Change of direction?

This one's long and not necessarily all that funny. But I guess they can't all be short and sweet and sassy.

Estelle has started a discussion on grammar and punctuation over on her blog. It's been pretty fun. And timely since I just started reading some grammar books for fun (my wish for more reading time has been granted). Currently the discussion focuses on commas. I feel very passionately about commas. Very passionately. Let me show you:

Recently I accepted a freelance editing job for a local group that is planning their first large conference. They wanted an editor and a copywriter for 2 brochures: an appetizer brochure and a full seven-course brochure. I accepted the job because they had asked a friend to do it and she felt overwhelmed by it and asked me to come on as the editor with her as the copywriter. The deadlines were tight but I felt I could handle it. After all, I was just supposed to edit; I figured that I could do the work at home in the oddly-timed snippets of space in my schedule. I was wrong. My friend wanted me to work on this with her. As in: at the same time, in the same space as her. This was during Julia's first illness and Kristin's serious sinus infection. Showering, for me, had become an overrated luxury. Still, I did it. And when we sent back the first draft of the appetizer brochure (the first that needed to be finished) they found 3 errors. I was mortified. I mean, sure, it was just a rough draft, and I had spent most of my time coming up with raw text instead of editing, but still it was my job and I had not done as well as I expected for myself. When I got the draft back I made the corrections, and found an error that we had all missed. I felt very satisfied with the final copy.

Let me just mention here that before I had my current job I worked for a non-profit. We created adult programming for libraries. For each program, we created a brochure and other publicity materials. I edited most of these, but didn't necessarily write the copy for all of them. Since we were a nonprofit and couldn't afford to pay the people who worked on these projects (designer, copywriter, etc.) we always made certain that they were thanked for their efforts in print on the brochures. When I signed on for this brochure job I was told that I would be listed as editor on the brochure. This may sound petty, but it is an important point. Right now I'm trying to build a reputable portfolio. The chance of adding to my experience and portfolio (as well as wanting to help out my friend) was the driving force behind accepting the job.

So, when my friend and I met to start to work on the larger brochure, she handed me a print copy of the smaller brochure. I looked for my name. It wasn't there. Needless to say, I was pretty upset. I had taken so much time out of my schedule to work on this and they hadn't filled their part of the bargain. The brochure had already been printed and mailed. Then she mentioned that they had told her that I had overlooked a punctuation error that they had needed to correct just before printing. There hadn't been time to alert me of my mistake. She pointed to the paragraph in which they had found the error. The original sentence had read in part, "Come get a wiggle on while romance abounds at the Winterfest..." They had changed it to read, "Come get a wiggle on, while romance abounds at the Winterfest..." can you spot the change? Now, I am of the opinion that a comma is completely unnecessary after the "on" but that if they were going to insist on inserting one, they should also have inserted a comma after the "abounds" in order to set the phrase aside as additional information as in the sentence, "I went to the store with my father, Keith, to pick up some apples." Am I wrong on this? Opinions? Anyway, once I saw the (in my opinion) punctuation mistake, I was extremely glad that my name was not on the brochure as editor. I was also angry enough that while I agreed to finish the second brochure (deadline immanent) I declined to help with any further materials (deadlines far enough out they could find someone else). Strengthening my decision was the fact that though my deadline to get the second brochure to the designer was firm, they did not get me the raw text and information until beyond the 11th hour, and even then the information was so flawed that I wasted valuable time researching the correct names and addresses of organizations helping with the conference as well as correct titles and credentials of some of the presenters. They're lucky that I am familiar enough with the non-profit community here that I could spot the mistakes in their own information about their own programs, sponsors, and contributors.

They just keep focusing on the fact that they don't understand why I am so upset about a comma.

Perhaps I am not cut out to be an editor.


A few posts ago I mentioned that I wanted a job where I would get paid to read. Jen commented that I should get over my love/hate thing with libraries and become a librarian.


When I received my BS and began looking for a career I applied for an Assistant Children's Librarian position with the Salt Lake City Library. I thought the job was perfect for me. I made it all the way up through the interview process to the final consideration and they chose someone else. I was devastated. (Later I found out that the reason they chose the other person was that when they had checked to see if I really had graduated the University told them that I had not. It was a computer glitch, I had graduated but the computer didn't list me as such.) I gave up on the job search, gave in to the wheedlings of a friend and moved to Vermont. 2 months later, broken physically and emotionally, I returned to Utah and was immediately hired at Human Pursuits.

At Human Pursuits I worked with librarians all over the country helping them set up bilingual (Spanish/English) reading & discussion programming. I loved my job and I loved working with the librarians. I lost my bitterness over not getting the Assistant Librarian position. Especially after I met the woman who had and immediately realized that she was as perfect for her job as I was for mine.

When I decided to go to graduate school, I didn't even consider getting a Masters of Library & Information Science for 3 reasons: I had hoped to work for Human Pursuits for a very long time, there are no MLIS programs in Utah, and I really wanted a PhD in Creative Writing. Now here I am, three years later. I have no PhD. I am upset enough with the University of Utah (the only PhD program in Creative Writing in the state) that I won't apply to their program again. And Kristin and I need to move from this state anyway. I've been rethinking the whole PhD in Creative Writing thing. Do I really need to sequester myself in an academic setting for the further development of my art? Anne, a poet and blogger whom I greatly admire, writes beautiful poetry without being in Academia. And I have railed in the past against the sequestering of poets in the Universities.

And then Jen's comment. (Anne is a librarian, too, btw) And I remember how much I had wanted that Assistant Librarian position and how upset I was when I found out that to get an MLIS I would have to leave the state. Well guess what? I have to leave the state anyway. So why not get an MLIS instead of the PhD? It would be a more practical choice, for once. (If you're thinking that an MLIS is not the most practical of degrees consider, for a moment, my other two degrees: BS in Anthropology with an empasis in Archaeology and the Middle East [but I dropped out of Arabic when military recuiters started getting a bit pushy] and an MFA in Poetry. Compared to these an MLIS is almost equivalent to an MBA in practicality.)
Plus, I already have the required sexy librarian glasses. And I'm currently growing my hair out so I can put it in a bun.

So that means that in 2.5 years, the summer after Kristin graduates (if she gets accepted this spring) with her Master's of Social Work, we will be moving so that I can get an MLIS while we also adopt each other's birth children. Fun! Who wants to have us for neighbors?

Schools I am currently considering:

The ischool at the University of Washington, Seattle. (This is the only MLIS program in the Pacific Northwest and they give special consideration to students applying from the states in this region, including Utah.) Expensive. Approx $41K for a non-resident. Plus Seattle itself is expensive. But it's close to Portland where our friends N&A just moved. And Kristin has family in Oregon that we would be closer to. Plus I could stalk S&M better.

Of course, there's also a program at the University of Iowa. That would put us close to Lauri and Benji. I'm not sure if we can adopt there, but if we can Iowa is also a real possibility. Though it's a bit further from my family than I would like.

Then there's Denver. Closest program to Utah. And I've always wanted to live in Denver.

There are also some schools in Canada. Kristin and I have always wanted to live in Canada. But I haven't checked into all the requirements to move out of the country.

There are at least 2 programs in Florida, and it would be nice to live closer to so many of my blogger friends, but the laws in Florida aren't much better than Utah, so that's not happening.

So what I'm trying to say is that it looks like my life is still changing directions, and I've got a lot to think about. If you have your MLIS or MLS or otherwise work in a library, I would love to hear from you about what you think. Where did you go to school? How did you pick your area of specialization? How do you like your job? If you live near a school with this program can I crash on your couch while checking the school and area out?

PS: Don't take any grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors in my posts as indicative of my editing/proofreading skills. These are all pretty slapdash, written while I'm supposed to be doing other things. Like working. Or feeding Julia. Or sleeping.

Posted by Trista @ 12:01 PM

Read or Post a Comment

Come to Iowa! Come to Iowa! Come to Iowa!

Plus, in a couple of years, maybe I'll be at the U of I too!

