about     peas & carrots

Items tagged “is_archive&rdquo

« newer stuff     older stuff »

where i’m from

maura @ 9:57 pm

It’s hilariously cliched but true: when you are a librarian, people sometimes say things to you like: “I bet you love to read” (true), and “You must read all day” (false). I mean, I do read all day, just like you do: I read emails and meeting minutes and other worky stuff.

I have tried and tried to make time for reading, the nonwork kind, the fiction kind. STORIES. I put it on my list of Things I Try To Do Every Day. But it’s so easy to let that one slide. Unlike writing, it doesn’t get harder for me to read the less I read. And unlike exercise, I don’t get all hunched-over and achey if it’s been a couple of days since I’ve picked up a good book.

Reading is so easy to ignore, but it makes me feel mournful when I think about how little I read. I stare at the pile of books on my desk, on my shelf, and wonder when I’ll ever get to them. I could cut out internet reading, but my feed is never really under control anyway so it’s not like I spend lots of time reading on the nets. (I’m also about 4 issues behind in the New Yorker, but who’s counting?)

But, (lest we end on an unhappy note), good news, everyone! In a couple of weeks I’m going to be traveling by bus for a long, long time. Bus travel is no picnic, but I’m actually somewhat gleeful when I think about the time I can spend reading.


a little bit puny

maura @ 10:52 pm

Yeah, it’s a phoning it in kind of evening. But hey, I wrote a (so very short) blag post over on the CUNY Games Network blag about the article that I wrote that just came out yesterday, so that counts, right? Right?


words for evaluating

maura @ 9:39 pm

Tonight I finally finished my self evaluation for work. We’re using a new form this year so this is the first time I’ve had to write a narrative rather than just a bulleted list. It took much longer than I thought it would, in part because I kept gravitating toward the same words over and over again and having to pause to reword (thank you, thesaurus!).

Anyway, I got to wondering what my self evaluation would look like as a word cloud. So here it is:


In some ways it’s a bit surprising (also? really?). But library, information literacy, students, faculty, research, work, City Tech, and CUNY are biggest, which seems pretty dead on to me.

les tags: ,

i’ve got blu-tack on my back

maura @ 11:04 pm

As part of my 11 days 4 presentations early December extravaganza, my research partner and I presented a poster last Friday at a local conference. The speakers were great — more about them elsewhere later this week.

It’s been a long time since I’ve presented at a poster session, and I came away having had a great time and with new respect and admiration for this type of conference experience. I feel like posters are the least-desired of conference options. Everyone wants to give a paper, of course, or a panel. At the national conference for academic librarianship, at least — we didn’t really have panels back when I used to go to archaeology conferences. Papers are more exclusive, have a higher rejection rate, and thus they seem more serious.

But after last week I think posters should get more respect. It took us — by which I mean my research partner, who took the biggest time hit working with the very pretty but fussy template we were using — hours and hours and hours to get that poster laid out for printing and full of compelling text + images. It also took time to create a handout and to get the supplemental materials up on our project website, just in case anyone followed the link on our handout.

The poster session was also lots of work on the day of. At this symposium poster time = breaks, so we sort of ran back and forth between our table and the poster, running out in turns to grab coffee or hit the restroom when things got slow. There were only about 8 or so posters and 180-ish attendees, so our traffic was pretty good.

Despite all the work (and my complete inability to ride the subway home without whacking numerous passersby on the legs with the damn thing), I thoroughly enjoyed our poster presentation. It was so nice to have the opportunity to spend some time speaking *with* folks about our research rather than talking *at* them. I still get a bit nervous delivering papers/talks, too, and there are (thankfully) no butterflies when you’re just standing by an easel talking to a few people at a time. I got to meet and talk to lots of colleagues from CUNY and beyond.

Would I preferentially submit a poster in the future, given the option? That’s a good question. There is that pesky prestige problem — papers just look better on the CV. But the experience was definitely eye-opening. For sure I can say that I will certainly not avoid posters in the future. Especially if I can find a simpler template.

les tags: ,

surprise art

maura @ 9:29 pm

I was crabby on my walk to work this morning, tired + out of sorts. It’s been a long week. Superbusy at work. Rainy and yucky yesterday. Gus went camping w/school which is always fun for him (and us!) but is also very strange (quiet house!). And I’m having weird, waking-up-before-the-alarm insomnia lately, which is just infuriating.

So there I was, grumble grumble grumble on the way to work, when I rounded the corner onto the plaza near my job only to see that new public art had been unveiled since the last time I walked to work. There are at least 3 big sculptural pieces, including one that’s a series of glass boxes w/stuff inside that sort of reminds me of Louise Bourgeois. I didn’t have time to look closely (9am meeting) or take pictures today but will soon. And now you have something to look forward to in a future post, yay for you!

