Forest Five Years Later

Amanda and Forest

Amanda and Forest circa 2002

The day was perfect for swimming but too late in the day to go to the pool with its short hours. My friend Ash, whom I’ve known since we were nine years old, picked me up in her big SUV. Where are we going to swim? I asked. Brevard, she replied. We chatted about the silly things a twenty-one and twenty year old girls talk about. She told me she knew a swimming hole where a friend had taken her recently. We passed the National Forest sign and wound our way up a gravel road into the woods. Thunder rolled in the distance. It was just before 4 pm.

We spent an hour or so splashing in the river, our feet frozen in the icy mountain water. Ash shimmed off her shorts and top so she could sit in a natural dip in the stone. I pulled out my camera and recorded the water running over my feet. We explored the nearby tributes where the water ran under massive stones and moss carpeted the stones’ tops. Our feet led us down the sides of the rocks to walk amongst the shallow ponds on the edges of the river. Ash made a face as my camera rolled. “Slimy?” I called. She nodded. In the near distance we could hear the shouts of a family at play.

We were mountain girls who had waded in rivers every summer. In elementary school our classes had taken us into the National Forests to see the wonders of nature. As a kid, the summer day care programs I had attended took me to the rivers as well. I had hunted for crawdads, ran barefoot across the mossy stones (some larger than houses), ate black charred hot dogs as sat bundled up on picnic benches in my towels. Going to the river to wade was what you did to escape the summer heat.

Just after 11 pm that night, I was sitting at my desk when I received a call. My friend Jess told me that Forest was dead. Check the news. The world shrieked by in blinding streaks as I stumbled into the living room and cut on the tv. It’s not true my mind screamed. There was his name. The videos of the paramedics carrying his body away on a stretcher. The friends he had been with at Big Bradley Falls were being interviewed, shivering with their towels around their shoulders.

Forest Preston Westbrook died twenty days past being twenty and a half years old. We met because we rode the same bus. Forest and I lived on the outskirts of what we dubbed “The Neighborhood Kids,” whom we spent every school afternoon hanging out with from 7th till sometime in 10th grade. The fringes of the group would change but the main group of five — Steph, Jess, Forest, Bobby, and I — stayed the same. In the snowy 8th grade mornings, sometimes Forest and I would trudge from our opposite directions to join the main bus pick up group at the church. Now two of my clearest tactile memories of Forest are ruffling his outrageous hair with my hands and leaning against his shoulder while waiting for the bus in 9th grade.

His coffin was closed at his funeral though his mother told me later that there was not a blemish on his body. It rained throughout the service and where my elbow stuck out from under an umbrella where Jess’ mom supported me, a lady behind leaned forward to wipe the rain from my arm. I visited his grave each month on the 22nd for six or seven months. Each year on the anniversary right before 4 pm –the time he died– I visit. This year I cannot. I am moving to Connecticut and I do not know when I will be able to visit Forest’s grave again.

Forest was funny, clever, and strange. When I spent Thanksgiving morning visiting and meeting his mom for the first time, she let me walk through his room. On his dresser laid his watch. The overly huge, silver, chunky watch that was always sliding up and down his skinny arm. We girls had taken it from him a hundred times and played catch with it. It laid there silent and still where he had left it that day.

ICL Reboot Tutorial 02

In the second part of this series, I will demonstrate how to install, enable, and tweak the Drupal theme, Acquia Slate (note: I’m not sure how to pronounce Acquia!).

Some helpful links:
The first ICL Reboot video
Page to download Acquia Slate for Drupal 7
Fusion Theme for Drupal
The ICL Website
The rebooted ICL website

ICL Reboot Tutorial 01

The International and Comparative Librarianship Communitas website that I was paid to build last year is running extra slow on the BlueHost server. I am curious if it is BlueHost that is just so terrible or if the ICL website built in Drupal using the Sam’s Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours book is to blame because of all the extra bloat modules that it recommended I install. I read that Drupal 7 is suppose to be more streamlined and incorporated many of the best features into its core. Therefore I decided to try rebuilding the site from the ground up in Drupal 7.

Each day (that I have new material) I will post another video in the series. These videos are specifically geared towards the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s webmasters. Since I have now graduated and am no longer being paid to maintain their sites and will soon start my first professional library job, I want to create a resource for the LIS webmasters to use. However, these videos will be created with the thought in mind of being under 10 minutes and having clear, distinct pieces which will make it easy for other Drupal users to use as well.

Please let me know your thoughts and if you have any requests for me.
Continue reading →

Three Weeks Engaged

At WebWise 2011

At WebWise 2011-03-09

On Saturday, May 28th around noon, my boyfriend of 18 months and 2 weeks proposed. Thomas is also a librarian that I met through our MLIS program.

He had been flying a kite and in-between flights we ate his homemade bread and drink water. We watched a bald eagle repeatedly dive into the lake. Ants crawled all over the ribbons of his kite while we ate and I busied myself with recording videos and taking photos.

A confession: I knew what he was up to that day. We had been volleying the idea of marriage back and forth for six months. Normally I would not be the type to agree to a proposal after only 18 months of dating but I knew during the second month that I would marry him.

We will be married sometime this fall. I have vowed to not think about the wedding stuff until August. What I do know is that I want cupcakes for a cake, great music playing on a boombox (“Who owns a boombox?” he asked and I faltered as I recalled that people have mp3 players now–I usually only listen to the music in my car when I travel), and a blue-violet dress. As a seamstress and someone who looks terrible in white, I am practical and want something that can be worn again. I will be the one making it, after all.

The other important bit: he made the ring and it is silver and sapphire.

Places to Watch for a Library Job

While searching for a library job, I subscribed to a number of RSS feeds, mailing lists, and followed accounts on Twitter. This list is geared towards academic/digital libraries since that was the job I was looking for. As I receive more email listings, I will update this post with other locations that I forgot to add. The sites are listed in no particular order.


North Carolina

Digital Libraries




Pages I Have Kept Open

Since the introduction to tabbed browsers, I have been guilt of using the tabs as “read later” bookmarks. Currently my Opera and Chrome browsers are brimming with tabs. In order to finally clear them out, I am going to list every page here so I can finally close some tabs! You might be able to understand my mindset better if you want to understand how I research projects…

Drupal — mostly from my attempt to create a digital library



Web Design