Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Past Five Months: A Children's Story

Once upon a time there was a great, big library with great, big bookshelves filled with great big books, and lots of librarians working to serve the great big population of people who used the library. In one corner of the library was a great big office with a big, metal desk covered in big piles of paperwork, and behind those piles of paperwork was a quiet, small girl called the Dreaded Librarian. She worked hard to help great big groups of teenagers who used the library, and smiled as much as she could, even when she was having a bad day.

She smiled when the teenagers tore books apart and shoved them under the reading chairs.

She smiled when people complained about the noisy kids, and explained that they had a right to use the library just like everyone else.

She smiled at all the people who used the computers, and kept smiling even when they said inappropriate things to her that made pieces of her die inside.

She kept smiling even through sad things, because she knew happy things were soon to follow.

For example, she smiled when teenagers from Maine and New York joined together to paint a beautiful mural of a peaceful and diverse global community on the great, big front windows of the library.  

She smiled when teenagers brought her tasty ethnic food and invited her to their homes for dinner.

She smiled when her  teenagers created lovely drawings in art club and gave them to her to hang in her office.
And she smiled when her teens graduated from high school and moved on to do bigger and better things.

But one day, the great, big library told her that they didn't want her anymore. There was someone better than her. They told her they "didn't just want to hire their friends," and that they had picked another girl from a faraway place who did not know the kids or the community. The new girl would work at the great big library now, but not the Dreaded Librarian.

The Dreaded Librarian tried very hard to smile...but she could not.
She thought of all her teenagers, and how much she loved each of them. She thought of all they had taught her, and all she had taught them. She thought of all the great, big plans she had to fill the library with great, big programs for great, big groups of kids. But mostly she thought about how the kids would think she had abandoned them.
And then the Dreaded Librarian's smile began to quiver...and she cried.

Several sad weeks passed when she had to say goodbye to all of her teenagers. People in the community were very upset, and some of her coworkers were very upset too. Everyone felt a bit betrayed by the great, big library.

Some days later, there was a teeny, tiny library that met the Dreaded Librarian and were really impressed by her. Even though her smile was hidden behind a sad mask, they could tell that she was really kind. They asked her to join their library, to work with teeny, tiny children in their Youth Services department. The Dreaded Librarian had a great, big hole in her heart, but when the little library offered her the job she saw a teeny, tiny glimmer of light...and so she said YES and accepted the job!

The teeny, tiny library had a teeny, tiny Children's Department filled with books spilling out of the teeny, tiny shelves. There were teeny, tiny tables and chairs crammed into teeny, tiny nooks and crannies. The other librarians were kind and welcoming, and taught the Dreaded Librarian all about children's books in their teeny, tiny department. There were warm colors, cluttered posters, happily used chairs, and tousled toys everywhere, which made the teeny, tiny light in the Dreaded Librarian's heart grow just a teeny, tiny bit.

In this place there were also a few small, sad plants in teeny, tiny pots with very little sunlight.  They seemed to droop in awkward places and shed little brown leaves like tears. At first, they were overlooked since everything else was so new and exciting, but after a few weeks the Dreaded Librarian noticed the sad little plants. She saw their drooping limbs and chlorophyll deprived leaves and felt a pang in her chest--a knowing connection with these plants, an understanding of the pain they were going through. She took an interest in them right away. She began by giving them teeny, tiny drops of water to quench their thirst without drowning them, and soon was bringing in scissors for little haircuts--small brown leaves and little dead twigs got quietly snipped away. And, oh! What a miracle! After a few short weeks, those teeny, tiny, sad plants...began to grow! New leaves unfurled bursting with deep green colors, and little stems soon grew into strong, healthy vines and branches reaching towards the light with determination. With a little love, these plants decided to LIVE, and by jove, that's what they did.

It was one day as the Dreaded Librarian was watering these plants that a small girl walked up to her and, with a tilt of her head and a Mona Lisa smile, asked in a wee little voice, "May I hug you?" Such a teeny, tiny gesture, such a teeny, tiny sign of care, like the few drops of water the Dreaded Librarian first gave to the thirsty plants! But it was a gesture big enough to make the Dreaded Librarian's heart unfurl with a new strength, one that said with determination, "LIVE, by jove! Celebrate with joy and know that you are strong!" It was as though a new branch of inner life was formed in that very moment, in those few small words, and that branch was determined to grow into a great, big branch full of great, big life and great, big opportunities.

