Library rules are for everybody.

Yes, that sign applies to you. Yes, that rule is for you. You aren’t above it.

Don’t park in a no parking zone, even if it is for “just a minute.”

Don’t use your cell phone in the library. In fact, don’t use it in
any business. They don’t want to hear what you are going to do this weekend or what you did last night, and with who.

The overdue fees apply to you, the same as everybody else. Really. I know it is hard to believe. You aren’t special. Well, you are special, just like everybody else.

Asking for special favors or an exemption is really rude. It draws negative attention.

You may think it can’t hurt to ask, but it can. It can make people resent you.

It says that you think you are special, that you are above the rules.

Recently there was a patron who bought some earrings from me, so she had my card. My card has my email address and my personal phone number on it. She turned some books in late and wanted me to “take care of it” She said I should do it “because we are friends.”

Now, I don’t know what her definition of “friend” means, but if all the interaction we have had is over some jewelry, we aren’t friends. If we’ve never hung out or been over to each other’s house, we aren’t friends. We don’t even exchange Christmas cards.

If she had a legitimate reason for wanting the fines waived I would have done it, and not because we are “friends”. You know, something big that would have prevented her from returning or renewing her books on time – like she was in the hospital. Or a car crash. Something unavoidable. But just couldn’t be bothered to bring them back on time, no. That isn’t a valid reason for waiving fines.

Not only did she call me, she emailed me about this. I said I couldn’t do it and gave her the customer service number for the main library. If they want to do it, fine. As for me, I think it sets a bad precedent. Do whatever you want and have no repercussions. Get someone else to clean up your mess. Don’t be accountable for your actions.

That isn’t the mark of an adult.

Now, while the library doesn’t actually keep any of the money it makes
from fines, that isn’t the point. If we are going to waive fines for everybody who asks us to, then what is the point of having fines? What is the point of having due dates then? People can keep a book out for as long as they want and anybody else who wants it can just wait until they bother to bring it back.

Rules are good, and rules are for a reason.

People don’t like rules when they stop them from doing whatever they want.

Yes, you have to have your library card or your ID to check out. It doesn’t matter that you have been in every week since the library opened. It ensures that we are in the correct account. Rules keep us safe. The same person who gripes that he can’t just tell you his name instead of showing his card will raise holy hell if something, or worse, a hundred somethings, are checked out on his account that he didn’t check out.

That is why we have rules, and why we apply them equally to everybody. Otherwise, we are being discriminating, and that is illegal.

Losing my job is not worth coddling people.

Weather Bell

People talk about the weather all the time. I’ve decided to see it as alarm bell signaling me to wake up.

It is mindless talk, really. “Boy, is it cold out there!” or “That wind is fierce!”

I used to say something like “Yeah, you’d think it was February or something!” Because it is February. Cold and windy weather are what define February in America. It isn’t a surprise. Freaking out over it makes no sense. It is normal.

If it going to be especially cold or windy, like more than normal for winter, then it is forecasted. Every day before I leave the house I know what the weather is expected to be like. I know whether to wear a thick coat or a thin one. I know to bring my umbrella or not. I know if I can wear my regular hat or I have to wear the one with a lanyard so it won’t blow away in a gust.

All these people who are surprised by the weather seem to be the same people who are surprised by life in general. They wonder how they got old and infirm. They wonder why they have no money saved up for retirement. They wonder where their health went.

If they can’t be awake enough to pay attention to something as simple and everyday as the weather, then how can they be expected to plan any further ahead? Just that day is enough of a challenge.

Sometimes the weather is a surprise. My grandfather said that a weatherman was the only person who could be wrong fifty percent of the time and still keep his job. But in general, what people are talking and/or complaining about with surprise and consternation isn’t a fluke weather pattern. It is something that is expected and was predicted, sometimes as much as a week earlier.

So I’m seeing it as a bell. I’m seeing any statement about not-out-of-the-ordinary weather as the same kind of bell in a church that calls people to services. It is the call of the muezzin. It is the tornado siren.

It is a bell that says – Wake up. Notice what is happening. Time is slipping by. Notice it.

Day One Day

I just saw a music video that involved looping. Now, while the music wasn’t my thing, one of the loops was. While setting it up, the lady sang into the mike the words “Day one” over and over, very close together. After a while, it sounded like she was saying “One day” and not “Day one” anymore. Something was fascinating to me about that.

Is she talking about the beginning of something, or she waiting for something to begin? Is it the present or the future she is talking about? And in a way, are they are the same?

It reminds me of the book “Be Here Now.” It is written in such a way that it also says “Be Nowhere.”

I often hear and see things like this. I often get an “echo” and receive multiple meanings of things. It is just how my brain is wired. Perhaps it is why I’m an artist. Perhaps I had to become an artist to process this phenomenon.

While it is unusual and I like it, it is also a bit of a juggle. I have to determine which experience that the world receives so I know what to share, and then study the experience that I got on my own and ponder it.

Sometimes looking at multiple sides of things is helpful. Sometimes it is confusing. Sometimes it is an amazing gift that opens doors in my head.

I think that this gift is part of why I can tutor people with learning disabilities. Not only can I “hear” what they are trying to say but can’t get out, I understand the multiple signals they are receiving.

We are just radio receivers after all, you know. Our senses are just receivers of information from the world, and from our Creator. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – all of these senses tell us information about the world around us. All of our sense organs are mechanical, physical things, though. And they are different for each one of us. No person sees the color we collectively refer to as “pink” the same way as another person. It is a construct we agree upon. This shade is “pink” but this one is “red” and this one is “mauve” and that is just the way it is.

But it isn’t.

We are faulty radio receivers. A tube is broken. The dial sticks in one area. The wiring touches in places.

What one person experiences through her senses isn’t the same as what another person experiences. We sometimes don’t realize that. And that is where the confusion starts. What I see and what you see isn’t the same thing. What we both talk about is something in the middle, something that we have agreed upon.

It is, in fact, something that doesn’t even really exist.

Sometimes we don’t even realize this. Sometimes we do, but we don’t realize that the “ideal” thing that we are talking about isn’t there, and we’d really be better off talking about what each one of us sees, really, right there in front of us.

If we can’t even honestly talk about what we see right in front of us, how can we even begin to honestly talk about ideas and concepts as vague as “equality” and “peace” and “compassion”?

But perhaps this is all the heart of compassion. Perhaps if we can just begin to understand that each one of us experiences the world in a different way, and that if we tap into that and share our collective and divergent perceptions we can create a unified whole in our heads. Perhaps if we work together instead of against each other – perhaps if we are patient with ourselves and with each other – we can actually start to understand each other and the world we live in.

One day.
Or day one.

Perhaps the future is right now.