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Poetry Saves Us

I am a romantic at heart.

In that twisted way where you read a great book and you enjoy crying at the end because everything went to hell and the lovers don’t wind up together because one of them is dead, or married to someone else, or a war has broken out.

My students used to say, Ms. Garcia are you aware all of your books you assign have tragic endings?

Do they? Oh shit. I guess they do.

I think I got that way through poetry. It was the first thing I ever read and the first thing I ever wrote.

So as I’m starting to organize the school library and finding all the poetry books that have been checked in I’m just amazed. There is so much here. So many voices. So many observations. So many perspectives. So many sorrows. So many joys.

I want to crawl into this shelf–disappear into the shelf. Disappear into your gifts.

And I’m doing that now.

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Just. One. Big Thank you!

So I know I promised an announcement and here it is.

I decided that this campaign can’t just end because our shelves are full.  Boxes keep coming.

So we are reaching out to other schools in the area and seeing what their needs are–and sharing. We did get a few duplicates of a few popular titles that we think other Plumas Unified School District high schools and Sierra County’s Loyalton High School could also use.

In general, our whole county is underserved. The art teacher for PUSD was just let go. No more art in school. Chester lost its band teacher. Only if you live in Quincy are you lucky enough to have dance. The arts in schools are woefully under represented.  Another place we fall short is technology. I think I mentioned before we often graduate students who don’t know how to send an email and don’t know there’s something else you can do on a phone besides text and play games. Reading levels across the district need to expand. Just from talking to other teachers across the district I can tell that much of their material is outdated and lots of their requests the district cannot fill due to budget restraints.

So with this in mind– we are distributing books to schools in need in our district that have open libraries but those libraries do not have enough newer books and media.

We will be giving to

Portola High School

Plumas Charter School in Quincy

Loyalton High School

One teacher at Quincy High School has been trying to get diverse books in her classroom for two years. She’s coming over next Wednesday to check out the duplicates we have that I think are on her lists.

If you want to keep us in your thoughts and hearts and want to send books over the months as they come out that would be amazing. If you’d like to help us with more bookshelves and purchasing computers that work for the library (we are thinking 5–one for the front desk and 2 Mac and 2 PC for students all together rather than the 14 half working sort of stations we have now) that would be grand too.

YOU DID IT THOUGH. YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN. YOU HAVE CHANGED KIDS BY GIVING THEM BOOKS. YOU’VE ALREADY TOUCHED TEACHERS WHO ARE THINKING OF WAYS TO INCORPORATE HAVING A LIBRARY BACK INTO CURRICULUM. YOU HAVE CHANGED CYNICS. YOU HAVE CHANGED ME TOO.

I have a bit more faith in people now. My last year of teaching (2015) was a difficult year. I had to face some harsh realities that no matter how great a teacher I was (and I’ll boast here because at least my students have always come back and said I was great), the administration passed me up time and again for not having a PhD and for teaching while Latina. A student on drugs became violently angry in class and threatened me. The administration did nothing. A favorite student committed suicide.  I was devastated. He was brilliant. I wrote about him here:

Eulogy for a Student of Light

It was a hard 11 years there but the last year just wore down both my confidence and my esteem. I quit last August for good, vowing never to let a job or a department chair treat me like garbage again.

2016 has been strange and beautiful year of returns. Post graduate school, I hadn’t meant to teach. I’d meant to write. But a divorce and the need for work meant I needed a steady paycheck. Okay and also traveling around Asia. I’d worked at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and meant to go into journalism but wound up teaching instead. I still believe I had a calling to do that. In 2016 I saw a book deal fall through (it would have been my second short story collection) but I also manage to have my first credit on a documentary film.

But now the LIbrary Project and my Throwing the Curve project (I’m writing a book on plus size modeling and the body positive movement) have both given me a new lease on life.  I can do things! I can combine interests! I can write and instill a love of books. YAY! So thank you very personally for making me feel worthy and needed.

We’ve been hearing from authors, readers, writers, publishers from all over the English speaking world. THANK YOU for your notes and your books and other media.

I want to today give a special shout out to the people who’ve camped here at Lake Almanor or been through here visiting on the way to Mt. Lassen National Volcanic Park or those who sent their kids to our own Copper Creek Camp. Your letters have a particular sweetness. You’ve seen us. You”ve said you didn’t know how bad it was here. And you want to give back to the community that you say brought you so much joy and wonderful memories of being in the great outdoors.  THANK YOU for your love and your visiting of our area. Many of us wound up here because of the great beauty of it–we fell in love. We sometimes pay a cost for that in amenities that aren’t here. But you all know more than anyone why we are here and continue to stay here and hopefully that we make your journey here a sweet one.  THANK YOU for recognizing us.

