Second Fall Semester (Aug 2009 – Dec 2009) Portfolio of Doom
· Last classes! I sign up for Advanced Children’s Literature and YA (yes, more kiddie lit. They never said what electives we had to sign up for. I went for easy.) Also, I take the dreaded Library Management with Dr. S.
· I die laughing over Dr S’s rules for class. My favorite: We do not service patrons. That is a sexual act. Haha. Clearly the poor man has been there too long.
· Immediately the stupid people in class start making idiotic comments. I wait for Dr. S. to pounce. He doesn’t. And some of them are just asking for it.
· Advanced Kid Lit is run exactly the same way as Multicultural Kid Lit and regular Kid Lit. I love Dr. V.’s classes. Especially how she tells us to remember the honor policy and not use our books on the quizzes. She had to be kidding right? Not that I really need the book, but it’s fun to go wild and flout the rules.
· Now is the time for the PORTFOLIO. It’s like Thesis, only you don’t get two semesters to take it and you do it along with two other classes. If you don’t pass it, you don’t get your degree. Since this is such a major deal, they decide to send us to Denton for the Fall Festival on a lark. We are going to learn all about the PORTFOLIO here.
· We learn a whole lot. Like how to get confused. First they put us up at a hotel that is all the way across Denton and costs 3 times as much as the ones that are close by the university. My poor mother and I get so lost we nearly lose it. Finally she dumps me at the restaurant with my luggage.
· We spend the first evening griping about how much we hate our professors. Well, most of us. A few nerds go and do actual productive homework.
· At the Fall Festival (which sounds way more festive than it is) we are lectured on how the PORTFOLIO works. And we get more confused. Also, Kathy points out that over 50 percent of students fail the PORTFOLIO the first time. How helpful!
· From what I can tell from the slide show (that could have just been emailed to us) we have to put together some work products that go along with the professional development paper that is a rehash of the professional agenda which is a paper full of B.S. about what we’re going to do with our degrees. I personally plan on curing Cancer and building huts in Africa.
· I decide that, according to the paper, I’m going to be a youth librarian, since I’ve taken all these kiddie lit courses. It sure sounds better than admitting I took them because they were easier. And that I don’t actually like children that much.
· Kathy decides that we should give Dr. G. a gift to thank her for all the insanity. When no one goes for it, she says it’s a group gift and demands 10 bucks from each one of us. I pretend my wallet is in my other red cohort bag.
· We do a leadership activity involving a personality quiz using a scary Satanic-looking Pentagram. This is supposed to make being a leader so much easier. I’m sure that selling one’s soul to Satan makes things infinitely easier. It sure explains my boss.
· People organize themselves into different numbers relating to their personalities. Unfortunately, some people do not know themselves. At all. My boss puts herself in with another cohort, peace loving hippie Jane. Ah, of course.
· Dr. Golden explains that she is a “1” because she’s a perfectionist. This is very true. She never stops screwing up until she’s got it done exactly right.
· We get back home and start working on our PORTFOLIOS. Dr. G. offers to proofread our papers and give suggestions. She looks at one page of mine and tells me I’m totally off the mark. But not how. Great!
· My boss goes into full on whacked out panic mode. While I’ve always known she’s nuttier than a fruitcake, most of the staff is now giving her the same berth as one would a live hand grenade. Methinks she’s worried that she’s not smart enough to pass. Bwahahaha.
· No one does much on their regular course work. Freaking out over the PORTFOLIO takes precedence. My boss has my 6th grade English teacher proofread her paper. God rest that woman’s soul. Afterward, my boss has to paste on a smile and put back together the shreds of her “paper”. Aws!
· The papers go in. We wait for our scores like people do for biopsy results. There is just no way any of us can survive doing this thing again. They finally send back the results with much fan fare. Next to my name are the words: PASS. No comments. Nothing. Just PASS. I find out my boss passed as well. Clearly, they exaggerated the difficulty of passing this thing.
· Next comes preparation for graduation. We discover that they aren’t paying a dime for graduation. Most of the cohort is a-okay with paying for silly gowns, a hotel room, travel expenses, etc. to stand in line for hours and walk across a stage. Two other mutineers and I say to hell with that. I’ve already been through 3 ceremonies. People are bored with me graduating by now.
· I am invited into an honor society. For 100 bucks everyone can know how smart I am. Or they can just look at my transcript for free. I figure there is some sort of intelligent process to this, but nope, they just draw names randomly from a list. Which means some people with 3.75 get in while some 4.0s are left out. Makes sense to me. Some cohorts are really mad that they don’t get the cheesy honor cord. Those are useful. My girls used mine from my last degree as a jump rope.
· The message boards get more and more tedious. Some fellow students in Library Management start talking about making library tree houses. I guess they’re going to have Tinkerbell checking out the books? Dr. S lets that go. He should have insulted those people for their own good and the good of society. The dean has apparently had him fixed somehow.
· Last up in that class is a group project that the group members – one is named “Missie” – take way too seriously. I know it’s too late in the semester for him to read it. My daughter is ill and in the hospital. I’m still expected to do my share. Good luck with that.
· I have several job applications in but no interviews or offers yet. I have to fax a paper to the grad school saying I’m not going to graduation. My boss interrogates me on my use of the fax machine. Despite not having a job lined up, I give my notice the next day. It’s either that or the Looney Bin.
· My boss takes such delight in my notice that she fails to realize that I work more hours than any other part timer and never take vacations. They have no idea how to fill in all the hours I worked. Merry Christmas!
· Graduation time! The others take off. I stay home and relax for the first time in a couple of years. I find out later that my boss says that she has NO IDEA why I might have quit and is CONCERNED. The other cohorts are deeply suspicious of us mutineers who didn’t go to the ceremony and have FUN. Oh, well, don’t have to see them again.
· Oh, wait. There’s still one more TLA. Hey, didn’t we graduate already?
TLA 2010: FUN with Leadership
· The previous December, I received an early Christmas present. After only a few dozen (it seemed like) interviews, I got offered a job at the university library in Special Collections. I’m still not totally sure what that is, but since I was ready to mop the floors of the place just to get a position there, I’m thrilled.
· My new boss turns out to be the polar opposite of Mrs. Satan. She actually likes my work and tells me so. My training under the Evil One has not prepared me for this. It takes me a while to adjust to not getting in trouble every single day.
· Yet despite having graduated, I’m not completely free – I still have this one last conference with her. I forgot to check the fine print. Turns out there’s going to be a leadership conference at TLA just for us. It’s Tall Texans, only not, because we don’t actually get the title. Just two days of meetings. Oh, joy.
· A fellow cohort Linda – one of the Three Mutineers – and I can’t imagine what leadership skills these wackos are going to impart to us. We start googling leadership games and laugh ourselves silly. Possible leadership activities: wrapping ourselves in Saran Wrap, pulling off pieces of toilet paper, sitting on one another’s laps, fighting with pool noodles, butt head tag, and an activity that involves yelling the word “Hooowaa!” I swear I am not making these up.
· We make it to the final TLA with the cohort. This time we are roomed at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio right across from the Alamo. It is rumored that the upper floors of this hotel are haunted, so my boss and her unfortunate roommate decide to change rooms in hopes of meeting one of the ghosts. If there were ghosts, I’m sure the ghosts were scared off.
· The other cohorts start to realize my former boss isn’t quite right.
· At the first meeting, I get to tell everybody about my brand new super job that I love and my awesome boss. My former boss tries to force a smile, and her face cracks.
· As it turns out, we don’t get to do any of the fun leadership activities. Mostly we listen to boring stuff that I can’t remember. At one point my boss asks if people who are no longer at public libraries should be allowed to be at this activity, or to breathe, or something like that. She looks right at me.
· Fellow cohort Linda and I mouth “Hoowaa” to each other during the boring workshop and try not to giggle like eight-year-olds.
· The leadership meeting finally ends. Now on to the actual conference. Weee.
· I do try to go to as many of the conferences that are related to Special Collections (turns out these are archives) as I can, but most of them turn out fairly useless. The speakers are not prepared, and don’t even have enough handouts. It’s like being back in school.
· I visit the Alamo and realize that it is wedged between several huge hotels. Kind of takes the mystery and awe out of this symbol of our independence.
· It is next to impossible to catch a shuttle to the conference center, since they only run once or twice a day. So I get a lot of walking in back and forth. This involves cutting through a mall, darn the luck. I discover Macy’s.
· This time I get a roommate who has to leave early for a funeral. Sad for her, but happy for me. I get a room to myself for a while.
· I run into my former boss over and over, but it gets easier. I can tell she’s frustrated that I am out from under her thumb. And happy. At one point I smile her right out of the room.
