Thursday, May 28, 2009

a bit of me

Have we met?

I love books. I love pink. I love coffee. I love to bake and cook. I love Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. I hate driving on the freeway.

Not too long ago, a new acquaintance asked me why I wanted my Ph.D. in English since I was already teaching at the college level at a good school. The obvious answer, probably the one I ventured forth to give her, was that I love my job, but eventually I hope to teach at an institution that is more research-focused along with the strong teaching emphasis that I have here. I want to earn a position among my colleagues that is worthy of my degree as well as a seat at the table --to discuss, debate, publish on issues that matter in the world of academia. I'm not pursuing the Ph.D. only to qualify for higher institution jobs. I am in this "mess" because I love literature with every fiber of my being, but I also love teaching, researching, diving into ideas and exploring new facets of imagination, and I love learning. Because I believe strongly that there is no better way to learn than trying to teach a subject, I have found the perfect career for myself. No matter how difficult, exhausting, and, at times, pull-out-my-hair frustrating this egotistical and hyper-political academic setting is..., simply, I love the challenge of working as hard as I can to accomplish the near-impossible, and it's a blessing that I get to work with books all year long.

But...that's not all I am. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a daughter-in-law. I rarely see my family (other than hubby, who is also a doctoral student at my school) more than twice a year--summer and Christmas. Luckily we're both from the same city, so we don't have to split our vacations between families. What a relief!

My husband Scott and I grew up in a medium-sized city in the Texas Panhandle. We have known each other since sixth grade, although we didn't start dating until college. For college, I moved out to southern California to attend a wonderful liberal arts Christian university, concentrating on honing my skills as a symphony violinist, and he attended Texas Tech as a trumpeter. I went to TTU for summer school (it was always more affordable than staying out in CA for the summer), so we got reacquainted at that point in our lives. After graduating with bachelors degrees in both music (violin performance) and English, and after a horrible and painful wrist and arm injury, I moved back to Texas Tech to work on my Master's degree in English. In 2007, Scott and I both completed our master's degrees (his in Music), got married (bliss!), and moved out to CA to start the next chapter of our lives together. I am so grateful that I'm not doing this all by myself. Grad school can be a very lonely process.

Now that we're at a private graduate university, pursuing our final degrees and pushing hard to survive this last huge academic hurdle (we have finished coursework and are now studying for qualifiying exams, then dissertation later), life is very interesting. I'm working as many as three jobs at a time to pay for rent, but I feel the exhilaration of reading and exploring literature. I still have anxiety about my performance, my knowledge, my understanding of a text...but at least I'm learning and trying to get better everyday at what I do.

I guess the moral of this story is...

My blog was not designed to be a strict book blog, so I don't want to force that label upon it, but it is--very often--about books! I don't have as much time as others to review and post everything I'm reading. I'm mostly reading obnoxiously (deliciously?) long 19th century Victorian novels for my degree. But, I will post reviews as often as I can, and talk about books or teaching or grad school or learning more broadly in almost every post. I am an avid book blog reader, and I subscribe to more each week. I am addicted to reading about books, even if I don't have time to read the books themselves. Thank you for your encouragement and comments during and since the read-a-thon. And thank you for letting me have a place, though perhaps a *quiet* place, in your reading as well. This blog is designed to be about love, faith, and learning, and my main goal here is to grow in all three.


Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

Hi Karen, I wish all English teachers had your passion!

Trish said...

Karen Beth--I just want to give you a big squeeze of a hug! Could I adore you any more? And have I told you that I have my Darles Chicken mug on my desk at work. :)

Even though I knew most of this stuff about you, it was so great to read your thoughts. I was just thinking this morning that we should have a little reunion! I think the last time I saw everyone was two years ago when we had the little sleepover/bridal party. And of course a few people at your wedding. I miss you guys!!