Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not even this week's bus

The Poetry Bus comes around too often these days. Already this week’s ride is disappearing around the bend and I’ve had all of about five minutes to consider my poem.
Sometimes that’s enough.
But sometimes there’s the sort of prompt that really deserves a bit of thought, and care, before being allowed out in public. The latest one is one of these: argue with god. I’m not in the mood for some flip little thing, four lines and a sting. The eventual poem may well be four lines long, but they’ll be well-considered ones. A few weeks ago we had The path not taken, another topic that deserves far better treatment than I’ve been able to give it.
Where to start?
Which one to pick?
There have been some radical options. One of the big ones happened in 2002, the September I got my current job. The other road there would have been ... um... I have no idea what it would have been like.
I was coming to the end of the possibilities for temporary contracts at the Center. I had been a post-doc for two years: that’s done. Then an Assistant at the University for a year. Then I was paid through a charitable organization for a while. And that’s about as far as a foreigner could go without winning some kind of permanent contract. Grant after grant was turning down funding my salary.
But I didn’t have anything else lined up. Job searching takes a huge amount of effort, and I had preferred to invest myself in the work I was doing, in hopes of a good publication that would make funding easy. So the end of my contract loomed, and there was no After.
Thinking about After was so stressful I just didn’t.
What would I do? Where would I live? If I moved back to the States, a ticket I could barely afford, what State should I go to? I didn’t have a job in any of them. What would I do with my cat?
Finally, I figured I would sell all my stuff (how? To whom?), give the cat to a friend, and just become one of those after-college people, traveling around and taking pictures and writing about it. I would become a travel writer. I would have adventures and recount them with wit and sell these stories to magazines and newspapers and whoever buys those sorts of stories.
Never mind I had no clue how to go about shopping my writing around. Never mind the little I did know said the creative writing biz was nearly impossible to just break into and make a living at right away. And travel photography! Hah! Looking at my bank account, two unsalaried months of rent would be it before going red.
That was the plan.
I was fresh from reading a memoire of a guy who joined the Peace Corps and spent a year in Africa, showing people how to farm fish to improve their diet and make some cash. Incredible story! Not only did he get to have this fabulous year, which was often difficult and discouraging, but always intense, but he published a book out of it. Perhaps the PC would take me too.
So that was the path.As you know, I didn’t take it. My boss was casting around for a person to run the diagnostic lab, and I had thought he didn’t want me for the post, and he had thought I didn’t want the job, but we eventually cleared all that up and here I am.
I'll always wonder if I would have survived out there, my home on my back, hoping for something around the bend.


Bagman and Butler said...

Wow! So that's how you got where you are! I was wondering. So many roads less traveled. And still more choices to make every day. I guess I've come to accept that it doesn't really matter much as long as you move forward and don't try to keep coming back to old intersections.

shabby girl said...

Whew! You are exactly where you're supposed to be, right? In a small way, you are a travel writer. For me. I mean, you're living in another country, working in a field that I know nothing about, and your posts are always interesting, or funny, and you get to do the work you want to do. Perfect.

Jinksy said...

I've been rouund the bend for years, and the view is just the same as the straight road! :)