Full Circle

Before I was an English major, I was a microbiology major. I was going to work in a lab and do research.

While I was a microbiology major, I took a really long break in my education to figure out what I wanted to do. I spent nearly seven years in New York City, and I found exhilaration and solace in writing.

I wanted to write. Maybe with my science background, maybe I could do science writing.

In 2010 I returned to BYU as a nontraditional (read: old) student who was given a stern warning to FINISH SCHOOL; changing my major to English after almost having a hard science degree was peculiar. But I hadn’t kept up my studies in NYC, and I’d have to retake many classes anyway, and I’d end up being there at least three semesters. I told the Humanities advisor I’d be done in four or five. They let me stay.

Five semesters and three terms later, I have no regrets. I took my time, got good grades, earned a scholarship, studied abroad in Senegal, and minored in French. During my last two semesters I met another English major who had graduated from the University of Utah. Nearly a month and a half after graduation, we got married.

A year and a half passes, and my husband was already a semester into his Master’s program at BYU. I was preparing to begin a Master’s program in Library Science at Emporia State University. At the orientation several library professionals spoke to my cohort, and the one who stood out most was a medical librarian. Throughout my program I have focused on medical libraries. I completed a practicum (internship) at the Eccles Health Sciences Library at the U; and I have been volunteering at the Primary Children’s Hospital Library. All of this experience has enhanced my studies, better prepared me for the work force, and built a solid network of colleagues.

When I had about a year left in the program, I started applying for jobs. When positions require experience and you have none, it can be a little frustrating. As I was finishing my practicum in the spring, an opportunity arose for working in a medical library. The position didn’t require an MLS, so I decided to use my time in the practicum and volunteering, as well as my time in the MLS program, as experience. Other requirements matched my skills acquired from other jobs, and position seemed like a great fit. The posting attracted a lot of applicants, and the hiring manager interviewed me over the phone before calling me in for a group interview, which was intense. I shined and dazzled among other qualified prospects.

I made the cut and went in the next day to interview by myself with the hiring panel. And it seemed things were looking up until they weren’t. The timing had turned bad, and other circumstances had proven inauspicious, so I pulled myself out of the running. While this decision was for the best, I learned so much during that interview process, and people from Primary Children’s and Eccles offered me wonderful advice and encouragement along the way.

About a week and a half after the final interview, I received some information about another posting. It wasn’t for working in a medical library, but it requires skills gained in an MLS program and searching in medical databases, so I inquired about the position. My contact requested my CV, and about two weeks later, she asked if we could speak on the phone.

That’s when I told her I was a microbiology major. And when I spoke to her supervisor on the phone, I recounted the same experience. And when I met with the two of them a few days after that, my hard science background came up again. They took me through the workflow, which helped me clear some cobwebs from the sciency sections of my brain. They asked me which I preferred: hard science or information science. It wasn’t one of those psychoanalytical questions to make interviews nervewracking (“Tell me about a time you failed/didn’t complete something/didn’t get along with someone…”); it was a question out of simple curiosity, and I told them I couldn’t decide. I loved them both.

Gosh, what’s a good metaphor here. The skills I gained as a humanities major will always be the ones important to finding work and solving problems. Close reading–critical thinking, analysis–and communication. And then the more specific training I receive during my MLS program helps with technology I will be using with the job. And then, THE thing that may have solidified the deal for me is the area in which I do not have a degree but have always been deeply interested. And wanted to do more with. This is one of the coolest opportunities ever. There’s no metaphor here.

After officially completing his thesis in June, my husband is enjoying his summer. He graduates August 16, and we’re all very excited. On the other hand, my summer semester is intense, and after spending daytime with my family, I stay up late doing homework, finally able to empathize with Reilly’s late nights over the past two years. I’ll have only three credit hours in the fall, and then I’ll be done with my Master’s program.

The baby will be the only one in the family without a Master’s degree. Aww.

After my interview two weeks ago, onboarding is complete. The company is great. They’re assigning me a laptop. I don’t even know if I have an official job title, but I will be maintaining a database for a pathology tool used in diagnostic immunohistochemistry for cancer. It’s a thing: look it up.

Also: I get to work from home.

I begin August 3.

Schoolin’

2nddayclass

You guys, I started grad school this week.