· Finally, TLA ends. And so does the online MLS experience. Hooowaaa!
Second Spring Semester (Jan 2009 – May 2009) Adventures in Psychosis
My courses are “Public Libraries”, taught by the great Dr. G., and “Children’s Literature” by Dr. V. I soon start hearing the horror that is the teacher of Library Management – the course I have put off until later.
His name is Dr. S. Apparently this guy expects unbelievable things like subject / verb agreement and calls people on their idiotic comments. Gee, what a jerk.
While most of the others are suffering, I’m reading kid books and writing on another blog. My boss gives me the evil eye when she sees me check out lots of children’s literature. My decision to take Kiddie Lit has had the unforeseen benefit of freaking her out. She is certain I’m after her job now!
I forget most of Public Libraries, except that it was supposedly about how to work in a public library, provided said library was on Saturn. I did find out that some of the cohort (like my boss) think staff are as expendable as office supplies. I’m deeply touched.
We are told to create a Disaster Plan. My library naturally does not have one. They don’t even have a shovel to remove snow from the sidewalks. I ask my boss in the cohort what our procedures are in case of disaster, and she tells me to stop trying to copy off of her. No, really, I’m serious.
I’m pretty sure this is the semester where I seriously tick a cohort off with my opinions concerning filtering public access computers. Unfortunately, I forget that said person has been my roommate at TLA. Whoops.
I get another roommate who has thus far been a champion in class because she has absolutely no shame or fear when it comes to demanding answers from professors on the message boards. Her name is Kathy.
Second TLA! New Verse, Worse Than the First!
Here we go with the TLA Prep Merry-Go-Round . . . again. Dr. G and her grad assistant Summer insist that we tell them how we plan to travel to TLA and how long we’re staying and when we’re coming and going, etc. We ask what time we have to be there, what time the program starts and ends, etc. Summer has to check with Dr. G on that, who in turn has to ask the dean.
We are told again that they need those travel plans right away. Blindly, we make plane reservations. I decide to fly in Monday night, since they say that probably we will need to be there on Monday night.
I am informed that there are no rooms on Monday night. I change my reservations and charge them the difference.
I am told that now there are rooms on Monday night.
I decide to book a shuttle to and from the airport this time. While waiting for my shuttle, I start talking to a woman who turns out to be Dr. Mc. I barely keep from calling her my pet name for her by accident.
At the hotel, I find out that they have charged me for Monday night. They start trying to fix it. I take my stuff up to my room. Kathy decides that the room is not spiffy enough and gripes until they let us move to another floor.
I find out that Kathy likes my boss. Her approval rating is shooting down rapidly.
Another cohort is charged for the entire floor’s rooms – in one night. The hotel graciously gives her a free breakfast to say “sorry” for taking over 1,000 dollars out of her account.
We have a meeting with Dr. J., Dr. G, and Dr. S. They’ve decided in their ultimate wisdom that Dr. S. (who doesn’t disguise the fact that he hates us all) would make a great motivational speaker. After his speech, most of us realize that we aren’t that great. In fact, we really suck.
The dean tells us not to worry about registration. There will be plenty of time to register for our classes.
The next day every class on my degree plan – except Library Management, of course, is filled in the first five minutes after registration opens.
I decide not to grab every single book this time, even if it is free. I’m learning.
Again, I don’t go to very many sessions. I can’t seem to negotiate my way around the halls fast enough. One session on Story Times looks promising until the women start clucking and mooing to the ABCs. A cohort and I run for our lives.
I am talked into trying the Fun Run/Walk. In the rain. And nearly die. But I get a T-shirt and a banana!
Somehow, this TLA seems to last twice as long as the first one. When I get home, it’s back to work! Children’s Literature teaches me one important lesson. There are stupid people all over this university, not just in my cohort program.
I dare complain to Dr. G because I am waitlisted for most of my classes. She is horrified and tattles on me to the dean who berates me for not being happy with my lot. For that much trouble, I should have used a few four letter words in my email.
Second Summer Session: Summer of Hell Part Two
I get a warning email that they are going to drop our schedules for nonpayment. Dr. G. assures us that won’t happen.
The university drops the schedules of every single student. As it turns out, the university’s incompetence works for me, as I’m able to re-register and get in first for my chosen classes. Haha, suckers!
This is the first official semester separate from the cohort. Many of the cohort have panic attacks and start sucking their thumbs.
