Category Archives: friends

same shit different year?

what a difference a year makes, right? 52 weeks ago today i moved out of what had been a cute little house i had shared with someone who at one time had been one of my best friends. i was moving into a temporary situation where i was to sleep on my sister’s couch, with my cat who didn’t like other cats (of which my sister had three), working 15-20 hours a week at the b&n with the possibility of a second job on the horizon, but not certain. even if the second job came to pass (which it did), it was only seasonal work, and i had no idea what was going to happen once the season was over. my plan for spring/summer 2010 was to find a room rental that was month-to-month and would allow me to keep my cat. at the end of the season, if i didn’t have a ‘real’ job, i’d pack everything and go to new orleans and see what happened. fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it), in a relatively short amount of time i got a ‘real’ job (with benefits and everything! please note the sarcasm attached…) with the state of kansas and was able to move back to kansas city.

so things have gone relatively well since my return to the city. i have a decent job in a medical academic library, and my current living situation i couldn’t have planned better if i tried. (actually, during a reading with my psychic last year shortly after my move, she told me that i had ‘created’ this ideal situation in my head, and made it happen, something she said i have a real ability to do. hmmm.)

on the surface, it all seems pretty sweet. i basically could work this current job until retirement (20-25 years!), after which i’d have a nice pension, and in the meantime, i could buy a cute little house in the volker neighborhood, and live happily ever after, maybe as part of a happy couple, maybe as a single old maid librarian-ish person with a bunch of plants and cats. point is, most people would look at my current situation and tell me i’m set. hell, if i were a normal person, i’d think i was set.

last weekend, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, i told her that i was thinking of doing all that, buying a house and settling down. her initial response was, ‘you want to spend the rest of your life in kansas city?’ when she put it that way, well, um, no. and that question and answer have been gnawing at me all this past week. i mean, it even kinda had before, but i had pushed my doubts under the rug. i figured i could buy a house here, and ‘bloom where i’m planted’, literally and figuratively. a cute little fixer-upper with a decent sized backyard would provide me with the space to do the urban farming thing, and i could work full-time to keep the roof over my head. never mind that i have hated the past two winters here, swearing that i needed to live somewhere warmer (new orleans?). never mind that while i do have friends here, finding freedom-loving sustainability-minded integrally-informed people with decent taste in music (no lady gaga allowed!) here in the nation’s breadbasket hasn’t been easy. never mind the fact that even though i have a good job, it has its pitfalls, namely that there are days where maybe i do 2 hours’ worth of work in an 8 hour day, and those two hours (or four or seven, but never eight) consist basically of my moving bytes of information from one computer to another. and i tell myself that i’m helping out society by giving current and future medical professionals the information they need to help people get healthy, but most of the information i’m moving about is nothing more than folks with a bunch of letters behind their names spouting conventional wisdom, and you can look in any doctor’s office waiting room, or even just take a look at people walking down the street, and you will see how far conventional wisdom has taken us. but i digress…

a couple of weekends ago, my roommate had a birthday party at which one of the guests included a professional psychic. after most of the guests had left, he gave readings for the few of us that remained. in my reading, i got several major arcana cards, which are the cards that indicate major life changes. (the 56 card tarot deck contains 22 major arcana cards. i drew six of them out of the ten cards contained in the celtic cross spread.) the cards i drew included the wheel of fortune, which the psychic told me indicated that something very good was about to ‘fall into my lap’; the magician, which he said indicated that my powers of manifesting were very strong, and i was good at getting what i wished for (which kinda backs up what my regular psychic said last year); justice, which he said indicated that i needed to take advantage of this upcoming opportunity because i passed it by in a previous lifetime; also, the hermit, the hierophant, and the lovers (reversed, which is just my luck) were pulled.

so, what does it all mean? even though i’m more settled down and things seem more stable this year, is it a case of same shit different year? maybe this current job is a temporary situation designed to get my feet firmly planted on the ground before making the next move. but what is that next move? i still want the little homestead where i’m raising veggies and chickens and making my own soap and knitting in front of the fireplace in the winter (some place where it’s not snowing every other day), and if i *must* work a regular job, it’s only for 20 hours a week, preferably in a library setting; otherwise i also make a little money writing about whatever it is i’m doing. i think some really bad shit is about to go down over the next few years, on a planetary scale, and there’s no reason to believe that the united states will be spared any of what might happen.  i don’t want to get all doom-and-gloom, but i think the ‘little homestead’, whether urban or rural, will be the best way to protect myself and whoever happens to be around it with me (because another piece of this puzzle is that i don’t want to do this alone). really, i’m not doing this for that reason, i genuinely love the idea of raising my own food and taking care of my own needs (whether by growing it myself or through barter/trade/etc. with others), and being more in tune with nature’s cycles, and more in tune with other people, and with reality. but there are definitely practical reasons why i’m interested in all this too. so we shall see. as i try to do with all matters, i put all this in the universe’s hands, and wait to see what happens next…


kicked to the curb

i’ve become a little bit obsessed with the whole cooks source fiasco going on over the past few days. part of it is because i do a lot of writing, including this blog, and part of it is that dealing with copyright issues is what i do for a living. my job title is copyright and document delivery specialist. i spent a good part of this afternoon submitting permission requests to the copyright clearance center, requests that actually stand a pretty decent chance of being denied. if everything on the internet were public domain, as judith griggs claimed in her infamous email, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

anyway, i had planned to write some about my take on this thing, but i’m going to save that till tomorrow. at the risk of being melodramatic here, at the moment i am broken-hearted, and will probably trot off to my bedroom to cry shortly after finishing this entry. someone who was at one time one of my best friends has cut me off as a facebook friend. facebook, yeah, big deal, i know. but, at one time she and i were really close friends.  and when i moved back to columbia last fall, i moved in with her. the day that we moved out of that place this past spring (into two separate places) was the last time we ever spoke.

i can’t really pinpoint it to a reason why, although i will say that this is further proof of the theory that friends should never live together as roommates. it’s cool to become friends with a roommate you didn’t know previously, but the whole ‘let’s move in together because we like each other’ thing just doesn’t work. you end up not liking each other, and maybe you eventually recover, and maybe you don’t. i knew we were growing apart even while we were living together; it could have been the age difference (17 years), or it could have been that i wasn’t viewed as a potential sexual partner (which i’m perfectly fine with), or it could be just that people change, or some combination of all of the above and more. over the past winter, when i was having such a hard time emotionally with so many things, this floundering friendship was one of those things. but i couldn’t even really talk to her about it because she never had time for me, or if she did, she’d invite other people along. or if we did have plans to do something, if she found something ‘more interesting’ to do, i wouldn’t even get a courtesy phone call to be told of the change in plans. so i was really starting to feel like i didn’t matter. and i guess that feeling was right.

the thing about facebook is, i felt that as long as we had that connection, i would see that she was doing okay (which she really seems to be), and also i felt like there was an off-chance that one of us would say something and that we could then talk about what happened, and consider the possibility of trying to make things right. (not back to the way they were, necessarily, but just ‘right’… whatever that means…) so now she has severed that connection, which is perfectly within her rights to do. i know there is still the phone, and email. and when i was living in columbia over the summer, i did swing by her new place a couple of times to say hey, let’s find some time to talk, but of course she wasn’t home. her birthday is this week, and i did send her an e-card wishing her all the best. if she responds, maybe there’s hope, but maybe not.  i’m certainly not holding out any. in the meantime, i hurt. i’ll get over it and will have fond memories of the good, and interesting times we’ve spent together, and the times we’ve made each other laugh, and the times we’ve held each other’s hand and just listened. but right now i feel as though i’ve been kicked to curb. which in fact i have been. one more time.