Baby and I are learning so far about library history and library ethics. We’ve gotten an introduction to information-seeking behavior. That’s a good behavior for Baby to learn.

It seems like a great program so far. It’s blended, which means it’s partly online and partly face-to-face. Our first in-person class weekend with fellow classmates isn’t for a few weeks, so I’m just making sure to keep up on reading, quizzes, and other assignments. We meet on four weekends during the semester.

Oh, we had orientation back on January 4, and I got to meet classmates and had my picture taken for the student database. We met the dean of the school of library and information management, and we also met librarians from different branches of the library kingdom. That was cool.

Quite a few of my cohort already work in libraries; they need the MLS to move up in their careers. I think there are 16 or 17 students total in my cohort. It’ll be nice to work with this group for the next two years. One student comes from Idaho; one comes from Vancouver, BC. The rest of us live in Utah.

Also, one of the class weekends this semester happens to fall on the weekend Baby has been predicted to arrive. I’ve already told my professors and the director of the program.

While I’m not getting any sleep, I might as well be getting a master’s degree, right?

Reilly’s 2nd semester is already in full swing. One class continues from last semester where he watches movies and writes papers about them. The other class consists of him watching cartoons and writing papers about them. I’m glad to see him enjoying himself so much. He’ll actually get to teach a film studies elective next year at the school where he works. Yeah, he’s awesome.

We are pretty much a power couple, soon to be a mega power family.

Recent Ritual

Reilly sits on the couch. He usually has his laptop, looking up his grades, reading for class, planning lessons, or catching up on the local news. Sometimes the television plays in the background, news or Food Network or the Jazz game.

I start walking toward him from across the room. He sets his computer aside and puts his hand up, palm facing me.

01

Like a magnet, Reilly’s hand draws my tummy toward it. I can’t stop walking.

03

While I walk, sometimes I say in a high pitched voice, “Da-da?” Sometimes I point to my tummy and state the obvious, “There’s a baby in here!” And as my tummy nears Reilly’s hand, there’s giddy anticipation. Energy. Electricity. The gravity of this growing ventral orb strengthens when the distance between us decreases. The world seems to stop, but Reilly and I do not take our eyes off each other.

05

The palpable focus switches from Reilly’s eyes when his palm and my tummy finally make contact. I can tell that Baby knows that Daddy’s right there.

07

Then Reilly and Baby spend a few moments of quality time together. I stand by and adore this interaction.

08

This has easily become one of my favorite activities. I am grateful that we’re already hanging out so much.

On Homework

Another semester is well under way. School campuses everywhere teem with eager and already-weary students. Disciples. Learners arrive early in the morning, sit through morning classes with their droning instructors, grab a bag of Corn Nuts or stop by the eatery for a refreshing caffeinated soda, then sit through a round of afternoon classes. Instructors stand in front of their classes appearing to teach. Lectures, they call them. Professors’ voices may penetrate 30-60% of student skulls, depending on attentiveness and head placement relative to the desk. If my head was down during a class, I had every intent of going to sleep. But of course, if I sat upright, that did not guarantee alertness or even consciousness in any way.

After a whole day of classes, students flock to the library or return to their eclectically decorated or otherwise messy apartments to do at least 17 trillion hours of homework. An estimated 2 hours for every credit hour. I came home to read about 100  pages every night from sundry novels that my various English classes assigned. Then I would have to write stuff or think about term papers or work on a group project. Then I’d do my assignments for French, which involved stumble-reading 20-40 pages, writing in a journal, and doing grammar exercises. Three sets of 20, with a 30-second rest between sets. I was up until 1:00 or 2:00 every night, only to wake up four to five hours later for another day.

I understood the importance of homework; I tried to make my brain achieve balance in learning between lectures and homework. On any particular day I had no more than four classes – four hours. But then came the eight hours of homework. Sometimes it felt that all I ever did was homework. But I also tried to make room for a social life and reassured my friends that I still loved them. When I started dating Reilly, I still did homework, which involved a different type of juggling that I wasn’t used to, but I still did the reading and writing and tortuous French grammar études. When I started dating Reilly more seriously, of course I spent more time with him, which meant there was less time to accomplish everything else. I got the same four to five hours of sleep, so it seems homework was compromised.

