Sunday, October 19, 2008

When "Fun" Turns Into "Work"

I can't remember if I mentioned this in a blog entry before, but if I did, well, you get a bonus! I switched my major from Business to English this semester, and I have to say that English is about a thousand times harder than Business ever was. I expected that, given my love of reading, that English would be the most commonsense place to put my learning energy. After all, they say you are most successful at work when you do what you love. Apparently, all I've done is take something I love, reading, and turn it into work. And then add a heaping pile of writing, which was already work, on top. And don't even get me started about all the thinking I have to do! I tell you, Business was the easy road.

This semester I'm taking Myths and Legends in Literature and Critical Analysis of Literature. Here are the main arguments I have against me being an English major:

1. Business classes offer evening classes that meet one night a week for three hours. You get all your learning in one fell swoop, and then you don't have to think about it again for days. English classes don't offer night classes, and the day classes meet two days a week, for 75 minutes each. It is definitely not the most efficient use of time.

2. Once a week classes assign homework once a week. (You don't have to have a college degree to figure that one out!) You have a whole week to do it, and it was usually a reasonable amount, like one chapter. My English classes assign a pile of homework on Monday and then again on Wednesday, so I am doing homework most days of the week. For example, read one chapter plus write a 2-page double spaced report about it. It is an overwhelming amount of work.

3. Business classes are logical and common sense. You read the text, memorize the answers, and regurgitate it onto the exam. Most of the information you would have already known from watching a season or two of The Apprentice. In English, you read the text, then you have to think about it, and come up with some interesting thoughts that you can then write about. You have to think of intelligent sounding comments about the text for the class discussion. It's just think, think, think, all the time! I don't know what they expect of me in that English department!

Doing this much reading and thinking and writing has left me no time for other things that I consider fun. I haven't done much recreational reading this whole semester; in fact, I started listening to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle three weeks ago and am barely crawling through it. (It doesn't help that the book, billed as a "thriller" is so boring that I was palpably disappointed when I realized that the book comes in three parts, not two, and I'm only a third of the way finished! I don't know if I can take 14 more hours of dog training techniques.) I have gotten to read a lot of interesting things I wouldn't have tried before in these classes, but nothing that I've gotten to pick myself just for fun.

And my television watching has gone right down the toilet. I have given myself a fairly rigorous tv schedule, and even though I'm pushing myself, my viewing habits are just not up to snuff. In case you were wondering, here's my personal TV Guide:

Monday: Heroes, Samantha Who?
Tuesday: House, The Biggest Loser (2 hours long)
Wednesday: Pushing Daisies
Thursday: Survivor, The Office, until recently Project Runway (and Top Chef starts next month)
Sunday: Amazing Race

Fortunately, I download all of these so I can watch them whenever I want. I like to put them on my ipod and watch them on the treadmill, because I'm a big fan of multi-tasking. But tv shouldn't be a task that has to be wedged into my schedule - it should be a thing I do to relax, because it's fun and, theoretically, entertaining. But my hyped-up school program is turning everything else in life into a chore, a time-sensitive item that goes on a to-do list.

Tomorrow I'll be three weeks behind on Heroes, and I think I'm going to toss that one. The Amazing Race makes 45 minutes on the elliptical seem too short, so that one's staying. I am usually home on Tuesdays, so we watch The Biggest Loser as a family (the family rule is: no mocking fat people). Ryan and I watch Survivor and The Office together, so those are staying too. The rest are going to be gym fodder. I miss being able to sit and watch a show and not think about the homework I should be doing.

This was just the frivolous stuff that I've given up, too. I also need to find time to do other things that have to get done, like pruning the lilac bushes (for the first time since we moved here) and making Noah a Three Amigos costume for Halloween. (He wants to be Ned. They don't sell a Ned costume at the store.)

The saddest part for me is that I love school and I love learning. I think, in moderate doses, these classes would have been a blast - the Myths teacher is creative and fun, and the Critical Analysis class is changing the way I read in mind-blowing ways. I could probably have handled one class, but not two. I am about 6 classes away from an Associate's Degree in either Business or English, and I wonder if I might be better served polishing off a Business Associates Degree and then going back for more English when Darcey's in school. But English is where my interest lies, and I definitely feel more comfortable in English classes than Business. But an English degree will take me longer if I can only do one class a semester. But a Business degree might never teach me how to form sentences that don't start with "But".

Well, my friends, as it's election time, let's take a poll! My father shed his blood in Vietnam so you could have the right to vote on an anonymous blog about what my major should be, although my guess is that wasn't what he had in mind at the time. Doesn't matter - this is America! You all helped me with my photobook debate (end result: emailed the company to assuage my guilt, they told me to keep it, yay!!) so let's get some good thoughts about this one. Besides, I can't think about this anymore - I've got a 5-7 page paper due tomorrow and I need to save all my thinking for that.


rachel said...

I think you should stick with something you love - go with English. Maybe you need to try taking one class per semester for a little while. I know it prolongs the degree, but if you are considering waiting until Darcey is in school, you would be prolonging the degree anyway.
The sad thing is, I can relate to how you feel - about having no time for the fun stuff - and I am not even in school. Why does life have to be so busy, no matter what we do?

Drake Steel said...

Hmmm, interestingly I never actually shed blood in Viet Nam, I did when I was in Thailand (where our planes were bombing Viet Nam). I hit my head on a canopy and it bled like crazy, we even used a combat bandage! But Vote!
And for me, I sold out to the man. Xerox would pay for a business related major but not history which I happened to love. So even though I had 60 hours of History courses... I got my degree with 18 credit hours in Economics.
As Dave Ramsey says, when you love what your doing is the last day you go to work...