One tends to remember making major life-changing decisions on April Fool’s Day. So I can tell you that it was April 1, 1995 when I decided to get a master’s degree in Information or Library Science. Even now, I sometimes wonder, is this whole thing just a cosmic joke? Is some unseen trickster entity laughing at my feeble attempts to manufacture order where none can exist? Probably. But I may never know.
The most dangerous 16 months of my life began on that day. I had just missed the deadline for the next academic year, and would have to wait for the application period to roll around again. Meanwhile, I was living in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and working as a cook in various restaurants. Many opportunities for mischief would materialize. At one point, a housemate had just about convinced me to head for Alaska to work the salmon boats. It was that kind of a year. I was engaged in the most extravagant of all human behaviors, marking time.
Two things saved me from a career of wading through fish guts: the guitar and the library. It wasn’t the first time that I relied on the guitar to get me through a shaky patch, and it would not be the last. Not that I was ever very good at it — having a tin ear kind of limits a person’s musical potential — but looking at a year of waiting to fill out an application, I decided to do something I’d always wanted to do. I would learn to play fingerstyle.