Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

The Summer of 2017

Summer 2017 has been full of ups and downs. The ups always outweigh the downs but it seems like this summer there have been quite a bit more downs than usual. While my journey of getting off of Prozac has probably contributed a bit to the greater frequency of downs, I’m not here to blame it all on that. I knew that with a radical change in my life there was bound to be things I needed to process and understand. I also recognize that it is ok to have these downs and to allow them to exist in my life as part of the entire picture.

I went to relax and this chair broke as I was sitting in it. I think it is a good metaphor for how life is going these days. Photo by Haley Hoenke because she is good at capturing the best moments.

I have been heard saying “holy shit, we are getting older and our boys are really growing up and becoming independent individuals” multiple times this summer. If I’m having one of my down days, I hibernate away from the world and eventually after I snap out of it. Then when I see Finn and Aero I get a bit down because I’ve missed a very special moment in time with them as I hid my head. The moments that we have in front of us are all that we have and if we miss out on them they’re gone forever. I feel like I’ve missed out on way too many moments with Finn, Aero, and Haley this summer. If I’m already in a down mood this just helps exaggerate that mood. I have to find a way to achieve a balance.

Finn and Aero are growing up into wonderful, unique human beings. Finn has a bit of inventor and engineer in him. We are doing all that we can to encourage and foster his curiosity. This summer he was in a number of camps that did just that and he actually asked us after they were done if he could continue doing them! That’s different than last year, when we could tell that he was itching to get to the end of camp season. Aero still wasn’t into going to summer camps and only ended up being part of the YWCA sports camp (which he really enjoyed). I have to remind myself that Aero is still just 5 years old and that he’s still really excited to have some special extra time with his Mom and Dad. He really enjoyed those moments with us this summer. Here’s some LEGO animations Finn made this summer. Enjoy.

We did a lot of gardening once again but nowhere near as much as we did in 2016. I think that has to do with the fact that Haley’s sister got married in May and that took up a lot of our focus. Nonetheless the gardens of Fidelia Hall were beautiful and bountiful and a lot of the stuff that was established this year will thrive for years to come (bamboo, blueberries, kiwi, and more!). We also finally got to reap in the rewards of our Fall 2016 garlic planting and boy oh boy do we have more than enough garlic to last us for the year.

And work on Fidelia Hall continued. The start of the summer led to a flurry of activity, mostly the beginnings of installing a heating system, an entrance, and painting the tin ceiling. After that flurry of activity things just kind of stopped. I don’t know exactly why. Lack of extra money coming was a factor, as was the reality that some people charge way too much when it comes to helping out with things like repair and renovation. I’m not built for physical labor, so after a lot of it I kind of shut down. It also didn’t help that our paint sprayer decided to stop cooperating with us. Anywho there is still work that needs to be done and eventually we will get there.



Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Six Months in a Leaky Boat

Aotearoa, rugged individual
Glisten like a pearl, at the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance, didn’t stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me? I’ll conquer and stay free

Ah c’mon all you lads, let’s forget and forgive
There’s a world to explore, tales to tell back on shore
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Six months in a leaky boat

Like the wonderful Split Enz song above, I feel as if I have just spent six months in a leaky boat. However as I write this I believe that the lines “Ah c’mon all you lads, let’s forget and forgive There’s a world to explore, tales to tell back on shore” sum up where I am now. I am here to tell you a brief tale of what I learned after I had spent six months in a leaky boat.

The climate here in the United States right now is one of fear, paranoia, and anger. Everyone seems to be fed up or fixated with something and social media has all given us a chance to share those thoughts. We are all broadcasting our inner selves and right now our inner selves are kind of dark. Losing two of our most beloved (Bowie and Prince) hasn’t helped make the sun shine more, and political seasons are always bitterly divided these days. February is just kind of blech. I went blank. I got dark. It was not pleasant and I felt an achin’ in my heart.

I think the sun coming out and the gardens full of green and the birds singing and the chickens and rabbits have helped me leave my leaky boat. There is a beauty in being outside, surrounded by brightness and people that you love. It makes the larger world that we all live in ceast to exist. The Trumps and the Clintons and the Kardashians don’t exist when I’m outside enjoying the piece of land that we call Fidelia Hall. All that exists is that moment and that moment is beautiful. Those people and those things that tug at our souls and allow darkness to enter us are not really there. They are not real when we exist in our moment.

