Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Saga of Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, Same Days.

Here's the thing about graduate school; it doesn't take up an awful lot of time. This is for a variety of reasons: I am in no way funded or employed by the school, so while my peers are sweating out their syllabi for their undergraduate courses and managing teaching on top of grading papers on top of being a student, I'm sitting pretty watching the library's DVDs (this weekend we had a double-feature of The Hobbit and The Shining). I am also brand new at this, so my schedule worked out that I'm not enrolled in any faculty-taught Fiction workshops, so until October, when our first visiting writer arrives to teach a workshop, I have class on Mondays and Mondays only.

So the weekend seems to start on Monday night when I crash back into our housepartment, starving from six hours of classes with one piddly fifteen-minute break in between (and a handful of raisins because we eat like small children here; our pantry is pretty much peanut butter, Nutella, and granola bars, and our fridge is mostly milk and beer), and the weekend ends the next Monday, midafternoon.

And when I wake up at 10:30 and spend the rest of the morning in my jammies, eating granola out of a soup mug and reading unassigned books and slowly warming up to the day, I think, this is awesome. But then the coffee kicks in and I realize, Fuck, this is not living, this is playing. Aren't we supposed to be grown-ups? Would grown-ups have peanut butter and jelly for dinner, with peanut butter and Nutella for dessert? Would grown-ups resolve to be the first to lay claim to the library copy of Fire Walk With Me when it's processed (whatever that means), though this might require rewatching the entirety of Twin Peaks? Would grown-ups loiter in their jammies (or less) until lunch?

The answer is: I guess so?

Which is all a long preamble to the big ish right now, what we'll call Oh Hello This Is What Living in A Shitty Economy is Like, otherwise known as A Dozen Cookies to Whoever Gives Me or Rob a Job.

Which is funny, because I applied to the Great American Cookie Company. In the mall. You know, the place where you get cookie cakes? With fun frosted messages? The quirky alternative to a regular cake?

And part of me really dies, literally rolls over on its back and puts its paws in the air and thinks, Euthanize away, the way Penny sometimes acts when it's particularly hot in the backyard, when I consider that I might voluntarily take orders from fussy mothers on what shade of blue icing I'll use on their son's birthday cookie cake (cerulean or cornflower or Carolina?), or stand in Yankee Candle gift-wrapping Apple Spice Pumpkin Explosion three-wick twelve-inch cylindricals, or next door, pestering customers about what fragrance they're looking for at Bath & Body Works, something summery? Or something seductive? How about a Fresh Cotton foot liqueur? On sale this week, this week only. There's a certain agonizing irony to writing "Published, Pushcart Prize Nominee" under Awards on an application to work in a place that sells fucking aromatic candles.

But part of me thinks, hell, this is what that silly Real Life Experience is supposed to be, right? And more importantly, that was what I leveled when Rob expressed pretty valid reservations at the idea of ignoring the plethora of opportunities in NYC, all of two hours from his house, and packing up shop to move to North Carolina, nine hours south, just to be with me. What about jobs? we both asked. This is not the time for careers, we said. This is the time for odd jobs and strange and wild misadventures that make great anecdotes at bars or dinner parties. This is the time to throw caution to the wind! To go forth, unafraid! To enjoy simple costless pleasures like the beach, and games of Scrabble, and games of Scrabble at the beach!

I'd be lying if I said we weren't feeling the strain. The aggravating part is that we're not being extravagant and yet our wallets are always skinny, because we've run out of hummus or we need a roll of duct tape or the rent's due. We stay in more than is good for us, but the cash still dribbles away. Rob had a brief and terrible opportunity at becoming an insurance salesman, but details have emerged and we're both hoping RadioShack calls back, because frankly, the boy likes things with buttons. I keep thinking RadioShack is the one where the employees wear referee shirts, but I realize now that's Foot Locker. He likes shoes, too. Who doesn't like shoes?

So, of course, I'm working on a story where the main character makes a list of things she likes in hopes of finding a job, and I've done the exact same thing, which I explained in a semi-manic, blathering way to one of my professors who saw me in the parking lot of the mall, said hello, and asked if I was shopping. I told her no, job-hunting, and that, after consideration and much list-making, I'd decided I liked cookies, candles, and soap. Hence my choices in potential employments. All the while her adorable daughter, propped on her hip, was looking at me like I was a scary-person who should not be smiled at. But I can't blame her, and I don't.

Using this method I have also applied to work in a florist's as well as the requisite bookstore. If I get desperate, which I very well might, it's back to the Mac Shack, the Macaroni Grill, where I'll at least be old enough to pour wine for the guests without fetching a legal-aged bartender and standing by unhappy and embarrassed.

We'll see how it all pans out. But really, my plan is this: Become famous. Become wealthy. Pay debt. Convince Rob to go to culinary school. Eat amazing home-cooked meals and live happy as a lark for the rest of my life. Essentially, in the immortal words of Fiddy Cent: Get rich or die tryin'.

There are also tentative plans to abandon academia and use my writing skillz to become a rap sensation, but those plans are too secret to even be mentioned here.

Rob's cooking kielbasa and I don't even know what that is but I can't wait. Bon appetit, and bon voyage, too.

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