Confessions of a Rogue English Major

One of my co-workers is taking a call.
One of my co-workers is taking a call.

Way back in the D-A-Y, when there were no hybrid cars and phones had cords, I went to college. Like most college students I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So, choosing a major was hard. First I tried “communications” and then “broadcast production.” None of those really fit my hermitish personality. Since I loved to make up stories, anytime I needed to take an elective I ended up taking a creative writing class. So, I racked up quite a few English credits. One magical day, after having a sit-down with my advisor, I realized that if I took a Shakespeare, a Victorian literature, and a grammar class I could get out of school with a Bachelor’s degree in English. It seemed legit at the time, so I went with it.

Soon after graduating, I realized if I wanted to actually use my degree and I didn’t want to go to law school or teach middle or high school kids for the rest of my days, I would need a Master’s degree. So, off to grad school I went to get a Master’s in English. I figured, at least I could teach grown-ups then.

I never really fit in at grad school because for the most part I don’t give a shit. I mean, I don’t find a lot of things, like analyzing poetry or formatting a graduate essay, important. Plus, I get bored super easily, especially when I have to listen to lectures. No one talks more than English professors or kiss-ass grad students. So, it was really odd that I became an English instructor. I’m not officially a professor because I ONLY have a Master’s degree, not a PhD. I have no desire to go back to school at 43, um, I mean 28, to get a PhD. So, I will just remain an instructor until I finally keel over from some sort of cat or ice related injury. Even so, in some ways, I still fit the English major mold.

For example:

  • I love to analyze movies and TV. My son shares this gift so watching movies with him is great. We have chatted at length about what the floating feather in Forrest Gump means. Clue: It’s not “just a feather” like my husband says.
  • I’d rather read than do most things. I spent my first year in college at Florida State, a huge party school. I stayed in my room and read while others puked up their bad beverage choices.
  • I like to write. I have always written for fun, or to figure out my feelings. Way back before the Internet existed, I blogged. I did it privately in this paper thing called a journal.
  • I will smack you if you use they when talking about one person. This is my biggest grammar pet peeve. “That person left THEIR book here” is not correct, damn it. Say “he or she” if you aren’t sure of gender.
  • I hate text abbreviations. Just spell out the words. You can even use speech to text on most phones now. There is no excuse for bad spelling. Well, unless we are talking about autocorrect. That is a big excuse.

Other than the above examples, I’m so not your typical bookworm. When my yuppie neighbors see me getting the mail in cat fur lined pajamas at noon, they probably assume I am a housewife. I doubt they think “college instructor.” Most of the time, I’m the most non-professorly English major ever. See, I just made up an incorrect word. I think I managed to irritate myself. Anyway, here are a few more ways I am very non-English major like:

  • I think formatting is the last thing we need to worry about.  I don’t understand why there are so many styles. There’s APA, MLA, Chicago, and a bazillion more. Who cares? Have you written a paper? Have you given your sources credit? Is everything legible? I’m good then.
  • I don’t speak pompous ass. In fact, I would like to smack new grad school graduates who show off their purchased vocabulary. They are the worst.
  • I hate Shakespeare. In my humble opinion, he was a shitty writer. I am pretty sure my college writing professors would have told him his plots weren’t believable. Plus, he wrote in verse. Yawn.
  • Poetry bores me. I have always hated poetry. Just write a normal story or essay and stop trying to be a bongo playing Bohemian.
  • I read crap. I would rather read trashy rock star memoirs than anything called “literature.”
  • I watch reality TV. My husband and I call it Train Wreck TV. We just can’t look away from shows like The Bachelor and Married at First Sight.
  • I’m fluent in sarcasm and profanity. I don’t speak in grad school words. I will gladly talk about someone’s teaching methods, but if you use the word pedagogy I might tell you to stop speaking like a fucking robot.
  • I fear conference presentations. Conferences are a part of academic life, and I hate that. I used to be a stand-up comic. If my audience isn’t laughing at me, I panic. Conference audiences don’t laugh at me even when I crack a joke because they are too busy squeezing their butt cheeks together and thinking of new ways to use pedagogy in a sentence.
  • I’m the queen of homophone errors. Count on me to use their when I should have used there. Always. I’m not perfect just because I went to school longer than most people.
  • I can’t explain grammar rules either. The English language has a lot of irregular rules. I still have to look things up. Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” I try to follow that advice.

As you can see, I’m not really your stereotypical leather-elbowed tweed jacket-wearing, pipe smoking professor. I love my job because I help people be a little less afraid of writing, and because I can work in my jammies. Let’s face it; I really like the jammie part. What about you? What do you do for a living? Do you fit the mold for your job? Let me hear from you in the comments. I talk to cats all day and I need some human interaction.

My view at the office.
My view at the office.

8 thoughts on “Confessions of a Rogue English Major

  1. As you already know I am a nurse. Guess I don’t really k ow what a nurse is suppose to be like. I do care about others so maybe I fit the profession.

    1. I think you do fit the profession because you always get your behind to work even if you are in pain. I’m grateful for nurses. I know I lack the patience to do what you do.

  2. absolutely LOVE this. I just ended up with a bachelor’s degree. I cannot spell, I love big words (I think I was related to Anne Shirley), and I’ve been a mostly SAHM my whole life (working and volunteering with kids in between my own). Now that I’m almost an empty nester, I do nothing. Kind of like Schultz who knew nothing. OK, I take that back. I read anything with pages and words (did you know there are some very odd directions on shampoos and body washes for guys?), am a lap for the cats, and bake. I also have two blogs. Because one is not enough! I’ve also determined I am a new Lisa Petty fan.

    1. Kris, I too am a lap for cats. I was put here on earth to hold them, you know. My son assures me I will never be an empty nester, though. He keeps telling me he will never move out. I’m good with that; my husband isn’t. 🙂
      I love your blog, too. I have to go check it out again now. Hugs, Lisa

  3. omg, your co-worker is adorable. And sleeping on the job, yo! I’m like you – I get super bored listening to lectures, sitting in a chair doing nothing (but taking notes) for long periods of time, yada yada. I’ve been back to school twice, and the second time I switched my major completely from theater to photography. I also studied music. So as you can see, all my job options are non-lucrative. So naturally, now I’m writing. Because I still don’t want to make any money. HA!

    1. Well all people in the arts should just do their craft because they LOVE doing it, right? No one really needs to eat or pay bills. 🙂

      My co-workers are super demanding AND they make messes. WTF!? I bet office workers never have to clean up puke or break up cat fights.

  4. I just purchased an ebook ‘Between You & Me, Confessions of a Comma Queen’ by Mary Norris. It’s supposed to be part memoir, part grammar nugget and supposed to written with humor. We’ll see. Humor helps learning for me so ….

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