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Thread: What do you do?

  1. #1

    Question What do you do?

    So this thread is coming about because of a recent conversation that a few of us got into in the Recently Begun Books thread, and it was suggested that we should take it to another space. So here it is! The continuation of that conversation and the opening up of all sorts of others.

    So, if you're interested in sharing a little about yourself and where you're at in your life, how about telling us what it is that you "do"?

    I'm currently living in Colombia, where I am learning spanish and devoting a lot of time to reading, writing, and exploring PhD programs in the field of history. That is what I do - I'm a historian and teacher by trade, and I lean towards because a historian and away from being a teacher these days. Which is too bad. One pays the bills and the other, quite simply, doesn't (guess which one!). I sometimes fantasize about getting into a high school teaching environment where teaching the skills of being a historian are more important than teaching the 15 most important dates in Canadian history, but that doesn't yet exist, and I have some serious pedagogical and philosophical issues with the field of social studies. Blah blah blah. And history is just a fun and great field to study in, especially if you're a big theory nerd (like me) who likes to apply theory to real, historical questions (like me!) rather than just stay stuck in the world of historical methodological theory (like me!!). I tend to focus on labour histories (my MA), environmental histories (an article I'm planning on publishing), indigenous histories (my PhD), and family histories, and seeing where they all intersect.

    So tell us about yourself! What do you do either for work or leisure?

  2. #2
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    United States Re: What do you do?

    Thanks for being courageous and coming out with it first,

    I am, at present, a doctoral student in literature (specifically Celtic/Medieval); also hold a B.A. (2008) and M.A. (2011) in English as well as another M.A. in Celtic Studies (2015). The eventual plan (or, rather, hope) is to teach. Also have a desire to translate some obscure Irish and Welsh texts, most of which have never been made available to the English-speaking reader.

    If that doesn't work out perhaps I can utilize my knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian and do some on-demand translation for the FBI (not kidding). Obviously they don't let you see anything super-secret, but ordinary/everyday documents (as well as simultaneous translation whenever somebody from that region sends a representative) are always available. The languages they really need at the moment are Mandarin, Farsi, Urdu and Arabic, but Russian is also on the list given the escalating tensions between Russia and the United States.

    Like many of you (I am guessing), I also have a few literary goals and ambitions I hope to fulfill before I kick the bucket. I can't write poetry (though I read it with much pleasure), but I do wish to one day produce a novel or two, as well as a memoir and maybe a couple of plays. This on top of regular academic work, of course, so my monograph will probably be the first book to see the light of day (if I'm lucky).

    I divide my time between Boston and New York City, though at present I'm living (and conducting research) at Bangor University in the U.K.

    What else... Favorite color is teal. Favorite book, King Lear. Favorite novel, To the Lighthouse. Favorite film, a tie between Tarkovsky's Mirror and Malick's Tree of Life.

    Also, check out my baby (below). I hope the photo doesn't appear upside-down (happens a lot when I try to upload pictures).

    He's a Scottish Fold and his name is Dorian (after Oscar Wilde's eponymous book-character). Mine isn't really that bad, but he IS gray all over, (oh, and he LOVES boxes)!

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions--

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  3. #3

    Default Re: What do you do?

    Can you translate poetry, though - Liam? It takes a poet to translate a poet; I'm betting you can write better than you estimate. I also walked away while the page was loading and thought you had a pet owl.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    We call him our little owl, so you're not entirely wrong there,

    I do translate poetry and in fact have to translate large chunks of it for my dissertation, but I approach it in a workmanlike fashion, which gets it done but doesn't result in anything spectacular.

    Regarding your claim about poets, how do you feel about Edith Grossman's translation of Luis de Góngora's Solitudes? Now she's a translator who doesn't write poetry (to my knowledge), yet I thought her version of Solitudes was fine (albeit I have nothing to compare it to). But generally I agree. The best translations of poems I have read were done by other poets (usually poets who knew the foreign language they were working with intimately).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    You guys have a very interesting profile so I'm sorry to start telling about my pathetic life.

    What do I do? I'm a reader, that's what I really do. That's where I spend most of my time and put all my efforts.

    What do I do to earn some money to buy books? I have a marketing job at HP which I is far to be my passion but it isn't that bad. My manager is not at the same location and he's very flexible and permissive about where I work, what time do I work etc as long as the job is done. Most of the times there's not a lot of things to do and that's fine as it gives me time to read. I'm currently writing what it could be my first novel (I wrote two earlier but that was only teenage crap) and I hope to finish it this year. Also write short stories and some poetry but I'm very undisciplined when it comes to writing. Single, live alone and my dog Heidi, who was 15 years old and was with me since she was 6 weeks old, died a month ago. This is her last picture I took from her three days before she passed. Really sad about this.

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    Default Re: What do you do?

    Aww, Daniel, she's gorgeous. You're going to make me cry, our other cat (a 16 year old Persian) died last summer, so I feel you! Losing pets, who are basically family members, sucks.

    Good luck with your writing, meanwhile, let us know when you're done with the book!

  7. #7

    Default Re: What do you do?

    Sorry about your loss Daniel Del Real.

    So, it seems that many here have an impressive academic pedigree. That is not my case... I actually dropped out of university to pursue a career in a domain with a bright future... Journalism...

    I do ok, earn a decent wage and I guess I enjoy what I do. I have a lot of free time which alloes me to read.

    And plus... I guess I can claim to be a well known writer... In my region... And it is not at all literary...

    I enjoy reading... All kinds of things but favorite authors include Don Dellilo, Cormac McCarthy, Pynchon, William Vollmann.