Robin Hemley and John D'Agata are there, too, if you want to do any crossover library science/ non-fiction creative writing. There's crossover there, right?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 3:27 PM #

Ooooh. I had REALLY REALLY wanted the U of U to hire John D'Agata. I didn't know that's where he ended up. Maybe I should rethink rethinking the PhD...

Posted by Blogger Trista @ 3:39 PM #

I agree with you about the comma thing. As the resident proofreader/editor in my company (not to mention having spent 4 years in a position that solely involved proofing), I am nitpicky about those sorts of things. It would have driven me crazy.

And yes, Catch teaches P.E.

Frightening how the stereotypes fit, isn’t it?

Have I mentioned that she also plays softball?

Truthfully, she is a history teacher. It just happened that the school needed someone to take on a few freshman P.E. classes and she wanted the job badly enough that she was willing to take on anything they requested.

She’ll start coaching softball for the school in Feb. Heh.

Also, she teaches for a Catholic all-girls school where 7 of the teachers on staff are lesbians, including the principal who also happens to be an ex-nun.

I have WAY too much fun teasing her.

Posted by Anonymous Molly @ 4:00 PM #

You could always get your MLS, get a librarian job in a university with a good creative writing program, and work on your Ph.D. part time while playing librarian, taking advantage of the fee-courtesy benefits most universities give. (And have a family life too. Yes, I know, I'm utterly insane. *grin*)

One thing to keep in mind is that librarian positions are notoriously hard to find in areas where there's a good library school -- so chances are very good that you'd have to move again after getting the degree. I don't know how you feel about that, but when you've got a family, it's probably a bigger consideration than it is for those of us who don't. (And this is why I'm working in a support-staff position even though I have my master's.)

Also, funding is notoriously tight in library science programs, so you'd almost certainly be taking out loans. That said -- as you already know, being a librarian means you get to work in cool places with cool people. You won't get rich in this field, but you can live a very good life, doing work that makes the world a little bit of a better place -- and that's worth a lot, I think.

(Me, I went to Indiana for library school, because I was already full-time support staff here and I got nice fee courtesy benefits. It's a good enough program, so it seemed silly not to take advantage of the freebie.)

Posted by Blogger Anne @ 4:55 PM #

1) Yay!

2) I think that the phrase "stalk S&M" is going to do some wacky things to you site stats! :)

3) Consider the program at University of Illinois, because it's primarily done via the internet (but *IS* an accredited and well-regarded program) so you could get started much sooner.

The librarian at Cait's school got her degree there, as well as a friend-of-a-friend who's currently transitioning from teaching queer-positive birthing classes to beign a librarian (go her!).

4) Another possibility is the DC area, where we have two accredited programs - Catholic U. and U of MD (yes, my MLS is from MD). The advantage is that the librarian job market here is pretty decent compared to the rest of the country. No guarantees but more options than most places, what with gov't libraries, special libraries, schools, etc.

Plus, the funding picture at MD might be better than at some other places. I did manage to get a free ride (though it was 5 years ago).

The cost of living sucks, though. But boy, is it NOT Utah in terms of LGBT issues - wouldn't that be a nice change? :)

Posted by Blogger Jen @ 5:22 PM #

Anne: that sounds like a GREAT plan! And, moving again isn't such a huge issue since our (well, ok, my) ideal plan would be to move back here where my whole family is once Kristin's and my family is secure. And since our only library sciences program closed over 10 years ago, I don't think the market would be to tough. (especially since most of the librarians here are old -- ssshh, you didn't hear me say that!)

Jen -- I think you're right about my stats. I didn't think of that. but I like the phrase too much to change it now :) DC is an option, I'll check into it a bit better, and Illinois as well, after all, I've got a year or so to decide! (can I crash on your couch? you didn't mention that....)

Posted by Blogger Trista @ 5:36 PM #

You were hired to edit, not write. It's incumbent upon the writer to accept the editor's corrections and not 'change it at the last moment.' Unfortunately, 'editing' is a word with too many definitions. To some it means 'writer,' to others, 'proofreader,' to others, 'compiler.' Before you take another job as an editor (editrix?), find out what they expect. But at the very least: YOU GET THE LAST WORD.

