Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

I am “all at sixes and sevens,” as one elderly friend used to say.

The phrase, a favorite of hers and now, by extension, of mine, means “in a state of confusion or disarray.” The dictionary (we all know I adore a good dictionary lookup) adds “befuddlement.” Which, let’s just pause a moment there and dwell on that one word alone. “Befuddlement.” Wow. Fun to say, fun to write, instantly connects to so many other concepts in the broader culture. Would also make a great name for a race horse.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, right, “at sixes and sevens.” I never really knew the origins of this phrase. I knew what it meant. I don’t think I ever had it explained to me, I think I sorted it through what we in the education world lovingly call “context clues.”

But if you know me, then you know that once I have thought the thought, “huh, I don’t know,” a research trip cannot be far behind – so to the books I went. I found that, rather obviously, it relates to dice. Or more specifically, games of chance and gambling involving dice.

Because I know this will interest you as well, I will add that it appears (thank you the earliest known usage was by my man Chaucer, author of “The Canterbury Tales.”

Anyway, what was I talking about?


Oh, right, feeling at sixes and sevens recently. “In a state of confusion or befuddlement,” yes, that about sums it up. Sigh.

The reason for all this? I have announced I am leaving my job. The job that I love, truly, truly love, as a teaching librarian. I never imagined I would do such a ridiculous thing, but I have been offered the amazing and golden opportunity to go and do my work on a much, much larger scale – and that’s like being offered more cake. Who wouldn’t take more cake?

So I am excited and eager for this new challenge to work with the state Department of Education – and I am also heartbroken to leave where I have been. Ever since the first moment I realized that there was just no way to not take this leap, I have been thinking about the book “A House for Hermit Crab” by the incomparable Eric Carle. Do you know it? Oh, you should. It’s even better than Chaucer, frankly.

I won’t spoil it, but the take-home message is that sometimes in life, you have to leave the environment and friends that you love in order to embrace the next chapter of your life.

Which actually all ties in. Because all of this, the books, the words, the arcane research? This is all exactly what I am talking about.

My work has been, and remains, as a librarian – and equally importantly, as a teacher.


These moments of following a question and darting off down side roads of thought? This is what I have been lucky enough to do with my days, and even luckier to have been accompanied along the way by a group of spontaneous, creative, brilliant children.

So I am leaning into the cliche of spring. I am relishing the terrifying thrill as I leap into the unknown and I am paying attention to every single moment as I go.

After all, is this not the real lesson I hope to impart to all the scholars joyfully at work in the library? To pay attention, take big risks and respect yourself? It is.

So, what about you? What will your spring hold? What new challenges and risks await you as you live this one wild, beautiful life?

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