Tag Archives: grad school

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MLIS

The future is a way harder concept to grasp than the past. At the former Acres of Books in Long Beach, 2008

The future is a way harder concept to grasp than the past. Acres of Books in Long Beach, 2008 (RIP)

I started out the Master in Library and Information Science program super-enthusiastic (new program syndrome), but quickly realized that taking multiple classes and working full time was a recipe for a time crunch. I made space for things here and there – the occasional outing and wedding things. Overall it’s been an endurance test, but now that I’m closing out on my first (successful) semester I’m feeling a little more confident about time management and sanity. I can do this!

I definitely had a breaking point about midway through and turned into a hermit with a lot of repressed stress that I think I pretty successfully hid from everyone around me, aside from the occasional whiny sorry excuse for why I couldn’t go to happy hour or couldn’t go on a hike or couldn’t [insert activity here]. I’ve gotta remember that this is a marathon, and not a sprint. That would probably be my #1 advice for anyone starting an online graduate program while also working full time.

#2 is don’t feel guilty if you need to go home from work and watch five episodes of Daredevil while having popcorn and beer for dinner. Because those nights are an important counterbalance to those ridiculous days where you have a bunch of meetings at work, projects to jam through, and then you have to come home and search databases, read articles, and produce some sort of writing piece that doesn’t sound like gibberish.

History is my true love. I came to it via writing (the two are practically conjoined twins sometimes), and I will always love history the bestest. Library science is a more practical skill set. It has its mumbojumbo like any discipline, but it is the tool that delivers my love. The pizza delivery guy that brings the Pacific Veggie (which BTW is great fuel for writing a 28 page research paper in one weekend).

As a special collections library person I can work on saving the past, which is cheesy but true. Just call me indoor Indiana Jones. (“It belongs in a museum!” or: “I belong in a museum!”) Now if I could just get better at embracing the present and not stressing about the future I’d be all set.

The One Where I Go to a Wedding

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I don’t know if I’m creating connections that don’t exist, but I feel like Mad Men made a sly Game of Thrones reference last week. When Pete Campbell’s kid got rejected from an elite preschool, the guy doing the rejecting said the MacDonald clan he hails from would never let a Campbell kid into their school because of an old feud. Well, that feud (according to Wikipedia, which is of course the end all be all of knowledge these days) reportedly was one of the inspirations for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones red wedding scene. Apparently in 1692 Clan MacDonald told Clan Campbell: come on over and hang! And then the Campbells became the worst houseguests ever and slaughered 38 members of the MacDonald clan.

Coincidence? Conspiracy theory? Hommage from one great show to another? I was in one of my closest friend’s wedding the other week, so maybe I just have wedding on the brain.

It rained during my friend’s wedding ceremony, even though it was in Southern California and we’re suffering through a massive water shortage. Their love conquered drought, and even more significantly (from my incredibly cynical perspective) their love conquered all cheesy, cringe-inducing wedding cliches. It was incredibly heart felt, moving, and lovely. The rain drops that fell down onto the wedding party were definitely camouflaging some serious eye watering action.

My friend jetted off to Costa Rica with her new legal beau, and I slogged back to Los Angeles to start poking at an end of semester paper for the first semester of my second go-round at grad school. Now that the wedding’s over and I turned in 28 pages last Sunday I’ve been feeling a little listless. There are still a few loose ends to tie up in school and I have several trips on the horizon that should turn into some new Roadside posts (and work is hoppin’ as usual). Though I’m feeling really bad that my Arkansas trip is stopping me from going to another friend’s wedding in Vegas.

Before the flutter of near-future travel I’ve been turning my attention back to traveling through my closet. I’ve been hitting the black eyeliner hard lately – Mad Men’s return has me all retro-lovin’. I went to my favorite guilty-pleasure-purchase-place (Playclothes, what, what) and got a Joan dress. Time to go threaten someone with an ACLU/Newsweek/Ladies’ Home Journal lawsuit!

Veterans and Academics

My grandpa Donald Hickman (on the left) in the Philippines in the 1950s.

My grandpa Donald Hickman (on the left) in the Philippines when he was stationed there as a Navy Seabee in the 1950s.

I would never think to tell anyone that I come from a military family, though both my parents, my grandpas, and my brother all served at some point.  I’m the only non-veteran in my immediate family.  I interned at a defense contractor for a summer, but that’s about as close as I’ve been to the military industrial complex.  My parents were out of the Air Force by the time I was born, so I didn’t experience a military brat childhood, so I think that’s part of it.  Though I didn’t live through that lifestyle, I can’t say that the American military hasn’t had an enormous impact on my life.

My parents first met on a military airplane going to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.  My paternal grandpa met my Grandma while he was a Navy Seabee in Southern California in the 1950s, and my maternal grandpa met my grandma when he was stationed in Japan in the 1950s.  So, if it weren’t for the military I wouldn’t exist (two generations over).

None of my military family were lifers – if anything it seems like the military can be something you do because you need a job, because you want to get out of the small rural town you grew up in, because it’s a direction to go in other than college – basically, the military is a source of opportunity and possibility.  I can’t speak for anyone, but that’s what it looks like from my outsider perspective.  I respect the individual contributions of veterans and I appreciate what the military offers to our increasingly degree obsessed American society.

