In time, you will call me master

So this might be my last post on Still Life with Grad Student. Not because I haven’t posted in a year. Just because it’s no longer accurate.

I passed my thesis defense. So I’m no longer a grad student, aight?

I almost can’t believe I’m finally done. Like, I’m a free person again! I can read books for leisure! I can play video games! I can watch Netflix! I can bake an entire cake and eat it! I can overthrow the government of a small town! I’m freeeeeee!

cave meme

And you might think, hey, a master’s degree, that’s not bad. Not me. All I could think of on the way out was my mediocre performance and the fact that I just don’t understand questions when they come to me in the form of human speech. So I was on the train, tying my gloves in knots and reliving every awkward pause, every not-quite-detailed answer, and every time I just didn’t understand what you want from me, phrase your questions better, damn you! If you want to know what anxiety and depression look like when they’re together, this is it.

On the bright side, in the near future I might earn some money, which means I can finally get out and get some decent therapy again.

But first… money. And because it’s impossible to get a job with my skills and I don’t feel like moving halfway across Europe, I made the decision some months ago that I’m going to become self-employed. Why not? Not like I like routine and a fixed income, I mean, psshhh, who does? That’s so boring! Why not have to market yourself to strangers! That sounds like a plan!

So for the past four months I’ve taken training and classes and I’m pretty much well-prepared to start out in January. Maybe I’ll rename this blog. Still Life with Freelancer, or something. Because boiiiiii, do I have things to complain about.

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Rant Day: Tales of Urrrrrgh

Item 1:

Let’s talk about digital hoarding for a second. I’m sure you’re doing it. You, yes, you. Yes, you with the face. You’re a digital hoarder. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean. Are you trying to tell me you dont save millions of screenshots, pictures, recipes, conversations, thirty different versions of your résumé, and no longer relevant documents?

Oh, you really don’t? I’m so sorry!

And the worst of the offenders are of course us MMO playing wackos. Currently, I’m facing the mammoth task of… cleaning out my WoW characters’ banks. I could sing hymns of praise to our dark overlord Blizzard for finally installing a wardrobe so you don’t have to keep collecting outfits in like a semi-physical sense that clogs up all your bags. But I’m getting the same irrational separation anxiety I already suffer every year when I have to clean out my actual closet. But, but… what if I still need it?! What if it fits me after I lose some weight?! What if they get rid of this new feature?! What if the system crashes and I lose everything?! What if…

Yeah. I may or may not have a problem. Is it still First World Problems if it’s online? Do we call this First Cyber Problems? European Server Problems? Problems of a semi-millennial part-time digital native?

Item 2:

In other news, I’m fairly confident my thesis supervisor has fallen down a well somewhere. I haven’t heard anything from her since I sent her my theory part a month ago. She hasn’t had any office hours since mid-July. I feel like I’m at the beginning of an epic adventure film (parody) in which I will travel distant fantastical lands and battle demons and beasts and rare mobs in my quest to rescue my supervisor and thus can finally complete the main quest, my thesis!

Or maybe she’s just on vacation. But I like my version better.

Also, I still have at least 60 pages to go. I’m so fucking dead.

Item 3:

I just read today that Pokemon Go is losing players rapidly. I mean, I guess we should have seen this coming. It was new and innovative and new, and games don’t live long on the newness factor. After a while I guess people become bored or frustrated or don’t feel like bracing the sun and the rain and the group of jeering youths that mock you mercilessly because you’ve been trying to catch an ugly ass duck thing for five minutes now. Not that that happened to Boyfriend or anything, its just a random, oddly specific example.

The entire premise is discomforting anyway. I mean, look at it through the eyes of a peasant from the 14th century. You’d see a lot of invisible demons that might turn up everywhere, literally on your shoulder, and the only one who can control them is that weirdly clothed warlock with his magical handmirror. And maybe if you offend the warlock he’ll sic all the enslaved demons on you! Run!

Now there’s a movie idea. Forget Yankees in King Arthur’s court, fucking cart Arthur into the present! A present full of wizards! Witchcraft! The forces of evil have finally overtaken the land! And the good burghers think it’s a lark!

Item 4:

I made a mistake at work the other day and I feel like I should crawl under a rock and die a slow perfectionist death.

Item 5:

So anyway, y’all see the new Ghostbusters?

Actually, I don’t wanna hear it, I don’t care, that movie is awesome, my inner nine-year-old loved the everloving hell out of it and has also decided to marry Jillian Holtzmann when we grow up. I mean, mom would get used to her eventually and dad would be so proud because I’m sure he always wanted for me to marry an engineer!

And to anyone trying to come in here like, oh, but she’s not canon gay, I say she’s the gayest gay to ever gay! And it’s fucking obvious if you’ve been hit with the queer stick yourself! Chrissakes, she’s been hitting on Erin the moment she walked in the door! That was very obvious hitting-on! The only way to make it any more obvious was to hit her over the head with a phaser pack! While chanting “I want to get in your pants for sex purposes!”

Also, they shot that ghost in the boo-balls. Spooky nuts. Geisterklöten. I approve of that.

I’m not doing anything in particular, you wanna hear about it?

Updates from my life.

