The End of the Intrepid Nerd

14 Dec

Hi, reading family!

If you’re reading the title of this post and worrying that I’m not writing to you anymore, don’t. Well, okay. First, that’s kind of flattering. Second, don’t rush me, I’m getting there.

When I started this blog, it was a time filler for a girl who was spending most of her day at home, without a job, without a lot of friends because of a move to a new city, and without a way to quantify her worth. I never saw myself starting off a marriage and adulthood without so many of the things that are considered vital to doing so. I loved myself, I believed in myself, and what I wrote about were the ways that I was building my identity inside the skin of a new life that didn’t look at all as pretty as I’d imagined. In a way, it filled a lot more than just my time. You guys, my readers, were a big part of my exploration process. Because I knew I was being read, I was a little  more motivated to you know, “find myself.” (Which is such a touchy-feely expression, isn’t it? Yuck.) What I longed for all along, though, was something more collaborative because I know I’m not the only one going through this process. Chances are, this isn’t even about my age or my marriage or my degree field. I think it’s an infinite cycle that everyone goes through–this constant metamorphosis where we re-create ourselves again and again, each time hoping we’re moving further from the rough draft.

As the year has passed and things have changed in my life (things much celebrated!), my vision for what I’d like to write about has changed as well. For all it’s personal worth, this blog has lacked a certain “about-ness.” Don’t act like you haven’t noticed. I’m an eclectic person by nature and I’m always changing my mind and doing something different but I don’t find that part of my personality to be useful in blogging. Instead, I want to focus on one aspect of something very important to me: making room for a creative routine that’s vivid and consuming–addictive, even– inside a schedule that doesn’t provide a lot of inspiration.

With this in mind, beginning in January, I’m launching a new blog directed at firing up your creative passions right inside your living rooms, cubicles, office spaces, kitchens, and teeny-tiny decks. I’ll be looking at ways to ignite the imaginary sparks to spice up your artful life, even if you don’t have a job that’s particularly creative, or even if you don’t have much of a budget, or mad skills at crafts and things.  I’ll issue challenges, and each week, if you’re brave enough to answer them, I’ll post your results along with mine. We’ll network together to share funny stories and sketch scary moments. We’ll use yarn to make headdresses and old newspapers to build a mock Eiffel Tower. (Okay, I don’t know about those last two. They sound really hard.) Etcetera! But you know, mostly I’ll share some fun (or serious) projects of mine and if you feel so compelled to share yours, we’ll have a marvelous time being geniuses together.

So start looking for the new blog around New Years because, of course. I’m so excited!

Big hugs and optional kisses to all of you who have voluntarily read my ramblings so far. You’re the kindest, sweetest people alive, I promise, and I’m looking forward to sharing many more adventures with you.

 

What Makes Long Distance Seem Less Long

9 Dec

So, if I haven’t shouted about it enough, the boy is coming on Sunday and I’m psyched! For me, it signals the end of those awkward times when people ask me how I’m doing, meaning how am I doing without him home. I miss my husband in my own way but I’ve always been uncomfortable with people expecting me to publicly say something about it. The truth is that I only like to think about it on my own terms and even then, only in a positive way, like “I can’t wait to have him home so he can rub my feet.” (Hint, hint.) I don’t let myself mope about it, though, and that’s what helps me keep it together when I’m having a rough day.

If you’re in a relationship where you have to be separated kind of often, you know that you make your own routines for coping with it. If you’re new to a long distance relationship, extended or temporary, don’t stress. You’ll find your own secrets to making it work for you. In the meantime, here are a few things that really help me.

1. I take notice of the small, funny, or scary moments in my day and I remember to share them when we talk. It makes me feel like I’m including him in my day when he knows some small thing that I may not even share if he was actually home. I tell him about some awkward joke at work or something the dogs did and it’s a more complete picture of my mood and my day.

2. Obviously, it’s important to have a routine time to talk. We tend to talk at night before I go to bed but we also text each other a few times a day. Having the routine helps you prioritize each other a little easier, I’ve found. Your day starts to feel incomplete unless you’ve spoken at a certain time. Skype is pretty amazing too. Just saying.

3. I nest. Doing little things around the house for the sake of my husband and our life together keeps him on my mind and keeps that affection alive. I also things to surprise him with and that gives me butterflies when I think about him coming home. Not to mention it gives me things to do.

Most of the people I know have gone through a long distance relationship for some amount of time. Do any of you have special traditions that help you keep the relationship cheerful?

