There is no gender separation, only Zuul.

This is a great idea.

As someone who doesn’t currently have kids, I rarely shop for kids’ toys or bedding at Target. However, as someone who wants to have kids someday, and someone who once was a kid, I’m really glad to hear Target is announcing plans to phase out gender-based signage.

There are two main arguments I can see against a move like this. The first, the argument that gender division in things like toys and bedding is more a product of nature than socialization, that dolls and princesses aren’t for boys and trucks and superheroes aren’t for girls and children will somehow have their psyches damaged if they play with the wrong gender’s toys, is an argument I don’t intend to dignify with more than one paragraph.

The second potential argument, which I see as a bit more reasonable, is the argument that a step like this isn’t necessary. That as it stands, there’s nothing but the attitude of the shopper keeping anyone from grabbing a toy from the “boy” aisle to give to a girl or vice versa, and that this is just another move by the PC police to keep us all wrapped in cotton wool so our delicate feelings don’t get hurt, or something to that effect.

Which…yeah, sure. Gender-based signage in a store is not some kind of impenetrable wall that can’t be crossed. I grew up in a household with one girl and one boy, and while my brother and I were often given gender-specific toys, there was nothing stopping us from playing with each other’s toys; we could, and did. And I would imagine there are also families with only girls or only boys who don’t let signage stop them from buying the toys their children want, whichever aisle they fall on.

But do you think that gender-based signage, packaging, and marketing doesn’t still have an impact on children? And while kids are capable of handling that impact–I did, other children do–is there any good reason not to remove that impact, if we can?

As I said, I played with a lot of “boy” toys growing up; nothing stopped me. But I was always aware that I was a girl playing with boy toys. That even though I was allowed to ply with them, they had been bought for and given to my brother. That on some level they weren’t for me in the same way they were for him.

It wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with, but it was something I had to deal with. And if/when I have kids of my own, I don’t want them to experience that. Whatever their gender, whatever they’re into, I want them to just be kids playing with toys. And I’m in support of any act by a corporation that helps make that easier.

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On the delicate art of not waiting for my life to magically sort itself out.

…And then I didn’t post here for about six months!

Part of my lack of blogging here can probably be attributed to sheer laziness, but part of it is that when I realized a few months ago that I hadn’t posted anything here in a long time, I felt like my first new post should be something really long and interesting and special, and kept writing and discarding potential posts in my head and, well, continued to not post anything for a few more months. Because if I wait around for the perfect blog post I am never going to post again, basically.

Which ties in with other stuff that’s on my mind, because lately I’ve been trying to stop waiting for the conditions to be right to do things and just DO them, or do what I can to make the conditions better, or SOMETHING. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past waiting to do things. I keep looking forward to a time when I will have lots of energy and free time and do all the things I want to do and get my act together and make my life as awesome as I would like it to be, and surprise, surprise, that time never comes.

In the past, I’ve applied this kind of thinking to small everyday things like doing housework or getting rid of clutter or, say, blogging, and bigger things like going back to school, or dating, or learning new skills, or building up my savings account. I’m finally starting to make some progress with school, but now I need to avoid writing everything else off with “I’ll think about that when I’m done with school”. Dating, for example–it’s not a huge priority, but I have not been on a date in a long time and. y’know, I would kind of like to. But every time I think about checking my OKCupid inbox or going to stuff where I might people or anything else that might result in a date, I decide that on some level I’m not ready for that and put it off until an unspecified future time. What exactly needs to happen in my life before I will be “ready” to maybe go have coffee or drinks with someone? What is the difference between the self I am now and the hypothetical self who could date? Probably nothing but my attitude.

And I get pretty frustrated with myself about it, because it usually turns out that I’m the biggest thing standing in my way. Like with school–for years I talked about how I’d like to go back to school, and perfect conditions for doing so did not magically manifest themselves. And I finally realized that they weren’t going to, and I just had to do the best I could with the conditions I had. And I’m happy to say that school’s not the only area I’ve made progress in. In the past couple of weeks, my apartment has become less cluttered than it has been in years, and I’m making pretty good progress on not letting it sink back into clutter. That didn’t happen because one day I magically woke up with more free time and energy, it happened because I made myself start using the time and energy I have more productively.