I’m enrolled in “Multicultural Children’s Literature” and “Youth Programs”. I take more kid books out of the library. My boss asks why I don’t help with the programs if I like kiddie lit so much. I tell her she has never asked me. She huffs and says I need to show initiative and tell her I want to do storytimes like my coworkers did.
I ask my coworkers who work with storytime if they volunteered for the job. They look at me like I’ve lost my senses entirely.
Multicultural Children’s Literature is all about respecting other cultures. By staying the heck away from their literature, you dumb whiteys!
I’m shocked to discover that no library in my area has any books about gay people needed for this course (because gay people are now a race?). I order some through ILL through our ultra-conservative ILL person. I have to get my jollies where I can.
My boss decides to take a computer course despite knowing nothing about computers. She’s mad that I was smart enough to take the easy kiddie lit classes instead. She has everyone in the library take a quiz on computer literacy for fun. She and several others pat themselves on the back for getting around 70 percent. I score 100.
My Dad points out that I just don’t want to live, do I?
My “easy” kiddie lit class asks that we film ourselves reading and load said video up to YouTube. I decide to read to my kids. The five year old helps out by making sound effects. The book is The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. After this project, I hate The Very Quiet Cricket. I figure I might as well have read War and Peace instead, since that’s about how long it takes for the video to actually load.
While my courses are not as demanding, my job becomes more so as my boss gets more unglued with each passing day. I get so used to being in trouble that I start watching how her veins pop out while she berates me for breathing. I realize I’m staying in the job partly just to tick her off.
To be continued . . .
As most of you know, I work at a university library. Before I got there, I was a public library underling who worked for a boss some employees nicknamed “Satan”. Since librarian seemed like a great career choice at the time (I was smoking something), I jumped at the chance to enter a cohort of public librarians who were given a a “free” online degree. The same grant also allowed us to attend three library conferences. It sounded like a really great opportunity. Then I found out my evil boss was also in the program. And stuff went downhill from there.
I happened to keep a log of my time in the program. The other day I stumbled upon it, and thought it might serve as a warning to others. I put it into four parts. Here’s part one.
I will not detail the joy that was getting into the program in the first place since no one really understood or kept to the rules and procedures (first warning). Also, I’ll forgo explaining the trials and tribulations of getting enrolled in a university from a distance of over six hours travel compounded by the fact that at this particular university the right hand not only didn’t know what the left hand was doing; it didn’t know that there was a left hand. I’ll just start with the first part of the program – our orientation in Denton.
Orientation Ahoy (January 2008)
· I make plans to attend orientation with another student from the program. My certifiable (and I don’t mean degrees here) boss informs me that she too has been accepted into the program and has decided to join us on the six hour car trip. My coworkers begin penning my obituary.
· My mother steps in and offers to carpool with me and visit her sister while I’m in the meetings. She is immediately promoted to sainthood. My boss expresses (repeatedly) her disappointment in not getting to torture me for hours in a trapped space.
· I arrive in Denton and have no idea where to go. I find others who also don’t know. Little do I know that this will become a pattern from now on.
· Eventually, we find where to meet. First off is a “fun” activity involving asking people dumb questions about where they’re from etc in order to be eligible for some prize. Or something. I forget now. But I said screw it and didn’t complete mine. We are also given nice red bags with our group title on it (though no one can remember what it stands for already) and neato folders and a binder. I love free stuff. At this point, I still don’t realize that nothing is ever free.
· We go to a room with lots of computers. Dr. M, who seems like an intelligent, amiable individual explains the program. Dr. J, the dean, also speaks to us though we have trouble seeing her over our desks. We then meet the faculty who deviously appear to be normal humans. We experiment with computers and the faculty rapidly discover just how technologically stupid the majority of us are. Dr. M. begins debating early retirement.
· We meet our pseudo-mom graduate assistant Cherri who plies us with chocolates, most likely laced with something that turns the majority of the group into Stepford Librarians.
· I’m pretty sure this is where we were first introduced to the concept of “mentors”. I wonder if they will be training us to be Jedi (help me Obi Wan!) but it turns out they only want to train us to be librarians which is strange since most of the cohort already work as library directors. Maybe they’ve been doing it wrong all this time. We meet Dr. G. who has been specially brought here for her expertise in Jedi – er – librarian mentor stuff.
