Sunday, July 19, 2009


Sometimes I think too much.

Sometimes I overanalyze a problem that I don't want to solve, in an effort to make it go away or seem like it's a problem to be dealt with far in the future. Case in point: the idea of going back to school or taking courses to acquire a skill set. The endless loop that my analysis leads me on is 1.) I'll have to pay for either program with money I don't have, and 2.) I'll still have to work while getting the degree/certification, so pursuing it now doesn't help me find a job.

That's square one: finding a job. Gone are the days when I could languish on a college campus and be content to fire off poetry in my free time while attending class, taking notes, writing papers, analyzing texts, and studying the rest of the time. What I want approaches more of what I had in Japan--a job that allowed me, in my free time, to travel, to go to my favorite hot spots, and later (when I had weekends free) to meet up with my friends. Nothing is worse than having a different schedule than one's friends. Right now, I have too much free time. I need something to fill up the time when my friends aren't around, but even when they are around, I can only meet up with the few who live nearby, since Connecticut lacks the public transportation system necessary to make travel beyond Hartford enjoyable.

So, option one is to pursue some sort of degree or certification. For a master's degree, I could major in anthropology or Asian studies (concentrating in Japanese). For an associate's degree or certification, there's cooking classes or reflexology. Cooking classes make sense, since I could work in restaurants while pursuing my degree. On the other hand, the hours would be wacky, since I'd be working when other people aren't, minus a weekday evening or two. And the pace would be fast. So, the other option is to work in a shop (like a pastry shop or a butcher's shop). That way, I get regular hours, and the pace isn't as fast, since most of the food would be made ahead of time. On the other hand, cooking for me would be more of a release than a job skill, so perhaps that certification should wait until I find a job doing something else.

Anthropology and Asian studies would be great degrees to get, but again, I'd have to find work during the two or so years it would take to achieve those degrees. Some of them have work study programs, but could I get housing, as well? The less time I spend here, the better, but even better would be to come home to my own place, not the place where I grew up. See what I mean about overanalysis?

As for reflexology, pursuing that certification has more to do with my fascination of the human body than my fascination with doing it as a career. I like receiving hand and foot massages, but giving them to strangers? At least the hours would be good, since massage workers are limited in the amount of hours they can strain their hands every week (around 20 in Connecticut, I believe). And I could intern while pursuing that degree. In fact, that was my number one option when I came back from Japan, killed by my too detailed thought processes. It's a wonder that I can write anything at all with such a powerful inner critic. Perhaps I need to learn how to shut it off when job hunting the same as I do when I write.

I forgot curatorial and archival work. I'd need degrees for either position, but I have enough museum experience to pursue a career in one of those fields. The problem with a museum job is 1.) the hours can be wacky (though curators and archivists also work for businesses, and can keep regular hours), and 2.) I wonder if I'm interested in doing either job only because I've had prior museum experience. Then again, why do something similar to something I've done before? Including summer jobs, I have worked at an outdoor sports complex, done customer service in the video and book sections of a store, cashiered, given tours in a historical home, taught non-native speakers how to speak English, worked in a foreign school system, and substitute taught in an elementary school. So the real question is, what do I want to do next, and of those options, which one would best allow me to leave this house in the shortest amount of time possible?

And what about jobs I could do without furthering my education? Well, I could continue to substitute teach, though I'd have to apply to more places than the one I worked at last year, so that I'm working almost every month, instead of less than twenty days out of the year. Since my dad is planning on selling off the car which I've used previously to get around (a blue van that we've had since 1994, my sister's freshman year of college), I feel it's best to find a job in a large city, where public transportation can take the place of a vehicle. Of course, not all cities have good public transportation. I wouldn't, for example, be able to live in L.A. Then again, who'd want to drive in that traffic? I mean, unless you want to work in the movie business, in which case, I would drive, too. But writers can live anyone, can't they? The "Lost Generation" of American writers congregated in France. Pearl S. Buck was in China when The Good Earth was published. Haruki Murakami lived in Europe while he wrote Norwegian Wood.

As for me, I could've stayed in Japan, but that part of me that wanted to thrive, not just "get by," wouldn't let me. And while I have many friends still in Japan, whom I miss very much, what I once had in that country that might have kept me there was gone long before I left that island nation and headed home, to be greeted by family, friends, and disappointment. Well okay, the disappointment happened later, but it sounds better when written that way, don't you think?

Anyway, I'd love for all of you who are reading this to comment on what you think I should do, but let me add a caveat: think of what is best for ME when writing your responses, not what would benefit YOU. For example, don't say I should move to San Francisco just because you happen to live nearby, or that I should work for the federal government because you happen to. Many of you may, in reply, say, "Well, what do YOU think would be the best course of action for you?" or "What kind of job are you looking for?" or "Where would you like to live?"

My reply: I really don't know.


  1. I can't tell you to do, but what I did for a while was just worked just to pay the bills, while trying to get into Illustration. I had help from my parents ( Ok, A LOT OF HELP) and I would have kept going but New York was really beating me down.

    So I tried a new location and teaching. Teaching, now that I look back on it, seems so natural to me because I always love talking about things I love and explaining or thinking about or sharing how things work. And I like kids. But teaching is defiantly plan B. It's another career. It's a career that's hard to balance with a second career forming in the wings. It takes a lot of time and energy and dedication. There is homework and lots of it.

    Will I teach all my life? I hope not always full time. Ideally I would love to Illustrate AND teach. I see teaching being there but hopefully maybe at a college (yeah right) or somewhere part time that allows me the freedom to focus on PLAN A once more.

  2. You should read "The Alchemist" if you haven't already. And yes, New York City has beaten down many a person, as has L.A., which is one reason why I'm not interested in living in either place. Ever.


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