I’ve been at my new job for a month now and I think I’m doing pretty okay. At least no one’s complained about me so far, so that’s good, right? Still a bit confused about some of the administration-esque stuff but that’s just a matter of time. I suppose I might be confusing my boss a little, she keeps asking if I like it there. I’m like yeah, I like it, please keep me. Is it so weird for someone to like working? My colleagues probably think it is. I mean, we have these phases during the day when there is literally nothing to do, like nothing’s coming in, and they just go on facebook and stuff while I’m bored. And they keep telling me to be happy that there’s not much to do. I think I’m still suffering from newbie motivation.

It’s just like with the weather, I’m overjoyed that it’s raining again while everyone around me is tolling the death bell for summer already. I can’t wait for summer to be over. If summer was equipped with an agreeable temperature I wouldn’t mind so much. But the 30C and over nonsense? Keep that. Who actually likes sweating?

I suppose if this job thing takes off and I can find something full-time later on it’s gonna be time to move, I’m apparently not made for extreme climates. Is there a place on this planet that’s constantly within the 20-25C zone? No? Damn.

It’s like I came to Earth with a “Keep at room temperature” sticker attached. I’m like a fucking potted plant with feelings.

In other news I handed in the theory chapter of my thesis and as luck would have it, exactly two minutes before submitting my work I stumbled across more literature. That could be useful. Which somehow didn’t show its sorry face before that exact moment.

Speaking of thesis, how often can you use ‘disregard’ and ‘thus’ in 20 pages without sounding like you don’t give a fuck anymore? There really aren’t that many synonyms, though.

And then there’s the whole business of signing up to half a dozen scientific networks just so you can get access to ONE paper that looks promising and then you don’t get it because the author can’t be arsed to give you access and meanwhile you get notifications that your profile has been viewed, like no, don’t, stop looking at me! I’m just here to quote your shit, get off!

This might be the last academic thing I’ll ever write and I’m not sure if that thought should scare me.

And other than that… I’m doing nothing. I’ve never felt so lazy in my life. Sports? Nah. Computer? Still a month until Legion. Friends? Eh, every couple of weeks is fine. Family? They went to Greece and I haven’t seen anyone in over a month. Boyfriend? Lost that one to Pokemon Go.

I still have the sneaking suspicion that Pokemon Go is a cunning plan to get our overweight generation of children moving again. It’s damn more effective than any school programs, that’s for sure. Remember how old people used to complain that kids these days don’t play outside any more? Fixed that for ya! Everyone is playing this stupid game! If this was a Doctor Who episode it would be a plot by disgruntled aliens to take over the world. It’d work, too.

So I’m meeting a friend for coffee and we have coffee and then she says, hey, wanna take a walk in the park, weather’s so nice, so I’m like, sure. One minute in she pulls out her phone to just “quickly check” if there are any of those pesky little things about. Another minute and she joins the walking braindead. Half the city’s in the park. Almost no one’s moving. Everyone is staring intently at their phone. And I know I’ve lost.

I’m meeting some other friends a week later at my place. Everybody on their phone catching things I didn’t even know were in my flat. Also, apparently I live near a Pokestop. Hot?

Meanwhile I’m over here like… you fuckers laughed at my WoW pet collection and now you’re wasting precious cell phone space on this? You suck!

I mean, it’s not even like there’s a feature that projects a hologram of those things so it looks like they’re running along with you. You know? That would be nice, just having a little computer generated animal following you all day. It’d be cute! But no. Just run around like an idiot and get hit by a car trying to catch some fucking flappy ass bat thing.

And now suddenly, my reclusive shut-in semi-hermit of a boyfriend has the urge to take walks. Hey, let’s take a walk in the park! Flashback to when I said things like that last year and it was like… nah, gotta finish this Hearthstone game. Nah, I wanna play Hero League. Nah, Diablo season. Nah, people I don’t know are livestreaming their Heroes of the Storm games, don’t wanna miss it. Nah, don’t feel like going out, sick of people, I have to see people all day, I wanna stay home!

But give him some virtual Japanese clone failures and he’s all systems go! Need to walk 10 km to hatch this egg!

What’s happening to the world? Is this some sort of anti-terror strategy? Get everyone hooked on Pokemon so the suicide bombers and religious nuts are too distracted to blow something up because they found a Pikachu? I mean, whatever it takes, I guess.

Or is it exactly the other way round because I swear I could transport a dead body through the city on public transport and absolutely no one would notice. Hell, I’d probably make it to the cemetery (wha? where do you hide your dead bodies?), start digging, hide the body, cover grave, get rid of evidence, and saunter out of the cemetery. If there’s any witnesses all I’d have to do is get out my phone and scream “Oh my god, is that a Mewtew?!” or “Pokestop by the entrance, way at the other end of the graveyard!”

And I had this great idea for a zombie movie. Picture this: the sun is setting as a lone Pokemon trainer wanders into the graveyard without even noticing his surroundings. He sees a rare Pokemon. He aims his phone! Doesn’t notice the scuffling of feet behind him! Shoots pokeball after pokeball and misses as a grey hand reaches for him…

A blood curdling scream.

And then a cut, and we see a blood spattered phone falling to the ground. The Pokemon is still uncaught. Screen fade to black, next scene.