It takes time, but all that goes around will surely come around. The incident with that darling little girl reminded the Dreaded Librarian of the Aesop Fable, "The Lion and the Mouse." And as the Dreaded Librarian finished watering the lively plants, the phantom of the little girl's embrace still clinging to her heart, she knew that everything would work out. The great, big hole in her heart seemed to retreat and become a teeny, tiny scar, a gentle reminder of the blow that made her stronger, and of the mouse that helped her in her time of need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Being a Children's Librarian Rocks

During my thus-short stint as a children's librarian (as opposed to my time working with teens), I have had several noteworthy experiences that have "warmed the cockles of my heart," as an old friend of mine used to say. Two in particular during the last few weeks have brought a much-needed smile to my face. After all, even Dreaded Librarians get the blues.

The first was an older lady who visits the youth services department every few weeks with her caseworker. I don't know much about her, except that she is a very devout Christian who always bids us librarians adieu with the afterthought, "And I'll pray for you tonight!" She mostly fixates on the other more seasoned and familiar librarians, since I am a relative new-be (my predecessor is greatly missed by staff and patrons alike). However, just last week she came up to me and said in her sing-song voice, "Why hello, don't you look pretty today. You look just like a bologna sandwich and a glass of cold lemonade on a hot day! So preeetty, yes." Undoubtedly the single-most strange compliment I've ever had, but it created a certain delight that I can't quite explain. Sometimes those off-beat comments are the most honest and sincere, and subsequently the most heart felt by their receiver.

And secondly, just today a little girl I've never met before came in with her older sister and mum. They all spent some time looking around in the bookstacks, and asked me about the status of a few books they had ordered through interlibrary loan. Finally, they came to the desk and the older sister checked out her conservative stack of books, followed by the youngest child with her equally small (but carefully selected) pile. She smiled shyly up at me as I stamped each book and scanned her card, and as I handed the books back to her with a great great big grin and a "There you go! Enjoy your books," she quietly said, "Thank you" and turned to leave. Before she even completed one step she whipped back around, and despite having never seen me before in her life very politely asked, "May I hug you?" Well, my weary heart just about melted and I gave that little girl a nice little hug that hopefully made her half as happy as it made me. Such a small gesture, but it made my day. I wonder how she knew I needed that hug?

On an unrelated note, I finally (after 24 years) read "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss! It was just as excellent as everyone told me it would be. I may just have to use it as a read-aloud for the kids ecology program I'm scheming up!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dreaded Librarians: Good at Kicking Ass, Awkward at Making Friends

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and erase those annoying, mortifying moments that make me want to crawl into the depths of a dusty closet and stay there until my eyes turn white from lack of lighting. Today was certainly one of those days.

For a few weeks now, I have been venturing out from my post at a new library, scoping out the neighborhood for friendly community places, and in particular looking for spots within walking distance to grab a cup of coffee or a juice on my lunch break. Unfortunately, this place lacks a sense of community as much as George W. Bush lacks a grasp of the English language. However, one day I made an unlikely acquaintance at a local Cumberland Farms while I was fueling my gas-guzzling-environment-destroying-car-contraption. He complimented my dreadedness and gave me a warm, non-creepy smile that I saw as "potential friend material." He thus became none other than Cumberland Farms Boy, or CFB for short.

Answer me this: how does a young, badass lady make friends in a city where she knows no one? I pondered and queried until I could barely sleep for all the thoughts floating in my head, then decided, heck, I'll never make friends unless I got out on a limb. What's the worst that could happen? 

Fast forward to today: I walk to Cumberland Farms under the guise of getting a coffee, but really to try and convince CFB to be my friend. I enter the door and he shouts, "hey Molly!" and flashes me a grin, and I shout "hey!" back with a smile, pour myself some coffee, and hit up the register. Thus begins the awkward conversation, that went something like this:

Dreaded Librarian (DL): So, can I ask you a question?
CFB: Shoot
DL: Wanna grab a beer sometime?
CFB: (Starts shaking) Uhh, well, uh yeah. Uh, I get out of work around, like, 3...but maybe not today, hm...
DL: Yeah, cool. Well, um, whenever. 
(Awkward silence)
DL: So, I have a boyfriend...
CFB: I have a girlfriend!
DL: Cool!
CFB: Yeah, wow. I was starting to freak out for a minute
DL: Nah, don't worry, I'm not creepy. I just don't have any, uh, friends.
CFB: Yeah, cool. I mean, not cool that you don't have friends. Um.... so, are you new in town?
DL: Yeah. Kinda. I mean, I went to high school here, but it was a while ago. I just moved back to work at L-- Library.
CFB: Oh really? Where's that?
DL: Um...it's... the library? Two blocks from here?
CFB: Oh.
DL: Yeah.
(Awkward silence)
CFB: Well uh, let me..
DL: Sure, yeah...
CFB: Here's a...yeah, here's some paper.
(hands me a ripped up receipt)
DL: Cool. (Writes phone number). There.
CFB: So... I'll, yeah, let you know if something happens.
DL: Thanks, I appreciate it. I want to meet people. You know, cool people. In the area. (Mentally kicks self in the face)
(Awkward silence)
DL: Well, thanks again. Uh, have a nice day!
CFB: Uh yeah, you too.

Maybe next time I should just stick to buying coffee.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sexual Harrassment is Serious...So Seriously, Knock It Off

Today is a beautiful September day, crisp enough to want to wear leggings with my skirt and sport a modest, long-sleeve shirt. I'm sure I look nice, but am conservatively dressed, not that it should matter.  It's true, I probably care about my appearance more than I should. I was, after all, a bit of a plump kid and was made fun of a lot all through grade school, which left me with poor self esteem in high school and college. My story is, however, in no way unique, but it may explain why I enjoy looking nice sometimes. I like to think that I've grown out of my awkward stages and into a mature, caring, lovely, and professional woman who no longer needs to care what other people think because she knows that how she feels about herself is infinitely more important. So I like to look nice, for myself. I like to wear what I want, whether it is trendy or not, simply because I feel like it. I have a choice.

I don't feel like I dress particularly provocatively, and in fact would feel very uncomfortable doing so, but I do enjoy wearing feminine clothing-- skirts, blouses, and my red leather Danskos at least once a week. Red shoes are kind of a family tradition. Sure, maybe I try to look nice. But that's no excuse for the insulting, demeaning, derogatory comments I'm subjected to on a daily basis. I am not the cause; I am the victim.

It took me a long time to realize how severely the sexual harassment was impacting me. The men always act so suave, making passing comments that they never get called out on, or saying "sweet" things in public places where I feel awkward bitching them out. But after working for two years around dozens of men who hit on me persistently and occasionally cornered me in my office, I realize that it was, in fact, affecting my ability to work. Fortunately, my workplace took my complaint very seriously and made some rapid changes that helped make it more difficult for patrons to harass me: my office was rearranged to provide me with two emergency "escape" routes, and I was given a "code word" so that if I felt threatened I could call another staff member and they would show up at my office to bring me to the front desk, away from the persistent men.

Unfortunately, this could not be repeated outside of the work place, and although I managed to escape the negative comments at work, I continue to be haunted by them in my daily life. Just today, on this crisp, beautiful day, I walked the three blocks to my lovely community garden plot to harvest the rest of my tomatoes before they got frosted, and not ten steps from my front door the comments began. In that short walk there and back, a mere six blocks total, I was catcalled by ten or more men. These are a selection of different comments I heard from complete strangers hollering from porches and street corners:

"Look at that ass! You gonna say hi, girl?"
"Hey librarian, where you goin'? You look nice today."
"Mmm, hey beautiful."
"Hey gorgeous, come here."
"Damn, girl! You're so sexy with them glasses!"
"How are you doing today, beautiful? Lookin' fine, lookin fine."

Plus, even though I was obviously on the phone having a conversation with someone, a man who passed me on the street turned around and started following me, hollering inappropriate and aggressive comments (they went something like, "hey beautiful, mmm you have some sexy dreads! How long you had them? Hey, you're not gonna talk to me? What's the matter gorgeous? Come on bitch, let me introduce myself! You just gonna walk away?" etc, etc for two blocks) while I completely ignored him and tried to finish my conversation. As soon as I was off the phone the man physically obstructed my path by jumping in front of me, and began harassing me persistently. The first words out of my mouth were, "I have a boyfriend, I'm not interested," so he continued in a manner which made me instantly feel guilty: "What, a guy can't make friends? Why can't I just be your friend?" to which I tried my best to reply firmly, "I don't even know you, how can we be friends?" The conversation continued, with him smoothly talking around my every reply, dodging my questions but asking a million questions of me, and mixing in harassing comments (ex: "Where do you work, beautiful?" to which I replied, "Where do *you* work?" to which he replied, "hey, give me a break, I'm new here. We could go smoke some bud sometime, how 'bout you give me your number?" to which I replied, "I don't do that, I'm just trying to go to my garden," to which he replied, "well I like to do other things too, like watch movies. You wanna go see a movie? How 'bout you give me your number? I can't wait to see those sexy dreads of yours again." Etc. Etc. Et fucking cetera.).

