Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Intellectual Pioneers

So, this is one of those topics that gets Mom all excited because it means research. When I moaned about it, she suggested I write about the president of the college I went to because she was the first female president of a college west of the Mississippi. I find that difficult to believe because the school, first a seminary then a college,  is 158 years old, and has always been west of the Mississippi. Also, it has always been a woman’s college except for two weeks in 1990, which resulted in the college needing a new president.  Anyway, I know there was a female president before this one. But I’m not going to prove it because I’m not in the mood for research right now.

I was talking to my Dad on the way home tonight about how I completely forgot to mention this website in the interview I had last week – didn’t conceal it on purpose, but actually forgot to mention how I’m spending half my days. And he said that if they find it (and they will) they’ll probably want to hire my mom instead because her essays are researched and mine are silly. And I was like, thanks a lot jerk. But I didn’t actually say that, because I don’t speak that way to my father.

Look. I like this project. I didn’t think we’d make it this long, but I’m glad we’re still doing it. But this is not a job for me. I write this stuff mostly to be funny, or at least entertaining. Occasionally a topic really interests me and then I do the research, but not everything excites my curiosity. If this were my job, it would be different. I’d be answering questions, or hopefully, helping people learn how to answer their own questions. But I’m only willing to put a certain amount of time into these essays – like a maximum of an hour – because I have a lot of research and reading to do that is unrelated.

Getting my master’s degree and starting out my career in England has handicapped me. I am not saying I am unqualified to work in this country because that is absolutely not true. But librarianship is practical career and it involves a lot of different skills, most of which are honed on the job. So, while I don’t have a job, I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out the American way – the American vocabulary, the American resources. I’ve taken classes since I got back, and spent a lot of time reading professional literature.  I’m not trying to hint that I am an intellectual pioneer, self-training for the job I eventually hope to land. I wouldn’t be getting anywhere at all without the wealth of information and advice available to unemployed librarians concerned with keeping their skills up-to-date. There are a lot of us, working while unemployed. This website is the thing I do when I’m either reflecting on it, or I want a break from it.

Especially when I realize that the thing that would help me the most, I haven’t done. I should be volunteering in a library. But I really thought that at any moment I might find a job and I didn’t want to let anyone down by suddenly quitting. Which was not a concern I had when starting this project – although it is now.

Anyway, another reason writing this essay isn’t like a job: I’m actually writing this in the middle of the night, in the middle of my bed, wearing the nightgown I tried to dress Milo in earlier today. I wish I had been able to video him running up the stairs while the little dress slid further down with each step. By the time he reached the top, it was just hanging off his tail. You probably had to be there.  

Milo wishes he wasn't there.

PS: Mills College is named after its founders, Cyrus and Susan Mills. Susan became as president of the college in 1890 and served for 19 years.  I knew this already. I’m guessing what my mom actually meant to say was that Mills was the first women’s college established west of the Rockies, and is the second oldest women’s college still in existence.

PPS: Mom has clarified to say that she meant Aureilia Henry Reinhardt (Mills President 1916 – 1943) was the first female president.  But as we’ve already established, that is wrong too. 

*This post was originally published at The Daily Theme on April 1, 2011

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