It was surprising how quickly my mood lifted when I saw the art. Art in the morning, it’s a mood inoculation! Need to find a way to stumble upon art every time I am grumpy.


i traveled far and wide

maura @ 11:04 pm

I moved into my new office at the end of last week. New office! I’ve never ever had an office with a door all to myself. It’s pretty swell.

Want a tour?


This is right after I moved in. New chair, too!


Old wooden desk! It was here in the space, and lucky me, I get to keep it. It’s got loads of drawers and dividers and there was a little key in one of them. Mysterious!


One of my three (3!) bookshelves is small and blue with glass doors. Very nice, and the bottom shelf is perfect for my shoes. (I keep my work shoes at work so I can walk to + from in sneakers.)


Two (2!) more bookshelves, plus a table. Which right now is covered in bags with much of the contents of my old desk in it, because I haven’t had time to rearrange everything yet.


Whiteboard, file cabinet, and giant globe! Which also came with the office, and I couldn’t be happier. I love globes, so very cool.

Right now I’m only partially moved because I haven’t had a chance to move everything. I’m trying to bring a little bit over every day — it’s incredible how much I’ve accumulated in the past 2.5 yrs. Also there’s a small sticking point: my old file cabinet is legal-sized, and my new one is letter-sized (which I actually prefer). So I’ll need to get some new hanging folders, sort out the legal folders, etc. And all of Gus’s drawings and my other wall art need to come over, too.

All of which I love, seriously! Mmmm, organizing. But I just don’t have time for it right now. Which is tweaking me ever-so-slightly in an OCD way because I’m not sure where anything is (though I did find my post-it notes today, which have become my most critical office supply lately). The absurdity of filing something in my old cubicle today did not pass unrealized, too.

les tags: , ,

questions & answers

maura @ 9:30 pm

Q: What’s going on around here? Why so quiet lately?

A: Oh, you know, the usual: work, research, chores, weekend bike rides + park visits, fencing (now with mask + glove!), homework, last-minute costume prep, etc.

A: Also, the unusual:

– The bathroom renovation, which has really been much less stressful than it could be (and also mad props to J for acquiring most of the needfuls, including tile, which is very heavy). I haven’t been in there in a while, but I hear things are progressing swimmingly. Right now there’s a hi-tech plastic sheet spanning the hallway in front of the bathroom door from floor to ceiling, with a long red zipper for entry and exit. So CDC!

– Gus’s prehistoric technology studies at school are in full effect. Yesterday was one of the wigwam field trips, and Jonathan helped the kids make fire. (Fire! Fire!) Also I got a slate pendant necklace that Gus had drilled a hole in with a stick, bringing this month’s homemade necklace haul up to 2 — yay!

– So I am on a team that got a very very big grant at work which is very very exciting. My responsibilities have shifted somewhat, though, and I am still getting my bearings time-wise. Which is a complicated way to say that I am very very busy.

Q: Are the cats freaked out by the bathroom renovation?

A: The big one kind of is, and spends lots of time sitting on Jonathan’s lap during the day. The little one could care less.

Q: Have you quit Twitter and/or Facebook?

A: No! See above about the busy. Mostly succeeding in keeping up w/Twitter these days, but can’t really seem to find time to look at Facebook more than a couple of times a week. But our library has a Facebook now so you should be our fan!

Q: What is Gus planning to be for Halloween?

A: Well originally he wanted to be a bat. And we looked all over the internets for a costume only to find that it’s apparently pretty easy to make one with an old black umbrella. So I brought my spare umbrella home from work to sacrifice it, but then in true Gus fashion he changed his mind, and now he’s going as the grim reaper. Which I think is kind of spooky for him these days, but what do I know? Maybe he just wants the scythe. He’s going to a Halloween party before the trick or treating on Sunday afternoon, so maybe we’ll go have a grownup halloweenniversary lunch or somesuch.

Q: Is minute 2:13 in “Leaders of Men” still your favorite part of any Joy Division song ever?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you sad now that Mad Men is over?

A: Sort of. I do miss it, but it’s nice to be caught up on the other TV. House has been decent this season, though Fringe is disappointing. It’s just so *flimsy* with the dual universe storylines. Jonathan keeps saying that they are spreading their story butter too thin across the toast of the show. Also we got a new toaster oven, which performs well enough but has an annoying digital readout (power vampire!) and makes a beeping noise when it’s finished toasting that is much too close to the standard smoke detector noise around these parts. Which is sort of funny given that excessive toasting could in theory set off the smoke detector.

