The craigslist blues

I have always found it very discouraging to peruse employment ads, starting in the days when they were in the newspaper and headed “Help Wanted – Female.” Nowadays it’s a particularly demoralizing exercise, because my general lack of qualifications is exacerbated  by the unacceptable number of years I’ve been on the planet. If you want to be the leader of the free world, it’s OK to be a woman over 60, but not if you want to shelve someone’s books or type their correspondence.

I would be so much more employable if I could just acquire a couple of these things:

  • eggs
  • sperm
  • a vehicle
  • hip or knee pain (shoulder pain won’t cut it)
  • youth
  • love for dogs
  • diabetes (or at least I haven’t been told that I have it)
  • asthma (though I used to have it)
  • experience with ____ (whatever it is, I don’t have it)
  • passion

The most crucial thing I don’t have, which 99 percent of employers insist on, is references. I used to have a stable of helpful folks who had agreed to serve as references for me (and a few whom I may not have actually asked but who seemed like good choices at the time). Now it’s been more than 10 years since I had an actual job, and I left that one under less than ideal circumstances. The volunteer gigs I’ve had in recent years have kind of fizzled, to the point where I can’t think of anyone (unrelated to me) whom I could in good conscience ask to recommend me for anything.

Since I basically have no one who can attest to my employability, I guess it’s a good thing that I have nothing to offer an employer. (And people call me a pessimist! Ha!)

Rainy Sunday with a cold

I forced myself to get up and make cranberry relish (a task that required a brisk walk to buy sugar at the overpriced neighborhood market), and I felt slightly less worthless for a few minutes after managing to do that one thing. But now I’m back in bed, reading and hearing about other people’s grand plans and accomplishments, wondering if I will ever have the energy and desire to do anything again. Having a cold is a good excuse to stay inactive, but I fear that I will be well tomorrow.

If I had a crocheting project, I could happily work on that for hours, or at least until my hands, with their arthritis and Dupuytren’s contractures, resigned in protest. It sucks to have frittered your life away and then realize that you couldn’t make up for all that lost time even if you wanted to, even if you lived another 40 years, because your body has exceeded its useful life. So yesterday I decided to look for an innovative anti-aging study that I could participate in.

The most intriguing research I found involves the vampiresque notion of injecting young plasma into old people. I was all ready to sign up until I learned that this study has some serious downsides. While most clinical trials don’t charge any fees to participate, and many even offer monetary compensation, this transfusion study costs each participant $8,000.

It might be worth the money if there were any proof that the technique works. Normally that’s the point of a clinical trial: to see if something works before you start making people pay for it. But these days more and more companies are charging people to undergo experimental procedures.

One person who has no problem with the pay-to-play model is libertarian Trump aficionado Peter Thiel. He’s very excited about the young-blood study, and that’s another reason why I’m not.

Even if I had strong, healthy hands, I think that making something out of yarn would be a little like fiddling on the Titanic (or choose your own mixed metaphor). Sure, I’d be a bit happier for a while, but the world and my mind and my life would all still be very troubled places.

Now where was I?

The discerning reader, of which WordPress tells me I have exactly 0 (and just as many who are undiscerning), will note that this blog was on hiatus for nearly two years. Said hypothetical reader will also note that most of the previous entries dealt with my hopeful foray into a miraculous form of psychotherapy. I discontinued treatment after seven sessions, convinced that it had been a big help despite the therapist’s lack of efficacy. I suspect that what I experienced was mostly a placebo effect (combined with a pocketbook effect: the out-of-pocket costs for an out-of-network provider were unsustainable). In any case I have been therapy-free ever since.

Which is not to say that I’ve been neurosis-free, or that I haven’t spent hours trying to find the perfect therapist, or that I haven’t come this close to doing away with myself. But I haven’t done much of the kind of self-obsessed writing that characterized the previous entries (or the previous 10 years of blogging). In my defense, I think I started the WordPress blog as a way to do the daily writing that my therapist prescribed, and much of that writing was hidden from public view. I’ve now made all the entries viewable (except the truly tedious ones in which I described my dreams). Going forward, I will try to be less whiny.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and while I have managed to avoid therapy for more than two years, I did see a psychiatrist last month, hoping to be deemed depressed enough to undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation. After talking with me for 50 minutes, the shrinklet (she can’t be older than 30) told me that I not depressed enough for rTMS, because the main thing I have is borderline personality disorder. She referred me to a local provider of BPD treatment, who, after a 20-minute chat, decided that I more likely have an autism spectrum disorder (as suggested by previous therapist). It turns out that it’s quite common for autistic women to be misdiagnosed, and apparently the percentage of men diagnosed with autism is the same as the percentage of women diagnosed with BPD.

Of course, life is too damn short for me to go back and find all the research supporting the claims I made in the previous sentence. But here’s an article that describes someone whose life experiences and many diagnoses I can definitely relate to (if not empathize with).

Save your breath, Terry

During every Fresh Air interview the host, usually Terry Gross, takes several breaks to make room for underwriting announcements, local station remarks, or filler music. At the end of each break (sometimes, I think, before the breaks as well) Terry says, “If you’re just joining us, my guest is…” I could quibble with her use of what Mark Liberman says is a “felicity condition,” but in general I think it’s perfectly OK to sprinkle your conversation with these constructions. What I find disturbing is the fact that she says it so many times a day.

Think about it: Terry has had this hosting gig for more than 40 years. Let’s say that she’s done four interviews per week for 50 weeks per year. That’s 8,000 interviews (Wikipedia just says she’s done “thousands”). It takes about two seconds to say, “If you’re just joining us…” If she says it, on average, three times per interview (a conservative estimate), that’s 48,000 seconds of her life, and ours, that she has frittered away in felicity. That’s more than thirteen hours of nonstop “If you’re just joining us…” multiplied by millions of listeners. And that’s not counting the interviews by her stand-ins, whom she has trained to use this same formula.

Think of what each of us could have accomplished in those extra thirteen hours. That’s a whole workday plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, a movie, writing a blog entry, and playing with the cats.

Life is too damn short to waste words. Whether we’re just joining you or not, Terry, you have the same guest. It would be cool if you could somehow engineer the show to have different guests for different levels of audience loyalty, but the technology isn’t there yet.

And don’t get me started on the thousands of talk-show callers every day whose first words are “Thank you for taking my call” or some other time-wasting banality. That’s at least three seconds when the caller or someone less fatuous could have been enlightening us on the topic at hand.

Then there’s the whole how-are-you-fine-thanks-and-you ritual that everyone is forced to participate in, in some permutation, dozens of times a day in every society on earth. Really, can’t we all just get to the point? If you must be felicitous, a simple “hello” will do, or better still, “hi.” Just don’t make it conditional.