upcoming travels

after a somewhat awkward absence of contact and passage of time, one of my oldest friends and i recently renewed our long-time friendship. basically it boiled down to, life is too short to let the stupid stuff get in the way. so we have started getting caught up with each other’s lives again, which has been a wonderful feeling.

however, during the time we weren’t in contact my friend (k) lost a very dear friend of hers who lived in holland. she’d go visit him once a year or so, and he’d come visit her here in the states. it was during her last visit a few weeks ago that he unexpectedly fell ill, went into a coma, and ultimately passed away. i feel just awful for her, because she has already had more than her share of loss in her life. i had thought that maybe i would try to visit her at some point in the next few months, and invited her to come to kc for a visit. she said that she’d like to, but was planning a trip to holland next spring for a memorial service for her friend. she casually mentioned that she thought it’d be nice if i could come along, and i agreed but kinda sorta declined, saying that i really couldn’t afford such a trip on short notice like that.

a couple of nights after this online chat, she wanted to know if she could call me. i said, absolutely, because i wanted to know what happened and how she was doing, and maybe make plans to see her. what i got from her phone call was an offer for the trip of a lifetime. her friend’s family has offered to pay for my transportation to and from amsterdam and part of the hotel expenses for me to go with her. they want k to have someone there as moral support (although i won’t go to the actual memorial service, which will involve scattering his ashes). i was like, seriously???! i’ve wanted to go to amsterdam for a number of years, but have had other goals that wouldn’t allow such a trip to happen financially. so for me to have the opportunity to take this trip is truly a blessing.

i understand that the primary purpose of this trip for me to basically ‘hold her hand’, which i am more than happy, and honored, to be able to do. but we also plan on spending a few days just hanging out in the hague and amsterdam, and maybe making a day trip to brussels or paris. this will be like the trip of a lifetime for me, as i have never left the north american continent. so, although most of the dutch speak english fluently, one of my goals over the next few months is to learn a few basic dutch phrases, and to save money like a crazy woman for spending money. however, my most important goal with this trip is to be there for my friend of nearly 25 years, because i know this last trip will be an emotional roller coaster for her. i hope and plan to be the friend that she needs for this particular journey, and beyond.

is there anyone out there?

yeah i know i’ve been away for awhile. it seems that ever since i left kc, things have gone downhill. things haven’t turned out like i planned and nothing is as i thought it was. right now i’m working 20 hours a week at barnes & noble (although for the next couple of weeks my hours have been cut to 15 a week because of low sales), while continuing to look for employment, either something full-time to replace b&n or part-time as a supplement. there is nothing here in columbia, so i expanded the search to sedalia and back to kc, and that’s not working out so well either. or maybe it would work out better if i were paying attention to what i’m doing: going through my voicemail today, i discovered a message that had been left by an employer in kc wanting to schedule an interview. that voicemail was dated march 1. i called the number back, and of course, that ship has sailed.

and, i have to move out of my current place of residence by the end of the month. the lease is up and my roommate is getting a place by herself, which is just as well. her dog and my cat do not get along at all, to the point where the cat’s home base is my bedroom, with a baby gate at the door to keep them separated. the thing is that i don’t really have the money to get a new place here in town, nor the inclination to sign a lease, since i’m trying to leave, but i have nowhere to go because i have no secure job offers, or even leads really. so i have to find a room to rent, or someplace to stay, someplace that will allow miss sofia to come along. i had planned to give her away, but really, she has been one of the rare rays of sunshine for me over the last few months. i would like to bring her along wherever life happens to take me.

