Sunday, May 31, 2009

Carded at the Library

I have had a library card almost all my life. I vividly remember struggling to learn how to write my name, just so I could have a library card of my own, instead of using my mama's. When we started RVing full time, I did not stop to think what that would mean, in terms of getting a library card. Apparently, most public libraries feel rather strongly that in order to get a card, one must prove residence in the applicable town.

Our driver's licenses show our address at our cabin, since that is where we live. However, since Wick still works in the Dallas area, we stay at an RV park during the week, so he doesn't have to drive so far every day. That means that the closest library is in Dallas. Dallas feels so strongly about "non-citizens" of Dallas that the fee for an outsider (that is, someone who has an address elsewhere) is $250 a year.

Two hundred fifty dollars a year. Y'all. That is exorbitant.

Now, after checking my billfold, I found the following cards:
Mesquite Public Library, from before we started RVing full time.
Chandler Public Library, where we live.
Tyler Public Library, because of a reciprocal deal with Chandler's library.
Seagoville Public Library, since I used to teach there.

Suddenly I remembered that shortly before I went into the hospital, I had filled out an application for the Dallas library, which offers a special deal for people who don't have a Dallas address, but do teach in Dallas.

Even though I had filled out the application, I had not received my card. I still have my teacher i.d., so I thought, why not check and see if I can still get the card.

When Wick got home from work, he took me to the nearest Dallas library branch.
I went to the first desk and explained to the tall, thin, stern-looking man who was sitting at the desk. I told him I had filled out the application at the school where I was teaching, but never received the card. He looked at me over the top of his glasses for a long moment. Finally,with a sigh, he turned to his computer and entered my name, after I spelled it for him three times. Somehow, he did not seem to want to look at my teacher i.d., which would have been easier on both of us, since either I was not speaking clearly or his hearing was impaired.

Finally, he announced in stern tones that I already had a library card.

I responded, yes, I had filled out the application, but did not receive the card.

He said again, the computer says you have a card.

I launched into an explanation about having filled out the application when a library representative came to the school, but I never received the card. I suggested that perhaps the card had been delivered to my mail box at school while I was in the hospital. Since a series of substitute teachers had been covering my classes, one of them might have accidentally picked up the card, but really I had no idea where it might have ended up.

Again, he said, the computer says you have a card.

Wick took me by the arm and steered me to another desk, where a lady was flipping through a magazine. When we got her attention, I explained my plight. She responded by turning to her computer.

She did deign to look at my i.d., and typed in my name correctly the first time.

She said, well, the computer says you already have a card.

Once more I launched into my story about how I applied, but did not receive the card itself.

She looked back at her computer screen, looked at me, and said again, the computer says you already have a card.

This conversation repeated itself about three more times. Wick finally stepped in and asked, how much does it cost to get a new card, if you lose your card?

She said, three dollars.

He pulled out his billfold.

She said, oh, wait a minute, maybe it is in the box of lost cards.

She pulled out a box that looked like it had about three hundred cards in it, and began to go through them.

Wick's patience was wearing thin. He drew three dollar bills out of his billfold, tapped them on edge on the counter, and said again, Just give her a replacement card.

I had my own card in my hot little hand.
I felt the same surge of pride and power that I felt when I was five years old, signing my name to get my first library card.

That little piece of card stock was my ticket to the universe. Through books, I could go anywhere, be anyone, learn everything.

It's fundamental.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Home for the Summer

During the school year, we stay in our travel trailer near Dallas to be closer to Wick's job. In the summer, holidays, and weekends, we live at the lake. We are in the process of building a cabin.

We are already living in the cabin, even though it is not finished. Mostly, what we lack is cosmetic stuff, such as ceilings, floor coverings, drawer fronts, etc. The back deck is almost finished--the roof gives us shade in hot weather, and shelter when it rains. I love the sound of rain on that tin roof. This summer, we hope to put up the railings and steps, to give access from the deck to the back yard.

A few weeks ago, several family members came over and helped Wick put the ceiling and floor covering in the living/dining/kitchen area. It looks great. It is wonderful to have people who are willing to give up a Saturday to help.

Next week is the last week of school for this year. We will be home for the summer Thursday afternoon. Home.

Home, where we sit on the deck and watch the sun come up over the lake in the mornings, drinking coffee and waking up.

Home, where we sit on the deck and watch the sun go down over the lake, drinking rum and coke or wine coolers, or hot chocolate or coffee, depending on the weather.

Home, where our hearts are.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow

As noted in a previous post, I had long, very fine hair, past my waist. Since my hospitalization(s), my hair has been falling out by the handful. Every time I brushed it, I had to clean a handful of hair from the brush.

Daughter Jeana suggested that I might want to consider cutting my hair. I had to think about that for a while. A long while.

Finally, while I was staying at Jeana's for a few days, I made the plunge. She took me to the hair dresser who cuts her hair. When I told her I wanted my hair cut to shoulder length, she stared at me for a long moment, and then asked, "Are you sure?"

No, I wasn't sure. I loved my long hair. I took great pride in the fact that my long hair was silky, shiny, and in great condition. But that was before.

After seven weeks in the hospital, rarely eating, I was malnourished. I have grooves in my fingernails that confirm the diagnosis of malnutrition. I lost nearly 60 pounds--almost a pound a day. My body was shutting down peripheral activities, including growing hair. That's why my hair was falling out.

My hair was in a long braid down my back. The hair dresser cut the braid and laid it on the counter. I had braced myself for that moment, because in the past getting my hair cut had been so stressful, usually disappointing, and always something I dreaded.

This time, as I stared at that braid, I realized that it did not even look like my hair. My hair has always been very thick, so thick that most hair dressers said I had enough for two or three people. This braid was thin. Very thin. Not like my hair at all.

I plan to send the braid to Locks of Love, an organization that takes donated hair and turns it into wigs for cancer patients.

When I look in the mirror, I can see tiny new hairs growing in around my face and along my part. My hair still looks thin, but I have to admit it is much easier to deal with at this length, drying faster when I wash it.

I miss my long hair. I miss how it feels against my skin, and how easy it was to put it up with hair sticks.

But, as Jo March noted once, maybe my brains needed a little airing, and maybe I was too vain about it, considering it my one great beauty.

At any rate, I did cut it, and while it may take several years to reach the length it once was, it has already grown noticeably, my bangs already needing a trim after just three weeks.

I wish I had a great punch line to end this post, but I can't think of anything funny, or witty. Oh...except....I didn't cry when my hair was cut this time. Maybe I am growing up after all.