Today I got turned down for a job at Oxford. This isn't really a very big deal, since I wasn't really right for it, and since I'm not at Oxford's level, anyway (maybe not yet, or maybe just not), but it raises a number of unfortunate ghosts.
My life in America pretty much stinks. I hate where I live, which is a major problem. I like my job, but I'm not challenged by it, and I really have no one at my level to discuss my work with - I'm pretty much totally unstimulated mentally. I have no partner,
which means not just that I have no one to love me as a partner loves you, but also that I have no day-to-day or even week-to-week support, and also means that at the age of 40 my closest emotional-intellectual relationship is with my parents. I've never gone out with an American, except for six months in my sophomore year of college. I don't
like most Americans, and I don't like most aspects of America.
When I went out with my ex-boyfriend, J., we made each other unhappy a lot of time. I don't know if it was more often than not, but it was a lot. The summer before we broke up, though, he took me with him on a trip home to Ireland. And we were both so happy there, and so content with each other: indeed, we both said so to each other. Of course, going on vacation is relaxing, and being on his home ground no doubt soothed J., but these days I do wonder to myself if it wasn't just something about being in Ireland, or out of America. I'm just not very happy there - or at least, I haven't been very happy there since I moved back 14 years ago.
The problem is, I have no choice: it's looking more and more like I'm going to have to return to the States, and more and more like I'm going to have to live there. There aren't very many jobs here doing what I do, and although I keep applying to the ones there are, I also keep not getting them. Once I leave here, it becomes distinctly less of a possibility that I'll even be considered for one, given that Britain is full of people like me desperately searching for jobs, and many of them have books, too.
It's not as if my life here is any greater than my life in the States: I still don't have a partner, and it's still pretty unlikely that I'll find one. I don't even have a job, and you'd have to be an idiot to leave a tenure-track job in this economy - I fear it would destroy my career. And my life in America is objectively good: I have a job, and a fine salary, a nice place to live, and students who love me. But I'm not an object; I'm a subject. And subjectively, I feel that I belong here.
I'm not making sense, and I think it's because I don't see any way out of this. By getting a Ph.D. I narrowed myself - I can't be a secretary now. And I can't pick up and move here hoping to get some kind of job, because for sure I'll starve to death. So I'm going to have to go back to America, where at a very basic level I'm deeply unhappy; even when I think about going back I become so unhappy that I can manage to function, but not much more. But I have to go back, because nothing's working out here. And I suppose you could say, "There are good jobs in America, and some nice men." And of course you'd be right. But do I look petty or extreme when I say, "Time has shown me I'm not attracted to American men, and I suspect that any job in America might make me unhappy, because it's in America"? (at this point my mother might say, Look at how your relationships with non-Americans worked out. Maybe you should give Americans a try.) I feel terribly terribly trapped, and in some awful way just...doomed. And incredibly alone. I'm 40 years old, and I have to figure out my life alone. It's all somehow just one big ball of wrong, and surely this can't be how it's meant for my life to be? I try so hard, so repeatedly. I work what would be like a dog, if it weren't for the fact that I choose to do it. I've written stuff I didn't want to write, and been nice to people I didn't want to be nice to, and done things I didn't want to do, because all of that contributed to my career, and because I figured that doing it would open up avenues to success and happiness that would otherwise be closed off. Can it be that the outcome of that is still the kind of life I would have if I didn't try at all?
Other people have happy blogs, or witty blogs, and the funny thing is if you met me you'd find me funny, and full of life and wit. So I apologise yet again for the persistent tenor of this blog.