Friday, February 5, 2010

Neuroses, snobbery and general melodrama

In my head this is what happens every time I think of completing my dissertation:

I go on the job market. There is nothing. Nothing at all. I scrape by for a time. Perhaps I move in with my mother for a year. (*shudder*) Then, eventually, finally, I get a job offer. Full-time teaching position. At Exile University, in Noplace, which is in the middle of the state of Nowhere, USA.

Exile U. is a small liberal arts college located in a town so small its population triples when school is in session. Or maybe it is a community-type college in close proximity to 3 or 4 dead or dying villages.

To do anything in middle-Nowhere, one must have a car. The grocery store (there's really only one. Or maybe there are 2 outposts of the same chain.), one must drive a minimum of 10 miles. Probably more. Unless one wishes to shop at the gas station (of which there are several) for most of her groceries.
One must buy plenty of groceries, as the restaurants are either fast-food, major chains (Applebees anyone?) or family-style restaurants. There may be a pizza parlor. It will be very popular. More popular than the food (canned sauce? frozen dough? cardboard-y pepperoni?), the wine (mmm. Black Opal...), or the service (yes, I would like a clean fork. If it's not too much trouble...) can justify.

The rent is cheap in middle-Nowhere, which means I can afford a garage for the car I have to purchase, and I have space for the furniture I don't have. The extra bedroom-cum-study is nice. The extra space unnerves me. Cat and I rattle around like two dried beans (thank goodness Rancho Gordo delivers!) in a bell, er, Ball jar.

The sidewalks are poorly maintained here in Noplace, Nowhere. Or they are smooth and plentiful in the 'shopping district' - which takes up about 4 blocks. Or perhaps there are more interstate highways than village roads and biking and walking don't feel safe. It is not convenient to walk anywhere in Noplace. There is no gym. Or there is one. Or the college has a small, cramped room that serves as a fitness center. I keep my exercycle and pedal to movie after movie after movie.

There is no local, small/mid-size roaster in Noplace (or anywhere nearby). I stop drinking coffee. Tea is not so difficult to mail-order. Perhaps there is a coffee shop. They will call drip coffee with Hershey's syrup a caffe mocha. I drink my tea at home. I miss the camaraderie of the small cafe.

I will be able to afford to have internet service at home with my new job at Exile. My preservation! I am able to maintain my friendships for a time, exchanging messages about our new, then less new, then old accomplishments and mileposts. The frequency with which these messages are exchanged, however, decreases. Perhaps we only see each other at conferences and the occasional wedding. Perhaps one's teaching load is not conducive to conference attendance. Perhaps we don't really keep in touch very much at all. But we're busy. Very busy. So that's understandable. That's okay.

So I'm already thinking of what kind of car I should consider (2-door Toyota Tercel. I think they're so cute. Red. I usually have red cars); whether I should rent a small house or a large-ish apartment; whether I should get some serious free weights so I can build a home gym when I leave. This is not helpful. My hope - perhaps an ambitious one - is that by exposing my dramatic, excessive anxiety, I can begin to laugh at it. Oh, and remember that none of it, not any of it at all, is real. At least not yet ....


Jenna said...

Thank you for describing White Oak, TX...except for the sidewalks...we have none. And there is no "shopping district" we have one grocery store and a DQ. I have to drive about 15 min to anything significant. Our population is just over 5000...high school mascot? The Roughnecks. yep, its oil country 'round here. Anyway, its home for us- no scoffing at the little people from the ivory tower, Ms!

philosophotarian said...

this has nothing to do with little people or ivory towers and everything to do with fear about leaving a beloved place and time of life behind. no scoffing. just projected anxiety.

Jenna said...

just teasing dear...what are your chances of staying in your beloved city or maybe Podunk U. close to beloved?