The Lasting Effects of Being an English Major

I was an English major in undergrad, with a Philosophy minor. I spent my days in classes with my peers collectively discerning the meaning and themes of a multitude of novels, poems, stories, images, characters, what we perceived, and what the author intended. I spent my evenings writing about these things. Nothing was what it simply appeared to be– there was always something to be uncovered, something that played into the “grand scheme of things”. Oh, you want me to be more vague? Okay. Everything means something.

This way of thinking, among other things, has influenced how I approach my daily life.  I was taught that nothing is off limits in literature; every object in a story could be meaningful. And I like to think of this life as one great, long, sometimes boring, sometimes much too dramatic story. I find commonplace, mundane things that one usually wouldn’t think twice about and try to uncover what they might mean in my story. One day I’ll be able to put these things together to uncover the greater theme and maybe even one day the author’s intent. But for now, it’s just these snippets of meaning…

Toward the end of last year after going to see the latest Twilight movie… (what? I’m not above it), I was walking back to the bus stop and I saw an Uno “Skip” card laying on the sidewalk face up. This meant something, perhaps that I should have skipped that movie? Nah… The card conjured up memories of summer camp at the end of the day as kids were picked up. This time of day required games that allowed many players, that took a long time for a winner to emerge, and that could continue even if someone had to leave– I just described Uno to a tee. I also remembered playing when I was 10 or 11 and how terrible I felt when I was skipped. I don’t know about you, but I took it personally and if I drew the card, I never wanted to use it and when I had to, I apologized. This card held memories for me and part of my identity– my sensitivity and my desire for everyone to feel good about everything!

Just the other day, I was thinking about this blog post on my train ride home and how exactly I wanted to execute it, and then, as it usually does, my mind wandered and I began to think about how happy it is making me to post more regularly. Just as that thought popped into my head, the train left the darkness of the underground tunnel and immediately sunlight streamed into the  cars. Then the train gradually elevated so that rooftops were eye-level. I could almost hear that movie-typical choir of angels singing “Ahhh!” that somehow has come to mean “Behold! That thing that you have always wanted is here!” This train exits this underground tunnel every time I take it home (at least twice a week), but that day, with the timing of my thoughts, it meant something. I took it to mean that the universe liked that I was posting more often too.

People were skeptical about what I would “do” with an English Literature major and a Philosophy minor, and I can whole-heartedly say that I am building a life with them– a life built out of Uno cards and Red Line trains.

Categories: Day to Day, Heart on My Sleeve, Mere Musings, Public Transportation, The Art of Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “The Lasting Effects of Being an English Major

  1. “Everything means something.” I love it Maddy! And I love your writing as always! Stay on that train…and let the mind wander!

    • Christopher Eagan

      As a fellow Loyola grad student and satisfied reader I have but one nugget of advice….. Ramble On!

      • thejoblesswonder

        Thanks, Brendan and Chris! Putting this stuff out into the internet abyss, never knowing who reads it, who enjoys it– it’s nice to hear simple words of affirmation here and there.

  2. I found myself standing at a dear friends grave side yesterday singing a song of Irish Blessing and as I sang “may the sun shine warm upon your face” I became wholly (or holy) aware that the sun was indeed shining warm upon my face. It might have been there before but it was only then that I was fully aware and somehow connected to my new angel in heaven. Wish you were there. Life is full of miracles and I count myself (and you) among the lucky ones who not only notice but feel compelled to share. (I suddenly feel the need to type AMEN but will refrain and say it silently to myself.)

  3. Mama

    You should have started to skip 🙂 ❤

  4. Aunt Mary

    Funny that Eva said that – when you mentioned camp, I thought you were going to say that the kids “skipped” away! You know I love to read your thoughts and I love the Maddy that is formed by all your posts combined. (I even shared it with a work buddy who was home with a miserable illness, and you made her smile through it all!) I can’t wait to come experience the sudden sunshine with you! Write on, my girl!

  5. Pingback: Nothing is Permanent « The Jobless Wonder

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  7. Pingback: HelloGiggles – Nothing is Permanent

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