Saturday, October 04, 2008

a post

post, says anonymous. alright, alright, alright. generally i like to keep these things quality - i only have a really good thought twice a year! - but we'll see if i can form some of my ramblings into something cohesive.

so....october, huh? geez.

it's senior year for me. the rest of you might recognize this year by its more popular name, 'the Year You Decide That Actually, the Past Three Years Weren't That Bad, and You Don't Really Want to Move Out of Your Dormroom.' stern does offer the interesting option of a fifth year, but in my case, this would be blatant stalling (which is a federal offense in my country.) i love school and could probably sit in classes, doodling in the margins and underlining keywords, forever, building elaborate storylines in my head and doing exactly nothing practical with myself again. but there are drawbacks to the Eternal School Plan (esp):

1) technically, i need experience, not further schooling, to get a good job in my field.
2) nothing practical = nothing paycheck.
3) this would eventually drive everyone i am related to mad.

so instead i am pursuing the Elusive First Job path (efj), which for a journalism major coming of age in the midst of a journalism crisis, looks like this:

-READER'S DIGEST WEB COPYEDIT INTERN: 'Remove excess page numbers and parantheses from multiple manuscripts. Translate Canadian and UK English into American English.' (ie, real english. clearly the use of the term 'translate' indicates that they are indeed foreign languages.)
-COPY INTERN FOR PC MAGAZINE: 'PC experience a must. Mac appreciated.'
-EDITORIAL INTERN FOR SPIN MAGAZINE: 'Interns at SPIN are responsible for transcribing interviews, researching stories, running errands, organizing mail, conducting interviews, and compiling music news for possible use in the magazine.'
-02138 EDITORIAL INTERN: 'Part-time or full-time editorial internships are available this spring at 02138, the new independent magazine for Harvard alumni. We seek confident, witty writers and hard-nosed researchers to join the creative team in our midtown Manhattan offices, starting in January.'

and on and on it goes.

notice something about these postings? that's right - they're unpaid. virtually all of them. i am coming to the slow realization that writing is at the most an intriguing field and at worst a reeeeaaallly low-paying one, so you had better get some job satisfaction to pad your earnings. i'm at a strange crossroads: everything seems possible and impossible at the same time. wow, i could do music interviews! i dreamed of doing music interviews in high school! yeah, but you don't hang around in bars and have only been to three concerts in your life. what music magazine is going to hire you? well- okay, but i could work for ziff davis! they're a block away from my dorm, they publish internationally-read computer magazines, and they even pay! yeah, but what do you have on your resume that a huge publisher like ziff davis wants to acquire? three years of writing center tutoring, a stint as an assistant at hadassah magazine, a summer interviewing zookeepers at your local zoo. there's no harpercollins or new york times on there. what are you going to do about it? how will you break through?

there's nothing to tie me to any one place. admittedly, i am not a light packer, but all i've got is a room's worth of stuff. so where should i go? will i go to seattle and become a radio editer? will i move to miami and duck hurricanes yearround? should i go to the hip singles community in silver spring that everyone talks about, and get a job at a political outlet in dc? should i move to london and work as a tour guide in a castle (impractical, but fun)? should i conquer my incomprehensible fears of ha'aretz and attend grad school for half the price in israel? what about la? atlanta? chicago? toronto?

what about new york? i could stay there. oh Father in Heaven, how easy it would be to stay there and not. ship. my stuff. across country. i could move to the heights like every other stern grad, battling cockroaches by night, working in the city by day, davening in the subway on those loooong morning commutes. i could make compot for the potluck shabbos meals everyone's got going on over there, room with people i went to class with but never knew, and attend the world's maximum-fire-hazard meat market for davening every shabbat. i could eat at the little restaurants in front of yu and wish i was still young enough to be in college. nix!

or i could move to the west side. but um...isn't the west side for people who plan to make money at some point in their lives? you know. people whose out-of-college jobs cover things like having your own bedroom. gee...i really want my own bedroom...and the upper west side is pretty....but it's a 'scene.' what does that mean? does it matter if it's out of your price range?

or i could live in queens. or brooklyn. or the lower east side? unknown. unknown. unknown. two-fare, one-hour-plus commute zones.