 

Men As Spiritual Leaders: Part Two

7 Dec

I’ve been making my way through the Old Testament now for months (though not as steadily as I should) and today I got to Judges chapters 4 and 5. It was a story that I loved as a teenager because it’s only Biblical tale of female warriors. Come on, it’s awesome. If you don’t know the story, in Judges the Israelites are constantly messing things up with God and getting into battles with their neighbors because of it. Every time, God raised up a judge to help deliver and conquer and every time the judge died, they went back to screwing up royal. One of the judges was Deborah, a prophetess who was even more renowned for her wisdom and foresight than her husband. One day someone comes to her and asks for her help in defeating an army. She gives her advice but they ask her to ride with them into battle. In response, she goes with them but with a prophecy that the credit for victory will belong to a woman. When it’s clear that the Israelites are winning the battle, their leaders retreat and flee. One in particular takes solace in the tent of a family he’s made peace with. Jael, the woman of the house, invites him in and even serves him milk (a rare commodity in those days). She covers him with a blanket and lets him just enter the REM cycle when she rams a tent stake through his skull. Ah, good times.

Anyway, normally I would be giving golf claps after reading that but as I glanced over, I got to see some editorial input. I have a student Bible so there’s lots of it and this aside went like this:

“In our day, we emphasize women’s rights, but the Bible spoke of the vital importance of the role of women centuries before the women’s rights movement was ever conceived. The Biblical perspective on women’s rights is different from the world’s. It recognizes that God created men and women differently and with unique callings. In addition, the Bible calls both men and women to take their divinely ordered place in a marriage relationship. For example, wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22,23)…”

Reading over that gave me mixed feelings. One, I don’t like the differentiation between the Bible’s version of women’s rights and the world’s because that narrative in the Bible is not solid. There are verses in the Jewish law about a woman’s rights in divorce and there were laws in Jewish society that protected women, widows especially. In the New Testament, Jesus becomes the first Biblical figure to treat women equally to men. However, there are also a lot of…un-shiny bits and so there’s not really a stable grounds for saying the Bible addresses women’s rights at all. The term is really more political than religious.  Two, I don’t like the constant reminder that wives are to be submissive to their husbands but I’m about to get into that. Three, in the entire caption, the word “equal” is not used. Different and unique, yes. Equal? No. I know it’s a choice of rhetoric but if you’re going to talk about women’s rights at all, you should know that’s the only word we really care about. “Different and unique” are words you use when your pre-schooler comes home with a macaroni art project that looks like a bad impression of a Pollock painting. It’s a consolation prize.

BUT the real reason I wanted to bring this up is because the scripture the caption used is the one I wanted to talk about today. Ephesians 5:22-23, arguably the scripture used most when advocating for men as leaders of the family:

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church and He is the Savior of the body.”

Most people have heard this passage brought up in jest or maybe even seriously in a sermon or message. The truth is, deep down, it probably makes all women uncomfortable and maybe even a good amount of men. In our culture, this scripture is not politically correct and it’s mostly because of all the years that it was used in terrible ways. Women were oppressed for many centuries, and sometimes because of this specific passage. So let’s look at it in context.

First thing you have to know is that this is a book written by Paul who was single and celibate for as long as anyone knows. He gave a lot of attention to sexual immorality and at one point he even wrote:

“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. I say this by way of concession, not of command. Wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-7)

Paul had a small tendency to glorify being celibate over being married and in the above scripture he implied that people only get married to avoid sex out of wedlock. Now maybe he was having a bad day but it doesn’t appear that he holds marriage to a high esteem.

Now for the historical bit. In the times of the New Testament, women were definitely second class citizens. If they were permitted to attend sermons in the temple, they were not allowed to speak or ask questions. Instead, they would have to ask the man of the family once they were home. They were asked to cover their hair and abstain from wearing jewelry or anything expensive. A rabbi could not address a woman in public–not his mother or his wife or sisters. They certainly weren’t allowed to teach or minister. They also weren’t educated, not even at home by their fathers.  Scripture backs up much of this, unfortunately. When Paul confirmed (as he went through the trouble of doing many times) that men were chosen to reflect God in the church and in the family, women lost any hope of having a voice in the church all over again. (1 Timothy 11-12) They HAD to submit to their husbands because men had the benefit of education and access to knowledge.

