What Can You Do With an English Degree?

Whilst shopping at Carson Pirie Scott, I observed (eavesdropped) a couple of ladies who had run into each other randomly. I listened as they played catch up and maintained a somewhat blah degree of small talk. I drew a little bit closer as they began discussing one of their children who, to her mother’s dismay, was getting a degree in English.

Her friend/acquaintance asked, “Well, is she going to teach?”

The mother of this English major expressed her disappointment and incredulity that her daughter was, in fact, not going to be a teacher and what in the world could she do with such an inferior degree.

If you major in English, there are a LOT of career paths you can take. These are just a few ideas.

It was, at this point, the time I felt it necessary to interject. Yes, I did jump from being a fly on a wall to joining their conversation. Because OMG people need to understand the relevance and brilliance of English majors everywhere.

I marched right up to those women and interrupted the fuck out of their conversation. “There’s actually a lot you can do with an English major.”

They looked at me only a little funny, because in the Chicagoland area, and probably by extension the Midwest, it is entirely normal for people to just jump into your conversations. We’re a pretty friendly people. Even if we do eavesdrop and take joy in overhearing people quitting their jobs out of the blue.

“I have a Bachelor of Arts in English.”

“Do you teach?”

“No, actually I don’t. I’m certified to teach English, but I have no desire to do so. On the contrary, there are many things that a degree in English can prepare college grads for that other degrees don’t.”

“Really?”

Well, duh, lady.

“I’ve actually had a couple of thriving careers with my English degree, and the beauty is that I’m not tied down to just one. I was a catering manager for a couple of years, and now I’m a senior copywriter for a Fortune 100 company.” (And now I’m an editor. Maybe one day I’ll own a restaurant or something. It’s the circle of life, bitches).

The ladies were impressed and maybe a little less judgeysaurus rexy about the whole English major thing. As I walked away, I was transported back to my senior year of college in which one of my favorite professors, Dr. Prescott, led our senior project class. The project? Write a research thesis discussing one career path you  can take with your English major.

Of course, not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, as I had JUST dropped my education minor (to teach English) the previous semester, I looked to what I knew. Dad was in wine sales for years before he took on ownership of the bar. Liquor sales seemed like a brilliant idea. Plus I could source dad and some of his cronies for my first-person sources. It was ingenious. I got an  A.

English majors, and really anyone with a degree in the liberal arts, often get a bad rap for being lazy and stupid (LAS – Liberal Arts and Sciences). None of which is actually true. Lazy? Fuck no. We’re intuitive. We’re clever. We believe in working smarter not harder. If we can write a paper in 3 hours when we’re given 3 weeks, why in the world would we waste time writing it early? If we work better at 2 am than at noon, we’re going to write the shit out of a final paper in the middle of the night. Because we can. We understand our strengths and weaknesses. We know where and how to thrive.

-Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships,It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.-

As an English major, I learned more life skills than most of my friends in other more direct degree programs. Sure, a business major is going to learn how to land a deal or make a sale, but I learned how to talk to and more importantly, write to people. To engage my audience in a way that makes a sale feel natural and authentic. I learned how to negotiate a big fancy contract without ever discussing contract negotiations in a class, because I know people. I know words. I know the intrinsic value of human interaction in every aspect of business. Someone who went straight from their B.S. to an MBA program without working a day in their life doesn’t necessarily have that luxury (this also doesn’t mean that that don’t).

So what can you do with an English major?

Whatever the fuck you want.

Did you go to college? What did you major in? Did your major lead you down an expected career path? 

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The Worst Book Club Ever

Remember a few months ago, when I deemed our book club amazing and dubbed us “The Bad Ass Book Club for Nice Girls?”

Well. That’s all gone to shit now.

We’re now officially “The Worst Book Club Ever,” and this is why.

Top 5 Reasons We Are The Worst Book Club Ever

Month meetings – shot to hell

We planned to meet monthly. Since January, we’ve met twice. Our third meeting is tonight. We just keep pushing things off because our schedules are so busy that we can’t make time to sit down and drink wine and eat snacks with each other while discussing a book.

Attendance – we don’t get bonus points for having a full group every time, right?

Our book club members have never all been in the same place at the same time. Ever. Some members showed up for the first meeting. Some for the second. Some members have missed one or two meetings. But one day. One day, we hope to have a full class.

Choosing the book – changing midway through the “month”

We try to rotate who chooses the book (and mind you, we’re only on our third book), and then we keep changing our minds. The book we’re discussing tonight? It’s the third book we’ve chosen. One friend chose the original book. Then she changed the book (but kept the same author). Then we invited someone new to the club and let her choose a different book, pushing the previous book to our next meeting (whenever that happens).

Reading the book – is there a Cliff’s Notes?

No, seriously. Is there a Cliff’s Notes? Because at every meeting (all three of them), there are at least two people who haven’t so much as picked up the book. At all. This week? It’s my turn. I’m not going to lie, I’ve forgotten what we’re even talking about today. Because I’ve been busy reading other books. Because apparently I know 27 billion published authors. I’m working on how I can pimp their work into my book club…

Talking about the book – what’s the point?

By the time we actually schedule the meeting, choose the book and forget to read the book, being at the actual book club meeting leaves up ready to talk…about anything but the book. We play catch up with each other, gab, yell really loud and drink – A LOT. Someone usually gets good and toasted (who, me?) and we eat a lot of delicious snacks. We usually spend about 5-10 minutes talking about the book, and I don’t think we’ve all liked a book yet. Some of us liked the first. Some liked the second. Some hated them all. We’re definitely exposing each other to new genres, but that doesn’t mean it changes the way we think about them.

My lady group calls our book club The Worst Book Club Ever for five distinct reasons, but we still succeed as a book club because of these two very important tips.

Of course, any successful book club has to have SOME good things.

Two Reasons our Book Club Succeeds

We like to drink

There is always an open bottle or two of wine…or three or four…sometimes whiskey. Sometimes vodka. Sometimes beer. We love spending quality time not drinking alone.

We like to eat snacks

Those of us who’ve hosted also like to make snacks. It works out well for everyone involved. Tonight, the menu includes: cheese, something with crescent rolls and cream cheese, and pizza (because it’s a Friday night and pizza is fast and dirty on a school day).

So that’s how our book club is working out in a nutshell. The secret to a successful book club is all in consumption. If you’re not consuming the books

Do you have a book club or a monthly group that meets? How well do you manage your groups? Do you have any tips for improving our book club?

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Sorry Not Sorry

I can’t put this book down.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I have 4 half posts written and a book to finish reading. I’ll be back next week. Or tomorrow if I stay up all night to finish Ready Player One. One of those.

Have you read this book?

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You Don’t Kill Prince Charming. You Just Don’t.

Colin Firth

The majority of my adult life has been spent divided between living each day to tell a story the next, searching for the Mark Darcy to my Bridget Jones, and imagining all of the glorious things that happen once Bridget and Mark live happily ever after. Especially once I finally did meet my Mark Darcy AKA Mr. Darcy AKA Prince Charming (Brian). And started imagining our happily ever after…(Shhh don’t tell Brian!)

Oh stop judging me. You have a romantic hero too. (If it’s Bella Swan, we can’t be friends…OK, maybe. But you know what I mean.)

Mark Darcy is Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is essentially…Prince Charming.

He’s the dream hero. He’s the romantic idol. He’s what every girl imagines her future love to be.

You want a guy to look at you the way Mark looked at Bridget. You want a guy to tell you that he likes you. Just as you are.

Hugging dolphins

Lucky for me, I found that guy. Sure, he looks at me all funny like when I start hyperventilating over that fact that an author killed my novelized dream man, but most of the time, he looks at me with affection. And love.

