Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Graduate School (and why I'm glad I took five years off after college)

I'm going back to school. That's right. In just over two weeks, I'll be toting my three-ring binders and colored pens (or do kids use laptops these days?) to The University of Central Florida.

To be more specific: I've decided to pursue a master's degree in Instructional Systems Design.

When hearing this, most people have either given me a blank look, or have feigned enthusiasm, as opposed to admitting they have no idea what ISD is (and up until four years ago, I didn't either). Or, they've blurted out an amusing response.

"But... you're a writer, not an engineer." -Friend 1

"So... you'll be learning how to build stuff for computers?" -Friend 2

"Awesome! You can help me decorate my house, if I can ever afford one!" -Friend 3

It's something about the combination of the words "instructional", "systems", and "design" that connote engineering specifications or computer systems. It certainly doesn't sound like a career path a creative writer would take.

This is why I'm thankful for taking five years off after college to get some working experience. As it turns out, one of my natural strengths is process and procedural documentation; I avoided all business and technical writing courses that were part of my college writing track, so who knew? My days of poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, and journalism quickly faded once I started working as a professional technical writer.

Faded but not forgotten. It also turns out that pairing a creative writing skillset with technical writing experience "makes a lethal instructional designer" (according to a random YouTube video I watched a few weeks ago, but can't find now to reference). Taking a logical approach to creating a course and blending it with creativity to engage the learner will have a huge impact. And that's what's most appealing to me -- a career where I can make equal use of my left brain and right brain to connect with people.

Another benefit of taking time off after college: more and more graduate programs are being geared toward adults working full-time and needing flexibility, and online master's programs are becoming increasingly more desirable. With the exception of one of my classes this fall, I'll be able to pursue most of my degree in a completely online format.

So, I'm trading in my volleyball and part of my social life for textbooks and homework. For now, anyway. Eventually I'll strike the balance between my day job, my classes, and all of the fun stuff in between.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Farewell to a Festival of Friendship

"You only meet your once in a lifetime friends... once in a lifetime."
- The Little Rascals

Last night, Jolyon and I bid farewell to two of our dearest friends.

As I write this post, Dan is cruising up I-95 in his blue Fit with Buster, a playful if not slobbery mutt, towards a three-year stint at Cornell Law School. Kaleigh is driving "the best packed truck in the nation" (thankfully, the laughs outweighed the boxes) in pursuit of the Fit and their new life in Ithaca, NY.

I was wrestling with how to best write about this friendship; it's deserving of a public display in the finest gallery so that others can create replicas and enhance their own lives.

Or maybe it should be quietly preserved in a box, wrapped with a pretty bow, and tucked away in our private memory shelf.

Or maybe these pictures will be enough to convey how much these two crazy kids impacted our lives in a relatively short period of time (9 months; "Thanks for bearing my children." -Dan).


Christmas Cookie Craziness, 2009
Fishy smell in Disneyland
Jolyon tries for a hug in Disneyland.
ShelLy and KaLeigh

The Icing Incident of 2009.
Celebrating Buster's birthday.
With Danleigh's housewarming gift.
Boys and their toys.
Celebrating for Buster.
Disneyland in California

Hollywood, CA
Lovely lady legs.
Fun mirrors, or too much theme park food?
Hollywood ladies
Late night dinner in CA
Water park fun
A relaxing Sunday at the Sasse residence.
Definitely going to miss days like these.
Horseshoe show-down
Slumber party
Signing the pact.
The Pact
A goofy bunch
Epic Wii battle on their last night in Orlando; Jolyon wearing his "I Love NY" shirt in support.
Jolyon finally gets his hug.
Final moments.

An unforgettable foursome.

"The tender friendships one gives up, on parting, leave their bite on the heart, but also a curious feeling of a treasure somewhere buried."
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry