Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

My Odd Life

So this weekend I have to drive up to Fresno, and while it would be easy to make a "just gotta have my raisins-fix" joke, I think that such humor betrays a certain lack of imagination. Which admittedly I suffer from, but one shouldn't be self-consciously unimaginative, unless one is attempting a highly tenuous form of ironic humor. And I'm much more of the serrated blade than the delicate scalpel--you can actually weigh my irony by the metric ton--so screw the raisin jokes. You're welcome, Fresno. Besides, I'm going up for a job interview, so it ill-behooves me to make a stink about any aspect of this upcoming weekend. Yes, I'm interviewing at Cal State Fresno. But not for Cal State Fresno. Let me explain:

There's this job, see? (Did I just channel James Cagney? And can one make "channelling" jokes and not seem about 15 years past the peak of such humor? See, I told you I shouldn't try to be unimaginative--it'll just come on its own.) A great job. Really. A truly great job. A prestigious university of world renown--ranked 50th in the world (which means it competes with places like Oxford and the Sorbonne as well as Harvard and Yale) by the Times Higher Education Supplement. And the job--teaching Shakespeare. Teaching self-designed surveys of English literature. Great benefits. Great standard of living. A famous, cosmopolitan environment. One Little Thing:

It's in Singapore.



Porn- and chewing-gum-free Singapore (I actually only object to the loss of one of those, frankly.) Half-way-around-the-world Singapore. Cool place in many respects--I mean, not if you're a drug-dealer/user, but then, I'm not, so what the hell. (I mean, "heck"--I understand they have a problem with verbal as well as visual obscenity.) And the school really is good: Nanyang Technological University--rated as 7th best school in all of Asia, for goodness' sake. And the English department is small and intimate and seems really in need of someone just like me. And (as I suppose befits an ex-British colony) they teach on the English university system, with Lecture and Tutorials--a much cooler fashion than ours. I mean, this job seriously rocks.

But--and I mean absolutely no disrespect to the nation in question--it's in Singapore. (I'd understand the trepidation of someone from there contemplating coming here.) Which would mean leaving behind little things like family and friends and access to network television--how, oh how will I survive without my weekly doses of Desperate Housewives and American Idol? (Yes, Irony. Well spotted. But still, I do kinda need to keep up on my Lost and my 24 and my 45 variations of CSI and Law & Order. I mean, what am I supposed to do with my evenings, read??? And I know what you're thinking--get a satellite dish, you twit, but hah! on you, 'cause I already thought of that, and checked, and consarnit, they're illegal there! Phooey!)

But distance and serious culture shock aside--oh my God, I may have to learn Mandarin--there's the little, tiny, insignificant matter of the Missus. See, I've got this wife? Who has this, what's the phrase?--career and life of her own and the needs that attend upon both? And those needs are kinda sorta attendant upon her presence here? And, well--look, there's been a tendency in this blog for me to make the kind of low-brow "Take My Wife Please" and Frying-Pan-Ducking humor, but that's because it's cheap and easy, not because there's any truth to it. The fact is, my wife is just this side of a saint. Consider that because of my selfish decision to go into academia, she's had to spend the past eight years (the entirety of our marriage) in complete penury while I go to graduate school rather than doing something that might produce an actual income. She has not complained once--well, except when I spend unconscionable amounts on DVD collections of Kurosawa on Amazon, and let's face it, she's right to do so--she's been supportive and kind. Plus, there's the joy of being married to someone who's subject to occasion bouts of depression--such fun for her, what with the blank silences and the physical torpor and the bleak refusal to engage emotionally. And yet she still comes home each day eager to see me. She is, I think we can all agree, way too good for me. And going to Singapore would, to put it mildly, seriously mess up her life. (Notice I didn't say "impact" her life, because "impact" is a noun, not a verb, and if you use it as a verb, I will find you and hurt you--hurt you bad.) And so Singapore is an issue. Not entirely bleak--she'll go, if I do. And I believe--even if she's not sure of it--that she'll find acting and singing work when there. But--well, if I didn't pause and think about her, I'd been even more than a prick than I usually am, and I just don't think that level of prickishness can be healthy for a human being to occupy.

And yet, in my selfish black heart of hearts, I do really, really want this job. So I'm off to Fresno this weekend--and oh, she's driving up with me, just to show you what kind of lunatic sport she is--eager, nervous, and very, very confused. Wish me luck!


Blogger Mandy said...

Greetings from Myrtle Beach Week, Home of the Spring break Beach Party

11:12 AM  

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