But you know what? We’ve got a life ahead of us. And Bridget and Mark? They had a life, too. And Helen Fielding was too fucking lazy to write it. Instead, she took the easy way out. She wrote what she knew. Left broken-hearted with her own two children by her baby daddy in 2009, she started penning a book in which Bridge was a single mother of two.

We never got to see her happy ending, but we imagined it. We ALL did. Every last Bridget advocate. Bridget and Mark with one pair of folded underpants at the foot of the bed and the other pair swinging from the ceiling fan. The lovable disaster and the brilliant, full-of-heart, perfect opposite love of her life.

So I’m angry. And I KNOW I’m not the only one.

Because what Helen Fielding did was wrong.

She killed Prince Charming. She fucking. Killed. Prince. Charming.

Before his story was even written!

Did we see a wedding? No. Did we see the marriage? No. Did we see them become parents? Nope. Because Helen Fielding apparently doesn’t know how to write happy.

Will I read this abomination? Fuck no. Because it’s wrong. It’s like…LITERARY BLASPHEMY.

And BTW. While I’m on the angry subject. KATIE…we’re fighting. I can’t believe you couldn’t tell me this. You’re a BOOK BLOGGER! You HAD to know about this! And I had to read it on the internet. We named our scheffleras Bridget and Shazzer together! OK. Fine. I still love you. But I’m broken. Because of Helen Fielding.

Blog Friends, are you ex-Bridget fans too? Do you hate on Helen Fielding for her cruel and unusual punishment? I’ve created the hash tag: #YouDONTKillPrinceCharming if you’d like to sound off about this too. I’m ANGRY. And I’m LOUD.

If you’re not into the Bridget thing, have you ever been truly bothered by the outcome of a series?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem: What Problem?

Woah!

(If you, too heard Joey Lawrence in your head and thought, you know…Matthew Lawrence was always the more attractive brother, then we should be friends.)

Anyways, I’ve got another book review for the wonderful Project Fairy Tale hosted by The Cheap Reader. And it was flippin’ awesome. Finally a fairy tale rewrite I can get behind. And in front of. And all over, because I thought it was that fun.

 

Project Fairy Tale

So Katie at Words for Worms recently reviewed Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde and after reading her positive review I was stoked, because I was waiting for my paper copy (yes, a real live book) of The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, also by Vivian Vande Velde, to arrive in the mail. Of course, I’m not used to waiting this long for a freakin’ book…so I was a little antsy.

I got the book on a really great day for me and the US Postal Service. I received 2 packages, a letter (OK invitation to a baby shower), and I got my very own PO box, so that I have an address that isn’t my home in my contact information! Not only all of this exciting stuff, but also our mail carrier, who is patient and wonderful even though I stalk her asking about packages (because they won’t leave them outside our door…and then I have to wait until 8am the next day, and it’s very annoying) had already brought the packages inside with the help of our neighbors. It was very nice of everyone involved. </ramble>

ANYWAYS! Opening the package to find this adorable little hard cover that I paid like $2 for was incredibly exciting for me. (The other package was 4 boxes of K-cups for my Keurig of JOY) A little over 100 pages of pure joy, this book was an absolute delight.

Sure, it was most definitely written for a younger audience, but hey…SO WAS TOY STORY! And we laughed. We cried.  We loved it. And there were jokes that we totally got.  Same goes for The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Funny. Smart. CLEVER. This book was a great quick distraction this weekend, when I had 5-10 minutes to spare. Each of the short Rumpelstiltskin takes in this book were short, sweet, and awesome. A female Rumpel? Yep. A vodka drinking Miller? Yep. A fat little gnome who reminds me of a happier house elf? Yep.

Triple V aims to answer all of the questions that the original Rumpelstiltskin leaves out. Why is the king such a douche? Why does Rumpel want a baby? Why is the Miller such a bad father? What else is going on behind the music? This lady has the answers and she’s good at it.

