Sunday Lowdown #126


If you’ve been following Grab the Lapels for a while, you may have noticed that I was a bit uneven! Not reading any of your posts for about a week and then suddenly replying to everything, bam, bam bam. What was the snag? I’m doing something new: I’m going back to school. Okay, if you’ve been following GTL for a few years, you may be thinking, “She does something new a lot! Wasn’t she a professor? Didn’t she just work at a community theater? Didn’t she tell us she was doing continuing education classes for her library gig?” Okay, you got me. Yes to all of that. But think of it from my perspective: I was steeped in academia from Kindergarten to my 11th year as a professor without stopping. When I finally felt brave enough to quit teaching, the community theater caught me in their arms and convinced me I could be stage manager for Top Dog, Underdog. Confidence boosted a bit, I started looking for jobs and was hired by that very theater as production manager (i.e. managing every show). Turns out, that wasn’t quite my jam, so I went to the library to work in reference and earned a sizeable raise for taking three continuing education classes, all online. Baby steps, all of them something I sort of fell into.

But now I have a plan. I’m planning . . . ahead. I applied to a program at Goshen College that will allow me to take 4-5 semesters of American Sign Language (ASL) and then transfer into a certificate program that will educate me on being an ASL interpreter in places like courtrooms, hospitals, and schools. There is high demand for interpreters (Laila, I saw they need someone who speaks Farsi in Indianapolis and thought of you!). But it’s not that demand = money in my head. It’s that need = riding to the occasion. I’m still in the process of finishing my application (I sent over all transcripts, a statement of purpose, the school’s application, and filed for FAFSA so maybe I can get some grants because I’m “old.” Just waiting on two references and need to do an interview!). I’m going to see if I can test out of ASL 1, as I’ll know about 400 signs come fall semester. I’ll still be at the library, working around 1-2 classes per semester.


It’s science fiction, Millennial style. That’s right, Ultra by Olivia Hill had car chases, fight scenes, bantering over which music genre to listen to in the car, telekinesis, astral projection. I had loads of fun reading this novel, especially since Hill taps into so many cultural references, from Area 51 and Project MK Ultra to Avengers.

Science fiction not your thing? Susan Rosenberg, radical activist for justice and peace, is sent to prison for transporting a truckload of weapons, bombs, and fake IDs across state lines. Does she belong in prison? Yes. But what about the length of time she’s given and the experimental prison she’s thrown in? That’s why the title is American Radical: A Political Prisoner in My Own Country.


Many of my readers are mothers, mothers who maybe struggled to bear children. Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran is about a couple, both children of immigrants from India, and their desire for a baby that doesn’t come. Their paths cross with Solidad, an undocumented Mexican teen unexpectedly pregnant. But desire and opportunity don’t always make for the perfect plan, because while Soli didn’t expect a baby, that doesn’t mean she’s giving it up. Review Tuesday.

I was told The Cipher by Kathe Koja is a classic of grunge and psychological horror, all emphasized by a very real black hole inside an apartment, a black hole that may contain a something living. . . Review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 223

Wonder if I can get Lou @ Lou Lou Reads to to check out Women in White Coats with me in the future!


  1. Exciting news about your future plans! I can’t speak to those other settings but interpreters are invaluable in hospital settings. I have had to have some quite complex and sensitive conversations that would have been impossible without an interpreter (though I have never worked with a sign language interpreter)! We are actually doing a simulated practice activity next week where the students are going to be dealing with a language barrier and trying to work out how to overcome it, because it’s such an important skill to have.

    Yes, I would love to buddy read that book about the first female doctors with you! I know a little bit about the subject in the UK but not really wider. Maybe later in the year when 20 Books of Summer is over?


    • Lou, that’s really exciting that you are practicing (with your students? coworkers?) on how to better communicate with patients. Honestly, I have no idea how I would go about signing complex medical information, which is why I need to go to school and take a class on how to do this. I do believe that in terms of ethics, I can only sign what the doctor says….so perhaps some of the practice you will be doing regards how to say something medical simply but accurately?

      About the book: yes, I’m definitely thinking later. I’m still reading our current book! I’m really into it, but writing letters and statements has slowed me down. I’ll definitely be ready by our date on the 11th, though. Can’t wait to see you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most of our simulated practice sessions focus on communication – last week the students had to give clear advice about medication and post-operative care when someone’s being discharged. It’s very satisfying when you see them start to get it! And yes, we practice a lot about tailoring the language to someone’s age, developmental stage, level of health literacy etc.


  2. How exciting that you’re going to study ASL with this aim in mind – and it will come in handy in your library job as well, I’m sure. Best of luck with it!


  3. Good luck with your plans – sounds exciting! I look forward to hearing what you think of The Cipher as it is in the 746 and I’m planning to read it for the RIP challenge this year.


  4. I like your ASL plan. I’m impressed you have a plan. I’m a falling into things guy.
    I’ve looked at early women doctors in the past, trying to get a handle on when women began going to uni – 1881 in Britain and Australia but earlier in the US.


    • I haven’t had a plan since 2003 (to be a music performance major and make a living giving lessons). That plan lasted approximately nine months (theory and sight singing thwarted me). Since then, it’s like I’ve been rolling down a sand dune and wondering when I’ll hit the lake.

      I’ve read a brief (yeesh, I think it was for middle-grade readers?) bio of Elizabeth Blackwell and found that fascinating. The fact that I remember info from that book says something. If you want to get on the train when Lou and I read it later this year, let me know.


  5. I’m really excited for you and your ASL plans. And I don’t think you bounce around too much at all, you always seem to have a steady job, so you are clearly a reliable and responsible person. And academics, ASL, the library, even being a production manager all speak of the same skills and organizational strength, so basically what I’m saying is…..YOU GO GIRL!


    • Thank you, Anne!!!! I think my feelings about bouncing around stem from the fact that people our parents’ and grandparents’ held down one job until they retired and then they got a pension. That’s not a thing anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with your school and future career plans! I think that’s great that you’ve found something you’re excited about. and HA HA – thanks for thinking of me with the Farsi post but I know about 30 words in Farsi so I don’t think I’ll be high on their list for consideration. 😉


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