I’m pretty much an academic, with all the voodoo mojo jargon writing that goes along with it, and I professionally serve a very ivory tower community.  I don’t discount the value of the academy, but I do get frustrated at elitism and exclusivity and find that contemporary American society’s privileging of excessive credentials is fueling an educational industrial complex.

I don’t believe in intellectual elitism, but I’m unfortunately starting another masters degree in January, and I still haven’t discounted the possibility of eventually going back for a PhD of the history variety.  I’ve already got enough degrees and educational certificates to wipe an ass after a pretty sizable dump.  So I’m a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m also in a place in my career where I don’t feel like I have the power yet to change the system and I think having an arsenal of letters after my name will help.  You have to fully understand the system to affect lasting change (=how I sleep at night).

Enough ranting – in belated celebration of the contributions of veterans past and present, here is a gallery of my maternal grandpa Donald Hickman’s photographs from his Navy Seabee time in the Philippines in the 1950s, complete with captions he handwrote on the backs (where applicable):

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Me falling asleep while taking notes – from a few years back.

I soaked beans overnight to cook the next day, but then I was lazy during the next day.  I waited too long, so the beans sprouted.  Rather than throw them all out I planted a few in some cleaned out yogurt containers.  I’m curious to see if they come up!  Stay tuned.

I would promise photos, but life is kinda chaotic.  I’m on the verge of being on schedule at work and school, but I’m also on the verge of getting a bit behind and I can’t let that happen!

I’m looking forward to this weekend.  I need to log some serious thesis writing/researching hours and get a schedule together for when I’m going to go to the archive to do some primary research.  Until then, time to go to sleep so I can get up and get to work!

At the End.

Last Thursday it was necessary to lay down in the car after work and an hour of rush hour traffic and before my 7-10pm class. This is the POV from my car when laying down in the parking garage.

So you see, I’m in this tunnel, right?  Sometimes I feel like it’s going to squeeze me into a puddle of human goop.  But sometimes, sometimes I think I just might see something at the end of it.  Something bright and shiny, something like light.

And Christmas.  Lots of sparkly Christmas lights.  Just about time to go pray at the altar of consumption.

Bee-z.

A typical scene at home (for one more week at least!)

Life has been a bit of a low-on-sleep but high-on-coffee blur lately.  Work has been going fabulously (the blog post I put up for the Library’s website has taken off – though I think it has more to do with the subject matter than the author, I’ll take the praise and run with it!)  School has just about one week left to go.  Burton Holmes is nearing completion, though Lupe Velez and Dolores Del Rio are struggling a bit.  It’s strange that the topic I switched to last minute (Holmes) is trumping the topic I thought would engage me the most (Velez and Del Rio)!  My goal tonight is to get a complete rough (roughroughrough) draft completed on the Velez/Del Rio front.

My new buddy - he's slightly forest greener in person

Something about the holidays has got me all spendy.  The hot water bottle mentioned in a previous post arrived earlier this week.  We’re already best buddies!  I haven’t given him a name yet, but I’m thinking about it.  It stays warm throughout the night.  It isn’t as good as having Mr. H around for cuddles, but it sure beats shivering through the night.  I haven’t used the space heater in the evening at all either, so win-win there.

Magazine Holders

I also splurged on these magazine holders.  My magazines were recently evicted from my bookshelf by a wave of books that took up residence in the vacated space.  It’s great having my academic/interest books all grouped together by topic (I’m an archivist for a reason!  Though don’t ask me if these magazine holders are acid free – I didn’t take it that far.), but it left nowhere for my homeless magazines.  I don’t have any space for a new bookshelf, so for the time being I’m sticking with these magazine holder guys.

And now I’m doing my best not to invest in this adorable half pint ice cream maker by Hamilton Beech (in pistachio!).  It got mixed reviews on Amazon (very polarized in fact), so I’m a bit torn.  I don’t expect a $30 ice cream maker to churn out Dreyer’s (aka Edy’s for those of you not on the West Coast), but I do want an ice cream maker that doesn’t get its blade stuck mid-churn (ice cream tragedy!).

Extraordinary Traveler.

Whew, I’m nearing the end of the semester!  Come on Christmas!

 

Burton Holmes

So I’ve become a big fan of this guy – travel lecturer, early film pioneer, and all around a likeable guy – based off of his autobiography The World is Mine.  Now, with a title like that you’d think he was completely full of himself, and perhaps he was, but it doesn’t come off that way in his writing.  He was born in 1870, began giving travel lectures accompanied by magic lantern slides in the late 19th century, and then went into travel film making.

He comes out of the Victorian era, though his perspective on religion when he was close to death in the 1950s is so enlightened and modern, even for the 1950s.  He discusses his thoughts on existence, his desire to believe in reincarnation, his unsureness in everything, yet his faith in the general universe.  A refreshing surprise and a welcome perspective.

His travel work is fascinating as well – he really traveled everywhere!  I’ve only looked at his work in England to this point (for my class paper), but I’ll definitely be having a look-see at his other travel work.

More wonderful tidbits on this under-talked-about travel icon can be found at this great site: Burton Holmes, Extraordinary Traveler.

Next on the plate: The representation of Dolores Del Rio and Lupe Velez in Photoplay magazine in the early 1930s.  I’ve got a mini presentation to give on the topic tomorrow – details to follow once I figure them out, eep.