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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Precious and few

I confess that I am writing this in advance, from Kalamazoo, in the course of a weirdly self-imposed “layover” between two Amtrak trains (one covered by my regular 10-ride ticket, the other conveying me to where my sister lives, from whence she shall drive me to our parents’). My purpose in visiting Kalamazoo on this day — an idea on which I was monomaniacally fixated in a way that I don’t fully understand now — was primarily to go through the month’s worth of mail that I had told the post office to hold and that they would only consent to hold until today. I also wanted to “check in” on my apartment, having left it totally unattended for a month.

I confess that on the mail front, I was fortunate, as there was a bill rapidly coming due, for a student loan servicer that bizarrely decided to shut down their online payment system for this particular month. My apartment is completely fine, except for an intimidating accumulation of ice on the (short) outside stairway, a problem I have no immediate means of addressing with any effectiveness.

I confess, dear readers, that I am out of so many things! Paper towel, mouthwash, anything other than condiments that goes in the fridge….

I confess that I remain skeptical about Christmas and that my preparation for it tends to be half-assed at best. The last couple years, this has worked out fine, as the gift exchange has been pretty heavily cut back — I now get one small item for the random exchange and one board game, nominally for my younger cousins but really for the whole family to provide us with something to do other than get lectured (with occasional time for questions) by my uncle about politics and/or religion.

I confess that I have entirely neglected to purchase anything for the “white elephant” exchange for the other side of the family, because I believe “white elephant” exchanges to be stupid and contrived — although I am proud of having contributed to The Girlfriend’s “white elephant” exchange at work, by pointing out a “Hooked on Phonics” kit at the thrift store. My mom will likely pick up the slack for me, as she always does, because I never put forth any effort whatsoever, because I have a bad attitude about the whole holiday. Similarly, for serious gifts, I usually split the cost with my sister, with her doing virtually all the shopping. In my defense, however, I do wrap them all, and beautifully.

I confess that 2009 may have been the best year of my life so far: I’ve solidified a great relationship, gotten my first real job with an adult-sized paycheck, gotten a PhD, written a book and gotten two book contracts, etc. I confess that I’m worried it may turn out to be the best year for the next several, as I return to the penury of my grad school existence. But there were only two rejections in the mail, for the whole month of December! And no more cancelled searches! And a pretty decent handful of new job listings posted, which I can apply for and not get, because when there are so many applicants for each job, they just round down and no one gets the job (i.e., 0% of applicants instead of 0.01%).

We’re going to be quite the generation, the most well-published temps and adjuncts and insurance salesmen and welfare recipients in the history of Westen Civilization, cashing our biannual book royalty checks at the Currency Exchange so that we can treat ourselves to the nice vodka — then thinking better of it and sticking with the cheap stuff. Because do you have any idea how much ramen you can buy for $35?

And with that, on behalf of all of us at The Weblog, at least the Gentiles: Merry Christmas to all!


December 25, 2009 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. I confess that I contrived to introduce my wife to my ex-wife yesterday, ostensibly because my wife was curious about her, but mostly because it feeds my ego to unify people from different parts of my life, no matter how ill-advised.

    It went very well, though. And my ex made me a present of homemade donuts.

    Comment by K-sky | December 25, 2009

  2. Merry Christmas! not only gentiles, all holidays are for fun for everybody
    i confess we used to decorate the yule tree but not before 25th but around 28th, b/c it’s a new year attribute as it was with the tangerines, we call them mandarines, the new year presents were the most delicious b/c of the smell, maybe it’s not that good thing that now they can be found anytime
    we still decorate it of course

    Comment by read | December 25, 2009

  3. I went with a gas mask for my white elephant gift–it received mixed reviews, if only because, despite continuing to call it a “white elephant” gift exchange, many of my coworkers insist on buying halfway decent gifts, and get indignant when someone gets something that’s actually ridiculous.

    I confess this is probably a top 5 best year for me–nothing bad at all, but more smooth sailing than lots of excellent events.

    Comment by Michael Schaefer | December 25, 2009

  4. I confess that I derive a lot of joy when a song I’ve been thinking of comes up randomly as I listen to music on shuffle—joy that is only increased when it’s a song I’ve not only been thinking of but playing deliberately, subverting the shuffle regime, something that occasionally makes me feel guilty, as if I’m giving myself illicit pleasure.

    Comment by ben | December 25, 2009

  5. I confess that that just happened, with the Necks’ Sex.

    Comment by ben | December 25, 2009

  6. I confess that 2009 was the worst year of my life thus far. Hopefully 2010 is better.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | December 25, 2009

  7. I confess that I’ve stumbled across the various “who got in” messages boards and so on for philosophy for the spring. I confess that I will be neurotically checking them until I receive all of my rejections/acceptances/torture(waitlist). I confess that, judging by a lot of the responses and the fields people are interested in, I’m glad I didn’t end up at a big state school with an analytic-only presence. I confess that, even though it seems like a lot of the online-undergrad community didn’t focus on the same types of schools as I did (the ones not on the Leiter report), I still worry constantly about always coming to philosophy from an ad hoc, independent position. In a weird way I feel relieved that my no-name liberal arts school might make me stand out, but I also confess that I am pessimistic about my chances with any of the Phd programs I picked.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | December 26, 2009

  8. Dave, it is important to remember that academia is not a meritocracy. That can be good and bad for you, but it does mean that if you do get rejected it doesn’t really say anything about you as a person. Good luck dude.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | December 26, 2009

  9. Thanks. I think I’ve fully realized that and accepted it, although it certainly makes it interesting to try to explain to family. I’ve basically adopted the attitude that the process has slightly more elements involved than a game of craps, so we’ll see. I feel fairly confident that I will at least have one or two MA programs to look at, but I also think I’m prepared to get 8 or 9 rejection letters.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | December 26, 2009

  10. Well, tell your family it is their fault for not being better born. The class system is still firmly in place.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | December 26, 2009

  11. I confess to feeling even more pixie-ish and mischievous than usual this morning, which is unfortunate as I am still on holiday with someone else’s family, and I doubt they’d appreciate this particular modality of my somewhat mercurial moods.

    Comment by infinite thought | December 26, 2009

  12. I confess that after watching four+ seasons of Curb, I don’t find Larry to be an asshole. I think during a re-watch I’ll make a log of supposedly objectionable things Larry does that I think are defensible, reasonable, good, etc. Or maybe I don’t know what ‘asshole’ means, I guess anything’s possible.

    Also, a comment bleg: if anyone knows where to purchase anything by Peter Zapffe (translated into English), I confess that I’d love to know.

    Comment by currence | December 28, 2009

  13. Ha, alright, disregard that; I do find Larry to be an asshole. What I was thinking is that Larry is not always an asshole. Larry is in a ton of awful and self-caused situations many of which I don’t think make him an asshole (rather sympathetic and an exemplar of petite courage) and a select few which obviously do. A real seductive villain, thank you Larry David.

    Comment by currence | December 28, 2009

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