All in a day’s work

Graduating English major still searching for job, weighing options

All in a day’s work

Graduating English major still searching for job, weighing options

A mere two months from graduation, and I really don’ t think I should have to get a job.

Artists like me should be supported completely by the government, or at least by some high-minded philanthropy. We should be given a lot of money, put up in tract housing somewhere sunny, and allowed to spend a lot of our time basking together in hot tubs. For artists are a precious institution, and we are delicate, and the idea of actually having to earn our track housing and hot tub basking is inherently terrifying to us.

Unfortunately, there is no government sensible enough nor is there a philanthropy kind enough to be willing to support me, artist or not, for the rest of my life. A few weeks ago, I thought I’ d found a loophole. I thought I was going to win the Publisher’ s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Every week a different large-stuffed envelope came, each filled with twenty or so time-sensitive return cards. I signed an affidavit attesting to my willingness to be shown live on television. I telephoned a toll-free number to state, clearly and slowly, where I would be on prize day. I marked little boxes signifying my desire to either receive my money through yearly cashier’ s checks or yearly direct deposits into my bank. I even, and this shames me most, ordered a magazine. Come prize day, at the pre-announced time, I had cleaned the living room, put on my favorite jeans and my second-favorite T-shirt, invited friends over, and turned on the porch light, only to watch as the Publisher’ s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol showed footage of an apartment complex startlingly dissimilar to my own, then knocked interminably upon the door of one K.J., who didn’ t even have the decency to be home, and probably hadn’ t even bothered to phone the toll-free number or sign the affidavit. Again, I was left portless.

My parents have a pretty weird idea as to what I should do. They tell me that most college students, artists or not, generally get jobs immediately upon their graduation. Occasionally they take a cruise around Europe first, but I’ ve already done that, though I did miss a few of the more major sights through haggling for bread in the steerage section of various cities. Occasionally they have a honeymoon first, but that would involve a marriage, which would involve some sort of insanity on my part, which I haven’ t sunk down to yet. Mostly, though, they just get jobs.

This appears to me to be a very ominous undertaking. College students, my peers, can’ t actually all be doing this. First of all, there just aren’ t many cool jobs around. Being an astronaut would be cool, and I have been to Space Camp a few times, so I’ m experienced, but I’ d have to weigh 40 pounds less, be about four inches taller, and ditch the Coke bottle glasses that I’ m very fond of wearing because they allow me to see. Being a garbage person would also be a little cool, in a sick sort of way, but I have a big aversion to coveralls.

Second of all, I have a problem with the operating hours of most jobs. I require a lot of sleep, a lot of lounging time, and more than a lot of trashy novel-reading time. My parents call this laziness; I’ m more prone to refer to it as personal upkeep. College provides me with more than enough personal upkeep time, especially in my senior year, when I have no class that meets before 11 a.m., and no class that keeps me after 4:40 p.m. The dress code is generally lax, the professors are generally generous and lenient with things like deadlines and requirements, and the company of my peer group is, while not generally uplifting, at least usually amusing. I’ ve mastered every possible aspect of undergraduate college life, and rather like the breezy feeling on my face as I slide through this, my last semester. What will become of all my trashy novels when I enter the work force, chained by the wrist to some hugely monotonous industrial machine at which I am required to arrive promptly at 8 a.m.? My very soul will wither, I suspect.

And third of all, I’ m not sure that I want to be chained to just one industrial machine for all of my life. My parents, of course, were perfect. My Papa started out at a young age picking cotton for a nickel a day, but after a war and a marriage settled down to a nice steady job, where he stayed for 45 years. Same with Mama, though she went to high school rather than pick cotton, and worked for the war rather than going to war. They didn’ t bother finding dream jobs. This was relatively soon after the Depression, so they just found jobs, period, and then stuck to them with incredible loyalty and very few promotions. I get the feeling that they, though outwardly supporting whatever fool idea might come into my head, inwardly scoff at my plan to do something, and only do something, I really love.

Then, work was primarily what you did to avoid starvation and to buy nice holiday presents for the kids. Now, that sort of goal would be seen as highly destructive to the psyche and the soul. One needs to be happy at work, because it has become the way and means to personal fulfillment.

I’ m not looking for that, exactly, as I’ m not exactly looking for the steady yet unsatisfying career that sustained my parents. Instead, I want a combination, a fulfilling job combined with an outside life, for which I haven’t yet found an example.

I’ d like to be successful and have a large family and, let us not forget, not have to work very hard, but the tradition so far has been either/or. So of course I feel trepidation about leaving college, where I’ m successful both in class and out. And I’ m not a bit hopeful.

Publisher’ s Clearinghouse let me down.

And my parents have made it perfectly clear that going home to sit on their couch and watch cable television for months on end is simply out of the question.

Julie Finn ’98, available for any cushy writing position you may have, is an English senior from Fort Smith, Ark.

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