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Job Hunting

I am perusing Craigslist like I do far too often, always searching for the job that will make me perfectly content and fulfilled and not require working weekends and holidays and also, ideally, I am allowed to bring my dog. A 9-5 job in a place where I can wear sneakers and ratty T-shirts, where they are in the midst of trying something called “Dress UP Fridays” which allows me an excuse to dress up once a week without having to own more than one pair of pantyhose, and where there is the perfect amount of physical activity and the perfect amount of rest and where they pay enough that I can afford to buy groceries without fumbling through my pockets for nickels and crying. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? And I scroll through the website, beginning in hotel/restaurant jobs, and then moving to customer service, writing, admin, part time and always ending on the category called “ETC,” with the hope that that is where I’ll find my perfect employment—something that cannot be categorized. I know that whatever I am looking for does not exist, but something about the title, “ETC,” makes you feel as though you could find anything—as though the real is mixed in with the unreal--that after an ad looking for someone in part time textbook sales there will be an ad looking for a front desk receptionist at the Ministry of Magic and yes (amazing!) you can bring the dog and be home by 5:30.

I am sitting on my sofa, my laptop sitting on a flattened throw pillow. I am always intimidated by the job requirements. NYC’s Coolest Music Website is seeking fall interns but already I know that I am the type of person who will never work for NYC’s Coolest Music Website because I will never be involved with anything that defines itself as cool, the same way I will not respond to the ad entitled, “Wanted: Bartenders, Shotgirls and Dancers,” because the one time I was even tangentially involved in that sort of atmosphere I had a customer tell me that for a cocktail waitress I looked very science-y, which means, to the uninitiated, that I was wearing glasses and walking with an uncertain, insecure hunch to my shoulders. This is not something that traditionally makes people purchase shots of Jagermeister.

I do not want to be a Spa Coordinator at a high end medical spa and I do not stand a chance applying to KOREAN SPEAKING FEMALE F/T OFFICE ASSISTANT. I see little future as an Egg Donor or a dog walker on the Upper East Side (1 year commitment!) or as someone who could “Get Paid to Evaluate Banks!” I am not a person suffering from Lupus pain who could be involved in a focus group and I am in no way responding to an ad declaring, “Girls with Pretty Feet Needed! 18-30!”

I think back to every high school and elementary school classroom I ever sat in, staring blankly at the walls, and try to remember if they prepared us for this. I remember sitting in science class, next to a couple—a boy and a girl who were sucking on lollipops that the other was holding and I remember my teacher talking about the big bang and how everything exploded outward. How everything in the universe was packed into a spot of unimaginable density which somehow ripped open with an ungodly blast and somehow became the universe. And of course some kid raised his hand and asked “How small was it before it exploded?” and I can’t imagine she really knew that, but our teacher told us it was about the size of a period on a page. And I immediately thought of how much pressure it would take to squish the entire universe into something that size. I thought of the tin foil ball discarded from my lunch, and how even after crushing it with the heel of my hand, I wasn’t able to make it any smaller than a large marble. Now add to that the tin foil sandwich wrapping of all the other kids in the cafeteria, plus the children themselves and all of their backpacks and their lollipops.

And that’s not even the beginning of it, because you have to take into account all the tables from the lunchroom, and the lunch ladies, and the teachers in other classrooms, and the chalkboards and metal desks. You would need to condense the white water fountains and the principal’s office and the principal himself, and then of course my parents and relatives and all the people and buildings and landscapes in every country in the entire world. And then, of course, everything in space.
And I remember being exhausted by it—pushing that ball of tin foil smaller and smaller and knowing that I would never get anywhere close to what it had once been. To being awed by the bigness of the world and the smallness of its past and by the force that could condense so much into so small a space.

And ok, so here’s where I’m not entirely sure how that helps me applying to jobs although admittedly, mastering Microsoft Excel is less intimidating than condensing all matter down to a single speck. But the world is happening, regardless of whether or not I send out resumes to anyone. The universe is continually expanding, or at least this is what my science teacher was telling people, and at some point it will begin contracting again, and all of this will happen even if I never accomplish anything and even if I accomplish a thousand things and go far and beyond anyone’s expectations. And so the universe continues to stretch and I continue to scroll through Craigslist, stopping on one of the writing jobs and sending them a resume even though I do not think I am as qualified as they would like me to be. But I will get the job or I won’t, and there’s no point worrying about it. I pour myself a glass of grapefruit juice and lie back on my sofa. I look out at the afternoon sky and imagine condensing the birds and the treetops and the tall lights of the nearby baseball field into a tiny spot the size of a grain of sand. And everything else, of course—the highway overpass and the tractor trailer that is crossing it at this moment, and my laptop and throw pillow, and Craig himself, wherever he is, with his list of jobs and furniture for sale and missed connections. All of this will be pummeled into obscurity by unimaginable forces. And so, I convince myself, it doesn’t matter if I get a good job or not. But then I watch additional cars speeding across the overpass and glance at a bird alighting on the top of the chain link fence and realize that none of these things is going anywhere for a while—the birds and the cars and the overpass and Craig, or at least the legacy of his list, will be around for decades to come—maybe more. And I, if I play my cards right, will be around as well. So if I want to make something of my life, now, I realize, would be the time to do it.

Biting my lip with uncertainty I paste my resume into the body of an e-mail.

Crossing my fingers I hit “send,” and collapse, exhausted, overwhelmed, into the couch.



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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
pinkroo
Aug. 30th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
yes, a thousand times yes.

Maybe you should just send out this entry.
azuresky
Aug. 31st, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
i feel your pain, sister.
heavenlyevil
Aug. 31st, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Oh man. I've been unemployed for 3 years now and this post is spot on.

It boils down to feeling like all I do is apply for things and it mostly doesn't matter a whit.
lilspanker
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
...god, now we have to cue up Kansas' Dust in The Wind.

I too was once like you.
Somewhere it changed, just somehow, kept swingin', throwing punches till something connected.

Thanks for your post, I love reading your view.
nodressrehersal
Aug. 31st, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
You've captured the essence of big-to-little-to-big-again thoughts that flow through my brain on a regular basis. Nicely said.
stevenglassman
Sep. 3rd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
::sigh::

Job hunting SUCKS.
maxwellgrant
Sep. 28th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
I really liked your story extrapolated with the big bang theory. I am assuming the job you got was the waitressing you write about later on?
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )