Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What they're learnin' me to do in grad school

I made this web tutorial for my User Instruction class. Wrote the script, taught myself how to use the software ('cause, believe it or not, that is something they do NOT teach you in grad school) edited the video, music, and voice... it was fun. Regardless of what I think of the actual class, at least I squeezed a marketable skill out of it. Like juice from a lemon. (Anyway...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Empathizing with Mrs. Bennet

K. So in order for this post to make any kind of sense, I'd have to tell a really long story that I don't really want to divulge to the internet. The SparksNotes version is that there has been a lot of tension in a certain sphere of my life. It started before I became part of that sphere, but it still continues. It doesn't matter why. The reasons are WAY too complicated to try to explain, and no one person is responsible. ANYWAY. The point is, there's tension. And like it or not, I'm in the middle of it now. Most of the time, this tension just kind of bubbles threateningly below the surface, but every now and then it erupts into a geyser--yes, an Old Faithful--of angry words and hurt feelings. Yesterday was one of those geysers. Only this one was like Excelsior Geyser. I became so enraged at one point that I actually became physically ill. Now to be fair, I think I was already on the verge of getting sick. But suddenly, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I felt like I was imploding physically and emotionally. All I wanted to do was curl up and into myself until I disappeared.

Having just rewatched not one but TWO versions of Pride and Prejudice, my first thought was, "Oh my gosh. It's actually possible! I've become psychosomatically ill." My Lydia had figuratively run off with the rapacious Mr. Wickham, and Mr. Bennet was going to challenge him to a duel and be killed, and...and...and all I could think to do was hole myself up in my room for the next few days. It's all I wanted to do, anyway.

I still feel like crap. But the worst is over. And I think--I hope, anyway--that yesterday was a turning point.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is it Because I’m White? (Whatever THAT means.)

Serious post ahead.

I wasn’t going to write about this.
I work in a public library where our patrons are very ethnically and racially diverse. It’s actually kind of awesome, living in a society that seems so homogeneous in race, religion, culture, etc, to meet and talk to so many different kinds of people.
But I have had at least two or three experiences in the last two years that have left a really bitter taste in my mouth. I’ll share with you the most recent:
Kid comes up to the desk. (He’s white. Not that it matters.) He needs to do some homework and wants to get set up on the research computers behind the desk. I type in his info and turn around to see which computers are available. They are both occupied.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “It seems that they are both occ—“
“Right here!” calls the guy at one of the computers. “He’s with me.”
“Oh, okay! Let’s get you set up.”
I walk over and as I’m typing in the password, the guy already sitting there says, “Is it because I’m not white?” (He wasn’t white. Not that it matters.)
“I’m sorry?” I say, not because I didn’t hear him the first time, but because I literally have NO idea why the color of his skin has anything to do with anything that’s going on. My hackles are already going up, though. The only thing I can think of is that he thinks I’m surprised that he, a non-white individual (whatever that means), is here at the library with a white kid? So what? Stranger things have happened.
“Is it because I’m not white?” He repeats clearly.
Clamping down on my rising anger, I respond, “No…I just thought this computer was already in use.” Not trusting myself to say anything else, I walk away. Livid.
Several times, I almost turned around and asked him why he would jump to that conclusion about me. Why? WHY.
What is it about me that leads certain people to automatically assume that I am racist? I’m trying not to be defensive here because, you know, nothing screams “You are what you say you aren’t!” like being defensive. But the fact is, I find the assumption that I am racist—presumably because I’m “white”—among the most offensive things anyone could say to me.
I’ve cooled down about the whole thing now, and I’m glad I didn’t confront the guy. What would it have proven? I only wish I could have been more warm towards him later. But, understandably, I could not. I have a hot temper and react really poorly to being misjudged. Sigh.  Things to work on…
Have any of you ever found yourselves in a situation like this? How did/would you handle it? How can you keep cool in the moment and be kind to the very people who would make you a monster?

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Self-Education

Three years ago I interviewed at the BYU library for a position in the Humanities Reference department. I was currently working at Book Repair. And while I was quite good at paper-mending, recasing, strip binding (not as exciting as it sounds) and myriad other esoteric repairs, book repair was not what I wanted to do with my life. (If book conservation is what you want to do with your life, it is very cool. My sister does it.) So I applied for the reference position, had a really good interview, waited for kind of a long while to hear back...never did. So I called them. "Ohhh.." the assistant said when I called, "Well, we actually gave the position to someone else. Because he speaks German."


"But!" she replied, in conciliatory tones, "Another librarian saw your resume, saw that you are a Portuguese speaker, and is interested in hiring you."

Hm! Okay.

So that's how I got that job. About a month ago, I interviewed for another position (than the one I currently have) at OPL, had a perfectly adequate interview, and then played the waiting game once more.

(As an aside, I think it is healthy for everyone to be turned down for a job at least once or twice in their lifetime. It's humbling. And it helps keep everything in perspective. Anyway, moving on.)

You probably gathered that I did not get this job either. "We found someone who has experience in video and editing," they said. Well that made perfect sense, since my only video experience consisted of recording something on my digital camera and uploading it to iMovie for minimal editing. I didn't feel bad in the least.

I did, however, realize that I have a lot to learn, and that I can develop certain marketable skills all on my own. Like HTML and web design. I have a GINORMOUS book about HTML and CSS sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust. I've built a web site, sure. But it's extremely rudimentary. I can do the basics in Excel and InDesign--but my skills are not exactly "mad." I could make a video, but I had never really sat down and done any finishing on it.

I say "could" because all of this is, in fact, just a really long introduction to the fact that I, Erin Mumford, have created and posted my very first YouTube video. I googled how to rip DVDs, downloaded the software, did all the editing, formatted it for YouTube, and--unlike the Little Red Hen of lore--am perfectly disposed to share it with you now. I am only a little bit embarrassed how much time this took and how much homework did not get done as a result. Also...I am perfectly aware that this particularly work of "art" will never appear on any resume.

WARNING: It's a fan video. (If you don't know what that is, you soon will. They constitute a worldwide pandemic on YouTube.) And yes, I created it ironically. Here it is: