confessions of a post-grad English major


“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” -C.S. Lewis

This quote is beautiful and often times, I find that it is incredibly true as I go about my day and think of Meg and Jo in the kitchen as I use brown sugar, or the little golden sister in the well as I fluff my pillow. At other times I am disillusioned as when I found myself thinking that a recent movie was an adaptation of a Shakespeare play . . . only to be told that the misleadingly-titled flick was actually based on a long forgotten 1980s novel. I also find these allusions unfortunate as when a friend tells me the name of their child, and I cannot help but hope they are not aware of Virginia Woolf’s  novel and androgynous hero (or was it a heroine . . .??) bearing the same name.  However, some nights my former life as an English grad student haunts my dreams– only last night, I was late in handing in a prodigiously extensive worksheet on Ulysses. This dream was unfair to the actual sheets and to my teacher, but completely accurate concerning my feelings as a fledgling Joyce student.

All of these musings aside, I found that after completing my degree, my former thirst for literature was assuaged for a while. In fact, last year I only read ten books! As my husband and I were considering what we had read last year, I was shocked at how little I chose to read. This event caused me to be analytical of my choices in the last year and allowed me to come up with the following observations (confessions) of life post-grad:

1. I find it difficult to read many books, because I have a need to put out as I take in. I really need to have a little notepad by me as a read so I can jot down thoughts and quotes that I want to think about, but who really does that unless they are preparing for a paper (probably all of the really smart people:). I decided this after finishing three books in January and feeling like I had overeaten. I definitely miss writing papers; however I probably will invest in a notebook and try to be smart instead of actually trying to write a literary critical essay on Divergent and Bringing up Bébé (don’t judge– everyone needs some snacks and something educational every now and then:).

2. I feel panicky when I consider all the books that are out there that I haven’t read . . . and want, NEED to read. I do have a short list for this year, but that respectable list of neglected 19th century authors (yawn) keeps me procrastinating in favor of all these child development books I feel the need to read before mini mack makes his advent. My developmental section is kept in the form of an ever-growing list on Amazon, while my goodreads list idles in the vaults of the web somewhere . . . occasionally they send an email and I feel guilt, because:

3. I need to be reading all these things in case I ever really do go back to school and write a dissertation on how the Imagists might have influenced the Georgians and how that in turn may have influenced the aesthetic of the WWI poets!! This is an unlikely event, but occasionally the ambition resurfaces and causes a flurry of research and a strong desire to name our son Owen (after Wilfred). Of course, there is a battle within me because the lucrative part of my English journey has been the education/ESL side and after a particularly exciting time with a student I will often think, no I want to finish my DELTA and then maybe pursue an Ed.D. . . . more unlikely events, yet this often causes yet another annoying habit:

4. I get distracted mid-conversation by poor grammar. And because of ESL, I need to correct it and figure out how to explain the correction in simple English. This really annoys Tommy sometimes:).

5. I am envious of my school friends who are still pulling all nighters to finish papers. I am also jealous when they get to take classes I particularly wanted to take. This envy inspires dozens of tabs being opened with plans for copious reading at a later date . . .


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