There’s something almost therapeutic waking up tangled in your bedsheets, naked, with a semi between your legs; your head’s a mess, groggy from a night of doom scrolling, and the first thought that pops in your all-too-sleepy brain as you reach your phone is: Am I really about to turn 40?
That’s me. In bed. Naked and tangled in bedsheets. There isn’t a ceiling fan in my bedroom, but if there was one (and if I was one of my many characters I wrote about in my 20s) I would be focusing on that fixture in this narration. I would describe how dusty it appeared, at least a decade’s worth of fuzz lining the blades. How it slowly turned in the room, though it was off, as an indicator of a draft that snuck through the open window screen, despite it being a hot and humid day in South Texas.
I first read Wanderers in 2019, the year of its release. At the time, I felt that maybe Chuck Wendig might have gone over the top with his description of right-wing militia types. Sure, they’re stoked in paranoia and racism in real life, but would they really try to overthrow the government during a pandemic?* Despite all the things that happened in the years leading up to that summer, 2019-me was still full of naivete.
“Why don’t you drink?” she asked, eying me in a way one would a narc.
She stood in front of me, two drinks in hand. One of them for her and the other for me. Except when she offered mine, I shook my head and responded with, “No, thank you.” By her reaction, you would have assumed threatened her with violence.
Most people are understanding. Most people are taught how to take no for an answer. And most people would think it rude to ask for a person’s autobiography when denying a drink. She, however, was not “most people.”
I hate parties, and I don’t know why I agreed to attend this one. Maybe it’s the way she could twist my arm. The way she got me to do things outside my comfort zone. I appreciated people like her. People who can talk me out of my usual morose state and drag me out to have a fun time, but parties? Parties have and never will be a fun time.
Since adolescence, parties have only meant one thing (well, two things): Alcohol.
There’s something about waking up naked, tangled in bedsheets, with a semi between your legs – your head’s a mess, groggy from spending too much time doom scrolling the night before – and your first thought that pops in your too-sleepy brain is: Am I really about to turn 40?
This question makes it too easy to be a smartass. Water, oxygen, and food – durr. However, I assume – at least I hope – that the author (authors?) of this prompt doesn’t mean it so literally.
On a superficial level, I am first and foremost a reader. A book junkie. And sometimes (most times), a book adulterer. While I’m reading an 800-page novel, I’m listening to a smutty audiobook on my walks, and a graphic novel when I need some down time. Factor in anything I have/choose to read for work and I’m a bonafide book slut. So it’s obvious which superficial item makes it first on my list – books. And this includes ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and literary publications – basically any reading material I have on my shelf.
The second item – or should I say items – on my list are basic writing contraptions. That’s right, I’ll need a journal (or loose-leaf paper if you don’t care for order), a pen, and maybe something to correct my mistakes with. Writing mistakes, that is.
And the third item is something most people fantasize living without, but not me. No sir, ma’am, and non-binary individuals. The third thing isn’t the most important, but is still just as important. For it can hold my books and act as a writing contraption. But it can also keep me in touch with friends and family while also showing me cute videos and pictures of cats. That’s right: It’s my phone.
Now, I can hear you already – “Gwimo, you can live without your phone!”
Can I, Alice? Can I really? Do you understand how heavy 800-page books are? Do you understand that sometimes I want to listen to an audiobook? Do you understand that carrying around a journal and pen everywhere can be impractical? Sure, nothing beats physical books and journals, but there are times when I just need something that fits in my pocket.
So there – those are my three non-smartass, non-essential essential objects that I can’t live without (though, I probably could).
I spent a lot of time inside the public library growing up, though I only borrowed the same three books every time. They were these movie monster books on King Kong, Universal monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, and, of course, the King of Monsters Godzilla. That last one received a bountiful amount of love from yours truly.
I would sneak off by myself, sometimes, even though that was clearly against the rules. A rule that I enforced during my years working in the Children’s Department of a later reincarnation of said public library.
Things changed when I “discovered” girls. It wasn’t until high school that I rediscovered my love for the library. While I didn’t check out books, I did borrow their computers to surf the internet and print out my 10-free pages of the day before each print cost me a dime. I nursed my love of books in the days after high school, when I spent days inside my home with no aspirations for college.
I would love to work here, I thought. And thought again. And that became something I wanted, but not something I did. Not right away. Instead, I read Wonder Boys and the seed was planted. I wanted to meet writers of books. I wanted to write books.
So I applied to a local university and attended.
And I spent my mornings and afternoons sitting in the library. Reading. Researching. Surfing the internet. Never doing homework or studying however.
I write about this because I want you to understand where I am coming from. How the public library and, later, the academic library filled my time. It only made sense that after a string of contractual work that I would find myself applying for a library job.
I spent nine years in the public library setting, and the majority of that time was working in the Children’s Department. In the last years of my career there, I was responsible for puppet shows, storytimes, plus all the “menial work” the public loved saying they could do it. And let me stop you there – you can’t, and it’s far from enjoyable.
Covid did a number on millennials (and Gen Z) workwise. We were exhausted. At least I know I was.
When I applied for a position in the academic library field, I didn’t expect to get it. In fact, during the interview, it was hinted that the job would be a step down from what I had in the public library. But with city changes and the library’s new idea of what its employees should do, it seemed like a place where I could grow. Not a place that would continue to hinder me.
I’m not going to say my time there was always terrible, but the way they handled situations that arose during covid was less than favorable. And the way they expected us to learn new skills off the clock, wasting our own free time, was also not something I was game for.
So, yes, I love my job. And I loved my job then. Working in the library helping people – be it child or college student – seems to be my calling. And I love learning new things with them.