Sometimes I think I have no imagination at all. The next assignment due for the Humanities class is a five page essay; we are to pretend that we are short-listed for a job (subject specialist librarian; we can choose the subject) at USC and have been asked to submit this essay as part of the interview process. We are to describe how we would fulfill teaching, research/writing, and service obligations for the first five years of employment there. There are three single spaced pages of direction on what should be addressed in this essay, including associations, conferences, committee appointments, research, publications and university initiatives. "Will you work on a second masters degree? On a Ph.D?" "Are there gaps in the literature? Gaps in reference sources?" My head is spinning. She (yes, this is the teacher who might best be described as "whimsical") has asked three single-spaced pages worth of questions that we are to answer in five double spaced pages, while throwing in details like "someone in the field" I would be collaborating with. Like crevette
's "imaginary celebrity boyfriend" but not nearly so much fun.
I have a hard enough time doing this crap for a job I really want and think I'd like, never mind one in the heart of LA (I don't think so! UCSB or UCSC, maybe) where "bibliographic instruction appears to be a key part of this position and the applicant should illustrate knowledge of technology." Considering that the things I've gotten most excited about during this whole masters degree were a book repair practicum and a paper on the effect of iron gall ink on vellum and paper, this does not sound like an ideal fit to me. I'm having a hard enough time getting my mind around finding employment in any modern library, never mind pretending I want to set the world on fire in a major urban university. (Um, given LA and southern California in general, perhaps "set the world on fire" is not the best phrase here.)
In architecture school, they tried to teach us to think outside the box. I am so bad at this, I can't even tell you. If there isn't a box, I build one and climb in it. I see what I expect to see, I go where I'm told, I think what the movie maker or author wants me to think (unless they are just awfully bad at what they do.) The box I'm in does not include anything remotely like this job.
Admittedly, this is made a little worse by the fact that I woke up at 5:30 this morning with a migraine.... just enough that I knew it'd get worse if I stayed all snuggled down under the covers like I wanted to, but not enough to be worth taking a pill. I even read for an hour, thinking it'd make me sleepy and I could sleep sitting up, which would have worked fine if I could have gone back to sleep. Perhaps I should have read my Research Methods assigned readings instead of a good novel? Alas, I'm awake but groggy and clearly uninspired. Caffeine cleared up the migraine but left me twitchy without helping the mental fog.
Well, okay, if not the tenure project, what's next? The assignment due after that is the research proposal. The meeting yesterday with the teacher went far better than I expected; she basically told me how to set up the research, and it wasn't anything like I had in mind. Fortunately, her way is better. Of course, it's one of those cases where someone else has a clear idea of what something should be and expects you to be able to produce it, whether you really have the information you need or not. I hate when that happens, and sometimes I feel like the world is full of managers/teachers like that. I know it isn't true, but I just always feel so lost and unsure of myself when confronted with/by the ones that are
there, that I lose all perspective. Not quite up to tackling that one, either.
Yesterday was also my last day at the book repair lab. I'm so glad I did that-- thanks, zihuatenejo
for encouraging me to try to set it up. I'm not sure I'd have had the nerve myself. (See above where I climb into the box of my own devising.) And one of the things that was really good about it was the group of conversations I had with the man who's the head of the Preservation Department. The rules for a practicum require that the student be "under the supervision" of a professional librarian. My experience with "under the supervision" of whoever is that the supervisor tells the group leader what needs to be done and we, the underlings, do it, and that's considered "under supervision." Andy took it to mean more than that, and set up four meetings with me. I was dreading them; especially the first time, when I felt like I should have important questions in mind to ask, and take notes and such. I couldn't think of a damn thing to ask, but fortunately he is very easy to talk to. Several times we touched on what I can only describe as practical philosophy-- for example about preservation, and who decides what to preserve, and how those decisions are made. He is a natural teacher and made me look at some things that other teachers had tried to pound into my head and I wound up understanding a lot more than I had before.
Apparently I had more to say than I realized. Too bad it isn't about that damn job at USC.