Sunday, February 6, 2011

Morally Opposed

I have often stated that I am morally opposed to LSSI (Library Services and Systems Inc) that is taking over the management of the Santa Clarita Libraries. I don't think that it is in the best interests of community to have public money used for a for profit group that uses volunteers to enhance its profit margins and does not disclose what those margins may be. Would you volunteer for Walmart? I also do not believe that a for profit group that has a history of not paying its bills on time and tries to guilt public sector librarians into feeling like they are dirty and wrong for having a retire package is acting responsibly. I put money in for retirement. I don't necessarily believe that it will be there for me when the time comes in the same vein that I have been told from day one that Social Security won't be there for my generation either. Yet I put money in hoping for Vegas Odds. I also regularly go to Vegas with the same hopes. Maybe one will pay off in the end. Between you and me, my money is on Vegas, though. But what is wrong with building your career and hoping that eventually you may have a secure retirement?
In the parking lot outside Valencia Library, I had a brief chat with another employee. We are getting a lot of comments from customers as we get closer to the wire of change. Customers are concerned about the future of the libraries. We don't say much, other than that they will have to wait and see. I just say that I understand their concerns. There is no turning back but I have hopes that the City will opt to build their own system without LSSI.
The more that I think about LSSI, read about about sustainabilty and the Military Indurstrial Complex, I beleive that LSSI is a symptom of the the dangerous path that America is traveling down. LSSI is essentially the professional equivelent of an industrial farm hiring migrant workers to keep prices down, avoid providing health insurance and actually living wages to its employees. The more I ponder this, the more I become convinced of the connection and the more I feel that I need to be more responsible with my own buying power. The more I ponder this, the more I see clearly exactly why I am opposed to LSSI. I have heard that the average retirement for LSSI employees is 25K a year. This is shameful. The big guys at the top make the money and the workers on the bottom are treated like bottom feeders. For all the reasons that I feel am being to believe that the military industrial complex with its pesticides, mono-culture farming, and contained animal feeding operations is eroding the future of American agriculture, the more I am able to understand that doing business the way that Walmart, LSSI and other industries of the ilk are eroding the rest of the United States. I am not quite sure how I will make changes but I see them coming. For my health, my well-being and for the future of the next generation.

Being a Librarian

Earlier today a friends sent me an e-mail telling me that it looked like I found the perfect job for me. I guess in many ways she is right. I enjoy what I do. Yes, of course there are frustrations, stresses and at times burn out. Before I went back to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, I was in desperate need for a get away. I was traveling down a road of half empty glasses. But I took some time off, and then had a long New Year's break to get myself into perspective on the glasses. I came back refreshed and recharged.
So why is this the perfect job for me. One of the best things about my job is the sheer variety of each and every day. No two are exactly the same. And even an average day can turn on a dime--but usually not in a good way. I like that there is always something to do. Some other thing that can be imagined. I spent a year in Japan bored out of my gourd sitting at a desk for the 25 hours that I had to be there without actual work to do. It was the worst working year of my life. I don't have a strong enough imagination to entertain myself. My personal battery winds down and I don't feel like doing even the little that I have to do. Fortunately I learned this about myself early on and have only had one such job in my life.
Being a librarian means that the day if filled with fitting a variety of projects in to the day--sometimes they fit smoothly and sometimes they don't. Programming means beginning able to use creativity and imagination to provide interesting--we hope--activities for the community. Answering information questions is a dual pleasure when all goes well--I get to help someone and I learn something as well. I like to help people and I am a people person. Of course, I don't care to deal with unpleasant people and of course I don't always handle them in the best manner. But I try and I want to provide the best service whenever possible. I like connecting people--whether with other people or information. It took me a long time to realize that not everyone functions on this level. I want the people I know to know each other. It always surprises me when people want to keep their friend groups seperate. On one level I can understand this but in reality it is a alien concept for the way I actually function. It pleased me when my college friend Karen and my Hawaiian friend Lillian took a vacation together after I introduced them. So if I can hook someone up with information they need at work, I am well satistified.
One of the things I get to do that I probably enjoy the most is problem solving. Almost everything I do, involves chorographing solutions to usually mundane but sometimes extremely exotic situations. Of course my daily hope is that nothing serious happens that will cause the house to tumble down around my ears. As always I hope for the best but as worse case scenario girl I plan for the worst.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Lost Art of Being a Middle Class American

I suddenly feel like I am a middle-class American. I don't know that I have ever really felt this way before. I have been a lower middle class Hick, a starving college students, a gaijin, a backpack traveler, a haole, a broke American drowning in credit card debt, and a struggling perhaps not very American trying to live within her means. But now, suddenly I have broken through all those barriers and find myself solidly in that coveted--or maybe only historically coveted--category of Middle Class. Why do I feel this way. Well, I am educated. I have a professional job that has pretty good benefits, I am living in an upscale urban living community. I have a TV that now has cable reception and Internet at home. Within the last 24 hours I have bridged the Digital Divide that kept me on the other side. I have a car that doesn't have duct tape on it--yet. The back fender could probably use some but I want to stay in my little cocoon of middle class sensibilities for a few days.
And perhaps what I feel is the most middle class sensibility that I may have developed recently is the feeling that I don't need THINGS as much as I used to need them. Yesterday, I found some flannel pajama bottoms for WOW WHAT A BARGAIN--$7.91 for TWO PAIR. I picked them up, considered them, almost got them but then thought, "But you already have enough pajama bottoms at home." I put them back knowing that old me--struggling me--would have put them into my shopping cart and carried them home feeling I just got a deal--yes, my bank account was short $9 but WOW WHAT A DEAL!! I am so happy. This is the sort of attitude that I think growing up not having enough can breed. Just wanting, wanting all those things that you could have when you were younger, all those things that you had to do without but all your friends had or at least all the cool kids at school had. For a long time, I used to justify purchases by saying that this is what a middle class person has. But that isn't true, I think that a middle class American is mostly that way due to being frugal and smart with their purchases and money. Working hard, spending for quality rather than quantity, and spending for those things that that really improve your quality of living. This quality over quantity is probably the most difficult concept for me to grasp--me, the bargain basement queen. Me, the collector of Last Chance 90% off items. I still have a long way to go.
Some of what is adapting my behavior patterns are Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver's books. I just finished The Omnivore's Delimma and previously read In Defense of Food. Right now I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My current health concerns has brought me around to trying to sort out how I feel about my culture, my upbringing, and my consumption with how I actually are and how I want them to be. I realized that I treated the way I feed myself with the way I bought things--some times with great abandon, and usually trying to get a lot for not very much. End result: waste and unhappiness. By trying to right the way that I think about how I feed myself, I am realizing how interconnected I actually am. How I feel about feeding myself is exactly the same as how I feel about housing myself, clothing myself and entertaining myself. I am coming to realize that it isn't about getting a lot more that you pay for. Rather it is about getting value for what you spend and appreciating what you have. I think that being a Middle Class American is a lost art and I really want to recover it for myself. American's spent the last decade of the first millennium and the first decade of the second, chasing after trappings of upper class consumerism. This got a bunch of us in a lot of trouble--present company included. I doubt I will ever own a Louis Vuitton of luggage and more and more I simply just don't want to. A sturdy set of Samsonite is looking a bit more reasonable and my current mismatched set of red and pink are OK for a while longer.