i really feel helpless and alone these days. i don’t feel as though there is anyone i can really talk to, because everyone is involved in their own lives, which i suppose is as it should be. but really, i don’t even feel as though i can talk to my supposed closest friends, which is why i’m typing this out to you, dear anonymous reader. i thought my roommate was one of my best friends, and maybe in our own way we are still close, but she doesn’t have time for me. i’m not a past or potential piece of ass for her. if we do spend time together, i’m either invited along with her other friends, or she invites them along, or she asks me to do something with her and then doesn’t tell me she changed her mind because she found someone better to do. another person i thought was one of my best friends, i haven’t heard from him in months. he never forgets a date, but this year did not even call to wish me a happy birthday, so i guess that ship has also sailed. another close friend, well, there was some sort of farmville snafu on facebook, and she basically dropped me as a fb friend with no warning because i joined some anti-farmville group, as a joke. after being friends more than 20 years, it seems she took her relationship with her fellow gamers more seriously than our friendship. i don’t know. i don’t think i’m a clingy, needy person, and most of the time i keep things to myself, but i’m feeling let down right now. i just need someone i can really sit down and pour my heart out to, without them being on a schedule, without them being paid to listen to me (because i don’t have the money to pay regardless), without judgment or even telling me what they think i should do, but just listen. but that is a luxury i apparently don’t have these days.

so, things will get done eventually. i’ll find another library job that i actually care about in a place i care about and am cared about and it’ll all be fine. but, in the meantime, i have slept like 3 hours in the last two days and i have to get up in 2-1/2 hours to go back to that b&n hellhole (who would have ever thought i would hate working in a bookstore?!). my mind is racing; i can’t even form coherent sentences in my thoughts (which is one reason i’m writing this out, to help with that). i can’t pray and even if i could, i wouldn’t know what to ask for. so hopefully one of you out there reading this (if there is anyone), you can pray for me, pray that whatever i need will be provided for me. funny, because my needs have always been provided for and probably will continue to be taken care of. but right now, i’m not sure how that’s gonna happen.

the bag of flesh known as gail

where to begin, where to begin… i’ve been reading jed mckenna and his first two books (spiritual enlightenment: the damnedest thing and spiritually incorrect enlightenment) have proven to be nothing less than a major mindfuck. i’m anxiously waiting for the third (spiritual warfare) to arrive, which is supposed to be about waking up within what mckenna calls ‘the dream’.

