Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hangin' Tough

New Kids in the Block are playing the New Orleans Arena. I picture threadbare Members Only jackets, male pattern baldness, formation dancing, Alleve, Metarie housewives in Coldwater Creek matchables, Cosmos in turquoise plastic tumblers.

As we can see, the post-MFA adjustment is taking time. A fellow Montana MFA grad and I are sharing her studio. Sleeping on the same air mattress. Scrambling eggs out of our single skillet. Reinflating the air mattress. A sampling of college friends, where they are now: head of the radiology dept at Duke University, hi-profile Wall Street stockbroker, professor at Emory working with legislation to protect battered women. As my parents like to remind me, aside from bad marks in cursive writing, my report card showed promise. What went wrong here? A-R-T. Ohnonono, I couldn’t work in a hospital or court or office. I must create.

For work I’m teaching online where I’m learning the joys of emoticons, exclamation points and the sandwich technique:

Dear Administrators:

I am eager to embark on this exciting opportunity. I noticed you don’t pay for training. Is that legal? Again, thanks for this exciting opportunity.

The pay is actually decent, once I actually start teaching (a month from now? A year? From the grave?) For most this job is a part time gig for parents so they afford karate lessons as they organize medical records at some hospital somewhere. Teaching online is the new Tetrus. I’m holding out on full time so I can work on my book. Take my MFA third year, as I’m explaining it. It’s hard. The Visa emits tendrils of smoke as I swipe. I scan the restaurant employment ads with the shameful hungered stealth of drunk-driving by an ex’s house. I worked in the biz for years, have the necessary experience to land a fat job where I can pocket $200 plus a night. For the mere price of my soul. Double hard is that post-Katrina, all the best restaurants in town are (supposedly) in dire need of staff.

The more I sit in hipster coffee shops with my iBook with other black-squared glasses wearing hipsters the more the self-loathing foments.