Missing blogger finally turns up…

What happens to a student blog when the blogger is no longer a student?

That’s been my dilemma since graduating from UMA a couple months ago, and why there’s been zero action in this space for so long. Back then I had a germ of an idea about how to continue the blog, but truthfully, once I was away from classes and away from campus, the idea sounded less compelling to me. Plus, I suddenly got busy in other directions.

Remember that “iron in the fire” that I hinted at? The one I didn’t want to jinx by sharing any details or airing my hopes that things would go my way? Well, they went my way, people.

Within days of graduating, I started doing freelance copy-editing for the same company that took me on as an intern during my final semester. I’d had a hint that they might, maybe, possibly have an actual job become available in the unspecified future. If that happened, I wanted to be available. So I edited, and when I wasn’t doing that, I worked in my garden or for my husband. And I waited.

And then it happened: an email inviting me to come in to talk about some ideas for part-time work in the office. And then a follow-up email from the owner with the subject line “Great interview.” Interview? Gulp. It’s probably good I didn’t go in thinking about it that way. At any rate, a flurry of emails went back and forth as we worked out details and a job description.

So I’m relieved and proud to share the news that last week I started my NEW JOB at Maine Authors Publishing. This is a company that creates books for self-published authors and helps them to market them through their Authors Cooperative, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. My official position is Publicity and Cooperative Coordinator. Pretty snazzy, right?

So, four days a week I hop on the island version of public transportation—the ferry—and travel to my mainland job. From there, I literally walk across the street from the ferry terminal to Maine Authors Publishing, where I get to be surrounded by books and smart people all day. I can hardly believe my good fortune.

Especially when I consider the bigger picture. We English majors don’t have an easy go of it, and you might remember I’ve had my doubts all along. One of my English teachers even teased me—on my graduation day, yet—about becoming degreed and unemployed.

Think about it: How many English majors find work directly related to their field? Of those, how many graduated from college at age 48? And of those, how many live on an island fifteen miles off the coast of a not-very-populated and largely rural state? Factor in a depressed national economy, and yeah, I’m feeling pretty darn lucky.

Posted in island living, Nontrads/non-traditional students, UMaine Augusta | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Another nontrad I love

I’m getting ready for my son’s graduation, but wanted to salute Ms. Burlyce Sherrell Logan, a nontraditional student who is also graduating today. Her story is stunning and triumphant.

photo: Matt Nager for The New York Times

Posted in Nontrads/non-traditional students | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Post-graduation limbo

So I am a graduate! Since I’m not going to the official UMA graduation next Saturday, I was so glad to have the chance to celebrate with my fellow grads at our ceremony at URock.  Kudos to all! I confess, it’s all a blur at this point. I took pictures, but most of them are a blur, too (literally). So I will just say, I’m happy and I’m proud.

And I’m feeling pretty much adrift. I’m told this is normal.

As far as degree-related employment plans, I’ve got an iron in the fire. My superstitious self keeps me from mentioning any details, but fingers are crossed.

I’ve had a mental list of things I couldn’t wait to get to, ideas I’ve put on hold until after I was done with school, but instead of doing any of those worthy projects, I’ve been doing things like digging dandelions out of the cracks of my stone walkway and cleaning the closets and scrubbing the toilet. My house is full of tasks that need doing.

Oh, and I’ve been going to work with the mister. My husband is a plumber, and a large part of his springtime is taken up with de-winterizing summer homes. It usually means long days and long weeks while he does that and keeps up with other plumbing work. Vinalhaven has about 1200 year-round residents, and at least double that number of seasonal residents. Many, many people are looking forward to returning to their island homes, but they would certainly be less-than-happy to arrive and find that they couldn’t take a shower, couldn’t flush a toilet, and couldn’t make their coffee in the morning or put ice in their cocktails in the evening. Praise the plumber!

So here are some random things I’ve observed in the past few days:

-My husband does some crazy kind of plumber yoga. Vinalhaven’s nickname is “the rock,” since nearly the whole island is made of granite. Any island gardener will tell you that, as she tries to get a spade into the ground and hits ledge. And any island plumber will tell you the same. There are very few full cellars here, but plenty of ledge-y crawlspaces. I watched poor Jimmy contort himself into some pretty tight spaces in order to get the water turned on. He crawls, kneels, squats, and shimmies on his belly under some of the nicest houses on the island. I measured one space this morning: 14 3/4″ from the ledge to the joist overhead. No exaggeration.

-Mice love empty houses. Who knew? In the past 2 days I’ve seen plenty of dead mice, so desiccated they look like dryer lint with teeth. Luckily, that’s just in the crawlspaces. But up above in the living spaces? Don’t get me started on the mouse droppings. And the bat guano. Oh, and the dead cluster flies. I think people would just about croak to see their homes before the house cleaners get in there.

-Apparently, it’s not just dead animals that like to hang out in empty summer homes. We had a huge shock when my husband opened a closet door to access some pipes inside and found himself face to face with two raccoons. Folks, plumbing is an adventure!

-I know what pump pliers and nut drivers are. Tell me to get a pressure gauge or a water filter from the back of the truck, and I will. For a few hours each day, I’m completely at my husband’s beck and call. He tells me what to do, and I do it. I hope he enjoys this rarity while it lasts!

Posted in island living, URock | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

…and done!

Today I submitted my final final paper of my final semester. Done is done.

Our celebration for local UMA graduates takes place on Saturday at URock. I’m excited in a strange, abstract way, almost like it hasn’t quite set in that, yes, I’m actually graduating. And yet it’s true.

Once I got that paper sent off to my prof, I jumped in to catch up on a bunch of bookkeeping I’d put off. Then I did some actual housework, vacuuming up dog hair and tumbleweeds of dust that have been wafting around the house for the last couple weeks. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

But I also took some time to wander around my wet garden, reminding myself that it’s spring. Time for new beginnings.

Posted in UMaine Augusta, URock | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The sweet, sad final days

I’m posting from URock, and it’s strangely quiet, considering it’s finals week. There are a few students milling about, and some hard-core math finals taking place. And there’s a freezer full of ice cream, courtesy of the Student Association. What a treat to have a sweet pick-me-up while studying or taking tests or blogging, for that matter. Thank you SA! Although this could be dangerous – me and free ice cream? Yes, please.

I’m feeling rather bittersweet tonight. This afternoon we had our last Brontë class, complete with our final presentations and a version of a Victorian party. I wish I’d thought to bring my camera to class so I could share a glimpse of some of the goodies: tea, cucumber sandwiches, scones, cheese and crackers (featuring Heathcliff and Edgar Linton cheese choices!), sugar cookies, and caramel cake (almost all of this was created by Amanda). And there was an amazing, massive chocolate cake, courtesy of John (incidentally, the only male in our class). When he set down his cake, decorated with purple sugar to simulate the heather on the moors, the rest of us practically rose to our feet in wonder. I don’t know what it is about chocolate that makes women respond that way, but there it is.

I had such a lovely surprise when my professor and classmates presented my with a book of Brontë poems as a graduation gift and a memento of my ONLY live class at University of Maine at Augusta. Everyone wrote sweet messages inside, wishing me well. I’m quite moved.

So here I am, in the quiet of the final days of the semester, the final days of my 6 years of college, thumbing through this book of poems, and thinking about my classmates. I came upon a poem that surprised me with its aptness. It was written by Branwell, the only Brontë brother. I think over the course of the semester we all developed a melancholy fondness for poor Branwell.

Here is an excerpt from Augusta:

Augusta! Though I’m far away

Across the dark blue sea,

Still eve and morn and night and day

Will I remember Thee!

And, though I cannot see thee nigh

Or hear thee speak to me,

Thy look and voice and memory

Shall not forgotten be.

I stand upon this Island shore,

A single hour alone,

And see the Atlantic swell before

With sullen surging tone…

Posted in UMaine Augusta, URock | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


Folks, I’m in the thick of it. Papers and projects due, and this silly gal (that would be me) had the crazy notion to get her husband tickets to see John Prine tomorrow night in Portland. When you live on an island, a simple concert means taking the 1:00 ferry, and an overnight stay, to boot. I couldn’t resist – John Prine was part of our courting soundtrack, and he doesn’t come to Maine very often. But it’s still time away from the desk (or kitchen table, as it so happens).

In lieu of a final paper for one of my classes (A Midwife’s Tale and the Social Web), I proposed an interview with two young home birth moms. I just finished transcribing our interviews, and at 16 and 20 pages, I dare say I’ve bitten off a chunk here. I’ve got a good start on the analysis piece, but it’s not going to write itself, is it? Here’s the thing: these women’s stories are so joyful, and sometimes so harrowing, a couple times I was in tears while typing out their words. I’m excited about the project, and I hope my prof agrees it’s worthy. Thank you a thousand times over to Sarah and Sarah!

For my Brontë class, I’m about seven pages into my final paper, and I’ve got notes for the rest. I’m feeling ok about it, but again, these things don’t write themselves, and Monday is just around the corner. I also have a project due for that class. I’m focusing on letters: those in the Brontë novels, and those they wrote themselves. I’ve got an idea in my head, and a lot of post-it notes sticking out all over my books. I just hope it can come together as a proper project…by Monday.

I’ve got one more paper due, for my independent study. It occurred to me that, just because my other classes end by Monday doesn’t mean this one needs to. The semester officially concludes on May 7, so I’ve asked my advisor if I can submit it to her on Wednesday. I have a feeling she’ll say yes.

So folks, good vibes sent in this direction are gratefully accepted. In the meantime, remember, “Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore…” (Prine)

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Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

This dispatch comes from Boston, adopted city of my daughter, and where we are gathering for Easter.

We stay at a hotel a few T-stops from where she lives, the same place we’ve been staying at for six years. It’s not fancy, but we like it: it’s tucked off Commonwealth Ave (therefore quiet), it’s close to the T (so we don’t have to drive anywhere), and they have a perfectly fine continental breakfast (so we can eat and go). I also like the hilly, tree-filled site, nestled into a neighborhood.

After posting this, dearest husband and I are going for a little ramble-around while our son sleeps on.

Wishing all a Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Posted in field trips | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment