Starting a New Chapter: Life in the City

So, since my last post (waaay back in 2013 … oops) I have graduated from grad school, acquired a full-time job, adopted a dog AND moved to the great city of Philadelphia! Locals may recognize the skyline in the header photo.

That all happened in the fall of 2013, and the move came shortly after. I spent all of 2014 adjusting to adult life (and life with a pup), and decided to move to Center City at the end of last year. Thus far, it’s been an adjustment. Life in a city is very different from the life I grew up with. Some of the differences are great (I can walk just about anywhere) and some are very awful (I pay rent for a PARKING SPACE). On the whole though, I am very pleased with how things are going here.

Having a dog helped ease the transition. Philly is super dog-friendly, with tons of dog parks and training classes all over the place. It’s been fun getting established and meeting other folks with friendly dogs. In fact, this afternoon I spent the warmest day of the year so far at the dog park enjoying the weather and letting my pooch stretch his legs with other city dogs.

Another community I’m starting to engage with is the literary community. As I’m sure the majority of the literary population knows, Philadelphia has quite the publishing history. It’s one of those facts that you forget about when you grow up right outside the city. I’ve enrolled in some fiction writing classes and a writing workshop that starts in April. I’m so excited to start building up my portfolio again – I might even consider an MFA program if the finances work out!

Since I’m getting back into the writing life, I thought it prudent to get back in the habit of updating here. If I learned anything in class, it’s that getting words on the page (regardless of outlet) is the first step!

Til next, happy writing!

Community Library Expansion Project Hinges on Voters’ Decision

Community Library Expansion Project Hinges on Voters’ Decision

I’m back from my blogging hiatus this summer to share this story of a local library in my area that wants to expand. Of course, since this 2013 and the economy still sucks, the library can’t fund the project on its own and would need a tax increase or a seriously generous donor to get the project off the ground.

In the article, the school board voted to allow the question of whether or not to raise the library tax on this November’s voting ballots for municipal elections, effectively leaving the decision of whether or not to fund the project in the hands of the voters.

I’m all about democracy and I totally support allowing taxpayers decide how to spend their money, but that isn’t the point of why I’m sharing this article. What breaks my heart about this story are the comments underneath the article (you might have to search for the news outlet’s Facebook page to see most of them, for those who aren’t local. I’ll post the link if enough are interested!). So many residents in the community talk about how they don’t need libraries, and how the project is a waste of resources. It’s simply terrible.

Here is one gem from a user on Facebook: “Libraries are a waste of money in this day and age……who even brought this to the table…so they not have a smart phone???? or do they like wasting tax payers money”

Clearly, there is a deep need for literacy education in this soul.

Of course, there are some people who are passionately fighting for their beliefs. For example, another poster writes: “While our little library and the librarians are great, we cannot keep up with what libraries have become with the size of our library now. I cannot believe there are people saying libraries are unnecessary due to the Internet and smartphones. Sure you may be lucky with all that but there are still people without those amenities and the library is a place everyone can use the Internet for free. And ummm…books…have you ever heard of those??? Also, a human who is knowledgeable and can help you with whatever research you have.”

See the difference here between the person who supports the library and the one who doesn’t? Which one would you rather have working at your company? Teaching your child? In your group for a group project? Yeah, I thought so.

I frequent this library, and it truly has outgrown itself. There are always people there, and I go on Saturday mornings, Wednesday nights, and Friday afternoons – all throughout the week, really. I’m always squeezing past people in the shelves, and the waitlists for any book published in the last two years is at least 30 people long. You can never get on a computer because they’re always being used, and the library won’t even accept book donations because there is no room. I realize that money is a serious issue (believe me, I have firsthand knowledge) and perhaps the municipality can reallocate some funds to lesson the burden on taxpayers, but outright refusal to even support the idea of expansion of a library is a tragedy.

In Need of Creative Ways to Store Your Book Collection?

Books? Like those paper-and-ink thingys? Yeah, people still got ‘em. And if you’re like me and never get rid of any of your books regardless of how many times you’ve read them, you will love these incredibly creative and unique ways to display/store/show off your collection.

Click here for the article from Chatelaine.com.

My particular favorite is #5 (linked & pictured above). What’s yours?

What Motivates You?

Today, my internship supervisor asked me this question, just purely out of curiosity – no pressure intended.

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My mind when my supervisor was asking me questions… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)curiosity – no pressure intended.

I know it’s one of those job interview questions that it seems like every twenty-something on the job hunt should be prepared to answer. And if it was a job interview, I probably would have come up with something on the spot that was canned and stilted and not true to myself, but had to do with the job I was after. Typically, I’m that prepared sort of person, but I found that when I really, truly thought about this question, I had no idea.

What motivates me? I mean, I kind of know. I know when I’m feeling motivated to accomplish tasks. Deadlines motivate me, but that makes me sound like a procrastinator. Money motivates me, but that makes me sound like I don’t care about anything but getting rich. Grades motivate me, but what the hell does that matter after I’m out of school?

So seriously. What motivates me? What motivates you?

I’ve been thinking about this all day after I embarrassed myself at my internship by not being to articulate a response off the cuff. What motivates me?

I still don’t think I have an answer. In an attempt to help me solve this riddle, my supervisor started asking me more questions to try to narrow it down.

I thought I had the answer — success motivates me! But isn’t success one of those abstract concepts that is measured differently based on the person? By that I mean, the next question was “How do you measure your success?” (I failed epically – again.)

Even eight hours later, I’ve still got nothing! No wonder I have no clue where I want to end up in my career, or in my life!

So here’s my challenge to you all: Figure out what your motivation is, and then use it to help you identify what you have to do with your life to take advantage of that motivation.

Good luck. I’ll get back to you when I’ve got it figured out!

MOOCs and Education

There are two stories in the New York Times today about MOOCs (massive open online courses). Yes, two!

The stories deal with the ways schools are taking advantage of these open courses and finding ways to incorporate them into their college or university curriculum as for-credit courses. Of course, that also means they’re finding ways to monetize the courses, but still. It’s interesting because a while back, the talking heads were screaming that students shouldn’t be receiving credit for these courses.

This first one is how San Jose State is using them as remedial coursework to catch students up to where they need to be when they enter college.

The second one talks about community colleges who have taken M.I.T.’s computer classes and turned them into personalized courses that can be adapted to fit the pace of individual classes, or even students.

Here’s links: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/education/colleges-adapt-online-courses-to-ease-burden.html?pagewanted=1&smid=pl-share

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/education/adapting-to-blended-courses-and-finding-early-benefits.html?ref=education

I wish K-12 administrators would take the hint and get on this train, too. After all, as the first article states, about half of U.S. undergrads are not college-ready after graduating from high school and need those remedial courses. Perhaps if K-12 education took a page out of higher ed’s book and started adapting these materials to suit a high schooler, we wouldn’t have the gap in the first place!

Ah well – Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and with K-12 education, nothing moves quickly. I guess that just means job security for me for a really long time!

Happy Tuesday, all!

Keep Working Hard

Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t posted since March 24… sorry about that!

Anyway, I have to explain why — It’s actually pretty cool. It’s a lesson in sticking through the tough times and continuing to work toward your goals. I’ve been, and it’s finally paying off in a big way. Let me explain…

I got an internship! It’s not publishing related, but I’m okay with that, because it’s educational-technology-related! I’ll be interning this summer (read: starting now) at a company that coaches schools through the implementation of their own online learning programs! How cool is that?

The president of the company initially launched his model at a school in my area a few years ago, and it won an international award from iNACOL (International Association for Online Learning). INTERNATIONAL!

Now he travels all around talking about best practices in online education and helps school districts plan, design, and launch their own online programs for public school students. I’m so excited to start!

In other news, I’ve also become a more frequent contributor to the newspaper I’ve been freelancing for — also cool. I still work at my college’s library.

And finally, I got a long term sub position (which ends next week, so expect more activity then!) to add to my resume as well! Talk about a busy time!

It’s just insane how life works sometimes. This time last year, I was about to graduate from college, my father was facing open heart surgery at 48, and I was really quite depressed. I had nothing except my summer job that I’d been working since freshman year (which I will not be going back to this summer, due to the internship!) and I was getting turned down for full time work left and right.

Now I feel like my options are pretty limitless. By that I mean that I have opportunities in all three of my career fields of choice — all that’s left is to pick one and make it happen!

So to anyone out there who’s feeling a little less than optimistic about your situation at the present moment, just hang in there. Good things really do come to those who WORK for them!