Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wedding Pictures

Our wedding photographer, Melissa, about whom I cannot say enough good things, finally finished retouching and posting the 249 pictures from our wedding in mid-May. She did an absolutely fantastic job: She was friendly but professional, and was damn near everywhere; however, she was also unobtrusive and very respectful, especially while taking pictures during the ceremony (in a Catholic church).

I've uploaded many of them to my own online photo album:

I used many of Melissa's pictures to make the slideshow below. The background song is "Be Thou My Vision," a traditional Christian hymn that can be traced to 6th century Ireland. It was the song to which the bridal party - bride included - walked down the aisle. The version in the video is sung by Lori Morrison.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I feel vindicated in having needed to work first, and knowing myself well enough to recognize that, before being able to take college seriously.

Why is this line of thinking not discussed with students first, especially those who are really digging in their heels about going to college immediately after high school? Yes, many students are able to handle college - and handle it really well - at the traditional 17 or 18; some might just need that prodding to get themselves organized, and could handle themselves once they get there. Some of us were burned out after an inadequate high school experience (academically speaking, mine wasn't great) and needed that time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

(Bad) Resume Advice

Years ago, when I was student teaching, during one of our weekly meetings we had a resume workshop. A few of us (myself included) volunteered our resumes so that we could discuss formatting and specific information that should be included, as well as strengths and weaknesses.

Mine was reamed. It was reamed because it was more than one page long.

Both the professor and another student (a graduate student who had apparently worked in the employment industry previously) felt that a one-page resume would be sufficient, especially for someone whose career was just starting. I agreed - but noted that I had nearly an entire page of conference-related activities that I felt were important to include. After all, I wanted my potential employer to know that I was actively involved  in my profession and interested in developing professionally. There was no real counter-argument to that, only a reiteration that resumes should be one page because there are so many applicants, that anyone going through a thick stack of interested employees isn't going to want to read a second page. That might be true, I remember arguing, which is why the more relevant information, such as education and related employment history, is on the first page. I wasn't going to not include what I thought would be pertinent information simply because it didn't all fit on the first page. Furthermore, what does one do if one has a lot more professional experience? Simply leave it off because their decades of (in our case teaching) experience can't fit on the first page, despite its relevance? What about a career changer, someone who worked in one industry for 20 years but then decided to go into teaching? Perhaps they had related relevant experience that would be prudent to know. Leaving extensive experience off that resume is tantamount to that work never having been done.

(I was placated when one of the graduate students, in reading over my resume, said in a somewhat hushed tone, "I can't compete with this." And that was a point, too; I wanted to illustrate that I was more actively involved earlier in professional development than many of those who would be applying for the same position.)

Admittedly the professor was quieter than the graduate student, but I was annoyed at their inability to differentiate between someone whose career was just starting and someone who had more professional experience. I was 30 by the time I was student teaching, older than most in the class (including the graduate students), and having worked in various jobs before enrolling at Stony Brook University, I could foresee someone asking what exactly I had been doing with my time in the 12 years since I had graduated from high school. 

I thought about that resume workshop this past week. I was at South Hills Middle School (the school where I had had a three-month subbing gig last fall), where I had an interview scheduled for an assistant reading teacher position. I was interviewed by the principal, J., and the assistant principals, M. and D. M in particular just went, "Wow, look at all her publications!" (I don't have any publications; those were conferences I'd attended and either presented at, or sessions I had chaired.) Nevertheless, including that list was increased their opinion of me. I was offered the job because I was so much more qualified than the other applicants.

The advice of only using a one-page resume is simply not good blanket advice; there are too many other factors to take into account much of the time

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rough Start

We've been married just over six week now, and things have gotten off to a shaky start. The day after we got married, I got that official e-mail from UVU offering me three writing classes, which was fantastic; but about a week or so later, we learned that Ed is in danger of losing his job. He's had to interview for his position, and now it's two weeks later (about a month since we've heard his job might go to someone else), and we still haven't heard anything definitive; it wasn't until today that the other two candidates were finally scheduled for their interviews. Since then he's interviewed for a customer service position, which would be ideal because it would mean he could stay employed at SkyWest, and we'd still have health (and flight) benefits, but it would be less than ideal because it would be a pay cut.

The waiting has been the absolute worst part of it, but there's nothing for it, which is just as bad.

My job searches have been a bit more promising. I got the paperwork sorted out with UVU, and can at some point this summer take care of getting an employee ID and parking permit. And yesterday I was interviewed at South Hills Middle School, where I'd had a long-term subbing position last fall, for a reading teacher assistant position, which I was offered this morning. The pay isn't great - it's not a position that calls for licensure - but the administration is supportive, the other teachers and kids are nice, and administration is willing to be flexible in terms of scheduling, which is great because that means I don't have to give up my UVU classes.

In between all these interviews, we've both been going to various doctors and trying to get ourselves healthy. I haven't had regular, good health insurance in over a decade, so I've had appointments at the dentist and with my primary care doctor, among others; Ed has had some medical appointments, too, that I've been accompanying him on, and which in some cases have been cause for worry. (Fortunately things have largely worked themselves out on that end.) There are some medical issues with which I could use help, so I have upcoming appointments with a podiatrist (Is it over sharing to mention the calluses from hell?) and a dietitian.

And between updating my name with various agencies and running various errands, it's been a busy time, and not alway altogether happy. Not tragic, but stressful and worrisome. This is not how we'd wanted to start our marriage; we'd been hoping for a honeymoon, which will likely be delayed until next summer at this point; originally we'd hoped for January, but my position at the middle school negates that possibility. (Is it still a honeymoon if it's more than a year after the wedding?)

All this has made me happy that Melissa, our wedding photographer, has been steadily uploading pictures to an online gallery. I don't believe she's done yet, but every few days more pictures appear. She's done a fantastic job, and we're really pleased with how the pictures have been coming out. It makes me happy to see a reflection of such a happy day.

This is one of my favorites; Ed looks so happy (I'm a sucker for the dimple):


This one makes me happy, too, but for entirely different reasons. Melissa did not take this picture; I'm not entirely sure who did, but it showed up on FaceBook; it's a picture of my cousins Ciara (bridesmaid) and Aidan (groomsman).


A Worthwhile Degree

I remain surprised when people assume that when they graduate from college, they'll immediately find a job that is related to their degree, in the discipline they want, at a salary that will allow them to quickly become self-sufficient. Certainly many of my own classmates were offered teaching jobs that began the fall after graduation. I didn't, but it also didn't occur to me that finding a teaching or related job would be easy, or that I would necessarily find one right away.

My student loans, though, aren't as astronomical as some belonging to others. One man in the aforementioned article noted that he spent his loans on a future he did not receive, which makes me wonder what employment guarantee he had. (I have about $37,000 in student loans, the price of four years of undergraduate tuition at a state university, and two years of graduate work at a private institution that paid for most of my coursework.)

Some of this attitude, of course, is naivete; some of it is hope, and not necessarily unreasonable, in thinking that within a certain amount of time, one's college degree will be put to good use and earn one a sufficient income. However, perhaps we should be talking to students about what would happen if they couldn't find not only a job in their field, but a job, period. I simply wonder if those interviewed hadn't considered alternate futures.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Age 10 And Divorced

I've begun reading I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, which I'm finding interesting reading, partly because the girl's story was big news when it broke a couple years ago, and partly because I'm interested in Middle Eastern culture as it pertains to women and education. It's not a great book in terms of style or formality, but it's interesting nonetheless. (The video below augments the situation in terms of young girls behind married.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Learning About People

One of the things I've begun learning about the people in my life is that sometimes they shouldn't actually be in my life. This sounds all dramatic and emo and it actually isn't. It's not quite residual emotional pain; perhaps "regret" is more fitting.

