TERMINAL DEGREE. DEGREE OF TERMINAL.

I AM HAVING A CRISIS.

It is poor timing to have the audacity to stoke a personal crisis in the middle of a pandemic. Is it still the middle of the pandemic? I guess we won’t know that until the end. And what exactly is the end of the pandemic? Does that mean no more people are dying from Covid or just fewer people are dying? If so, what exactly is the acceptable number of people dying from Covid? I guess the president thinks it is around four hundred thousand, but we clearly disagree.

Does it mean that hospital beds will be available for other problems too? How have we collectively asked our bodies to stop having strokes and heart attacks because it just isn’t a convenient time to mosey into the ER? Did I miss something? I wouldn’t be surprised.

 I can only handle Wolf so much now. And although he and Anderson have actually made my “coveted” fantasy dinner party team, I’m just a wee bit sick of seeing both of them rattle off numbers that are just getting worse. And if fantasy jail “teams” are a thing, then Trump, Pence, 11 Senate Republicans and Kirk Cameron belong in mine. I would love to see, well not actually, just know, that they are cuffed in a cell battling each other over one open latrine. (From my thoughts to God’s ears).

You know I’ve heard ambulances all day, but no one on social media has mentioned fires which we are unfortunately prone to in this area. I don’t think those are sirens for fires. I think those are different sirens now.

Today I faxed my hard-of-hearing dad a news article about how bad it is in California right now and how paramedics are not going to transport patients to hospitals if they don’t reach a certain percentage in the survivability matrix. Actually, I marked the fax in big letters and told him to “Stay the f**k inside” because “this isn’t a game.” I have a VERY stubborn almost 90- year- old father who thinks that since he survived the three notorious childhood diseases, that he has superman genes although the rest of us might be doomed. He has a big ego and doesn’t listen to reason, so I go for the shock effect to make a point. (The obscenity is usually an ice breaker. He calls back to say that isn’t appropriate language and then I try to educate him (again) on the perils of the plague). He is incredibly stubborn and “omnipotent”. I am but a lowly mortal who also has the audacity to be female. None of that ranks high in his world. Hell, here’s hoping he does have the last laugh. As I write this, though, he might be walking up to the corner with a crooked, used mask to get more fax paper because he can’t stand waiting for anything not even a delivery, once he has his OCD sights set.

Sigh.

 I do a lot of that lately.

So why am I having an existential crisis? I mean I’ve got a book to finish, that would be writing not reading, accounts to reconcile, P and Ls to complete and 1099s to mail. I am busy. So why am I letting this get to me? Human, I guess. That’s part of it.

My youngest daughter is moving home this week because school is remote anyways and the roomies are getting on each other’s nerves. She’ll be here and we can get on each other’s nerves which I guess is an improvement. Well, it is in the wallet department. And maybe I can coax her into some fun activities like hiking with the dog or remote tap dance lessons.  She’d like to be going out to parties and bars. We’d all like that but at least we got to do that in our twenties. It must be very hard to be a college kid right now.

Anyway, yesterday she asked me why she was knocking herself out to battle senioritis to graduate in the arts when she knows she’s going to have to fight for a career doing what she wants to anyway. She really wants to know if we’re going to drop dead from Covid and if so, why is this how we are spending our last days. My husband and I are trying to be optimistic, but the vaccine roll out is a definite ____________. Fill in the blank yourself. The audacity factor of congressional disbelievers who partied hardy and rolled up their sleeves first is, well my blood pressure is increasing thinking about that, so I’ll cool my jets. She’s right.

I am applying for jobs because our company is at a standstill. We have bought talent and produced concerts and live events for many years. There just isn’t a lot to do right now, so I dusted off my resume and started applying for jobs. Thus, the reason for my existential crisis. I do not like accounting, and it feels like the universe is blackmailing me, because that is what I am most qualified to do. I look at creative writing jobs and financial writer positions and I send in my CV but I’m not getting many bites.

Then I look at the political jobs. They don’t pay as well, but they look a lot more interesting. While I see job skills that translate to these positions, I’m not so sure this will be the view of the potential employers. After submitting ten resumes tonight, I saw a particularly interesting activist position for families with children.  They asked why I was interested and in lieu of writing a five-paragraph paper like Miss Hayley taught me to in A.P. English, I simply said I wanted “meaningful work.” Ha! I must be losing it.

So anyway, I reviewed the old grad school websites again. I’d love an MFA or a Masters of Professional Writing or perhaps a degree in Humanities. I long to study astronomy, photography, the classics, Latin or Comparative Literature.  But these don’t necessarily pay, albeit the programs cost mucho buckaroos. And I need to eat.

I wondered too, like my daughter mentioned, what if these were our last days?  I mean objectively. Not emotionally. How would I spend my last days if I knew that was my future?  I asked my husband if he thought that terminal kids should go to school like normal kids. What was the point?

The degree programs that I am most interested in are terminal programs.  You don’t necessarily get an MFA because you’re going on to a doctorate program.  I would personally like to tie up the rest of my days in a doctoral program. I would be thrilled to be a student. It is a lot less scary than out here in the real world. So maybe, I should find a doctoral program where I could spend the remaining years of my life expectancy. That sounds good to me. My daughter is rushing to leave school and I am dreaming about getting back in.

So that’s where I am right now.  I’m applying for jobs when I want a career. My daughter is afraid she won’t find a job in her career. And the ambulances just keep driving up and down Kanan Road next to our house. It is the main thoroughfare in our suburb. We are actually in Ventura County, so I guess a lot of the virus kind of ends two streets down where it’s officially Los Angeles County. Who knew it was so disciplined?

I think those traitors in my fantasy jail should be tried for treason. I hope we have enough collective strength left to do that when this ends, if we can figure out what that ending is. I hope that I am more optimistic tomorrow morning and that my daughter is looking forward to cleaner, more considerate roomies and help with groceries, meals and walking her dog. We will lighten her load a little so she can concentrate on the mental strength she will need to draw on to finish her senior year and maybe even have a little fun. 

I will figure it out this week. I will figure out if I am going for a terminal degree. And maybe someone will call me back about my resume.

In the meantime, I am going to get a glass of chardonnay and sit down and watch the Georgia races and hope to God that the Senate turns blue, because I don’t think our beloved country can handle four more years of division. I want America to go back to school too. Meaningful. That’s a good word. I want Americans to have a meaningful relationship with politics, social issues, history and our national identity. Oh, and the truth. I want us to have a meaningful relationship with the truth.

You know. I was wrong. I don’t think I’m the one having a crisis.

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