Stack of Journals: Closure, or Lack Thereof

I still have some things stored in my old bedroom at my parent’s house.  You know, those things that there wasn’t room for in your college room or subsequent apartments, but that you just couldn’t possibly part with.  This past year I have begun working on going through these things.  Most of it is easy since, obviously, if I haven’t used it in the last *gulp* 13 years, I probably don’t need it.

But I’m stuck on the journals.  There are a lot of my words in there.  A lot of my time.  A lot of me.  So I have brought a stack of them home and am slowly skimming my way through them, hoping that perhaps I will have a more clear feeling about what exactly to do with them when I’m done.  In the interim, I thought perhaps I would share some of my younger pre-existence of blog thoughts here.

First up:  a journal I had to keep for a class during  my sophomore year in college.  It was an educational theatre class in which we practiced and performed a play about sexual assault and dating violence for other area colleges, high schools and community groups.  We also learned a great deal about the topic and conducted a question and answer session after each show.  The class was co-taught by a theatre professor and the campus wellness coordinator.

The journal entry I ran across was pages and pages of me trying to make sense of my sophomore year.  I  was reflecting on the fact that my character in the play had a line about life being great and how hard it was for me to say that in a believable manner, since I felt exactly the opposite.  As I wrapped up my ramblings I stated that I had been trying to write about my semester to get some closure, but that it really hadn’t seemed to help.  In the margins, the wellness coordinator commented that “life doesn’t have closure.”

At 19, I’m guessing this comment just made me feel more normal, like it was okay that I didn’t have it all figured out.  At 35, reading  it gave me chills.  Because it is true.  And  because learning to live in the moment and enjoy the unpredictable, often unfinished business of life has become really core to who I am as an adult.  That sophomore year of messy, undone, best laid plans was formative in this.  And every time someone said it was okay or that I was normal got me closer to where I am today.

Both the educational theatre class, and (especially) the wellness coordinator are probably largely what sparked my interest in working in higher education (though I’m stubborn and it took me a while to come around to it).  What an amazing reminder that old journal was of the important role we can play in the lives of others, just by taking the time to really listen.

While I’m no closer to figuring out what to do with the old journals, I am excited to see what other treasures lie within.  More to come . . .

For the Love of Libraries

Happy National Library Week! You did know it was National Library Week, didn’t you? I personally have had it marked on my calendar all year; in no way did I accidentally run across this fact on NPR a couple days ago . . .

Okay, so I may not have known something as awesome as National Library Week was happening as I laid my head on the pillow on Sunday night, but as soon as I found out I knew I had to celebrate.

My love affair with libraries started very, very early. From my early childhood until his retirement two years ago my father was an elementary school librarian. I spent many summer days in his library, shelving books, creating bulletin boards or curled up in the corner pulling one Babysitter’s Club book after another off the shelf. (This was the reading equivalent of watching a whole series of shows on DVR, no need to wait to check out the next installment!)

In high school I discovered the Alderman library at the University of Virginia, with its marble lobby and narrow staircased stacks. Searching for a book felt like a delightfully creepy adventure. And finding it was like finding buried treasure.

A few years later in college I volunteered to shelve books at the local elementary school library. At the time I just thought of it as a desire to volunteer. In retrospect, those hours spent in a place that had been my second home throughout childhood probably kept my freshman homesickness at bay.

And then, the pinnacle of all library experiences, as a graduate student I had access to . . . the Graduate Reading Room. Located on the top floor of the library and requiring a swipe of your student id to get in, it was like a private club for library lovers (or you know, a really, really quiet place to read – but I prefer my version).

So a big “happy library week” to everyone out there who keeps our libraries running. The helpful librarians who plan programming and order books and likely do countless things we know nothing about. The maintenance people who keep them clean and functional. And, of course, another heartfelt celebratory greeting to anyone else like me who counts their hours spent in libraries among the most formative of their experiences.

*image from: www.ala.org