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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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“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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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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You caught me.  I haven’t run since December 31.  And I’m okay with that.


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Weather to the extreeeeeeeeme

I got out of 6:30 am mass this morning and while bundling up with an additional (and necessary) 5 layers I looked across the street at my parked car.  Is…that….a flat tire?


So that’s why my car has felt so sluggish these past 24 hours.  I had assumed it was just the extreme temperatures.  Oh, I was so wrong.

Things I learned before 8am today:

  1. If you’ve driven on a flat for this long, surely it will make it to the gas station.
  2. The surrounding area doesn’t actually have any gas stations.
  3. I still. hate. paying 75cents for air.
  4. People tend to knock those annoying snow-gunk build-ups off their cars for purposes greater than vanity.  As it turns out, they become ice.  And hinder the turning radius of the car.
  5. The nice ice scraper that Dad just bought you is just that–an ice SCRAPER.  Not an ice pick or chisel.  It WILL break when you hit it against things.
  6. Those chunks of snow all over the road are no longer chunks of snow.  In extreme temperatures they do, in fact, form blocks of ice.  Don’t run them over.
  7. Blue Max makes everything better.


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