Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The FDL Fan Club

Last night I did something that I have never done before. I joined a fan club! I’ve always thought that fan clubs are silly. The only other fan club I ever considered joining was the Dr. Hook fan club, but, alas, I have never found such a thing. More’s the pity, too. Dr. Hook is awesome! They do have a web page, but it’s not well maintained. Oh, well. I have my memories! What possessed me to join this particular fan club is beyond me. It could be the combination of stress, fatigue, excitement and upheaval that currently dominates my life has made my brain go a bit mushy. Normally, I would never ever even contemplate becoming part of a group of people that call themselves fans. The very word fan, deriving from fanatic, is the off-putting part of the whole concept. It denotes obsession and an unhealthy attachment. Not my style. Not that I don’t obsess over things or have never formed an unhealthy attachment to anything, but to formally announce it to the world by joining a fan club is just too much. I doubt that my membership to my new fan club is not going to impact my life in any major way. It is, in the extreme, unlikely that I will ever be found in an all-night line up to meet the object of my fan-dom, or collect memorabilia, or spend every penny I have following said object of my fan-dom around the world. I will not plaster my walls with photos, nor will commemorate my devotion with a tattoo, nor will I dress like, talk like or otherwise try to embody this rising star’s image. I will not be obsessive or form an unhealthy attachment. Even if I wanted to do any of those things, it would be quite impossible, for the object of my fan-dom is not a real person. Doesn’t exist! Except in the imagination of a brilliant and refreshing novelist named Alan Bradley, who has blessed the literary world with his divine and inspired creation: Flavia de Luce. Flavia de Luce is the adorable and precocious eleven-year-old heroin in what is to be a series of six novels of mystery and intrigue as seen through her eyes. The books are a revival of the old-fashioned whodunit without gore, without graphically depicted violence, without profanity and without making one want to sleep with the light on. Yet they keep you up way past a sensible hour, turning pages, giggling, holding your breath in suspense and cheering young Flavia on. Through her adventures, Flavia has been an inspiration in my own life. Her determination and resolve has, like no other character before her, encouraged me to look at my own life very differently. She may be fictitious, but she crawled, nonetheless, into my heart and left an indelible message there: Just do it! Flavia is unaware of her limitations and so does not let them stop her from doing what she needs to do. She has woken my own inner child up and given her permission to... Well, just do it! She has come to symbolize freedom and hope and courage. I suppose my entry into the Flavia de Luce fan club is my way of paying homage to that symbolism, my way of embracing and connecting to that curious child within me. And honestly, if I could, I would stand in line all night for the opportunity to shake her hand!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Identity Crisis

Being a small town library in Northern BC is not without its entertainment value, especially when the small town that we are in shares it’s name with a much, much bigger– not to mention well-known – city in the United States. But here in tiny little Houston, BC, we get an inordinate number of calls and e-mails from people looking for the Houston, Texas Public Library.

Last month I received a call from a very nice lady from a South Texas library inquiring about a missing Inter-library Loan. The accent twigged and I asked her what library she was from. I wish I had written it down because I now cannot remember the name of the town way down on the southern tip of the state. (I think it was Olmito, but I’m not entirely positive of that.) When I explained that she had reached Houston, BC – in Canada! – she was stunned. Several seconds of silence followed my announcement before she said, “How am I going to explain this phone call?” I seriously sympathized with her.

Today, a young girl, probably in her early to mid-teens called to ask if anyone had found her binder that she had left by the computers yesterday. The connection was not a good one, sounding like a cell phone call from the outer edge of a service area, so I missed any tell-tale accent that might have given me a clue to her location. I asked her to hold while I popped out of my office to go and take a look. No binder. I gave her the sad news, but assured her that we would keep our eyes open for it and took down her name and number. It was a Texas exchange. She hung up before I could give her more sad news. (Wait until Mom gets the phone bill!)

E-mail queries through our web site come in on a very regular basis. Often people ask about back issues of major Houston (TX) newspapers, looking for obituaries or articles about their late, great-grandmas. Others wonder why they can’t log into their accounts. I get asked to renew books and update addresses. The other day a woman asked if I could give her a tally of the number of volunteer hours she put in two years ago at the ‘down-town’ branch. I have no doubt that the fact that the Houston (TX) Public Library having 40+ branches only adds to the confusion.