 

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Just. One. Book. CRAZY HAPPY JOY!

So we are pretty much AT CAPACITY.  I think we need more bookcases than books now. What a great problem to have! You guys rock. I got some wonderful personal cards and messages that I opened today. Including a friend of mine, Jenny who sent me chocolate to eat while we open packages. Because BOOKS AND CHOCOLATE are an awesome combination.

 

I want you to know so many people in our community are revitalized by this effort. We have people volunteering an hour or two a day. A steady stream of kids. But then we also have the postal people cheering us on! The Evergreen Market is helping us by taking the cardboard to recycle. People are figuring out what they can donate when. Perhaps bookshelves. Time. Ideas for programming. It’s like a thousand ideas at once.

You know what was cute today? My kids are back from Wisconsin and are working the library with three of their friends today. They were opening boxes and stacking things so the adults could record what came in and from who where we could see it. The kids would stop every once in awhile , squeal out the name of a book and thumb through and another of them would remind them that we were here to work not read yet, and the kid would say “but I’m dying to read this one!” or “I didn’t even know this was a book!” Stuff like that. So adorable.

Of course they’re all tweens and they drove me nuts too.

So remember those shelves with only encyclopedias and biographies from the 50s?

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THIS IS US TODAY!

You can’t tell from the photo but some of these are double rowed. So now begins our process of finding duplicates, of seeing if there was something teachers wanted that we overlooked. If you haven’t sent a box yet but were thinking of it, please hold off for now. We will have a great announcement in a few days for next steps.

THANK YOU  THANK YOU THANK YOU. This was successful beyond any of our imaginations.

This has been such a positive experience for all of us. In the midsts of so much divisiveness politically, in the midst of so much aggression and violence in our world–here is kindness. Here is generosity. Here is life anew. THANK YOU.

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Just. One. Book. Curiosities.

Greetings. I THINK I’ve responded to all emails. There’s a chance I haven’t. There’s 30K words of my new book due to my writing group on Sunday so naturally I’m blogging with you all instead.

THANK YOU! You all are one generous bunch of mammals! You are from every English speaking country on the planet at this point. You care about books and young adults and care that no one who wants to read is left without books to read.

Many of you have posted suggestions that we are looking into. I’ve passed on your links, your grant suggestions, etc. to the people who can best deal with them. I am learning to delegate authority and put myself out of work. Yay!

Green Bay is lovely by the way. JUNE is a good month for Green Bay. Mild not too humid. And these people love craft beer and cheese with such abandon it’s rather fun to watch. Back in California I’m sure someone would have told me not to sample 20 kinds of cheese NOT so in Wisconsin. I digress.

Word has spread like summer fire and students are coming to the library in the summer to help out. We have a team of kids coming in Monday to help clean off the dust, pack up trophies from the glory days and scrub the grime from the room as well as knock out all the recycling.

Everyone rather be reading. I have a feeling this library will morph into one the parents and staff use as well.

Since I get so many repeat questions, I thought I’d reiterate here.

Yes we take used and paperback provide they look/feel newish.

Yes we are 7th-12th grade. Not collecting in particular for younger grades.

There are a few books we have multiple copies of which will be great for class sets: Book Thief, House on Mango Street, and Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Ya’ll LOVE those books.

Yes we have a donation plan coming into place for sharing duplicates with other area libraries.

Address wise—the school building will be closed for vacation July 1-15. Please send books to  PO Box 585 Greenville, CA 95947 during this time. If you need a street address email me.

Thank you!

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Just. One. Book. Thoughts from the Airport

Greetings from the Sacramento Airport 5:35 am.

That’s mountain life. If you need to go somewhere, you have to leave the night before to get there. So I’m at the Sacramento Airport waiting on a flight for Minneapolis to go to Green Bay to visit my dad and his lovely wife and…pick up my tween and teen. They just got into social media range as they’ve been cabin camping in the North Woods of Wisconsin. Wait. Mom did what? Started a library?!

My daughter starts 7th grade in the fall; the son starts 9th grade. Because of you? They’ll get to experience a well-stocked library (other than their mom’s office which is arguably a bit poetry/drama/women and early 20th century focused. Now they will have variety to chose from as will their classmates.

