Get It Together

Treatment Journal:
Start Mechlorethamine Hydrochloride (Nitrogen Mustard) today to remove topical lesions.
*Anticipate more tiredness.
*Anticipate cell death.
*Keep out of direct sunlight.
*New blood work to avoid drug induced blood cancer.
*Figure out who to tell / how to tell.
*Stop crying so much this week.

Quote of the Day:
“I just hope for you that someday you’ll get it together.”

For me, one of the most harmful criticisms or suggestions is the phrase, “Get it together.”

A significant part of life, a good life, is striving. We spend our whole lives trying to get things together. We wish to keep our faith and our choices together, our education together with our career goals and life passions, push together our life trajectory with our families and loved ones, ad infinitum.

Personally, I spent years avoiding the desire to keep it together. It’s very hard for me to want anything out loud. Even when out loud is just in my heart or within my own mind. One of my worst vulnerabilities is the fear and pain from a dashed expectation.

For several years I lived with denial. I denied how badly I wished to keep my parents together when I was a child of divorce. I denied the constant fear of never making friends and finding companionship or togetherness as an isolated, home-schooled teenager. I denied my orientation for all my teens and most of my twenties because I worried it couldn’t reconcile with my faith as I walk together with Christ.

I’ve spent two years denying that my life is never going to be the same again. I am never going to get together with the Samantha of 2012.

I can’t get my treatment, my grand(Parent) and dearest confidant’s inability to recognize me, my love of learning and growing in my field and this deep -bone deep – tiredness together.

Accolades and blessings have offered peaks to this roller coaster that I just can’t seem to stop. Friendships, invigorated faith, this pause- this two year white noise- to observe and admire and cherish have enriched my life.

But this is still an ongoing ride that I have no control over. I’m scared and erratic and terrible nervous about my inability to keep it together. This is still white noise that blocks out much rational thought and hope and drives me headlong in a desperate bid for validity. I’m not sure what this life will represent when I’m done. I’m not sure how my existence will be useful or interpretive. I hate this.

If I were to tattoo an inspirational quote somewhere on this vengeful, betraying body, undoubtedly it would be wordy and most likely something to this affect:

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

-Ray Bradbury

I cannot call today’s mind storm anything remotely close to intellect, but the conclusion I keep coming back to is “fuck getting it together.”

This is my disease, this is God’s will, this is life. If the pressures of getting it together paints my life with crippling fear and anxiety then it’s time to find a new life motto and make wings on the fall down.

Family. Friendship. Community. Kindness. Charity. Humor. These are the things that I feel naturally come together. These will be my mottos.

This afternoon I’m going to leave work early, spend a few more hours with my family, find something to laugh about, cry with my Mom, cry with my Dad and start again. I hope to fail a little less with each step and quit pretending I have any control in this or that there is much together to get.

love,
sch

ALA Annual 2014

The New Members Round Table graciously awarded me a stipend to attend my first ever American Library Association Annual Conference. This experience was by far one of my favorites since entering the information technology and library science field.

FLAALA Day 1- TSA lost (and found) my car keys, I gave an impromptu, mid-flight Storytime and was given hugs (awwww), 2.5 hours check-in queue, met up with some YALSA peeps, rode the HighRise, watched the Bellagio fountain show, took a lunch class to hand toss and bake my own pizza, live flamingos (EVERYWHERE!!!)

Mallorie Graham and I were asked to present at the Nebraska Library Association Conference. Good day.

GLAALA DAY 2- Tons of Committee meetings. Very impressed and inspired by the folks I’m privileged to work with on amazing goals. Approached by Blink! to talk about a potential inspirational novel about my treatment experience. Met David Levithan, Scott Westerfeld, Graham Salisbury, Marie Lu, Erin Jade Lange, and Neal Shusterman. Best YALSA panel on the need for Diversity in Fiction. Talked about good writing, representative writing and head cannon. Finished chapter for i2c2 book.

A casino shuttle rear ended by cab on Sierra Vista. Nice little ER trip. Concussion.

No sleep. No sleep. No sleep.

TWI

ALA Day 3- Walking around with a black eye and a few cuts. Looking scary and unprofessional and demoralizing. Internet dropped in the middle of my LITA presentation. Rolled with it, made some jokes and essentially ad-libbed entire talk. Thought I bombed.

Asked to present again for the California Library Association and to create a few webinars for a private company. God is amazing!!!

WESTALA DAY 4- Finally braved the exhibitor hall. Learned so much to bring home. Collected four large totes of reading swag for our library and its users. Amazing sessions for Leadership, Diversity and even a hands-on circuitry maker-space class. Please, please, please do yourself a favor check out the Free Library of Philadelphia Marker Jawn. The presenters encouraged me and gave me several ideas to bolster our Google Maker Camp for this summer.

