Friday, June 1, 2018

Happy 8th Anniversary Stand-Up Librarian!

Library before (2015) and after (2018). 
In this eighth year of Stand-Up Librarian, I am wrapping things up at the library and trying to decide how to move forward.  I admit to being slightly lost and confused as I have gotten away from performing and writing – things I always thought were pretty important to me – and instead, allowed my on-again/off-again job at the library and my on-again/off-again relationship with my boyfriend to both occupy most of my time. It’s understandable I guess, you think something is done and you start to shift gears and then they pull you back in for one reason or another.  However, now as I sit here for my once a year post, I am ready to put myself first again. I’m just not sure how to do it anymore. I guess I will get back to you next year with the results.

Completing the Gracegate Library this year was quite the accomplishment for so many reasons - most of which weren't included in the two articles written about us (but thanks again to the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Bay Newspapers for their wonderful pieces.)  After all, the library was my work – every item catalogued, labeled, shelved and loved by me - so as a result, I had become pretty attached to the place over the past three years.  But despite my hopes to have a future here with the place full of people - ideas and plans I offered my boss numerous times as my background is in public relations, event planning and literary/library programs! - he reminded me over and over that he only hired me to catalogue and assemble the library, making it clear to me my work was done...or until he calls me to catalog more things he bought.  Not exactly a gig you can build your life around, right?  So as I put the signage on the walls and made sure all 10,873 items were perfectly in place on the shelves, I took a few photos and walked out the door.  What happened to the place wasn’t up to me anymore.  Like a lot of things in my life right now, I needed to put the experience in the archives and move on.

Thanks to having pretty consistent work for several years, I finally had enough money saved to take my dream vacation to London to celebrate my birthday last October…and I did it alone and it was literary awesome!  I had gotten my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play ticket almost two years before and booked a tour to visit the film sets in person and both were as magical as this muggle anticipated.  The British Library launched their exhibit Harry Potter: A History of Magic the day before my birthday and as a aspiring writer, what a thrill it was to see J.K. Rowling’s manuscripts and handwritten plans in person.  Of course, I visited the Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens museums and had drinks, dinners, and walking tours at so many literary spots. Tea parties at Claridges, Browns and Mr. Foggs were must dos as was seeing my favorite British comedian Ricky Gervais.  It was all a reminder that being alone really isn't so bad after all.

Two other things that have brought me incredible joy over the past year are my cat Finnegan and scuba diving.  

Finn continues to be the best cat ever as he loves the outdoors walking on his leash, spending time with his dog friends and tolerates me putting him in costumes at the holidays.  He truly is a model cat and not just because he works as one showing off my pet harnesses and bow ties at my Etsy shop (my best seller being the Fantastic Beasts harness – thank you my fellow Harry Potter fans!)    

Getting certified in scuba back in March of 2017 was something I had wanted to do for years and now I wonder why I hesitated - I absolutely love it!  In the past year, I have done some twenty dives all around Florida and found beautiful seashells and swam with sharks, sea turtles, and even a Goliath grouper larger than me!  I hope I can continue to explore our oceans for many years to come.  Maybe someone is looking for a Scuba Diving Librarian?  Now that would be cool.

So for now, I will get back to applying for library jobs, sewing my literary (and scuba diving) fashions, and writing a new book (not to mention, editing the one that has been done for years...what a procrastinator, huh? haha)  

As always, thanks for joining me on this journey and as the great Charles Dickens' wrote "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."


Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy 7th Anniversary!

Seven years has gone by since creating Stand-Up Librarian, and did I celebrate? No. I worked at the library and went to bed early. Now I know how married people must feel. In the beginning, it's all champagne toasts and blog posts but after seven years, you are just grateful to still be around. 

And I am!

I've been working at the library for over two years now, spending the past year cataloging DVDs, Blu-ray discs, vinyl records, and as of this week, I start working on the CDs.  That's like over 5,000 items!  And the cool thing is I have done most them from home on a laptop computer.  Oh, the perks of technology.

Stand-Up Librarian Designs is going great as well.  Thanks to adopting an adorable cat that likes to walk on a leash (more on that below), I started making pet accessories!  And my Finn is the perfect model.


I am also very proud to share - in honor of this 7th anniversary - my first ever jewelry item! A personalized open book sterling silver pendant that I designed and made in the library jewelry workshop. Yep, my library is very special in so many ways, this being one of them. It is now available at my Etsy shop.

I've still been working on the book but not as much as I hoped with having a full-time library job and fashion business to keep me busy. I did however go back to the Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Writers Conference in January and work on my manuscript with the incredible author Ann Hood. I learned a lot from her and my classmates and from their input, I hope to make some changes that are necessary to prepare it more for publication.

