Chris Zammarelli

The Sounds of Library Science

Kick Like We Used to

I chuckled a little bit while reading Brendan Schlagel’s “Weaving a public web, or, why don’t I blog more?” It’s something I could have written when I was lamenting the demise of biblioblogging in the social media era.

I have these dreams of reviving the form, but I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to lead the charge. I feel like I don’t have the time because of my commitments to work, home, and… well, the other blog.

That’s just an excuse, of course. My goal right now is to write at least one blog post here each month. It seems modest, but the side goal is to spend more time preparing to write, versus only posting stuff when the magical inspiration fairy deigns to visit my brain.

Since I’ve been thinking about library blog history, which is now totally a thing, Schlagel and Tom Critchlow’s new blogchain on networked communities is really interesting to me. They are covering a lot of the same ideas I had been musing on, but in a more proactive and interesting way. It’s pretty inspiring.

Of course, posting this doesn’t move me away from my habit of writing about writing when I’m not feeling inspired. Old habits die hard!

I See Shadows Moving Around

One of the things that I have always taken pride in is my ability to pick things up quickly. I’ve had a lot of different tasks thrown at me over my career, and I’ve always been able to either run with them or at least fake it while I frantically research what I’m supposed to do until I make it.

So when I come up against something that I feel like I should be able to do and all of my usual tactics for learning on the fly don’t work, I feel gut-wrenchingly deflated.

I’m speaking from recent experience, of course. While I have been reasonably assured I’ve not let anyone down, it’s tough for me to think that this is true. I don’t think I realized how much pressure I put on myself to perform, so when I flopped, I got a bit weepy.

Once I dried my eyes and enjoyed a pint or two with an old friend, I expected to say that I could see clearly and got a new perspective . But I didn’t: I only gotten worse. I was irritable! Touchy! Frustrated! A bit of a jerk!

To whom the Thursday version of me can say, “Get over yourself.”

In hindsight, I can call upon all of those simple little lessons about learning from failure and knowing when to ask for help and not going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line and stuff like that. All of that is obvious now. But when I’m in the thick of it, even those most obvious life lessons are hard to access.

I like to think I generally keep cool and have a measured response to whatever comes my way, and maybe that’s even true. But every now and then I fall apart, like Bonnie Tyler in a boarding school, and how I bounce back from that is key.

I’m making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill here to stress the importance of checking your mental health. Be aware of how you are feeling, and if you are not feeling so great, talk to someone who knows you well. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and admit you’re struggling. And don’t beat yourself up. We need you cool. Are you cool? Good.

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops

We’re halfway through the year and I ended the first half of 2019 on vacation in Hawaii. That also means I spent a couple of weeks wondering why I don’t live there. I may spend the next couple of weeks trying to suss out the answer to that question before daily drudgery sweeps over me like a wave that I didn’t quite catch because I suck at surfing.

I take responsibility seriously, so seriously that I frequently forget about being stupidly irresponsible, which is more fun. I tend to put off the fun stuff until the serious stuff is finished, except that there is always more serious stuff. I have to make room for the fun stuff, not wait for the perfect time to do it. That’s a hard lesson for me to grasp.

So I was pleasantly surprised how I was able to let vacation envelop me. Maybe that’s because of where I was vacationing. But I think that a lot of it had to do with getting the hang of letting things go. I wasn’t perfect: I still got my usual pre-travel jitters and I had a couple of anxious moments during the trip. But on the whole, I relaxed in a way that I hadn’t for a long time. It was great.

Then I got home and immediately fell back into a lot of bad habits. Oh well. More work to be done!

Your Energy Is Loud

There is this thing called #1000wordsofsummer. It’s the brainchild of Jami Attenberg and it encourages writers to write 1,000 words a day from June 17 to July 1. A friend of mine mentioned it on Twitter the other day and suddenly I’ve decided it’s a good idea to participate.

(Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’m writing 1,000 word blog posts every day for two weeks. Although it doesn’t not mean that…)

I’ve always loved to write and I have created a couple of outlets for myself to do it, but I am always trying to write more. Not necessarily because I want to broadcast it all for public consumption, but because I think it’s fun. I have thought about branching out more, and maybe this will give me the encouragement to do so.

Or I just come up with something that amuses me and no one else because only I get all my in-jokes.

First Train Into the Big World

I spend a lot of time doing small little tasks to make myself feel productive. But I rarely stop to think if those tasks are helping me accomplish bigger goals or consider whether or not they are necessary. I do them because I’ve always done them.

As my work and home duties are evolving in considerable ways, I’ve become more conscious of how much stuff I do just for the sake of doing it. Keeping the work journal should help me sort everything out, but I would need to sit down and look at past journals to do analysis and my goodness, do I have time for that, look how busy I am, my journal clearly says so!

You can see how I walk around in circles. Thinking I don’t have time to plan my day or my week and so forth because I am too busy with all my day-to-day duties only distracts me from prioritizing what actually needs to get done.

Productivity gurus commonly recommend scheduling time in your calendar time to do something that is detail-oriented or requires high levels of concentration. It has the external effect of letting co-workers know not to bother you and the internal effect of giving you the space to complete important tasks.

Of course, it does require you to adhere to your calendar. Whenever I’ve done this in the past, I’ve gotten my notifications, dismissed them, then keep chugging away on the minutiae I was engrossed in.

I’d like to think publishing a post about this would motivate me to do it, but I also know I’ve written about it before, then not followed up because I had fallen off the wagon and was embarrassed to admit it. There’s no shame in having trouble breaking bad habits, so long as I own up to my mistakes and try again. That’s how I learn.

By the way, I am using a lyric from a snarky song as a headline for something sincere. I’ve got layers.

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