· We go to the hotel. I am roomed with another cohort. They apparently think we are from a very different sort of group because they give us one bed. Some of the group members have trouble finding their names on the reserve list. Obviously this is the fault of those silly hotel people.
· The next morning, the program heads discover there is no free breakfast (totally not their fault either) and so arrange for free full breakfasts for our group. The hotel room is really nice as well. Welcome to my parlor, says the spider to the fly!
First Spring Semester (Jan – May 2008): The Horror that is Blackboard (Bb)
· First one bites the dust. One student quits immediately following orientation. Naturally she is a member of my “group”
· I discover there is group work. In college. With fellow students miles apart.
· Except one student – my boss – who is rapidly resembling the Evil Queen from Snow White. Guess who’s the stepchild?
· I am put in her group. Someone in the program hates me.
· Our first professors are Dr. M. and Dr. B. Dr. B., who has a fantastic personality in person, has no personality online. In fact, he repeatedly ceases to exist leaving us to the mercy of his grad assistant, George “Cut and Paste and Good Luck” Yi.
· No one understands how to use Bb (our online classroom). What’s with all the links? Why have so many links that don’t go anywhere and some that go everywhere at once? Why isn’t homework just put under a homework tab? Why don’t the links work? What planet am I on? We ask George who cuts and pastes the original instructions that no one understands.
· Eventually, we figure out that Bb is another word for “scavenger hunt”. Several people have their first nervous breakdowns. Cherrie becomes chief psychiatrist as well as grad assistant. She starts counting the days till she graduates.
· The message board fills to the brim and resembles the Internet at large. Roughly 1 percent of posts have to do with anything remotely important. The rest is crap. You have to click on every one to figure out which is which.
· I learn that many of my classmates got their bachelor’s degrees from Cracker Jack boxes. Some don’t understand basic punctuation or grammar. And naturally, these people are all in my group.
· The cohort discovers the joy of Wiki and start pages with cell phone numbers and birthdays. One student begins celebrating our birthdays whether we like it or not with posts on the cohort board. We all say happy birthday to each other. Over and over. This student ends up having to congratulate herself because no one else ever reads the Birthday Wiki but her.
I A fellow student and I bond over bad bosses (she calls hers “Dead Alien Soul Boss”). In order to combat the insanity, we take it upon ourselves to entertain the class with our wisecracks on the message boards. My boss sneers “They sure do think you’re FUNNY, Alice.” I detect a definite hint of green to her skin. Heh.
· My elder daughter spends two nights in the hospital with dehydration. (My pediatrician says she dehydrates faster than any kid she knows. Yay, we’re number one!) I email my professors with the situation. Dr. B. replies roughly a month after she’s released.
· First TLA meeting!
I wriggle out of another carpool offer with Senora Psycho and book my plane as soon as possible. I have to dig the money out of savings, but hey, we’ll get stipends as soon as we get there that will pay us right back.
· We discover that to use the stipends, you have to go to a bank. In Dallas. Guess how many people have banks in Dallas?
· At TLA, we find out another one bit the dust. Sherri has left. I’d have at least taken the free trip on them first.
· Some worry about homework and actually attempt to do it while there. I take part in a first mutiny of people who refuse to do squat the entire time.
· I discover that our food stipends are to pay for real food, not conference and hotel food. At 25 bucks for breakfast alone, I find myself eating so much granola I nearly turn into a squirrel.
· Boss lady (fellow cohort!) decides to play “nice” which makes her even scarier.
· Who cares about the actual conferences (except Dave Barry who was awesome)? 70 percent of my time I spend in the exhibit hall grabbing every free book in sight until I am loaded down like a deranged bag lady. I don’t even like half of the books, but they’re free! Also, the exhibit hall is a good place to hide from you-know-who.
· 20 percent is spent in line getting book autographs.
· 5 percent eating – mostly granola, but also free nibbles at the parties. There are no free drinks, but plenty of open bars. I mean absolutely everywhere.
· 4 percent in the actual sessions
· 1 percent sleeping. Why the heck did they give us actual hotel rooms anyway?
· Oh, also we meet our mentors for the first time. Except for the cohort whose mentor dropped out. But it’s okay, cause they will soon fix her up with another. Who will also drop out.
· I discover that things like taxi fare and parking are not included in the travel stipend I cannot access until I get home.
· We survive the rest of the semester, and then cry when we realize that there are 5 more to go.
To be continued . . .