I somehow managed to finally walk around him (it took me several tries, with him repeatedly stepping in my path) and I dashed to the Pine Street garden and locked myself in (thank goodness I have a plot in a locked garden!), heart racing, blood boiling. I kept playing the episode over in my head, growing angrier and angrier, and trying to dissect it. Want to know what the fucked up part is? My first thought was, "I shouldn't have worn this skirt today." My second thought: "Was I too mean?"

And then I realized... fuck! I have EVERY right to wear that skirt!! I have every right to walk down the street wearing whatever I want! I have every right to be firm and bitchy to a guy who is only pretending he wants to be friends. What he really wants is obvious, and it's degrading to myself and to other victims to allow that kind of behavior and those kinds of comments to continue. In fact, I wish I had been ten times as mean and aggressive! I wish the badass Dreaded Librarian side of me had reared up and come up with something witty and pointed to say, something that would show him what a strong, intelligent and professional woman I am. Something that would intimidate him in the same way he intimidated me. I wish I had pulled some Lisbeth Salander-style move on him.

But mostly I just wish that I could walk the three blocks to my garden in peace, relishing the sunshine and autumn air. I was raised in the sunshine and crave it, yet too many days are spent inside in our tiny apartment by myself merely because I, Molly Ladd, am afraid to walk out the door. To clarify, I'm not afraid that anyone will physically hurt me. Sure, it could happen, but I'm pretty sure I could kick the shit out of someone just enough to get away if I needed to. I feel physically safe in Lewiston. But what most people don't seem to understand, but what I assume 99% of victims know in their subconscious, is that sexual harassment is terrifying. It instantly makes you feel diminutive, objectified, and worthless. It can turn your bright, September day into a dreary, cold, dark day in March. It makes you feel worthless, and no one wants to feel worthless. So, all too many times, I stay inside.

So I'm writing this to get some of these feelings out. And I'm asking, begging, for two things. First of all, I'm asking for those being subjected to sexual abuse to stand up for themselves. Don't let the abuse continue. Report it, and support each other. Secondly, I'm begging everyone to pay attention and stand up for people who are being subjected to harassment. If you see someone on the street catcalling or following someone, speak up! Tell them to knock it off, and offer to walk with the victim. Call the police. Do whatever you feel comfortable with given the situation, but don't let it just slide by unnoticed. Sexual harassment it serious, and I'm seriously sick of it.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Excellent quote from a patron, relayed by a fellow Librarian: 

"Librarians are like Bartenders for people who don't drink!"

 It's so true, and is one of the (many) fantastic aspects of working in a library. Libraries are not only houses of endless, free, accessible information, but are also community centers where patrons may feel at ease to discuss their every whim, issue, dream, and desire with the lovely librarians behind the desk. It builds connections and friendships, and strengthens the whole community. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Case of the Missing Moonbeam: Part 2

I was sitting anxiously across from a petite woman with short, brown hair and an easy smile, cradling a cup of black spiced tea with milk.  A sitar droned through the speakers at the back of the restaurant. We had ordered drinks together awkwardly, like a couple on a first date trying to feel out the preferences of the other person:

Black tea or green?
How many lumps of sugar?
Yes or no to milk? 

And so on until we were both sipping our tea in silence, glancing across the table at each other with mixed expressions. 

Sy seemed like an unlikely candidate to have secret information about there whereabouts of my bike, Luna Pisces Moonbeam. For a few moments I flirted with the thought that she had simply called in the hopes of getting the reward money in exchange for leading information, but the thought passed quickly when, after nearly 20 minutes of small talk, she hadn’t brought up the reward money once. However, we hadn’t actually talked about my bike at all since we met at the Indian restaurant, and instead continued to engage in a choreographed verbal dance, skirting from topic to topic with general ease and broad, stylish spins and dips. I was anxious, bored, and starting to feel like this was a waste of time when suddenly she lifted her chin and spoke. She preceded her words with a dimpled, nearly apologetic smile.

