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I’ve returned from my triumphant return to the Midwest, and am now faced with the fact that I truly have very little to do.  Since the dryer situation is finally rectified, I have a lot of laundry to catch up on, but other than that, I’m kind of a lump.

I went from 2 jobs, internship, full-time class load, comprehensive exam dread to… 1 extremely part-time job that’s switching to shorter summer hours next week.  I have a very flexible (and very poorly paid) work-from-home gig that made my rather dour co-worker ask “Are you sure they’re going to pay you?”, and a screenwriting workshop to prep for.

A co-worker who graduated at the same time as me has started learning Spanish just to occupy her mind, and I screeched like a harpy at Gentleman Caller last night about how stressed I am now that I have nothing to do.

I fear I’m becoming unpleasant.

I just don’t know why I can’t relax.  I’m trying to convince myself to enjoy this downtime, and that I truly deserve a break, but either my fear of poverty or my ridiculous Midwestern work ethic are telling me otherwise.

The worst is, now I’ve started lamenting how many library classes I missed out on taking.  There were quite  few decent electives that I passed on because people said “It’s a really good class and you’ll learn a lot, but it’s a lot of work.” I did not have the time/inclination to take on a lot of work, so I opted for the easier road.  I don’t actually regret any of the electives I took, but I feel like others know more secrets about librarianship than I do.

I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Minneapolis and who graciously put me up for the Minneapolis portion of my Triumphant Return to the Midwest.  She had recently decided to quit college, and to stop wasting money on classes she was either failing, or getting incompletes in.  She has been in college since I met her (about eight years ago), and goes to such elaborate measures to not go to class, that what she does in avoiding actually winds up being more work.

“Every time I go to class, I sit there for the first two session thinking it’s interesting, then I realize that I’m not learning anything new, or that the other people in the class are idiots, and it just feels like a waste of my time.” she told me.

While I agree with the some of the classmates being idiots part of the statement, all going to class does is make me feel like I know less.  Even f it’s something I’ve heard 100 times before, I feel like there’s a new fact or nuance that has previously eluded me, and that’s the point of the class.   Even if I know all of the answers, I get bogged down in convincing myself that the teacher must be telling me something new, or else why would they be teaching this class?

This dichotomy has resulted in me never having had a full-time job but having two masters degrees, and my friend making tons of money as a server and not enough credits after eight years of off-and-on college attendance to equal a degree.

I can’t decide which of us is better off because we seem equally frustrated.

At job #1, I spend most of my time with a man who I wouldn’t quite describe as elderly, but who did once bring up colonoscopy without a hint of chagrin or TMIness. Anyway, we get along famously, he brings me things, and we have a very healthy working relationship that mostly consists of me asking questions, and him lecturing in a “retired professor” manner. It’s kind of like my dream of going to college for free, except I’m majoring in old books, Rhode Island history, and economics.

Today though, the tables turned. We were wrapping up our working day a little early as he had business to attend to at his “gentleman’s club”. This is not the kind of gentleman’s club with the dancing semi-nude ladies, but rather, the gentleman’s club of yore, when men get together, sip scotch, and talk about leisure activities. I finished entering the information for our last book of the day, and he said, “So, you haven’t found a local boyfriend yet, huh?”

This was unexpected, but I rolled with it by replying, “There aren’t many normal boys in library school.”

He nodded and grinned knowingly, “and you’re not really into that club scene, are you?”

“No. I am not.”

There was a pause, that may or may not have been awkward, but I couldn’t really gauge it, because I was so baffled as to how we went from discussing the state of the economy, Adam Smith etc., to my love life. I inserted, “besides, even if I had been looking and found someone, he would just be another person for me to ignore as, you know, I’m quite busy these days.”

“Well, see you Monday.” he grabbed his bag and exited the room.

This is the kind of situation that I’ve read about for years. This is the kind of situation I’m actually writing a screenplay about, but have never had happen to me, presumably because I haven’t really been noticeably single in quite a while. I guess I should feel grateful (?), because having experienced it firsthand I can better use it in my writing (?) Mostly I’m indignant because I just used the phrase “my writing”, which I’ve avoided– always, and hate– completely. It’s right up there with “my depression” or “my beliefs about how food should be grown/harvested” as things maybe it’s healthy to own, but sound so completely pretentious… blech. So, what, my expiration date is looming and it’s showing on my face? Or is he just being grandfatherly/from a different generation, and wants to see me settled down already!

I’m terrified that he and the wife have been discussing me at home. I’m terrified that he’s going to produce some myopic nephew with whom I just have to have coffee. I just don’t get how we came to this place when less than an hour earlier, we had been talking about a summer internship opportunity I am excited about. We frequently talk about my future, and my career, my previous schooling, my opinions on literature, and my cat– maybe I’m just talking about my cat too much, is what it all boils down to. Still, this turn of events is alarming. I hope it stops here.