Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Library 12

Looking back on a year of NDL.

In order to allow all students with a work-study component in their financial aid package to have a job, even the smallest need for labor at our alma mater turned into an official position. An early stimulus plan of sorts allowed coeds to mow lawns, paint houses, waitress banquets, run a/v equipment for professors, tutor, feed lab frogs or, if you were one of the lucky ones, work in Library 12.

Below the main part of the George Sverdrup library where it intersected with hallways of science classrooms and funky-smelling labs was a room of quiet mystery known as Library 12. The resources found there were mainly for education majors and not even most of them knew of its existence. Teachers-in-training were scarce. Shelves of textbooks were seldom touched. Most visitors were lost students who poked their heads in just far enough to see that they needed to continue searching for the biology class with the room number they failed to write down for the first day of the semester.

The great parts of the job included: absolutely no supervision; plenty of quiet time for uninterrupted study or napping; shelves and shelves of children’s literature to read when class syllabus suggestions were dead boring; and using the same “back in five minutes” sign that worked for bathroom runs to go for an hour or so to the local malt shop for a burger and fries with a friend.

The down side of the job, as down sides often are, was the same as the upside - solitude. There was a phone, but it only rang up to the main library. If there had been an outside line the only people we could have called were friends in the dorms who shared one phone for the whole floor. For communication with the outside world we were at the mercy of people who might stop by to see how we were doing and pass some time chatting at the checkout counter.

Blogging for the past year has been a lot like hanging around in Library 12. We committed to daily (We hung out the “back soon” sign a couple of times to see what in the world outside the neighborhood there was to blog about. Plenty!) documenting of bits of this and that not really expecting anything more than an amusing pastime, but we soon realized that without any feedback it felt like we were talking to ourselves in the cavernous empty stacks of Library 12.

First we felt like the Who down in Whoville that Horton finally heard saying “We are here, we are here!” Occasional comments kept us going, but at times of comment drought we wanted to say, “If you believe in fairies clap your hands.” Well enough of you clapped to make Tinkerbell awake from her self-induced malaise and keep up the pledge to herself to get through a full year of Next Door Laura.

It is harder than one might think to find something to share everyday. There were times when a week’s worth of blogs were in the queue ready to go and other times when we were up at dawn digging in the photo files to find something that we thought might be of any amount of interest to anyone for the new day’s entry. Thank you to the Graphics Fairy and many other bloggers for great ideas and images that they graciously share with the blogisphere.

On our recent trip to Paris we met a woman named Donna who had a story we could relate to. Many years ago she was looking for a teaching job in the Chicago area. She was offered a position at a Catholic school that she was inclined to accept until the interviewing Sister told her that one of her duties would be teaching French. “But Sister, I don’t know French.” she said. The nun, who we picture just like the one in the Sound of Music who looked the other way while the fuel pump was pulled from the Nazis’ car, replied, “The children don’t know that. All you have to do is stay one day ahead of them.” And that is how Donna got a job and learned French.

We’ve managed to stay a day ahead of you. But it’s a pace that is hard to maintain for the distance. We started on Ground Hog’s Day last year and will continue, but we don’t want to, well, do the same thing all over again. We have been quizzing everyone we know to find out if there is a name in the media world for the phenomenon of the annual cycle of seasonal topics. You know - tips for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey and using the leftovers, creative ways to die eggs, where to take the kids for spring break, will the groundhog see his shadow?, how to deal with cabin fever, etc., but no one seems to know what that is called. Perhaps we can call it the Groundhog’s Day phenomenon. It must be maddening for the TV news producer and features editor. We don’t want to find out how maddening.

We’ll be here, but not everyday.

Thank you, and remember - if you believe in fairies clap your hands every now and then.

We love the sound.


wynne said...

Dear Laura, I have really enjoyed being one of your neighbors all year long! I will miss reading your witty, thoughtful, silly. Educational, creative and inspiring posts! I have loved all the discoveries you have shared through the year. Possibly Picasso might be my favorite. I'm so glad you are not quitting, just posting when you have something to share with your NDL followers. I think it's an amazing accomplishment that you did it every day for a year, something most of us would not be able to imagine. Enjoy the break, but don't stay away long. I'll be clapping!

Mary B. said...

I am clapping. Please continue at whatever pace your life allows.

Honeybee said...

Clap, clap, CLAP. Well done, NDL. It seemed rather silly to comment each day (you're ALWAYS in my morning routine, along with BB) when I could just walk ND and tell you the same. But, as a take-off on the old query of "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound?", here's what I read your question to be: "If a blog is read and no one posts a comment, is the blogger sure it ever reached cyberspace at all?" Well, your faithful will always be checking in, especially looking for what antics the resident gnomes are up to. I hope today's entry is the start of some book, as it is wonderful writing.

Jerilynn said...

NDL, as a new daily blogger, I can completely relate to this blog! I write before I turn in for the evening, and on the days that I made something to photograph and talk about, I am a happy camper. On the other days, when it was a "whack-a-mole" day, I panic. If I make two things...aahhh, money is in the bank. I will still check your site daily, and smile a big smile when I see a post.

Honeybee said...

P.S. Keep giving us links to cool sites, please.

Jerilynn said...

YES, cool sites links. As far as the year cycles go, magazines do that...there MUST be a name for that, or at least a class in jounalism school.

Laural said...

It is a real accomplishment to have kept that up for a whole year, and I have certainly enjoyed reading your words and admiring your photos! Glad you will still continue to post so we can keep enjoying it. My blogging philosophy is to make a commitment to not give up posting when I feel discouraged, but also not to force myself to write anything and take breaks when it starts to feel like too much of a chore. I hope you will find a similar kind of balance that works for you!

Little Lulu said...

Oh, come back daily, NDL! You are part of my daily routine: feed the cat, pour some coffee, check out my friend NDL. I'll miss not meeting you every morning! Next Door Laura has been so fun.

Honeybee said...

U put the fun back in funk, especially with your pictures. How 'bout a weekly post, at least? Your fan base demands it! Besides, where else do I see such cool word verification "words" like today's, "benonola"

Shaundra said...

Clap, clap, clap!

The Post-Modernist said...

Thus the life of an artist! Comments may be infrequent, but that doesn't mean you aren't appreciated. We are all the better for your dedication and hope you continue on your creative chronicling of neighborhood oddities, whether you wait for inspiration, or adhere to a strict schedule, your art is always welcome with open arms.

Former Neighbor Lady