Yesterday, before going “off the mountain” to the flatland below, I checked in at the post office (who called me saying they were drowning in boxes) and the library. The director/principal of Indian Valley Academy, Sue Weber was there along with a few community volunteers, and students.  Pam Lyman, the IVA office manager had put a call out to students in town and not off visiting grandparents or at camp to come down and see what was happening–and to help with the breaking down boxes for recycling and making lists of who to thank for boxes with addresses.

The 2016 Silver Buckle Rodeo Queen, Hannah Lambach, stopped by for me to interview her for the local paper. She’s 16 and a Greenville High School student. Her words, “You mean we will finally be able to check out a book?!” She stood there amazed. Then went and got her truck to back up to the building and haul the recycling to Evergreen Market which employs students. The store owners Centella and Ken Tucker are volunteering to pick up boxes while I’m gone and bring them to the library. Ken told Hannah to have the students who work for him help unload the recycling. Hannah promised to come back and tell others to come help.

IMG_7821  These were the bags from Saturday’s UPS haul. That’s not counting the Fed Ex afternoon bags, or the post office which had 5 rolling carts of boxes.

IMG_7824Sue (on the left there) instructed Jazmin how to orderly open and sort. Jazmin was sort of dazed for the first few minutes. “These books are for us?!” As I was unloading the UPS bags Jazmin opened a box and stared at the book inside. You could tell she wanted to pick it up and go to a corner and start reading.

“It’s impossible to open the boxes and not want to read everything,” I said. “Oh yes,” she said.

Then more students started to arrive to help as I was leaving. I was nervous about my trip to Wisconsin for a few days, but one of the things I love about Greenville is that when there’s a project, everyone is all in–doesn’t matter whose idea it was, or what your affiliation is. If there’s something that needs to be done, someone is there to help. Weber wants the students active in this. There’s a whole lot of thank you cards to write.

This attitude is why I like this little hamlet of a town. Despite it sometimes not quite being in the 21st century, despite the Internet going out in the middle of the day, despite the crumbling sidewalks rolling up at 5 pm (hey they have a grant from the state to fix our potholes and highway and sidewalks!), it’s a great place to teach kindness and breathe fresh air. It’s a place where there is always something that needs to be done and there are people willing to show others how to do those things.

Many of us are not from here. I’d say maybe half the town is originally from somewhere else California. We all found our way here from one place or another. I lived in San Francisco in my 20s and early 30s and have become one of the SF economically exiled. I had a hard time visualizing raising a family in a studio apartment for 2K a month, so I moved up here so I could stay home with my kids when they were babies and have them grow up near their grandmas ( my moms live 5 miles away). The moms aren’t from here either but good friends of theirs were. Mom 2 found this place in the 60s when she was the then Methodist minister’s wife. She lived in the parsonage which became the thriftstore and never lost ties to the area and its people. That’s how we are up here now.

Housecleaning:

I’ll work on an Amazon list (thank you for making all those items on the list enter our library) from the Minneapolis airport.

We accept gently used.

It’s a 7th-12th grade library. Some kids a little behind , some a little ahead.

If we get duplicates we have two other area libraries that we think could use help—they weren’t in dire straits like us but nor did they have a lot of new books either.

Okay. My plane is boarding. Have a lovely day.

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Just. One. Book. Saturday with List.

Good morning. One foot in front of the other! Throwing Chanclas has not put up a shoe lately. Here’s one of my favorites.

As I write this people all over town have their fire places going. I have to check the date. Yes it is JUNE. We never get rain and burr cold in June. So much for summer. I was planning to be indoors today anyhow as my partner in crime, Heidi Moore, is coming to Greenville so we can record an audio book of some of my new short stories from my yet to find a publisher collection Mary of the Chance Encounters. So yay! Fun! I hope my voice holds out. Heidi is an independent film director with her own micro-company in Chester called Wretched Productions.

Meanwhile down at the library my mother (who is the and I mean THE OCD neat freak Virgo will be meticulously recording the names of new books, notes from you guys, addresses for thank you cards, etc. We have our first big round of volunteers coming today to haul away stuff, etc.

The culinary arts teacher Judy Dolphin has given me her list. Amazon seems to be down right now in the list category but as soon as it’s up I’ll post it. I’ll put it on the end of this post as well. Judy also has the cheerleading squad coming in this coming week to take down the glory days trophies from the 1980s and dust for the first time in 30 years. We have someone working on buying new paint.

