In Which the Heroine Makes Life Decisions with Aplomb

Last week was full. Not full of badness or drama, just FULL OF LIVING. I had breakfast with my mom, we hosted dinner with friends at our house, I read Go Set a Watchman, I had my hair dyed blue, I vanquished many Candy Crush Soda Saga levels, and I nursed Persy Jane through a wicked cold and fever. Work hummed along with the school Health Sciences department dominating interlibrary loan. Busy. Full. Good.

Those day-to-day things just scratch the surface of the bubbling uncertainty of this summer. Not any thing bad or dramatic, but I found that Sam and I had so many grown-up decisions to make. Big things that I feel I should have figured out ten years ago like “WHAT DO I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE?” AND “WHERE SHOULD I LIVE?” I realize I’m 35, but I constantly feel like someone is going to find out that I have no idea what I’m doing. Okay, I know what I’m doing, but I’m now mature enough to realize the weight of responsibility. Amanda the new mom at 19 is a vastly different person from Amanda mom of three and 35. When I make decisions about my career or where I live I impact the lives of four other people and a grumpy cat. ::hyperventilates into paper bag::


Let’s talk grown-up decisions.

Earlier this year I applied for a different job at my university. I love the library, but I’ve worked my way up as high as I can go sans graduate degree and I have at least 30 years until retirement. An eventual career change or upgrade was going to happen in the next few years. The new job was as a staff writer in the university’s public relations office. Yay! Writing! I applied, had a “chat” with the VP of the office and wrote a test freelance article. The entire time I felt uncertainty bubbling up. I chalked it up to anxiety over doing something new when I am so comfortable at the library. I swallowed my fear and waited to hear back from the office.

While I was waiting to hear back (university hiring can take a bit of time) I started thinking about what I loved most about working in a library. Libraries are so much more than books. My bibliophile self loves the shelves of books, but it is what libraries embrace that makes my heart thrill. Equality, pursuing knowledge, helpfulness, team-work, creativity, etc… all have their place in public and academic libraries. I love that I have loads of detail-oriented work, systems, and opportunities to organize and I get to help people, think creatively and write.

On a whim I Googled “library jobs in Portland” and discovered a dream library job in Portland, OR as a Library Internal Communications Specialist. A library job with no MLIS degree required and loads of writing. A dream job in a dream location. Reader, I applied. I almost didn’t apply. I ran through a list of reasons why I shouldn’t ranging from “I probably wouldn’t get the job” to “moving across country is scary.” Then I ran my “should I apply” question through the one filter that always leads me to the right answer: what would I want Hope to do? Raising a teenage daughter with strong feminist principles is eye-opening. I would tell Hope to apply for her dream job in her dream location. I would tell her that even if she didn’t get the job she could learn from the experience. Obviously, I had to apply.
I haven’t heard back from Portland except for an email explaining that so many people applied it was taking longer to review applications. Do I think I’ll get the job? No. I am sure they are flooded with qualified applicants who already reside near and around the area. Do I think I would rock that job if I got it? ABSOLUTELY.

Applying for the job in Portland told me one very valuable thing: I certainly don’t need to leave libraries. I belong in the library world and all the learning, equality, and creativity it embraces. I removed my name from the applicant list for the writing job and decided to focus on libraries. This means that when Sam graduates in 2017 I will apply to graduate school. Deciding that Libraries is definitely my Hogwarts’ House also renewed my excitement for my current job. My supervisor is allowing me to take on some library communications work and outreach projects in addition to my usual interlibrary loan tasks because she knows that I’m itching to do and learn more. It is nice to be excited about coming into work and I realize now that seven years of all interlibrary loan was starting to get repetitive to say the least; throwing in new challenges and responsibilities has added pep to my step. I’m a library lady and that’s not going to change.

There was another major decision made involving where we live. We almost rented a house 20 minutes from town, but when we actually sat down to talk about how much it would cost in time and money our in-town apartment won. Up until Friday we were sure we would move, but then we thought about it more.We used a good, old-fashioned pros and cons list and even whipped out a calculator. Even with the rent on the house being less expensive, we found we would be paying more. Figuring in extra gas and after school care would see us paying an extra $64 a week. This doesn’t even account for the higher energy bill for the bigger space and purchasing a washer and dryer. If I’m going to graduate school in a few years I’d like to pay off as much debt as possible. At the very least I want to pay off the van and cut our credit card debt in half. I’m at peace with our decision to stay at the apartment. Moving is definitely not in the cards for now…

… unless, of course, Portland calls.


  1. This reminds me so much of what I was going through years ago when I was applying to jobs in Portland. We sold our house with the intention of leaving NC forever, but the day I was supposed to give notice on my current job the realtor called and told us the deal had fell through.I still want to move to the west coast but so many things have happened to change my circumstances in the interim and I have to think maybe it was meant to be.

    I think you would have been great at the PR job, but I love that you decided “Libraries are your Hogwarts House” and you are going to apply to grad school. And, by the way, I don’t think anyone really has it all figured out, even those of us who are in our mid 30’s and are supposed to know what the heck we are doing.

  2. Good for you! No matter what happens, you made the decision to just go for it… that’s awesome!

    I’m so glad you’re going to graduate school in a couple of years. I have my MLS, so let me know if you gave any questions. My program was all online.

  3. OMG i m so excited for you. For all of it. Job, decisions, life. Isn’t it such a relief when you deep down know the answer to a dilemma? It’s like the weight of the world lifts and all is rosy again. I hope you get the job in Portland. I love it there. It’s my favorite US city. Visited and lived nearby. When I settle down again, I want to spend a year or so there.

  4. This sounds so exciting! We just got back from vacationing in Oregon. Portland was having a “heat wave” while we were there (which just means it felt normal/slightly cooler to us since the highs were mid-90s), but we were only in Portland a few days. The coast had their normal-ish weather highs in the 70’s lows in the 50’s. I decided I could definitely live there! The only thing we didn’t experience was rain, which I thought they were known for. Yesterday as we were leaving rain was back in their forecast. It worked out great for us, but I wouldn’t have minded one rainy day. 🙂 I love “libraries are my Hogwarts House.” 🙂 Best to you.

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