We got engaged before my last semester, and I knew that I had to restore my discipline if I were to finish well, or at least with my GPA intact. Our relationship had progressed enough, or maybe we were mature enough for him to work on his lesson plans and for me to do homework while we were in the same room. Sure, we would take a break and make out every once in a while, but most of the time we acted like adults with academic focus.

Is it possible to have an academic focus for making out? Admittedly, there were days after school that I had to tell Reilly that I just had to go home and do homework by myself, else all I would do is gaze into his eyes and admire his handsome visage and distract him from lesson plans with little, teasing kisses.

With Reilly’s help and encouragement, I made it through that last semester, and BYU let me graduate, most likely because I had something like 652 credits, 550 of which came from a science major from my early days at BYU before I wised up and changed my major to English. BYU was happy to be rid of me and all my credit-hoarding.

Don’t even get me started on the science homework.

So, I graduated and got married. Then there was no homework. Just like that. No term papers, no French grammar. I read for fun, though. The whole summer. I decided that I would look for a real-life job before summer’s end, and I started working the same week Reilly headed back to teaching. And the nature of my job doesn’t require homework. Sometimes I stay at the office a few extra hours each week, but I never bring work home. Every day, I study, read, write, edit, and revise. I get to work in groups to prepare presentations. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that my job is just like homework, eight hours a day, . . . wait a second.

Academic focus. The differences are that I really like work, and – again – I get to leave it at the office, and I can come home to the best campus ever and do whatever I want, which is usually reading or watching television or fun house projects or surfing the internet or distracting Reilly while he’s creating lesson plans. He’s even entering grades into the computer right now.

I should go kiss him.

I Like This Movie

This movie is truly one of the best child actor performances I have ever seen. Of course Lee Pace is cute and stuff, but the little girl really steals the show. Her innocence, her role melts into her being. It doesn’t even seem like she’s acting.

In other news, my life seems to be crumbling before my very eyeballs. That is, if I kept my eyeballs open long enough to notice. I’m overwhelmed and frustrated, and sleep is my newest and best friend. It doesn’t judge or yell; it just lets me be.

Six weeks of class left. I don’t know, you guys.

I’m Turning This In – It So Does Not Even Matter

This is  a response to the reading for today, which, obviously, I did not do:

It makes sense that if animals talk, we have to listen.

I know this short-haired miniature dachshund named Henry. He has the most soulful, expressive eyes of any animal – or even human – that I’ve ever seen. He looks at me, and my heart melts, and I want to help lessen whatever burdens of the world he’s carrying on his wiener-dog back that isn’t higher than eight inches from the ground. Those dogs seriously need a pair of legs to support the middle of their torsos.

Every time I look at Henry, he seems to want to tell me a story. He knows that I will listen, but he also knows how easily distracted I am. And I can sense the stories he wants to tell are in the form of fables, and they may even have a little bit of biographical intent. Henry knows the ways of the human species, their linear ways of thinking, their superior attitudes, and their utter denseness of judgment in everyday life.

He needs me to hear about the time he talked with the German shepherd neighbor and got his leash caught on her collar. And he’d end his anecdote with, “Now don’t get yourself in trouble with those bigger than you.” Or, there was the time I was dogsitting him, and it was cold outside, but it I had to take him out for a walk. We spent less than two minutes outside; he walked only a tiny stretch of his usual route before turning back toward the apartment. My winter coat kept me comfortable, but when we got back inside, Henry looked at me with doleful eyes, which would have said, if I were worthy to understand his speech, “Don’t ever go out into the cold without your knitted wool sweater.” He’s full of pithy maxims, that one.

I know why he’s so pensive. He and his owner watch a lot of melancholy, British cinema. Furthermore, he’s little. Even though that makes for scrappiness, he has a completely different perspective on the world than the average-sized. I can relate, as I’m not very tall, and my literal and figurative viewpoints of life are not the same as those who are taller.

Animals, so much closer to nature than civilized humans, can get to the heart of problems more quickly; they haven’t lost their instinct. Their solutions are simple, and they make sense. While life does get complicated sometimes, I tend to overlook the most direct approach to resolving conflict or navigating life in general. I’m so fortunate to have a friend like Henry to remind me to broaden my perspective and take deep breaths and learn to let go of what’s less important.

I wonder if Aesop had a short-haired, miniature dachshund.