Monday, January 14, 2013


Hmm ---- I feel like I should be making New Year's Resolutions or plans or lists, or something. Yes, yes, I could have done that at the actual new year, but the new MLA dates make me feel all discombobulated.

Although --- why make New Year's Resolutions? I guess resolving to be what you already are --- in my case, lazy and indecisive --- doesn't really take the same effort or commitment that it does to change oneself. But then are these resolutions really at all about changing oneself?

Not long ago some of my friends on facebook were chatting about the futility of pop-magazine articles, how predictable and formulaic they are. Every single one of them starts out the new year with "New Year, New You!" and exhorts you to make efforts to change all sorts of things about you, your body, your career, your mental outlook. And then the next months are all about Celebrate these Heteronormative Consumer-Obsessed Holidays That Will Directly Undermine Your New You! soon to be followed by issues exhorting you to feel shitty about your body in the obligatory The Beach and Bikinis Are Coming And You Should Look Like These Models! issue. I guess the point is that  committing to actual substantive change would be something more than this --- probably the first step would be to throw out all those damn pop magazines --- and that the ritual of calling for, and failing to enact, real change is the Old You. The You You. Ok, now I have confused myself.

I'm feeling pessimistic about the ability to resolve to make any changes in what I suspect are pretty fundamental aspects of my personality. Procrastinating? Proposing wildly over-ambitious to-do lists for every day and every project? Spending too much time on the internet? Leaving semi-organized piles of stuff everywhere? Sitting home alone like a lump? Complaining about piddly shit? Falling off the exercise goal? These are all characteristics about myself that I have known about for most of my life. They probably aren't going to change in any significant way by now. On the other hand, why resolve to work on something that needs no work? It seems also to contradict the values of hard work and improvement central to the project of higher education, etc etc.

Maybe the problem is not the resolutions and the plans but the way my life appears to be stuck in a rut. (Side note to those of you not following along elsewhere: I had one MLA interview and have already been rejected for that school, and am back in the cycle of grinding out the post-MLA applications.) One of my professors once asked, "Do you know why everyone loves bildungsromans, Sisyphus? Because we tell ourselves that growing up is about having some sort of insight or realization that then makes you into the person you are supposed to be. The arc of the story has a telos. What we don't want to know is that, if we were to see that person later, he'd be making the same damn mistake over and over again." Of course, adding career ---> move up the ladder ---> marriage ---> buy a house ---> have a kid adds a bunch of mini-quests, as it were, to the story and disguises the fact that it's the same damn cycle over and over.

What am I saying here? I'm saying that once again it is spring semester and I need to prep my classes, apply for another round of jobs, make to-do lists and plans about revising my book yet again, unless I need to be making plans for beefing up my credentials for those second-round, comp-focused jobs, unless I should be making plans for strategizing and moving into some sort of alternate career ---- the same dilemmas I struggled with and couldn't make a decision about last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and nothing much that I do seems to change anything. As if in punishment for being unable to make a clear decision about anything, I am forced to relive the year. It's like Groundhog Day. No wait, its not like Groundhog Day, which provided the certainty that everything would happen all over again, whereas I feel like at any moment, any decision I make, I could fuck it all up. I don't remember much in the movie about making rent and paying the student loans and making sure the cats have food, anyway.

Wow, this got really depressing really fast, eh? I totally wasn't planning that. Sorry. This is just my version of the pop magazine ritual ---- what the hell am I doing with my life? Fuck-all if I know.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I like what your professor said about the bildungsroman. So true. So depressing.

I'm sorry that MLA didn't work out for you this year. It never did for me either. I hope the spring jobs give you better results.

undine said...

Sorry to hear about the job, but you *did* get an interview, so that's something, when there are so many applicants. I guess it's hard to take heart at that, but an interview is a good sign. Good luck with spring jobs.