Two Great Loves

From the Spring 2010 "Northern Now" alumni magazine


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Library Blues

Some time in the middle of the past summer I had a phone interview with a big-shot new england university library.  They were in the middle of opening an Information Commons (a bookless library for you non-library types) and were hiring a recent graduate to head the department.  They were looking for someone energetic and computer & web savvy.   I was so excited to have the opportunity just to talk to them (they’re that cool)–let alone get an interview.

I studied their school and memorized my CV for hours.  And when the interview came I totally bombed it.  I sounded like a broken record, repeating the same concept no matter how many different ways they phrased their questions.

And I knew when I hung up that it was the last time I’d hear from them.

Disappointed in myself, I held my chin high and laughed it off and remembered that “God always has a plan.”

And really, God came through.  I’ve got this amazing position that keeps me plenty busy.  Although “Library 2.0” certainly wasn’t in my job description, I’m implementing what I know, and have great confidence in what I’m doing here.  This job also kept us close to both of my families and made planning a wedding the slightest bit easier because I didn’t have to do it from across the country.  I certainly don’t envy my friend who aren’t able to talk their mom into coming to lunch with them when they’re having a bad day–a slightly more difficult endeavor when it involves a plane flight.

But something has been haunting me about this the last few days.  I would have been great at that hot-shot library.  I have so much to offer.  I would have been a rock-star adjunct at their Library School.  I ached to move across the country and start a new adventure.

I’m just not sure how to let it go.

And so it goes.


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Laughing in the face of anger

We have decided to forgo paying a cable bill and have instead invested in NetFlix.  And are taking full advantage of its services.  (An aside, having evenings without plans is awesome).

Last week Transformers 2 arrived and I agreed to partake.  Heck, this cool girl played with (and broke–sorry Chris) her share of Autobots back in the day.  I was digg’n it, despite the overly sexy girlfriend and bizarre college scenes.  But then, somewhere around 90 minutes into the movie (just as I thought it was ending) the protagonists were magically transported to Sahara Desert and continued on fighting…for another hour.  My favorite part was when the leader of the Decepticons (read: bad robots) finally yelled “Begin our assault!”

Wait.  What have the last 120 minutes been about? I thought the assault had already begun…

It was about this point I went to bed.  And, admittedly, in a bit of a gruff.  I couldn’t believe we’d wasted all night with that movie.

When it was finally over Joe went to the kitchen to began the dishes.  I was still a bit peeved.  But as the water ran and he stood over the sink I could hear him, in a deep rolling voice, telling the platters and bowls that he was Optimus Prime and was going to save the world.


Filed under marriage


To preface: I am now married.  I am married to Joe.  It is likely that henceforth his name will appear in further entries.


Over the past four years I had slowly cut down on my meat intake, to the point where I realized I was only eating chicken breasts and lean turkey once or twice a week.  It wasn’t anything intentional–but after years of thinking under the guise of Weight Watchers, I no longer found the place in my food consumption for red meat.

This past weekend Joe and I headed to Costco for a leisurely Saturday of shopping in bulk.  We left with 8 pounds of ground beef and 2 pork loins.  I’d planned out this week’s menu, so we also had to make a stop at a grocery store for breakfast sausage, panchetta, and 5 pounds of chicken.  Stocking it into the fridge I realized I have never owned so much meat in my life.  The whole bottom shelf was full!

Mind you, it will take us many months to eat all that beef (thank goodness), as I’ve frozen most of it, but saw it as a testament of how marriage changes things.  Including diets.

And I hate to admit it, but I’m enjoying all the meat intake more than I had ever intended.

Dear Waistline,
Stay put.
Mrs. White


Filed under food, marriage, observation

No coat for you!

Every weekday morning at 6:15 am a man stands on a corner a few blocks down from my apartment waiting for his bus.  I seem him regularly when I leave my place for the day or on the way back from a run.  He is often courteous, responding warmly to my “good morning” greeting when we pass each other.

He usually wears a white over-sized t-shirt, a baseball cap, shorts, white sneakers and white crew-length socks.   Although this monotonous outfit doesn’t seem all that strange in July, I was puzzled when it was all he wore it in January.  Heading out for a 20 degree run, I donned multiple layers of clothing, mittens, and a stocking cap.  He had on a t-shirt and shorts.  I would see his shivers (convulsions) as he waited for the bus in the dark with no coat.

I assumed he was simply too poor to afford such necessities as a winter coat (or knee-high socks for that matter), but over the months I’ve noticed that his brand-name shoes remain unstained and the bling around his neck is always present.  How can a person appear so poor, yet afford designer attire?


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“Summer Starts with Us!”

In my youth I lived in a tiny town called Tremont.  Every year they kick off summer with the Tremont Turkey Festival, which celebrates the high school’s mascot by eating  it: big fat turkey sandwiches.  And oh nally are they good.  Add on a bag of Kitchen Cooked chips and I’m in heaven.

I moved away when I was a wee lad and rarely get the chance to return to the festival.  However, I crave those sandwiches year round.

Last year when I was still living in Champaign I’d convinced Christine that a roadtrip for a mound of turkey on a bun was worth a Friday night’s effort.  Heck, we’d even stop by the o’ grocery store and pick up overly frosted sugar cookies that I so fondly remember from my childhood.