before reading his books, i had already been realizing that life is pretty much a dream and trying to figure out how to be a more active participant within the dream instead of just letting it ‘happen’, or to live more lucidly, as it were. and then i come across mckenna’s words and now realize that the only thing that matters about the dream is that i wake up from it. however, the hard part about this realization is that this thing called *i* is also a dream. i’ve come to terms with life being a dream, but *me* being a dream? that means i don’t exist. there is no me. it’s all a construct: my thoughts, dreams, memories, preferences, opinions, the books on my bookshelf, the clothes i wear, all meant to make me seem *special*, *unique*, *important*, and i’m none of those things. i’m not. the only thing i am is full of shit. just like the rest of humanity. but humanity is not my concern at this moment, or maybe it is in that i can’t deal with most members of it right now. even friends and family are hard for me to spend large chunks of time with. i think i probably have one friend, and an online acquaintance, who would be most likely to understand what i’m getting at here, that i can talk to somewhat about what this is like. otherwise, most everyone else i know (and don’t know, for that matter) is thoroughly ensconced in the dream and think it’s absolutely real and they and their thoughts and beliefs are absolutely real and that even i, the bag of flesh known as gail, am absolutely real. and they are wrong.
so, at this point, *i* am still just a part of the dream. and if i figure out who the fuck this *i* is, i wake up. (i feel like i should have the who playing in the background: ‘tell me, who the fuck are you?’) so who am i? i don’t know anymore. i mean, i was born in 1965 under circumstances i’m not even fully aware of. my supposed father, the man whose name is on my birth certificate, was in bed with another woman the night i was born because he was so upset about his wife giving birth to another man’s child. growing up, i knew something was wrong because he and i never bonded (or rarely even spoke to one another) and i had no physical resemblance to him or anyone on his side of the family. still, i spent most of my life up until my 30s, believing that he was my biological father, because i had no tangible reason to believe any differently. i was told otherwise by my mother’s two best and oldest friends only because my mother was thought to be on her deathbed at the time. however, she did get better, then passed away a little more than a year later, but never did ‘fess up; even when talking to her through my psychic last year, she still didn’t confess to it on the other side of the grave. so i don’t know anything about my biological father, other than his name and what he did for a living. this means that even on the most basic, rudimentary level, i have no way of knowing fully what this bag of flesh descended from. and it just doesn’t seem fair, but it is what it is. however, if i don’t know this, what else don’t i know???
what i do know (or thought i knew), on this plane anyway, is that i was considered a highly intelligent child, having skipped a grade in school; i have an addiction to carbohydrates and sugar that i fight daily; i get a lot of compliments about my hair; i think certain forms of anarchy would be ideal; i’m bisexual; i’ve traveled to some interesting places, but have only been outside the united states for something less than 18 hours; i’m lonely but prefer being alone most of the time although physical companionship would be nice at times; i think i’m pretty smart but also feel like a fraud much of the time… i could go on and on with the trivia, but is any of it true? i, i, i…. who is this *i* that has interesting hair, who is bisexual, who has done some limited travel? fuck. i’m… can i even write a sentence without using *i*???
whatever. i’m trying to write something that i know absolutely without a doubt to be true, and i am finding that damn near impossible to do. to me, whatever is true is that which is not fleeting and cannot be destroyed. everything about me, everything in my life is fleeting; hell, life itself is fleeting. let’s say i live to 80; that’s a mere drop of mist in the bucket of time. my thoughts only last moment to moment; my body will eventually stop functioning and be turned to ash which i hope will be used as compost on flowers with a limited lifespan themselves; all this crap here in my apartment will be given to goodwill or stashed in the back of some relative’s closet or end up in a landfill or maybe burn in a fire or in some other way be dispersed amidst the dream when I’m gone (?!); my beliefs – well we have seen how my beliefs have changed radically over the past decade. ten years ago i was a wage slave in a christian bookstore, and now look at me, derisively denouncing pretty much any form of religion or belief. (wonderful, and imho, true piece of writing by julie, mckenna’s ‘student’ in spiritually incorrect enlightenment, page 256: ‘What is Christianity but a two-bit protection racket? Good cop/bad cop. The son, our blessed savior, saving us from what? From his psychotic freakshow father who’s hellbent on burning us alive forever. What kind of twisted fuck thinks this stuff up? What kind of pathetic slob falls for it? My kind. Me. I did.’ me too, julie. who woulda thunk it?) there is nothing about me that is real, yet i have this attachment to it all as if my life depends on it. maybe that’s because my life, at least as a part of the dream, does depend on me hanging on to the fantasy. and, while it’s had its moments, it hasn’t even been a very pleasant fantasy overall. wouldn’t i have chosen things differently if i knew early on that this was just a dream? maybe, maybe not, who the fuck knows?
what i know to be true at the moment of this writing is the only thing about me that is true, that cannot be destroyed, is my awareness, which i’ve had from before i was born until now; which, in reality i had before i was conceived and will continue to have long after this body stops working. everything else is just part of the construct. and i guess my job in all this is to rid myself of my emotional attachment to the construct and embrace the only thing i know to be true. my ego must destroy itself. if i choose to accept this mission, this is going to be sooo hard. being at this point so very much sucks, because right now i feel like i can’t go back to the way i was even a month ago, but going forward will be a nightmare, if i choose to detach from all this nonreality and pursue ‘enlightenment’. but it only makes sense that i do so, how can i knowingly hang onto a delusion??? i mean, detaching to this degree is a scary thing. how am i supposed to maintain relationships? what about being a part of a healthy, loving romantic relationship, which I still have hopes for (talk about a fantasy!)? how is this even possible if i’m on this quest to weed out falsehood from my life, falsehood being defined as anything that is not 100% true? how am i supposed to show up at work every morning, let alone move to california and continue my education, if everything and everyone i see rubs me the wrong way even on a good day because of ignorance? how can i listen to the dramas my family and friends role play in daily, when i know they are not real, it’s all just a big fucking sometimes tedious play? similarly with politics, it’s all just more drama that affects a larger cross-section of participants in the play. maybe one day i’ll be detached enough to look on it all with a sense of amusement, but right now it’s just painful, because it all seems so meaningless and a waste of time, and yet i’ve got 44 years invested in it.
so, this is going to be ugly, but i have to work it out somehow. i don’t even know why it has to be worked out, but it’s something like a compulsion, i suppose. and let’s say that, okay, eventually i am face to face with reality and have weeded out all that is not true – i am this enlightened creature with the interesting hair. what does that even matter, as opposed to me living out my life the way it is now, like everyone else is doing? one key notion in spiritually incorrect enlightenment is that the point of enlightenment is to realize that there really is no point. geez, talk about meaningless and a waste of time. yet deliberately allowing myself to be a part of a delusional world is not really an option. and i realize that, should all go well physically, i’ll be on this planet another 40 or so years moving around amidst the dream, but i hope to develop the ability not to take it seriously and not to look askance at those who do. (please hurry up and get here, spiritual warfare, for some suggestions on how this might happen…) in the meantime, well, here we go… …don’t take anything personally that i might write from here on out; it’s really not you, it’s me… and i know that most people who have read this far are probably thinking i’ve gone off the deep end. maybe i have.

