Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Fire Still Burns. (just not the needles)

You may remember last September when I reluctantly packed up my lunch and my will to survive so I could head off for my first day at The Bad Job At The Middle School That No One Else Would Take. Due to a drop in student population and a disastrous situation in the 7th and 8th grade classroom, I was transferred into a new position. I wasn't particularly happy about it. In fact, I was rather miffed about the whole business. They took away my Cheerful Teaching Assistant, gave me two Less Than Cheerful Teaching Assistants and plonked me smack dab in the middle of a mess. They wished me well, promised all sorts of helpful support then went happily about whatever business it is that "they" do during the course of a day.

If ever there was a time to look at the bright side, that was it. I remembered how lucky I was to have a job given the state of the economy. I told myself that many others in my position were out of luck once they hit a certain step on the teacher pay scale. Most of the students were familiar to me, some I'd even had in my class since they were in Primary School. If things got really dicey, I'd repeat such trite mantras as, "At least you have your health..." and call it a day.

It was tricky. Fortunately, the room next door to mine happened to be one of the nicest places in any school: the library. I like the library. I like librarians. People tell me all the time what a wonderful human being I am for becoming a special education teacher. That's all well and good, but hear me now: The worst librarian in the whole wide world is still a better person than I am. That you can take to the bank.

The middle school librarian was not the worst one in the world. She was right up there with the best of 'em. She was the stereotypical version that we all tend to think of when the job title is mentioned. She was in her sixties, soft-spoken, cardigan-clad and wise in the ways of media, both print and digital. I loved her on sight. Stereotypes are bad except when they are comforting and then they are nice. This is even more true when you are transferred into The Bad Job At The Middle School.

We got to be good friends over the course of the year. I spent a great deal of time in the library and never once did she make me feel like I was wearing out my welcome. She helped me find new titles to try and always kept a TV/DVD player ready in case I needed it for particularly bad days. When the history of librarians is written, My Librarian will get a whole chapter if I have anything to say about it. She was a gem. Sadly, I only had her for a year.

When I say it that way, it sounds like she died, which was not the case. That would have made a good plot for one of the angst-ridden teen tomes shelved amongst the books she so carefully tended for almost thirty years. In real life, though, it was less dramatic. My Librarian looked around and noticed that kids had changed a great deal over the years. The job wasn't quite the same and the world had moved on in ways both good and bad. Time was marching forward and doing so more quickly than it had before.

It finally boiled down to two decisions:

1. The economic climate was really not conducive to retirement. Ideally, a couple more years would be needed to fatten up the portfolio comfortably.

2. #1 didn't really matter. The economy will always recover and lost monies can be found again with enough effort. Lost time is gone forever, though. You don't get that back.

She retired. I understood and supported her decision. I even encouraged it, although it broke my heart to do so. I would miss My Librarian but couldn't stand the thought of her not doing all those things she really wanted to be doing. I don't hug people often, but I hugged My Librarian on the last day of school.

One day in the spring as I was passing by the library, I happened to see My Librarian with the woman who would become her replacement. I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the bright side before I started having dark thoughts about this interloper. I knew I should give her a chance. I am, after all, an adult. I even went so far as to enter the library so I might introduce myself and give a somewhat sincere welcome. And that's when I saw...

My Other Librarian!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, it was true! My former school was no longer able to support her position and My Other Librarian was being transferred to the middle school. She was nervous and so happy to see "a familiar face" that it warmed my heart. Maybe I wouldn't have My Librarian anymore, but My Other Librarian is just as good, although she is not nearly as stereotypical. That's OK. I don't need the comfort quite so much now that I have a full school year under my belt. My Librarian was there when I needed her and now I can be there for My Other Librarian.

This, of course, is a rather lengthy way of saying that I didn't knit today. I should have knit. I have a workshop on Monday and the first half of it will be frightfully boring if I don't get that stupid sock past the heel stage so that there is a bit of mindless knitting for distraction. But I didn't even pick up the needles. Not once.

I was too busy reading The Fire Within and wondering how I might get the condo association to agree to my getting a dragon of my very own. This is what happens when you have your very own librarian. Knitting goes out the window and you start clearing off a shelf for your dragon.

If dragons need socks, then I am in trouble. I wonder if My Other Librarian can recommend a book on dragon care....



Mel said...

Well, I would recommend reading Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, for one, though I'd be more than a little shocked if you haven't by now. And then I believe Jane Yolen's Dragon's Blood is something of a primer in the care of a young dragon. That should at least give you the basics.

Donna Lee said...

I think being a librarian would be just about heaven on earth. And how nice that you get to payback your librarian by helping your other librarian settle in.

Anonymous said...

A good librarian is just as much of a treasure as a good special ed teacher.

=Tamar said...

Patricia Wrede: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
1. Dealing With Dragons
2. Searching For Dragons
3. Calling On Dragons
4. Talking To Dragons

Gayle said...

All the above mentioned books and while I haven't read these ones the title does indicate that they might be useful for one who has acquired a roommate of the fire-breathing persuasion:
The Care and Feeding of Dragons by Brenda Seabrooke
How to Raise and Keep a Dragon by Joe Nigg
Dragons: A Natural History

I've also heard that having lots of chocolate, good reading material and a chess set help to keep things cordial. And nifty socks to keep a dragon's toes warm on those cold Maine nights would help.

Kath said...

I second Mel's suggestion of McCaffrey's Pern books - that could at least shift your desire from a dragon to a more reasonably-sized and apartment-friendly fire lizard.

Julia G said...

Chris D'Lacey's Dragon books have the charm of most British authors in that they don't talk down to kids -- they charmed my Reluctant Reader into plowing through the first three books as a 5th grader, no small task. And a good librarian IS a treasure, a real anchor for the school, staff and students alike, especially one who is a good matchmaker for readers and books.

My "word verification" word is "sivelter". Do you think the computer is trying to tell me something??

trek said...

While at the bookstore yesterday with the Neatnik, I noticed a book (first in a series) entitled Dragons in the Sock Drawer. Sounded like it was custom made for a sock knitter. You know, like you and I used to be before the semester began...

trek said...

PS - I believe the Hogwarts library had one called Men Who Love Dragons Too Much Might want to check with Madam Pince.

Elaine said...

Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley on the care and feeding of baby dragons.

Knitting Linguist said...

The good thing about dragons when you're a knitter is the fire-suppressing qualities of wool; it makes you extremely well-qualified for dragon-ownership. Just don't start knitting too much cotton or flax... ;)

Karen said...

Maybe they will slowly move all the people you like from the old school to the new school. It could happen.
Yes, read the Pern books. My daughter loves them and dragons too.

Cursing Mama said...

I can not wait to find out what the condo association says about the dragon. I fear that they will look at you like the various professors & teachers at Hogwarts looked at Hagrid.

knitseashore said...

Isn't it funny how the teachers so appreciate the librarians, but often times the administration or board doesn't quite get it? I'm sad your Other Librarian's position was no longer supported at her school -- it is going to be a huge loss for the teachers and students there. But their loss is of course your gain, and your dragon-to-be's!!!