“So I know this meeting may seem kind of random...” She paused, and smiled again. “The thing is, I’ve heard a lot about you and couldn’t help but be surprised at the fact that your bike got stolen. It was even more surprising when I found out that I think I know the guy who took it.” She looked at me with slightly narrower eyes than before, almost as though she was lost in thought.

When she didn’t continue, I chimed in. “Yes, I was surprised and admittedly quite upset when Luna was stolen. I’ve searched high and low in this city, but I can’t seem to find her anywhere. I figured, with spring here, people would be out riding bikes every day and if I just kept my eyes open I might spot someone riding a lavender 1987 Nishiki Prestige.” I knew I was babbling, but couldn’t seem to stop. For some strange reason, I felt safe telling this complete stranger all about my sad life and even sadder thief tracking ineptitude.  “I’ve looked all over, but haven’t even found the tiniest lead. If you know who took my bike, I’d love to work something out with you to get it back. As much as I want to nab them, I can control the need for revenge and try to...forgive and forget.” Just saying those words made the milky tea sour in my mouth, but I knew that it was true. If there was a way to get Luna back, even if the thief never got properly reprimanded, I would find a way to forgive and forget in order to have my bike back safe and sound.

Surprisingly, Sy chuckled at my speech, a lilting laugh that drifted through the air and blended with the sitar music.

“I think you misunderstood me,” she said. “I know who took your bike, but I’m not friends with him. In fact, I’m hoping you might be able to help me... in seeking revenge.”

I blinked and unconsciously raised my eyebrow in curiosity. “I’m listening.”

“You see, I’m a mindful, community gardening type of gal. I teach people how to garden, how to eat nutritiously, and how to make delicious meals out of the vegetables that they grow. I help maintain a number of gardens throughout the area, and also grow my own food in my backyard using what I like to call ‘extreme gardening methods.’” She paused for effect, practically begging me to ask her more.

I found myself, surprisingly, on the edge of my seat. Thus, I abided her silent plea and asked, “What to you mean by ‘extreme gardening methods?”

She flashed another crinkly smile and her face lit up. Bingo, I thought. This ought to be good.

“Well,” she began eagerly,  “I developed a technique that allows me to plant my garden without ever having to leave my apartment! Wait, that makes me sound really antisocial. For the record, I do leave my apartment, quite frequently, and enjoy doing so...” 

“It’s ok, I understand what you mean,” I replied, politely overlooking her own lapse into awkward babble, just as she had overlooked mine. Besides, I was still curious as to her gardening methods. “Go on.”

“Well, I only garden organically so I don’t use artificial fertilizers or anything, but I developed a way to extract pure nitrogen from organic compost to make small explosives. You know, mini pipe-bomb type experiments. Anyway, after a few years of practice, I invented a mechanical arm that can drop the small explosives out the window with extreme precision, allowing me to arrange them in intricate patterns or simple grids. Since the garden is right outside my window, I use the arm to arrange the bombs in rows, then detonate the explosives and fire seedlings into the smoldering holes with a specially crafted bow and arrow set I designed myself! It’s a very efficient process-- I can plant the entire garden in less than an hour! Besides, it’s exceptionally fun.” She immediately took a sip of tea following her monologue and glanced at me with raised eyebrows over the rim of the cup, trying to determine if I thought she was crazy or not. Obviously, I did. But more than anything, I felt admiration, and possibly even jealousy. 

Brilliant! I thought, trying to keep my face from showing any signs of interest. Why didn’t I think of that idea?? My mind kept fluctuating between blurting out a string of wildly embarrassing praises, and wondering how this had anything to do with the theft of my bicycle.

“I’ve got to admit,” I said, raising my eyebrows across the table and smirking slightly, “that sounds like one hell of a good time!” 

Sy laughed, then said, “I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth this has to do with your bicycle!”

Damn. She’s like a mindreader!

“The thought may have crossed my mind.”

“Well, several weeks ago I was preparing the garden for planting. I had all my explosives made, seedlings started, and had finished fine-tuning my mechanical arm, when I realized my bow and arrow set was missing. I knew I had seen it just the previous day, because I had to check the alignment of the arrows to ensure accuracy, but that day it was nowhere to be found!”

“Are you suggesting that you think the same person who stole my bike snuck into your apartment to steal your bow and arrows?” I asked doubtfully. “It seems a little far fetched. This is a big town we live in!”

