18 October 2010
Day 205: Role Models
In the chapter where Waters meets Little Richard he closes by asking, "Are there some role models you should never meet?" For me, I would say that you shouldn't select a role model without meeting them. Of course, I didn't have very many options to choose from growing up. There weren't a whole lot of characters like me on television, the closest probably being Clarissa from the Nick show Clarissa Explains It All and she was a good eight years older than me. Certainly by the time I was a teenager I was being told by television that I was too fat to be anything other than an ugly but kindhearted sidekick at best (the one that knows the boy isn't good for her friend but is ignored because she's supposedly "jealous," etc.).
There definitely weren't many "real" people I remember looking up to. I watched the news only when I was waiting for my mom or dad to relinquish control of the TV after watching their news program (usually 60 Minutes). There were a number of people in my life that I did look up to, but it was much easier to see that they were people and inherently flawed like the rest of us. In some ways, that made it easier to shoot for a successful, if unglamorous, life because I was surrounded by regular people who had already obtained the things I more or less aspired to, in a way that I found reasonable. And really all I wanted and still want is a decent job that I enjoy at least most of the time, a place of my own (regardless of whether I hold the deed), a reasonably nice car, and friends and family to spend time with.
Today most of my role models include fairly regular people who have done pretty well for themselves. These are normal, well-adjusted adults and all people who I have or have had at least an acquaintance with. They are people I respect and admire, not only for their accomplishments, but for the way they look at life and treat other people. I want to talk about two of them here, not because they are better than any of the other role models in my life, but because they are the two I have been thinking about recently. Both happen to be librarians, well, one was a librarian anyway.
The first is Joe Cali, who would have celebrated his 82nd birthday yesterday had he not passed in February of 2007. Joe was definitely a librarian's librarian. He died on his feet working, which is probably the way he planned to go anyway. He did an incredible job of building Antioch College's serials collection, and for that reason it is still one of the most heavily borrowed-from libraries in Ohiolink if one takes into account the size of the library and the collection itself. He may have been a bit curmudgeonly at first glance, but he always had a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step. I always tried to stay ahead of him, which sometimes got me in trouble as one of his favorite sayings was, "Never take initiative," the idea being if you took initiative without knowing what you were doing you would probably mess things up and create even more work for yourself or (worse) someone else. It's probably why I'm so obnoxious about asking questions or reading and rereading instructions before I start doing something. I can still hear his voice and the jangle of keys as he comes by to spout the usual line of Joe-isms. Another favorite being, "Don't fall down," good advice if I ever heard it.
The second, and most recent addition, to my roll call of role models is...Nancy Pearl. This may seem like an obvious and somewhat typical selection, but honestly it wasn't until I actually met her that I really wanted to be more like her. I mean, yeah, who doesn't want to be an action figure? But I admire her more for her work as an advocate of reading and readers' advisory and being just an all around nice person than I do for a piece of plastic that was modeled after her. I mean, how many celebrities do you know that would A) let you take your picture with them B) let you hug them after the picture was taken and after asking nicely C) at a later event was just as excited as you to actually see the picture, sign it, and even more excited to receive a copy of it with this big nobody. Granted, she is not exactly a big deal outside of the library world, but I imagine she gets stopped on the street frequently enough by other nutty librarians (which is pretty much all of us) to probably get tired of it, and yet she is extremely enthusiastic and kind and wonderful. It sort of makes me want to be the next Nancy Pearl, if only to make other young librarians thrilled to be associated with such wonderful people.
My review can be found on Goodreads. If I used a rating system on this blog, it would receive two pancakes and a waffle, the term waffle having a double meaning. Mmmm waffles.