Now here’s the hard and interesting thing. Women these days aren’t held to many of these teachings. Most churches allow women to wear jewelry and nice clothes, we’re allowed to teach and to speak in church, we can show our hair, and even be seen speaking to a preacher. It seems that we’ve disregarded a lot of scripture as old-fashioned and yet we haven’t quite gotten around to having honest and open unrest with Ephesians 5:22-23. Somehow, the church has been picking and choosing which scriptures are out-dated for decades now based on our progression as a culture but for some reason this scripture in particular has been protected.

When I think about why this is, I think it’s because we’re simply re-defining what this scripture portrays. If you were to ask someone in the depression-era what this scripture looked like, they would probably respond with a much more extreme example than we would today. A century ago, women were just beginning to experience equality. They were receiving some level of education and being allowed to have voices for the first time…pretty much ever. Then we won the right to vote and we grew stronger. We won the rights to equal pay and we grew stronger. Today, most people know that equality for women is politically correct and so the teaching surrounding wives submitting to their husbands is changing to reflect that. Instead of submission being defined as subjugation, it’s now commonly defined as looking to our husbands for guidance and allowing them greater authority in making decisions.

Still, for a lot of us, this redefining process hasn’t quite caught up to the reality of our lives. I can only use my life as an example, but I can tell you that although I talk things over a lot with my husband, I generally know exactly what I’m going to do without needing any guidance or leadership. The boy is the same way. We don’t really ask each other for permission to do things unless we’re making big ticket purchases and even then, if we know the money’s there and it won’t hurt anything, we do tend to surprise each other. I also have more education than my husband currently does (mostly because my job calls for it but also because I just genuinely like being in school) and it will probably always be so. There’s a distinct possibility that I could one day make more money than my husband does. I’m the planner and the organizer and I also take care of our house and monitor our finances. I’m the spider-squasher too.  Will tends to be the cook and the assurance-giver when I’m freaking out (as I often do). When something slips through the cracks or is too scary for me to tackle, he takes over. He’s the spender and the cuddler and when I really need some enthusiasm, he’s usually the best hype man there is. He fixes things (everything) when I’m busy crying and stressing out and he keeps me sane with laughter. We’re not an extremely traditional couple but we’re damn happy.

We define our relationship as a completely equal partnership. No matter who does the breadwinning or the housework, we give each other equal credit and what I’ve found is that our roles are perfectly fluid and complementary to each other. When I’m tired, he generally has more energy to do what needs to be done. When he’s stressed, I have peace for the both of us. God seems to have made us in such a way as to always have in abundance what the other person lacks at the moment. Neither of us consider ourselves the leader and I would be extremely unhappy if either us had to. The scripture just doesn’t line up with what we have, though, and I know it’s uncomfortable for more people than just us. What about all the career women with stay-at-home husbands? What about the independent couples who work in separate states? Are they not following God’s plan when they feel happy and fulfilled or just doing what they have to to get by?

I’m curious about how submitting to your husbands plays out for others or if it’s not exactly true at all. In terms of your partnership, is there a leader?

 

Oh, and here’s a fun article if you want more to get you thinking about this:

http://bible.org/seriespage/new-testament-church%E2%80%94-role-women

Men As Spiritual Leaders: Part One

29 Nov

I don’t think it’s a secret anymore: I’m a straight-up feminist. (And when I use that term, I mean that I care about women being treated equally to men and not that we should take over the world…although I don’t think it would hurt things too much if we did. Just sayin’.) As a Christian, this sometimes puts me in a tough place because whether I like it or not, there’s a lot of scripture and religious culture that doesn’t shine too positively on my gender. I mean, every time someone says the words “curse of Eve” around me, I have a seizure in my soul. So the one thing I want to talk about today are the ideas surrounding men being, by divine appointment, the spiritual leaders, particularly in the family.

I think you’ve probably all been taught these ideas or have picked up on cultural clues about them, even if you’re not Christian. They’re the images of the man praying over family dinners, the man leading major decisions that will affect the family, the man teaching things and making plans. Personally, though, when I hear the phrase, “men are the spiritual leaders,” I have a guttural “ewwww” reaction and before I get into why, let’s look at where the idea comes from.

