Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Thing #65: Meh and boo and grr to today...

Before I get into today's (mis)adventures, I am just going to warn you that I'm in a bit of a mood as I type this. If I were a fairy tale character, I'd be Grumplestiltsken. Or the Wicked Witch of the West. Or whoever had a bit of a bad day. Consider yourself forewarned.

As I had absolutely promised the LP that today would be a library day, I knew I had to make good on this promise. I thought that we would go check out the Central library branch since we hadn't been there before and it has recently gone through a kazillion-dollar renovation. Truth be told, I was itching to check it out. I love libraries and I was looking forward to seeing all the changes to the Central branch, particularly since I've read such great things about it. Parking downtown was an absolute nightmare. Every lot was full. I finally found metered parking on a side street. For some unknown reason, I took LP1 out of the car before I got the stroller set up. This isn't something I normally do. As I was attempting to open the stroller, a passing lady stopped to see if I needed help. While I appreciated the offer, the fact that she was smoking a joint and she blew her smoke ALL OVER LP1 and I was not something I appreciated. I managed a civil "thank you", despite the fact that it felt like we were in a cloud of marijuana. What is wrong with people?! Seriously.

I got the kids loaded into the stroller without further event and we made our way towards the library. LP1 started complaining that she was cold so we cut through the mall...where we were treated to very fine specimens of humanity shuffling about. After a quick stop at the ATM so I could pay our ridiculous fine (ridiculous because I let 38 children's books go overdue for 3 days each...I think the library is in league with the gas companies) we resumed our walk through the mall.

Until something caught the LP's attention.

It's funny, the things that children notice and are captivated by when most adults wouldn't even give it a second glance. In this case, they were setting up for Santa's impending arrival (a nightmare for me, right up there with clowns but something I endure for the children. I would just once like to find a Santa that DOESN'T give me the willies) and had part of the display complete. An enormous floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree had been fully decorated. It was bright and shiny and full of interesting things to look at. They HAD to go see it. They were bouncing up and down with anticipation. And because I'm not a complete and total jerk, I obliged.

I think once we put up our Christmas tree, it will be a bit of a letdown compared to this one. Particularly since we can only decorate 3/4s of ours, as little hands like to pull everything off it at their level.

We stood and admired the stars, the ribbon, the candy canes and the sparkles for some time. There's no way LP2 can remember last Christmas but he was entranced by the tree. LP1 immediately knew what it was and I'm sure that she will start asking when we will put ours up any day now.

Once we grew tired of looking and started wanting to pull things off the tree, I decided it was time to go to the library. I was almost bouncing up and down with excitement. We went through the automatic doors into the newly renovated, bright and open space. At first I was impressed with how bright everything was, the funky artwork and the huge computer pool available for free to anyone in the community. The children's area was on the the ground level. A huge glass wall overlooked the farmer's market. It was a colourful and fun view. That's about all the good things I have to say about what I observed today. Sure, the old library was kinda shabby and had drab green carpet and grey walls. But it was comfortable and cozy. This new space...it felt so industrial. Cold. Like it was trying too hard.

In the old library, there was this giant treehouse in the children's section. It had seating and soft cushions and lots of cozy spaces to curl up and read. I always thought this was a place I would one day take my children. Unfortunately, the treehouse was gone. In its place were areas divided up into sections. Lots of blocky shelving at hip height with funky stools and chairs that looked good but really aren't conducive to sitting with your little people to read comfortably. And while I hate to compare different branches, in the three branches closest to our house, the children's area has lots of big, colourful rugs, toys out in the open and space to read and play. I didn't see many rugs on the hard concrete floor and all the toys were locked up! If you wanted to play with the trains at the train table, you had to ask the librarian for them. This meant that the kids who did have them were unwilling to share. I don't know if it was because I couldn't immediately figure out how they shelved their books or if the shelves were too haphazard and crowded, but we had a hard time finding any books we liked.  And then when we did find some, the LP didn't really want to sit down and read. We were in too distracting an environment.

Don't get me wrong...it's not a totally awful space. There was a wall with fish tanks built into it and the LP LOVED this. There were big cardboard cutouts of different characters and they digged that, too. But even though I paid off our monstrous fine, we didn't leave with any books today. I don't think any of us liked the Central branch. One day I'll go back and check out the other floors.

Apparently this is Nemo. I'm so happy we found him.

We left the library empty-handed. I thought it would be nice to take the LP for a quick lunch before we  went home. I took them to La Luna Express, a food-court version of the very popular local restaurant. When I was pregnant with LP2 I developed an extreme fondness for La Luna and I probably ate their fattoush salad, falafels and tabouli salads at least twice a week. I'm not surprised that LP2 in particular loves falafels now. We got the falafel and fattoush salad combo with a small order of fries for the LP. The food wasn't as good as I remembered. It was okay but just...meh. Maybe pregnancy craving hormones added some kind of taste enhancer in the past. I don't know. Another disappointment. LP1 got something in her eye and I spent much of our lunch trying to figure out what was in her eye. It was obvious they were tired.

While we were on the way to the car, two homeless (?) men asked us for change. For reasons I no longer remember, I have an entire side pocket of the diaper bag filled with nickels. They are weighing the bag down. I reached in and gave them an enormous handful of them. It lightened both our loads. I think. Once I got to the car, I noticed the yellow receipt on the windshield. A PARKING TICKET! I had missed the parking person by a mere 6 minutes. Because I don't get downtown much right now, I immediately loaded up the meter again and made the trek to go dispute my fine. I'll make a long story short and tell you it was like a forty-five minute trip into hell. Rude people. Patronizing clerks who felt compelled to explain to me how a parking meter works (really? Never grasped the concept before. Thanks). An unsympathetic adjudicator. I ended up paying the ticket and leaving but feeling very angry and almost teary about my whole experience.

On the way back to the car we were nearly run into by a large group of students who were not paying attention, we had smoke and ashes blown on us by a crazy person and some obviously mentally ill people frightened LP1. When we reached the car, we passed by our homeless friends again and were greeted with loud, booming cries of "NICKELS!" and happy waves, as if we were long-lost friends. That little bit of cheer was cancelled out by a man in a van trying to get me to hurry up and load the LP into the car so he could have my spot, another person leaning on the horn and honking at me and more rude drivers. I arrived home fed up. I'm not sure if this story adequately reflects my frustration.

So it didn't go as well as I liked. I know the LP had fun and I guess that's all the counts. Maybe I should take a page from their book and not have these huge expectations and just enjoy what I see along the way.

My nemesis. Next time someone tells me to go to hell, I'll tell them I went there today, thanks.

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