caught up in the rapture of living

just wanted to post a few updates about what’s been going on lately:

  • i went to court yesterday morning regarding the ex parte against my sociopathic gentleman caller (from now on to be known as the sgc). of course he hadn’t been served yet, which is not surprising, so the court date was continued until august 4, two days before i leave town. oddly enough, this past sunday afternoon we saw each other twice (or rather, pretended not to see each other). as i was coming and going, he was sitting out on the front steps just talking away in a group of people, including two women, one sitting on each side of him. it wouldn’t surprise me if he was doing one (or both) of them.
  • i leave two weeks from tomorrow for the integral theory conference in pleasant hill, california. very excited about it. at some point during my visit i am having lunch with the head of the consciousness studies department at john f. kennedy university, plus i have a campus tour scheduled with the head of admissions at the california institute of integral studies. hopefully this is all pointing me in a new direction. otherwise, my last two days i plan to stay in the city (aka san francisco) and just run around doing things i didn’t do in previous visits, like walking the labyrinth at grace cathedral and browsing the shelves at city lights bookstore. i also plan to visit my favorite place on the planet, the sutro bath ruins.
  • at the workshop i attended on cosmic runes last weekend, i became immediate friends with a woman who was also attending the workshop. we had lunch sunday afternoon and it turns out we do have a great deal in common. it’s really neat when that happens.
  • i’m enjoying being able to read for pleasure again. i’m trying to read up on integral stuff in preparation for the conference. i just finished out of the labyrinth: who we are, how we go wrong, and what we can do about it by carl frankel. it didn’t provide anything new, but i like his perspective regarding what he calls the triad, or three areas of life all humans engage in: problem solving, relationships with other people and nature, and looking for meaning. frankel says where we go wrong is by usually emphasizing only one of those domains in our lives, instead of integrating all three. i have since found myself noticing the triad (or the lack of a fully functioning triad) in various arenas as i move throughout my days. anyway, i digress… 🙂 i need to find some decent fiction to read, something to get me out of my head and just enjoying the scenario unfolding on the page in front of me. i’m also happy about having the time to deep clean, and not just spot clean as i’ve been doing over the last few months.
  • miss sophia is still alive and well. i swear she gets noticeably bigger every time i see her (which is daily, of course). and she’s such a sweetheart (except when she’s not). she loves to sniff everything, and so the other night when i was preparing dinner, i let her sniff the onions, garlic, peppers, etc. as i was cutting them up. the way she scrunched her little face up in disgust was so adorable!
  • i miss having sex, but it’s probably for the best that i’m not having it. the sgc really messed with my head (and i suppose is still doing so) and i need to get over that before i think about being with someone else. on the other hand, as i told a friend the other day, i have no qualms about searching for interim happiness on the way to true happiness. i just shouldn’t seek that happiness with someone living in the same building as me.

next time, wipe the lipstick off your book jacket

my friend nikki is featured in this article (seen below in its entirety) on a supposed new kind of librarian, the ‘lipstick librarian,’ appearing back in april in the kansas city star.

On her way to being a ‘lipstick librarian’

Kansas City Star;
April 12, 2008
by Jeneé Osterheldt

When most kids get sent to their room, it’s not a welcome punishment. But as a child, Nikki Powell enjoyed her forced alone time.

Her grandmother would come to relieve her, but to her surprise Nikki would be reading a book.

“She always says it wasn’t really a punishment for me,” says Nikki, 27. “I was a bookworm. I would ask for more time to read one more chapter.”

The books of her childhood include the Strawberry Shortcake series, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, The Baby-sitters Club novels.

And then there was Little House on the Prairie. Nikki was about 9 years old when she got it, and she found herself up past her bedtime, hiding under the blanket with a flashlight, stealing away more time to read the book. Her real passion for reading started there.

By the time she was 15, she started working at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Boardwalk branch in Kansas City, North, shelving books. At 19, she became the youngest person at that branch to work the checkout desk. It was then that she started to pursue a career as a librarian and
understand the value of the library.

“I realized that libraries are an institution like a college, but it is the kind of institution that connects the public at large with information,” she says. “And to do it for free, to do it without censorship, to offer that kind of information is cool. Public
libraries could be very censored and biased if it weren’t for librarians to
protect that access to information and freedom of speech.”

Becoming a librarian wouldn’t be easy. She’d not only have to go to college, she’d have to go to graduate school and get a master’s in library science.

Nikki, with her pale skin and long, coal black hair, looks more like a modern pin-up girl or grown-up Wednesday Addams than the stereotypical librarian with glasses and a tightly pulled bun. She’s used to people being shocked at her career choice.

“There is a whole new generation of librarians,” she says of her style. “Some people call it ‘lipstick librarians.’ When we were kids, librarians were old with a crabby look on their face. I was always scared to death to ask a librarian a question. But with the
new generation comes approachability. We’re flexible, open to change, embracing
technology and constantly changing and evolving instead of upholding the old-school ways.”

Now, just 10 hours away from getting her degree at the University of Missouri, Nikki is studying the art of storytelling and the world of children’s programs, such as puppet shows, music and more. She’s also a member of the Young Friends of the Library, and she blogs for The Star’s new weekly publication, Ink (

But her job is outreach assistant for the Kansas City Public Library. She helps pick books for the Books to Go program, which helps get books to preschools and HeadStart programs. She enjoys the opportunities to work with kids.

“I like that they know they can ask me questions, and I like the challenge of having a kid come in who has read everything,” she says. “I have to find something new for them to read.”

With the rise of technology, Nikki says it’s important for kids to read. Often, she sees children spending their visits to the library on the Internet. But today is Drop Everything and Read Day, an initiative to encourage families and kids to read for just 30 minutes.

“If a kid can really give a book a chance, and read for just 30 minutes, they would be
surprised and find themselves wanting to read more. That simple act could lead to someone becoming a lifelong reader.”

In summer 2009 she will study British children’s literature abroad in London. When she returns, she’ll graduate and hopes to become a librarian at an urban library and help libraries continue to evolve.

“I envision libraries becoming places you can come to get books, electronic resources, any type of information you need in any format. In my ideal world, my Libraryland, I want to see a 24-hour library with a coffee shop, a restaurant and even a playground,” she says.

“I want the library to be a destination place. I want them to become a community
center. I want libraries to keep growing and go beyond the boundaries.”

Jeneé Osterheldt’s column runs in FYI on Tuesday and Saturday. To reach her, call 816-234-4380 or e-mail