There’s a few main scriptures that pertain to this but let me just clarify before I start my opinion on this. I do not intend to de-value any scripture by saying that I don’t agree with an interpretation of it. In fact, I sometimes go further than disagreeing with interpretation to say that I don’t like a certain passage (and sometimes authors) at all and there are a lot of people who take issue with that kind of thinking. For some people, the Bible is unquestionable and beyond reproach. It is absolutely the word of the God and that’s all there is to it. For some, even contextualizing scripture borders on heresy. I’m a fairly liberal thinker, though, and I tend to think nothing is beyond questioning. What I never do, though, is stop asking God to help me understand the things I don’t like. Sometimes my opinions on a passage change and sometimes they don’t but for me, there’s nothing more valuable than my integrity and very often that means that I just cannot pretend to believe in something that I don’t. My honesty in my relationship with God gives me so much more love for Him than when I used to accept everything that was said in His name because I’ve developed a tenderness for the things that are most important to Him. So enough with that and on with my opinions which, actually, I’ve just decided I’m going to separate into parts because there’s a lot of material to cover.

The first scripture I want to deal with is from Genesis:

“To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Isn’t that fun, ladies? Heh, heh. Yeeeeah, it’s not fun. It’s kind of a knife. So, if I can, let me just talk a little about where this passage is coming from. The first thing you need to know is that this book was most likely written by Moses during the time that the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness for all those years. In Egypt, the Hebrews were denied a culture. They forgot their history, they forgot the beauty of their faith and their heritage. The very last thing they clung to was this promise from God that one day they would be delivered. So after Moses dragged the Hebrews out of Israel kicking and screaming (insert wink) he found that they were a troublesome gang who didn’t seem to understand how great their God was and how huge His love was for them. Moses would have been an educated man and probably would have known a great deal about Hebrew history despite not having grown up in it. Thus, theologians speculate that Genesis was written to explain things that the Israelites didn’t know about their history and also to preserve the oral history that had survived Egypt.

So is all of it literal (translation: how seriously should we take this)? Well, although there are lots of true events in Genesis that are backed up by archaeology, parts of it are clearly in poetic form and the creation story is one of those parts. In my opinion, this part of the book is largely metaphor and was meant to answer questions that every human asks himself. Things like how the world began, how the genders formed, how people exist separately from animals and also about how gender roles were formed which is what this passage addresses. People (and probably especially women) wanted to know why women went through so much pain but questions that for us are answered by science were still very unknown to them. No one knew in those times about the entire process of childbirth and conception so if you can imagine it, being a woman back then must have seemed like a punishment. You were physically weaker and thus less capable of providing for yourself (because remember that work would have been significantly more physical in those times) and when a man came along to help you out with things like making money and putting food on the table, he expected you to do the only things you could do after that which were taking care of the home and birthing and parenting kids. If you were a woman, you didn’t have a lot of choices. You’d have a routine of pain and work and if you were very lucky, you’d be loved by your family. This passage in Genesis just gave people an answer to why that was. It wasn’t a very delicate answer, but it was one that seemed right because women were the cultural “losers” and men were “winners.” So the thinking was that for women to have such a bad lot in life, they must have done something to deserve it. Enter creation story.

You follow?

So, to me, this particular passage isn’t a very good justification for men being the divinely appointed spiritual (or otherwise) leaders. My next post on this subject will take us to the New Testament for more analytical fun. In the mean time, feel free to tell me what you think, even if you don’t agree.

The Food Chain

9 Nov

So a couple months ago (so long!), I shared with you guys that I don’t really like to cook or even eat all too much and that one of my goals was to learn to love both of these things while Will was gone and I had free range over the kitchen and grocery shopping. Okay, well, let me back up a bit and let me further explain why I’m not always a big fan of eating.

When I found out I was struggling with low blood sugar, my doctor told me to eat a heck of a lot more. I was supposed to eat more substantial meals and to snack in between, eating something every two hours. Here’s the thing, I already ate until I was full before. I wasn’t starving myself and in fact, since I went to a nutritionist my senior year of college, I have a great knowledge of what I’m supposed to be eating and how my nutrients are being accounted for. I was getting three balanced meals a day with an occasional snack and I was full and happy with that. When I had to start eating more, it became work. Dreadful work. Have you ever tried to eat when you’re not even hungry? It’s awful. The food doesn’t smell good to you, the texture feels all wrong in your mouth, and it sticks in your throat all the way down. On top of being generally unpleasant, the increase in eating was having a minimal effect on my symptoms. Not worth it.

So when Will left, I knuckled down on my research and while I won’t force it all down your throat in this post, there’s a lot of convincing evidence out there that indicates whole-foods, plant-based diets can prevent and even reverse most degenerative diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and most surprisingly, cancer. (If you’re intrigued, there’s a really great documentary available through Netflix called Forks Over Knives that’ll give you a good place to start.) I started to think that if a basically vegan diet could help reduce the incidence of diabetes by naturally regulating the body’s sugars and digestion, it could almost definitely help me. Not eager to be medicated and/or miserable for the rest of my life, I decided to go vegan.

