Back to the scene of the crime.

Last summer I got hit by a car while riding my bike outside the Colorado Convention Center. I was headed home from work when a car started to pull toward the curb – and into the bike lane. My left hand collided with the car’s passenger side view mirror. The mirror was smashed, my hand was cut, and I toppled over.

I watched bright red blood drip from my fingers onto the sidewalk. I had a white kitchen towel in my backpack, so I wrapped my hand in it. The driver asked if I was okay. I asked for her license and insurance. Strangers put my bike in their minivan and took me to the hospital.

The nurse in the ER frowned at me. She asked why I hadn’t washed my hand right away.

“Uh, I got hit by a car. And then I came here.”

She made me wash my hands thoroughly. I sucked air in through my teeth.

Once my hand was clean, another nurse came in and examined the wounds. No stitches necessary. He smiled. “Skin is the best band-aid,” he declared, delicately placing my flayed flesh in bandages.

After I was released, I went to the bar near my apartment and ordered a whiskey soda. I wiggled my mummy fingers at the bartender and showed off my ER admission bracelet. We laughed. Eventually the lacerations healed and left scars.

I later learned from the insurance company that the driver was an exhibitor. She was unfamiliar with the area. She didn’t see me.

The week after I got hit, the city installed a barrier between the car lane and the bike lane to protect cyclists.

I guess I just had bad timing.

Life must be a circle because I’m headed back to the Colorado Convention Center this weekend for ALA Midwinter. As a member of the 2018 Stonewall Book Award Committee for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, I’ll be sequestered all day Saturday to deliberate titles under consideration for the award. I expect it will be a less traumatizing experience than the last time I was there. I hope. The winners will be announced at the Youth Media Awards on Monday at 8am Mountain time. You can watch the livestream here.

(Unsolicited advice: if you are lucky enough to serve on a book award committee, get a PO box. Thank you, publishers. I’m sorry about all the books that never reached me because I moved three times.)

As I prepare to head back to Denver, I’m stuck thinking about the shape of things. About lines and intersections and parallels. About where I was and where I am.

I left Tacoma. I lived in Denver for a year. Then I moved back to Washington. Sometimes I call it a slingshot move. Or a boomerang. A bounce.

When I lived in Denver, I rode my bike and got hit by a car and got scars.

This weekend, I know I won’t be able to stop myself. I’ll circle back. I’ll check the sidewalk for my blood stains.

I’m going to a conference for librarians. But I’m not a librarian anymore.

I work at the same college where I was a librarian for four years. I have the same e-mail address, the same employee ID number. But everything else is different.

What is the shape of the universe?

Is it a circle, or a triangle, or a spiral?

My ex-husband e-mailed me out of the blue last week. He’s selling the house we bought together when we were married.

Part of his message said, “I’m sorry.”

When we were married, I got a job as a librarian in Puyallup. But we owned a house in Portland, two and a half hours away. So I got an apartment in Puyallup and I drove 392 miles every week to go home on the weekends. I spent a lot of time on Interstate 5. After a year of my weekly commutes, I got a tenure-track job. We got divorced.

Now I live in Seattle and I work in Tacoma, at the same college that hired me six years ago.

I spend a lot of time on I-5.

But now it’s different. I come home every night to my husband. We eat dinner together. He makes pasta sauce from scratch and listens to jazz. After dinner, I read The Odyssey out loud while he drinks Coke floats with vanilla ice cream.

Sometimes when my husband holds me, he says, “I like your shape.”

It always makes me laugh. What is my shape, exactly?

 

Am I still a librarian?

I hate debates about what makes someone a librarian. Is it a Master’s degree? Your title? Your rank? Admin, classified, or faculty? Whether you sit at a desk, have an office, or work behind a counter? Work with the public or behind the scenes? I have a lot of thoughts about identity, and I guess it comes down to this: do you identify with the word librarian? Does it feel true? Then sure, you are one. Who am I to decide?

typed sign on white paper that says Librarian Interviews: Please have a seat!

I’m thinking about this a lot right now because I have accepted a new, not-librarian job. As of January 16, my title will be Instructional Designer, and I’ll be back at Pierce College, where I worked as a faculty librarian from 2012 to 2016. In my new role, I’ll be responsible for collaborating with community college faculty to help them develop their courses, and I’ll design trainings and professional development for all college employees. I’ll be working on an incredible team of people that includes another more-experienced instructional designer, the College’s entire e-Learning department, and the OER queen herself, Quill West. I am beyond excited about this opportunity because it brings together so many things I care about: community college education, designing learning experiences with a focus on equity and justice, and lots of conversations about teaching. Most importantly, I will be constantly challenged to learn new things.

For the first time in five years, my title won’t be “librarian”, my co-workers won’t be librarians, and I won’t be working in a library. So am I still a librarian?

I think so. Because it feels true, and because it feels like this new role is a continuation of things I have been working on for years. Librarians do important work in spaces outside of libraries, and we are desperately needed in conversations about online learning, assessment, and faculty development.

Next year will bring tough choices. Do I go to conferences for librarians, or edtech gatherings? How do I keep a foot in the library world while also devoting time to new conversations about instructional design? What will I write and publish?

I am very much looking forward to being surrounded by librarian friends in the new year. I’ll be at ALA Midwinter in Denver in February to select the 2018 Stonewall Award Winner, and I’m giving an invited plenary session at CARL in San Francisco in April. I feel so lucky to serve on the 2018-2019 Rainbow Book List Committee and I can’t wait to read and review lots of books for queer youth.

Also upcoming in 2018: I’m visiting London/Glasgow for the first time! I’m taking a trip with my spouse to kick around pubs, eat fish and chips, and visit our family. I’m committed to finishing a draft of my first young adult novel (I am way more nervous about this manuscript than my new job, honestly).

two glass jars filled with white salt, labeled UNSCENTED and LAVENDER
This is what I did on my winter vacation.

More hikes with Charlie. More coffee, movies, homemade pizza, ocean time. More books in the tub (with my neatly organized Epsom salts).

Handwritten list with best books, special places, eats, and big life events in 2017
My “Best Of” list for 2017.

 

I don’t want to do 2017 over again, but I am grateful for it.

In my holiday cards this year, I wrote, “Let’s be victorious in 2018.” Here’s to love & victory, friends.

 

All images in this post are my own.