Welcome to My Pity Party

October 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

When I was a kid, my worst nightmare was that I would spend my career working at Wal-Mart. (OK, that wasn’t literally my worst nightmare. My worst nightmare was that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man would kill me in my sleep. But that Wal-Mart thing was my biggest rational fear. Just go with it.)

I grew up in a very small town with very few economic opportunities. I’ve always fancied myself relatively bright. Not Ivy League bright, but bright enough to know that I would be bored working in a checkout line. So I did well in high school, went to college, then to law school. I studied abroad. I interned at a large civil rights nonprofit in Washington, D.C. I passed the bar. And now…

I’ve been underemployed or unemployed for the past 16 months. I’m lucky, though; so far I have enough support around me to make ends meet. Also? I hate that “not homeless” is considered lucky. But let’s be honest, Sallie Mae isn’t going to let me put off paying back my $130,000 student loan debt indefinitely.

I was really inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. I felt really alone for a long time. Everyone I went to school with seems to be employed, and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. But Occupy Wall Street, and specifically the incredibly depressing Tumblr We Are the 99 Percent, have shown me that I’m not alone. I guess misery really does love company.

The stress is really starting to get to me. I’m not very good at expressing myself verbally, so I’m starting this blog. Not to wallow in my own self-pity (although that will undoubtedly be part of it), but to document my pilgrimage in vagrancy. I hope to write about my job search and economic news, but mostly I want to keep my sanity and my sense of humor. I’ve noticed myself getting more and more bitter lately, and I need to nip that in the bud.

Hopefully this will not only be a cathartic experience for me, but for you, as well. This website is still under construction, so feel free to check in periodically for updated info. Until then, good luck out there, everybody.

Featured image credit: YouTube

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§ 3 Responses to Welcome to My Pity Party

  • Rebecca B. says:

    No, you’re not alone.

    The only thing either Eric or I want right now — the big DREAM — is stability, in any way, shape or form. We both just want jobs we can enjoy … whatever they might be. We’ve learned to sort of accept that it’s gonna be hard to shoot for something more field-specific than that. In fact, the reality is, it’ll likely be difficult to find jobs we can even tolerate.

    At UF, they’re always talking to us about our post-MFA plans. Here’s a line from a recent email from the head of the program: “There are a number of choices for an MFA graduate: fellowships; PhD degrees in literature, education or creative writing; teaching (private secondary school, community college, or sometimes as a part-time lecturer at a university); publishing or editorial work; and miscellaneous (like library assistant).”

    So, to translate: Your choices are a) another temporary means of income, b) more schooling, c) poorly-paid adjunct teaching or, if you’re lucky, pie-in-the-sky private school work, d) publishing other people’s shit in a market where print publishing is dying or e) something that you never needed a Masters in English for in the first place.

    Both Eric and I are worried that, in a matter of a couple of years, we’re going to be adrift again. Every MFA that I know who has recently graduated is either going after a PhD or is working at, like, TGI Fridays’ corporate headquarters. And then what? Eric is in his mid-30s and he’s still working paycheck to paycheck at three jobs.

    It’s not like I THOUGHT having a Masters would swing open doors … but I see this ocean of unemployed post-MFAs and MAs and even PhDs scrambling for work and I think … fuck, fuck, fuck. What’s gonna happen to us? We’re a dime a dozen.

    Did I mention that the best job Eric could get after receiving his Masters was working the counter at Burger King? He applied to 72 places, and got only one call-back. The big BK Lounge. And, Christ, we were glad to have the income by that time.

    Still, our hopes have been dashed … and we’re so scared.

    Saw this documentary called ‘Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk’; it’s on Netflix Instant. Powerful stuff. Thought it might interest you, too.

    Anyway. That’s all I can think to say: You’re not alone. I am so sorry this is happening to you, too.

    • Mindy says:

      Rebecca, let me just say that if you ever want to write about this stuff, you can use this blog. I’m not sure how many people it will reach, but you can use it anyway.

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