I'm in debt? Seriously? But I don't buy anything. I mean, I've had the same winter coat for ten years and haven't taken a trip or a yoga class or picked up a pair of jeans in maybe three, during which time I've bought myself exactly one pair of shoes–at 40% off. Sure, I've sprung for a few books here and there, and some gifts, and a few dinners out (can't let others pay all the time), and stuff at the natural market. There are the meditation CD's I've bought, and the semester of tuition I paid, and the oceanography class I'm taking and… okay, so maybe it's not that mysterious, my account balance. I'm not "pissing away" this money I don't have on useless tat, but still, it adds up. I'm now a few thousand bucks in debt…and jobless.
"Well, that's simple, SaltWaterMoron," you might be saying, "get a job! Duh!"
Wise words, friends. Totally unassailable. Problem is, I don't seem qualified to do anything. I have an Ivy League degree and 70% of a PhD and some long ago experience as a writer/researcher and editor, as well as other odd competencies. Unfortunately, since then, the gaps that have opened in my resume could accomodate about 20 strip malls. Hard to talk my way past those…
Interviewer: So, what exactly have you been doing these past four years? And why have you emerged from your, er, oubliette at this point in time and come to us, exactly?
Me: Well, to be totally frank, I was doing my best to drop out of society because I despise the slick, shallow, repetitive, networked, materialistic, solipsistic migraine that currently passes for Global Culture. If I had my way, I'd live as a peripatetic humanist, foraging for food, learning at every turn, figuring out how best to give back to the world, and forgetting that I'd ever heardbullshit terms like "tweet" and "app" and "unfriend" and "retirement assets." I'd take the entire concept of "resume," along with all the "team player" and "self-starter" crap you people fry it up in, and wing it so fucking far into space it'd knock the red off of Mars. And as a countermovement, I'd take a big ole' cosmic kleenex smeared in human decency and wipe that smug scum of judgment right off your condescending, managerial face. As it happens, however, my credit card balance is starting to keep me up nights, so….je suis la! Now, do I get the job or what?"
I just feel more and more as though I don't and shouldn't exist. Yesterday, during her birthday lunch, my mum was kind enough to share what worries her most about me: "Well, other people who say they want to be artists, or writers, or…well, they all seem to care deeply about something, or at least to like something, or find something to be passionate about, but you just hate everything and are so negative. It's just so sad. Was it something we did?"
I couldn't have mum feeling bad on her birthday so I rebutted this as genially as I could–assured her that I like and stand behind many things, and am not as desolate as all that. But still, with that unaccustomed glass of wine in her, she'd spoken the truth: that to her, I am the spirit of negation and convictionlessness and, yes, hatred. Very painful and maybe true.
At the end of Edith Wharton's masterful The House of Mirth, the poor, embattled Lily Bart says to another character, "I am a very useless person." In a sense, this is true; then, she's been raised in a hothouse environment in a society that doesn't much like an independent woman. Not I. I have no exuse. (Am, in fact, a failure and a hypocrite as a feminist.) And in the end, I don't even have Lily's character. Once she realizes her debt, she doesn't rest till it's paid off. Me, I just want to go to bed, pull up the covers, and pretend everything's okay.
And yet, I want to work. Just not anywhere that'd be likely to hire me. Terrible, I know.
Man, the suicide thoughts are so close tonight. I wish they didn't feel more and more inevitable.
Wish I could just get it over with already.
I am a very useless person.