Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Okay, yes, I know that technically, the New Year is several months away, give or take, depending on which New Year you like to ring in. But doesn't the back-to-school season feel so fresh? The colours on the trees emerge, Queen Sweater takes over from Princess Tank Top, people stock up on binder paper, and the time of learning, after a brain-addlingly hot summer, recommences.

Sure, most people in their mid-twenties have graduated by now. Some even have that double-plus signifier of education, the Master's degree. I, on the other hand, am taking the scenic route through my degree: half-forgotten minors in Biological Anthropology, detours into Book and Media Studies, and dreamy stretches of endless English courses. Now, in the final stretch (okay, in the victory lap: I earned my degree last year and still didn't graduate), I've found some interesting side roads.

There was a moment of truth last Christmas when I sat down at the computer, cracked my knuckles, and started looking for work. English Majors are not an endangered species, and the kind of work I want to do - progressive, urban, literate, communal - demands more than just being able to read Spencer. Most of the postings I came across wanted people with Real Skills: post-grad work, loads of experience, specific skill sets, and a driver's licence (sigh). As a noodly perpetual student, I am sorely lacking in many - all - of those categories.

Once I set my cap on working in city planning, I started to figure it out a little. A graduate program coquettishly winked at me. I landed at intership at an awesome magazine. I got a job at a housing co-op and stumbled into a writing gig. I feel like having a goal, finally, is giving shape to my decisions and thoughts. I like to write, I like to talk, I care about people and the places they live. And I finally have an answer to give when people elbow me and say, "English, eh? You want to be a high school teacher?"

Anyway, this extended remix of an undergrad has been useful. For one thing, budgeting is clutch. And not get all moral-of-the-story here, but education and learning is a process, and going back to school - or staying in school until your fingers get pruney - is totally necessary. Parents of high schoolers are forever saying that university teaches people how to learn, which is true, sort of. It certainly didn't teach me how to study. On the other hand, it did expose me to a monster variety of weird books and facts about primate dentition, some more useful than others. But if you spend long enough in school (for some folks, that's two weeks; others need years) you will learn useful and alarming stuff about yourself.

So, since I'll be so busy majoring in myself over the next few months, I'm going to cut the entries from three to two a week. I'm not slacking, and I'll try to post links to my other writing endeavors - there will be legion, apparently. And, of course, regardless of whether you're cycling into a new school year or just grumping around the office as usual, happy new year. Now go buy yourself a new binder to celebrate.

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