21 February 2010

A (Mini) Existential Crisis

I have studied buildings formally for eight years of my life now. I have been in the field of building design for the last 13 years. It has always been a professional goal of mine to become a licensed architect.

But now, at this point in my life, I'm not so sure anymore.

I STILL believe that being a licensed architect would be the culmination of my studies. I STILL believe that it would lend me a certain level of authority that I cannot claim without it. And yes, I STILL would like to pass my exams and get that stamp. I'm just not sure if I want to do it RIGHT NOW.

There are several reasons why trying to take my exams this year (and probably next) seem like an attractive option: I just got out of grad school, this stuff is still fresh in my mind, I have the money to do it, it would be nice to put those letters on my business cards...

...er, IS it fresh in my mind? DO I have the money? And do I NEED those letters on my business cards?

Frankly, now I'm working for a company in which being a licensed architect is not necessarily value added. I am the only trained architect in a company of over 300, a good portion of which are professional engineers, which is necessary for our work. Consulting is only part of our business, but it IS a part. Designing buildings is not. I am valuable to my company because of my building science knowledge, of which there is currently no meaningful certification.

Despite all that, it was still a personal goal of mine, so I was pursuing it... until I started to feel like I was being ripped off. Getting your architecture license involves the following:
  1. Being a member of NCARB who administers your records for $60 a year;
  2. Paying to have NCARB send your record to a state;
  3. Applying to the state to accept your record;
  4. Paying the state up to $100 to apply;
  5. Having the state send your approval to a testing agency;
  6. Paying at least $200 to the testing agency to take your first four - or six - hour exam;
  7. THEN paying at least $200 each to take each of SIX additional four or six hour exams;
  8. After you get your license, there's the fees you pay to join the AIA, the fee you pay to get your stamp, the fees you pay to take continuing education credits, and other fees that I'm probably unaware of.
To become a professional engineer, you have to do the following:
  1. Pay $20 a year to maintain your records;
  2. Take one day-long exam (let's assume it costs at least $200);
  3. Put the letters P.E. behind your name and move on with your life.
Soooo... I guess what I'm saying is, if this isn't necessarily value added to my company, why would I bother putting myself through this right now? Maybe I'm wrong and maybe my boss will tell me they want that, and if so, I guess I could put out the money for it, but that's a lot of dough to dish out for something that I won't necessarily be using anytime soon. And maybe if they DO want it, they can help me pay for it, which would be nice and a motivator. I really like my job, and I feel fortunate to be with the company I am with, so I'm willing to go the extra mile for them.

But this red tape I have to wade through is a real de-motivator. Especially when I feel like, "what have all these groups done for me lately? The profession is dying, unemployment among architects may be 50% and they don't even have an aggressive stance on green building, and I'm supposed to want to be a part of this group? And pay out the wazoo for it? WHY?"

Anyway, if anyone has an opinion on my mini-existential crisis, please leave a comment below. I could use the input and I love second opinions!

16 February 2010

The Situation

So, I need to talk about television for just a moment.

I don't watch much TV. Obviously I watch NCIS, and the Daily Show, and I also watch Project Runway (which, thankfully, is better this season than last). But I was recently informed that I was missing out on an important cultural phenomenon, and that is Jersey Shore.

It's not worth talking about really. It's 100% ridiculous. But there are some quotes from the show I need to share:
  • "The Situation said we had a situation here"
  • "I will cut your hair in your sleep"
  • "Look, I got HAM!!!"
  • (bleep) (bleep) bleepity (bleep)
  • And my personal favorite: "I don't want to work at a T-SHIRT SHOP. I'm a bartender, I do GREAT THINGS"
It's really funny. And YES, I am watching this on the internet instead of watching the Olympics on real TV. Oh come on, like you don't think Men's Figure Skating is played out, too?

PS. I just figured out that you can guido-yourself up on MTV.com here. Go, go now...

07 February 2010

Being gainfully employed is rather boring, no?

I was just reading some of my old posts from when I was unemployed - and just doing whatever the heck I wanted - last summer. Before that, I was in graduate school, and that was kind of interesting, I mean, enough so that I felt the need to start a whole other blog to talk to a new audience about it. But now?

Now, when people ask me how I'm doing, it goes like this:

Other Person: "So, how are things? What are you up to?"

Me: "I'm really busy at work! Other than that, not much"

... and that's pretty much the end of the conversation. No more fun stories about how I spent my day differently than the day before, because no two days are alike when you don't have someplace to go.

Yes friends, I'm gainfully employed and I'm boring.

Which is not to say that I don't love what I'm doing - I totally do, and I'm so happy with my job. It's just that all of the interesting stuff gets funneled into either my other blog or my work, and that's fine too.

A more interesting conversation, I have to say, starts when someone asks me what I actually do. My response is a jumbled mess that starts off with explaining how I am a "trained architect" without a license ("architect with a little 'a'") but I am now practicing the fine art of "building science" with an energy efficiency company. The inevitable "what's building science?" question comes next, and then I usually have to mention my Master's Degree, and I hate sounding like that. This conversation happened earlier today with a guy I had never met before and he paused and wryly said, "so you're impressive, then?" ... and I don't know if I blushed, but I said thanks and kept drinking my beer.

So, it's February and I've just realized how few posts I've been making since I got a job, and I've decided to make an effort to be more interesting. I mean, I'll do the best I can, which means I might go from 3 posts a month to 4, but at least that's one a week. And they will be interesting! Starting with now...


One of my goals this year is to become an adept enough knitter that I can do scarves and hats. Scarves are pretty much as easy as it gets... you knit on straight needles, back and forth, until you get a long knitted thing. Hats require more effort, but they are fun because they can happen on round needles. The tricky part comes when you have to switch to double pointed, and it gets a little ridiculous for an hour or however long it takes to finish the hat, but the result is worth it.

This is my first ever knitted hat ... I completed it recently for a birthday gift for a friend. Not bad for a starter hat, but I had some trouble at the end, so I switched to a crochet hook and just kind of took care of it.

Apologies for the poor photo quality, I've recently become a little too attached to the camera on my iPhone.

I plan to keep knitting until making a hat is like second nature, and then later, if I'm feeling REALLY crazy, I might try ... gloves! The final frontier is sweaters, which are just ridiculous.

Maybe this year I will even make it to crocheting! Whoa, I know, that's a little much but it's good to have goals, LOL.