I really like tea, and I used to watch a video podcast whose hosts, a man and a woman, I knew casually. Once they came to New York City and my boyfriend at the time and I were asked to co-host; we had a lot of fun. However, walking around the city after filming, I became aware that the woman was analyzing me and our conversation. As a trained clinical social worker she may not have been aware she was doing this, and if she was, perhaps didn't mean to cross a line, although a later conversation with the wife of the male host left me reconsidering this mindset. She - the female co-host - is extremely intelligent, and I liked her in many regards, but I didn't trust her: I felt like I might be under the metaphorical psychological microscope at any time. She was also very abrupt and tended to be unsparingly honest. (At least, this is how I felt.) I don't remember if words were exchanged, since this all happened several years ago, but even now when I think of her, the residual emotion is one of deep mistrust; I withdrew sharply from the burgeoning friendship feeling that I had to protect myself. (At least once I wrote a blog post remarking on overextending myself, mentioning my long three-hour daily train commute, taking four graduate-level classes, and working 30 hours a week at three part-time jobs; her response was that she could "totally one-up that" but would let me have my moment. Not really a competition.)

Another acquaintance was a convert to Catholicism. I admired her because of her degree in theology and because of her intelligence, but I had to withdraw from the friendship because of the manner in which she tried to convince me that I needed to follow Catholicism to the letter; any questioning or doubt - especially blogging about it, as I am wont to do - was an invitation to argue extensively about my attitudes. Furthermore, linking to any news regarding a religious policy of which the church does not approve was tantamount to agreeing with the opposing viewpoint. I enjoy having discussions in which religiosity is explored, but I was frustrated at her inability to recognize that there are issues with which I struggle, that blogging helps me sort through whatever issues are in my mind, and that being told to swallow those doubts and follow the church regardless of my doubts exacerbates my doubts.

Two other acquaintances had been long-time friends whose formerly close relationships diminished around the time of my wedding last month. I had been advised in both cases to just let the friendships drift off into the ether, but I found that I couldn't do that, if for no other reason that I was genuinely bothered by their behavior and wanted to, if not resolve the issue, at least prevent things from dragging on indefinitely. (I prefer getting things out in the open and either resolving the issue, or agreeing to just part ways.) Both friendships have since ended.

In each circumstance I regret the manner in which I acted in some capacity, but mostly I regret that the friendships had degraded to such a state. I don't think I was entirely without fault, but it's still difficult for me to let these things go easily; I find myself thinking and rethinking about the circumstance, although that I was more sorry that they ended badly than that they actually ended should tell me that it was time to let the relationship go.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things I Wish I Could Say

If you find yourself in these circumstances:

  • You can't afford to pay your own rent without the assistance of a roommate or a parent;
  • You're involved with a guy who is terrible at communication, who shuts you out every time something bad happens, who can't be open with you, and who is emotionally immature;
  • You "can't" get married because if you do you'll lose your health insurance; and
  • You can't drive and you don't live in a place where there's easily accessible public transportation.

...perhaps you should not be adopting a child.

Perhaps you shouldn't be adopting a child with the man with whom you're having a relationship you can't or won't define, can't or won't introduce to your family or friends, can't or won't tell your family or friends that you're involved with him. If you can't support yourself, how are you going to support that child, even if there's another person adopting that child with you? What if something happens to the child and you need to get her to the emergency room? (Even if you have a roommate, that roommate is not going to be there all the time.)

I wish I could say, What the hell are you thinking? This is not the way to raise a child or have a family. I understand that you may lose your government-funded health insurance because of marriage (although this sounds dubious), but without that little piece of something making another person liable for that child, adopt the child yourself as a single parent. 

Which you probably shouldn't be doing anyway because you have your own issues being open and honest with people. Plus, you know, there's that thing where you can't financially support yourself, you can't drive, you have no reliable access to secondary transportation.