by Chelsea Sutton
It’s been almost exactly six months since I graduated grad school.
I apologize right now to everyone I have interacted with during this time. I have this thing where, when someone asks how you are, I don’t like saying just “fine” or “good,” especially when that’s not true and especially if the question is sincere. I’ve also been told multiple times that not only are my characters WITHHOLDING, so am I.
So unfortunately, in the spirit of being HOLDING or whatever the hell is the opposite of WITHHOLDING, I’ve tried to articulate this feeling of post-grad uncertainty in a multitude of ways. Often this will manifest in extremes: either totally depressing or completely manic.
There have been people I’ve had long meals with who have witnessed the manic. And I’ve apologized afterwards.
I only just apologized on Friday to a new friend and director I’m working with for being so damn negative the ENTIRE length of the times we’ve hung out.
My emotions live in extremes right now, or at least extremes for me. I’m either riding high and so excited about what’s happening, or my life is an endless desert of capital S Sad and I’ve made all the wrong decisions, every time, for every thing.
Which means I’ve been spending much of my time NOT writing and instead looking at animal videos on Facebook. For a brief period over the last six months, in my desperate attempt at finding a job, I even tried to get a part time job walking dogs or taking care of kittens or cats in shelters, or even starting as an apprentice dog trainer because those seemed at least mildly meaningful comparatively when you consider my other career is writing plays no one comes to or no one wants to produce and writing stories no one wants to publish.
And then Facebook starting advertising this product to me:
The algorithm is getting scary.
Obviously, I know how the algorithm knew how many EXACT seal videos I looked at or shared over the last six months. How may seal GIFs I’ve used.
But did the algorithm read my cover letter to the animal shelter in response to their call for a “Cat Caretaker” that I wrote desperately and passionately into Indeed one night? Or the various descriptions of how my 34-years of having dogs around, of feeding dogs, of having a dog die IN MY ARMS should qualify me to be able to walk a few of them around the block for an hour for minimum wage?
Did the algorithm hear ME calling MYSELF names like fat and lazy and talentless?
Did the algorithm see my whiskey-fueled bedtime crying-myself-to-sleep routine?
Because it’s like looking in the mirror. We’re in some uncanny valley territory here where I could buy a life-size version of myself and cuddle with it (angrily) after a hot toddy.
But, in an attempt to be POSITIVE, it seems the algorithm has solved my problem for me of articulation.
What has post-grad been like, you ask?
This. This right here. This is post-grad. This is my life right now. And, I suspect, this is just being a writer, forever and ever.
I am this chonky, angry seal pillow.