Hello.

We’re meeting the bloggers around dog-ville today. I waffled for a long time before I realized that I have an extremely distinctive dog. If somebody who knows me runs across this blog, they’re going to recognize Silas. If I run into a blog reader in public, ditto.

So, here’s me:

photo-34

The questions are actually harder than the photo was. Because I got to this one: What is one thing you’ve done that you’re most proud of? and realized it was time I ‘fessed up.

I’ve alluded here and there to the fact that I’m chronically unemployed, but I’ve never gone into it. You see, a few years back I got a PhD in English Literature from a pretty good university. I’m immensely proud of it and have no regrets. But, the recession hit universities very hard just as I was coming out of graduate school. My friends have managed to piece together temporary positions and two year contracts, but (unlike them) I was married. I wasn’t uprooting my husband from his great job that he loved to live in Podunk, Iowa and make almost no money. Now, even if the job market for the humanities recovers, I’m not competitive anymore. Which is hilarious, since I wrote a dissertation about literature. It’s not like I’m sequencing genes. I’m casting around for a new career, but nobody will hire me because I have a PhD and teaching experience instead of real job skills.

I don’t talk about it a lot because 1) while some of the fault was mine and some wasn’t, it’s still a huge failure and 2) people get really weird. Please don’t get weird. I’m promise that I’m not criticizing your grammar or your writing or your taste in books.

Yes, this is why all of my blog posts are so long.

What’s your favorite non-animal related book?

Seriously, did you read the last answer? How about five. Anne of Green Gables. Bleak House (don’t knock Dickens until you’ve tried him as an adult. I don’t know why they teach Great Expectations in high school. I guess because it’s short, comparatively, but it’s Dickens at his very most . . . Dickensian. I like David Copperfield as a good starter Dickens.) Little Women. Anything by Georgette Heyer. Persuasion (no, Pride and Prejudice is not Jane Austen’s best book. And while we’re at it, Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte’s worst book. Try Shirley and get back to me.) For all that, I have a terrible time reading fiction now. Contemporary stuff is too angsty, and the old stuff still feels like work.

Now, for the less serious, if you haven’t run screaming already:

Who’s your favorite actor?

Cary Grant FOREVER.

What’s one thing you have to do every day?

Drink coffee. Just two cups, but they’re important.

What do you wish you were more skilled at?

Sewing. I have a machine and I know how to use it, but I’m not very good. I don’t practice much because the machine bothers Silas.

Favorite meal?

Breakfast. I love almost all breakfast foods, but I am completely baffled by our cultural obsession with bacon. I mean, it’s nice enough, but it’s not THE ONE TRUE FOOD. (That would be tomatoes, in the summer, just off the vine.)

How is your pet most like you?

Have you read my blog? If I answered this, y’all would think I’m crazy.

What can your body do for you that makes you most proud?

I think this is the most awesome question in the survey, and I’m betting most of us skip it. So I won’t–I’m a reasonably serious cyclist. I spent most of the fall working up to riding 100 miles on January 1, but the weather is killing my training. It rained every weekend in November, and now it’s freakishly cold. I’ve had to reschedule for March 1 instead.

What’s one thing you could do to be more kind to yourself?

Learn how to let go of things. I tend to dwell on mistakes. I’m better about it now than I was a few years ago. Wisdom of age or something.

What drives you nuts about your pets?

BARKING.

If you didn’t have your current pets, what pets would you choose to have?

I play this game a lot. The answer depends on what kind of day I’m having with Silas, with answers ranging from an elderly pit bull to a Border Terrier puppy. I was actually looking at greyhound rescues before we found Silas.

So, that’s me. I skipped some of the questions, because this post is ridiculous even by my own standards, but I couldn’t pick just five. For real–almost 800 words?!

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25 thoughts on “Hello.

  1. Really pleased that I know a little more about you now. Love your writing and it’s no surprise that you have a writing background. I have to say, barking drives me mad too. Oh, and if I had my own company I’d definitely hire you- I think you’re great! x

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    1. Aww, thanks! I was happy to “meet” you today, too, but I still can’t comment on your blog for some reason. I need to set up my blog e-mail account with Google+, I think.

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  2. So much is familiar to me in your first answer. I live in the land of the overeducated and underemployed. Which means that I have the most fascinating conversations with people serving coffee and tending the adoption desk at the local shelter.

    Of course, I’m not much into education as job training (says the girl who studied history). I hope that your life brings you great fulfillment whether you “use” your degrees or not.

    Loved seeing you come out from behind Silas. And as for Cary Grant–screwball comedies (Bringing Up Baby, The Awful Truth etc.) or sexy adventures (To Catch a Thief, Charade)?

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    1. I think that undergraduate degrees are *all* largely useless. We make fun of people who do Art History or whatever, but a bachelor’s in Biology or Psychology or Physics isn’t worth anything, either. If you’re going into a field, you need a graduate degree. If you aren’t, you’re just competing for the same entry-level office jobs and it doesn’t really matter what your degree is. I can only think of one or two exceptions.

      And don’t get me started on pressuring people to go to college who would be totally happy as plumbers or mechanics (and probably make better money and not have student loans.)

      I love a pretty wide cross-section of old movies, but I’m more familiar with the funny Cary Grant. I think my favorite is The Philadelphia Story.

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  3. I can relate to people getting weirded out when they hear you have an advanced degree in English and interviewers telling you how overqualified you are for the job, but they won’t hire you. I’ve gone back and forth between the real world of advertising and teaching in ivory towers. I do hope you can find something to challenge you. In the meantime I love you and Silas.

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    1. Aww, thank you so much.

      I don’t even know what I’d look for in a job, which is the other thing that’s slowing me down. I’m doing some volunteer work right now as a receptionist, which is reminding me that I really don’t care what my job is, as long as it’s in a good environment.

      We’ll see what happens.

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  4. Yes! Another Persuasion fan! P&P is good, but you’re right, it’s NOT her best. Persuasion is! (IMO)
    And I love, love, love Anne of Green Gables, too!

    I know what it’s like to have humanities degrees and be hard to employ. I don’t have a PhD, mind you, and am in awe of everyone who does, but I have BA degrees in philosophy, religion, and a writing certificate and know what it’s like to be underqualified yet underemployed all at the same time. People shook their heads at my chosen education path, but at the very least, I live in Calgary, AB. ANYone can get a well-paying job in oil and gas if you’re willing to work in that industry; I am proof of that. No, I don’t sit around and contemplate the Problem of Evil as much as I’d like (or at all), but it is what it is. I took what I liked in school and would never do it otherwise, even in retrospect.

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    1. I think there’s a lot to be said for making yourself happy with an undergraduate degree. They don’t make a lot of difference anyway. A lot of employers just want proof that you can show up for four years, sit in a lecture hall like a good girl, and have basic competency in reading and writing.

      My husband works in oil and gas. 🙂 Not in Calgary, thank goodness. Umm, no offense.

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  5. I’m so pleased you decided to show yourself, of course I’m the one who wouldn’t remember YOUR name, I’d call you Silas’ mom. 😀

    My college journalism professor had a degree in English and she wanted me to major in that, but truthfully….well you’ve read my blog and you know that grammar is not my thing.

    I do hope you find something that makes you happy! And wow, 100 miles on a bicycle? That’s amazing to me!

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    1. Someone running for our HOA board made sure to list “walking her sheepdog” as a hobby on her campaign flyer. Because of course none of us recognized her, but *everyone* knows the dog.

      We’ll see if the 100 miles works out! My longest so far is about 50. I’ll have to post in March and let you guys know.

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  6. Great to meet you. Relate to your story about careers, I have a Masters in Library & Information Science, but everyone is shocked when I tell them being a Librarian requires an advanced degree…I guess they see us as just putting books away. I ended up so far from where I started so give yourself time and focus on what you love doing. Writing seems like a natural fit for you.

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    1. Thanks! I have a whole list of reasons I’ll never be famous as a blogger, but it definitely uses that side of my brain.

      “Go to library school” was the default career plan for most of my friends. Then everyone realized that librarians were having almost as much trouble getting jobs as we were.

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  7. Funny answers! I think it’s so amazing to get a phd, there should be job security for such an accomplishment! My friend is finishing up her phd in sociology and looking for work, I don’t think it’s going well. I finished school just when the recession hit too and ended up doing freelance.

    I love breakfast too! And coffee. And vine ripe tomatoes. But not bacon:)

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    1. You also don’t get nearly the salary that other long-term degrees get (MD, JD, etc), even if you get a really great job.

      Good luck for your friend! It’s brutal out there.

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  8. Aw, jeez. I’m afraid this comment is going to get weird, but here goes: I am SO GLAD we got paired up in the exchange so that I could get to know you through posts like this. Fabulous book list aside, yes to coffee, yes to dwelling on mistakes (ugh), yes to the barking thing. Also, I’d never admit that I’m most like my wound-up, anxious, worrier, neurotic pup because that would be embarrassing. 🙂

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  9. Ah, sewing… that’s something I wish I was better at too. I never took the time to really learn it from my mom, and now I wish I had! One of these days I’ll figure it out… oh, who am I kidding? I’ll probably just spend that time going to brunch instead. Long live brunch!

    Really enjoyed reading your answers and learning more about you. I’m glad you decided to join us – I love your blog and it’s nice to get a little more background about the amazing blogger behind it.

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  10. Great job on the questions. I think my hubby might challenge you about the bacon. But that may be because he doesn’t get it very much. I love Pride and Prejudice. I read it years ago, before all of the recent movie versions. I love the theme of judging someone upon first meeting them and then finding out you were wrong.

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  11. Have you ever thought about leaving your PhD off of your resume? I know you are super proud of it but you don’t HAVE to list everything you have done. If the job you are applying for doesn’t require a PhD, and you don’t think it will give you an edge, I would leave it off so you don’t “qualify yourself out of a job”. Just my two, unsolicited, cents. My cousin was having the same problem – high education but not a lot of real work experience. Sounds like you are hanging in there though. Something will come through eventually.

    Like

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