Volunteered at the NMRT Resume Booth and met so many awesome people.

Met Ann M. Martin!!!!!!!!!!!

Talked with LibrarySparks! Magazine about being a semi-regular contributor.

LEV    TWO

ALA DAY 5- Enjoyed the Stonewall Book Awards (my first professional commitment since coming out as an aro-ace) and flew home.

Simplify the Work Environment: Kindness

samanthahelmick:

Coworker Kindness

Originally posted on The LEGO Librarian:

As a Millennial, I am aware how unusual it is to stay in one workplace for longer than two years. The characteristics of the modern work environment and the values of my generation make moving on a natural step. The longer I don’t move on, the more I am susceptible to professional ennui. As a women, I am at an even higher risk to burnout before I’m thirty which has been attributed to personal and professional factors in most studies.

When I think about my retired colleagues, those fortunate enough to build long careers within the walls of a single institution, the kindness of their environment is a common factor. My former supervisor thanked us for many years of “warmth and kindness” during her retirement party. Another coworker recently wondered if she would find “the same kindness” when she moved on to different pastures.

Kindness is a very economical…

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Simplify the Work Environment: Communication

samanthahelmick:

Let’s talk about stress, baby…

Originally posted on The LEGO Librarian:

The Active Service team has me thinking about simplification of the work environment. Our profession invests much time to expedite and clarify library processes for our patrons but internal simplifying is commonly overlooked. One of the key concepts of active service, and I believe simplification, is communication.

Deloitte University Press recently published study findings in Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st Century Workforce, suggesting 44% of employees are not ready to handle information overload. Staff communication needs are growing and expectations are evolving into always-connected, 24/7/365 connectivity, or what the Atlantic termed “hyper-employment.” My realistic hope is to use supportive tools to support staff and eliminate stress as this trend continues .

Some thoughts:

cookie_monster_waiting

1. Structure all communication. Emails, memos, and exchanges should always convey why and what this means to theemployee points. When communication is part of the planning process for each new project or initiative…

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Active Service

Originally posted on The LEGO Librarian:

After nine month’s reflection, kicking around cans and feeding thought bunnies…on everything from jack-hammering the circulation desk to building a switchboard room…we have Active Service liftoff.

ImageI presented on Active Service to the Library Board of Trustees this week in the form of nine pillars:

1. Walk-the-Walk – remember to use the main entrance once in a while, allow someone else to check out your material (if that’s not already policy), fight with the self-check machines, consider the layout of collections

2. Learn as We Go – manage the fear of making mistakes (which is hard to do when libraries are constantly on the chopping block), eliminate pride, continually seek feedback

3. Communicate – create a News & Notes spreadsheet on a cloud drive – update it in a heartbeat, start Follow-Up Fridays, create more teams

4. Examine – even if a 30-year-old procedure continues as is for the next…

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Is it time to update what we consider to be reading?

Originally posted on The LEGO Librarian:

Common Sense Media published a research brief last Monday which offers insight on “Children, Teens and Reading.” The authors enter and leave the conversation with as many questions as the audience while providing practical, though-provoking statistics from national studies on academic achievement rates, media access figures and gender, racial and economic disparities in reading.

Their thesis statement appropriately grabs our attention in saying, “the technology revolution of the past decade has led our society to a major transition point in the history of reading,” and then guides the dialogue to examine this revolution’s implications for youth literacy.

The brief applies linear, 20th century connotations to the concept of “reading” and has difficultly attaining or supposing how ereading maps comprehension for our nation’s early readers. I submit the idea this revolution leaves reading itself eligible for significant transformation and redefinition which may help us in future research and rumination on children…

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Brick by Brick

samanthahelmick:

We’re I’ve been lately…

Originally posted on The LEGO Librarian:

I feel a touch overwhelmed lately…

Recently I finished a chapter on library management in the 21st century, given the honor to write a textbook on mobile social marketing applications for libraries, accepted into this summer’s Iowa Library Association Leadership Institute, found myself entrenched in interviews for our library’s YALSA/Dollar General intern grant, discovered the ALA Scheduler because the New Member Round Table generously awarded me a grant to attend annual, and asked to fly out to consult a major American library system and train their staff on New Adult library services as a result of my PLA presentation.

Recently, my job description at my home library has met phenomenal change, drastic staffing and financial cuts have lurked for nearly 18 months. I’ve thrown my hat into various rings to meet mixed results (some interviews, some second and third interviews, some offerings, some “thank you, but no thank you” letters)…

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Innovating, inspiring, creating and disrupting: a report on the i2c2

Originally posted on Cardies and Tweed:

On 5th March 2014, I headed up to Manchester with my lovely boss Andy to attend i2c2, a conference themed around Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity (‘conference’ is the second C) with the aim to use positive disruption to improve libraries. I am very fortunate to work where I do because I have been in libraries before that would have never have been able to send me on this conference due to budget constraints, but Cambridge Judge Business School takes staff development very seriously so I was able attend i2c2.

