I have been spending much of my time thinking and writing in my wonderful philosophy class that I am taking long distance from Memorial University in Newfoundland.
Prof Craig Cramm offers a gem of a course for students looking for an elective, and the class has more engineering students than philosophy students.
This is my last class towards a Library Studies Certificate. This class was not a mandatory feature of the program, but I made it so. In fact, the university had a required course called Business 2000 that was mandatory except that they no longer offered it. The long distance department didn’t seem to have any control over whether the business department would ever offer it again, and I was not willing to take the university up on their alternatives: apply to a separate institution that offered the same course for more money or take a first year English course.
Actually I was really annoyed and frustrated by the university’s disinterest in providing a solution and that made me question my years of dedication to acquiring the certificate. So after a series of terse emails that ascended eventually to the director of Lifelong Learning, I made it clear that not only was I not going to take another business course from a different institution in order to graduate, I wasn’t going to take a first year English course either.
I explained that most people in the library certificate course were sitting on a BA anyway and were trying to upgrade their hire- ability (not really a word except in places where people actually work).
I think they got tired of hearing from me and agreed with alacrity when I suggested that I take Philosophy of Technology instead, a second year philosophy course with no prerequisites. I argued that the course was in line with the general theme of the library certificate that emphasized, repeatedly in each and every course, how librarians must accept the modernization of the library and ‘get with it’.
Make the library more like a community center, create promotional material and book displays as if you are selling a product, start blogs and websites: technology savvy librarians need only apply, no ‘shushing’ allowed!
So this winter I took advanced technology, which taught me a lot and made me pretty darn comfortable with playing with technology and figuring out things like ‘deep linking’. Then I moved into the philosophy of technology and it has provided a intellectual challenge and pulled everything together beautifully.
I am reading and thinking about technology, morality, ethics and action. It is fabulous. It was just what I wanted, a real course with serious reading and thinking. I have written better essays for this course than I ever wrote when I was a young undergraduate.
The prof has asked us to make a leap with the last essay and write about how the ideas that we have discussed in the course apply to our own lives. I am thinking about that with the intense mental application that this almost fifty year old woman seems to apply to everything she does.
Of course I could write about how in the last ten years of living in a fairly isolated community I have had regular work with a daily paper without ever meeting my editor face to face, and taken 12 courses from a university in a province that I have yet to visit. Technology has been a bonus for me. It has kept me engaged and even employed while living in an isolated hamlet on the side of the sea.
But my mind is thinking about something more slippery. While living in this area I have brought up my kids, home schooling some of the time, and volunteering and organizing much of my time, to the benefit of my family and the community.
If I needed or wanted a program for myself or my children I created it from library clubs, to toddler drop ins, to dance classes. I did it for myself as much as for other people. But I seem to be burned out now. Not only do I not want to create or plan any community event or activity, I don’t even want to go if someone else plans it.
I want to retreat, and be peaceful with myself. I want to write and think and be left alone. I want to stop engaging with a community that gives back so little to me.
I am turning inward and reserving some time and space for me. Acknowledging this fact has been cemented into place by a recent rejection. The school’s retired principal asked me to apply for a job in which I would teach GED (high school equivalency) to local adults. I thought about it and decided to apply although I realized it would be a huge commitment.
Of course I went through the letter writing and interview process just to be rejected. And this for a job that I did not know existed until someone asked me to apply. I felt like a big idiot and sucker. They hired a staid and putty faced woman of the community who is known for her religious fervor and judgmental glare.
I should not have applied at all. I should have known better. It stung, slapped my ego, because it reminded me of all the times I have not got the job. It might be partly a generational thing where there were always too many of us with similar credentials and not enough jobs to go around. But I have always scrambled to create my own jobs. The recent gig with the paper was great because it paid and gave me some respectability within this community.
So I am wondering how to put this in perspective. For me personally, I do not want to reach out to my community anymore. I want to offer something but from a different place. I do want to be part of the bigger picture, but I think I need to go back to my shy self contained self to do so. Something like writing literature for children, a place where you know you will have an effect albeit a quiet one. That is what I am thinking about.
So back to the blog, which like all the things in my life, is something I have created out of nothing. It is an open journal and a map that shows you your path while you are still traveling.
And back to my general mantra, which came from a really cool and hilarious Canadian radio show that you can find on youtube called Dead Dog Café:
Stay Calm, Be Brave, and Wait for the Signs.