I would not trade my recent six months in a leaky boat for anything because after all, it is the tough stuff that help you enjoy the great stuff. Growth, growth, growth. That’s the reason why I’m writing here. This is a living and breathing document and an example of how a human being can change.


Family, Libraries

To the Teens

Much of the writing that I do on this blog centers around teen library stuff…cool things that are going on, input on how to pull off projects, and more.  It’s meant for an entirely librarian audience.  Recently, a few teens in my community recently asked me about my blog (they found it through a Google Search) and why I only write about library stuff.  My response was: “Well, that’s what I do.  I’m a librarian and I like to share the cool things we do in the library.”  He came back with this: “Why don’t you ever write anything for teens that tell us about what life is like and all that, you know, stuff about growing up? That’s what I thought you’d write about.”  So that got me thinking about a post for teens.  And this is that post…

Hey teens that have used the library in the past, present, and future:

Hello from Justin The Librarian.  First up, let me say this: thank you.  Without you coming into the library to explore, hang out, and keep me on my toes, I wouldn’t have much to do in life.  I’d be pretty boring, lazy, and not that exciting.  You challenge me to be a better person.  Yes, even those times where you give me crap and try to annoy me…those are good times.  I dig those. 

A lot of you have asked me through the years what it’s like to be an adult and how you can get through this whole growing up thing.  I don’t have a magical answer for you, but I can share what it’s been like for me in hopes that you can borrow something from that and go ahead on your own path.

So you’re stuck in a crazy moment in your life and everything feels pretty shitty.  It’s like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel or something like that.  Give it time, because you’re going to be ok.  Even when things are at their worst, there is someone out you that cares for you.  It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a friend, a librarian, or just some random person.  They care.  Time has this awesome way of moving forward and making everything better.  It’s like magic.

You’ve probably heard an adult say that getting older is a pain in the butt.  They may say things like “my body always aches, there’s never enough money, you kids cost me so money, there’s never enough time to do this or that” and more.  Well, don’t listen to that because it’s not true at all.  Getting older is actually pretty awesome.

In your teens and twenties, a lot of people will look at you and your ideas and think they’re a bit bizarre and out there.  However, when you get into your late twenties/thirties something interesting happens…now that you’re older, people start to understand that you’ve had the experiences and matured enough that what you’re doing must be legit.  It’s kind of awesome.  Remember how I helped bring video games into the library for people to play and borrow?  When I talked about how libraries should be doing that when I was younger, people thought I was crazy.  When I got older and did it people thought it was a really great move.  Being 28 years old and having gone through years of video gaming helped me get to do that “crazy thing.”  So, yes, your bones may hurt a bit more (it happens) but you get to do a lot of cool shit when you’re older.

I’ve heard “I don’t want to have kids or a family because it’s too much time, money, and you lose a part of yourself” so many times.  That’s all a bunch of crap.  Having a family is one of the best things that you can choose to do in this life.

Family makes you stronger.  They challenge you to be a better person and to rise above any laziness or selfishness that you may have inside of you.  They make you smile.  When someone in your family does something amazing, you can’t help but smile and be filled up with joy.  You don’t lose who you are when you have a family.  You become more of yourself than you’ve ever been before.

That’s not to say that family doesn’t take a lot of time.  It does.  Anything that you love takes a lot of time.  But it’s all good time.  The time and love put into your family is one of the best things you can do while you’re here on earth.

I used to have long hair.  I used to dress a bit cooler than I do now.  I used to go a lot more places and do a lot more adventurous things.  I had a part time job at a thrift store.  These days, my hair is shorter, I wear what feels comfortable to me, and I like to stay at home a lot. I also have a full time job. That’s not lame at all and I haven’t lost my cool or sold out or anything.

As you get older, you change, you slow down, and you start to enjoy every little thing a lot more.  You’re not a sell out.  In fact, everything is going to plan.  You’re growing more into the person that you’ve always wanted to be.

I think you know what I mean here.  It’s a funny thing in life, but it’s very true: people can totally tell when you’re faking it.  Don’t be one of the people that fakes it.  Life is too awesome to spend all of your time pretending that you’re something other than yourself.


The Ups and Downs




It’s hard for me to stay positive all the time.  I’m not always rainbows, unicorns, and disco dancing.

In the past few months of my life, I’ve hit two points in my career as a librarian where I’ve thought about giving it up to be a mailman/house husband/professional video game tester*.  They’re well documented on Twitter.  Go ahead, search it out.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Last week’s journey to the depths of library depression came from two things:


I know David Lee King and Andy Woodworth weren’t out to get me with their posts**.  They’re both wonderful and brilliant dudes and have excellent things to say.  In fact, their posts really bring up some great ideas for libraries.  However, bringing up this library rockstar thing once again really bugged me.

