Monday, March 29, 2010

Trying to Get Back in the Game - A Long Post

I just found out through semi-official channels that the school district where I work is laying off eleven secretaries for the 2010-2011 school year. This is part of a rather massive staff shakeup which will leave approximately 80 people in the school district jobless. This is due mainly to Christie's cuts but also to the abysmal status of student achievement in the district, and the dragging weight that places upon the Asbury Park's high hopes for becoming the hip, alternative, creative jewel of the Jersey Shore.

I have no problem with Asbury Park's aspirations and their achievement of them thus far. It really is a great little town, on the east side at least. I agree with the Powers that Be that the dead weight of extra under-performing employees needs to be shed from the district's bloated corpus in order for the town's poor students to succeed, and new positions need to be created to help them do so.

I have been wishing I could leave my job for a long time now. This didn't change when the recession came upon us. In fact, it only seemed to intensify the feeling. I have felt, for at least a few years now, that my job stands in the way of my real life, that it depletes me of any and all the energy I have for daily living. I feel like my job eats away at my soul. I cannot imagine myself retiring from here. But, I make decent money. I have lots of paid time off. I have cadillac health benefits. I feel like a horrible, ungrateful, wench. So many people right now would trade just about anything for a job like mine. I even (pretty much) have my own office, in a great building, in downtown Asbury Park!

When I was first hired in July 2004, I was so, so grateful for this job. I felt that God (or the benevolent universe or what have you) had taken care of me, had given me just what I needed when I needed it. It was so close to home. It paid well. There were great benefits. I had a big desk, and a great computer, and I didn't have to worry about money any more. The people were so, so nice. I appreciated the cultural cachet of working in Asbury Park. Even the retro job title of "secretary" had its appeal: it was warmer, sexier, saltier than the clinical, insincere job title "administrative assistant." This job provided me with the financial and mental stability to get myself together to face adult life, and even placed me in a good position to meet my husband, and get married, and experience emotional security for the first time in a very long time.

Now, we are down to this. I am almost hoping that I will get laid off. You see, I really want to go back to Library School. I miss it. I began in January 2009 with great expectations. I had wanted to go to school full-time, but my husband got laid off from retail, and could not find a paralegal job as he had become certified for. I had to keep working in order to pay the rent, and this proved to be too much for me, as I knew it would be. I dropped out of one class and barely finished the other. The next semester, Fall 2009, I had a new boss and a new Superintendent, and was feeling disheartened about the whole undertaking, so I took a semester off.

Undecided about librarianship in general, I didn't register for any classes for Spring 2010 and I didn't bother to call Rutgers to let them know I was taking another semester off (oops). Sometimes that is how I do things. I can't decide something, so I resort to inaction and see what happens. Not the best strategy, I know. So now, with lay-offs looming, I see a possible inroad to getting back on track. I am now in contact with Kay Cassell and Faye Brown at SCILS, and am in the process of becoming retroactively "matriculation continued." According to Kay, who is the Dean, if I don't go back to Library School in the Fall 2010, I should withdraw from the program. I filled out my financial aid application for 2010-2011, so with financial aid and unemployment (if I am laid off) Rob and I can probably make it. If I don't get laid off, I am going to go back anyway. I want to do this.

By the way, this book looks interesting.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, and "The Hive Mind"

I deliberated for a while, but I finally decided to sign up with Twitter. I am a dedicated facebooker. I have facebook to thank for hooking back up with some of my old college friends and getting to see them again, which has been so much fun. That is what I think the inherent value in facebook is. My husband doesn't like it. He calls it "myface" and thinks it is an opportunity for people to be narcissistic. "Why do I need to know what so-and-so had for lunch?" he'll ask, or "I really didn't need to know that Chrissy is covered in baby vomit and kitty litter." He is even more vehemently opposed to Twitter. I tried to explain to him about "the hive mind." He didn't buy it. He doesn't want to hear what the hive mind has to think.

At first I was reluctant to sign up with Twitter, thinking, I can barely keep up with facebook, how will I keep up with Twitter? But I decided to go for it, just to see what I could learn. I am very intrigued with the concept of the hive mind. I'll put in my little entries, and see what happens. I'm following Amy (Kearns), and my baby-vomit-and-kitty-litter-covered friend Chrissy, so that's a good start. I do want to know what you guys had for lunch - and where! And I am curious to see other people's friends' replies to their tweets.