My husband the IT guy is donating some time to do some rewiring and reconfiguring of some of the computers on the side of the room. There’s 14 stations but only about 4 that are usable at the moment.

What’s making me happy at this moment, is it’s no longer one crazy mom flailing her arms and yelling, “hello we need to do something here!” It’s no longer me exclaiming, “Dude–what’s up with the three copies of the Stepford Wives in the seventh graders books?”  Now I can’t even go to the market without someone saying: “I heard about what’s happening with the library. This is exciting. How can I help?”

Yesterday I had two volunteers join me. I was feeling pretty bummed about my beloved MacBookAir taking a vacation too. The postman dropped off five giant bags of your boxes. We cleaned out four old bookcases. One of the ladies who volunteered had been on the board 12 years ago when they voted to nix the librarian position. She was the only one to vote against it. She was the mother of four boys who’d gone through the school and she kept shaking her head at how bad it had gotten in the library. That it had become “a storage closet for things people didn’t want” instead of a vibrant place. I learned so much from her yesterday.

Both principals came by too. The spirit of what we are trying to do is catching on! Other people want to work on this.

So I’m taking a bit of a day off.  I’m going to go drink some tea with honey so my voice can last through 10 stories. And I’m super confident my mom and her friends will make an amazing dent in your contributions.

THANK YOU! Here is the culinary teacher’s list:

The American Culinary Federation’s Guide to Culinary Competitions: Cooking to Win! (it would be great to have several copies or class set – 12)

Culinary Math Principles and Applications (this is another book that it would be great to have a class set – 12)

An American Chef’s Dream

Tastes and Tales of a Chef: A Culinary Journey with Mr. A

Tastes and Tales of a Chef: The Apprentice’s Journey

Tastes and Tales of a Chef: Stories and Recipes

Peeking Behind the Wallpaper

“A Woman’s Place Is in the Kitchen”: The Evolution of Women Chefs

The New Professional Chef

Locavore Adventures: One Chef’s Slow Food Journey

Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook

The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally

It’s All about the Love: A Cookbook, a Memoir and the Balance Between Art and the Bottom Line. by Michele Camera Faurot Former Owner and Executive Chef of Cafe Michele.

Starting & Running a Restaurant for Dummies

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Professional Chef

The New Professional Chef

Arzak Secrets

The Professional Chef’s Techniques of Healthy Cooking

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria’s Elbulli

The Making of a ChefIMG_6921

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Just. One. Book. Friday Morning 8 am

I am not ignoring you.

I am however 1) on deadline and 2) overwhelmed.

Like who starts a book campaign when so many people to work on it are out of town? Next week will be simpler when people are back.

So first off—thank you , thank you, thank you! You book lovers are amazing and you’re purchasing things off our Amazon wish list as fast as I can list them which is not very fast considering I live in a forest where the Internet parties like it’s 1995.

I will get to everyone and quickly as I can. I like correspondence. Just a few things I gathered from the emails I ‘ve gone through:

  1. Please read the updates! I think I’ve answered most questions people are asking there.
  2. I’m listing mostly non-fiction now.
  3. Building a CD collection — so many kids are musically illiterate and that was my favorite part of school as a kid was listening to LPs on headphones! Got a recommendation? Let me know.
  4. Building a DVD collection. We’re in the mountains –not everyone has TV set up and you can’t watch TV without cable. We do a good deal of swapping around here so kid appropriate DVDs are welcome. The nearest movie theatre has one screen and plays one movie a week. It’s quaint and fun but limited. I’m from Los Angeles so I take my films seriously. 🙂 Ask my kids. They aren’t allowed to get up until after the credits.

We are looking into Donor Chose. Thank you for the suggestions. You all are amazing and the kids who aren’t at camps or their grandparents are popping their heads into the library room stunned.

This afternoon our committee crew is meeting. I will take a photo then.

And now….deadline! Talk to you soon.

Update: My trusty MacBook Air, which I’ve written on for going on six years, just bid me a hasty farewell. That was my computer access. It will be at least a month before I can afford a new one. Have patience with me as I navigate this blog and your comments via my phone. Your questions will get answered–it just might not be as quickly as I hoped.

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Just. One. Book. Updates and Observations.

