Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Effort at Synthesis: Alienation, Tribalism, Inverse Operations

So. In spite of my efforts (best or otherwise), I'm still unemployed.

Money's tight. While I'm in not in any immediate danger of being rolled out into the street, I've all but declared a moratorium on checking account withdrawals for anything but rent, utilities, groceries, and the occasional cup of coffee. I don't eat out anymore. I don't have the disposable income to go to shows, bars, or the theatre, so the nightlife is off limits to me. I can't afford a rock gym membership, and I can't pay the admission price for the Philadelphia M:tG scene (though I'd be just asking for trouble anyway).

Not having any money is bad. Not having any obligations is worse. I can sleep until eleven, noon, two in the afternoon—and it makes no difference. There's nobody expecting me, asking about me, or depending on me. I have no business with anyone in this city, and nobody in this city has any business with me. I feel like J. Alfred Prufrock. Or maybe Waluigi.

On second thought, it's not true that nobody in this city has any business with me. I do have friends around town, and here at home. But for the most part they're widely dispersed throughout the city, and they all have jobs. By the time they punch out in the evening, I'm too emotionally and spiritually enervated from sitting in bed all day and reloading Craigslist between X-Files episodes to be very good company for anyone—and besides, it's often the case that when my friends get out of work, they'd not up for doing much but sitting at home by themselves and watching Netflix or playing video games to cleanse their psychic palates.

Several friends have told me they wish they had more personal time, shorter commutes, and a better work/life balance. It's funny: most people I know need vacations, and I need my fucking vacation to be over already.

But I'm not sure how happy a new job would make me. I seem to remember having two different jobs at two different places in 2015, and there were too many days when I went about my shifts with a cloud of invisible black luna moths flitting about my head whispering this is pointless, you are pointless pointless pointless

And then most evenings I'd go home and sit by myself. Or wander onto a bar patio and, well, sit by myself.

I know a lot of people who seem dissatisfied. They tell me they would love to spend their time more intentionally, more meaningfully. When I ask how, their answers usually involve volunteering in some capacity, or a vague yen to "get involved." To make a difference. To contribute to something; to be a part of something.

I wonder if that isn't an oblique way of articulating loneliness.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Unemployment diary (cont.)

Harry Clarke, Descent into the Maelstrom

October 8: Sent out fifteen resumes before noon. Took a break to read up on yoga and breathing techniques to slow my metabolism so I won't have to eat so damned often.

October 9: Had idea for supplementary income: charge roommates time and materials for hanging out with them. Not only do I need a job, but apparently I also need roommates who appreciate me.

October 15: Rough week. No calls. Slim pickings on Craigslist today. Don't smoke enough to qualify for the $100/week smoker study at UPenn; can't afford to buy more cigarettes.

October 19: Bought new slacks for office assistant interview. Forgot to peel the sticker off; had it pointed out to me by the man conducting the interview. Tried to save face by peeling it off, slapping it over his mouth, and telling him to shut up and listen while I told him why I'd be an invaluable, incomparable asset to his team. Don't have a good feeling about this one.

October 21: Epiphany. Job interviews in customer service are a fine conversational kabuki wherein the applicant and the interviewer both (as individuals and as a pair) pretend they don't despise the average customer. Dispensing with the mendacity and trying to level with the interviewer on this point—decidedly not recommended.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

And that's a wrap.

Earlier this year, The Puritan, an illustrious Toronto lit zine that has been kind enough to publish a couple of my stories in the past (ahem and ahem), asked me if I'd curate their blog for a month. My job was to come up with a theme, rope about ten other people into writing posts around that theme, and cobble together three of my own pieces. The subject, in a nutshell, was the position, evolution, and viability of (print) literature in the twenty-first century. The whole thing went down in October—perhaps I should have said something about it earlier?

Well, here's the whole kaboodle, then. My three pieces were:
And here are my lovely and talented contributors!

In related news, I have a short story called "Katherine" in the new issue of Four Chambers. It's behind a paywall (you have to buy the magazine), but come on, support the arts. The editors have characterized my story as "gnarly," which was indeed what I was going for.