So, if you’re anything like me, here’s some reasons you’ll pick up this book:
- You’re underemployed and sit at home and read a lot because you don’t like things like ‘outside’.
- You needed something ungodly long to read in the hopes that, by the time you finished, George R. R. Martin would have finished the 6th installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (spoiler: he didn’t).
- You’re not a huge fan of Harry Potter but still like magic.
- You kind of like main characters that are jerks.
- You can’t start a series without finishing it (this is book 2)
It’s a complicated book, and I have complicated feelings toward it. That is to say, it’s a long book, and I have long feelings toward it (Word tells me I have exactly 1,900 word-feelings to say about it).
The first installment what I have NO DOUBT is going to be a long series.
Context: I applied for an online editorial internship. Lady liked my résumé, sent me the beginning of a manuscript to edit (it was a chapter in an economics textbook), asked me to track the changes I made and send it back to her. She also sent me a ‘guide’ of sorts on how to edit. Keeping her guide in mind (which, the message I took from it was, ‘Don’t be afraid to rip it apart!’), I marked it up and sent it back. Within hours, I get this email back:
“I’m looking for a different editing style. I can’t hire you for this internship.
I know editing is highly subjective, but… ouch. What slays me is the use of “can’t”. You could hire me, you’re just choosing not to. There’s a difference.
I know, I know. I should’ve sent her a thank you letter for taking the time to give me a chance. But, this email came to me when I was at a bar celebrating a good friend’s birthday, and I might’ve ended up crying at a table full of people I didn’t know that well. Not because I wanted this specific internship super badly, but holy crap is it hard not to take it personally. It didn’t help that it was like my fifth rejection in a row.
But, oh well. What are my choices? Not apply for jobs so as to not receive rejections?
I soldier on.
Allow me to use myself as an example since, you know, I’m right here.
I have a ‘useless’ degree.
I was a Latin major.
Go on. Laugh. Tell me it’s dead. I dare you. I will argue you into next week, sir.
Now, I cannot count the number of times I’ve gotten more-or-less this reaction: “Latin?! What do you do with a degree in Latin?”
Most people mean well, as there aren’t too many readily apparent correlations between Latin-majoring and money-making.
“Are you going to teach?”
No. I’ve served my time in the school of education and the hell of student-teaching, and I can safely lock it all away into a little box labeled ‘not for me’ (another blog post for another time, alas).
“Then… what are you going to do after graduation?”
Start a blog, apparently.
But, if you’re like me with that ‘useless’ degree, then you understand the indignation, the anger, the anxiety, the defensiveness, the everything that bubbles to the surface when you’re asked that question. It’s a cavalcade of unpleasantness, and by senior year, I was just waiting for people to ask me ‘the question’. I had my answer locked-and-loaded, and I was ready to open fire with a round of philosophical bullets on the point of a degree in the humanities.
It went something like this:
Here I am.
It’s Monday. Approximately 4 p.m.
Sitting on my parents’ couch. Watching Jewelry TV because I find the slow rotation of sparkly things and the scripted enthusiasm for absolute junk to be relaxing. And maybe I dreamed a dream once of being a hand model.
I’ve been day-drinking. Skinny Girl Pina Colada, open and serve. Which, ever the one to follow directions to a T, I did just that. Additionally, I’ve been plowing my way through a bag of croutons, effectively sending out a nice “Screw you!” to my low carb diet of the past three months.
Watered-down rum and stale bread.
This is the shape that unemployment takes.
Who’s seen the movie Bridesmaids? There’s something almost romantic about Kristen Wiig’s character’s descent into unemployment, moving back in with her mother, crying on the couch to ‘Castaway’. It’s a commentary about the ups and downs of life that we can all relate to, because we’ve all been there—we’ve all experienced the awkwardity of physically being an adult while our minds rail against it. Hell, just last night I was crying at 3 a.m. because an infomercial for Oxy Clean came on featuring the late Billy Mays.
But, inevitably, through the magic of a movie montage, things pick back up, the protagonist falls back on her skills, she overturns a rock in her backyard to find that motivation had been lurking underneath the entire time, and there’s a ray of light-hope in the distance.
It’s just, the entire process takes 8 minutes.
I’ve been here on this couch for 8 months.
Nobody told me to expect this. I can vividly remember sitting at commencement, listening to Sanjay Gupta spout about the wonders of the world, and how I was going to charge in, grab life by its proverbial balls, and demand an audience.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, I’ve started off the year with a job-applying blitzkrieg. In the past two and a half weeks, I’ve sent out an upwards of fifty resumes and cover letters. I have no doubt that by the time I land that elusive entry-level first grown-up, real-girl job, it’ll be ten times as many. I’ve received five rejections and radio silence on everything else. I’ve scoured articles, networked with everyone to whom I’ve ever said the phrase, ‘Hi, I’m Sylvia’, received critiques on my resume and cover letters.
And it’s near impossible to keep optimistic. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
This feels like your worst breakup. This feels like stepping on the scale for the first time in a year and holy shit I did NOT gain twenty pounds. This feels like hearing people talk about you behind your back. This feels like getting blamed for something that’s not your fault.
In a word (or a few): this fucking sucks.
So, let’s talk about it.
A friend of mine in college had this gem of wisdom to pass along: either make good choices or make good memories.
While I’m not entirely convinced that this blog is a good choice, I only pray that it put a smile on your unemployed face just the same.