For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
July 13, 2007 - Carpe Diem, with Pastries
We don't always know the effects our actions have on others.
Some years ago, I wrote a column about trying to do things I'd always wanted to do, but hadn't gotten around to. This is probably an aging Boomer phenomena, as witnessed by the slew of books coming out with titles like "100 Places to See (or Things to Do) Before You Die."
But one of my readers, Manijeh Badiozamani, a college professor, took the challenge personally. And she did something she'd always wanted to do: volunteered to work in a kitchen.
Now that may not sound like your secret dream. But this wasn't just any kitchen. This was the kitchen of AndrÈ's Confiserie Suisse, at 370 S. Garfield Street in Denver.
I haven't been there myself. But I have read Dr. Badiozamani's 16 page tribute to the 40th Anniversary of the Swiss restaurant and pastry shop, which she wrote in November of last year. And the story is utterly charming.
It begins with the biography of Bruno Gegenschatz, owner and chef of the the shop. (Why isn't his name AndrÈ? Because this Swiss immigrant, who first emigrated to Australia, got hooked on America when he and his bride came to the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. He moved to Kansas City, and worked for a restaurant there called, you guessed it, AndrÈ's.)
Two years later, he went back to Switzerland to "learn the art of sugar blowing." (It never ceases to amaze me, the infinite diversity of human specialities.) In 1967, he and his wife Rosa moved to Colorado, where they opened their own shop, with lots of support from his friends in Kansas City.
The experience of dining there is distinctly European. The Westword Restaurant Guide describes it like this: "Ladies' luncheon, par excellence, in a cozy setting. For $10.75, you get a rich little entree with frilly garnishes and a fresh pastry for dessert."
Badiozamani had encountered the restaurant back in 1971, and loved it. She and her husband then moved around for awhile. When they returned to Colorado in 1996, she sought out the little restaurant again. It became a favorite.
After buying some pastries one summer afternoon in 2001, Badiozamani struck up a conversation with Gegenschatz, and told him that she wanted to visit his kitchen sometime, and see how he made such wonderful confections. He invited her to do so -- the next morning, at 4 a.m.
So she did. By 9 a.m., the pastry preparation for the day was done. At about 9:30, she was preparing to go home, when a couple of unexpected staff vacancies caused a lunch crisis. So Badiozamani stuck around to help wash dishes.
By 2 p.m., the rush was done, and she was rewarded with a lunch with Bruno himself.
Her little booklet, "Bruno's Story," commemorates the event. And her sense of absolute glee shines through the pages.
So, dear readers, take this opportunity to fulfill YOUR secret dream. Sign up for that balloon ride. Pick up the tuba. Try out for a play. Take dancing lessons with your spouse. Roller skate across Nebraska. Only you know what you need to do.
Then write a book about it. Maybe it belongs in a library, where it will inspire others.
What are you waiting for? Permission?