In total, this one took me about an hour, maybe less to read. But it was worth every minute. If I thought she had a paper copy, I’d ask Katie to borrow Cloaked in Red…because I just know it’s got to be good.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Crimson Thread or How Rumpelstiltskin Became the Good Guy

Project Fairy Tale

As a part of Project Fairytale, hosted by The Cheap Reader, I’m supposed to do some book reviews of Rumpelstiltskin re-tellings. I picked up this young adult novel for my Nook. The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn. In a premature excitement, I may or may not have collected several of the tales from this “Once Upon a Time” series. Not to be confused by the ABC TV show of the same name.

The Crimson Thread

Maybe I got a little ahead of myself, because I was not inspired to read the rest of the books in the series. It’s not that it was a bad novel. It just wasn’t delicious enough to warrant another serving.

The Crimson Thread takes us back to 1880, where an Irish princess is introduced to us by some royal fairies or something. It wasn’t very clear. But apparently she always thought she was a princess, and it turns out that she was, but it never really did anything for her. It was a side plot that didn’t add, rather detracted from the tale.

Back to the Irish princess, Bridget, who upon coming to America changes her name to Bertie Miller (Bertrille Miller, from Wales, like the fire red hair and Irish accent wouldn’t give her away…) She is helped by Ray Stalls, who turns out to be Rudy Stilchen from Germany or something-it’s never really clarified. He used gold packing material and this stunning thread to embroider dresses and help her get the young millionaire’s son. Of course, he does it because he loves her and not because he ACTUALLY wants her first born child.

********************************SPOILER ALERT*********************************

Eventually the millionaire’s son turns out to be a douche, leaves her stranded and broke…then Ray shows up somehow and “kidnaps” her little sister while she passes out from starvation. But he was only trying to help. They fall in love and live happily ever after, running a clothing business with their business partner with the last name Rumpole. Get it? Rumpole Stilchen. Ugh.

******************************** END SPOILER **********************************

So it had an okay plot, but with so many holes and weird transitions, I found myself mostly annoyed. I get that it was written for young adults. The language was too trite. While Weyn has an excellent vocabulary, or uses a whole lot of shift+F7, the conversational tone of the book was far too formal, and I didn’t find myself relating to the characters at all.

Additionally, it seemed that the historical fiction aspect of this novel was way the F off. It’s like she just threw a bunch of ideas out there and didn’t really think about the details fitting in. Katie at Words for Worms recently spoke about accuracy in the research before publishing, and it really feels like Ms. Weyn left that part out. It didn’t feel real.

So I’m off to attempt another re-telling and hopefully the next gets me a little more hyped, because so far, I’m a little disappointed. But it only makes me want to write more fairy tales.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fairytale Interrupted: What RoseMarie Terenzio Taught Me About Nothing…

I’ve said before that I’m a voracious reader. My friend Katie often makes me laugh with her brilliant book reviews. I recently have had a little bit of time to do some reading, and after finishing Water for Elephants, I decided that it was time to read some nonfiction. I found this one on my Nook, and thought why not?

The following is my review from Goodreads. If you have an account, feel free to add me. I love book suggestions!

Fairytale Interrupted: What JFK Jr. Taught Me About Life, Love, and LossFairytale Interrupted: What JFK Jr. Taught Me About Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was a free book on my Nook, and I just started reading it. I had never been into the Kennedy thing, but I thought it might be interesting to learn about JFK Jr.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the voice of RoseMarie Terenzio. She cites in the book that she knew she wasn’t as knowledgeable as many of her peers at George, and you can tell that she hasn’t done much to improve on that in the 12 years since the tragedy of Kennedy, his wife, and his sister-in-law. Her voice is boring, self-absorbed, and weak. She spent more time talking about how lucky she was to have John and Carolyn to dote on her than talking about John and/or Carolyn.

I did not identify with Rosie on any level, so I felt disconnected from her in general. Even when I should have been emotionally wrecked at the end with the impending death of JKF Jr. and his wife, her best friends in the whole world, I didn’t find myself empathizing at all.

Her dialogue was also confusing. One paragraph she was talking about John and in the next paragraph she was bringing up her friend Frank or her parents with no actual relation to the story she was telling. It took me several pages to infer whether Frank was, in fact, gay…she just sort of rambled in a stream of conscious that was definitely no Faulkner.

Overall, I didn’t hate it…but I didn’t really like it either.

View all my reviews

I originally asked the question, why not? Here is the afterthought of that why not:

1. Because I’ll only be mad that I feel like I’m a more interesting writer who is not formally published.

2. Because I’ll be jealous of the ridiculous bragging about fancy clothes and shoes and being able to yell at JFK Jr.

3. Because I get annoyed when decent looking human beings talk about how unattractive they are…especially when they’re writing about themselves. She reminded me of the lead in 50 Shades of Grey. Whiny. Pretentious. Ignorant. Annoying. Got way too lucky for her own good. The only difference is that she’s not sleeping with her boss. And he’s not into crazy kinky weird (that we know of).

So now, I’m finally getting to Jenny Lawson’s book. I have a feeling this one’s going to be way better.

Note to self: Don’t read the free books. Stick to your laundry list of to-read by recommendation.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Why Banned Books are Better

Obviously, because when things are censored, everyone wants to read them!

Warning: This post uses the word, “fuck” a lot. I feel very strongly about books. You understand.

If you’re new to my bloggy blog, then you may not know it, but I spent a little bit of time as a teacher

During my stints as a student teacher and an observing teacher, I taught the following banned reading materials:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (My all-time favorite American novel)
To Kill a Mockingbird (sort of–I was working WITH my cooperating teacher)
A Farewell to Arms (I taught one lesson. I fucking love Hemingway.)
The Call of the Wild (just an excerpt, but still…)
Brave New World (A summer reading book–which I never actually read)
Cat’s Cradle (Another summer reading list book–this one was great!)

I also taught reading comprehension for a spell…we used the following banned/challenged books:

The Lord of the Flies (You want to teach a 13 year old boy how to read? Give him this book.)
The Outsiders (One of our middle school girl students read and loved this book)
Fallen Angels (I had a student who would literally change the language so that he wasn’t saying the “bad” words, even though I told him it was okay.)

So I’m no stranger to banned books–there’s a huge list of them that I read before I was 12 (Shel Silverstein, anyone? Alvin Shwartz? R.L. Stein? Roald Dahl? These dudes taught me to read, dammit!) I mean, come on–someone fuckin’ banned Where’s Waldo?!

I digress. Reading. It’s important. Reading something that’s “forbidden?” All of a sudden you’ve made it fun to read. In fact, you’ve made it downright exciting to read. So go ahead, ban books. Just don’t fucking burn them. Then I’ll have to hunt you down. And you’ll face the wrath of me. And trust me…I don’t tread lightly when it comes to destroying books. Ever.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a post about books, if I didn’t talk about an actual book for a little bit… (You want full fledged bookwormery, visit my bestie and her blog, Words for Worms) So you get my love affair with Mark Twain.

I love Huck. When I was planning with my cooperating teacher, she said that she hated Huck, and if I wanted to teach it, I could. I got really excited! I had all sorts of big plans. I remember the first time I read it on my own when I was a sophomore in high school. I loved it.

I’m not going to lie, I actually had a few students who actually enjoyed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (I had a significantly larger number who thought I spent far too much time with it…but whatever). I got to teach this DURING banned books week, so that was super fun! We did a formal debate. It was stellar. Additionally, I gave the students options for their final Huck project. Write a paper (which way too many of them did, btw) or create your own project. I had one student who wrote The Huck Finn Rap. It was REALLY well done–covered the whole story.

