I feel like I am coming out of the closet here ... there is traditionally so much animosity between the Arts and the hard Sciences, especially engineering, including in my soul at times, I fear.
My first degree was in English Language and Literature, at Queen's University Kingston. It was a classic survey course covering everythig from Pearl and Sir Gawain in the original Old/Middle English through Chaucer, the Elizabethans, Dryden, Johnson and the 17th century writers, the Romantics and the Victorians. It stopped dead at Hardy: no modern poets, novelists or essayists. I was a passable student who filled her elective courses with mathematics and microbiology. Definietly confused.
When I began my final year of English, I panicked at the available career choices: teaching, government or insurance companies seemed to be the offerings. So I negotiated with my generous parents and applied for Applied Science. Amazingly, I was accepted, into a class of about 5% women.
I fell in love with geology but pragmatism reared its head and I plumped for Civil Engineering instead, thinking that way I would avoid spending my summers in a tent. I specialised in traffic and transportation.
All the time I was studying, I was torn: frustrated by the lack of the concrete in Arts and the lack of the mystery in Science. This continued in my working career.
The best jobs I had as an employed engineer were ones in strategic planning, where I was trying to forecast future trends and develop ways to modify traveller behaviour. I felt I was finally combining the two sides of my brain, and I was writing poetry in my spare time. Not that I had much spare time as I was completing my MSc, mothering two babies, squeezing in a husband and working full time. I used to write on the train going to and from work.
I really miss the intellectual challenges of working and the sense of being 'in' on many of the big development decisions in government, but working full time was exhausting and the move to Malaysia - which in many ways was incredibly difficult (a subject I will save for another post) - gave me the break from the rat-race I needed. I couldn't work in Malaysia as the government there does not support accompanying spouse employment and the logistics of having young children in boarding school also did not favour the time commitment a job would entail. I did do a few freelance studies 'privately'.
This is very long-winded and I still haven't answered Tim's question: do the mental pathways of engineering, or the language, influence my poetry?
Yes, I think so. You may have noticed I'm not one for fluffy pink goo and I tend to be a little tough and realistic (I hope). But engineers aren't alien creatures, they do have souls, love music and art and poetry (Marius is a violinist) and well ... if the human mind isn't smart enough to understand itself, how should I know?