this level of efficiency in retail.

So, since Thursday, I've had no Storm Chasers and I'm missing them badly. My feet are currently getting wet in a pathetic old pair of long boots that I should have thrown out years ago. I've been obsessively tracking my new boots' progress, and as of this morning, they are in New York State and on their way to me, Hurray! Storm Chasers, how I love and miss you; I long for your arrival on my doorstep... Hurry home!

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