I know I often write up training sessions and conferences in a way that allows others to get a similar experience, even if they weren’t able to attend, but I fear this is impossible with i2c2 as it wasn’t like any other conference that I’ve ever been to. It was a very visual, engaging and collaborative conference with less sitting…

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Let’s Do This Thing! (Book It for BPL 5K)

Originally posted on Book It For BPL:

The Plan:

Since attending the 2013 Iowa Library Association Conference, the Librarians have desired to join the Healthy Iowa Initiative and organize a Library 5K Walk/Run. The intellectual and physical wellness of a community falls directly into the domain of library and information science. It is in our best interest to jump on this health focused initiative to support communities throughout the great state of Iowa.

The Burlington Public Library is a place where the community comes together to Connect, Learn and Imagine. Connecting through wellness, learning about healthy lifestyle choices and imaging a group effort to accomplish personal goals through a Library 5K Walk/Run seems like a terrific idea.

However, the plan still requires much planning. Fortunately, the players are dedicated library staff who wish to invest their own personal time, experience and efforts to promote wellness and health literacy in the area.

The Players:

angie

Angie Pilkington in the…

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It’s Been a Long, Long Time

Image

A random sadness kicked about my head a couple days ago about how odd it is to live with someone you miss. It happened slowly and suddenly. She forgot the days of the week, then the times of day and then names of friends and former coworkers.

She would confuse me with my Mother. However, we tend to excuse our sick, our elderly and especially our loved ones. I look so very much like my Mother. Her nickname was Sam when she was a child, long before she ever considered raising her very own Sam.

The past tense entered our conversations regarding her. Our speech always encomiastic as if we were giving the world’s longest eulogy.

The privilege of her experience was lost to me.

My most trusted confidant and advisor refuses to pick a dish from a menu, a pair of earring from her enviable collection, or who to vote for President.

I’m pretty certain she pretends to know me most of the time. I have gathered that greeting her with a smile and warm eye contact flips the switch to child-like trust.

Rather than accepting my answers…

Where are you going?”

“To make us tea.”

“Where are you going again?”

“To make us tea, then shower and work in about an hour.”

“Do you have to go to work today?”

“Yeah, but I still need a shower. I thought we might like some tea first?”

“You’ll want some tea. I’ll start the kettle.”

…she concurs my statements of identification, intentions, and routine. It’s a constant bluff I’ll never call.

Somewhere, I think, deep in her frail hippocampus, is a deposit of my brightest secrets and darkest dreams. We painted our lives for each other as we settled in for bed, washed the curtains, danced in the kitchen and caught butterflies in the garden.

Both of us grew up poor. We both spent hours alone in the private kingdom of our respective bedrooms. She would lie and listen to Hit Parade for hours, until my Great Grandmother slipped inside, turned off the radio and tucked her into bed. I would read and read and read until she would pull me downstairs for tea and an impromptu oral report of the worlds I had just uncovered.

She is a world gradually covered. One once expatiated but now difficult to traverse and impossible to incorporate.

Several books and resources tackle what we call Alzheimer’s every year. Knowledge can take a touch of the confusion but rarely the sting from the execrable situation.

I am no longer surprised to come across information already retained from experience but find hope in the moments of connection and joy found in the accounts of others. They help me to remember the privilege to demonstrate love and concern without the supposition of it being understood or returned.

This morning, she was singing a song with her soft voice. I heard with the pride of a parent at a recital her completed refrain with all of the lyrics intact. I leaned and listened against the door frame as I typed some of the words into iTunes.

 

Kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.

Haven’t felt like this, my dear

Since I can’t remember when.

It’s been a long, long time

 

You’ll never know how many dreams

I’ve dreamed about you.

Or just how empty they all seemed without you.

So kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.

 

Ah, kiss me once, then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long time.

Haven’t felt like this my dear

Since I can’t remember when

It’s been a long, long time.

 

You’ll never know how many dreams

I dreamed about you.

Or just how empty they all seemed without you.

So kiss me once then kiss me twice

Then kiss me once again.

It’s been a long, long time.

Long, long time.

Over our cup of tea, instead a feigning my interest in some article she would repeatedly read to me on a typical morning, we sang the song from my phone together until I knew all the words by heart.

She told me about her older brother sending her a radio when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor and recalled the names of other artists that “you just never hear anymore.” I held her hand and she shared rather than mimicked my smile.

As I headed out the door, she kissed me once and then kissed me twice. I kissed her once again on the forehead. It had been a long, long time.

 

Bing Crosby and the Les Paul Trio– “It’s Been a Long, Long Time”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsPBNcUw-jA