Thursday, June 18, 2009

And now for something completely different

So I might have mentioned back in November or December that I was busy with some other project, and you might have been wondering what project I could have besides raising my daughter. I was studying for the GRE--again; I took it back on November 1, 1997, and the reason I can tell you the exact day is that our neighbors had a freaking loud Halloween party until 3 AM the night before, so after three hours of sleep I drove half an hour to Bothell, which was not my first choice of testing site, to take one of the last regular paper administrations of the GRE, because I am old-fashioned like that. And they gave me three analytic sections, the bastards, which fried my brain. But somehow I did fine and a couple of grad schools let me go there and the rest is history.

Then ten years later I took the GRE on a computer (and found out my verbal and math scores immediately--nice!), with a writing section instead of a brain-thrashing logic section (YAY because if I cannot write an essay on a test after teaching students how to write essays on tests, then I should be shot), and I did better overall, especially on the verbal section (YAY because if I do not have an awesome vocabulary after teaching students Greek and Latin roots, then I should be shot). So, yes, that was two paragraphs of me talking about how great I am at taking standardized tests, which I realize is completely obnoxious, but I've spent so much of my life honing that one basically useless-in-real-life skill that I am going to do those two paragraphs and I've got it out of my system now, thanks.

Oh, but why on earth did I take the GRE again?

Well, back when I was in college I applied to library school, got in, and decided not to go, instead working in an office for a year and then going to grad school in religious studies. Which, all in all, I would not take back for the world because it got me 1. Virginia 2. Justin 3. Auletta, not necessarily in order of importance, plus a lot of great educational experience, travels, new friends, and who knows what all else would have been different from staying in Seattle, which I would have if I'd gone to library school. But in the last couple of years, a few things have been nudging at me: 1. if I can check a zillion books out of the library but barely write a page of my dissertation, maybe research is not what I should be doing so much as helping other people research, 2. anyone who knows me, including, well, me, knows I am the sort of person you would have expected to be a librarian since birth, and 3. having a masters in library science would be a good way to get a job, if not my dream job as an academic librarian, anywhere we end up, and probably a much more humane job for a mom of one or more children than whatever teaching job I can procure in a shaky market in some proximity to whatever Justin's doing. So I applied to library science programs, and if you don't have a PhD yet (ahem) you have to take the GRE to do that.

Obviously there is a catch here, which is that we're in New Haven for the next year and who knows where after that, and the MLS is usually a two-year program. Actually another thing that planted this idea in my mind is that Southern Connecticut State University, which was even closer than Yale to our original carriage-house home in Woodbridge, has a library science program, but it's not ranked and I figured I could get into a top-ranked school. Now the best library science programs, weirdly, aren't at Ivy League schools or anything. Yale doesn't even have one, which is a shame because it has an awesome library system with two Gutenberg Bibles even, in case they need a spare. Here are the top for library science programs:

1. University of Illinois
1. (tied) University of North Carolina
3. Syracuse University
4. University of Washington

Count them: there are three schools there out of four to which I have some kind of geographical or familial connection. Of those four, all but UNC have some sort of distance-learning program. ! I decided Illinois was out because their online program requires a residency every term and what the heck am I going to do in Urbana, but the other three were possibilities: if nothing else I could depend on the kindness of Justin's extensive family in Chapel Hill to get me through the first year of their program and long-distance marriage, except in the end I decided that was crazy.

So ultimately I decided to go to Syracuse because 1. I got in 2. with a little funding 3. to a school that's an hour from Ithaca and only requires a one-week residency this summer, although I can take courses on campus whenever I want and 4. third is not that much lower than tied for first when I don't have to rearrange my life around third. Also when I visited everyone seemed really nice and happy, and one thing I've learned in my many, many years of grad school is that being a happy student among happy students is a really important consideration.

Thus, next month I am leaving Auletta with Justin and the greater Schwabs for a week while I do an intensive residency in Syracuse, and that will be the beginning of approximately two years of study (various moves, present and possibly future children, etc. permitting) leading to a master's in library science and, with any luck, a position as an academic librarian, ideally in a seminary or div school (I've talked to a couple of librarians at YDS about my prospects and I think I'll be well prepared) but we'll see where we end up.

