Left to luck

A puff of white flew past me on a late summer breeze. I caught it and plucked off the little seed, like when I was a kid. If you catch a dandelion seed, you get to make a wish. My wishes have always been intense feelings of need or want rather than a coherent sentence in my head. Need. Job. I gave the white fluff back to the wind and watched it drift away.

I’m not one to leave it up to luck. I’m not a lucky person, in the win-the-door-prize, pick-the-right-door, find-twenty-dollars kind of way. I never have been. So, I learned to control my life outside of luck and wishes and to make it impossible to fail.

I have always defined myself by my ambition. My thing has always been working, and working hard. I’ve had a job since I was 15. The only time I’ve actually been unemployed since then was this past year in Newcastle. It was common for me to have two jobs, plus school full time. For one very stressful month in 2007, I had three. My resumé, if all is included, is more than five pages long.

Needless to say, I don’t know how to be unemployed. This is the only time I’ve ever looked for a job while I didn’t already have one.

And I’m finding jobs. Not the job of my dreams, but well paying jobs that I am qualified for. And I rewrite and send off resumés and cover letters. Fill out applications. And I press send and I feel like I’m sending it off into this void and I just never know if I’ll ever hear about it again.

I sit at home watching TV and flinch a little every time the phone rings, hoping it will be for me and it will be a job interview. I interview well, I just need to get there. Need. Interview.

I go days without doing anything of significance. I’m driving myself crazy.

I need a career, too. But I can only worry about that, while I don’t have a job. Need. Direction.

So, since logic and my impressive (yes, I say so myself) resumé doesn’t work, I have no choice but to wish. To bargain with the powers that be (or don’t be) for a chance to at least make some money, if not to be happy.

What can you do with an MA in Archaeology? Pretty much nothing.

I had to know

I went for a walk.

I’ve been going crazy with nothing to do with my life. Saturday is just like any other day when you have no job, and what’s the point of getting out of bed?

I didn’t know where I was going when I left. I thought about maybe walking to the store to get something for lunch. I like to eat when I’m sad, like the majority of the population of North America. But I didn’t. I went the other way, to an old park that I used to walk or bike to in the summer, before I learned to drive and work for a living.

Woods, photo by me

I walked around the woods behind the park, aimlessly, for nearly two hours. It was such a beautiful day. I remembered Girl Guide hikes and camping trips from my childhood. Exploring the forest and learning about different types of trees and how the higher branches block out the sun that the lower ones need to grow and you’re left dead limbs at the bottom and beautiful greenery on top.

Pond, photo by me

I only saw two people the entire time. I saw a deer, and a little pond and one of those fuzzy caterpillars. And a bunch of crazy orange mushrooms.

Orange mushroom, photo by me

When I headed out of the woods, finally, I wanted to see if there were still apple trees in the park. I was determined. I had to know if there were still apple trees and pussywillows and the wobbly foot bridge across the pond. I had to know if a twig with sap on one end would still propel itself across the water. I had to know if it was all still out there and if I could still climb the tree.

The thing that has always grounded me is nature. I’m not an overly outdoorsy person, but I need wind and stars and oceans and trees and funny orange mushrooms. I need them to remind me that I’m small and there is so much world out there.

Forest, photo by me

In the clouds

I’m painting my childhood room. I moved back in with my parents when I came back from England, because I have absolutely no money and currently no prospects of making any.

For the past couple of days I’ve been wading through memories. Taking down high school photos and posters of Orlando Bloom. Sorting through clouds, fairies and unicorns (yes, I was that kind of kid, and no, I didn’t decorate at 8 but rather 15… I like to call it whimsical, not lame, okay?)

It’s eerie. This room, with doodles and pictures and stickers everywhere, used to be so definitively me. Cluttered, sporadic, colourful and a bit odd. Now it just seems so past, so yesterday. I smile in remembrance of the song lyrics scrawled on my white board, but I haven’t listened to those songs in years.

It’s very strange, going back and trying to still move forward. There’s a lot of throwing away and boxing up and sometimes donating in hopes that someone, somewhere, will love these things as much as I once did.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

After reading a variety of fluffy romance type novels while I worked on my dissertation (see: the first 8 books on this year’s list of 50), I finally read something substantial this past week. Something I’ve been meaning for years to read. In fact, I think I bought the book about 5 years ago.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I know, it’s surprising that I haven’t read it before now. In fact, I could even talk about it before I did read it, since my Dad loves it and I know what it’s about (and I saw the movie, of course).

My love for sci-fi is a fickle thing. I was a Trekkie as a kid. I had a phaser toy and figurines of the characters. I had a t-shirt that said Property of Starfleet Academy. I had a huge crush on Wil Wheaton, aka Wesley Crusher. In fact, I still remember a dream I had when I was kid of Wesley Crusher saving all the kids in my swimming class.

This being said, I’m picky about my sci-fi. This is mostly because science makes no sense to me. All the talk of physics and mechanics and time space type things hurts my head. However, I love the prominent dystopia theme in science fiction.

So, some of my favourite books are sci-fi: 1984, Brave New World, Breakfast of Champions. Last year I developed a love for Stargate and watched all ten seasons of SG-1 and five of Atlantis in about two months. Last month I watched the entire series of Firefly. And I really love them.

When I finally sat down to read Hitchhiker’s, I knew I was going to like it before reading even the first word. I loved the movie, even though many people seem to hate it (I have no taste in movies, this is a well-known fact). What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would enjoy it. And in what way.

Hitchhiker’s is a really intelligent book. It seems random at times, but it is so smart. The entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think he’s so much smarter than me! The vocabulary is great. Douglas Adams knows how to use language in every possible way and take it to it’s limits. It’s what other writers only wish they could do.

The plot wasn’t as interesting as I would’ve liked, probably because I’d seen the movie already. But I kept reading for the style. It was so entertaining. Funny, random and thoughtful.

The copy I have includes all four books in the trilogy, so I’ll have to read the others soon as well.

The question

It comes in many forms. It does not sneak up unaware. You can see it coming from a mile away.

So, what now? Or And what are you going to do with that degree? Or And what are you doing now? Or any of the various versions of the same question, which usually begin with a conjunction.

You come prepared, with a party line. With a list of things you would like to do and evidence to support your doing so. But it’s all just talk - an attempt to answer the second hardest question: what are you going to do with your life?

(The first hardest question being: Who are you?)

The thing is, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that, at least not one that can be summed up in a less than ten minute conversation with a near stranger who happens to share the same bloodline as me. So I say what I think they want to hear. What I want to hear myself say. And I try to sound convincing, because everything is fine.

But with two degrees and zero employment opportunities at the moment, it’s pretty much the only conversation going on that I’m a part of.

I don’t know.

Short term? I need a job.

Long term? I need a career.

What career? Who knows. I need to commit either to finding a museum job or to going back to school to get my PhD so I can teach.

I suppose in the end it’s all just different shades of the first hardest question.