Thursday, July 22, 2010

What a Summer

This month has been marked with both technical and mechanical failure at the library which has been a source of frustration for both staff and customers alike. As a new facility, the AC remained untested until the first hot days of summer. There was no passing with flying colors, more like the stale stuffy air of failure. For 4 days, the staff endured sweltering tropical mugginess until it was clear that we were not able to continue on with ever growing dread and uncomfortableness as the temperatures crept up outside, inside and within us. It was during the initial AC failure that we also experienced a systems failure with our computerized Integrated Library System. Searching, checking out, checking in--essentially everything that we do all day long--suddenly became a frustrating headache for almost 10 days. I walked around in a perpetual state of irritable stickiness. Since library work is rarely quiet desk sitting work but rather pushing heavy carts, lifting heavy boxes, running from one end of the library and back again and again type of work it is easy to become uncomfortable fast. At the end of the first week, with tempers short and fuses quickly burning down, I asked that we close the adult area and leave the rest of the area open since it was in the adult library that the AC had failed. I got permission but when I tried to put the gate down to shut off the adult area, the gate failed. Defeated, we closed the library for 3 days until we could get some fixes, firs the gate and then the AC.

For a few days we thought the fix was holding, my office was a welcoming cool haven. Then we noticed that the areas that were previously comfortable were now quite the opposite. And then Monday morning I walked through the door of my office and into a thick heavy wall of air. All the units were compromised in one manner or another. I shelved one cart of books on Monday morning at 9:30 in the morning with sweat trickling down my brow. The thought of having hundreds of bodies heating up an already uncomfortable space was unbearable. We closed for the day. We are still having problems with one of our AC units--one is down for the count until parts arrive, one has been tinkered with to run until a more permanent fix arrives. For 2 1/2 days we had the adult area shut down with the rest of the library open. I have just reopened the adult area. Temperatures outside have abated leaving the airconditioningless space bearable if movement is limited. The staff will work the area in a limited capacity--no all steam ahead until parts arrive and are installed. But at least we are open and people can use the space for as long as they are comfortable.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fire Flowers

Hanabi is Japanese for Fireworks which translates as Fire Flowers. I love this translation. It is poetic and speaks of the fascination we have with pyrotechnics. Last night I saw the 4th of July Fireworks Display at the Aliante Casino in North Las Vegas while attending a VIP Pool Party with a complimentary open bar. I was M's sister's guest. We had a lovely time. Anytime I see fireworks, I think about other displays I have seen and I end up missing both Japan and Hawaii.
The Japanese hold their annual displays in August and they are fabulous. They go on and on and on for what seems like a full hour, but is probably less. Just when you think the Grand Finale has arrived, it gets even bigger.
One year, I headed over to sacred island Miyajima with friends for the show. We caught the first bursts while on the ferry over. I would have loved to spent the entire show on the ferry watching with each burst reflected in the water. Something magical about this. We arrived at the dock and made our way down to the water for the rest.
Another year, I spent the first part of the day in the city but left at dusk to find a spot on the river. I was riding my bike along the river path when the show began. I pulled over and watch with a few others who made their way to the empty spot I found on the river path. It felt like my own private show. The warm night became magical and I was en rapt.
Being of an Asian bent, Hawaii offers up some pretty spectacular displays. My first experience was on New Years Eve 1999. I had just arrived in Hawaii two weeks earlier to start the new century with a new life in a new place. Everything was falling into place for me then, I had a new job which would eventually become the conduit to my rapid rise in Los Angeles. I had just purchased my very own first car, and I had already established a new budding social network. With new friends we headed up to a house party in the hills of Manoa Valley. With a panoramic view of Waikiki and Downtown, we were treated to a firework show that lasted for hours. At about 11:15, Waikiki was enveloped in a cloud of smoke. In 2000, there was a crack down on illegal ariels, so the Milliemum was the last year of spectacular self sponsored displays.
Every Friday night in Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village put on a display for the tourists. I spent a many of a Friday night with a group known as the Old Farts on the beach at San Souci (Kaimana) have a few beers and talking story after a run around Diamond Head. I miss these evenings tremendously.
I never knew how much of my weekly rhythm the fireworks had become until 9/11 put a stop to them for months and months. 9/11 made the entire country stop, wonder and worry. But in Hawaii, an island that depends on tourism, we were in struggle to maintain our livelihoods. The absence of the fireworks, suspended due to low tourism and slashed budgets, marked weekly how much our lives had changed during that fateful day. For days afterwards, the sky that was usually dotted with aircraft bring tourists and their dollars to the island were empty. I remember running around Magic Island on Thursday after the attacks to see a lone airplane in the air. What a welcome sight and my first thought was maybe now I will get some mail.
What a relief it was to all of us when the Hilton Hawaiian Village announced that it was going to resume the firework displays. Each and everyone of us felt that our lives were finally returning to normal after a long drought of tourism.