My favourite call was from a disgruntled patron who had been mistreated by an apparently equally disgruntled circulation clerk who refused to check out a book on the basis of the patron owing a large amount in overdue fines to the library. This was not an acceptable way to treat a faithful and long-standing patron since the overdue material had all been returned and she didn’t have her purse with her at the moment, but would come back on Saturday to deal with it!

I wanted to tell her to go back and tell the circulation clerk that I said it was okay for her to take out the books and pay the fines on Saturday, but the angel on my right shoulder punched the devil on my left shoulder in the nose and won that ethical debate. There is honour among librarians!

I simply sympathized with her for her plight and then explained her that I was unable to help due to the fact that I was in Houston, BC and had no influence over the staff or the policies in Houston, TX. She called me a liar, told me that she had lived in Houston all her life and had never heard of the British Columbia branch. Then she hung up, making me quite glad that the angel had triumphed.

While it is comforting to know that our web site comes up so readily when people are searching for Houston Public Library, I have to wonder how this happens so often. When I Google Houston Public Library without any qualifiers, the Houston (TX) Public Library comes up at the top of the list every time. So, what are people searching for that brings them to us instead? Every now and then I ask one of these wayward patrons how they found us. The answers range from: “I Googled you,” to “I looked it up on the Internet,” to “I asked my mom and she told me.” One lady asked me if it mattered and one man told me it was none of my business. And once, an e-mail patron said, “I looked you up in the phone book.” I’m still trying to work out the logistics of that one.

Reactions to finding out that they have reached a Houston Public Library, in what some seem to believe must be another dimension, vary as well. Usually I get a sheepish “Thank you for your time.”, along with an apology for bothering me, but sometimes they act like they are on one of those hidden camera shows. “Is this a joke?” “What is going on here?” “You’re kidding, right?” I can visualize them poking around the foliage of their house plants in search of the camera. Once I had a patron ask to speak to my superior. Not to appear vain, but I just couldn’t help him. So I invited him to submit a letter in triplicate to the board of directors and hand-deliver it to his local branch. (The devil won that time.)

I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone from Houston, BC Googling the Houston Public Library, finding the Houston, TX site and following through with a call or an e-mail. Part of me wants to believe that would never happen. Part of me knows that it is quite possible. Hopefully, it is just a matter of being too embarrassed to admit it if it did! The stereo-type dictates that chances are greater that a Houston, TX patron would make the mistake, but we all know that in reality, statistically speaking, the population of Houston, TX fulfills the larger side of whatever the ratio of Houston, Texas to Houston, BC patrons calling the wrong library might be. If, for instance, the ratio were 1:1,000,000, then only two people in Houston, BC have ever done such a thing. Seeing as Houston, TX has a population of about 2,000,000 people and at least 50 of them have e-mailed or called in the three years that I have been working at HPL (BC), that still means that only a tiny fraction of one Houston, BC patron could have made the same mistake, and it’s impossible for .008 of a person to do that. I think we’re safe.

Now I have to wonder if the library in Houston, Scotland ever receives calls or e-mails from people in Texas…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Gonna Be Awesome!

I can’t believe that I’m doing this. It’s the craziest, most daring thing that I’ve done in my entire life. I’m not sure what is pulling me in this direction, but it’s a path that I cannot deter from and I can’t help but wonder where it is leading.

It’s my tendency, no matter how I try not to, to analyse everything. Looking at things that are happening in my life I am pointed first to the past, specifically about three years ago when I was first hired at the library. It was about that same time, perhaps a bit earlier, that I really began to realize that I was not very happy. I didn’t feel right about where I was or where I was going and I didn’t feel like I could completely depend on certain aspects of my life to support my needs.

My original position at the library was certainly not going to provide all the answers. Within a few months, though, I found myself being pushed into the position that I now hold. In spite of railing with all my might against it, I submitted my application, sat through the interview and accepted the job.

For the last three years, I have been fighting another current, furiously paddling against it and hoping to stay out of turbulent waters. Hah! Like I could have ever triumphed over the flow of life!

When things transpire in my life, I often wonder how much free will I do possess in relation to how much my life is mapped out for me. I have often said that life tries to be gentle with us. But when we miss, or refuse to follow, the signs, eventually it will pick us up and turn us around and give us a swift kick in the keister if we try to resist. But now I wonder if that is true at all. Now I wonder how much of what is happening is due to the fact that I asked for it.

The old saying: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it, hangs ominously around each and every decision that I make these days. What is it that I really want? Is what I’m doing really leading me to that eventuality or am I heading for disaster? Can I handle it? Can I live with the consequences of the decisions I’m making? Are the sacrifices worth the gain? Is the gain worth the sacrifices? Am I merely taking a giant leap of faith, or am I manifesting a better life?

Since becoming the Chief Librarian at HPL, I have definitely been pulling away from my old life. Some say it’s hormones. Some say that becoming a grandmother messed with my head. Some call it a mid-life crisis. I just call it exciting. And terrifying.

I think that doubt is a good thing – if properly used. Doubt is nothing more than a check point, a pause to reflect, review and affirm, or reject and realign, as the case may be. And boy, oh boy, have I had my doubts about all this! Those niggling fears of failure creep in and do their best to choke out the hope and the joy. But from some as yet untapped depth, without fail, rises a strong and confident voice that says: You can do this! You deserve this! Everything is going to be okay and all is going to fall into place. Be patient! (Not one of my better-refined virtues.)

The vision remains strong and clear. I see myself in my new life doing things that I really want to do. I have a great job that I love and I intend to work hard at developing Yemalla’s Moon Designs. I love designing and I think that I can be really good at it. I think that I can make it into something amazing. I see my new home filled with the light of creativity. I can smell the soup simmering and the biscuits baking. I can hear the voices of loved ones gathered around my table, laughing, crying, sharing, growing, creating, eating, living! I can see my studio filled with beautiful designs. I can see a future filled with goodness, wellness, prosperity, happiness and peace. Yes, the vision is so, so clear.

I look around my current home, the one that I’ve lived in for the past 23+ years and I know that it is time to let it go. It’s going to be strange not coming back here after a day at work. Everything I do here, everything I touch brings with it a flood of memories. The day that Elizabeth batted a rock that hit her dad’s van and broke the head light, the mound of dirt in the back yard that Tracy spent months digging in looking for her “ten-thousand baby Lisas,” the first time Ali rode a bike, the night that Eric spent in the bathroom trying to fix his chipped tooth with fibre glass, the pets – the many, many, many pets that have called this place home... There has been a lot of love, a lot of laughter, and more than a few tears (both happy and sad).

But something is different now. Something has changed that compels me to find a new place to build new memories. Something is missing that makes it feel like it isn’t mine anymore. My stuff just feels out of place here now. I feel out of place here now. It’s like this place is done with me. And I am done with it.

Moving out, moving on, and perhaps most importantly, moving up! And that is what keeps my faith in all this alive – moving up – because that is what I feel like I’m doing. It’s no less scary, but it is most certainly thrilling.

I was led back to the library for a reason. And now it is time to use that gift for the purpose it was intended, namely to take my place in the world as an independent woman with the strength and intelligence to make it on my own. Hmmm.... On my own! It has an oddly nice ring to it.

Just for the fun of it, I’m thinking about buying some cement bricks and 2” x 10” planks to make shelving out of. If I can find one of those cable spools that kids are so fond of using as coffee tables, I might just drag one home. I’ve never been on my own before, never had my own place or the freedom to fill it with funky treasures that I find. I can’t wait for garage-sale season to start!

Well, there are a few more hurdles to leap over and I hope to do it gracefully without falling flat on my face. I’m okay with the odd stumble. As long as I don’t lose this forward momentum, I’ll be fine. If I’m truly meant to get this house, I will. If not, there are other options. It will work out!

And it’s gonna be awesome!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Am Woman! Hear Me Roar!

This has been an exciting week for me. Things are happening in my life that I never really thought would, or believed could. When I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to take control of my life, things started to change. As the changes progress and evolve I find myself fascinated at the empowerment I feel. I can do this. I can have the life that I want and deserve.

This may not be shaping up to be the bohemian life style that I fantasize about. I’m not even certain what form it’s all taking, but there are definite signs that my life is finally moving in a more positive direction. With each tentative step forward that I take, I feel myself filling with confidence. The sense of adventure and discovery is delightful. And, sure, I’m nervous about it all, but I cannot stop this forward momentum that is opening doors and I don’t want to.

What amazes me more than anything is the overwhelming support from other people. Some are friends. Some are family. Some are colleagues. Some are mere acquaintances. But they are coming forward and offering, with genuine intent, to help in so many ways. They care. It’s incredible.

When I first came to Houston, I was only supposed to be here for a couple of months. A drastic change of plans prevented me from ending up in Cold Lake, Alberta, where my family originally planned to go. Thirty-two years later, I’m still here. I’ve wanted to leave Houston pretty much since I arrived. Life, though, has conspired to keep me quite solidly rooted in this strange little community that I have not appreciated half as much as I should have.

Houston has an amazing capacity to come together and help out whenever help is needed. Opening myself up to accepting help has never come easily to me. In fact, I always kind of resented it when people wanted help. I felt like I was losing control and having to take what was given instead of choosing what I wanted for myself. The fact that I never bothered to assert myself enough to go after the things that I wanted escaped me entirely until just this past week. Duh! And here I am – finally! – saying, “Enough, already! I’m not going to take it. No, I ain’t gonna take it. I’m not going to take it anymore!” (Twisted Sister, 1984)

The result has been an out-pouring of support and generosity that, oddly enough, does not feel the least bit oppressive or domineering. Rather, it is more like... What’s the word I’m looking for?... Love? Yes, that’s it. Love. It feels like love. And - again finally – I understand!

Love is very simply this: I have something that you need that I think would help you out and make your life better. If you feel the same way, it’s yours, because I care about you and want you to be happy.

No pressure. No it’s my way or the highway. No strings attached. No checks and balances. No you owe me. Just kindness; simple kindness and generosity and LOVE.

I am engulfed in gratitude. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am. When I hear someone say, “Don’t worry, I have a couch you can have,” or, “I have some dishes that I can give you,” or “I’ll come and help you move,” or, “I can come and help you build a fence for your dogs,” I’m in awe. Utter and complete awe. And gratitude.

Really? You’d do that for me? You won’t make me figure this all out by myself? Wow! Thank you.

Even stranger is knowing that “thank you” is enough. That and the unspoken request that I pass it forward at some point when I have the ability to do the same for someone else.

I feel myself softening. I don’t really know how to explain that, but that is the word that best describes the way I do feel. The phrase Letting go is starting to make sense. The tightness is loosening. The anger is ebbing. The frustration is melting. The stress is dissolving. The shell is cracking. The to-do list is growing!

With nothing yet written in stone, I also feel I need to be cautious. You know, don’t count my chickens before they’re hatched and all that. I hardly slept last night thinking about how amazing things might be in just a few weeks. I deserve this. I’ve earned it. I can do it. And, while the sacrifices that I’m going to have to make in order for it all to come together are a little heart-rending and raw yet, I can handle it.

I am woman! Hear me roar!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Press One if You Feel Like Choking the Robot That Answers the Phone When You Call a Business

Librarians, by nature, are a frugal bunch, always looking for ways to save money without compromising service. It’s practically a science!

So when a trusted source came along and offered to save us a significant amount of money on our Internet service, I, of course, said, “Sure! Why not?”

The unfortunate consequence to this bit of budget-motivated acquiescence was that I was required to make a call to our current Internet service provider to make arrangements to cancel the ADSL so that the new service could be set up. This filled me with heart-palpitating trepidation, thinking that it was not going to be a simple process. And it wasn’t.

I kept putting it off, finding other more important things to do with my time. Things like sharpening my pencils and lining up the edges of the stacks of papers and files on my desk. I even cleaned out the junk box in my desk drawer that used to hold all the odds and ends that I’ve collected over the years with that frugal-librarian mentality of possibly finding a use for them some day. But when the IT guy who is setting up the new service walked into my office and asked if I had called to cancel the ADSL yet, I knew I was busted. I looked for more pencils to sharpen, but couldn’t find any.

So I took a deep breath and dialed. Expecting to be on hold for ever and a day, I set the phone to speaker phone and hunkered in for the long haul. Much to my surprise an agent answered within a minute and I began to explain what it was that I wanted. About half way through my request, the agent cut me off and informed me that she could not help me. I was duly puzzled, but waited for the explanation as to why. Apparently our little library with its single line and two ISP #s was classed as a “big business account” and could only be handled by our personal sales rep. I was given a direct number and the rep’s name, and then was – theoretically – transferred to him by the agent.

Here I must digress just a little. Getting to the agent was not a simple process either. After dialing I was coached by an effeminate robotic voice to first enter my phone number beginning with the area code and second to “listen carefully to the following options.” Rebelliously, I pressed one and waited. A serious of chimes indicated that something was happening and then some elevator music filled my office. I was on hold. A few seconds into the bad music another robotic female voice thanked me for my patience and informed me that all agents were currently busy but my call was important to her (it?) and that the fastest way to get service was to stay on the line. I wasn’t going anywhere. That’s what the chocolate was for. I was mistakenly happy when the bad music was cut off and a real live person – also female - asked me how she could help. The fact that she couldn’t help made me long for the bad music to return and more chocolate to get me through it.

While I was left on hold for the big business sales rep to come on the line, I admittedly made some sarcastic remarks about the situation to the IT guy who was working on the computer outside my office. I think that my call was being recorded for quality purposes and that whoever was doing the recording took offence to my complaints, because the next thing I knew the line went dead and yet another female robot told me to hang up and try my call again. So I went to the washroom.

Another deep breath prepared me to dial the big business sales rep’s direct number and after only one ring yet another robotic female answered and informed me that “the person you are trying to reach does not yet have a voice mail account set up. Good-bye.”

Not only had I had my fill of robotic females, but I was beginning to surmise that this was all just a ruse to make me change my mind about switching Internet service providers. Seriously, it is the easier option. But it had become a matter of principle and I was determined to talk to a real person and get what I wanted. I also had plans to complain profusely about the robotic females, getting cut of – by a phone company, no less! – and the big business dude’s lack of a voice mail account. So I ate a thingy of yogurt and dialed the business account number again.

Robotic female, enter phone number, listen to options… blah, blah, blah.

This time I just pressed 0 and listened while the disappointed robotic female agreed to put me through to the next available agent.

Back on hold. But this time I held my tongue so I would offend anyone and get hung up on again.

A real live person answered within a few minutes. I politely explained what I wanted and she happily asked me when I wanted the service to be discontinued. I gave her a date. Sorry, they don’t disconnect ADSL service on Mondays. But Tuesdays were good. How about a Tuesday? Stupidly, I asked why.

“It’s a manned station,” she said, like I knew what that was (or cared). “They only go out there on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

A quick consultation with the IT guy and we agreed to take what we could get. Theoretically, the work order to disconnect the ADSL has been submitted and now we wait with bated breath to see a) if it will actually happen; and b) if it will happen without screwing anything else up. I am mentally preparing now for shear and utter chaos to descend as the library will be open and we depend entirely on the Internet to run our ILS. Even the simple task of checking a book in or out requires the Internet to happen. It’s going to be a long Tuesday!

I wish I knew what happened to customer service. These call answering systems have done nothing to improve it. Indeed, they have only increased frustration and stress levels for both customers and businesses. I do not understand why they have not been eliminated as the banes of existence that they are. No one wants to talk to a recording. It just does not make any sense.

The other day I even e-mailed my MP and informed him that I did not appreciate being called by a recording of his voice inviting me to participate in a riding-wide teleconference. I complain about these things every time I get the chance. I can’t even call my local bank directly. When I dial the number, I get an answering system and when, at last, a real person comes on line, he or she is in Winnipeg, has never heard of Houston, BC (and often asks if I got the right number!), and makes me cringe when they start telling me how much they know about my personal finances. It makes me cranky.

I think it’s time to start a revolution. I’m not anit-technology; I’m anti-robot/recorded messages. And I do take some small comfort in knowing that the inventor of the systems that businesses use did not intend for them to be ABused the way that they are.

I’m thinking FB page to start… We’ll see. If the ADSL switch over goes even kind of well, I might not feel as cantankerous as I do now. In the meantime, I will be giving plenty of thought to the insanity of answering systems and recorded messages and how to make a difference for the greater good.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Help! I'm Stepping into the Twilight Zone

It all started with a missing audio book. While processing four blocks of juvenile audio books for the NCLF, my intrepid volunteer discovered that one was missing. We sorted through all four blocks, checking titles and double-checking our results. Confirmed! One audio book was just not there.

There was no need to panic. It was quite possible that the missing item was at the federation manager’s house, a straggler that simple didn’t make the journey to the library. I dashed off an e-mail asking her to look for it. She dashed one back saying that she didn’t have it. The seeds of frustration were beginning to sprout.

We re-checked the boxes containing the blocks of audio books. We checked the shelves in case it was inadvertently mistaken as one of belonging to HPL. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t anywhere. Another e-mail. Another reply that didn’t solve the problem. Another search through the boxes and shelves. Three people and a couple of hours of searching and the result remained unchanged. No audio book.

Okay, frustration was growing, but there was one last hope. Enter A, the Assistant Librarian. I asked her if she recalled seeing it while she was processing the blocks. She said she did not recall it specifically and asked which block it belonged to. I showed her the box holding the missing audio book’s block compatriots, which she opened. Without hesitation, she reached into the box and withdrew the missing audio book from the top of the pile. “You mean this one?” she asked.

I could not believe my eyes. There it was. Right on top of all the rest of the audio books. I shook my head and thanked A for solving that little mystery.

Next came the bill from ULS for February. ULS is the library’s main supplier of books and bills us monthly for the orders we receive from them. The statement listed six invoices, but I could only match three of them to orders I had received and posted. Another e-mail was dashed off to the wonderful ULS employee whose job it is to track down wayward shipments and invoices. While waiting for her reply, one of the missing shipments was delivered. Partial relief and another e-mail to let her know ensued.

I wasn’t terribly worried. If the shipments went missing, they would be replaced and I would not have to pay for them until they were received. But still! The invoices were dated three weeks earlier and that just seemed like a very long time for them to be in transit with the courier. I didn’t want to complain too heavily as the option to the courier is the mail and that would mean having to pick up the boxes from the post office. I much prefer having them delivered to my door.

I had a few days before the bookkeeper was going to be in to pay bills, so I decided not to give the problem too much of my time and attention. It was in good hands with ULS. They always come through in the end.

Then the phone rang. It was ULS calling to let me know that the missing shipments had been signed for at the library by the Circulation Clerk on March 2nd. What?! And more importantly, then where the heck were they?

Once again A came to the rescue. I asked her if she recalled seeing any of the missing books and read off the titles, which had been provided by ULS. She pointed to the cart full of books that she was cataloguing and said that they were all there. I had checked the cataloguing shelf when the statement first arrived to see if maybe the books had been put there with the invoices. They weren’t there. They weren’t there the previous day when I put three other books on the shelf to be catalogued. A said they were there that morning when she arrived. Impossible!

Now to locate the missing invoices. Glad that the books, at least, were accounted for, I returned to my office with the intention of e-mailing ULS to let them know that we had found the books and request copies of the invoices. You’ll never guess what I found sitting on top of some papers waiting to be filed. That’s right – the missing invoices. I had torn my office apart, going through every paper and file on my desk not half an hour earlier, and yet there they were. In plain view. Right in front of me.

Baffled, but relieved, I carried on with my day only to discover that yet another object had taken a quantum leap into some worm hole that has apparently opened up in the library. It is my habit when I arrive at work to remove my cell phone from its case and place it on top of the case on the left side of my computer monitor. An alert on my cell phone indicated that an e-mail had arrived and I reached over to check what it was. My pretty yellow case was not in its proper place under the cell phone.

I launched a search for it, shuffling files and papers and crawling under my desk. I pulled my purse and my bag apart hoping that I had – for some unknown reason – tossed it back into one of them instead of putting it on my desk. It was nowhere to be found. I asked the staff if they had seen it. No one had. I reshuffled papers and files. I crawled back under my desk. I even rifled through the garbage can. No case. I told myself that it was only a case. At least the cell phone had not disappeared and, hopefully, like the other things that had gone missing, it would turn up.

So far, the case remains... undetectable. I am not entirely sure that it is lost. I just can’t see it. I couldn’t see the audio book, the orders or the invoices and yet they were, to all intents and purposes, right where they belonged. Only when A entered the picture did they reveal themselves. Perhaps I will ask her to sit at my desk and see if she attracts it back out of its current state of invisibility. (Or I can go and buy a new one.)

I am completely baffled by these strange disappearances and even more so by their strange reappearances, welcome as they were! How could three people not see the same audio book? How could I not see seven books on an otherwise empty shelf? How could I not see two invoices sitting on my desk? How did the books and invoices get onto the shelf and my desk in the first place? And how did the cell phone case wiggle out from under the cell phone and vanish?

Help I'm steppin' into the twilight zone
The place is a madhouse
Feels like being blown
My beacon's been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go
Now that I've gone too far

Fade to black. Cue TZ theme song....