Q: Are you tired? Right now? Because you’re getting a little loopy with that progression from TV to toast, is all I’m saying.

A: Right again! Gold star for you! But you’ll have to wait for it, I’ve got some work to do right now.

les tags: , , , ,

saturday morning writing

maura @ 8:46 pm

When Gus was doing karate last spring I was really good about writing during his class. But then he decided to stop and I fell off the wagon. Now he’s doing fencing on Saturday mornings and I am having a hard time getting back into the swing of it.

There’s a lot going on these days.

Last week there was weird sideways hail which, only 2 weeks after the tornado, seems a bit apocalyptic, even for the most agnostic of agnostics (= me).

Work is fun but busier than ever — my course has tripled+ in size (which is good!) and I’m at the beginning or in the midst of a couple of big projects. Next week is Open Access Week so we are prepping a bunch of events (with stickers!). My research project is back in full effect and it’s absolutely fascinating but also exhausting. (I wrote about it at one of my other blags.)

Our bathroom renovation starts on Monday. We decided to go ahead with it after all — the floor tiles are thrashed and coming up all over the place and the faucets are all leaky and the whole shebang is 24 years old and wasn’t ever the best work, anyway. So there are huge boxes all over the apartment with toilet parts, sink parts, etc. It’s a little chaotic. Of course the cats love it — the fat lazy one has decided that the boxed bathtub is his own personal fainting couch and he spends all day lazing on it. Hopefully the cardboard kitty playland will make up for the temporary displacement of their litterbox.

I’ve also been kind of obsessed with this crazy little silo house upstate recently (it started with that house + land in Vermont). Maybe it’s the fall, the real fall, finally here after so much summer, and with good smells of woodsmoke and crunchy apples and pumpkin spice donuts at Tim Horton’s.

And we finally finished catching up with Mad Men! Just in time for the season finale.

les tags: , ,

still here…

maura @ 10:13 pm

…but so veryverybusy. The Fall semester (and the class I’m teaching) started last Thursday (13 students this semester, yay!). Gus’s school doesn’t start until next Wednesday, and even then it’s only 1 day back before they’re off for 2 days for Rosh Hashanah. I keep meaning to blag at night, but by the time chores + bedtime are finished it’s late–Gus is still on his summer schedule even if I’m not–and all I want to do is watch season 1 of Mad Men (which we finally started watching last weekend) and go to sleep.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Bye!

les tags: , ,

letters from a grumpy old lady

maura @ 9:11 pm

Dear VCR,

You are seriously bugging me lately. A couple of months ago we tried to use you to calm down a bunch of rambunctious children during dinner, but you appeared to be broken. Since our building’s stoop sale is coming up soon we started to think that maybe it’s time for you to go, so last weekend I tried a couple of videotapes to confirm your unworkingness. The result of this experiment is that now you seem NOT to be broken (though several tapes are clearly kaput).

Now I don’t know what to do. We don’t use you much to watch videos anymore, haven’t, really, for months and months. But when I was testing tapes I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for Alice in Wonderland, Spice World, Tron, etc… And now I’m not sure we’re ready to let them go, even though it would free up a bunch of space on the shelves.

Stupid VCR. It was much easier when you were pretending to be broken.

Grumpily yours,

Dear weather,

Not to be rude, but are you taunting me? Last month it was eleventy billion degrees practically every day. All the flowers bloomed early and we rushed around like crazy people trying to see them. Since Spring was definitely sprung we spent time shopping for, ordering, and putting together new bikes for 2/3 of the family (the other 1/3 already has a bike that fits).

Now the bikes are here (and an extra bike, too, since we haven’t gotten rid of Gus’s old bike) and it’s blustery windy rainy November outside. Especially on the weekends. What is your damage, weather?

Don’t hope to see you soon,

Dear city,

Have you ever ridden the B71 bus westbound at about 8am on a schoolday? No? Then allow me to enlighten you. It is PACKED full of kids (and parents) on their way to school, and people on their way to work, to the subway, etc. This bus is not at all underused (at least in the mornings) and is really the only straightforward way to get from Crown/Prospect Heights to Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens.

Or at least it will be, until June 27th. That’s the last day of service for this bus line, at any time. Now, I know the bus can be pretty empty in the middle of the day, but cutting the whole line? That’s just cold. We are lucky that Gus’s school has a school bus, but who’s to say what the other kids on the bus will do?

And an extra special thanks-for-nothing for the date of the switch: the last day of public school is Monday, June 28th.


Dear state,

Get a grip.


les tags: , , , ,