Honestly, folks. I do write about other things. I figured if you’re following my posts lately that I should let you know that. Tales of a Sierra Madre is my blog hub with links to all the esoteric creative things I wind up doing in this beautiful but strange place called Plumas County. Since I’m more of a writer than a blogger, things over there tend to go looong. I started Throwing Chanclas to be fun! Short! Photo driven! Light hearted and airy. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I’ve received a few emails on here wanting to know if I am a real person and if this book drive is real, etc. Yes. I am a real person. I write for a newspaper by day. I’m also a fiction writer. And I write and produce a play every once in a while. Also? I love books, I have too many, and I’m constantly giving them away. As I think many of you are too.

IMG_7340So this is me. Margaret Elysia Garcia. When I do modeling or anything of that nature I use Greta Garcia. Because ‘Margaret’ sounds like someone’s aunt in an old folks home. Not the sexiest name. And for the reporting gig and when I have to write something innocuous and boring I go by Maggie Wells whom I assume is my doppleganger sorority pledging, well-married twin with no student loan and a much larger house.

But then there’s you! You’ve been sending books. You are amazing. Sunday was hard. I’m from a very gay family–as in lesbian mothers, lesbian sister in law,  raised by gay men in the 70s, etc. My best friend from junior high was off  at Pride in DC with his new husband and we were doing that FB thang  and then bam. Orlando. And it reminded me of the kid in my daughter’s class who always tries to tease the one lesbian girl in class. And I wonder sometimes is there a way that I can personally offset this madness and hatred? Can I give the bully a book ? Will it open her world? Maybe. Maybe not. But I have to try.

And then it was Monday and  I stopped by the post office to mail a package and the post master lady said can you pull your car around back?

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And then I drove to Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy and the secretary looked up from her computer and said, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I walked into the library and saw this:

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So thank you. You restored my faith in humanity. And the cool English teacher and our awesome special Ed teacher and the culinary arts teacher–who is used to getting all book requests denied  all stood there at different times with their jaws dropped.  We are so used to being ignored that it is taking awhile to sink in. I started crying when I opened books. I sniffed in the books. If anyone was watching I’m sure it looked weird. I also cried when I read some of the notes with the books. Full disclosure: my dad and his wife  flew my kids out to Wisconsin to visit him and go kayaking in the North Woods so I’m a little weepy this week anyway. 

But you people are beautiful. Here are three themes going on in the notes.

  1. Retired librarians (and current ones ) get really pissed off at closed libraries. I am picturing some kind of librarian march on Washington where you all just shame Congress for continually gutting arts and education.
  2.  You remember where you came from. So many people are writing “I grew up in a small town and books SAVED me. I can’t imagine not having books. Here’s my favorite.” To this I say I know what you mean. I was a very shy army brat and it always took me six months to say hello to people. Meanwhile I just made friends with books.
  3. You care about the nation’s children and rural America. You send books to open up worlds to them. I opened up a box for LGBTQ teens and cried yet AGAIN. 

So from the bottom of my very real heart. THANK YOU.

Tomorrow is my day in the big city–the neighboring town of Quincy (population 5000) but I’ll be back on Thursday–stopping at the post office and the library. I can only imagine what the table will look like then.

So Thank you! And I’m so sorry if I’m slow in answering email. As all people who live here do, I have like six part time jobs (think Northern Exposure). So I can only get to so many at once. Here’s the current wish list for those asking:

Amazon Wish List.

And to whomever ( I think it was a few people) sent kindles YOU ROCK SO HARD THANK YOU. My husband the IT guy will be setting them up this summer so they’ll be ready to go come fall semester in September!

 

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Just. One. Book. Part 4 THE WISH LIST

Hi Everyone wishing to donate. I thought you should see some of our sixth graders who are heading to 7th grade in the fall. This was ‘graduation’ day on Thursday held at the Greenville park on Hot Springs Road.

Okay I went around and asked for requests for what one would want to see in the library from teachers and community members around here. Many of you I have emailed back and forth with and I have an idea of some of the books that are coming by donation without a list. This is by no means exhaustive. Just a start. I know there are holes.

I have simple behind grade level books (6th grade) to freshmen college level.

This is just a preliminary list and most of the time I was thinking things like— oh I remember reading that or what did Green Apple books in SF say was good for teens? Etc. It’s not an end list; it’s a beginning one and not all teachers have weighed in yet.

I want to expand the science section in particular. I asked poets and writers about the poetry.

I will make a film section, but as film and poetry are my things I love, I get bogged in detail. Can only really do one at a time. Okay so here’s the list on Amazon you are welcome to refer people to it. And it’s under my husband’s name: Julian Wells.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/giftlist/2ZIQ8N3ROWEVV/ref=topnav_lists_3

Thank you so much for being part of this journey to recreate a library in our school.