Or just, the zombie apocalypse has happened, but it’s less an apocalypse and more a bit of an inconvenience as a band of brave Pokemon trainers arms themselves with shotguns because a bunch of lurching corpses is no excuse to not Catch Them All.

Look, I think it’s funny, okay?

And yes, I will always and forever make fun of all the new and cool things the world can throw at me. I’m a contrary bastard and proud of it.

My Life as a Colour TV Stuck Forever in Fast Forward (Long Ass Post Ahead)

It’s been pretty quiet on here for, what, a month? How did that happen? And in my defense… I was busy. Yes, I know, everyone always says that, but… I’ve really been busy and when I wasn’t busy I was depressed. So there. Let me count the ways!

The following things happened (not necessarily in that order): The Abominable Blatherer got his ass fired and is now threatening to sue everything that moves. I got the green light from my supervisor to start the theory part of my thesis. I went to a requiem mass. I had a lot of meetings. I planned an event. I took care of my aunt. I had a presentation. I spent unimaginably little time in the library because now my thesis topic is registered I can just take books home with me for weeks on end. I’m also starting a new job.

Okay, move the camera, rewind.

This is me, a month ago, bitching about my co-worker who in actuality is a volunteer, I just call everyone a co-worker who works with me. Now fast forward juuust a little. It became completely impossible to work with him, for reasons I’m not at liberty to disclose (I mean… any more than what I already disclosed) so it was decided he had to leave.

I thought Nero had no chill when he burned down Rome. It’s generally agreed that Hannibal was fairly un-chill when he dragged elephants up the mountains and dissolved boulders with vinegar. Attila the Hun, my possible ancestor, possessed exactly zero chill, as is established by historians across the globe. Davros, creator of the Daleks, was at his un-chillest when his creation turned against him.

And then there’s this guy. The Grand Poobah of No Chill What-So-Fucking-Ever.

First he lets one of his weird friends send us a letter to tell us to take him back again or else…! Yah, or else what, you and what army? Then he writes long-ass rants to the office e-mail account. Then he threatens to sue everyone in the team for… lies and slander unless we take him back? Huh? Then he writes e-mails to individual people. Then he calls people under different numbers. Then he refuses to hand back the office key. Then he finds some higher-up and says we’re bullying him. Then…

Do I really need to go on? So because of this nonsense we’re busy for close to a month with damage control and emotional breakdowns. We check in twice with an actual lawyer to confirm he can’t actually do anything in terms of suing or pressing charges or whatever. And all this on top of the usual office stuff. Needless to say, we’re a team of nervous wrecks. Talks are to be had. Talks with mediators and moderators and god knows what else. While there is a barrage of e-mails coming in every second day about how he’s going to sue us. To which I would just love to reply, “Bring it, you useless paperclip”, but I’m not allowed to do that. So now I just have to sit and wait alongside the rest of the office for things to cool down, quietly singing DMX songs to myself, because as the great poet used to say: “Suck my dick.”

Forward a bit. The mediator talk was had and even the mediators were at their wit’s end with this guy. He’s just unable to listen to what people are saying without automatically hearing what he wants to hear. Seriously. Says it’s out of the goodness of his heart he won’t sue us. Whoop-di-fucking-do, jerkface, sue for what? I could tell a joke about your mom, you gon’ sue me for that? No, please do, I’d love to see a judge try to keep a straight face. “You said what to the plaintiff?” – “His momma so hairy only language she speaks is Wookiee!” – “*pffffffrrr* Yes, uh, you shouldn’t *pffffrrr* you shouldn’t say things like that, but that’s not actually a crime.”

I’d just love to fast forward twenty years to see him lose job after job after job for the same bullshit and hear him say how it’s all the employer’s/colleagues’/country’s/aliens’/disgruntled Ewoks’ fault.

ANYWAY. Halt the camera, close up of my annoyed face, change scene. I finally developed a theoretical concept that more or less makes sense for my thesis. Lotsa working definitions. Definitely lotsa working definitions needed. In writing this, I have misspelled definitions twice because by now it no longer looks like a proper word. Why do some words have so many i’s in them anyway?

Fast forward to three months from now and my inevitable nervous breakdown.

Rewind to my presentation when a colleague actually tells me they’re angry they did not come up with my topic idea themself. Cut to me doing a winning gesture in front of my entire class. The entire presentation went really well, actually. I really nailed the self-depreciating humour presentation style that’s informative and academic as well as light-hearted. Go me!

Rewind to last week when an acquaintance tells me about this friend of hers who’s working for a place who’re looking for someone to proofread, part-time like. My time at sort-of job is coming to an end anyway so this looks very much like destiny. Close-up of my brain, jumping in the air and clicking its heels together. One quick communication later I hold some contact details in my hand. I’m so going to write them, like, right now!

Stop camera, enter crushing self-doubt. But what do I write? Do I just jot down a quick note? Do I go with a full-blown cover letter? But those are always so over the top and fake because I can’t write to save my life! Do I attach my CV and credentials or is that too forward? What do I do?

I could sleep on it, I guess. But it’s like 10:30 in the morning and if I don’t act now maybe my acquaintance will have given that contact to twenty other people! I can’t wait! But what if I don’t have the skills? I mean, I have a certificate, but still. What if I don’t have enough work experience? I mean, I basically don’t have any. In this field. I mean, none that counts. You know how it is when you’re a student and your friends’ friends start paying you to read their papers, that hardly counts as experience, right? What do I do?

Write!

No.

Write now!

No!

Wriiiiiiiiiteeeee…

Oh, fucking alright!

Fast forward to literally ten minutes later and I close my eyes as I hit send on a very short e-mail that is expressing my interest and is also offering to send my CV if the interest is mutual.

Fast forward even more to me finding out this is not the right person and they’re forwarding my mail to someone who’s the actual right person. Fuck!

Fast forward a day. Actual Right Person has written back with some details about the position and asks me to call them.

Fuck! Phone! I hate phones! I hate people! I hate communication! And telecommunication in particular!

Okay, forward one last time. I have stalked this person’s linkedin profile, I have prepared my lines, I’m making a phone call. Elevator music greets my ears. I prepare myself for a five minute wait. The five minute wait is actually only 30 seconds, which was enough time for me to forget everything I wanted to say. I sort of stumble to the call, sounding probably like the escaped village idiot trying to make a living in the big city.

Fast forward to three days later when I’m having the probably shortest job interview of my life and get the job.

First I’m like, yes! Job! Money! I am employed and therefore special!

But it’s part-time. Still not bad, I can join the ranks of the walking underemployed!

Gee, that was pretty fast of them to decide to take me on. They must be really desperate for someone to fill in.

Shit, they would have just taken anyone, wouldn’t they? I thought I was special!

Then I remember that in a capitalist free market economy a few years after a recession no one is special. And I feel even worse, because society.

Rewind to beginning of June and it’s funeral time. Only there’s nothing to bury because grandmother decided to do the nice thing and leave her body to science. Considering the rare spinal deformation she had that’s actually pretty sensible of her. So all we have is a mass somewhere in a village at the ass end of nowhere, which is closes to where she lived, which was the other cheek of the ass end of nowhere. Priest is wearing Nike’s. I’m having an allergic reaction to frankincense. The family and me are in the first rows. The crowd isn’t huge. Actually, it’s only us, some of grandma’s neighbours, and the evening regulars.

The awkwardness hits hard. We’re all heathens and haven’t got a clue of what to do, because apparently you don’t just sit in church, you do things. We’re nervously watching the old lady three rows back because she’s an absolute church pro. Standing up, sitting down, kneeling, standing up, she’s doing great! Such vigour and she’s at least 80! Total champ at this Catholic cardio the priest is making us do! And singing along! I don’t know what you want me to say! What’s going on? Can’t you have one of those statues hold an electronic sign, or a prompter, that tells you what to do and when, and your lines? Do it for Jesus! I’m sure he’s shaking his head at my incompetence!

And I can’t stop laughing! I’m trying to keep it in, but it’s just so funny! And I can tell my aunt’s trying hard not to laugh as well! Did this guy even know my grandmother? He’s being much too nice. And what’s this anecdote? You know the one. The one about a young boy with a terminal illness and he’s dying and the doctors get him back to life for like two days, and he’s waking up like “Hey, why’d you bring me back, it was so nice there”? I read that story about a hundred times on the internet, with varying names and places. I don’t buy that you, priesty boy, have witnessed this first hand and it inspired you to become a man of the cloth.

And then he goes on a tangent. Yes, if you have no faith you have no hope for a life after death, which means you have to do everything in this life, you have to have every bit of fun and indulgence while in this life because after that you’ll be gone forever… I look over at my dad and my boyfriend and we all exchange a glance of “Sounds like a pretty sweet deal”.

And then there’s this weird food ritual. Any christians out there who can tell me if it’s normal for the priest to mix water into the wine? Or are they just on a budget out there in the sticks? I mean, I get the waffle part. But sweeping the leftover crumbs in the cup and washing that down? That seems weird. Can anyone confirm that this is how it’s done?

So we leave the service somewhat elated and no one wants to join us for dinner, so we set out to go eat, just the family. And we have a blast. Does any other country have the concept of “schöne Leich”? Because we do. It basically means a very good funeral. This was a very funny funeral. A true funeral feast. One might assume we put the fun in funeral. Both my mother and my aunt had a very good time discussing shapely men and looking at pictures of Brock O’Hurn and Lasse Matberg on my phone. Why I have pictures of those people on my phone is of course entirely beside the point. It’s much more important that you know how my father put his head in his hands in defeat and the Boyfriend asked, with his brows so high they vanished in his ample hair, if I’m going to be like that when I’m older.

Spoiler alert: Yes.

Also, yah, we’re heathens. Really easily amused heathens.

Fast forward to tomorrow when I have my first day at work. Cut to a close up of my terrified face.

Halt camera. Cut to ‘To be continued’ sign.

Forget What They Told You in Kindergarten, Whining DOES Solve Things

Breaking news from the Grad School front.

Okay, I got this shit in the bag! I got my supervisor, I did get into this stupid course, now I just need to write my thesis and…

And the record screeches to a halt.

Now all I have to do is write an 80+ page academic work.

If you’re frozen with fear, raise your hand. Oh, wait, you can’t. Try blinking. Yes, you blinked. I blinked, too. Because I’m scared. Very scared. Zombie apocalypse ain’t got nothing on this. With zombies, you know where you’re at. They either wanna eat you or you don’t register on their radar because you are also a zombie.

But with academics… they need to like you and your work.

Fuckity fuck.

Okay, stay cool, Self, you got this far. And we did it all by whining in the right place at the right time. We just need to keep doing that.

No, seriously, a bit of whining and a half-breakdown in front of people solves a lot. I mean, you won’t get your dignity back, but otherwise, a lot. I was venting my frustration to a colleague at the department. You know, I was trying to get into this final seminar? And then I didn’t get a grad in time for registration? And someone told me her friend had just done the seminar from the other degree programme instead and it worked out fine? And then someone else told me the same? And so I was all hopeful? And then the office told me that’s not even possible? Because who woulda thunk, I either imagined all this, or those other students found a loophole that had been closed for renovations the minute I turned up. Because of fucking course.

So I expose my vulnerable self to my colleague, finally admitting that I’m not an android programmed in sarcasm but a real human being with like feelings ‘n shit who has had a bad frustrating month. Colleague is like, don’t worry. Five minutes later I’m talking to a professor who then talks to the lecturer and two weeks later I’m in. Magic!

No, seriously. Seems a lot like magic. Maybe the whining sent out energy waves all across the department and threw off everyone’s vibe and they all subconsciously decided to get rid of the source.

And now I just need to write a monster of a paper. And then present this in front of an audience of bored academics who don’t care about anything but their own subjects. I’m so screwed, aren’t I? Couldn’t be more screwed if I was a cabinet.

I’m trying to sign up for an additional writing workshop. Therefore, I need to whine about this on the internet so they’ll let me in. Trust me, this works. I hope.

In other news, I was researching trap remixes of Frank Sinatra and suddenly got an idea for a zombie novel so I guess I have an alternative career path if the whole thesis doesn’t work out.

Yeah, that would be a nice thing for them to cut on my tombstone.

And now, the weather.

The Revenge of Dr. Daffodil

I’ve been gone and busy for a week again. And boy, did I have myself a time. It was such a time, you guys! Very time-y. I mean, what’s better than sitting in a draughty room for days on end listening to people present their latest papers on topics that may or may not make sense and be worth researching?

I don’t want to hate on people who are far more successful in academia than I’ll ever be actually I do, but uh… some of them I just wonder how they got in? Or if they ran out of ideas somewhere in the last three years because their current research focus is slightly bonkers?

I mean, we had a very special case. Being a good student, I took notes throughout the talks, even though it wasn’t required, but hell, I wanted to remember who I’m going to library stalk. And then this one guy came in, who I’ve nicknamed Captain Daffodil, though in hindsight Dr. Daffodil would have been funnier. ‘Cause he’s got a Ph.D. and all. Captain Daffodil gave a talk about nature poetry and… somehow he was really into plants. Like, reeeaaally into plants. To the point he was talking about the rhythm of plants and made us watch a short clip of grass growing. Needless to say, I was slowly breaking down. With laughter. And the only way I could contain myself was to write my feelings down in my notebook.

So without further ado… here are the original notes [with additional info because this is a written medium and you’ll need context] I took during this particular talk:

  • tradition of plant narratives (Plato, Aristotle)

  • plant life and poetic form

  • Greek stories of people being turned into plants

  • word “verse” connected with cultivating of plants

  • lack of plant agency in nature poetry (I can’t believe I’m writing this down)

  • Seriously? We’re watching grass grow now? This is a thing that happens?
  • [prof is reading a poem by Alice Oswald about basically stumbling over a mustard field] fucking mustard, didn’t even notice this fucking bright yellow plague! Now suddenly I’m in a fucking field, how did that happen?

  • Alice, who the fuck is Alice? Yes, we know you want to bone Alice, shut up about Alice.

  • Is Alice secretly Poison Ivy?

  • Like is that her new secret identity after she escaped Arkham?

  • I mean, no one would expect that.

  • Postplantism!

  • Is that a thing now?

  • Is he secretly a World of Warcraft druid trying to spread the call of nature?

  • I’m not writing from the perspective of a laptop, dammit, stop writing from the perspective of a vegetable!

  • Someone get this man a cactus, stat!

  • Can’t wait for the questions. Can’t waaaait for the questions.

  • Or maybe he’s Poison Ivy’s minion.

  • [Someone in the room asks a question starting with “I’m actually glad my plants can’t talk”] Yeah, it’s good your plants can’t talk. Who knows what those plants have seen.

  • Does anything contribute to your argument?

  • Wait, what is your argument?

  • Did he and Alice Oswald have a threesome with a rhododendron?

  • Oh, my mistake, was mustard.

  • [Somewhere in the back a screw falls out of a chair.] The chairs are falling apart for nonsense!

  • Oh my god, I’m gonna throw you in a mustard field, when is this over?!

  • I wish I had a burka so no one could see me laughing.

  • Official nickname: Captain Daffodil.

  • Maybe he’s a sort of plant zombie.

  • This some Batman shit going down right here!

Thus ends the tragic talk of Dr. Daffodil and needless to say, the audience was astonished. Stunned. Very stunned. Words could not express how stunned we were. I now have to go and read Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich to get all the bad poetry out of my head.

So Ru Paul said “You Better Work” and We May or May Not Have Different Definitions of the Word “Work”…

So I’ve been doing ten hour days which rendered me too tired to think.

