Sunday, January 11, 2004

Work-related maunderings and a self-education rant

Dammit, but I want a job. Only been back a few days and already I'm tearing my hair out (metaphorically speaking, duh) at the thought of my continuing unemployment. When your partener is an academic, lenghty spells of unemployment in Foriegn Parts pretty much come with the territory (a friend's bloke was out of work for 2 years and that was in Australia, and he was all degree-having), but knowing that doesn't help. I like to be up and doing. Currently I'm tracking down electronics-flavoured employers (there are many manufacturing plants out on the way to the airport, including a dirty great Siemens), but I don't hold out much hope. Not much hope either for the English teaching option, since I can't afford to do a TEFL and frankly I'm not convinced my English language sk1llz are up to snuff. GCSE in English (B*) striking fear in no-one's heart.

Thing is, if I want to start an OU course in the autumn (and boy do I want to), I need to be working now or I won't be able to afford it. Arrgh. Also it looks likely now that we'll be heading back to the UK after September, and I really want to get my Castillano match fit before then. Working with Spanish people would help with that, so non-job-having puts a crimp on things. Arrgh argh arghhh.

These, friends, are my Cunning Plans...

Cunning plan A: Work on my travel writing, try and get a foot in the door, so that by the time I return to the UK I have some dosh in the bank and some clippings to wave at editors. If this pans out, of course, I shan't be so frantic about the degree-having coz I'll be doing what I lurrrve. Ditto the short fiction, tho' I feel there's less money in fiction than in articles so no breath-holding there.

If plan A fucks up, then there's...

Cunning Plan B: Get all fluent and things in Spanish, thus paving way for translation work, teaching, ect. when back in UK. If I train myself up to A-level standard I can just barge on in and sit the exam.

Should B gang aglay then there's...


Cunning Plan D: See if I can't knock my art & design skills into some sort of exploitable shape. It's a long shot, but something might come of it.

Cunning Plan E: Some strange synthesis of all of the above. I do not know what form this might take, but suspect that one exists and everyone else knows about it except me.

Cunning Plan F: Invent a religion or something.

Plan G is less cunning. It is the Life of Minimum Wage Machine-Minding and Related Crap. All I need for that is a prescription for Valium and maybe some mild brain damage.

There's also the Novel, but that doesn't really count as a plan. The novel is more what I'm doing everything else for; it's not a living, it's a way of life.

I'm 30. I don't, as I have said, feel old. Yet I'm approaching the cut-off point, the point where the world says that you do not pass go, do not collect a career, do not do anything except resign yourself to being where and what you are, no matter how much you hate it and how far below your weight you are punching, because you will never be given the chance to do anything else.

Nothing new to me. It's only the same old song I've been hearing all my life, ever since I was a kid, ever since I discovered that if you don't have a conventional education there is no place for you in the world, that self-educated people are nothing but worthless freaks. Sit down. Shut up. Get that floor mopped. Get out the way of the real people. Accept mediocrity as your lot. Do not hope or strive, do not do anything except what we tell to do.

Self-education is the way forward. I took over the reins of my own education when I was eleven, and I did an okay job. My big mistake was buying into the hype surrounding conventional education, assuming that I needed their grades, their bits of paper; trusting the lie that if I collected enough bits of paper they'd let me into their world. My biggest mistake was ever handing those reins over to strangers, to a system whose outlook was and remains utterly alien to me and whose concerns are frequently inimical to my own.

See, the Western education system is not about aiding the success of the many, it is about abetting the greed of the few. I wish I could go back in time and say all this to my younger self.

I can't, of course. But I can say it to you. Only you know what you are capable of; only you know what you might be able to achive. Do something for me, right now: Ignore the voices of self-doubt and remembered criticsm for a while. Forget "I can't afford", "people like me don't" and "I'm not good enough"; forget the things they said and the names they called you, stick your fingers in your ears and go "Neener neener neener!" till they're gone.

Just be for a moment. Look down inside yourself, look at the things that thrill and impassion you. See all that you might be, see all the potential locked away inside. If you don't see anything, try again later. Eventually you will glimpse it, that buried treasure, and it will astound you. Grab a little of it to take out to the world. Just a fragment will do for now.

I am currently looking into ways of formalizing my self-education somewhat. I will discuss my findings at a later date. I know it's possible (in the UK anyhow) to barge on in and sit an exam even if you haven't done a conventional course, like a GCSE or an A-level or whatever, so long as you sort it out with the exam board and pay the exam fees and so forth. I'm looking at ways in which I can expand on this principle, if it's possible to pull the same stunt at higher levels. Basically I want to see if it's possible to get a degree without setting foot in another fucking bloody university. (Apart from the OU, I mean.)

Understand: I will win free of the trap I am in. I will make someting of this little life and it will be bigger and brighter than even I can imagine right now. I will walk through the world that has rejected me like a ghost walks through a ceiling. When they shut the door in my face I will find new doors, different doors, better doors; dammit, I will punch a dirty great hole in the wall and wave the rabble on in after me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I saw a cleaning job in the small ads and I want to catch the post.

No comments: