Returning to School

I did not think that the course work was hard when I attended graduate school. I simply thought it was a lot of labor. It took a lot of effort yet I obtained a 3.89/ out of a 4.0 GPA. I always think that those of us with broken brains become “school heads” and throw ourselves into our studies as a coping mechanism for the hard time we’re having.

I followed through with my goal of going back to school even though I was unemployed.

___________________________________________

Starting library school, I soldiered on in a purple mood: brave and sad. The insurance career may have failed, yet it was the only one I knew, so I wondered if maybe it was a mistake to go back to school. I felt like a tormented lover torn between staying with her sugar daddy because he was there and walking on to dare find a new love. I looked regretfully at the door that closed like a woman mourning the side of the bed where her love used to sleep.

The Pratt location in Manhattan was where I attended school.

An omen: I had to give a presentation for my Introduction to Libraries class, talking about an interview I conducted with the director of a library. My last name began with a B, so I was the second person to perform. I interviewed a librarian at the Jefferson Market branch in Manhattan.

After the class, a guy from the first row came up to me: “You had a booming voice. You were amazing.”

“Thanks.” I fobbed off this as a great feat even though I thought it was ordinary.

“Want to go for coffee at the Used Book Café?”

“Okay,” I dared say yes.

“I’m Adrian.” He led the way.

“Chris.” I slung my messenger bag over my shoulder. It was a Manhattan Portage canvas one whose red logo patch I removed when everyone in sight started carrying the same bag. I bought mine two years ago and wanted to be anonymous now.

The bookstore was on Crosby Street; you could get lost in the stacks. Oh, I was in heaven—the books, books, books were all cheap, and a lot were in new condition. Adrian ordered a latte. I chose the tomato soup. We sat at a table in the back. He was an Armani Exchange kind of guy who wore his dramatic clothes well. His own messenger bag was leather.

“I work as a reference assistant at Forrester Bean Tate Reilly,” he rattled off a law firm.

What could I say? I had two part-time jobs: I worked in the second floor administration office at Pratt, answering phones two days a week, and I temped at McKinsey, doing word processing two days to bring in money.

I asked him what a reference assistant did, and he told me.

“You need to learn online searching. That’s where the money is.”

“How could I do that?” I was curious.

“Take the online database courses in law and business. That’s where it’s at.”

“I’m considering doing that,” I told him.

Adrian’s last name started with a G, so he would give his talk in a couple of weeks.

“I’m going with the big guns: a PowerPoint presentation.”

“Marvelous.” I was in awe of him. Did I sound like a drip?

He told me I should join the student association that was meeting next week at one o’clock after our class. This intrigued me, and I decided to risk going. The other students were a multi-culti crowd from countries around the world. I welcomed the chance to rub elbows with them and hear their stories about how they came to be at Pratt.

Adrian stared at me throughout our conversation, and I felt uneasy. Did I give off an odd vibe, or was he just the kind of person who acted like he was always at a cocktail party making deals?

“I’d better get going. I have to take the train to the ferry and then the bus on the other side.” I gathered up my bowl to take back to the counter.

“See you later,” he chanted in a dark voice.

“Ciao.” I sailed out the door into rain.

 

Left of the Dial Amazon Page

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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