Upon arrival we decided to forgo the carnival rides (I’m too old for throwing up anymore) and went straight to the Turkey Pavilion.  My mouth was watering so badly I could barely hold a conversation.  The line, which extended into the street, was a small sacrifice for years and years of cravings.

Just when we reached the pavilion’s entrance a shout was called from the sandwich assembly line.  “We’re sold out!”  Sold out?!  Surely they must be kidding.  Surely there must be at least a few more sandwiches to sell to the desolate looking women who’d driven for hours for turkey on a wonder-bread bun.

They were not kidding.  I cried a little.

On the way back to the car I made a stop at the grocery store, determined to drown my disappointment and frustration in sugar cookie with a frosted-on dog face.   When I asked the girl at the register why the cookie case was empty (EMPTY!), she snapped her gum and calmly told me that they’d changed owners last week and haven’t had any since.

Sorry Christine.  That was a waste of a road trip.


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I seriously just did that.

Joe took me out to my all-time favorite restaurant for dinner last night.  It was actually the second time we went in the last 3 days, but the chance to eat at Radio Maria comes but few times a year so I didn’t mind taking generous advantage of it.

We decided to sit outside to enjoy the Champaign air and our last evening together before corporate training held him captive for the next few weeks.  Near the end of dinner Joe left for a few moments and I sat alone contemplating my day.  Slyly checking the area I decided it was about time I got rid of that annoying booger that was ailing me.  A quick swipe to the nose and then a brush to the napkin and I was free and clear of that nostril-clogging monstrosity.

I look around again and there is Joe, catching a glace at me through the window on the way back to his seat.  In his adoring love he’d also decided to capture the evening, including his fiancee, on film. This was just about the time I was checking around for onlookers, completely not thinking to look inside the restaurant.

Not only did he catch me digging for gold, he also caught it on camera.

I. am. so. awkward.


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Please refrain from reading between the lines

I’ve been working on finding a job like its my job.  Last week when attempting to apply for a position at a small Christian school I was asked to answer additional application questions concerning my teaching methodology and ability to serve the school’s mission.

What motivates you to teach at a liberal arts college? What positive qualities do you have to offer students as a teacher and a mentor?

I thought I was be’n all sophisticated when I pulled together this answer:

I desire to share my excitement for learning with students through my own enthusiasm for librarianship.  Information should be accessible to students for their own pursuits and is the first step to a liberal arts education:  I have worked for this through applications of Library2.0 and teaching metaphors applicable to daily life.  I am to provide students tools, skills, and goals that make research accessible.  From a personal perspective, a liberal arts education holds great value.  Although I hold a Bachelors of Science, it was important to me to learn as much I could from numerous disciplines: my undergraduate college courses focused on media trends, but I voluntarily took classes concerning American authors, feminism and popular culture, floral arrangements, modern Catholic thought, and sexual ethics.   I often draw on this vast array of knowledge while at the reference desk, preparing lessons, or simply discussing politics with friends.  I could certainly discuss the library or media history at length, but the antidotes I picked up from Ginsberg and Burroughs are what make me feel like I can contribute something beyond myself and speak more to society in which I take part.

It wasn’t until later long after I’d submitted the response, that I thought about it again. Let me highlight these words: feminism. popular culture. sexual ethics. Ginsberg.  Burroughs.

Withing 1,200 words I’d managed to make myself sound like a flaming liberal who revels in the work of gay Beat authors above all other American authors.

Need I remind you about the school?: Small. Christian. Conservative.

Well, shit.  I hope they like diversity.


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I know you’ve been wondering, and I am so happy to report that I’ve found my retainer.  I actually went looking for it a few months back, and thought it had been lost to the garbage since I’d moved out of the house.  I couldn’t blame mom, considering I would have probably done the same thing.  I mean really, who wants a 10 year old multi-thousand dollar piece of plastic?

But in a miraculous moment I was going through the bottom dresser drawers at my parents’ new house, and like a tiny gift, I found it in cahoots with an old razor and pumas stone.  I’m embarrassed to tell you that I was ecstatic.  I immediately brought it to the bathroom, gave it a good rinse, brushed it with some industrial-strength toothpaste and shoved it against the roof of my mouth.


Mom was so proud.


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I’ll be home(less) for Christmas

Last Christmas I went out to visit a friend.  It was a few days after Jesus’s actual birthday, but she ended up taking me to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner–because the family hadn’t yet had the opportunity to have their official holiday meal together.

Family was a bit of an understatement.  The table was set for 12, even though there were only four people there that were actually related.  As the evening went on more and more people arrived, eventually filling the table.  Everyone who was anyone was invited.

In the middle of dinner the front door opened.  A man with a thick beard and a dirty coat came in, sat down, and started eating.  No one really said anything to him as shovled food into his mouth.

Did some homeless guy just walk in here?

After a few minutes a politically charged conversation started and Carl (I found out his name was Carl) began adding his two cents. He was quite intelligent and humorous.  I assumed, by everyone else’s failure to react to his breaking and entering, that his presence was a normal occurrence.

When my friend and I left I asked if she’s met Carl before.  She was just as shocked as me when he’d come in–but she had recalled him being at mass a number of times.

A few days ago I got a text message from her: “Saw Carl today.  Looking as homeless as ever.”

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