I need a break from writing this paper for one of my graduate school classes so I am taking this pause to reflect on why I am diverting so much energy to this degree-seeking thing.  Processing the process.  A couple of posts back I related my GRE adventure and my first unsuccessful attempt to get serious about graduate school.  I also promised myself and you dear reader a revisiting of that decision (influenced by my hero Henry Miller) and my current choice of pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science from Florida State University.  What motivated me to get back into the graduate school dance and jump through the hoops of recommendations, GRE, acceptance essays and the like? 

Because it was both safer and easier to follow this well-trodden course than pursue my dreams.

There it is out and as sick as it makes me to re-read those words I feel a bit of release in admitting this truth.  With this degree in hand there are jobs to apply for that make money.  With dreams being followed there is the bliss and fear of that great void–a.k.a. the unknown. 

This dichotomy of dream vision vs. fear vision struck home today as I was doing some research for the paper I should currently be writing. (One must have priorities)  Paul Zindel, a writer of young adult literature, talks about his leaving his job of ten years as a high school chemistry teacher to write his first novel:

Dashed were my dreams of a fine pension and impressive health plan.”

Hit over the head with that one I was.  Is that not the course I am currently pursuing?  Working for the City, getting my safe degree and playing within a narrow set of rules so that I can frolick in my safe, stultifying little world.  Where is the risk?  Where goes that passion for seeking out all that oozes life and moving determinately in that direction?  Do I dream of a fine pension and impressive health plan? Do you?

Using Social Software

March 29, 2007

I’ve found my online communications are increasing exponentially and the amount of content I add to the web has also grown.  I set up my first hotmail account when I was traveling in Europe in 1999 so I’ve received plenty of e-mail over the years.  In fact I still have the account but now conduct most of my personal e-mail through Gmail.  All of this to say that I feel my relationship to the internet rapidly changing.

I know that folks have been blogging and uploading their photos for years but the personal change for me is the possibilities inherent in keeping open the lines of communication.  I’ve been considering a blog or social networking site to allow all of my far off relatives and close-by family to keep in touch.  The updates we would only get periodically can now happen as soon as someone is willing to share a part of their day.  E-mail requires a certain standard form of addressing the receiver and actually having a point in communicating (even to say “How are you?”)  With a blog the audience is assumed and a picture can just be posted and conversations can start from there without the awkward opening lines of establishing common ground.

Will anyone want to play with me?  I hope so and if not I might just have to move the ballfield around to include other willing participants.  Take work for example: I’m part of a twelve person team and am pushing for the use of a wiki to foster the communications among the members.  Well push isn’t exactly right–maybe more like suggest because I would like practical experience in using a wiki.  And the go ahead has been given by the team leader–now I just need to present it in a way that is both captivating and seen as a worthwhile tool.  We’ll see how it goes!

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” ~Anthony Robbins

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 Working at the library you are surrounded by books.  Apparent yes and you would think that those who choose to work in a library are big readers.  That may also be true.  What you may not realize is that working in a library does not afford any extra time to read the said books.  (Well in some cases it may if there is too much downtime in a day)  But on the whole one is attracted to the library because of books, gets a job and finds that there is no longer any time to read the books.

I love books.  Sometimes my eyes hurt at the end of the day from reading too much.  Those are glorious days.  So here is my proposal:

I need a paid position that would require me to read and/or listen to books/audiobooks of my choice, full benefits of course and a signing bonus.  I know this may sound like an outrageous proposal but this is what you would get in return:

No complaints.

I’ll always show up on time.

Even if I am sick I can always close my eyes and listen to the latest Philip Pullman selection.

I’ll do a little work even while on vacation and at home.

This is the best part: I will sample from the best that the writing world has to offer.  Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award Winners, the list will certainly go on.  You will insure that the best literature will continue to be read!

A bonus feature: I will blog about this wonderful experiment.  I’ll tell anyone who wants to hear about your virtuous nature, your excellent taste in fashion.  Heck, I’ll even get all of the “work” materials myself.

Already at a relatively young age I have a lot of experience in this area and will continue to read right up to the hire date.  You’ve nothing to lose!

Cordially,

Matthew

Creative impulses

March 20, 2007

I find myself writing so much with school and work that when I turn to this blank page my grasp fails and I’m left gazing into the ether.  Of course that activity can have its own benefits considering the balancing effects of allowing the mind to unfocus a bit.  I’m pulled by the need to create and repelled by the sense that I have nothing meaningful to say.  I think sometimes it is hard to see that living is a creative act that does not require expression on canvas or page.  Yet I return like I have so many times.

And I notice so too have millions of other communicators.  I marvel at the growing number of blogs created on WordPress alone.  These thousands of voices crying out into the void.  This one voice bewildered by his own wail. 

We are here to communicate and the blog is a  way to hear and express what must be heard and expressed.  The magic lies in the boundaries that are crossed, the space that disappears between you and I.  My content becomes searchable and the lover of Henry Miller can read the comments of a like soul.

Signs of Spring

March 18, 2007

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We inherited most of the flowers that appear in the yard.  Although there were some bulbs planted last fall that have appeared magically right where they were meant to be.  I felt that the high temperatures of last week were welcoming us into the springtime glory–only to be cooled down with an arctic blast this weekend.

I’ve finally put my hands back on the Henry Miller essay that has so inspired me.  I’ll feature some tidbits from it this next week.  My wife so graciously suffered an impromptu reading of a passage last night.  I must admit that I just couldn’t help myself!

Recently I’ve had some writerly inspiration in between dreams or during the waking moments of a night’s rest.  Last night I was thinking some thoughts and realizing that I was also deciding what would be proper or improper to include on a page that anyone could potentially see.  Although the audience may be small there is still the difficulties associated with disclosure.  If I slam my boss on this site then repercussions may follow unless I publish anonymously.  Well I don’t feel like slipping behind the wall so my exposure will require a certain amount of decorum.

I can’t help wondering however what is lost when all can’t be spoken.  The emotions are still true but maybe every fleeting thought does not have to make its way onto this page.  (Besides I don’t think it would make for very good reading)

So I believe that there will be a bit more caution taken in regards to the power of words and the possibilities of misrepresentation.  Speak the truth and remain in silence when the mood is right.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

Michael Franti

March 16, 2007

I went to this amazing concert last night.  Michael Franti and Spearhead rocked the Norva to the delight of a few hundred fans.  I was unfamiliar with his music or presence until a couple of weeks ago.  He is the first performer I have seen to jump the fence and come out to be with the crowd.  People embraced him, slapped high fives and asked for autographs.  No I couldn’t leave before I got a shake of the man’s hand.  Inspiring and speaking-singing-raping the good words.  If you’ve got the time for this video I highly recommend it.  Today he is traveling up to D.C. and Walter Reed hospital to meet some of the Iraq war vets.  Live the truth dear brother!