Back to facebook for a moment. People can be very narcissistic and showy on that site. Sometimes Rob (the husb) and I get a good laugh at the pretension, especially in repsonse to thsose self-defining lists that go around, like "How many of these books have you read?" and the infamous 25 things. "We can't believe they said that!" we say. But before facebook, I would think about people from high school or college, or my life in Virginia, and wonder what they were up to. It made me sad that I still had such fond memories of these folks, but had no idea what they were up to. A regular email correspondence would be just too weird because of the length of time that has passed, but facebook is just perfect for checking in and saying hi. You can have as much of a connection or as little as you want on facebook... but you still get to have a connection, and knowing that Anita from high school now rides motor cycles and that guy Brad I dated is writing a novel, well, that's worth knowing to me. Facebook lets you see how much people change, and how much people don't, and reflects the same back to you. It helps you realize that after all these years, you are still part of the hive.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's How I Rollyo (Like No One Ever Thought of That Before!)

So here is my little search engine that could! I created this search engine, entitled "Renee's Rollyo I," to search for items on art, culture, critical theory, literature, design and any other artsy topics. I gave my little rollyo a test. I typed in "Lacan." Lacan is a rather obscure and abstruse student of Freud's whom I learned to love in grad school. And lo and behold, look what I found:

I was very pleased!!! You can also use my rollyo to search the web or my blog. Here are some of the web sites in my rollyo:

Powered by Rollyo

Library Thing - Guess What I like to Read About?

I'm enjoying Library Thing! It's a great place to recommend books and receive recommendations, as well as keep track of what I've read. It makes me wish I had more time to read for pleasure!

Here is my library, so far:

And I love this tag cloud thing! It's kind of poetic.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Two Personae - Image Makers

I must say, I thought this exercise was a little silly, though I enjoy these cards I found and put my name on! Overall, I was underwhelmed. A better image-making project I did can be seen below in the slide show of my nephew, Peter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bloglines/ RSS Feeds

Here are my bloglines subscriptions for anyone who is interested!

RSS Feeds were the first thing we have done in Learning 2.0 that I had not heard about yet (but I haven't heard about a lot of the stuff that is coming, so it's not the last!) I don't read a lot of blogs, and those I do read I enjoy navigating to. I usually read Kate Harding's Shapely Prose, which is a body acceptance blog, but I enjoy checking into that page directly, so I deliberately did not subscribe to it on Bloglines. I also enjoy checking my sister's flickr account of my nephew Peter, and I subscribed to that on Bloglines just to see how it would look.

However, in the RSS Feeds/ Bloglines exercise, I found out I was able to subscribe to "tartx" which is the blog of one of my favorite emerging collage/ mixed media artists, Tiffini Electra X. Here is her art web site with a link to her blog: It looks like she doesn't blog that much, but now I will be able to find out when she does. The picture in this post is called "The Girl and the Raven" and I just ordered a print of it for my office! Regarding using Tiffini Electra X's images, see her disclaimer here:

I also have an interest in cultural studies, critical theory, post-structuralism, deconstruction, and post-modernism. I tried looking in syndic8 - no luck. I would really like to find some blogs to "feed on" so I can keep current in these fields of theory. I will have to keep looking - I don't think there is a lot out there. If I discover differently, I will blog about that!

After subscribing to the most interesting blogs and feeds I could think of, I looked at my Bloglines feeds and still felt overwhelmed, especially when it tells me how many items I have unread! But having it all in one place is a great thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Flickr Project Starring My Nephew Peter

I had a lot of fun doing this flickr project. First, I somehow linked to the big huge labs site from the Learning 2.0 site. I can't remember the exact path, but here is where I ended up:

I got the idea to create a 7 1/2 Habits slide show starring my beloved nephew Peter. I searched my sister's flickr account, which I check regularly for updates on Peter, and selected some photos that I thought were descriptive of the Seven 1/2 Habits. I then uploaded the photos onto the big huge labs site, created the "motivators," and saved them to a newly created flickr account of my own. I saved the photos as a set and created a slide show. It took a couple of tries to figure it out, but I was very pleased when I figured out how to save the slide show to this blog by copying the HTML. I wanted to do that, rather than just cut and paste a link.

So if you will indulge a doting auntie, please enjoy the slide show, starring my beautiful little nephew, Peter!