Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"My So Called Internship": Episode 1

As part of my "self internship," as I shall deem it, I am going to try to familiarize myself with web design related things. I suspect that going into the job field with an English degree will be made all the more attractive to potential employers (eesh...!) if I possess basic technology abilities.

As it stands now,I am capable of successfully turning my computer on 89% of the time, and accomplishing anything web related that is not specifically and painfully detailed for me (think teaching a small child to tie their own shoes) inevitably results in disaster. See my post on creating this blog for further details on that adventure.

As fate would have it, my dad is a computer programmer who lives to create programs and software. He seems to be proficient in languages that I have come to understand are called names such as, "C++," "Javascript," and "HTML code." Actually, all three of these names might be different words for the same language. Or perhaps they are not even a little bit related. Or perhaps one of them has nothing to do with web design and programming at all.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Fortunately for me, my dad was excited by the prospect of taking on a new challenge. In all likelihood, this will turn out to be two challenges for him. The first, familiarizing himself with the blogging world and the process of web design. The second, and probably most challenging, will be trying to get these skills through my thick, technology resistant head.

Needless to say, when he requested that I download a "web editor tool" and familiarize myself with how it works, it did not go as planned. I downloaded what looked to me like a legitimate editing tool (and it probably is...) but beyond that, I have been able to accomplish nothing. Apparently you need basic proficiency in HTML code before you can play around with it. Right now it just sits staring at me with a judgmental little blinky icon.

This may be an interesting summer. On the bright side, I figured out how to download my Shelfari gadget (look at me using all this lingo!) onto the blog, so check it out! Right now it has a selection of my favorite books as well as the ones I plan to read still.

Shelfari is neat, too, so if you are a big book fan, please go sign up (it's free!) and add me. I always need more book recommendations from people!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reading IS Sexy, Don't Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

Aside from trying to seriously commit to writing every day on my break this summer, I have also created a reading list of books I have deemed either necessary/important to read or that just looked like fun. Ironic that, after 9 months of reading text books and PDFs on postmodern hyperspace, all I seem to want to do now is read more.

Anyway, I figured if I wrote out the reading list (as a work in progress) and sent it out into cyber world, I might hold myself more accountable than if I write it on rumpled notebook paper and stuff it in my sock drawer (besides, I feel like using the same paper I used for classes is bad karma...)

Plus, when I run out of things to read, I always find myself wishing I could find a list of recommendations (that aren't stamped with Oprah's book club seal.) So I'll be arrogant enough to assume that, if anyone stumbles across this and is looking for a few good reads, they'll think my suggestions are worthwhile....

Here it is, in no particular order:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao -Junot Diaz
Watchmen- Allan Moore
Caramelo -Sandra Cisneros
Everything is Illuminated -Jonathan Safran Foer
Daughter of Fortune -Isabel Allende
Point Omega- Don DeLillo
The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios- Yann Martel
A Wild Sheep Chase & Kafka on the Shore- both by Haruki Murakami
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven- Sherman Alexie
Best American Travel Writing- An Anthology edited by my favorite author, Sloane Crosley
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin -Erik Larson
Ender's Game- Orson Scott Card
Slaughterhouse Five- Kurt Vonnegut
Carter Beats the Devil -Glen David Gold
The Final Confession of Mabel Stark -Robert Hough

It's kind of an eclectic selection of books, but I like that. It's nice to have a little variety, especially because I tend to fixate on one author or genre when I am into it, and more than two Haruki Murakami books in a row can wear on you.
I also have about five issues each of The New Yorker, Newsweek, and Time waiting for me on my Kindle, so I should be well stocked up for the summer.
My plan is to check each one off, then write a little review of it when I finish.

This blog shall be as eclectic as my taste in books!

Blood Makes Me Squeamish, So... English Degree It Is!

As I am typing this, I am just coming off the tail end of slaving over two huge final exam papers for this semester. Actually, I am coming off the tail end of trying to decide between blogger and Wordpress, but then I spent an hour getting sucked into a vortex of html code, web hosts, and other equally intimidating computer terms that made me just want to go cry in the corner with my leftover school notebooks.

In any case, with the exception of one old fashioned, in class History exam in two days, I am home free after a year of assigned reading and 12 page analysis papers.
This will be the end of what is technically my Junior year of college (I took the scenic route through that trip) and, in addition to all the postmodern papers and literary theory readings, I also made some pretty big decisions this year.

I have sort of assumed for the past couple of years that I would finish my B.A in English and also get a certificate to teach secondary education, which would mean that, at the end of what's worked out to be about 18 years of school, I'd go right back and just teach it the next time around.

This path made sense to me; I have always loved literature and grammar related hobbies (I almost made the background for this blog a crossword puzzle...) The thing is, though, that I have never really wanted to teach. It just seemed like a plausible, safe route to go given my interest in English.

So, after attending an introductory meeting for new students admitted into the School of Education, in which strong emphasis was placed on how the program was designed to weed out those of us who didn't really want to be there, I abandoned ship for what I have known all along I actually wanted to do: publishing and editing.

Still, almost 5 months later, it is difficult for me to say that out loud without hyperventilating a little bit. The process for becoming a teacher was fairly straightforward: make it out of the program and student teaching alive (and with all of your students alive) and we'll give you a certificate. But there is no program offered that makes you an editor or publisher.

Let me be very clear here, when I say editing, I do mean I will edit anything you give to me; I do not just expect to waltz out of college graduation and find a position as editor of The New Yorker. But the actual process of finding any job in this field is much fuzzier. Because the classes I have taken equipped me with a much more vague, general set of skills (as opposed to "How To Successfully Wield a Scalpel 101" or, say, "Teaching High School Freshman to Read") the job market is a slightly trickier field to navigate for me. That can actually work to my advantage (a fact which I have futilely tried to explain to my dad on numerous occasions) but it does mean I'll have to be more aggressive about it (something I am about as good at as performing open heart surgery.)

So this leads me to the blog. It is time that I start sending good English vibes out into the abyss so that I will at least have some credential when I graduate next spring. It may not be a bestselling memoir, but it beats having to show someone my 10 page analysis of House of Leaves as part of my portfolio, right?

Is that what they call samples in the English world? Portfolios...?