Whenever I write about grad school, someone writes in the comments about how I’m just bitter that I didn’t get a degree.
But what I’m really bitter about is that no one wanted to have sex with me. Some famous poet was a visiting professor, hitting on every grad student but me. And Leslie Epstein was there, who is not only king of the Jews but the father of Theo Epstein, a big name in baseball. Leslie said I’m the best sex writer he’s ever read. So why wasn’t he asking me for sex?
Probably because I’m the master of bad sex. There is no anal penetration that I cannot ruin with a piece of poop at the end of the paragraph.
So no one hit on me in grad school except maybe Susanna Kaysen. I was starving and homeless and she was getting movie deals that included Winona Ryder riders. And if I had not been so Aspergery I would have done anything to get her to edit my memoir – she is a master of the line edit. I’ll always worry that my memoir could have been edited better.
But, to my point, what I learned while I was not getting hit on in grad school is to never write drunk.
I learned not to write drunk because everyone thought they’d write better drunk but they only wrote more like themselves. So, if you’re a good writer sober, you’d be a good writer drunk, but you can just write sober. Why add the extra calories? Because when your book is published you are better off looking hot. Of course. Everyone is better off looking hot, especially if they want to fuck their boss.
I’ve been trying to decide if I am going to use the word fuck. My husband, Matthew – who now has a name on this blog- thinks it’s trashy. I want you to think that I’m interesting in bed in a sort of trashy way and that I say fuck all the time. But I don’t. I’m probably really boring in bed. I’m much better on paper.
Oh God – my editor is going to throw this whole post out for not being useful. He’s going to say, “Try writing something when you’re not drunk.” Even in the best case he’s going to say, “I have to think about it. I’m not sure if it works.”
Which always makes me write back “Fuck fuck fuck.” That is a common salutation to my editor. I’ll say “I need a post today! I haven’t posted in four days!” I know the world does not stop to notice when I don’t post in four days. But I feel like a failure. What am I doing if I’m not posting?
Well. I’m drinking.
In case you are wondering, Cassie told me to read this book Drinking: A Love Story, which shows how easy it is to become an alcoholic, so I stopped drinking for three weeks as a check-up. So I don’t think I count as an alcoholic. I’m just like one of those tiresome grad students who writes drunk except in grad school the editor is the classroom full of people who want to take you down, in front of the teacher, so the teacher will fuck them instead of you.
There is a rule for my blog: the more crazy the post is, the more useful it has to be. My editor follows this rule. I gave him this rule. By the way, he is not a rule follower. It’s ironic because he has this big job making sure his company follows FDA rules, he secretly sends me poems that are too hard for me to read but it’s clearly because there are no rules being followed. How do you judge a poem with no broken rhymes?
It’s okay, I think, to drink. Because I’m sad. I’m sad that my life has become driving my kids everywhere. I’m in the car more than 48 hours a week. It’s absurd. Don’t do it. It’ll ruin your life. So I’m sad. I came home tonight. At 11pm. From driving. And I have to drive again at 9:30 am. My experience of planting corn is pulling up behind the seed truck, and taking a picture, on my way home. And remember the 20,000 bulbs I planted last fall? I’ve seen them for about sixteen minutes. Because I’m never home. I’m driving.
You can’t have a nice house in the country and a good job in the city. You know that. I’ve told you a hundred times. But it’s just like how the preacher’s daughter is always knocked up: the career coach always has a life-destroying commute.
But here’s what I’ve learned, again and again: picking a career is picking a life. Look at the person’s life, not the job, and decide if you want it. If so, choose their career.
But watch out. I homeschool my kids and I have a husband who is home all day to help, and I live on a working farm and I have a great career. Who wouldn’t want this, right? But some nights, I come home and drink. People don’t tell you that. When you ask them how they got the career, they don’t mention how they drank a bottle of Chardonnay on nights when they drove too much.
Remember that people will brag about what they’ve achieved, but they don’t brag about the price they paid to get it. So find someone who will tell you the worst parts of their life. Because it’s easy to see what’s great about someone’s life. But if you’re picking a career by picking a life, the only people who are useful to you are those who will tell you the bad stuff too.
My editor has been fired a lot before he got his job now. I don’t know if he’ll cut this paragraph. The thing is, he’s really good at work now. I like my editor a lot. But if you asked my editor about what his life is like as an FDA rule enforcer, he would never tell you that he was fired from the military for misconduct. Or about the stealing. Or about how it feels like his marriage is ending.
You know why I love my job? Because I just want to write that truth. It feels good to tell you what I see. I know I don’t have the best social skills, but I see things clearly because I don’t worry that people will hate me.
But I worry that my editor will veto this post. When you look at my life, if you think you want it, remember that you will be choosing to live and die by your editor. If he cuts this post then me deciding to write while I was drinking was a total waste of time. If he approves this post, then I’m a creative genius. That’s how thin a line it is between career success and career failure for me. So when you’re choosing what you do, make sure you like the process. It’s a choice you can control.