a journey of self-discovery OR soul death?

National unemployment is still kicking my ass, as is the fact that, despite having almost no skill set (no, snark and an autistic-like ability to recite stretches of dialogue from 80s movies are apparently not in demand with the corporate set, who knew), I am vastly “overqualified” for all positions out there.

It’s to the point where I am considering lying outright and telling potential employers that I’ve been backpacking around Southeast Asia or living in an ashram just so I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of explaining that, no, you really can’t have a job when you’re enrolled in a full-time doctoral program, and yes, if something better comes along than this nine dollar an hour data entry soul-killing horrendousness,  I will, in fact, quit. I mean, people are into that Eat, Pray, Love shit, aren’t they? Maybe they will think I am noble rather than someone who keeps aggressively pursuing higher education for no other reason than it seems to be a bastion of marginally sane secularism in our increasingly batshit country.

So that’s fun. Except for how it, you know, totally isn’t.

Also fun? Cover letters, the genre of quiet fucking desperation and self-aggrandizement.

Part-time marketing work also provides me with words that make me think academic jargon is pretty, by comparison:

  • Leverage
  • Learnings
  • Webinar
  • Build out
  • Incentivize
  • Advertorial
  • Game-changer
  • Impactful

Good times can be had with this corporate buzzword generator.


A playlist to stave off suicidal thoughts brought on by pleading job apps and marketing twats

Hedwig and the Angry Itch — Midnight Radio

David Bowie – Rock and Roll Suicide

Boston — Peace of Mind

Eliot Smith — Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud?

Supertramp — Breakfast in America

Wilco — Shot in the Arm

The Verve — Bittersweet Symphony

Tribe Called Quest — Rap Promoter

Beastie Boys — Super Disco Breakin’

Frank Black — Headache (listen to this last one at least six times running.)


7 responses to “a journey of self-discovery OR soul death?

  1. The only, and I mean THE ONLY negative thing I have to say about this post is that it’s slightly too long to be my neck tattoo.

    If it were slightly shorter, it would be on my neck in indelible ink.

  2. Jonathan Riggs

    I have only recently managed to escape my own experience with what you’re describing, and I know just how disheartening and soul-crushing this can all be.

    Something someone told me when I was right in the middle of a depression worthy of your beloved Russian lit was that all it takes is one person to say yes. You hear no (or nothing at all) from hundreds, but if one person says yes, it turns it all around.

    I hope you get a break soon because you deserve it. That or a huge windfall from a rich aunt you didn’t know you had, with the only catch being you have to spend the night in her (haunted) house!

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  4. I was in the PhDismal Zone for the first two years (I’m part time) – did weird crazy jobs (for funeral companies, data entry, medical acting) I began taking stuff off my CV too, got offered work immediately and wondered why I needed to compromise my awsomeness by dying in a job I didn’t really want, working full hours and giving up finishing the PhD. But then again, I was starving, desperate and not going to finish that bestselling novel any time soon.

    So I bought a secondhand bookshop from an old couple who were so desperate to retire I got it for a song. Okay, it won’t make me a gazillionaire, but I get time to actually work on the PhD and I changed my topic to something related (literary hoaxes) and I choose my own dress code, not to mention shop music. It also helps when people decide to be snobby to the “girl in the bookshop” to say “sorry, I won’t give you a discount on ‘Eat Pray Love’, I gotta get back to The Thesis…”

    But the medical acting was cool too. Describing vague symptoms off a crib sheet while medical students practice their empathy training.

    Another thing I learned in data entry is there’s a government department (I’m in Australia, btw) which technically doesn’t exist but comes up on CVs – when I asked my supervisor turns out it’s the name people give when they’ve worked in the secret services. You could always tell them you worked in the Department of Public Administration and Affairs, and give a vague wink…