    I recognize that these are all white American male writers, which is why I began to seek to diversify and read more female writers. I am well on my way... Favorite female writers are two fellow citizens... Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    Early 20s, recent college graduate with a BA in Political Science and History. I mostly focused on East and Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa in school. Domestic (American) politics as well but that's a pretty dull field. Also studied Music at the college level for a while but ultimately switched majors. Not too sure about grad school yet. Would love to do something literary but unless you have a BA in English or Comparative World Literature (or a specific foreign language) it seems unlikely that any school would accept you. I'd probably end up studying Foreign Policy/International Relations if I went to grad school.

    Sort of an aside but I don't really know where else I'd put it: I don't have significant coursework in English at the college level, just stuff that's so old it transferred over from high school as college credit. I did take several courses on Japanese literature. Nearly any English course I could manage to it in my schedule would have ended up being something I considered really stupid or just a waste of time. While I don't look down on studying English or English literature, I do think in general American universities have started dumbing down the course offerings. The two colleges I attended offered a massive helping of courses focusing on: Harry Potter, Twilight, Children's Books, "Young Adult" Fiction, High Fantasy, Etc. And not as introductory level courses either, many of these were the highest level you could go (mixed undergrad/graduate) as an undergraduate. Just not really anything I wanted to spend free spots in my schedule learning about. Other literature boards like the numerous ones on reddit are full of "literary experts" who are more than willing to brag about how they've earned their MA's studying comic books and Stephen King. I guess things like that make me skeptical on college degrees in the field making you an expert or even in a general sense knowledgeable on capital L "Literature" or literary fiction. I've seen some scary discussions online where many of these English degree holders insist that they've never heard of numerous highly regarded authors. I guess the degree is mostly what you make of it (I'm sure this is also dependent on what school you go to).

    I live in the Chicago area and do computer coding and auditing for an insurance company. It's really boring and I have almost no interest in it at all. I just need the money at the moment. Lots of downtime to read books at work though. Uh free time aside from reading I travel, play a lot of instruments, go to a lot of concerts and music festivals. I'm attempting to write several novels at the moment. I don't expect them to end up being anything. All varied topics, writing styles, and lengths. The idea of "finishing" one and attempting to send it anywhere terrifies me. I feel like I'll read my finished work and cringe. Since pets are being discussed, I have a very large black poodle.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    ^It's the rotten times we live in, Isa. Anyone with a degree in Philosophy thinks he's a fucking Spinoza. Gets on my nerves too

    As for continuing your education, you're right, it's very difficult to get accepted into a PhD program in English if your BA degree is in something else; but (and here you have to think about what you REALLY want to do with your life) you can always do a terminal Master's first--and those are usually more lenient toward students who decide to switch their concentration. I had a friend who had a BA in Classics and did her Master's in English, and that was alright.

    So if you really want a PhD in Literature, do some research beforehand and see which schools in the Chicago area offer terminal Master's degrees. Once you have that, you can apply to the PhD program of your choice. You can even call the department, ask questions, explain your situation, offer to come in and chat with the professors--if you go out of your way to make them see you really want this, the bigger your chances are of eventually getting in.

    Anyway, let me know if you need any suggestions and/or advice--I only mention this because I was also forced to do a terminal Master's before I applied for a PhD, it's annoying, but worth it in the long run.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    First and most important: Daniel, I am so sorry to hear about Heidi. She was beautiful. I know too well how hard it is—even just thinking about it makes me tear up at times. It gets better—very slowly. But it never stops hurting.

    My background is similar to some here—and different. I earned (and boy is that the right word) a Ph.D. in history as my first career. Of course, that hardly captures the highs and lows: like the first dissertation that I spent 18 months on before realizing it was a magnum opus, not a dissertation. Finally, after nine years, a degree. The only problem was that since I taught in order to support myself those last few years, I realized to my horror that I didn't really enjoy teaching history all that much. The South would always lose the Civil War and nothing I could do would ever change that. Visions of teaching that year in, year out for the rest of my life terrified me. Plus when I got out in the early 80s, the market was atrocious for humanities Ph.Ds.

    So I did what anyone else would have done—I signed up for more school! Law school this time. At least there wouldn't be any more dissertations. (Just a bar exam, but that's torture of a different kind and it's over in a couple days.) Turned out that I loved law school...tried private practice for about five or six years and decided that having a life was more important to me. So left private practice and joined the federal government. Used to be that the job security was good; not true any more but at least no one calls at night or on weekends! The actual work is akin to being a judge: I decide disputes between parties involving government contracts issues. Actually, the work is interesting and I DO like it.

    After more years than I'd care to admit, finally met my wife, although it took a trip to Tibet for me to do that. Turns out that we are neighbors of Isahoinp (we live in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago; hey, we should have a drink sometime!) and having lived in Chicago for 30 years, I have to admit I love it here (originally from back east). We travel somewhere once a year which we enjoy immensely. I think it is the same reason why I read “foreign” fiction: the chance to see from someone else’s perspective, to learn. We both enjoy the food scene here (we’re big fans of haute cuisine and the tiny ethnic holes-in-the-wall). Let’s see…a fan of old movies (especially Murnau, Dreyer, Renoir, Lang, Ozu (or Mizoguchi); gypsy music from Romania and Hungary; "classic" black-and-white photography (Stieglitz, Kertesz, W. Eugene Smith, Kasebier, Adams...). And that's probably sufficient for now.

    PS Keeping with the pet/literature theme, we put our 16-year-old Huckleberry to sleep about two years ago and are proud parents of 2-year-old Pip now.... from Twain to Dickens. Here's Huck:
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    Last edited by tiganeasca; 18-May-2017 at 11:15.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    Dorian, a few months ago. As you can see, he's a very learned cat,
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: What do you do?

    ^^ You can write a sequel to Sam Savage's book. Learned rat to learned Cat :-)
    Jayan



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