Kelsey vs. the Librarians

I think I’ve been placed on some kind of watchlist at the library. Whenever I enter, an alarm sounds. (It doesn’t matter that I can’t actually hear the alarm. I know it exists.) The librarians squint at me from beneath furrowed brows as I drag Oscar past the fish tanks and into the relative safety of the play area. I’m also certain that security cameras follow my every move, and not just because of the one time I didn’t drag fast enough and Oscar practiced his new drum solo right on top of the cherished Angelfish.

I blame children’s magazines.


In my elementary school days, I was awash with writerly success — I won savings bonds, had my stories animated for children’s shows, and performed poetry for the local school board. While I expect that my prized status had more to do with the fact that I spent all of my time entering contests and less to do with actual merit, I could still claim that I was an award-winning author.

In middle and high school, I continued to enter my writing in various contests and would occasionally win awards, but I was much more likely to pen angry poems about angels and drowning and bruises and squirrel them away in notebooks, never to see the light of day.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve submitted my work anywhere, and for some reason, when you’re an adult, no one cares that your poem about snowflakes won first prize in some regional contest when you were eleven. (I do maintain that that was a damn good poem, though.) Now that I am old and grey and unable to stop writing long enough to feed myself anything other than peanut butter crackers, I feel that same urge I did in elementary school. I want to write. More than that, I want to share my writing.

That’s how I first angered the librarians this past fall. Buoyed by bright, shiny optimism, I decided to read a bunch of children’s magazines to get a sense of what kind of work they’re publishing. When I approached the circulation desk carrying 27 back issues of Spider and Cricket, the librarian’s face fell. As it turned out, the magazines were not entered into the digital checkout system, which meant that she had to write the due date by hand in the back of every single one.


The second time I incurred their wrath, I checked out just fifteen magazines. (I suppose I’d learned my lesson.) Much to my relief, the magazines had been entered into the system, though I’m at least 56% sure that I had nothing to do with that. All was well until I attempted to return them — for some reason, the librarian was certain that I had overdue magazines from the last time I was there.

Now, I have many flaws, many, MANY flaws, but I don’t turn in library books late. My delicate southern sensibilities are offended just thinking about it.

Thankfully, the librarian who I first had a run-in with was also on duty, and she was able to confirm (with only a slight snarl) that she knew me and was certain that I’d turned in all of my magazines.


I decided to lay low for a few weeks — over the holidays, I focused on poetry and nonfiction and was delighted to have two works accepted to various websites. When the adrenaline wore off, however, I was back at the library with another stack of magazines.

Unfortunately, a third librarian was on duty. Her perky ponytail and optimistic smile assured me that she somehow knew nothing of my shiny, magazined past. I approached with some trepidation, and working quickly before she could match my face to the wanted poster in the break room, I began to scan my magazines.

Of course, I only made it through five before the machine began to whoop and holler. “WARNING. THIS WOMAN IS CHECKING OUT AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF MAGAZINES. WHY DOES SHE NEED SO MANY. WHY MUST SHE DO THIS TO ME. WHY. WHY.”

The librarian’s ponytail dropped a degree or two. “Is there a problem?”

“No,” I said, sweat already beading on my forehead. I frantically tried to swipe another issue of Highlights.


I paused. “The machine doesn’t seem to be letting me check these out.”

She eyed my stack, which was at least as tall as I am. (And I’m tall.)

“Try swiping again.”

The machine croaked angrily. So did all of the people in the line that had begun to form behind me.

She sighed. “Okay. I’ll just scan you in by hand.”

31 magazines later, I was free, she had fourteen new grey hairs, and my name and picture were emblazoned across every entrance of the library.


Magazines 2

Man, I hope I get something published in a children’s magazine. I’d love to see the librarians’ faces when I approach them with a single issue, and instead of checking it out, open it to my byline. That would almost make it worth it.

Well, for me. Not for them.

Wish me luck!





Tales from First Grade

As far as I can tell, there are two different ways to determine whether you’re truly an adult. The first is that you can only swing for thirty-five seconds before throwing up, and the second is that when your parents come to visit, they begin to leave things behind.

Now, I use the the term “things” pretty loosely, here. I’m not talking about when you were in college and your parents would drive out on a Sunday, carefully pretend not to notice that you’d shoved all of your illegally acquired items into the closet right before they arrived, and then take you to Target for some celebratory ramen and mascara. I’m referring to those things that you can’t consume. Mementos. Your childhood  in the form of old rag dolls and ancient French textbooks. For example, every time my parents come to visit, they leave behind at least three big boxes full of books. If you’ve ever had to move books, you know that they are heavy, so once the boxes are parked on the living room floor, they’re destined to stay there for a minimum of three weeks. (Or possibly until I die.)

I equate these books with rodents. Leave them unattended for too long and they begin to multiply.

Dylan, who would at some point like to have his living room back, was going through the boxes the other day and discovered an ancient Kelsey artifact. Buried amidst my ninth grade report cards and a bookmark emblazoned with the word ~*imagine*~ was my journal from first grade.

Throughout my life, I’ve wanted to be many things. A singer. A teacher. A National Geographic photographer. (Most notably, I wanted to be named Katie.) The one constant, though, is that I’ve wanted to write. Even at six years old, I had stories to tell.

Please enjoy.


“I dug in my garden to China. It was hard work but it was fun. I knew how to talk Chinese. It took me five years to learn  how to talk Chinese.”

As you can see,  entry illustrates both my love of foreign languages and my sweet green and yellow sweater.


“I have an invisible horse. He likes me. I am good with him. I found him in the Western.”

But where did I find that awesome hat?


“I have a hamster at my house. He is cute. He is fun to play with. He died. I am sad.”

Something about this journal entry reads as very Postmodern to me. Regardless of its categorization, I think we can all agree that it is pure literary genius.


“There was this lady in my mailbox. She scared me. She was skinny.”

Um. What exactly was I trying to illustrate, here?

(Maybe I’m not an adult after all.)