If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. If you’re not the best reader–get the audio book. It helps. and if you really want to understand what’s going on, and need a little booster, we can set up a mini book club and Gchat about it. Because I love Huck that much. O:-)

Huck at Tom Sawyer Island

Tom Sawyer Island at Disney

Fuck yeah. (OK, that was gratuitous.)

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Bookworm’s Guide to Slackerdom

Mom, you may not want to read this…

Confession Friday: I have a degree in English from an excellent university…but I never once read an entire book for class.

True story.

In the third grade parent-teacher conference, my teacher, Mrs. Jacoby, told my mom that I was lying to her about all of the books that I was reading. Mom knew that I had no life but the one in books, so she got really mad and bitchy. I’m pretty sure that was mom’s last parent-teacher conference. I also think this scarred me for life in regards to school, teachers, and reading books.

I was talking to the Word Worm about blogging–She writes a fantastic bookworm blog–and she mentioned something about Shakespeare (you can read her blog to find out what she said). I, the lover of Shakespeare that I am, told her that I was a fan of reading Shakespeare. I read Romeo and Juliet (which everyone says wasn’t very good, but I loved it) when I was 12. for fun. At home. I’ve read Much Ado About Nothing SEVERAL times. I did attempt to read Twelfth Night several times to no avail, but other than that, I’m kind of a fan. Hamlet, MacBeth, even Julius Caesar…all enjoyable reads for me.

She then questioned my tactics in college…and asked if I ever read a full book for school. In all honesty… not counting a graphic novel called Maus… no. No, I did not.  I had read bits and pieces. Excerpts. Listening to class discussion (when I showed up for class). Talking to my classmates. Sparknotes. Cliffsnotes. Gradesaver.com. Classic Notes. Classic Reader. And when in doubt, I Googled it. And it worked. I never got lower than a B in my English classes. (OK, and to be fair, there were some books and stories that I had already read.) My mad-writing skills got me exactly what I needed: A decent grade and plenty of time to do other things.

As an English major, required literature was something Chrissy considered...optional. She managed to pull off a splendid GPA considering she didn't read one entire book for class.

College and Computers 🙂

I was a very organized slacker…I had a notebook for every class. Each notebook was filled with excellent doodles (as doodling would help my brain calm down so that I could actively listen). Each notebook had a very important front cover. The cover listed the number of excused absences that I was allowed in that particular class, a dated list of missed classes, and the excuses that I used to not go to class. I made sure that I didn’t overuse cramps or migraines (though those pesky headaches happened regularly). There was even a time that I thought I was having a panic attack…that turned out to be the results of a little too much booze the night before…

That being said, you all know that I’m a voracious reader. And if you don’t, you should see my gratuitous post discussing my ridiculous unwavering love for Pride & Prejudice. The obsession is almost disgusting. But whatever. I read. I do. I just don’t read when someone tells me that I must. I saved every book from all of my classes, college and high school (sans Childhood’s End, which, until Fifty Shades of Grey, was my least favorite book in the history of ever.) Then, I spent summers, and even free time during school, reading. Yes, that’s right. I’ve read a good portion of the novels that I should have read for class…long after class ended.

Here’s a list of the best books I never read in college:

Candide (even though I walked into class after reading the Sparknotes version and told the prof that I had, in fact read it and loved it. After actually reading it–it’s pretty awesome)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which ironically became my favorite American novel)
Tess of the D’urbervilles (which is really super depressing, but well written and uber Victorian… Stupid 50 Shades of Grey for ruining the association.)
The Canterbury Tales (In my defense, the teacher tried to make us read it in middle English. Do you have any concept of how hard that is?!)

OK, and here’s a list of some of the best books I read in college for no reason but to read:

The Stand
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Les Miserable
Great Expectations (Actually a reprise from my youth…thanks to those marvelous Great Illustrated Classics)
The Tenth Kingdom (A book based off a cheesy TV mini series on NBC. If you watched it and like it—I think I love you.)

Have a great weekend!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!