An unhappy medium

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At the start of my third year of college, feeling whelmed by my studies — not overwhelmed, but quite definitely whelmed — I decided to stop watching television. It was 2001. I recall this clearly because, a few weeks later, when the twin towers came down, it occurred to me that I may have been overhasty in getting rid of the television.

As I continued immersing myself in academic pursuits that would eventually prove to be both lucrative and practical*, I realized that I wasn’t yearning for my former source of entertainment. It started as a gambit to free up some time, but my sacrifice turned out not to be a sacrifice at all. I didn’t miss television or movies. I was startled to discover that I was actually happier without the medium.

*Me and my little jokes. Ha.

It’s never been about the content. People get confused when I explain that I don’t watch television or movies. It’s not that I think books are the superior vehicle. There’s good stuff and bad stuff on the page and on the screen. I just don’t care to watch my entertainment. I want to experience stories by reading them, not by watching them.

So when I tell you that yesterday I saw a movie in a theater, I want you to understand that I had no choice. It was a hostage situation — as in, a roomful of adorable, well-behaved Sri Lankan orphans were in mortal peril, and they were all going to perish unless I agreed to watch a movie. Normally I wouldn’t compromise my integrity like that, but it would have made for very poor press if I had let the kids die.

Alarmingly, this blatant violation of my principles comes in the midst of a reading drought that has been going on for four months now. This time last year I was reading a book every two or three days. Now I’m managing a book every two or three weeks. I have a lot of catching up to do if I’m going to meet my annual quota. Perhaps more importantly, I have a lot of catching up to do if I’m going to retain any feelings of self-worth as as human being.

I’ve been writing about books a lot recently, though, which ought to count for something. I’ve been doing a bit of writing and a bit of copyediting for the library database NoveList. It’s nice, since it’s my only source of income whatsoever. (The job that I had at the start of the year, I am beginning to suspect, is never going to come through with a check for the 27 hours of work I did. Which is illegal. La.)

I have continued to apply for jobs (and I swear, this is where all my time is going — job-hunting is a huge time drain), and jobs have continued to not hire me. A few weeks ago I applied for a couple of open positions in the local public libraries. One of them required a college degree, I think, while the other merely preferred it. It so happens that I have a master’s degree in the field, along with some formidable experience, but I have not been invited to interview.

What gives? “To rescue precious orphan children” might seem self-aggrandizing to some people, but I personally thought it worked nicely as an objective.

At any rate, this whole not-being-employable schtick is losing its luster. Absent any better plans, I am pretty well sold on the idea of getting a second master’s degree. I’m not wild about the idea. Or, to be accurate, I like the idea just fine — higher education is swell — but I do not much care for the thought of putting myself into student debt again. On the other hand, a bit of temporary debt sounds a lot more palatable than being unemployed for the rest of my adult life. Or, to be accurate yet again, I would love to be unemployed for the rest of my life. Think of all the books I could read, all the orphans I could save! It’s just that I need financial security and, absent any better plans, I am pretty well sold on the idea of paid employment.

Plus, gosh. It would be neat to have health insurance again.

Going to edit a cover letter now. Normally I charge $75 for editing a short document (and yes indeedy, I am a currently accepting new assignments, oh boy am I ever) but it’s for a friend, so that’s okay, and anyway it’s nice to feel grammatically needed.

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