Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Is this real life?

I'm back from Minneapolis and grateful to be in sundresses once again. AWP was wonderful, and I'd like to write about it sometime later this week, but today I have a more contemplative post in mind.

Recently I've been somewhat jealous of my friends who have 9-5 jobs. Perhaps it's merely a symptom of "the grass is always greener" syndrome, but I do miss having a clear schedule, and the ability to leave work at work. The way my life is scheduled now, I do work whenever I can squeeze it in. Last night I did second-job work from 11 p.m. until almost 1 a.m. (I have some catching up to do after Minnesota). This morning I woke up and graded papers. Later I'll teach class, take a break for yoga, but after that I'll grade more papers. Maybe I'll have time to write? 

It feels like I've written all my tasks on confetti, and some are on multiple pieces of confetti, and I've thrown all the confetti into the air, and I do whatever task I snatch first, and I get to take a break when the pieces haven't yet reached my general vicinity, because I guess the confetti is made of tissue paper or feathers or something that flutters down very slowly.

Confetti schedule may simply be something I have to get used to, especially if I'm lucky enough to become that most elusive of creatures--the successful author. And, honestly, I think it's not the schedule itself that's making me jealous. I think it's that I feel like my life is on hiatus. From August 2013 to May 2016, I get to be Not A Real Adult. 

This is, of course, ridiculous. I'm obviously an adult. I'm 27. Between writing and teaching and second-job, I essentially work three jobs. I pay my bills. But it all seems fake somehow. I guess I probably feel a little guilty that I'm privileged enough to spend three years focused on honing my craft when most writers will never receive such an opportunity. Not to mention that spending three years focused on myself seems selfish. 

Ah, but that was the problem with the 9-5 job I used to hold--I didn't feel like I was helping anybody there, either. I didn't have any emotional or moral investment in the work, and I felt like our clients would have been just fine without our help. That's one major reason I wanted to do the MFA program in the first place: to hone my craft, yes, but also to gain the experience I need to do work in which I am emotionally and morally invested. I am emotionally and morally invested in literature. I think it's important. I want to work to advance it. 

The other thing is that other aspects of my life are on hiatus, too. I can't grow roots in Vegas, because what would be the point? Unless Black Mountain Institute wants to take that $20 million donation and give us all jobs when we graduate, there's probably no place in Vegas I could work to advance literature. (I could teach as a part-time instructor, but I have no passion for teaching--at least not composition.) Because I'm almost certain I'll be moving on in a little over a year, it doesn't seem like a good idea to make too many friends or romantic connections outside the program--not that I would even have time to properly build those connections if I wanted to. Why invest in a place that won't be my place for long? 

The trouble is that I'm bad at not investing in things. I have a tendency to invest in things that I like quickly and deeply, and despite its problems, I do like Vegas. Cognitive dissonance, I suppose. I want to feel like I belong in Vegas, but I don't want to bother feeling like I belong in Vegas because I know that soon I'll have to belong somewhere else.

Maybe I put too much emphasis on city as identity, and work as identity. Chicago became a large part of my actual identity--Becky As Chicagoan. And isn't it odd that we say things like "I am a writer" instead of "I write"? I wonder how I would describe myself if I couldn't include either of those aspects of my life. 

I'll have to keep wondering, because I have to go teach. No time for existential angst! 

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