There’s just something cocky that comes with the rockstar tag.  I don’t know what it exactly is and I don’t think I can perfectly capture it in this blog post but…well I guess it has a lot to do with ego.  This sense that you are everything and the world revolves around you.  I got a sense of that during my experiences at ALA 2010 and I did not like it at all.  I feel like that if we can bypass the rock star tag and all the trappings of it we can move on to bigger, better, and more productive things.  David Lee King is right…Why NOT “showcase” some of our fine staff a bit? But do we have to call it rock stars?   Can’t we just be awesome people?  Community supporters?  Very nice librarians?  Let’s not cut and paste a stereotype from another profession into our own.  Let’s create something that transcends rock star.


I’ve heard it pop up on Twitter many times.  “I’m never gonna be one of those librarians that shushes my patrons.”  Yeah, well I never thought I’d be that person either.***

Last week, the teen area at my library hit new highs.  With those awesome highs however came some not so awesome lows.  First up, the highs.  On average, we’ve been getting anywhere from 40-60 teens in our area between 2:15pm-4:45pm every day after school.  That’s a huge win.  They’re coming over to the library to use our computers, meet with their friends, work on school/personal stuff, and more.  We’re the community center for a large group of Portland teens. AWESOME!

On the other hand, I’m finding out that a recently renovated and state of the art teen library doesn’t go without its flaws as well.  Noise travels, there’s never enough room, things get damaged, and nothing is ever enough.  Just when you give the latest technology to teens there’s something that comes along that makes it void in an instant.  And there’s always a few teens that are just out to push buttons.  They want to see how you react.  They can smell your blood, dammit.

I’m not going to get into specifics because it doesn’t matter, but all in all what I’m trying to say is that with your ups you have your downs. Just when you think life is perfect and you’re riding the waves of success, the next minute you’re going back over the fine details to retool your methods.  It’s a hard game.  I really don’t want to play it all the time, but as much as I’d like to be a house husband whose main goal in life is to learn how to bake really awesome bread, I know I wouldn’t be 100% happy.  I’m a librarian because I want to have a positive impact on the people I interact with.  I want to make my community a stronger and happier place to live.  My mission isn’t done, so that baking bread and sleeping in till noon thing has to wait….for now.****






Those horrible twenties.

Me circa mid-twenties. Long hair, emotional, and having no clue who I really am

In around two weeks, I’ll say goodbye to my twenties forever.  I couldn’t be happier.  But at the same time, I’m looking back at how helpful those years were and I realize that I had to go through everything I ended up going through.

Someone very near and dear to me in their twenties is going through what I’m calling the “twenties mid life crisis”, this thing that we all go through when we’re  desperately trying to find ourselves.  We’re clinging to anything and everything that comes our way in hopes that this will lead us into adulthood.  The hardest part is that even though I made it through those times and I have some wisdom, I can’t just give it all to them and expect them to get it.  A brain dump doesn’t work.  A lecture doesn’t work.  They just have to go through it, hard times and all, and all I can do is hope for the best.  A good friend calls this “cutting the cord”.  Garsh.  Sounds like an episode of LOST (which I miss already by the way).

Despite having this nagging feeling in my tummy to do everything I can to help out, I know my friend is right.  I look back on my own experience in my twenties, which I will now bore you with.  I wanted to be a musician.  Problem was, I didn’t know music had a lot to do with being yourself.  I tried to be Brian Wilson and Rivers Cuomo for a long time.  The problem there?  I’m not shy and I don’t want to stay in bed all day.  I then tried to put on Marc Bolan’s sexy boots, but that’s just not me.  I lept from friend to friend, girlfriend to girlfriend, and I just couldn’t find anything that stuck (sure, some people stuck with me, but in the general scheme of things I was confused)

Then I had enough, packed it all up and moved to Washington state for about a year.  I got a cat and learned to take care of myself in what seems to be a mix of just pure growing up and luck.  It was difficult.  I was lonely and very confused, but I think I came out of it ok.  I’m now a proud husband, father, and I’m happy to be a librarian.  But between the ages of 22 and 24, I was pretty miserable.

I’m looking forward to 30.  I know I’ve got a lot to learn and there will be ups and downs, but I’m happy to have the experience of my twenties behind me so that I can move forward onto bigger and better things.