“I know, I know. But there’s more. You see, the very same day your bike was stolen, I noticed an advertisement in the classifieds section.” Here, she started fumbling through her pockets and pulled out a carefully clipped and laminated section of the newspaper. She handed it to me across the table. I read the few sentences slowly.

“Wanted: Archery equipment. Call 777-3445.”

I was starting to doubt the legitimacy of the story Sy was crafting. “Sy, this really doesn’t imply anything about my bicycle being connected with the theft of your bow.”

“No, not yet. But look, here is a clipping from the previous day’s newspaper, day before your bike was stolen, and the day after my bow was stolen.” She handed me another small newspaper clipping that read,

Wanted: Functional road bicycle. Call 777-3445.”

Sy was starting at me for signs of emotion. I think she could tell that I wasn’t buying into her hap-hazard clues. “Before you dismiss me as crazy, just think about it for a minute. Both of these advertisements have the same phone number listed, and appeared in the newspaper the day before our items matching the ads were stolen.”

“Yeah, but this could just be some crazy coincidence! Why would someone list items they want in the newspaper if they’re just going to steal them anyway?” My tea was growing cold, and I was growing tired of this conversation.

“You’ve got it all wrong!” Sy exclaimed. “It’s not the person listing the items who is the thief! Rather, I suspect that the thief saw the ads and thought they could make some quick cash along the way by obtaining the wanted items and selling them both to the same buyer, who could then later be blamed for the theft of the items when the actual thief calls you about the whereabouts of your bike in response to your reward posters!”

She was talking fast and making connections that my still-sleepy brain was striving to keep up with. At that moment I felt my cell phone begin to vibrate in my pocket and pulled it out to inspect the number: Restricted.

Sy eyed me glancing at my phone. “You don’t believe me, do you? Well I think you should answer that.”

“No, no, it’s alright. That would be terribly rude of me, I apologize for even looking.” 

I was beginning to place my phone back into my pocket when Sy abruptly snatched it from my hands, snapped it open and answered with a clipped but polite, “Good afternoon!” Her expression of determined curiosity changed to one of near excitement. The conversation was brief and confusing for a listener like myself only getting half of the dialog, and ended just as abruptly as it had begun, with Sy snapping the phone closed, launching into a standing position with fist raised over her head, and triumphantly yelling, “Yes! We’ve got him!!”

...To be continued.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Case of the Missing Moonbeam

I found myself falling out of sleep and into wakefulness. The digital clock glowed menacingly through the dim light of early morning, but my bleary eyes could not make out more than angry red fuzz no matter how hard I squinted. I rolled over and shuffled through last week’s reading--a few books, a tattered art journal, and multiple harassing bills stacked one on top of another-- until my fingers fumbled across my glasses. A second glance at the clock, this time in full focus, revealed the numbers 8:57.


It had been a late night. I was tired and knew I looked like hell, but had approximately three minutes to get to work. I started throwing clothes around hastily while simultaneously searching for my keys. I slipped on some sandals and started rushing out the door, caught myself, and reversed the mad dash until I was in the bathroom clutching my toothbrush and scrubbing my teeth into a feral froth. Then spit, rinse, and the final dash out the door, toothbrush still in hand. I tucked it into the inner pocket of my coat, ready and waiting to combat the next attack of halitosis or stubbornly lodged food particles.

The library was quiet when I arrived fashionably late at 9:03, and I managed to slip unnoticed into my office.  It felt like ants were crawling around in my brain, slowly picking up neglected neurons and putting them into their proper firing positions. Waking up was usually not an issue, but I was trying to function on barely three hours of shuteye. The thinking machine was running a bit slow, yes, but I couldn't help shaking the vague memory of a dream. I could see it rising to the surface, but just as it came into vision it would seep away into the depths, just a blue-grey shadow sinking in the darkness. It annoyed me because it seemed important. I wanted to remember it, but it wouldn’t stay lodged in view for more than a few microseconds, just long enough to distract me but not long enough to catch it in my memory net. 

There was a knock at the door, three soft taps and then silence.

“Yeah,” I said distractedly. Leave me the fuck alone. 

“HEY, MOLLY!” It was Ron, the man who wanted so desperately to take me on a date that he continued to stop by every single morning, disregarding my every attempt to shut him down. “I had to stop by to see your smiling face!” I hate it when he says that. It makes me feel obligated to smile, when what I  really want to do is wallow in the misery of having to explain on a daily basis why I am not interested in him.