I started a blog called Vivarium a couple of months ago because it seems like library blogging is The Thing to Do, and, not surprisingly, creating a blog is one of my first assignments. Looks like I'm on top of that. I will be using it a lot for class assignments, so those of you who read GWFH might find it excruciatingly boring, but you can follow along if you like. I am debating whether to keep it on Blogger because blogger is (pro) free but (con) has kind of lame layout options, and also I'm not sure I want my professional profile to be connected to my occasionally political-ranting, tortured-sentence-writing, mommy-blogger profile, but since I'm sure all these universes will collide on Facebook in a matter of moments there is probably no use trying to untangle all the weird strands of my life.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Auletta among the alumni

Auletta had a nice visit to the Cornell Law School alumni barbecue on Saturday. There was another occasion on Saturday, but we won't mention that. (Deanna, thanks for the card, and it should be noted that I am never too drunk to read, although I have been drunk enough to think I can read Persian.) By the way, everyone, we drank the Luckystone Red last night. It is awesome and if we were the sort of people who had a table wine, that would be it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


To lighten things up, maybe I should discuss why I wrote a post last night about why we can't all just get along and love each other and stuff--I had a lot of wine yesterday! We're visiting Justin's family in Ithaca, as you've probably noticed we often do. As an early birthday celebration, Justin and I borrowed his sister Weatherly for the day as a designated driver and toured wineries along Cayuga Lake. For future reference, since otherwise I'm sure I'll forget, here are the highlights of those we visited:

Swedish Hill Winery: Riesling! (they all have great Rieslings, but this is the only place we bought any) and I think one called Just Peachy! that Justin really liked (it wasn't one of the wines I tried) and we brought home because I thought it smelled good even though I didn't taste it. I also thought their Reserve Chardonnay was lovely, and their Svetska Red is good for a sweeter red (usually not to my taste because sweet reds remind me of communion wine).

Goose Watch Winery: My favorites were their Chambourcin (which in this case I tried but Justin didn't) and their pear wine. It's on a hill overlooking the lake and has frontage, so you can get their by boat. A group of half a dozen college-age guys and girls called from the lakefront and wanted someone to pick them up, but seeing as the only person there was the one server, they didn't get a ride, and they were complaining about it when they came up, despite their appearance of robust health and the fact that it couldn't possibly have been that bad. Or rather, the guys were complaining. Anyway, the server was underage--I think this was the case at another winery, which seems kind of weird, but then there are a ton of wineries in a sparsely populated area so it must be hard to find employees, and it was a Monday, and she was really nice--we did buy more at the wineries where the servers were old enough to drink and thus to tell us what the wines were like.

Thirsty Owl Wine Company: This was the only place that really blew us away with their reds (although of course they had a good Riesling too). We took home bottles of their Syrah and Cab/Syrah/Malbec blend, and had both of them plus their Pinot Noir shipped to Dad. I think the overall quality of the wines was highest here, at least to my unsophisticated palate.

Hosmer Winery: Somehow we managed to bust out of here just with a bottle of Estate Red, a pleasant table wine.

Finally we staggered to Sheldrake Point Vineyard, which has an enormous selection of wines. We really liked the Gewuerztraminer and the Luckystone Red, another nice blend. Then we ate dinner at the winery's restaurant, Simply Red, where Monday nights are Southern night--cornbread, beans, and ribs, yum!

Not a bad way to spend a summer day, all in all.

Monday, June 01, 2009

My only pro-life thought for the moment

I know if I shoot my mouth (fingers?) off now or ever I'll regret it, so I'm just going to say this, and I've said essentially the same thing before:

Be motivated by love.

Because a lot of people aren't. It's obviously when they have a gun in their hand. It's not as obvious when they have a keyboard. I see a lot of people on both sides of every issue who are clearly more driven by anger than they are by love. This is not in response really even to the assassination of George Tiller (though that is the catalyst), but to everything I've been observing from reading blogs and books and articles about politics lately. I think both sides of most debates are driven by anger right now--Republicans more so than they once were, and the Democrats less, but both more than I in good conscience can claim any identity with. I think party affiliation is probably necessary for some people in order for parties to exist and in order for our government to function, but I can't be a part of it. That doesn't mean I don't vote, obviously, it just means I can't be a part of the machinery that drives the system. Some people can. More power to them. But that in the end is why I feel political involvement is un-Christian--not because any particular position of either party is antithetical to my beliefs (though some of both parties are), but because I don't think I could be a member of either one and still fulfill the commandment to love. At times I am not sure if anyone else can either. I am not sure how anyone can claim any political affiliation and be active in a political party or political movement and still fulfill the qualifications of love not to keep a record of wrongs or to rejoice in evil (the evil of the other side being necessary to fuel the rhetoric of one's own, it seems). To say nothing of words like hatred, rage, and hell (specifically, that certain people should go there) that are thrown about with no regard to how arrogant and toxic those words are.

Even such extreme rhetoric aside, is there any room for the kind of love Jesus and Paul talk about in partisan politics? Is there any way around this dilemma? And understand, as always, I'm not saying I'm an exemplary person, spiritually or otherwise, and this may merely be an excuse for my political indifference at the moment, but the more I think about it, the truer it seems. When I get into political debates, I don't feel any better--in fact, I feel horrible about myself, even if I'm convinced I'm right--and it makes me a crankier person toward those in my life whom I love, let alone the people I'm debating. So I have to hold myself back. And I wonder if other people should too. Because if Jesus is right and the commandment not to kill extends to the anger we have toward others, then aren't we all left holding the gun?