Wednesday, April 1, 2009

THERE is an ultimatum

After I graduated from Baylor and found a job, it didn't take long to realize I was going to end up suicidal if I continued to be a generic drone. I started weighing my options. Fortunately, I had done well in school and still had most higher education doors open to me. I briefly considered law school. I had worked for a pretty cool attorney in Waco and even took the LSAT (cold turkey, with the flu, in a room full of cocksuckers -- miserable experience), but I knew lawyering wasn't my bag.
I then considered healthcare. I was pre-med when I started college but fell off the wagon somewhere along the way. I think it was shortly after my American Romantics course but before I tried to read every word written by Hemingway. It may have coincided with the borderline alcoholism and onset of 6 years of depression wrought by my ex-girlfriend's mind-fucking of me. (Don't blame her, my mind's a slut. It gets fucked by just about anything.)
Now that I had experienced something that made Dilbert real to me, medicine had a brighter appeal. I still thought of the whole medical school bit as a trifle cliche, however, so I was looking for something related but more interesting. I'd always loved genetics. Turns out there is an entire clinical field known as "genetic counseling". I found the American Genetic Counselor's Association website and tracked down some practicing GC's and even got to sit in on a few patient visits. It was very cool, and I was sold.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of genetic counseling programs out there. Or at least, there weren't at that time. Most of the programs that are out there only take one to three applicants per year for their two-year program. Wow. I applied to about 15 programs and got two interview offers. I only ended up taking one of them. It was to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Yonkers to be exact. This was the largest and oldest program in the country. I had a decent shot at getting in since they took like 12 applicants per year.
My interview went really well, and I was awaiting my financial aid report from them. I was talking to my dad about my plans. He and my mom, being risk-averse as mentioned before, thought my plan to go off to New York for school was foolish. But they hadn't tasted the pirogi and wine that Summer and I had on my interview trip. I digress.
One of the objections my dad raised to the notion of sending one of his Grays up to the Yankees for a couple years was that he had never even heard of this school. I guess it's not exactly Notre Dame, but Sarah Lawrence is pretty well-known to educated folk. I mean, it got name-dropped by JD Salinger, for Christ's sake. (In Franny and Zooey, I think, but don't hold me to that.)
It became a moot point when I realized I was looking at adding at least $50Grrr in debt to potentially qualify for jobs that paid $35k/yr. Ultimately I am my father's son and I just couldn't pull the trigger on that deal. Which is how I ended up the world's most bitter neurology resident. Maybe if my dad were a bigger Salinger fan none of that would have happened.


Snake Diggity said...

Great post.

Pretty crazy how life works out. You went from aspiring author to editor drone to future geneticist to future neurologist in a pretty short time.

I don't think there's any way for you to know if you'd be happier if you were an author or geneticist. You'd almost certainly be even more broke than you are now, which would suck taint.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that you're happier than you would have been working at that editing company.

Ojo Rojo said...

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of yours: "MY JOB is to make sure that people get their junk mail." I think "unhappy" would best describe you during this phase when you were trying to figure out what in the hell you were going to do. "Drunk" would have best described me during mine.

Should there have been better career counseling along the way somewhere? Is it our parents' fault that it took us a long and painful journey to find out where we needed to be? I mean, when bright young white men in America can't find their fucking way until they are 30 we've got problems.

llogg said...

I might be making slightly less money, but I'd have a lot less debt. And I'm definitely happier than I would have been at that editing job. That job sucked. I should have never taken it.

Being responsible for junk mail definitely sucked, especially because it was a high stress situation. The printers and the mailers frequently butted heads. I've been unreasonably unhappy for far too much of my life. I mean, honestly what the hell do I have to complain about? I guess I'm just a whiny little bitch by nature. That time period was probably the peak, though. Thank god for tequila, friends that smoke, and Yukio Mishima.

roy said...

I can't tell if your description of "being responsible for junk mail" is meant to be read literally. If so, I can only imagine that soul-sucking would just begin to describe the job.

Just curious, why Yukio Mishima? (I didn't know who he was, had to look him up)

llogg said...

Yeah, I literally was responsible for the creation and accurate mailing of junk mail. If you got a flier from KBHomes around 2002, it was from me.

The tequila, smoking, and Mishima are references to how I met M*. She got drunk on tequila and tried to bum a cigarette for her friend. She had just gotten back from Japan, and because I fell in love with Mishima in high school when I spent a summer at the public library reading all the books about samurai I could find (I think there were three), I had some game to throw at her. Which saved my life.