“One More Thing, I Keep Having This Dream,” or WATAT’s Eight Year Anniversary

“Really, I think, the whole purpose of WATAT has and always will be, once focused through a very particular prism, a singular and large debate about the Oxford comma.”
Jeffrey, December 25, 2011

“I’ve rethought it. I meant to say ‘lengthy and determined rumination on the Oxford comma.'”
-Jeffrey, January 14, 2012

Over the eight years I’ve been writing here, I have countless times stopped and asked myself: What am I doing? Isn’t this a waste of time and words and energy? Why do I do this anyway?

If you’re paying any kind of attention, life is full of confusion. It is full of pain and horror and disappointment. We live in a world where children are not just murdered in their classrooms on cold, quiet December mornings; we live in a world where children are murdered every day, sometimes even more cruelly. I don’t know what to say about people in the world who would kill hope. It is beyond my ability to understand. I think and think on it, and I always turn back to things I can comprehend.

Sometimes the universe makes beautiful stories.

I guess I have a brain that puts order to chaos, one that seeks to arrange observations and events to create a narrative structure, to see foreshadowing and symbols, to impose an ideal soundtrack. But sometimes the universe doesn’t need my help. Sometimes the most unlikely things happen. When I take my godson to the Empire State Building for the first time, he carries the same wallet my late husband carried the first time he and I went there, long before that godson was a person I’d even imagined. On a quest to get to the core of myself, I find my fifth grade journal full of signs of the adult I’d become, the person I’ve always been. I can’t count the times where a plane trip or a moment on top of a mountain or a time I walked across a bridge changed the course of my life.

Yesterday, a fresh coat of snow fell here on my new street, adding a glow to everything winter had made grey and ugly and dead.

Sometimes it can be as painful to look at the beautiful things in the world as it is the horror, because they are the same things: the things that matter. The things you love that can always go away. The things you hope for that may never happen.

I speak of librarianship as my calling, but, for me, it’s an expression of another calling. I feel like we all have a choice every day, to wake up and add to the horror in the world or to wake up and try to add to the beauty.

I want to add to the beauty–for myself, but for other people, too. Sometimes I have the good fortune to make a difference, to help in my small ways to make a day better. I stand in awe of that every time I realize it is happening, that I can have that kind of influence anywhere.

I live for those moments.

I will celebrate today by doing more unpacking. I’ll write and read. I’ll get some letters ready to put in the mail. I’ll play my piano. I’ll bake a few batches of cookies, so I can bring a plate of them every place I go over the next week.

Cookies are an excellent antidote to despair.

As are music and stories and laughter and friends and family.

As is a comma, used correctly.

I love so many people in this world, and I love so many things, and so many of them are right here.

I thank you, each one of you, for that.


  1. Kevin Neville
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    And we love you and we love your cookie and we love that you love us through your cookies and some of us don’t give a damn about the proper use, of comma but that doesn’t me we love you any less!!!

  2. Kevin Neville
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    correction… proper use, of commas but that doesn’t mean… I can’t even send a deliberate screw up without screwing it up. Sign. I need a cookie…

  3. Kevin Neville
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    DAMN IT….”sigH”. I’m going now to stop screwing up your blog now and hit my head repeatedly

  4. adrienne
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink


    Kevin, That’s why we all love you, too. If you ever need help with your commas, I’m here for you.

  5. Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I love love love this place (your blog, that is).

  6. Posted December 24, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    I appreciate you, and I appreciate the Oxford comma. However, I like to think of that particular punctuation mark as the People’s Comma.

  7. Posted December 24, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Words, words, words. I’m glad that you know me well enough to know what I mean by that. The laughter is hard to come by through the tears this last week. Nothing makes sense right now. But it will again, at least for a little while. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

  8. Amy
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    beautiful…when you write stuff like this it reminds me why you are one of my favorite people. not that I need a lot of reminding. I feel the same way – I want to be one of those people who puts positive energy out there. you do a particularly good job of that! you are a lighthouse in this dark world we live in. :)

  9. adrienne
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Jules.

    Farida, I’m surprised no one has yet called me out on the number of sentence fragments in this post. They were intentional, though, for emphasis.

    Jeffrey, I do know. I wish I could make this world safe for you and Heather and your beautiful girls, for all my dear ones. I have spent much of the last week and a half working with my staff on how we would respond to a situation with a shooter. (Don’t help anyone, run as quickly as you can out a door–no, I know you want to save people, but you cannot. Please run.) I’ve been working in libraries for over fifteen years now, and we’ve always dealt with people who are mentally ill and sometimes dangerous, but there has been a real uptick in this over the last couple years that I find unsettling. Their opportunities to do harm have increased. I don’t want to deal with this in my library anymore, because some of this has been really scary, but I have real empathy for people with severe mental illness, too. They do not get up in the morning and think, “Boy, today what I’d really like to be is crazy.” They are broken. I am not sure what the answer is, but it is something other than having people run around untreated and uncared for while giving them access to extremely sophisticated and destructive weapons.

    Today a shooter killed a couple firefighters in Webster, too. On Christmas Eve. Seriously, what the hell.

    Amy, Thank you–you are a lighthouse, too. You and Arthur both. I am so glad you’re my friend.

  10. Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I have a friend who’s son was friends with one of the little girls killed in Newtown. They bonded because he is autistic and her brother is also. The family was two weeks away from moving to another town so they could put their older son in a schooling situation better for autistic kids. There was a little light snuffed out by the madness. Parents lost a child. A boy lost a friend.

    I’ve never been more disgusted with this country than I am these last two weeks. It’s all so preventable.

    The news out of Webster this morning is sad too, but so commonplace now that it won’t even penetrate most people’s minds. We’re dead to this because it happens so often. The four people killed during the NRA’s press conference only made news because it happened simultaneously. No one said the words “mass killing” in regards to that event. Four people murdered in open daylight on the street doesn’t count as a “mass killing” anymore.

    Best I’ve been able to do so far is sob uncontrollably. I’m hoping to take some actual positive steps soon.

  11. momster
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Penises cause rape donchaknow!
    And knives get up and cause stabbings!Yup.
    Cars,likewise,hit people,places and things with wild abandon.
    Oh,and let’s see–drugs force people to take them.
    On and on that reasoning goes.Where it stops is where truth begins.I’m wishing us all Happy Holidays and hoping for just 24 hours we can just not bomb anyone:)

  12. pjd
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    As a life-long resident of Webster, I can assure you this horrific tragedy has penetrated the minds of myself, my family, my friends, past neighbors, and current neighbors. So much sadness.

  13. adrienne
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Penny, My heart just keeps breaking over what happened. That Mike and that poor child were murdered in the street because they ran headlong with open hearts to help people, like they always did, it’s just awful.

  14. momster
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I hope this doesn’t sound like I hate mentally disturbed people,but this guy beat his grandmother to death with a hammer.What was he doing out and about,apparently with no supervision.
    Webster has been having a time of it between the family members being burned to death in that earlier case and now this.They deserve a break,The whole town does and now these families,It is very awful.

  15. Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Happy holidays and happy anniversary!

  16. adrienne
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Little Willow! Happy holidays to you, too!

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