For the past few days I’ve been doing an advice/consulting thing in the name of ye olde Alma Mater. Meaning I spent ten hours being squished into a booth with ten other people doling out advice about studying to the future of the nation, aka teenagers. I don’t like talking. We’ve established that. But the fact of the matter is, it’s unavoidable in daily life. And people seem to listen to me, because I can make myself sound like I have my shit together. The thing about introversion is you’re not completely unable to function in public. You just don’t like it. I don’t like it. But I think I’m doing a rather okay job.

And I might actually get paid! Is this what working life feels like?

Thing is, my work history is a bit frazzled. Any job I ever had I didn’t have for longer than a couple of months, mostly because I only ever had jobs in one of two categories: bored-out-of-your-skull or drained-of-all-life-force. No in between. And, uh… I actually don’t mind working odd-jobs? Is that weird? Like, I have no problem schlepping boxes for three days, get my money, and move on to sorting through someone’s paper work for a week. It’s no plan for the future, but basically, that’s my work history. The sort-of job I now have, I think it might just be the longest I’ve ever had.

I mean, that might be another consequence of being a socially awkward nutcase: I like the kind of jobs where there’s not chance of getting too close and personal with people.

Also, I may or may not be leading a workshop next month. And I’m on a committee to find ourselves a fresh new professor. I just feel like things are moving, you know?

But back to the advice giving stint. So I repeat the same things over and over again, and it gets really tiresome. I mean, there’s only so many ways to explain the prerequisites, or lack thereof, to people, you know? And then the age old question, the question as old as time, the first question: Doctor who? What do you do with a BA in English? Well, if you’re lucky, you’ll be stood in a booth at an education fair and rattle off the same spiel about your curriculum to eight dozen people a day. Well, I mean… hope you’ll get into some sort of internship, get some sort of job using all your parents’ connections, actually, yeah, looking back taking a language course and studying law or economics would have been the better choice, but…

And now I’m crying, thanks a lot.

No, seriously, if you want to make your life an adventure, choose English. Getting a job will be your adventure. You’ll do battle with uppity bosses, uptight old fossils, rigid administration, you’ll traverse the fields of “not quite enough experience”, climb the mountain of “‘But everyone speaks English already!’ they say as they proceed to write ‘definitely’ as ‘defiently'”, meet the league of evil wizards who will curse you thusly: “‘But you didn’t study translation! We’d rather have someone who studied translation’ as they hire someone who thinks idioms are to be translated literally”. And many, many more!

But I can’t say any of that. Because I’m at work. I have to make this shit look worthwhile. All while feeling like a meandering fool and maybe I should have done something like office administration, which admittedly I would have had to start at age 15 because this is an old-fashioned country…

And those kids make me feel so old. Like, I didn’t know what the hell to do with my life at age 18. I couldn’t even find a successful way to end it. And then there are these bright-eyed young things who look twelve and arrive with their parents, and they ask me to divine their future career. Sorry, kiddo, this is Languages and Literatures, the fortune teller lady is down the hall and to the right.

Dammit, why couldn’t I have been a fortune teller and scam people?

And then of course there were the special cases. The special kind of wack job variety who should burn in the special hell of specialness. Because… oh dear… they are oh so special.

Let me set the scene. Friday, late afternoon. We are already fidgeting in hopes of going home, it’s only an hour until freedom and food and sleep. No one has come up to the booth in at least fifteen minutes. We start to relax. I’m sat out front at the desk together with a colleague from the comparative literatures department.

This fifty-something woman comes up. We do the hello-how-can-we-help-smile-smile-thing. Oh, how can we help indeed. “Well, my son is thirteen and he writes, he’s a great writer, he has always loved to write…”

You know how in movies they do this sound like a tape whirring to a halt, or a needle being taken off a record suddenly? I can hear this in my head right now.

First I think I misheard her. She definitely said seventeen. Maybe sixteen.

Nope. It’s thirteen. The kid is thirteen and loves to write and don’t we have a study program for that?

Lady. This is an education fair for people who are about to finish high school. This is Languages and Literatures. Creative Writing is not part of the menu. And even if it was, your kid is way too young. They’re doing something like that at the art academy, but… your kid is thirteen.

We say something akin to that, albeit a lot friendlier. Lady has that special kind of stare that bores into your soul until it finds the answer it wants to hear. We can’t give her what she wants. Hell, I don’t even know what the hell she wants! For us to pull a writing degree program out of our collective arse? Think we’re hiding the good degree courses in the back of the store?

Thankfully, I am called away to help someone else. Colleague is stuck and I feel sorry for her.

Lady leaves rather disappointed-looking after about, oh, fifteen minutes of back and forth. I mean… your kid is thirteen. He’s currently graduating in Excessive Masturbation. Also, you think his writing is great. He probably thinks so, too. My parents thought my writing was great. Everyone thinks their writing is great at thirteen because we never get any critical opinions. It’s called encouragement and it should die a slow and painful death. Also also, what the hell does your son even write? Is it anything worthwhile, or just erotic Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction? And just because all the other thirteen year old perverts on fanfiction.net love to jack off to it, doesn’t mean your son’s the next J.K. Rowling.