By the way, I also went to Indiana University, but not for MLIS as Anne did. However, I recommend IU in general. Not only do they have excellent programs all-around, they have one of the prettiest campuses around. (I still dream about it.) And, they're very gay-friendly - for Indiana!

Posted by Blogger Lorem ipsum @ 6:38 PM #

I got my MLIS from Dominican University, back when it was Rosary College. Most of my academic work involved databases, and an independent study on relational database management.
After getting out of grad school, I worked as a data mapper for a company that designs databases for museums, then went over to Andersen Consulting as a "marketing and competitive intelligence" researcher, which sounds a lot cooler than it is. I've been doing freelance research since 2001, and working part time managing a database for an ISP.
I have never worked in a library. But I treasure my MLIS!

Posted by Blogger Bkwyrm @ 6:44 PM #

Oh, yeah, couch-crashing totally. If you bring the wife & kid, we've even got a guest room! :)

Posted by Blogger Jen @ 6:57 PM #

You're welcome to my spare bedroom, if you decide to check out the DFW area!!! There's UTA, SMU, TCU, DBU, UNT, and TWU, all in this area. And the cost of living is decent.


Posted by Blogger Faith @ 8:19 PM #

I'd be happy to give you some info about Canada if you decide to head up this way.

Posted by Blogger Jennifer @ 7:17 AM #

I'm totally selfish - come to Seattle. UW is great. I went back to school when I was 30 and have to say that school round-two was fantastic.

Also, M. knows a lady in the UW program. She actually saved her life (I'm not kidding, diagnosed a blood clot and the lady ended up in the hospital). I'll bet she'd be willing to talk to you about it if you want.

Posted by Blogger Sacha @ 9:50 AM #

Whoo-whoo! Another wannabee librarian. Honestly, Trista, all we have in common frightens me sometimes. In a good way! :)

I know nothing at all about library schools, but in terms of creating the best situation for your family, I recommend looking in Massachusetts & Vermont. There must be multiple library schools, and since there are approximately a bizzion colleges, more library jobs than the national average. Sure, Boston itself is insanely expensive, but all of New England probably isn't.

Pop over to librarian.net and pick Jessamyn's archive and brain. She's talked a lot about the kinds of librarian work she does and has done, and I know she's always interested in talking to other progressive, smart people. (I also know her in real life, so feel free to say I suggested that you talk with her.) She's not a dyke, but she's very politically sensitive and I'm sure has a read on the community.

Posted by Anonymous Liza @ 11:59 AM #

dont come to mississippi, it sucks here ;)

Posted by Blogger Jil @ 2:32 PM #

Seriously, I know the laws here suck. You cannot move. I forbid it. Then I would have no cool friends outside my circle of experience to take my baby to play with. Waah

Are you sure BYU does not have a MLIS program? (So much of a Joke, I'm laughing at the thought of you or me at BYU.) Ending selfish whine.

I hope you find somewhere where you can all live in peace and where you will have the rights to adopt and other rights others take for granted.

BTW, I need to think up things like stalk S&M. My current biggest link is "I hate the Army", followed by a close second from WWW.anaccidentofhope.blogspot.com

Posted by Blogger WendyLou @ 9:58 AM #

ha ha on the "stalk S&M"...we've used that term many times over the years. Sacha even put that on our Christmas presents this year! We have a new blog meter and one of the things we can see is what page people enter onto...would be interesting if that post continues to draw the crowds!

Posted by Blogger M. @ 9:38 AM #

I can recommend Seattle, as long as you can handle 6 months of mostly overcast skies and extra-short days. Otherwise, it's spectacular in culture, scenery, and the progressive atmosphere. Also, the other 6 months are soooo nice.

Of course, if you went away, you'd be moving away from those of us who are still stuck in Utah. On second thought, you'd hate Seattle. Nothing to like about it, or any of those other places. Zion is your one true home.

Posted by Blogger StateShift @ 2:05 PM #
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