“Hi, Ron.” I didn’t even look up from the e-mail I was typing. Call it rude if you will, but after two years of being visited by him I had little patience. I blamed it on being especially tired that day.
“You know, you still haven’t called me,” he replied with a wink.

I sighed. Here we go.

“Yes, Ron. I know.” I looked him directly in the eye, folding my hands together in front of me. “We’ve been over this. I refused to take your number, which makes it impossible for me to call you.”

“Yeah, but you could look it up in the phone book! Or I can give it to you now.” He flashed me a notecard, already prepared with his name and number, and stepped forward to put it on my desk.

“Ron, you can keep that. I’m not going to call you because I have a boyfriend.  You can’t keep doing this, Ron. I need to get back to work.”

He looked at me with hurt eyes walked away. I felt bad-- always do-- but was too tired to respond more delicately, and too impatient with his persistence to care. 

Besides, I told myself, I’m grieving.

Grief is a funny thing. You know on some level that you’ve experienced a loss, and something or someone irreplaceable has disappeared forever. Yet you keep hoping that there must have been a mistake, that they'll just show up on your doorstep one day and everything will return to normal. Except it never happens.

Her name is--was-- Moonbeam. Luna Pisces Moonbeam, to be exact. With a name like that you know she must have deserved every savory syllable of it. Such a pale beauty, lavender veined and slim through the shoulders. When I gratefully came to call her mine, I knew that I had never seen anything as quietly majestic or gracefully swift as her before. 

Luna is--was-- freedom. She was movement and life, a vast road through breezy hay fields baking in the sun. She was a placid lake surface washed with dancing raindrops. She was all this, all this and much more. And then she was gone, and I found myself left with only the ghost-memory of her figure haunting me at every turn. What could I do? Alone, desolate, I walked. I had been walking for weeks now, through our favorite neighborhoods, parks and parking lots, up hills, into shops. I walked aimlessly, looking longingly down every street and alley, behind every  building, through every window and porch railing, hoping desperately to catch a glimpse of her slender figure hiding just out of view.  I couldn’t stop walking, which explained why I was so bone-tired all the time.

I sighed. Luna. Best damn bike I’ve ever had. I was still scowling at my computer screen when the phone rang.

“Ladd here.” I waited for a few seconds in silence, then said, “Hello?” Just as I was pulling the receiver away from my ear to hang up, I heard a voice at the other end of the line. For a second time I mustered up enough energy to say, “Hello?”

“Hello,” said the female voice, followed by more silence. Then, “I have information about Luna.”

My throat tightened. Don’t get emotional, I told myself. I took a deep breath to remove the shake from my voice before responding. “What the hell did you do with her, you thief?! I’m going to track you down and smother your mother with manure, douse your house with hexes, harrass your ass with....”

“Woah, woah, easy!” The voice interrupted, following with a lyrical chuckle. I was breathing furiously hard into the receiver, mouth still ajar mid-sentence. A million thoughts were swirling through my head, words were putting themselves into threats and materializing into complete sentences so quickly that her interruption felt like mentally getting flipped over the handlebars of a bike. “Look, I didn’t steal her, but I may have information as to where she is.” 

I paused, embarrassed now. I mustered enough humility to say, “Oh.”

There was a slight pause on the other end, although I’m certain I heard a muffled chuckle. “Hey, my name’s Sy. I saw one of your missing bike posters stapled to a tree in the park and thought I’d give you a call.” 

Feeling completely deflated, I said quietly, “Oh. I see.” Fortunately my awkward silence did not dissuade the caller from continuing the conversation. 

“Yeah, anyway, I have some information but I’d rather deliver it in person. You see, it’s a bit complicated...”

And before I knew it I was scheduled to meet her for lunch at the very same Indian restaurant from which my bike got stolen. I was incredibly nervous, wondering who this mysterious caller was and what information she had about Luna, but I tried to maintain the well-practiced calm of the infamous Dreaded Librarian. Usually my stints against criminal activities are less personal. It boils down to me obtaining justice on behalf of someone else: defending right and punishing wrongdoings, but always for someone else. I had long forgotten what an emotional occurrence it was to feel personally violated, robbed, threatened and defeated. For the first time in many years, I was having to seek help, and from a complete stranger no less! 

I shook my head. Some Dreaded Librarian I’ve turned into. I can’t even find a missing bicycle. It was then that I realized I was totally, undeniably, utterly and completely down in the dumps. I hung my head in depressed shame and started methodically moving towards the restaurant.