May 24, 2008

Coming Clean

By Daniel

With six days to the move I find myself awake, after three hours of what would be best described as a full body shutdown.  The stress, the frantic running around, the bureaucratic shuffle with UofL, it all caught up with me today, during my last day of work at the Office Depot in Paducah.  I spent most of my day in a daze, wandering, thinking, feeling and shutting off conscious thought, to the point of stopping mid-sentence with customers a few times.

A week ago, I was thinking.  It was a driving, frenzied sort of train of thought that left sleep totally out of the equation.  So at 4 in the morning, I pour myself some coffee and sit down with the dogs, thinking about the future.

The conscious act of deciding what to do for the next 20 to 30 years is massive.  To ponder that act is itself even more terrifying.

Computer Engineering and Computer Science.  That’s what it says on my transcript.  A field I couldn’t honestly tell you why I selected.  Actually that’s a lie, I know exactly why:  Money.  Prestige, comfort, security.  Materialism.  While I consider myself something of an expert with these machines I have no aspiration to shepherd a farm of servers for the rest of my life.  Nor do I, if I am honest with myself, want to be a database administrator.  I picked Oracle because it was the richest database to master.  Though some of you wouldn’t expect it of me, my favorite thing to do with these things is design things.  Not even cool stuff like models, but flyers and advertisements and stuff.  Graphic Design is even a little too binding a term because I’m not much of an artist, but the act (the art?) of laying out an ad I find to be a unique sort of challenge every time.  Given a choice between this and web design, I would still do layouts.  Why?  Nothing against the actual act of designing web pages, it’s a guilty pleasure.  I’ve repeatedly told others that if I can sketch a website on paper I can code it.  No, the problem is the bane of all web designers.  Interoperability, cross-platform support, all the buzzwords for making one website look the same on every browser.  Would it go against convention to say that this shouldn’t be something I should have to worry about?  Probably.

But even after all that, everything I just wrote takes a backseat to another passion.  From an early age, I’ve had a love affair with the English language.  The subtle intricacies always draw me in; if I were to indulge and cast myself into the crucible of this romance I would have no room to live for all the books I would own.  I have never been a scientist of the language (should I say, a lexiconologist?)  Instead, the sequence, the grammar, it’s always had an unmistakable flow.  I don’t think I could diagram a sentence if I tried.  But an English degree?  What does that do for you?  Many of my friends from high school are pursuing degrees in Journalism, and good for them.  And despite the fact that my writings on here could pass for journalism depending on the point of view, the thought of sitting in a newsroom hammering away at an article with, say, an hour to spare before the deadline…that does not appeal to me.  I don’t like writing under pressure, hell, half the time I feel like I don’t like writing at all.

It was during this reverie that my mind kept going back to high school, to English class with Mr. Quertermous.  A great man, and a great teacher.

I wanted to be a teacher.

If it weren’t for him, I think my high school career would have gone completely off course.  He gave advice and knowledge in equal amounts, his presence was a source of comfort.  He listened, and reached out to children that many teachers would have, and some already had, given up on.  If I could illuminate minds as he did mine, the materialism falls away and I am left with more abstract, but equally powerful things.  Pride, contentment.  Satisfaction.  Altruism is unlike me, or is it?  Maybe beneath the exterior of a cynic and confirmed skeptic is a man that only wants to better those around him.

Unfortunately, if I’m going to become a teacher, I’ve wasted a lot of time and a lot of money going down a path that many courses will not transfer from.  But, as I’ve been told, there was a lot of experience down the path as well, and that counts for something.

I have nine days until the return to the University of Louisville, two months of class, and come August…the decision will have to be made.