I’ll begin by letting you know that it’s 2 in the morning. That, in itself, may be all you need to know about me.
But I’ll continue. As I write this, sitting next to my roommate’s two cats, I have just stuffed two sticks of sugar free gum in my mouth at once. A few moments earlier I voraciously gulped down a cup of coffee saturated with saccharine sweetener. If there’s anything else you should know about me, other than the fact that I am a nocturnal animal, it’s that I am always hungry. No, you really don’t understand: I am Always. Really, Really, Hungry. You see, I’m a recovered (or, recovering, depending on how you frame it) bulimic. Which means that most of my time and energy is consumed by taming the bulimic beast within. And this in turn means that there is not much energy left over to do other things with my life beyond keeping the Beast in check. And making more coffee.
By now—if you are still reading—you might have begun to develop a vague sense that I’m someone who doesn’t maintain very strong or enduring human relationships. And, yes, that is the fundamental truth that I am going to tell you next. I am quintessentially lonely, lonesome, aloof and alone; to the core. I spend my waking and unawake hours inside an undecorated bedroom in a rented house, isolated within a densely populated metropolitan area. Disconnected and disengaged from other warm-blooded creatures—except for my roommate’s two cats. I am a caricature of the hackneyed “postmodern condition,” a desolate urchin crouched in the corner of her spiritual prison; I make Kafka himself come across as a whimsical Disney cartoon character.
I am an agoraphobe. I only go out when I have to, which is rare, and when I do, I typically take tranquilizers so that I can cope with the sheer agony of being in the world. Or, kind of in the world. The presence of other people makes me queasy, and crowds make me heave. I have always been this way, have always chafed painfully against the seams of society. At almost 29, I have never really grown to become fully human. I don’t expect you to understand.
Unfortunately, it gets weirder: I’m also an anthropologist. Well, a pseudo-anthropologist, or a half-way anthropologist. Or, really, just someone who has a master’s degree in anthropology. I’ve never done “fieldwork” and never been abroad. And I don’t speak a second language, as, being an isolated agoraphobe, I’m not even truly conversant in my native language. And above all, I didn’t write a thesis to receive my master’s degree. It was a non-thesis curriculum. (Do you really think an agoraphobe would be able to defend a thesis before a handful of surly, scowling, spiral notebook-toting, prideful, blue-blooded gatekeeping hipster-geeks?) And anyone who has spent five minutes within the musty, mildewy bowels of the brick-laden, algae-covered basement dustbin where the embarrassingly underfunded anthropology department of my alma mater is relegated knows that Anybody who is Anybody worth talking to, instead of at, in the academic world of surly, scowling, spiral notebook-toting, prideful, blue-blooded gatekeeping hipster geekhood has written a thesis in order to earn their degree.
That was more than two years ago when I received my fake masters diploma, which I elected to have mailed to my parents’ house in lieu of accepting personally at my graduation ceremony. (You didn’t think I actually would have attended a public graduation ceremony, did you?) And let me tell you how THRILLED the anthropology department—and particularly my advisor—was to see me graduate and get the hell out of there. They were SO RELIEVED when I didn’t try to stick around for the PhD. After all, I’m the kind of buffoon who gives anthropologists a bad name.
As a bumbling, stammering, guarded agoraphobe, I don’t really fit well the persona of the swaggering, suave, easygoing ethnographer who oozes like bacon grease into whatever unfamiliar surroundings she may find herself. Someone who would have that natural, anthropological finesse for wooing strangers into the elaborate world of the ethos. I’m a nightmare and a lethal threat to the precarious professional anthropolgy community. I wasn’t a big hit in graduate school.
I’m not a big hit on the broader job market either. I don’t have an easy time finding jobs. No. More than anything, graduate school has equipped me with the boundless opportunity and capability to fully grasp this, additional, fundamental truth, that agoraphobic anthropologists make Really Shitty job candidates. My degree has allowed me ALL the time and insight in the world to turn this truth over, and over, and over. To analyze and pontificate every one of its facets . . . from within the corner of whichever barren, dark space I am currently renting.
Indeed, that is all I have been doing ever since I finished graduate school, while I apply for job after job after job, venturing out in a drug-stifled terror and returning back from one miserable job interview after another. Suffering through a second master’s degree in a respectable and respectably dull field (I’ll get to that degree later) has not made a difference, has not made me any more employable or bearable to those who might otherwise employ me. It has not masked my freakish anthropological essence, and above all it has not changed the fact that I am, at the core, an agoraphobe.
And so after a year and a half of this post-graduation-dead-end-unemployability bullshit, and a whole lifetime of this inescapable neurosis bullshit, I decided to blog about it. If I have to suffer, you’re going to have to suffer too. You’ll have to bear through my ambling tirades and anguished soliloquies. You’ll have to be subjected to my abysmal, unending sorrow and my loathsome self. You might end up glimpsing a narrow streak of the world from the excruciatingly magnified stance of dread that I ceaselessly carry around with me without respite. And I do apologize for that. But I need to vent.