Ballade At Thirty-Five

Meant to write this post last night, but somewhere I lost focus. My Twitter account was giving me issues so paying attention to that seemed more important. It did at the time, anyway. Right now, it seems petty and foolhardy. Which can describe a mountain of decisions I’ve made in my thirty-five years. And the reason is always the same. It’s something I heard a lot in my adolescence. Clearly, I lack focus. In my writing. In life. In romance. Several ideas left on the back burner, shelved, or scribbled on quad pages long forgotten in my journal. When I do write something, I start going on tangents. I fall into traps of writing with morals and hidden imagery for people to decipher later when I’m no longer.

I’m going back to zero. Going to rebuild the craft for which I held such passion. And if I lose focus again, I’ll take it as I not longer want it. It’s a lesson I learned from Mark Manson’s book. And while I build that as my side hustle, I’m going to work on my job. Try new ideas I’d been too afraid to implement or scared to bring up to my superiors.

So here’s to my thirty-fifth year. And here’s to several more.

Always knew I the consequence;
Always saw what the end would be
We’re as Nature has made us—hence
I loved them until they loved me


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

We’re always trying to better ourselves. Hell, a year doesn’t go by without hearing the mantra New Year, New Me splattered on every Facebook timeline across the western hemisphere. We’re obsessed with chasing happiness, chasing the new dietary trend, chasing dreams. We’ve created a religion out of the self-help genre. We created altars (albeit, we call them “vision boards”) to self-help. And the only people profiting from these books are the writers.The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

I stayed away from reading any self-help novel book. Sure, I thumbed through a few chapters in the past, scanned the table of contents, read the blurbs. But I never took them seriously. And I never met a person who came out on top after reading one of these books. In fact, if anything, they’re more miserable after extrapolating the advice into their daily lives. Who knew that the search for happiness would lead to such misery?

Because that’s what the advice genre leads to: unhappiness. Because we’re giving standards to live by and feel like failures when we can’t achieve them. And if we do achieve them, we begin to feel miserable because we’ve become stagnant—we become stuck in our ways. Then we return to the self-help tab on Amazon and buy another book. Rinse and repeat.

Enter Mark Manson. I wouldn’t know this man from Adam. Never read his blog. Never heard of his name before. I chuckled a bit when I first saw his book at Barnes and Noble. (The dude’s surname is Manson, after all.)

But the book title intrigued me. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. What’s not to love? Surely, the man’s done his homework about getting a skeptic’s attention. Three months later, I bought the damn book.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill self-help guide. Manson offers no support for your feelings. He slings the truth at you like Paul Bunyan swings his axe: your forest of security is destroyed. Your illusions, burned. Because this is the book that will actually put you on the right path toward happiness. He gives you no mantras. Doesn’t promise you a get-rich-scheme for happiness. And he most definitely won’t sugarcoat it for you. This is as real as it’s going to get for you.

And it’s o.k. that throughout the book you’re going to feel as if Mr. Manson was once a fedora-wearing brotard. Because he might have been, but who gives a fuck. If you’re so deterred about this style of writing, then you’re dealing with too much nothing in your life.

So take it from someone who doesn’t like self-help books. Someone who’s sworn against them. Someone who laughs at people who buy them in bulk: This is the book for you.

Until next time, keep on huntin’


A Funny Thing Happened to Me at Work Today

The sense of under appreciation can cling to you like a gym rat’s stench after spending a humid day at the park deadlifting weights. It’s sense that can arise in any job, I’m sure. I know I’ve experienced it at the ballpark. And there isn’t a month at the library where it doesn’t sneak up on me like an ex-lover trying to make amends. And it’s easy to feel invisible when everyone gets the praise, overlooking that despite their planning, you helped in the execution. People would beeline around me to shake hands with the brains of the operation. Sure, we get the pats on the back. The nods of recognition from those you helped, but it the feeling still arises.

Sometimes, though, there comes your moment to shine and you’re left baffled at the thought that someone actually sees you, saw you all these times. They recognized that you’ve come a long way from you meager beginnings as a “doer” to the “creator.” I’ve had my moments post-children’s department, assisting in organizing the poetry readings to being in the pilot seat. And I think that’s why I loved being part of the poetry readings at the library. It gave me a sense of being appreciated, being noticed. And despite my aversion to get on stage and start the program (or having to find new poets, not getting responses, booking flakes, etc.), I looked forward to them. All good things, however, succumb to the inevitable.

When they told me January would be my final hurrah in the poetry scene at work, the sense of invisibility snuck up on me again. I didn’t begrudge the person they gave the responsibility to, though. I couldn’t have left the poetry scene or my friends in better hands. I coasted the weeks, knowing that the February poetry reading would only be weeks after my final one. There was no time to grieve. Planning for the International Book Discussion needed my attention. I ignored work by focusing my attention on work, if you can believe such nonsense. I designed a scavenger hunt and created puzzles for the children to decipher.

Thursday, it all came together. I watched the children dashed across the department, the excitement of figuring out the riddle, the hidden message word search, the rebus, and the zoomed in picture clues. As they worked on their craft, the school librarian approached me to “pick my brain.” She wanted to know how we went about selecting our books for our collection, seeking “insider secrets.” I explained that we purchased new books, recent award winners, popular series, and patron requests. I admitted that I do browse the children’s books at Barnes and Noble and take pictures of books that catch my attention. But as for any algorithm, there wasn’t much to it. Books are hit or miss with kids. Sometimes it takes a movie for a book to become popular or breathe new life in an old classic. (Note to self: purchase a few copies of A Wrinkle in Time for donation.)

She asked me if we all worked on the games together, and Ida responded that it was all me. This came as a surprise, it seemed. In the past, I’ve always been the seen and not heard library employee. And perhaps that was my fault for not showing initiative and maintaining my survival mouse stance. Being recognized as someone other than that, well, that’s a boost in my personal morale. Seeing that I am the harbinger of the children’s entertainment, that’s a boost in my morale. Seeing my game, albeit a Frankenstein creation from past games done in previous IBD events, entertaining, is a boost in my personal morale.

I may not be the most kid-friendly person in the world—sometimes, I downright feel like my department would be much more cleaner and in order without them—but I love my job for the most part. These kids are my kids, and I’d rather them be excited about the library than scowl at the thought.

I just wish they’d stop making me feel so damn old, though. But that’s a story for another day.