Everything Means Everything
The first college I attended was Salt Lake Community College. My initial plan was to study History, like my father. I wanted to teach, whether it be college or high school. During the spring semester of my first year I read several papers and articles that convinced me this was not a good idea. So many people with advanced History degrees were not teaching, were not working in their field at all. I was discouraged and did what many young Freshmen do-I dropped out or failed almost all my classes.
That summer, I married Sheryl.
I was working part time at Granite Furniture and really not liking it all that much. I was more fearful of having to work at a job like that my entire adult life than struggling to find a teaching job after college, so I determined to try again. I took some night classes, one of them being a Literature course being taught by a professor I had taken another English course from (and scraped out a C). I was very close to dropping that class, but decided to give it a few weeks. While I had struggled to understand much of what this professor was trying to teach me in the first course, this time so many things came together. I loved the challenge of reading a text, writing about it from different perspectives. I felt intellectually excited for the first time in my life. It was this moment that lead to me earning my degree and indirectly started me on a course towards Librarianship.
The Community College holds special meaning for me. I met some of the most amazing people, students and professors, people who profoundly changed my life. If the school had offered four year programs, I never would have left. While my experience at the University of Utah was great and very important to me, I also became disenchanted with academia. The people I encountered were so damn smart, bordering on brilliant in many ways but there was always this feeling of superiority that I never could get comfortable with. Professors at the Community College were there to teach. They did not have to publish, they were not completely about tenure. Much of what I dealt with at the University was what they called “joining the conversation”. Finding some published literary criticism discussion, reading the texts and responding to them. A good exercise for sure, but it felt very empty. It stopped being about learning and became entirely about self promotion. I became a better writer at the University and I became a much more critical reader, but the things I learned were much more subtle, not nearly as life changing.
Every experience in life adds to a person and over the course of decades, it is easy to forget the moments that really change you, set you on paths that become your life. Maybe it just spring and spring always reminds me of the Community College, but I am going to write more about it. The next few posts will be discussions of some of those moments and experiences that shaped so much of what I thought and believed for years. It should be fun (at least for me).