One of the biggest lessons of adulthood for me has been learning that no, really, things are not going to happen unless I make them happen. Just like my clothes aren’t going to get washed unless I wash them and there’s not going to be food in the kitchen unless I go to the store, my long-term goals and ambitions are never going to happen if I just sit around thinking about how I’d like them to happen. I spent a lot of my high school years thinking my life would somehow sort itself out once I got to college, and a lot of college thinking my life would somehow sort itself out when I graduated, and then a lot of my early twenties waiting for something that wasn’t even concrete, like I was waiting for a visit from the Responsible Adulthood fairy. I don’t want to waste the rest of my twenties waiting for things to somehow sort themselves out. If I want my life to ever be the life I really want, I need to start sorting.

And, hopefully, not going six months at a time without posting anything here again.

As the Christmas noose begins to tighten…

I seem to have not written anything here since September, for which I’m going to blame the classes I just finished taking along with my tendency toward procrastination and absentmindedness. I thought about several posts I meant to write here, but unfortunately, blogging is one area where the thought really doesn’t count.

But I wanted to put something up now because it’s almost Christmas. I love Christmas! Even though it annoys me when people try to start it in October! And despite the fact that there are quite a few Christmas songs that make me want to punch things! And even with all the stress and craziness that Christmas tends to bring! It has all that stacked against it and it’s still an excellent holiday.

There are a lot of potential blog posts I could write about Christmas. Cherished family traditions. All the things I’ve been baking. How much I hate the Christmas Shoes song (is there anyone who actually LIKES that song? No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know). My opinions on decoration (of which I have MANY). How much I don’t want to hear about how I’m declaring war on Christmas by celebrating it in a secular fashion. Why one of my favorite Christmas movies is The Lion in Winter, which is a “Christmas movie” in kind of the same way Die Hard is, albeit with fewer explosions but also with 100% more Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole.

But since I can’t decide which of those things I want to blog about most, I’m just going to ramble about my Christmas plans, which actually will probably end up incorporating one or more of the above.

Christmas in my family has always had a certain formula that we’ve stuck to pretty well, with some variations over the years. Opening presents on Christmas morning has always just been my parents, my brother, and I. We do presents with my mom and dad’s side of the family separately, sometimes on Christmas Eve and sometimes on Christmas day, and then Christmas night both sides come to my parents house for a party. It’s an nicely diplomatic arrangement, ensuring that the gift-giving on both sides is self-contained (so that, say, my mom’s parents don’t feel any pressure to get my dad’s sister’s kids anything, or friends of the family can show up at the Christmas night party and aren’t expected to have gifts for anyone), but everyone still gets a chance to hang out, which is nice because the two sides of my family have always gotten along pretty well.

One variation that I’ve added since reaching adulthood is having a small gathering at my apartment. It’s not big enough for a family party (and I would get way too stressed if I tried to have the whole family there, even if I had the space), but I still like getting my own chance to play hostess and show off my decorations, so last year I had my parents and brother over for breakfast on Christmas Eve and this year I’m planning on doing the same. The new thing this year is that my brother’s girlfriend will be joining us, which will make it the first time either of us has brought a significant other home for Christmas. I am simultaneously excited and hoping we don’t scare her off (Thanksgiving went okay, but a lot of the family was out of town then).

Christmas with my family will probably be at least somewhat stressful and crazy, as it always is. But I feel very prepared this year! All my gifts are purchased and all but one are wrapped. I have baked about a million cookies and still have pumpkin pie and red velvet brownies on my to-do list. I have wine and rum to deploy as needed (…not at the same time). I have cute outfits planned and amazing tacky red-and-green jewelry that jingles. Your move, Christmas.

And I DEFINITELY don’t want the teeth I had in high school back.

So, the fact that the dieting industry is full of crap is, like, the opposite of news. Lots of people have written lots of excellent things about how the dieting industry is full of crap, and I don’t have anything particularly groundbreaking to add to that discussion. But I was struck by something this morning that I do want to write about, if only because it was something of a personal realization for me.

ASIDE: Before I go any further, I feel there are a few things I should establish about my attitude toward dieting and weight loss in general. These are all things I hold as self-evident from reading and discussion on the topic elsewhere, but since I’ve never written about it here I feel like I should lay down the basic stuff before I do. I believe automatically equating thinness with beauty and health is bullshit, I believe the emphasis on thinness and dieting in Western society (for really everyone but especially for women is kind of messed up), I believe if someone wants to lose weight or doesn’t want to lose weight it is basically their own business either way, and I believe that trying to be happy in your body no matter what size it is is an admirable, wonderful thing that is made a lot harder by society constantly reminding you that you should be dieting, you terrible terrible non-dieting person, you.