(whew. okay, pause for a second. show of hands. how many of you are glad you don't have to live in my head full-time?)

or i could live in milwaukee. in my parents' house. and work for...bridge-building magazine? or get my masters at uwm? and er...live in my parents' house? wait- i'm having a flashback from the future:

middle sister: i'm not on sock duty! SHE'S on sock duty!
youngest sister: how am i supposed to know whose socks are whose? we all have the same size feet!
mom: i don't care who's on sock duty, between the three of you, some one should have figured out that the argyle socks are your father's, and those are MY pantyhose!

ergh. maybe not.

anyway, while my parents love me, we have a strict no-kids-above-18-living-here-permanently rule. and i can't imagine what my bubbe would make of it.

bubbe: i thought you could use some crochet covers for your pencils for school. so i'm going to come over tomorrow for coffee and crochet them for you!

so as you can see, i have a lot of deciding to do. but instead i just feel sort of stuck. all my life i've had a gameplan. it's been like stops on the six train: first comes elementary school. then comes middle school. then comes high school. then comes college. in many households in my community, that last would have been seminary. but in the end - i've found this more and more - we all wind up in the same place:

now what?

the rules were so clear and irrefutable before. everybody knows you have to go to high school. what high school, with which haskhafa, these are details you can worry over and work out on your own, but you always have a general idea of what has to happen. in other careers, the road is very well-worn. going to be a doctor? well, then you have to get into medical school, land a residency, take the boards, join a practice...going to be a lawyer? have to get into law school, be a clerk, take the bar, work at a firm...going to be an accountant? have to get the internship, go to networking events, land the entry-level position...

going to be a...you? what do you do to become a 'you'? what do you do when there is no road, and even you aren't sure where you're going?

i don't know. and neither do many of the girls i grew up with. a lot of them live near me now, in one living arrangement or another, and i find myself having the same conversation with all my friends, high school or stern alike. we're all kind of just 'here', now. we've finished the kid chapters but don't really know how to start the adult parts. we all know you're supposed to get married and have families. but how? suddenly the other person in that equation weighs a lot more than they did when our hashkafa teachers referred to them. we all know you're supposed to get jobs - although we have differing ideas about what's suitable for jewish women - which you need to show up to at eight in the morning. but what? we can get jobs cutting out stenciled borders in kindergartens for mimimum wage - is there more than that? is a job something you do to make money for your family, or is it a way to harness your talents to make a difference in the world? you can't know what your purpose in the world is - but can you guess?

we all want our lives to work out okay. but we don't have a gameplan. there's no rules anymore. so how do we know we're doing the things we should?

some people would argue that all this 'not knowing' is actually freedom. the freedom to innovate, to go where the wind takes you, etc. i've given some thought to this argument, and i'm honestly not sure. i think i'm afraid that if i go with the current i'll get lost somewhere far, far away, and won't know my way back. but maybe that's part of being an adult, too.

i don't know.

by the way, anonymous - you said you'd bake me a cake.

9 Comments:

Blogger SJ said...

Hello, my life.

Wow, there it is, all my anxieties on paper...I feel so...anxious.

Love how you just nixed the Heights. Wish I could do that. Sigh.

Oh, how bout this? You go the Seattle-radio route and I come with you? How's that for a good plan?

Or London! We could do London together! I'd love to run somewhere random, but it would be a lot less scary if I didn't have to run there alone. So how about it?

10:37 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I hear ya... just make sure you'll be truly happy and fulfilled in an important way whichever route you take: Whether with how you'll live, how it will help your career, etc. If you give up a lot in all aspects you run a greater risk of being miserable after a bit.

6:29 AM  
Blogger RaggedyMom said...

For me, the in-between-time was when I began a few years of teaching in public school. I never understood why this career is not more encouraged in our society - it was a professional and pleasant work environment (depends on the school of course), a salary that was decent to the point that it took my husband a few years to catch up to it, and unbeatable benefits.

The in-between time is mutually exhilarating and terrifying. You'd think I'd vote Queens, but definitely not at this stage.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get out of New York before this ridiculous shiduch-pressure thing gets the best of you! Go somewhere really random for the next two years. (Somewhere with a nice-sized Jewish Community). Have a few adventures before you settle down! You're only 19! Live a little!

7:37 PM  
Blogger jack barry said...

Hey, Fudge...
good luck with journalism...
You could start with an article about the premature death of the magazine called "02138" I subscribed to it twice...the second time for my Harvard Grad school daughter... We got one issue, only... Then they went off the radar. Total silence, no replies. Deceptively, they keep their web site operable, and taking in new subscribers, I bet...

Pretty scummy..

jack barry in SF and Cambridge.

ps: Do you have any inside dope?

3:35 PM  
Blogger outofAMMO said...

wow. thanks for the disillusionment. I coulda just read the obituaries in a shorter amount of time and still feel as crummy.

Me, i think you should move to mexico and grow vegetables.

3:39 PM  
Blogger the apple said...

Great post.

I feel the same way - up til now, it was really easy to see the next step, but now... ack! I haven't really felt so anxious about this stuff, though that could just be because I've been TOTALLY IGNORING making any sort of plan.

Come to Israel with me! Or London! I could do London!

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you were to go to graduate school, and you do seem to like school, you would not only get more training for your chosen profession, but also would have a period of transition between the life of an undergrad and "real life" and could work at a job associated with your graduate program or at a low-paid internship to gain experience in your field. And if you go to graduate school in Israel, all the better.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Rafiki said...

Even I'm thinking about these things now, but we all know I'm just going to be famous anyways.

5:31 AM  

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