It’s been amazingly helpful and even fun for me. I don’t get pesky migraines from low sugar anymore, thus no more ugly nausea, thus greater energy and happiness. I sleep better, I focus easier, and I can deal with the stress of…well basically owning life all by myself.

Furthermore, I love my food and I love to cook it! It’s easy to clean because everything I use can be cleaned up with water (haha, no more salmonella threats!), I don’t have to worry about something being cooked thoroughly enough because the worst thing that can happen is something gives too much crunch or smush, and I’m using things I would never otherwise use like my zester and sifter and peeler. I know what you’re picturing, though–plate of soggy vegetables with some beans in there– and that’s not what it’s like. Sure, I was a little worried my food would be boring too at first, but then I found out how decadent and rich vegan meals can be. This is what my food looks like:

Stuffed squash with apples, cherries, couscous, almonds, and homemade honey-dijon.

Almost-raw and energy packed veggie and lentils salad with vinaigrette.

A curried vegetable soup with beans and brown rice.

I’m not eating meek little steamed veggies here. I’m using cumin and coriander, sunflower oil and balsamic vinegar, couscous and quinoa. My kitchen smells like paprika cream sauce and lemon zest. I’m love being a vegan because it means I go into the grocery store and really take stock of the exotic foods aisle. I’ve discovered how much saffron threads cost and how tamari tastes. I feel better, I’m doing the earth a favor, and it’s an adventure. For me, it’s the perfect fit.

The Wonders of Vacation

7 Nov

You guys, I’ve been living on the very fine line between utter exhaustion and sweet victory that accompanies successfully managing your life when spread almost too thin. I love the way my life is going right now and I’ve had some refreshing breakthroughs in the past few months but it hasn’t been without work. Adjusting to a new job, pouncing all over grad school (and owning it!), running a household and keeping two dogs happy all without my favorite person in the world coming home every day is…tiring and inspiring all at once. I feel like I must be some kind of amazing to be doing so well right now so excuse me while I give myself a little pat on the back. Also, I’m sorry that I haven’t taken time to write here in the past month but I just got back from a vacation and I feel as good as new.

Most of you, I think, know that I went to Vegas last week to spend my first anniversary with the boy. Let me just say, it was magical and exactly what I needed. It gave us much needed time to focus ourselves on each other again and think about all the things we’ve conquered, dragged each other through, or lost entirely. Being away and doing new things together gave me perspective to talk about new goals and adventures that I’d like to take on together. We woke up every day and did something different and fun and that’s kind of the magic of vacations, right? They renew your love for possibilities and give you the confidence to try things together or individually.

They’re also a bit addictive like a caffeine rush that gives you a boost and then drops you on your face a few days later. For me, it was hard to come home and settle back into my life here. I always feel like I need to be working towards a goal and after coming back from such a happy week, I felt like I had so much more work ahead of me. It wasn’t so much the school work or the job situation or any of the small things that I’ve set as goals on my list. Instead it was the big things that made me anxious. Things like finding a better place to live, in a city that’s more our speed and in a home that’s more functional for us. It also inspired some smaller improvements too, though.

Since we’re saving to travel this year, we decided it would be best to stay in our current rental home. This means we’re planning some upgrades that we wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. The first priority is our barely functional kitchen where I’m aiming to paint and add more storage. I’m currently doing some research on how to do this with a tiny budget but I’m excited for it. Who doesn’t love a challenge?

The trip to Vegas was an important milestone for us not just because we celebrated our first year together but because of what it taught us about vacations. I came away from it feeling like we should make our getaways more of a priority because not only do they give you something to look forward to, but they charge us as individuals and in our relationship. I’m ready to tackle things all over again and of course, missing my partner like never before at the same time.

A Study of Librarian Fashion

6 Oct

Hi, readers! Today’s post is a little different in that it’s also serving as a presentation for an assignment. Isn’t that nifty? It’s hardly work! We were asked to present our findings on either stereotypes of librarians or how learning spaces are formed and used. When I started thinking about all the points my classmates brought up about librarians–how our career choice is often perceived to be synonymous with a circulation clerk, how we’re always thought to be shushing people, or how when we tell people we’re going to grad school to become one, they tell you they didn’t think it was that hard–I couldn’t help but feel that people in my generation (the ones 30 and under right now) are changing what everyone says. I’ve seen several images in the fashion industry and other trends that cater to bookish, highly-educated women and that suggests to me that becoming a librarian is actually trendy right now. I’m sure a lot of my classmates will see this presentation as a flip on what they expected because it shows how librarians and nerdy people in general are coming into the spotlight in a more positive way (though still not in a perfect way).

I searched several ways for images of librarians and for the most part, first, let me say that they’re women. Rarely do my searches turn up any male figures, trendy or not. We all know the librarian profession to be dominated by women but literally the only man I can remember ever pictured in a library was Patrick Dempsey in the movie adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife. Such absence of visible male figures in the profession may be one reason why there continues to be so few of them.

From there, I’ll proceed by showing you first what I found from fashion catalogs.

 

This is taken from a J.Crew catalog and while you can’t be sure if she’s intended to be a librarian or patron, her outfit does send a message about you should look like in a library. Argyle sweaters and wool trousers are associated with a preppy style that implies at least moderate wealth. What I like about this picture is how happy the girl is to be in the reference section. Assuming that this is in an academic library, a more accurate picture might be an exhausted, make-up-less woman crying on the floor between shelves, but this is catalog-land and I like seeing an excited user portrayed no matter how unrealistic.

This picture is even more unclear. It could be a librarian in any kind of library but since I don’t see tags on the spines, I’m going to say that it’s actually meant to be a woman extravagantly dressed in her home library. No matter where she is, it’s clear that the environment is meant to simulate a library outside the home and what’s being said by her dress is that books are a special occasion. Finding one should be like going on a first date or meeting your significant other’s parents in that you should look your best. It’s interesting to me that books are this important in this photograph. They’re almost romantic in a way.

Finally, the above image was taken from Maurice’s website. This has a clearly retro feel to it and the vintage look is definitely pretty common in fashion right now. However, when I started to look for a correlation between images that turned up of libraries in fashion, I noticed that there’s an unusually similar look to the more recent ones. They’re almost always vintage looks with a few of the same characteristics: skirts or dresses (never pants), cardigans/sweaters or blazers, glasses, and smart shoes. To bring the point home, here are some images that I found while searching collections on sites like Polyvore and Pinterest where users can post their inspirations and ideas gather from any number of sources. All of these are user-generated looks.

These images are each very recent and as you can see, there’s a very strong retro aesthetic to the collections. Again and again, I encountered similar depictions of what a librarian should wear and as I continued to wonder why people strongly associate the dress code with a vintage feel, I came up with a couple conclusions. Drawing on the images from catalogs I’d come across, I decided that the reason people give a retro-inspired look to librarians is because there’s something nostalgic about reading books and working in a place that’s full of them. Part of the reason that people cling to their paper books in the wave of e-books is that they have a lingering romance with physical books. It makes perfect sense to me that a career involved in organizing, collecting, and caring for books inspires the same feelings. If books represent something old and beautiful, a librarian’s fashion should carry the beauty of older times.

I have another conclusion that’s a bit more disturbing, though. I think it’s equally likely that people dress librarians in old-style costume because they think the career is outdated. Perhaps when they picture a librarian, they see them in black and white movies or as little old ladies who haven’t jumped on the technology wave. We’ve all had someone ask if librarians are still going to be relevant so I don’t feel surprised by this possibility, however I’d like to see images of librarians catch up to our current capabilities. It’s great that reading and libraries are becoming culturally cool but they need to inspire everyone, not just the women reading magazines. (Read here for another article talking about this: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=66)

We’re no longer White women who sit behind desks and do nothing but check books in and out. We’re past gender and race now and we’re still validated by our communities who need information. Yes, we can absolutely be fashionable and trendy but hopefully as new and younger librarians take the career to new places, the images we see of them will more fully represent who we are. I’m inspired to be more vocal about the great amount of diversity in the field of librarianship and to encourage others to do the same. I think it’s especially important for male librarians to be put in the spotlight a little more often to prove that it’s a snazzy, cool, and fun line of work for anyone.

Here is a blog that’s working on doing exactly that: http://librarianwardrobe.tumblr.com/ It shows men and women of all races and in various library settings showing off their outfits. I love their tagline, “Not always buns and sensible shoes…”

Also, if you’re a visual person like me and you’d like to see more of the images I rounded up for this project, visit my Pinterest board made exactly for this: http://pinterest.com/brytani_fraser/librarian-fashion-research-project/

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