…This may be just a bit of a sore subject. Y’know. Just a little.

So, anyway, this morning as I was driving to work I heard a commercial on the radio for…some kind of dieting thing. Probably a supplement of some sort. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention to that part. What caught my attention, because it was repeated several times, was the woman in the commercial (of course it was a woman) gushing about how thanks to this wonderful dieting thing, she got back to the weight she was at in high school. That was basically the selling point. Weigh the same as you did in high school! Wow! Who wouldn’t want that?

And as I was listening to it, I realized…I don’t. Sure, I was a lot thinner in high school than I am now. I was also in high school. I was an adolescent. I wouldn’t want to go back to having the hair, the skin, the fashion sense, or the level of knowledge and experience that I did when I was in high school (…I wouldn’t turn down the energy level I had in high school, though). Why should I want to go back to that weight?

Even if I did lose a lot of weight, I doubt I would ever again be as thin as I was in high school, because my body’s changed. My hips and bust are wider and probably going to stay that way no matter what. And I’m okay with that. I’m almost 26 years old and I have the almost-26-year-old body to go with it. If I were more religious, I would thank god that I’m not a teenager anymore. As it is, I thank the passage of time.

So, yeah, basically, you can keep your wondrous dieting things that would help me be more like the teenager I’m glad I’m not anymore, dieting industry. Thanks all the same.

So You Want to Be a Librarian

One thing I’ve learned, since I became serious about pursuing librarianship as a career, is that occasionally when people ask you why you want to be a librarian, they’re going to expect a better answer than “because I like books”.

Liking books is a good place to start from, of course, and it is part of what drew me to libraries. But I also like food, and I’m not planning on trying to become a chef (as much fun as it is to fantasize about dropping everything in my life to move to a quaint little town somewhere and open a bakery, I’m too terrible with early mornings to ever seriously consider that. Oh, and also lacking any kind of business sense or accounting skills. That would also make that hard.).

Unfortunately, while I have more in-depth reasons for wanting to be a librarian than “because I like books”, I’m not always good at articulating them, especially if I’m put on the spot. I tend to be somewhat better at organizing my thoughts in written form, and I’ve found that writing things down can sometimes help me with articulating them in the future.

Plus, I have to start somewhere with this blog.

So, like I said: I do like books, and have liked them pretty much since I could read, and that is a factor.

Another factor is that I’ve always felt very comfortable working in a library environment. The majority of my job history is library-related, and the bits that aren’t–the time I spent working for a law firm, for example–have only served to underscore how well library work seems to suit me. I’d rather be here than in any other work environment I can think of (unless someone wants to start paying me to lounge around my apartment reading comic books and mainlining shows on Netflix Instant. If someone does want to start paying me for that, by all means, email me).

But there’s more to my career aspirations than being comfortable, and the truth is that it’s not so much that I can’t put it into words as that I worry it will sound both simplistic and self-important if I do. But it’s the truth, so here it is: I think libraries and librarians are valuable, important, wonderful things, and I want to be a part of that. Information is important. Freedom of information is important. Education is important, whether it’s at an academic institution or self-education done on one’s own time. Stories and art and other forms of expression are extremely important, and I’ll defend their importance to my last breath. Or, less dramatically, I’ll defend the importance of all of the above by working in a library.

I don’t know, yet, whether I want to focus on academic or public librarianship. If I want to stay in circulation or if I’ll end up wanting to go back to archives. If I’ll end up wanting to work more closely with fiction or nonfiction, multimedia or print, youth or adult services. I’m going to have to figure all those things out when I’m finally able to apply to an MLIS program and need to decide what courses to take.

But I know that I consider libraries vital to society, that I find the challenges faced by librarians as technology continues to advance and we have to keep up to be exciting, that when I help a patron find what they’re looking for I get a sense of satisfaction that makes all the frustration that manning the circulation desk entails seem worth it. I know that I believe in and love what libraries are and what they do, and that I have the aptitude and the desire to be a part of that, to contribute to it, and that I would rather do that than any other job I can think of.

So that’s why I want to be a librarian.

Now I just need to work on saying it.