Finally, the most important thing I did in the last year is adopt my sweet cat Finnegan Butterbeer C.K.  named after authors James Joyce (Finnegan's Wake) and J.K. Rowling (butterbeer being my favorite thing in Harry Potter), and my fellow ginger comedian Louis C.K.  Finn has truly added to my life in so many ways from inspiring me to create new things in my accessory line (and many costumes for us to wear!) to teaching me the responsibility of being a parent and most importantly, giving me the unconditional love, companionship and laughter that I so desperately need.  That's not to say that I don't get that from my on and off boyfriend that I have had for almost two years, but when you work mostly by yourself and from home cataloging, sewing, and writing, it can at times be extremely lonely and isolating.  Finn has kept me company by either sitting next to me at my sewing desk or in the box of library materials as I catalog.  Of course, he spends most of his time in the library, sleeping in his book box under my card catalog and even has his own special section where he keeps his book scratching post and all of his cat books. He has absolutely become my muse and I hope to incorporate him in future library events when I have the time to do them again.  Yes, I miss performing very much and I hope when the time is right that I will be back to doing it.


For now, I am just so happy that after seven long years, I am still here. If only once a year on the blog but always, always standing up for libraries. I am grateful to be a librarian but nothing makes me prouder than being a Stand-Up Librarian. A word I created seven years ago for a job that just didn't exist until I decided libraries needed one. Thanks again to those who believed in me when nobody else did.  

To stay in touch with what I am up to, you can find me (and Finnegan) on Instagram (Me: @standuplibrarian Finn: @finneganbutterbeerck )which is where I spend most of my time online these days.

Have a great summer!

Crazy Cat Lady & Stand-Up Librarian


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Happy 6th Anniversary!

Has it been six years?  Wow.  Instead of looking back like I always do, reminiscing on the past and what I've learned, I’m going to do something totally different and look keep it really really simple.  Can you tell I'm tired?  Six years feels like sixty, people.  Anyway, here's six things I am pretty excited about doing in this sixth year of Stand-Up Librarian.

1) As of last week, I am back at the library cataloging thousands of DVDs. 

2) I'm selling some new products at my Etsy shop thanks to a new sewing machine!

3) Later this month, I’ll be covering ALA Orlando 2016 as a freelance writer for American Libraries magazine.

4) In July, I will be doing some shows.

5) Finishing up edits on my manuscript so I can get this thing published before I am sixty.

6) And well, I’ve got a couple of other things in the works that I hope to share soon.

Thanks to all the people that continue to lift me up and remind me that I am not done yet.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Life Happens

Not sure what happened to the last six months.

Oh right. Full-time library job. Relationship. Holidays.

Truth is, I got distracted. By life. Who can blame me really. The past ten years has been full of so many ups and downs that it was nice to finally have a steady income with a regular job to go to. And then thanks to that job, I met someone that I wanted to spend my free time with. When I had any. 

I was happy (and exhausted), but I don’t regret a single choice that I made.

Still, in working that job as a cataloging librarian for this guy that had built his own dream library, (where I finally fulfilled my goal of becoming a professional librarian yet had to drive two hours a day to do it), I quickly realized that everything I had built over the past five years was going to have to take a backseat. There just weren’t enough hours in the day (or energy in my body) to continue to perform shows, work on my book, write for Creative Loafing Tampa, and sew purses. Did I mention I was still working one day a week at Barnes & Noble? And volunteering at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium? I never had a day off. I was running myself into the ground. This time, mostly for other people.

At first I tried to continue to do it all, not wanting to let anyone down (mostly me), but soon discovered that writing articles for CL at 3 a.m. after a long 10-hour work day, followed by making a purse or bow tie for a customer, wasn’t resulting in my best work. Most importantly, it just wasn’t fun anymore. So I took a leave of absence from B&N, CMA & CL. Then took most of my products down from my Etsy shop. My book shoved in a box in the closet. 

Meanwhile, the new guy in my life loved taking care of me. And for the first time in my life, I allowed someone to. I stopped trying to be everywhere to everybody and instead fell into the comfort of being in a relationship that mostly consisted of us staying home, cooking, and watching movies. Of course, the holidays were that much better having someone by my side at family dinners and to go do fun things with like tree lightings and trips to Key West and Miami. He was also the first person to discuss wanting a future with me so I started to consider it. It was all so wonderful, like a fairy tale I had cataloged in that beautiful library.
But when my cataloging job was over at the end of the year and I had put away all of the holiday decorations, (not to mention, my boyfriend going back at his job without me being there), I finally got the time to myself that I had been lacking. And, sadly, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had spent so much time getting caught up in the role everyone else wanted me to play, I forgot about me, and what I wanted for myself. And then the things I thought I wanted – a job at a library, a companion – both took me away from the things that actually made me, ME!

The one thing I was absolutely grateful for was that I had finally paid off the credit card I had been living on the past ten years after deciding to become a librarian in January of 2006. My steady work on the cruise ship and at the library had both taken care of that. I was free. It was a great feeling. I could now start 2016 making choices that weren’t just tied to the debts of my past.

I’m now in the second month of that new journey and so far so good. I’m working a regular job again with great money that also allows me the time to work on my book that I really hope to publish this year. I got back to performing on Tuesday and it felt scary at first, but I soon remembered how happy I am up there on stage telling my silly book jokes and rapping about James Joyce in my parody songs. I also sat at the sewing machine and made a hat to wear at the show. And of course, I’m here writing to you after many many months. Sharing my story. Not necessarily funny, but always honest and real.

That’s what I figured out. 

Life happens to all of us. That is, if we are smart enough to let it.

Sometimes it opens our eyes to things we never imagined for ourselves, other times it acts as a reminder to the things that actually matter the most.