After we recover from this nightmare, we receive a battalion of people over the weekend who are absolutely convinced that we only offer language courses. No. We don’t. Please don’t get pissed at us, we can direct you to the proper place!

Then there’s those fuckers whose kids are, again, so special the world just bends to their desires, or at least it should. Look here, Mistah and Missus Our-wealth-is-not-blatantly-compensating-for-our-lack-of-personality, there’s no need to look down your noses at us like that. Yeah, like that. You know what I mean. Yeah, that look. The look that says, “Well, if youre doing this, it can’t be that hard”. That fucking look. Well, excuse the hell out of me, guv’nor. I will point and laugh when your kid comes home crying because they failed the intro lectures.

And just like that, it’s Sunday. Last day! We gon’ get that money, money, money aaaaand we have to deal with Snotty McWasteourtime first. Snotty looks like Kylo Ren in blond. Snotty comes up, carrying a brochure for Physics, looks at the title of our booth with a look of pure patronizing judgement, and proceeds towards me: “So, what do you even do in a language degree program?” I rattle off my lines about how we study linguistics, literature, history, cultural studies…. Snotty looks at me like I’m speaking a rare dialect of Tibetan. “But do you study one language?” Depends on the degree, in English yes, it’s only English, but if you study Romance languages you choose one main language… Colleague from Romance languages department pipes up beside me: “For example, you could choose Spanish as your main language and French as your sec…” – “I had Spanish in school,” Snotty says in that tone that heralds to the world his disdain for us and everything we stand for, and also that he thinks we’re idiots to even answer his question. “Okay, great, would you like a brochure for our program?” – “No, I don’t want to study this.” And walks off. Thanks for wasting our time, I guess? Have fun finding a job with a physics degree, it’s not like you’re the next Einstein, you’ll be teaching fourteen-year-olds to build a battery for all eternity! …thus rang my silent curse.

And after all these trials and tribulations I am finally home in my pyjamas, in bed, with my laptop, where I belong, because fuuuuck the public. I’m never leaving this room again. Until tomorrow, anyway, because the next week of “you better wooooork” is about to begin.

Rant Day! Things Never Stopped Pissing Me Off, But I Forgot to Write Them Down!

Item 1: Welcome to grad school, where the rules are made up and deadlines don’t count. This whole MA thing might just take an entire year longer because they maybe won’t let me in the write-your-thesis seminar because I didn’t get a grade on one stupid other seminar in time. So fucking inflexible. But then I keep hearing stories that many girls just got in anyway, never mind that they were only halfway done with all their prerequisites. Look, I got everything done, I registered my topic, and I have a supervisor. Why can you never make an exception for me, huh?

Item 2: Had a very bad bout of depression about the state of women and the state of the world in general, and Boyfriend thinks I can’t read his thoughts. I know that he thinks its ridiculous, that’s why I don’t talk to him about it, even if he insists I talk to him about it. It’s not like he could solve the world for me. It’s not like he can even listen without an uncomfortable sigh or an interjection of “Well, men have it bad too, you know”. Yeah, well, that’s your own problem, isn’t it? Who’s creating problems for everyone?

Item 3: Boyfriend and my clothes. First it’s, “Are you wearing sweatpants?!” Yes. Yes, I am. We’re going to the grocery store, I’m not dressing up for that. It’s aisle 4 at the corner store, not the New York fashion week or some shit. Then later he said to me, “You could wear something like this sometimes” after seeing a woman presenter on TV in a dress. Okay, one: A guy who spent every day of the last thirty-odd years in jeans and t-shirts does not get to tell me how to dress. Two: Right, where? Am I going on TV? Am I getting paid? Do I get my own stylist? Are we going out? No, we never go out. So now I’m sitting here in my best red dress with all my jewellery on, and I’m playing Diablo III, and I’mma get my season char to level 70 before him. In style. Suck it, motherfucker.

Item 4: Overwatch is taking forever to get here, the alpha’s been out forever, come on, Blizz, I need something new to waste my life with!

Item 5: I’m so done with losing weight, I’m just going to pretend this is the fault of the Neanderthal DNA I no doubt carry in large quantities, they got a new study coming out in Bonn that Neanderthal DNA can influence your weight, maybe I should just send them a blood sample?

Item 6: I think I’m going to write a lengthy exposé about why school dress codes are fucking disgusting, because literally the only thing you’re teaching kids is that girls’ bodies are free to be policed by so-called ‘authorities’ at any and all points in their lives. So glad we don’t have this shit here, but who knows, stupidity is known to spread across the globe real fast.

Item 7: I’m not half as creative as I think I am, as evidenced by the fact that all porn parody titles I come up with already exist. Bet you didn’t know that “Whorrey Potter and the Sorcerer’s Balls” was a thing, eh? Apparently that one won an award.

Item 8: There’s an influx of graffiti in the ‘hood, so now I have to go out in the cold with my red pen and correct their spelling and grammar mistakes. Assholes. Everyone has a smart phone, but gods forbid they download a dictionary.

Item 9: So I looked at some what the facebook friends-of-friends promised me to be amusing pictures titled “Why my kid is crying”. Like the Queen, I was not amused. Most of the time I was thinking, Why are you snapping a picture when you should be slapping some sense into your dumb fucking kid? And that’s how I realised I’m still not ready for parenthood.

So James Joyce, a Burnt Out Grad Student, and a Pair of Black Socks Walk Into a Bar…

Literally, my stat connection for this year so far reads like the beginning of a beer-fuelled joke. One that ends in something stupid, too, like “And then he says, ‘That’s not a duck’!”

Why were they successful, comparatively? Well, one thing: timing. Tuesdays are popular, somehow? Second: my tag game getting stronger.

Anything else? I dunno, topics? It’s not every day you see the late, not-so-great James Joyce getting slut-shamed by a big-mouthed grad student who’s in the midst of a slight breakdown after the umpteenth Joyce lecture complete with an interpretation of Ulysses. Actually, in hindsight, maybe the prof was just making all of it up on the spot because he secretly hates Joyce too and wants to discourage all the hopeful bright-eyed students from ever reading the damn thing. Certainly worked for me, kudos to you, sir.

Also… I just imagine I was not the only student struggling with a paper deadline in January and lengthily venting my frustrations, so I guess that’s why. Seriously, is there anything worse than writing a paper you don’t really want to write?

Actually, yes, there is. Writing a paper to impress your future thesis supervisor is definitely worse.

And the last one was a daily prompt that had nothing whatsoever to do with black socks despite that being the title, in which I wax less than poetically about my inability to communicate like a basic human. Again. But daily prompts have a large audience, so duh, numbers game.

Also, people keep clicking on my Tale of Two Titties post even thought it’s at least two years old by now. Which was also a daily prompt. With a pandering eye-catching, attention-grabbing, market-research-approved title. I dare you NOT to click. It’s not very good, anyway. Okay, so it has a couple of tits in it, but that’s REALLY NOT that interesting. Seriously, don’t click.

… you just clicked it, didn’t you? Bad reader!

NOT a People Person, Socks or No Socks

Okay, so first of all, “naked with black socks” describes my Boyfriend’s boudoir style perfectly. No, really. This man will get ready to go to bed, take off all his clothes… except his socks. And then he’ll walk around the flat, trying to find his phone, packing his work backpack, hunting for his sports newspaper… all while naked in black socks. It’s irritating and I’m always glad when he finally finds his pyjamas.

That being said…

The idea of talking to people at all, ever, in general, terrifies me. To the point where I get depressed when I have too much people contact. Happened to me just this week. I had an appointment with a professor to discuss a paper I had submitted, that same day I met my parents for dinner, then the next day I had another uni related thing. I almost started crying on public transport on my way home. No, it’s not rational. No, it doesn’t make sense to me, either. All I know is that always happens when I get too much sociality shoved at me. I have to time my entire social life around mental rest days, because otherwise I might make plans with people and on the day those plans are supposed to happen, even if I like the people involved, I feel like I’d rather nail my feet to the side of a moving car than to see any of those bitches.

Now put me in front of an audience.

Yeah.

Ironically, I was in a theatre group in high school. I never had problems on stage. Never forgot my lines. Never got stage fright. Probably because I wasn’t on stage as myself, but as someone else.

That’s why I hold presentations like I’m doing a stand-up routine. Relevant jokes and puns all planned. Three copies of notes. I used to be extremely intimidated by public speaking, to the point where I was literally shaking so much I lost grip on my cue cards. I started pretending I was playing a role to get over it.

I mean, my original strategy was drinking a tall glass of whiskey with a little whiskey and a shot of whiskey before I came up with this solution, but hey, I got there. Now when I have to talk in front of a crowd I get out there and I’m not myself. I’m a 2.0 version of myself, someone who has her shit together and can open her damn mouth without stuttering.

Problem is, I have to play this role all the time. All damn day. Being an actor is exhausting, we all read the interviews. Now imagine you can never get out of your role again, ever. I can’t be myself with people because Myself would rather book a shuttle to Mars, but then, even if you can book online something will go wrong and I’d have to call the travel agency, and then at the space port there’d be people checking my passport, and gaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhh, you can’t escape people.

And everyone’s still complaining that I talk too fast. Yes, I’m talking fast, you know why, because my brain is trying to run away from you. It’s detaching itself from my brain stem as I speak and tries to squeeze out of my right ear. When you see me moving my head side to side it’s not because I’m giving emphasis to the joke I’m telling you, it’s to get my brain to stay put because if I don’t it’s going to be half-way to Mexico and you’ll be talking to zombie-me. Zombie-me is not what you’d call a good conversationalist.

Ironically, again, is that people often describe me as hilarious once they get me alone. I can be the life of the party, provided the party consists of three to eight people and I know everyone. And there’s not too much background noise. And I’m not tired. But when the moon’s just right and the stars align and all that, I’m apparently really entertaining and everyone is surprised. But I mean… I have to wait an appropriate twelve months before letting slip the hounds of weirdness. You can’t tell inappropriate and slightly kinky jokes to just anyone, you know, that would be rude.

I’m just waiting for humanity to climb the next rung on the evolutionary ladder and develop telepathy. That would be so much easier! Everyone could see clearly that my reclusive shut-in brain is scared of social interaction and they’d keep it brief. Maybe. Or maybe they’d just start singing terrible and catchy songs inside their heads to annoy me. And all their thoughts would make so much noise.

Dammit! You just can’t escape people. One-way ticket to Planet Nine, please.